This is the first in a series of blogposts 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: 18
Current Political Makeup: Con 16, LibDem 1, UKIP 1
Predicted Political Makeup after May 7: Con 14, UKIP 2, Lab 1, LibDem 1

1. Basildon & Billericay

2010 Result:
Conservative: 21922 (52.7%)
Labour: 9584 (23.1%)
Lib Dem: 6538 (15.7%)
BNP: 1934 (4.7%)
UKIP: 1591 (3.8%)
MAJORITY: 12338 (29.7%)

Sitting MP: John Baron (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative Hold

Assuming John Baron doesn’t defect to UKIP, this seems a safe Conservative hold. For Labour to win, the entire LibDem vote would need to go to Ed Miliband and UKIP would need to take a huge chunk of the Conservative vote.

2. Braintree

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25901 (52.6%)
Labour: 9780 (19.9%)
Lib Dem: 9247 (18.8%)
BNP: 1080 (2.2%)
Green: 718 (1.5%)
UKIP: 2477 (5%)
MAJORITY: 16121 (32.8%)

Sitting MP: Brooks Newmark (Con, standing down)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Despite Brooks Newmark’s fall from grace, it’s difficult to see this north Essex seat as anything other than a Tory hold. However, the LibDem vote is likely to at least halve, with Labour and UKIP being the main beneficiaries. Expect a healthy, but reduced Tory majority.

3. Brentwood & Ongar

2010 Result:
Conservative: 28793 (56.9%)
Labour: 4992 (9.9%)
Lib Dem: 11872 (23.5%)
BNP: 1447 (2.9%)
Green: 584 (1.2%)
UKIP: 2037 (4%)
English Dem: 491 (1%)
Independent: 263 (0.5%)
Others: 113 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 16921 (33.4%)

Sitting MP: Eric Pickles (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Eric Pickles has built a huge majority here and he may well increase it as the LibDem vote shrivels. No more comment necessary.

4. Castle Point

2010 Result:
Conservative: 19806 (44%)
Labour: 6609 (14.7%)
Lib Dem: 4232 (9.4%)
BNP: 2205 (4.9%)
Others: 12174 (27%)
MAJORITY: 7632 (17%)

Sitting MP: Rebecca Harris (Con)
Prediction: Narrow Conservative hold

One of the more interesting Essex seats due to its previous MP, Bob Spink. He succeeded Sir Bernard Braine in 1992 but then lost it in the 1997 Labour landslide, before regaining in four years later. He then briefly defected to UKIP before cutting ties with them. He is not standing this time, but the UKIP candidate, Jamie Huntsman, is the UKIP leader on Essex County Council. Canvey Island has the highest proportion of people in England who identified as “English” in the 2011 census. This is part of the reason why many think that behind Clacton and Thurrock, this is UKIP’s third best target seat in Essex. An upset could be on the cards here, but the most likely result is a Tory hold.

5. Chelmsford
2010 Result:
Conservative: 25207 (46.2%)
Labour: 5980 (11%)
Lib Dem: 20097 (36.8%)
BNP: 899 (1.6%)
Green: 476 (0.9%)
UKIP: 1527 (2.8%)
English Dem: 254 (0.5%)
Others: 153 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 5110 (9.4%)

Sitting MP: Simon Burns (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative Hold

Chelmsford has been a LibDem target all through my adult life. Yet they’ve never quite managed to unseat either Norman St John Stevas or Simon Burns. Just when they looked as if they might, they were thwarted by boundary changes. Simon Burns will only be in danger if UKIP take a huge chunk of his vote away and the LibDem vote holds up.

6. Clacton

2010 Result:
Conservative: 22867 (53%)
Labour: 10799 (25%)
Lib Dem: 5577 (12.9%)
BNP: 1975 (4.6%)
Green: 535 (1.2%)
Independent: 292 (0.7%)
Others: 1078 (2.5%)
MAJORITY: 12068 (28%)

By-Election Result (Oct 2014)
UKIP: 21113 (59.7%)
Conservative: 8709 (24.6%)
Labour: 3957 (11.2%)
Green: 688 (1.9%
Lib Dem: 483 (1.2%)
Others: 388 (1.2%)
BNP: 1975 (4.6%)
Green: 535 (1.2%)
Independent: 292 (0.7%)
Others: 1078 (2.5%)
MAJORITY: 12068 (28%)

Sitting MP: Douglas Carswell (UKIP)
Prediction: UKIP hold

Douglas Carswell’s win at the by-election on 8 October was by a far larger margin than even he can have imagined. It’s likely that some of his supporters will return to the Tory fold at the general election, but a hell of a lot of them would have to do that for him to be in danger of being a very short-lived UKIP MP. He genuinely seems to have built up a very loyal personal following.

7. Colchester

2010 Result:
Conservative: 15169 (32.9%)
Labour: 5680 (12.3%)
Lib Dem: 22151 (48%)
BNP: 705 (1.5%)
Green: 694 (1.5%)
UKIP: 1350 (2.9%)
English Dem: 335 (0.7%)
Others: 55 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 6982 (15.1%)

Sitting MP: Sir Bob Russell (LibDem)
Prediction: Narrow LibDem hold

Sir Bob Russell is a popular local man who has seen off many a Tory challenge since he was first elected in 1997. His opponent is Will Quince, who fought the seat in 2010. Local election results since 2010 do not bode particularly well for the Tories, yet this is one of those seats where anything could happen depending on how much the LibDem vote declines and how well UKIP do. But Sir Bob is a doughty campaigner for Colchester and has had 15 years to build up a strong personal vote.

8. Epping Forest

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25148 (54%)
Labour: 6641 (14.3%)
Lib Dem: 10017 (21.5%)
BNP: 1982 (4.3%)
Green: 659 (1.4%)
UKIP: 1852 (4%)
English Dem: 285 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 15131 (32.5%)

Sitting MP: Eleanor Laing (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

No comment necessary. Anything other than a big majority for Eleanor Laing would be considered a political earthquake.

9. Harlow

2010 Result:
Conservative: 19691 (44.9%)
Labour: 14766 (33.7%)
Lib Dem: 5990 (13.7%)
BNP: 1739 (4%)
UKIP: 1591 (3.6%)
Christian: 101 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 4925 (11.2%)

Sitting MP: Robert Halfon (Con)
Prediction: Very narrow Labour gain

Robert Halfon’s majority in 2010 was far higher than he had ever dreamed, but this is a seat that goes with the prevailing political wind. Halfon has proved himself to be an adept political campaigner but can he really hold off the Labour challenge? He must be hoping that UKIP will chip away at the Labour vote, as well as recognising that he will also lose some white working class votes to Farage’s party too. There are 6,000 LibDem votes up for grabs here too, which will also make the Tories nervous about their chances of retaining this seat. They are right to be.

10. Harwich & North Essex

2010 Result:
Conservative: 23001 (46.9%)
Labour: 9774 (19.9%)
Lib Dem: 11554 (23.6%)
BNP: 1065 (2.2%)
Green: 909 (1.9%)
UKIP: 2527 (5.2%)
Independent: 170 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 11447 (23.4%)

Sitting MP: Bernard Jenkin (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Even if the LibDem fractures here, it’s hard to see Bernard Jenkin being under serious threat.

11. Maldon

2010 Result:
Conservative: 28661 (59.8%)
Labour: 6070 (12.7%)
Lib Dem: 9254 (19.3%)
BNP: 1464 (3.1%)
UKIP: 2446 (5.1%)
MAJORITY: 19407 (40.5%)

Sitting MP: John Whittingdale (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Unthinkable that this seat could return anything other than a Conservative.

12. Rayleigh & Wickford

2010 Result:
Conservative: 30257 (57.8%)
Labour: 7577 (14.5%)
Lib Dem: 7919 (15.1%)
BNP: 2160 (4.1%)
UKIP: 2211 (4.2%)
English Dem: 2219 (4.2%)
MAJORITY: 22338 (42.7%)

Sitting MP: Mark Francois (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

UKIP may make some inroads to the Tory vote here, but not enough to worry Mark Francois.

13. Rochford & Southend East

2010 Result:
Conservative: 19509 (46.9%)
Labour: 8459 (20.3%)
Lib Dem: 8084 (19.4%)
BNP: 1856 (4.5%)
Green: 707 (1.7%)
UKIP: 2405 (5.8%)
Independent: 611 (1.5%)
MAJORITY: 11050 (26.5%)

Sitting MP: James Duddridge (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

A split opposition here has enabled James Duddridge to maintain a very health majority. The only way it could be threatened is for the LibDem vote to collapse almost entirely to Labour and for UKIP to take 7-10,000 Tory votes. Highly unlikely.

14. Saffron Walden

2010 Result:
Conservative: 30155 (55.5%)
Labour: 5288 (9.7%)
Lib Dem: 14913 (27.4%)
BNP: 1050 (1.9%)
Green: 735 (1.4%)
UKIP: 2228 (4.1%)
MAJORITY: 15242 (28%)

Sitting MP: Sir Alan Haselhurst (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

This seat used to have a reasonable agricultural Labour vote, but that has virtually disappeared now. The LibDems, like in Chelmsford, have flattered to deceive here for years. Any decline in their vote will see Sir Alan Haselhurst increase his majority as UKIP are unlikely to do well here.

15. South Basildon & East Thurrock

2010 Result:
Conservative: 19624 (43.9%)
Labour: 13852 (31%)
Lib Dem: 5977 (13.4%)
BNP: 2518 (5.6%)
UKIP: 2639 (5.9%)
Others: 125 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 5772 (12.9%)

Sitting MP: Stephen Metcalfe (Con)
Prediction: Narrow Conservative hold

A difficult seat to call. Always regarded as a bellweather seat, if Ed Miliband is to win a majority he needs to win seats like this, and with a good majority. UKIP believes this is theirs to win but they have selected a completely inappropriate candidate (Kerry Smith). Their only hope is to take a large chunk of Tory votes, but this will depend on whether the Tory message of ‘Vote UKIP, Get Miliband’ resonates. The Labour candidate, the oddly named Mike Le-Surf, is local to the seat and is a Brentwood councillor. However, Stephen Metcalfe has done the legwork locally and much may depend on how big a personal vote he has managed to build up. Interestingly the Labour vote was 12,000 down on 1997, although it was under rather different boundaries. Much may depend on turnout. A high turnout may well bode well for Labour.

16. Southend West

2010 Result:
Conservative: 20086 (46.1%)
Labour: 5850 (13.4%)
Lib Dem: 12816 (29.4%)
BNP: 1333 (3.1%)
Green: 644 (1.5%)
UKIP: 1714 (3.9%)
English Dem: 546 (1.3%)
Independent: 617 (1.4%)
MAJORITY: 7270 (16.7%)

Sitting MP: David Amess (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

A safe Conservative seat which could have an increased majority if the LibDem vote collapses to Labour.

17. Thurrock

2010 Result:
Conservative: 16869 (36.8%)
Labour: 16777 (36.6%)
Lib Dem: 4901 (10.7%)
BNP: 3618 (7.9%)
UKIP: 3390 (7.4%)
Christian: 266 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 92 (0.2%)

Sitting MP: Jackie Doyle-Price (Con)
Prediction: Narrow UKIP gain

When former Ed Miliband aide Polly Billington was selected as Labour candidate for Thurrock she must have been as confident as she could be that she would be the next MP for Thurrock. Local UKIP candidate (and now MEP) Tim Aker has put a giant spanner in the works. If you look at all the local election results for this constituency you’d be very brave not to bet on him pulling off a major upset. This is the seat Nigel Farage should have fought, and he may well live to regret it. Doyle-Price has been a good local MP, but that may count for little. However, this is one of the few genuine three way marginals, and it may well be that each of the three parties ends up within a couple of percentage points of each other. But on balance, I’m calling this for UKIP.

18. Witham

2010 Result:
Conservative: 24448 (52.2%)
Labour: 8656 (18.5%)
Lib Dem: 9252 (19.8%)
Green: 1419 (3%)
UKIP: 3060 (6.5%)
MAJORITY: 15196 (32.4%)

Sitting MP: Priti Patel (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

A split opposition means Priti Patel is safe, even if much of the LibDem vote goes to Labour. Patel parades her eurosceptism at every opportunity so it’s difficult to imagine UKIP making a massive impact in Witham, even though demographically they probably ought to.

To see the complete list of predictions click HERE