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Sun 23 February 2020
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David Hencke’s guide to the seats to keep an eye on and a few surprises that may be on the way.


This General Election now appears to be very close – it could be anything from another hung Parliament with a minority Labour Government to a good working Tory majority. But the results could vary across the UK depending on undecided voters.

Here is a weathervane of what to look for tomorrow night.


The Conservative Landslide

This would mean the predicted collapse of the Labour vote in the north of England and the Midlands, with seats with comfortable Labour majorities going to the Tories.

Among the first results to watch out for the Conservative vote will be Sunderland. All three seats here are safe Labour, but the Tory vote is growing there and Sunderland’s early declaration for Leave paved the way for victory in the 2016 EU Referendum. If Labour loses any of these seats it will be a disaster for the party and will signify a likely landslide for Boris Johnson.

A more nuanced result to look out for will be Workington. The ‘Workington man’ switching from Labour to Conservative is supposed to be a bell weather result for this General Election – signifying a decent Tory majority. If Labour hold on there, it will be much closer. A split between the Tory and Brexit Party vote in the seat could affect the result, however.

Similarly in the Midlands, keep a close eye on West Bromwich East and West. In Yorkshire, watch Wakefield. 


The Liberal Democrat Performance

The Lib Dems started this General Election campaign with great hopes, but have since failed to make a huge impact.

The party should easily unseat Zac Goldsmith in London’s Richmond Park and have hopes of taking St Albans. But, faltering performances elsewhere look as though it won’t make a breakthrough in the West Country – and a recent council by-election in Torbay resulted in the Tories convincingly gaining a seat from the Lib Dems.

If the Lib Dems are going to get anywhere in this election, look out for them gaining St Ives, where the Conservatives have a majority of 312.

Tactical voting could cause an upset in Esher and Walton for Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, or possibly Wokingham for John Redwood.


The London Effect

London differs from the rest of the country, with Labour expected to hold onto seats and even make gains in Chipping Barnet (uprooting Theresa Villiers) and Putney.

If Jeremy Corbyn’s party does even better, it could unseat former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford, who is currently in a close race with Labour’s candidate Faiza Shaheen. Labour also has an outside chance of unseating Boris Johnson in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, where the Prime Minister is facing Labour’s Ali Milani.


The Scottish Elections

Expect Scottish Nationalist Party gains in Scotland during this election.

The SNP should take a number of seats from the Conservatives and Labour and there is a chance that it could unseat Jo Swinson in East Dunbartonshire.

Look out for results in Aberdeen South, Stirling and Angus where the Tories are under attack from the SNP, and Glasgow North East and Rutherglen, where Labour is under threat.

The SNP also has tiny majorities in Glasgow East and North East Fife (where it has a majority of two over the Lib Dems).


The 50s Women Vote

This has not featured heavily in this General Election campaign, but there are lot of seats where this group of women – who were born in the 1950s and lost out on pension money due to the way successive governments have handled the rise in the pension age from 60 to 66 – are larger than the majority, making the Conservatives particularly vulnerable.

While the Labour Party has pledged to compensate the women affected, Boris Johnson has said this will not be possible.

The Tory seats at risk include Hastings and Rye and East Worthing and Shoreham. The latter’s worried Conservative candidate, Tim Loughton, tweeted last night that the 50s women group was being exploited by Labour to win their votes. The largest number of these women – 11,000 – live on the Isle of Wight.


The Black and Ethnic Minority Vote

This is growing all the time and, in some constituencies, those outraged and affected by the Windrush Scandal favour Labour, as does the Muslim vote.

There are 75 seats where the ethnic minority population makes up more than 30% of electorate – mostly Labour – so it will be difficult to dislodge there. One interesting seat to watch out for will be Dewsbury in Yorkshire, where Labour has a 3,321 majority.

Other Labour seats with large ethnic minority populations include Birmingham Hall Green (where Roger Godsiff was recently de-selected) and Brent North.


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