General Election 2019 UK Politics

General Election 2019: Regional Analysis: South West

Written by Isaac Browning

At the 2017 General Election, the results for the South West were:

The seats to watch on election night 2019 are: St Ives, Stroud, Camborne and Redruth, South Swindon, Cheltenham, Truro and Falmouth and North Devon.

Analysis

The South West of England, like the South East, is a traditional Conservative stronghold, after many Liberal Democrat seats switched that way in 2015. 

In 2017, they managed to gain back one of the 15 seats they lost in 2015, Bath, a heavily remain area, with slightly over two-thirds of voters backing Remain in the EU referendum. This type of seat will be their main area of focus this election, and there are three seats where they came within 10% of winning in 2017; Cheltenham, St Ives and North Devon. Of these, they appear to have the best chance in Cheltenham, which was 57% in favour of Remain, and the Conservatives are defending a majority of a little over 2,500 votes. St Ives also offers them a good chance, with the Conservatives winning by 312 votes, but here the Leave was higher, at 54%. That said, they were able to achieve a small swing towards them last time, so anything similar will be enough to tip the balance. North Devon will be slightly harder for the Liberal Democrats to gain, as it is less marginal, the two parties being separated by 4,000 votes in 2017. UKIP also gained a 14.7% of the vote here in 2015, meaning that the absence of the Brexit Party could boost the Conservatives further in this seat.

Labour made three gains in the South West in 2017, those of Stroud, Bristol North West and Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport. 

Their first priority will be holding these, particularly Stroud, which they won back by the narrow margin of 687 votes after the Conservatives had held it since 2010. Targets for Labour in the South West are slightly thinner on the ground than in the South East, but they will still be eyeing up seats such as Camborne and Redruth, South Swindon and Truro and Falmouth. 

Camborne and Redruth is an example of the changes that have taken place in many seats in the South West in recent years. In 2005 (when the seat was Falmouth and Camborne, with similar boundaries) the Liberal Democrats held the seat, but lost it to the Conservatives in 2010 by 66 votes. In the 2015 and 2017 elections, Labour’s vote share increased significantly, leaving the once Liberal Democrat seat as a Conservative-Labour marginal. Neighbouring Truro and Falmouth shows further evidence of this trend. Labour will hope that these seats give them a foothold in Cornwall, as the Conservative have enjoyed a monopoly on its five seats since 2015. 

In conclusion, few of these seats are actually competitive, so any seat changes here will likely be small in number. The Liberal Democrats, unlike in the South East, can hope for some gains here, such as in Cheltenham. Labour will have their eye on a few target seats here, and will be looking to consolidate their position as the second party in this region. The Conservative can only realistically look to Stroud for any gains, with the high Remain vote in other constituencies prohibiting them from making any progress.

About the author

Isaac Browning

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