At the 2017 General Election, the results for Yorkshire and The Humber were:
The seats to watch on election night 2019 are: Keighley, Pudsey, Calder Valley, Penistone and Stocksbridge, Morley and Outwood and Great Grimsby.
In 2017, Labour improved upon their already strong position in this region, gaining Colne Valley and Keighley from the Conservatives, as well as Sheffield Hallam and Leeds North West from the Liberal Democrats.
This region is interesting because it has particularly a high proportion of marginal seats, with 15 out of its 54 seats being decided by less than 10% in 2017. Labour are defending 10 of these, with the Conservatives the main challengers in 8 of these, and the Liberal Democrats in two.
The obvious place to start this analysis is in Keighley, the Northernmost seat in the county of West Yorkshire. 2017 was the first occasion since 1979 when the seat failed to back the largest party in Westminster, as Labour edged out the Conservatives by 249 votes, making it the UK’s 17th most marginal seat overall. Labour’s gain here was somewhat surprising, given that 53% of its constituents were for Leave in 2016. It will certainly be hard-fought again this time, and YouGov’s MRP has the seat as a complete toss-up, where either party could still pull ahead in the coming days. It will be an interesting one to keep an eye.
From Keighley, we make a very short journey down the A650 to Pudsey, Labour’s top target this election. Just 331 votes separated the two parties last time and the slight advantage that Remain had in 2016 will give Labour confidence of gaining it back for the first time since 2005.
Labour will also harbour some hopes of regaining Calder Valley, again for the first time since 2005, where they came within 609 votes of winning last time out. The constituency’s slightly-above-average Leave vote presents some problems for them, however.
A particularly notable constituency is that of Great Grimsby, the 10th most pro-Leave constituency in the United Kingdom. Despite this, the Conservatives failed to make significant gains at the last election, achieving only a small swing of just above 3%. This leaves them a majority of over 2,500 to overturn at this election, which a recent poll from Survation suggests they should be able to manage by fairly comfortably. The only potential stumbling block is the question of the Brexit party. How well will they perform and who will they take votes from? In Great Grimsby, Survation’s poll had them on 17%. If this figure were to be particularly different, either up or down, then the outcome could change. On the evidence we have to hand at the moment, though, this one looks fairly likely to turn blue, for the first time since 1935.
Other seats with similar profiles include Penistone and Stocksbridge, Scunthorpe, Rother Valley, Wakefield and Don Valley. If the Conservatives are to win a majority at this election, gaining these seats, among others, could be vitally important.
For the Liberal Democrats, they are projected to gain back Sheffield Hallam from Labour. Former Liberal Democrat leader and ex-Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was narrowly defeated here in 2017 by Jared O’Mara, after the student vote turned against him. O’Mara won’t be standing this time, having resigned from the Labour party in July 2018. This factor is what should be enough to get the Liberal Democrats over the line this time, in addition to the 64% Remain vote here.
They will also try to regain Leeds North West, although this will be more of a challenge, as they have to overturn a larger majority of over 4,000.
One minor party to keep an eye on in this region is the Yorkshire Party, a regionalist centre-left party which came third in several Yorkshire seats last time. While they may not challenge for seats in this election, they nevertheless represent an interesting electoral phenomenon, and could make a difference in some seats, depending on where their votes come from.
In summary, the Conservatives appear to be set for some gains here, although the precise number is difficult to pinpoint, because we don’t know what the effect of the Brexit Party will be in many of these constituencies. Labour have the potential to make a couple of gains, but their main focus will be on defending their gains in 2017, particularly the pair of formerly Liberal Democrat seats they were able to win in that election.