03 April 2010

Here They Are 'The Top 150' - The Only Seats That Matter

Ok, maybe not all, but barring major upsets in a few seats, these are the only ones that might change and therefore the only ones to have an impact on the result of the general election of 6 May 2010.

Out of the 650 constituencies only these 150 might change hands. This is a major boundary change election which always elicits the biggest movement of seats - the last one was in 1997 and there were 180 gain/losses then.

That is the post-war record - so nearly 80% of seats are pretty much always safe. Welcome to the world of first-past-the-post, it may be a universal franchise but it is not universally an 'equal' franchise and hence it is still far short of being a truly democratic way of choosing a government.

The Tories need to gain around 120 seats to get a majority - a tall order, but a lead nearing 10 points should be enough for that. They are unlikely to lose any seats to Labour and probably not to any other party either although I won't rule out the odd loss to the Lib Dems. So therefore we need not look at any of their current seats - they are effectively safe. The reason for this is that the Tory vote nationally will likely increase by at least 4% - from 33% to 37% or more. More crucially the Labour vote is looking like dropping at least 3% from 35% to 32% or less. The Lib Dem vote may also drop by 2% or more but they may yet avoid that. The Tories are doing better in the marginals - whether that has anything to do with Lord Ashcroft money who knows.

Note - these are percentage movements not necessarily movement in absolute number of votes. Labour 'won' last time with 9.5m votes (out of 45m possible), the crucial figures for the Tories are whether they can beat the 9.6m votes they got in 1997. Remember 1997 was the year the Tories were thrashed, now the same number of votes might put them back in government with a majority. I think this demonstrates how little enthusiasm there is for any of the parties. The Tory press may have succeeded in turning us off Labour (with a lot of help from Labour themselves admittedly) but too many people remember the Tories from last time, to ever go back to voting for them.

It is the Labour-Tory marginals where most changes will occur - the Tories will be looking for a minimum of 100-110 gains here, with the other 10 to 20 or so gains coming from the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems will look to stem their losses to the Tories by picking up 5-10 seats from Labour.

This is my prediction in the Labour-Tory marginals:-

The following 78 seats, have already been lost to the Tories because I think that any Labour majority of less than 3,000 is going to be very difficult to hold on to:-

SOUTH/SOUTH EAST(-9):- Portsmouth.N, Reading.W, Crawley, Hove, Hastings.R, Dartford, B.Kemptown, Chatham, Dover
SOUTH WEST(-2): Dorset S, Plymouth.D
S. LONDON(-5):- Croydon.C, Battersea, Ealing.C, Brentford, Eltham
N. LONDON(-4):- Harrow.E, Westminster.N, Hendon, Poplar-Limehouse
WEST(-7):- Somerset.NE, Stroud, Swindon.S, Swindon.N, Bristol.NW, Gloucester, Kingswood
ESSEX(-6):- Basildon.S, Harlow, Milton-Keynes.S, Milton-Keynes.N, Watford, Stevenage
E.ANGLIA(-4):- Corby, Northampton.S, Great-Yarmouth, Northampton.N
WALES(-4): Cardiff.N, Aberconwy, V.Glamorgan, Carmarthen.W
SEVERN(-7):- Chester.C, Stafford, Redditch, Burton, Tamworth, Worcester, Warrington.S
E.MIDS(-6):- Loughborough, Broxtowe, Derbys.S, High-Peak, Gedling, Leics.NW
W.MIDS(-6):- Stourbridge, B.Edgbaston, Wolverhampton.SW, Halesowen.RR, Dudley.S, Dudley.N
HUMBERSIDE(-3):- Cleethorpes, Lincoln, Brigg-Goole
YORKS(-6):- Calder.V, Colne.V, Bradford.W, Halifax, Elmet-Rothwell, Keighley
G.MANCHESTER(-2):- Bury.N, Bolton.W
LANCS(-6):- Pendle, Sefton.C, Blackpool.NC, Ribble.S, Rossendale-Darwen, Wirral.S
NORTH(-1):- Copeland

The following 22 seats could go either way:-

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