General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 19: Devon

1 Jan 2015 at 08:00

This is the nineteenth in a series of blogposts (scroll to the bottom of the article for the others) which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.

Devon

Seats: 12
Current Political Makeup: Con 8, Lab 2, LibDem 2
Predicted Political Makeup after May 7: Con 7, Lab 3, LibDem 2

1. Central Devon

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27737 (51.5%)
Labour: 3715 (6.9%)
Lib Dem: 18507 (34.4%)
Green: 1044 (1.9%)
UKIP: 2870 (5.3%)
MAJORITY: 9230 (17.1%)

Sitting MP: Mel Stride (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat.

2. East Devon

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25662 (48.3%)
Labour: 5721 (10.8%)
Lib Dem: 16548 (31.2%)
Green: 815 (1.5%)
UKIP: 4346 (8.2%)
MAJORITY: 9114 (17.2%)

Sitting MP: Hugo Swire (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority.

Safe seat. Big LibDem vote to splinter, leading to increased Tory majority.

3. Exeter

2010 Result:
Conservative: 17221 (33%)
Labour: 19942 (38.2%)
Lib Dem: 10581 (20.3%)
BNP: 673 (1.3%)
Green: 792 (1.5%)
UKIP: 1930 (3.7%)
Liberal: 1108 (2.1%)
MAJORITY: 2721 (5.2%

Sitting MP: Ben Bradshaw (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold

This is by no means a safe Labour seat. In 2010 Bradshaw’s majority fell by 5,000, but the student vote should see him home safely enough.

4. Newton Abbot

2010 Result:
Conservative: 20774 (43%)
Labour: 3387 (7%)
Lib Dem: 20251 (41.9%)
Green: 701 (1.5%)
UKIP: 3088 (6.4%)
Independent: 82 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 523 (1.1%)

Sitting MP: Anne-Marie Morris (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Having been a LibDem seat for two terms this highly marginal seat returned to the Tories last time, but by a whisker. The LibDems will hope that UKIP eats into the Tory vote, but erstwhile Labour supporters may decide to return home as well. Difficult to call, but I’d say this is most likely to remain Tory.

5. North Devon

2010 Result:
Conservative: 18484 (36%)
Labour: 2671 (5.2%)
Lib Dem: 24305 (47.4%)
BNP: 614 (1.2%)
Green: 697 (1.4%)
UKIP: 3720 (7.2%)
English Dem: 146 (0.3%)
Independent: 588 (1.1%)
Others: 96 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 5821 (11.3%)

Sitting MP: Sir Nick Harvey (LibDem)
Prediction: LibDem hold

Ever since this seat was wrested back from the Conservatives in 1992 pundits have predicted it would return to the Tories, but astute constituency campaigning by Nick Harvey has prevented this from happening. I don’t see this changing. This seat has a strong UKIP vote which inevitable depresses that of the Conservatives.

6. Plymouth Moor View

2010 Result:
Conservative: 13845 (33.3%)
Labour: 15433 (37.2%)
Lib Dem: 7016 (16.9%)
BNP: 1438 (3.5%)
Green: 398 (1%)
UKIP: 3188 (7.7%)
Others: 208 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 1588 (3.8%)

Sitting MP: Alison Seabeck (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold

Plymouth seats are notoriously volatile, but I can’t see this seat remaining Labour despite the precarious nature of its majority. Unless there are demographic circumstances which have changed since the last election Alison Seabeck will get another five years.

7. Plymouth Sutton & Devonport

2010 Result:
Conservative: 15050 (34.3%)
Labour: 13901 (31.7%)
Lib Dem: 10829 (24.7%)
Green: 904 (2.1%)
UKIP: 2854 (6.5%)
Independent: 233 (0.5%)
Others: 123 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 1149 (2.6%)

Sitting MP: Oliver Colville (Con)
Prediction: Labour gain

A genuine three way marginal last time, Labour will be hoping to retake a seat they held during the entirety of the Blair/Brown years. It’s difficult to see the Tories managing to hang onto this seat.

8. South West Devon

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27908 (56%)
Labour: 6193 (12.4%)
Lib Dem: 12034 (24.1%)
Green: 641 (1.3%)
UKIP: 3084 (6.2%)
MAJORITY: 15874 (31.8%)

Sitting MP: Gary Streeter (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat.

9. Tiverton & Honiton

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27614 (50.3%)
Labour: 4907 (8.9%)
Lib Dem: 18294 (33.3%)
Green: 802 (1.5%)
UKIP: 3277 (6%)
MAJORITY: 9320 (17%)

Sitting MP: Neil Parrish (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Safe seat.

10. Torbay

2010 Result:
Conservative: 19048 (38.7%)
Labour: 3231 (6.6%)
Lib Dem: 23126 (47%)
BNP: 709 (1.4%)
Green: 468 (1%)
UKIP: 2628 (5.3%)
MAJORITY: 4078 (8.3%)

Sitting MP: Adrian Sanders (LibDem)
Prediction: LibDem hold

Regarded as a surefire Tory gain in 2010 it didn’t happen, and in all honesty Adrian Sanders has built up a string personal vote which may carry him through once again.

11. Torridge & West Devon

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25230 (45.7%)
Labour: 2917 (5.3%)
Lib Dem: 22273 (40.3%)
BNP: 766 (1.4%)
Green: 1050 (1.9%)
UKIP: 3021 (5.5%)
MAJORITY: 2957 (5.4%)

Sitting MP: Geoffrey Cox (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

The LibDems had high hopes of taking back this seat last time but one feels their moment has passed, although we shouldn’t forget they did hold it between 1997 and 2005.

12. Totnes

2010 Result:
Conservative: 21940 (45.9%)
Labour: 3538 (7.4%)
Lib Dem: 17013 (35.6%)
BNP: 624 (1.3%)
Green: 1181 (2.5%)
UKIP: 2890 (6%)
Independent: 390 (0.8%)
Others: 267 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 4927 (10.3%)

Sitting MP: Dr Sarah Wollaston (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Safe seat.

Coming next: Cornwall

If you’d like to see the rest of my seat by seat predictions, click HERE

OUT NOW! The Politicos Guide to the General Election (by Iain Dale, Greg Callus, Robert Waller & Daniel Hamilton) £15.99 from Politicos.co.uk or £16.58 from Amazon. Also available as an eBook from Politicos.co.uk at £9.99 and Amazon at £10.19

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 18: Surrey

31 Dec 2014 at 16:19

This is the nineteenth in a series of blogposts (scroll to the bottom of the article for the others) which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.

Surrey

Seats: 11
Current Political Makeup: Con 11
Predicted Political Makeup after May 7: Con 11

1. East Surrey

2010 Result:
Conservative: 31007 (56.7%)
Labour: 4925 (9%)
Lib Dem: 14133 (25.9%)
UKIP: 3770 (6.9%)
Independent: 383 (0.7%)
Others: 422 (0.8%)
MAJORITY: 16874 (30.9%)

Sitting MP: Sam Gyimah
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat.

2. Epsom & Ewell

2010 Result:
Conservative: 30868 (56.2%)
Labour: 6538 (11.9%)
Lib Dem: 14734 (26.8%)
UKIP: 2549 (4.6%)
Others: 266 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 16134 (29.4%)

Sitting MP: Chris Grayling (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat.

3. Esher & Walton

2010 Result:
Conservative: 32134 (58.9%)
Labour: 5829 (10.7%)
Lib Dem: 13541 (24.8%)
UKIP: 1783 (3.3%)
English Dem: 307 (0.6%)
Independent: 378 (0.7%)
Others: 571 (1%)
MAJORITY: 18593 (34.1%)

Sitting MP: Dominic Raab (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat.

4. Guildford

2010 Result:
Conservative: 29618 (53.3%)
Labour: 2812 (5.1%)
Lib Dem: 21836 (39.3%)
UKIP: 1021 (1.8%)
Others: 280 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 7782 (14%)

Sitting MP: Anne Milton (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Former LibDem seat, Anne Milton has turned this into a safe Tory seat and her majority will increase to more than 10,000 in 2015.

5. Mole Valley

2010 Result:
Conservative: 31263 (57.5%)
Labour: 3804 (7%)
Lib Dem: 15610 (28.7%)
Green: 895 (1.6%)
UKIP: 2752 (5.1%)
MAJORITY: 15653 (28.8%)

Sitting MP: Sir Paul Beresford (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat.

6. Reigate

2010 Result:
Conservative: 26688 (53.4%)
Labour: 5672 (11.3%)
Lib Dem: 13097 (26.2%)
BNP: 1345 (2.7%)
Green: 1087 (2.2%)
UKIP: 2089 (4.2%)
MAJORITY: 13591 (27.2%)

Sitting MP: Crispin Blunt (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Crispin Blunt has had a troubled time here of late with a deselection attempt souring his relationship with his constituency association. His public ‘coming’ out did not sit well with some of his local members. However, he is likely to increase his majority due to crumbling LibDem support.

7. Runneymede & Weybridge

2010 Result:
Conservative: 26915 (55.9%)
Labour: 6446 (13.4%)
Lib Dem: 10406 (21.6%)
Green: 696 (1.4%)
UKIP: 3146 (6.5%)
Independent: 541 (1.1%)
MAJORITY: 16509 (34.3%)

Sitting MP: Philip Hammond (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat.

8. South West Surrey

2010 Result:
Conservative: 33605 (58.7%)
Labour: 3419 (6%)
Lib Dem: 17287 (30.2%)
BNP: 644 (1.1%)
Green: 690 (1.2%)
UKIP: 1486 (2.6%)
Others: 128 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 16318 (28.5%)

Sitting MP: Jeremy Hunt (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

This seat has always been a LibDem target but first Virginia Bottomley, and now Jeremy Hunt, have seen them off. Their vote declined substantially in 2010 and it’s only going to go one way now.

9. Spelthorne

2010 Result:
Conservative: 22261 (47.1%)
Labour: 7789 (16.5%)
Lib Dem: 12242 (25.9%)
UKIP: 4009 (8.5%)
TUSC: 176 (0.4%)
Independent: 314 (0.7%)
Others: 513 (1.1%)
MAJORITY: 10019 (21.2%)

Sitting MP: Kwasi Kwarteng (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat

10. Surrey Heath

2010 Result:
Conservative: 31326 (57.6%)
Labour: 5552 (10.2%)
Lib Dem: 14037 (25.8%)
UKIP: 3432 (6.3%)
MAJORITY: 17289 (31.8%)

Sitting MP: Michael Gove (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

11. Woking

2010 Result:
Conservative: 26551 (50.3%)
Labour: 4246 (8%)
Lib Dem: 19744 (37.4%)
UKIP: 1997 (3.8%)
Others: 248 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 6807 (12.9%)

Sitting MP: Jonathan Lord (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Huge LibDem vote here, which will inevitably reduce, which in turn should mean a bigger majority for Jonathan Lord.

Coming next: Devon

If you’d like to see the rest of my seat by seat predictions, click HERE

OUT NOW! The Politicos Guide to the General Election (by Iain Dale, Greg Callus, Robert Waller & Daniel Hamilton) £15.99 from Politicos.co.uk or £16.58 from Amazon. Also available as an eBook from Politicos.co.uk at £9.99 and Amazon at £10.19

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Personal

Attitude Column: Will We Get Married in 2015?

31 Dec 2014 at 13:25

Six years ago my partner and I got married. Well, that’s how we viewed it at the time. My partner never refers to our ‘civil partnership’. He always talks about ‘our wedding’. So when equal marriage was introduced we sort of scratched our heads and wondered what the point of it all was for us. The whole concept of an ‘upgrade’ seemed so cold, full of logic but with no romance. And in many ways it still does.

John and I have been together for 19 years. 2015 marks our twentieth anniversary together. In some ways we’re total opposites but we have a relationship which works for us. We both have our idiosyncrasies, our little foibles and our differences, but in all that time we have never had a major row or ever (so far as I know) been on the verge of splitting up. After so long, life without each other is almost unimaginable.

So if we already consider ourselves ‘married’ what on earth is the point of ‘upgrading’? So far as I can see, in terms of the law, getting ‘properly married’ would give each of us the same rights over each other’s pension that a straight couple would have. And, er, that’s about it. Or is it? Not quite.

Marriages are solemnised by a prescribed form of words. Civil partnerships just involve signing a legal form, with no words having to be spoken, although they can be if the two people wish it. We did.

For some reason marriages are recorded on paper while civil partnerships are recorded electronically. Don’t ask me why that is. It just is.
Don’t laugh, but you can annul a marriage if at the time of the wedding the other party had a venereal disease. You can’t annul a civil partnership for the same reason. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when civil servants discussed that one!

If you’re in a straight marriage you can get divorced on grounds of adultery. Both in a civil partnership or a gay marriage you can’t cite adultery as a ground for divorce because the poor civil servants couldn’t decide on a definition of adultery in gay circles. Well, I ask you. Did they need someone to draw a diagram?

I’d love to explain how people who are married get enhanced pension arrangements which people who are in CPs don’t get, but frankly pensions both bore and confuse me. So just trust me on this one. If you’re in a CP and one of you has a rather stonking pension entitlement, for God’s sake go for an ‘upgrade’ or you (or your beloved) may live to regret it!
And that’s, er, it. But of course it’s more than about any of the above, it’s actually about equality, isn’t it? It’s about being seen as equal to our straight counterparts. Except of course, we are not, and maybe never will be – and this is why.

I don’t have any religious convictions, although I am agnostic rather than an atheist. But with my rather traditional, conservative upbringing I respect people who do hold religious beliefs. As a child I was confirmed into the Church of England – I was even a camponologist (a bellringer, for the uninitiated). Well, it was either that or being a choirboy. The least said about that the better. I like going to harvest festivals and to me, a wedding isn’t really a wedding unless it has been conducted in a church. I don’t like the clinical feel of registry offices. There’s nothing romantic about them whatsoever.

But of course, under the Equal Marriage laws, the likes of us can’t get married in a church, even if the church or vicar was prepared to do it. Of course, in our case, where neither of us are believers, they would have a very good case for not marrying us anyway, but there are plenty of gay Christians out there who would dearly love to be able to get married in a church, and it is my strong hope that one day they will be able to do so.

But for us on as yet undecided date in 2015, seven years after our civil partnership, we’re going to get properly hitched. Well, it’s one way of avoiding the seven year itch, isn’t it?

This article first appeared in the December issue of Attitude Magazine

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List

My Predictions for 2015

31 Dec 2014 at 10:25

1. Three political party leaders will resign by the end of the year.
2. Norwich City will be promoted to the Premier League.
3. At least one politician associated with the Child Sex Abuse scandal will be arrested and charged.
4. Ian Katz will be the new editor of The Guardian.
5. Jason Seiken will leave the Telegraph.
6. Nick Robinson steps down as political editor of the BBC by the end of the year.
7. Interest rates remain where they are for the rest of the year.
8. Tim Farron becomes the new leader of the Liberal Democrats… what’s left of them.
9. ISIS launch attacks in Lebanon and/or Jordan.
10. John Kerry steps down as US Secretary of State.

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 17: Gloucestershire

31 Dec 2014 at 09:00

This is the seventeenth in a series of blogposts (scroll to the bottom of the article for the others) which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.

Seats: 6
Current Political Makeup: Con 5, LibDem 1
Predicted Political Makeup after May 7: Con 3, Lab 2, LibDem 1

1. Cheltenham

2010 Result:
Conservative: 21739 (41.2%)
Labour: 2703 (5.1%)
Lib Dem: 26659 (50.5%)
UKIP: 1192 (2.3%)
Others: 493 (0.9%)
MAJORITY: 4920 (9.3%)

Sitting MP: Martin Horwood (LibDem)
Prediction LibDem hold

A Liberal Democrat seat since 1992, this is one which the Conservatives had expected to take back in both 2005 and 2010, but it wasn’t to be. The Labour vote has been squeezed to just 5%. Martin Horwood is extremely popular and will have built up a high personal vote. On a catastrophic night for the LibDems it’s easy to see Cheltenham falling, but not otherwise.

2. Forest of Dean

2010 Result:
Conservative: 22853 (46.9%)
Labour: 11789 (24.2%)
Lib Dem: 10676 (21.9%)
Green: 923 (1.9%)
UKIP: 2522 (5.2%)
MAJORITY: 11064 (22.7%)

Sitting MP: Mark Harper (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Bearing in mind this seat has a large Tory majority it’s astonishing to think that it was a Labour seat in 1997 and 2001. Harper will win again, but with a reduced majority.

3. Gloucester

2010 Result:
Conservative: 20267 (39.9%)
Labour: 17847 (35.2%)
Lib Dem: 9767 (19.2%)
Green: 511 (1%)
UKIP: 1808 (3.6%)
English Dem: 564 (1.1%)
MAJORITY: 2420 (4.8%)

Sitting MP: Richard Graham (Con)
Prediction: Labour gain

A Labour seat between 1997 and 2010 if this isn’t more or less a dead cert Labour gain, I don’t know what is, assuming Ed Miliband is anywhere close to taking power.

4. Stroud

2010 Result:
Conservative: 23679 (40.8%)
Labour: 22380 (38.6%)
Lib Dem: 8955 (15.4%)
Green: 1542 (2.7%)
UKIP: 1301 (2.2%)
Independent: 116 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 1299 (2.2%)

Sitting MP: Neil Carmichael (Con)
Prediction: Labour gain

I know from personal experience that Neil Carmichael has made the constituency his priority, but it’s doubtful one term is enough to have built up enough of a personal vote to combat the march of Miliband. The former Labour MP for the area David Drew is standing again, which presumably makes Neil Carmichael’s task all the harder. Has to be a definite Labour gain if Miliband is to make it to Number 10.

5. Tewkesbury

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25472 (47.2%)
Labour: 6253 (11.6%)
Lib Dem: 19162 (35.5%)
Green: 525 (1%)
UKIP: 2230 (4.1%)
Others: 319 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 6310 (11.7%)

Sitting MP: Laurence Robertson (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Safe seat. Probably an increased majority if the LibDem vote peels away to Labour.

6. The Cotswolds

2010 Result:
Conservative: 29075 (53%)
Labour: 5886 (10.7%)
Lib Dem: 16211 (29.6%)
Green: 940 (1.7%)
UKIP: 2292 (4.2%)
Independent: 428 (0.8%)
MAJORITY: 12864 (23.5%)

Sitting MP: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Same as Tewkesbury.

Coming next: Surrey

If you’d like to see the rest of my seat by seat predictions, click HERE

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 16: Dorset

30 Dec 2014 at 21:00

This is the sixteenth in a series of blogposts (scroll to the bottom of the article for the others) which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.

Seats: 8
Current Political Makeup: Con 7, LibDem 1
Predicted Political Makeup after May 7: Con 8

1. Bournemouth East

2010 Result:
Conservative: 21320 (48.4%)
Labour: 5836 (13.3%)
Lib Dem: 13592 (30.9%)
UKIP: 3027 (6.9%)
Independent: 249 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 7728 (17.6%)

Sitting MP: Tobias Ellwood (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Safe seat.

2. Bournemouth West

2010 Result:
Conservative: 18808 (45.1%)
Labour: 6171 (14.8%)
Lib Dem: 13225 (31.7%)
UKIP: 2999 (7.2%)
Independent: 456 (1.1%)
MAJORITY: 5583 (13.4%)

Sitting MP: Conor Burns (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

The LibDem vote may be stronger here than elsewhere but I expect Conor Burns to increase his majority.

3. Christchurch

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27888 (56.4%)
Labour: 4849 (9.8%)
Lib Dem: 12478 (25.3%)
UKIP: 4201 (8.5%)
MAJORITY: 15410 (31.2%)

Sitting MP: Christopher Chope (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Safe seat. Lots of LibDem votes to be attacked by both Conservative and Labour here. Hence an increased majority.

4. Mid Dorset & North Poole

2010 Result:
Conservative: 20831 (44.5%)
Labour: 2748 (5.9%)
Lib Dem: 21100 (45.1%)
UKIP: 2109 (4.5%)
MAJORITY: 269 (0.6%)

Sitting MP: Annette Brooke (LibDem)
Prediction: Conservative gain

Any chance the LibDems had of retaining this seat came with the news that Annette Brooke is retiring. It would take a minor miracle for them to retain it.

5. North Dorset

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27640 (51.1%)
Labour: 2910 (5.4%)
Lib Dem: 20015 (37%)
Green: 546 (1%)
UKIP: 2812 (5.2%)
Others: 218 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 7625 (14.1%)

Sitting MP: Robert Walter (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative

Robert Walter is retiring (he is one of the most Europhile of Conservative MPs), but the Tory majority is likely to increase as the LibDem vote crumbles to other parties.

6. Poole

2010 Result:
Conservative: 22532 (47.5%)
Labour: 6041 (12.7%)
Lib Dem: 14991 (31.6%)
BNP: 1188 (2.5%)
UKIP: 2507 (5.3%)
Independent: 177 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 7541 (15.9%)

Sitting MP: Robert Syms (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat.Possible increased majority for Robert Syms.

7. South Dorset

2010 Result:
Conservative: 22667 (45.1%)
Labour: 15224 (30.3%)
Lib Dem: 9557 (19%)
Green: 595 (1.2%)
UKIP: 2034 (4%)
Others: 233 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 7443 (14.8%)

Sitting MP: Richard Drax (Con)
Prediction: Narrow Conservative hold

This is an unpredictable seat. It had been a Tory seat in the 1980s and 90s but went Labour in 2001. Drax won it back in 2010 with a healthy majority. Labour has some hope of winning here and may well do so if UKIP eat into the Tory vote and not their own, and the LibDem vote goes to Labour. But there are a lot of ‘ifs’ there. Drax was a form opponent of gay marriage, saying it would undermine the sanctity of marriage. Drax is a great fan of marriages. He has had three of them.

8. West Dorset

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27287 (47.6%)
Labour: 3815 (6.7%)
Lib Dem: 23364 (40.7%)
Green: 675 (1.2%)
UKIP: 2196 (3.8%)
MAJORITY: 3923 (6.8%)

Sitting MP: Oliver Letwin (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

The LibDems have had this seat on their hit list for the last four elections but they have never been able to break through. Letwin got his biggest majority since 1992 in 2010 and the only conceivable result in 2015 is an increased Tory majority.

If you’d like to see the rest of my seat by seat predictions, click HERE

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 15: Wiltshire

30 Dec 2014 at 18:00

This is the fiftteenth in a series of blogposts (scroll to the bottom of the article for the others) which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.

Seats: 7
Current Political Makeup: Con 6, LibDem 1
Predicted Political Makeup after May 7: Con 6, Lab 1

1. Chippenham

2010 Result:
Conservative: 21500 (41%)
Labour: 3620 (6.9%)
Lib Dem: 23970 (45.8%)
BNP: 641 (1.2%)
Green: 446 (0.9%)
UKIP: 1783 (3.4%)
English Dem: 307 (0.6%)
Christian: 118 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 2470 (4.7%)

Sitting MP: Duncan Hames (LibDem)
Prediction: Conservative gain

Although is majority isn’t big, Duncan Hames has dug himself in since winning the seat in 2010 and will be difficult to shift. But the Tory candidate Michelle Donelan is a good campaigner. Yet again, her success depends on warding off UKIP and encouraging LibDems to vote Labour.

2. Devizes

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25519 (55.1%)
Labour: 4711 (10.2%)
Lib Dem: 12514 (27%)
Green: 813 (1.8%)
UKIP: 2076 (4.5%)
Independent: 566 (1.2%)
Others: 141 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 13005 (28.1%)

Sitting MP: Claire Perry (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat.

3. North Swindon

2010 Result:
Conservative: 22408 (44.6%)
Labour: 15348 (30.5%)
Lib Dem: 8668 (17.2%)
BNP: 1542 (3.1%)
Green: 487 (1%)
UKIP: 1842 (3.7%)
MAJORITY: 7060 (14%)

Sitting MP: Justin Tomlinson (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

The Swindon seats are traditionally bellweather seats. Boundary changes before the last election certainly aided a Tory win and may continue to protect Justin Tomlinson here. It’s worth pointing out he got the biggest swing in the South-West in 2005 (cutting the Lab majority from 8,500 to 2,500) and then again in 2010 (winning with a 7,060 majority). In the recent local elections the Tories made gains off Labour in North Swindon (but slipped back in South). Six of the 10 wards were also record results and the Tories have won two Council by-elections with stonking majorities in what were marginal seats. Local election results are not necessarily good guides as to what a general election may portent, but I predict Tomlinson will hold his seat but only very narrowly. If Ed Miliband is heading for Number 10 he will need to prove me wrong in seats like this.

4. North Wiltshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25114 (51.6%)
Labour: 3239 (6.7%)
Lib Dem: 17631 (36.2%)
Green: 599 (1.2%)
UKIP: 1908 (3.9%)
Independent: 208 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 7483 (15.4%)

Sitting MP: James Gray (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Safe seat and a lot of LibDem votes to go elsewhere.

5. Salisbury

2010 Result:
Conservative: 23859 (49.2%)
Labour: 3690 (7.6%)
Lib Dem: 17893 (36.9%)
BNP: 765 (1.6%)
Green: 506 (1%)
UKIP: 1392 (2.9%)
Independent: 257 (0.5%)
Others: 119 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 5966 (12.3%

Sitting MP: John Glen (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

The LibDems have always held hopes of taking Salisbury, even back in the 1980s and 1990s. But it’s never quite happened. It won’t happen in May either but i expect them to retain more of their vote here than in other seats where they are a good second.

6. South Swindon

2010 Result:
Conservative: 19687 (41.8%)
Labour: 16143 (34.3%)
Lib Dem: 8305 (17.6%)
Green: 619 (1.3%)
UKIP: 2029 (4.3%)
Christian: 176 (0.4%)
Independent: 160 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 3544 (7.5%)

Sitting MP: Robert Buckland (Con)
Prediction: Narrow Labour gain

Very difficult one to predict and anythings could happen here, but on balance I feel Labour may well just snatch it.

7. South West Wiltshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25321 (51.7%)
Labour: 5613 (11.5%)
Lib Dem: 14954 (30.5%)
UKIP: 2684 (5.5%)
Independent: 446 (0.9%)
MAJORITY: 10367 (21.1%)

Sitting MP: Andrew Murrison (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat.

Coming next: Dorset

To see previous predictions, click HERE

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Did I Keep My Ten New Year's Revolutions For 2014?

30 Dec 2014 at 13:01

So, these were the resolutions I made at the beginning of 2014. I didn’t do very well…

1. Continue to lose weight. Target 16 stone by June, 15 1/2 by end of the year. FAILED.
2. To up my exercise. More golf, start running and a bit of rowing. FAILED.
3. Try to resist getting involved in Twitter spats. PARTIALLY SUCCEEDED.
4. Think of a way of raising £5k for charity. FAILED.
5. To be a better husband to Simmo. I’LL LET HIM BE THE JUDGE OF THAT.
6. To learn to say ‘no’ more often. (this has been a resolution for the last 2 years!). PARTIALLY SUCCEEDED.
7. To think of a proper book to write (rather than edit). SUCCEEDED. IT’S OUT IN FEBRUARY!
8. To finally go to Berlin. FAILED.
9. To blog more often. PARTIALLY SUCCEEDED.
10. To be tougher in my political interviews. SUCCEEDED (I THINK!)

Four or maybe five out of ten. Failure!

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Leon McKenzie about Depression

Former Crystal Palace, Norwich and Fulham Footballer Leon McKenzie joins Iain to discuss depression and his attempt to take his own life, detailed in his book MY FIGHT WITH LIFE

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 14: Hampshire (Part 2)

30 Dec 2014 at 09:00

This is the fourteenth in a series of blogposts (scroll to the bottom of the article for the others) which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.

You can see Hampshire Part 1 HERE

Seats: 10
Current Political Makeup: Con 7, Lab 2, LibDem 1
Predicted Political Makeup after May 7: Con 8, Lab 2

9. New Forest East

2010 Result:
Conservative: 26443 (52.8%)
Labour: 4915 (9.8%)
Lib Dem: 15136 (30.3%)
Green: 1024 (2%)
UKIP: 2518 (5%)
MAJORITY: 11307 (22.6%)

Sitting MP: Julian Lewis (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Safe seat.

10. New Forest West

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27980 (58.8%)
Labour: 4666 (9.8%)
Lib Dem: 11084 (23.3%)
Green: 1059 (2.2%)
UKIP: 2783 (5.9%)
MAJORITY: 16896 (35.5%)

Sitting MP: Desmond Swayne (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Safe seat.

11. North East Hampshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 32075 (60.6%)
Labour: 5173 (9.8%)
Lib Dem: 13478 (25.5%)
UKIP: 2213 (4.2%)
MAJORITY: 18597 (35.1%)

Sitting MP: Sir James Arbuthnot (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Sir James Arbuthnot is standing down and his successor Ranil Jaywardena should maintain if not increase the Tory majority here.

12. North West Hampshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 31072 (58.3%)
Labour: 6980 (13.1%)
Lib Dem: 12489 (23.4%)
UKIP: 2751 (5.2%)
MAJORITY: 18583 (34.9%)

Sitting MP: Sir George Young (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Safe seat. Sir George Young is standing down and replaced by Kit Malthouse.

13. Portsmouth North

2010 Result:
Conservative: 19533 (44.3%)
Labour: 12244 (27.8%)
Lib Dem: 8874 (20.1%)
Green: 461 (1%)
UKIP: 1812 (4.1%)
English Dem: 1040 (2.4%)
TUSC: 154 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 7289 (16.5%)

Sitting MP: Penny Mordaunt (Con)
Prediction: Probably Conservative hold

A Labour seat during the Blair/Brown years, Labour has high hopes of retaking this, but overturning this size of majority will take some doing. Even if the LibDems lost half the vote they have built up since 1997 it would still leave Mordaunt with a majority, assuming she can hold on to her vote. She will be hoping the LibDem vote goes at least in part to the Greens. I expect a Tory majority of 1-3,000 here.

14. Portsmouth South

2010 Result:
Conservative: 13721 (33.3%)
Labour: 5640 (13.7%)
Lib Dem: 18921 (45.9%)
BNP: 873 (2.1%)
Green: 716 (1.7%)
UKIP: 876 (2.1%)
English Dem: 400 (1%)
Others: 117 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 5200 (12.6%)

Sitting MP: Mike Hancock (LibDem)
Prediction: Conservative gain

This seat is now a genuine three way marginal. The LibDems are confident of retaining it despite the Hancock scandal. His successor is the former LibDem leader of the local council. That is a double edged sword as council leaders generally have a lot of enemies.This seat has never had a huge LibDem majority since it was won by Mike Hancock in 1997. It’s always ranged between three and six thousand. It’s difficult to assess the impact of the groping scandal, but on top of their national woes, it could be that the Tories win back what was once for them a safe seat. Hancock has failed to squeeze the Labour vote as much as some of his colleagues, and not so long ago they managed a healthy 25%. If they return to those levels the Tories will win, unless Labour do incredibly well nationally. In that case a Labour gain isn’t out of the question.

15. Romsey & Southampton North

2010 Result:
Conservative: 24345 (49.7%)
Labour: 3116 (6.4%)
Lib Dem: 20189 (41.3%)
UKIP: 1289 (2.6%)
MAJORITY: 4156 (8.5%)

Sitting MP: Caroline Nokes (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

This was a LibDem seat from 2001 to 2010 but it’s unlikely to revert to the LibDems in May. Expect Caroline Nokes to increase her majority.

16. Southampton Itchen

2010 Result:
Conservative: 16134 (36.3%)
Labour: 16326 (36.8%)
Lib Dem: 9256 (20.8%)
Green: 600 (1.4%)
UKIP: 1928 (4.3%)
TUSC: 168 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 192 (0.4%)

Sitting MP: John Denham (Lab)
Prediction: Increased Labour majority

John Denham held onto this seat by his fingertips. The Labour vote has been on the decline here since 1997 and it may be that there is some kind of demographic change going on. If the Tories are to win a majority they need to win seats like this. Labour have en enthusiastic candidate in Rowenna Davis, but she has no connections to the area and the Tory candidate Royston Smith, a former leader of Southampton Council will no doubt be forever pointing this out.

17. Southampton Test

2010 Result:
Conservative: 14588 (33%)
Labour: 17001 (38.5%)
Lib Dem: 9865 (22.3%)
Green: 881 (2%)
UKIP: 1726 (3.9%)
Independent: 126 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 2413 (5.5%)

Sitting MP: Alan Whitehead (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold

This seat was held by the Tories up until 1997, but has been relatively solidly Labour ever since. However, as in Itchen, its vote has been on the decline and Labour will be a little worried about losing it if the Tories do better than expected in May. The Tory candidate is a local councillor and a good campaigner. One to watch on election night.

18. Winchester

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27155 (48.5%)
Labour: 3051 (5.5%)
Lib Dem: 24107 (43.1%)
UKIP: 1139 (2%)
English Dem: 503 (0.9%)
MAJORITY: 3048 (5.4%)

Sitting MP: Steve Brine (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

This was partly Mark Oaten’s seat. The LibDems were disappointed not to hold onto this seat in 2010 but it would be no surprise to anyone if Steve Brine’s majority doubled or trebled in May, assuming a large part of the LibDem vote shifts to Labour.

19. Isle of Wight

2010 Result:
Conservative: 32810 (46.7%)
Labour: 8169 (11.6%)
Lib Dem: 22283 (31.7%)
BNP: 1457 (2.1%)
Green: 931 (1.3%)
UKIP: 2435 (3.5%)
English Dem: 1233 (1.8%)
Independent: 175 (0.2%)
Others: 771 (1.1%)
MAJORITY: 10527 (15%)

Sitting MP: Andrew Turner (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Has been a LibDem seat in the past, but they have little chance or no chance of winning it back in 2015.

Coming next: Wiltshire

To see previous predictions. click HERE

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 13: Hampshire (Part 1)

29 Dec 2014 at 18:00

This is the thirteenth in a series of blogposts (scroll to the bottom of the article for the others) which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. I’m starting off by trying to analyse the counties I know best, but eventually will turn to ones I know very little about at all. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.

Seats: 8
Current Political Makeup: Con 7, LibDem 1
Predicted Political Makeup after May 7: Con 8

1. Aldershot

2010 Result:
Conservative: 21203 (46.7%)
Labour: 5489 (12.1%)
Lib Dem: 15617 (34.4%)
UKIP: 2041 (4.5%)
Christian: 231 (0.5%)
Others: 803 (1.8%)
MAJORITY: 5586 (12.3%)

Sitting MP: Sir Gerald Howarth
Prediction: Conservative hold

Had the LibDems not been in coalition they might have made some headway here. Expect Sir Gerald’s majority to double.

2. Basingstoke

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25590 (50.5%)
Labour: 10327 (20.4%)
Lib Dem: 12414 (24.5%)
UKIP: 2076 (4.1%)
Others: 247 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 13176 (26%)

Sitting MP: Maria Miller (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Labour came within a whisker of winning Basingstoke in 2001, and Maria Miller’s expenses experience won’t have helped her. But boundary changes have helped make this a safe Tory seat now, even though Miller’s expenses scandal may mean a reduced majority.

3. East Hampshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 29137 (56.8%)
Labour: 4043 (7.9%)
Lib Dem: 15640 (30.5%)
UKIP: 1477 (2.9%)
English Dem: 710 (1.4%)
Others: 310 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 13497 (26.3%)

Sitting MP: Damian Hinds (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Safe seat.

4. Eastleigh

2010 Result:
Conservative: 21102 (39.3%)
Labour: 5153 (9.6%)
Lib Dem: 24966 (46.5%)
UKIP: 1933 (3.6%)
English Dem: 249 (0.5%)
Independent: 154 (0.3%)
Others: 93 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 3864 (7.2%)

2013 BY ELECTION Result:
Conservative: 10,559 (25.4%)
Labour: 3088 (9.8%)
Lib Dem: 13,342 (32.1%)
UKIP: 11,571 (27.8%)
Others: 2,194 (4.8%)
MAJORITY: 1,771 (4.3%)

Sitting MP: Mike Thornton (LibDem)
Prediction: Conservative gain

The Conservatives thought they would win this seat back at each of the last two general elections, but each time Chris Huhne pulled through. At the by-election they came third, with UKIP almost pipping the rather monochrome Mike Thornton. It’s highly unlikely UKIP’s vote will hold up so the outcome of this seat may depend on where UKIP’s voters put their cross. If enough of them return to the Conservative fold, it could be enough to see the Conservative home. Having said that, the LibDems remain strong in local government and have a good infrastructure there. This could prove to be the difference, but on balance I think their national woes may count against Thornton holding the seat. I realise I may be in the minority in making this particular prediction.

5. Fareham

2010 Result:
Conservative: 30037 (55.3%)
Labour: 7719 (14.2%)
Lib Dem: 12945 (23.8%)
Green: 791 (1.5%)
UKIP: 2235 (4.1%)
English Dem: 618 (1.1%)
MAJORITY: 17092 (31.5%)

Sitting MP: Mark Hoban (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat.

6. Gosport

2010 Result:
Conservative: 24300 (51.8%)
Labour: 7944 (16.9%)
Lib Dem: 9887 (21.1%)
BNP: 1004 (2.1%)
Green: 573 (1.2%)
UKIP: 1496 (3.2%)
English Dem: 622 (1.3%)
Independent: 493 (1.1%)
Others: 620 (1.3%)
MAJORITY: 14413 (30.7%)

Sitting MP: Caroline Dinenage (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat.

7. Havant

2010 Result:
Conservative: 22433 (51.1%)
Labour: 7777 (17.7%)
Lib Dem: 10273 (23.4%)
UKIP: 2611 (5.9%)
English Dem: 809 (1.8%)
MAJORITY: 12160 (27.7%)

Sitting MP: David Willetts (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

David Willetts is standing down, but his successor, Alan Mak, will have little trouble in holding this seat.

8. Meon Valley

2010 Result:
Conservative: 28818 (56.2%)
Labour: 3266 (6.4%)
Lib Dem: 16693 (32.6%)
UKIP: 1490 (2.9%)
English Dem: 582 (1.1%)
Independent: 134 (0.3%)
Others: 255 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 12125 (23.7%)

Sitting MP: George Hollingbery (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Safe seat.

Coming next: Hampshire (Part 2)

To see my predictions for areas, click HERE

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Mary Berry talks to Iain about her new autobiography.

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