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GE2015: WM – UK Political Barometer

GE2015: WM – UK Political Barometer

🕔23.Sep 2014

In the second part of our General Election special, chief blogger Paul Dale turns his attention to seats outside the City of Birmingham.

It is often said that the West Midlands is Britain’s political barometer.

Many of the region’s constituencies represent make or break time for Labour and the Conservatives.

The following Midland seats are all among the country’s top 100 marginal constituencies.

North Warwickshire has the distinction of being the third most marginal seat in the UK.

Tory Dan Byles won here in 2010, beating Labour’s Mike O’Brien by 54 votes.

The only closer contests were Fermanagh and South Tyrone, where Sinn Fein won by 4, and Hampstead and Kilburn where Labour’s Glenda Jackson won by 42.

Mr Byles surprised his party by announcing earlier this year that he would not stand again.

The new Conservative candidate is Staffordshire businessman Craig Tracey.

Mr O’Brien is red hot favourite to regain North Warwickshire and is almost bound to take the seat if there is any discernible national swing from Conservative to Labour.

Solihull, a constituency wedged between Birmingham Yardley and North Warwickshire, is the ninth most marginal UK seat.

Liberal Democrat Lorely Burt won here in 2010, beating Conservative Maggie Throup by 175 votes.

The new Tory candidate is Julian Knight, who explains on the West Midlands Conservatives website that he was brought up on a council estate by a single parent.

Over in the Black Country in Dudley North former Minister Ian Austin (Lab) will be hoping to improve on his slender 649 vote majority from 2010.

The Conservative candidate is Afzal Amin, a former army officer who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, who requires a swing of less than one per cent to win.

The Conservatives are also involved in what looks like a desperate battle to hold on to Wolverhampton South-West where MP Paul Uppal is defending a majority of 691. The Labour candidate is local solicitor Rob Marris.

In Stroud, Conservative MP Neil Carmichael is defending a majority of 1,299 having won the seat in 2010 by registering a swing of 2.5 per cent from Labour to Tory. Labour’s David Drew requires a swing of 1.1 per cent to win the seat.

The Conservatives may fancy their chances in Telford, where Labour MP David Wright is defending a majority of 978. Mr Wright scraped home in 2010 with his share of the vote falling by 9.5 per cent. The Conservative candidate is former councillor Lucy Allan.

In Walsall North Labour MP David Winnick is defending a majority of 990. Tory candidate Douglas Hansen-Luke requires a swing of 1.4 per cent to win.

At the other end of the town in Walsall South Labour MP Valerie Vaz, sister of Leicester MP Keith Vaz, is defending a majority of 1,755. The Conservatives require a swing of 2.1 per cent to win, but are believed not to be targeting the constituency.

The West Midlands Conservative Party website indicates that the party is yet to select a candidate. The Tories’ press officer failed to respond to a request from Chamberlain Files for a list of prospective Midland candidates.

Halesowen and Rowley Regis is a constituency very much on Labour’s hit list. James Morris, the Conservative MP, took the seat from Labour in 2010 and is defending a majority of 2,033. Labour candidate Stephanie Peacock, a local teacher, requires a 2.3 per cent swing to win.

Conservative Marcus Jones raced to a surprise victory in Nuneaton in 2010, where the Labour share of the vote fell by almost 10 per cent. Mr Jones is defending against Labour candidate Vicky Fowler, who requires a 2.3 per cent swing to win.

Worcester, a key battleground for the Tories in 2010, will see Conservative MP Robin Walker defending his seat against Labour’s Joy Squires, a local councillor. Labour require a 3.3 per cent swing to win in one of the constituencies the party must aim to pick up if Ed Miliband is to get to Downing Street.

Cannock Chase is more must-win territory for Labour where boundary changes in 2010 saw the party’s share of the vote collapse. Aidan Burley took the seat for the Conservatives with a majority of 3,195. However. Mr Burley announced his decision not to stand for re-election earlier in the year following controversy over his attendance at a ‘Nazi-themed party’ in a French ski resort. Amanda Milling, a Tory councillor in Lancashire, has been selected to contest the seat. Labour’s Janos Toth requires a swing of 3.5 per cent to win.

Labour lost Warwick and Leamington in 2010 when James Plaskitt was beaten by Tory Chris White. Labour’s Lynette Kelly requires a swing of 3.6 per cent to win the seat.

Veteran Labour MP Jim Cunningham must rate his chances of success high in Coventry South where the Tories require a 4.2 per cent swing to win.

Bosworth and Hinckley looks to be a two-way fight between Tory MP David Tredinnick and the Liberal Democrats. Tredinnick survived a Lib Dem surge in 2010, when the party’s candidate increased his share of the vote by 11.7 per cent. Tredinnick’s majority is 5,032, with the Lib Dems requiring a 4.6 swing to win.

Labour’s candidate in Bosworth, Chris Kealey, is a former Foreign Office diplomat who was once seconded to work in the offices of Princes William and Harry. He will be hoping to repair the damage of 2010 when Labour’s share of the vote collapsed by 16 per cent.

Other West Midlands seats to watch out for outside of the top 100 marginals include the following.

Dudley South, where Tory MP Chris Kelly has announced he won’t be standing again. The Conservative majority is 3,856.

Stoke-on-Trent South, Rob Flello (Lab) maj 4,130.

Stourbridge, Margot James (Con) maj 5,164.

Stafford, Jeremy Lefroy (Con) maj 5,460.

Stoke-on-Trent Central, Tristram Hunt (Lab) maj 5,566.

West Bromwich West, Adrian Bailey (Lab) maj 5,651.

Redditch, Karen Lumley (Con) maj 5,821.

Rugby, Mark Pawsey (Con) maj 6,000.

Tomorrow: the UKIP Factor.

To order of a copy of RJF’s Insight report on all the Birmingham and Black Country MPs, please contact Kevin Johnson, .

Picture: © Parliamentary Copyright

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