At the 2017 General Election, the results for the East Midlands were:
The seats to watch on election night 2019 are: Ashfield, Derby North, Lincoln, Broxtowe, Northampton North, Northampton South and Bolsover.
In 2017, the two major parties cemented their dominance, winning all seats on offer. No other party even came second in any of the seats in this region. In 2017, four seats changed hands with the Conservatives gaining North East Derbyshire and Labour winning Lincoln, Derby North and High Peak. There are a reasonable number of marginals here, with 14 of the 46 seats being decided by less than 10%.
The first Conservative target is Ashfield, a West Nottinghamshire constituency that was decided by 441 votes in 2017. Here, the picture is somewhat complicated by the Ashfield Independents, who came third with a respectable 9.2% of the vote in 2017, as Labour saw their majority fall by over 8,000. They are standing again this time, though their vote share is expected to fall, which should help Labour. However, they are facing a Leave vote of 70.5%, which will give the Conservatives hope of winning the seat for the first time in its 64 year history (if we discount a freak result in a by-election in 1977). This makes the seat a likely Conservative gain.
The second-closest seat in 2017 in this region was Broxtowe, the seat of Anna Soubry, who was narrowly elected as a Conservative, but later became the leader of The Independent Group for Change. She is one of the party’s three candidates at this election, which again complicates matters. However, she is only projected to gain around 15%, which is likely to contribute to the Conservatives managing to fend off Labour, because she is projected to gain more from the Labour vote than the Conservatives, which may prevent Labour from being able to gain the seat.
Next up is Northampton North and Northampton South, two very similar constituencies where the Conservatives were just able to hold off Labour in 2017, by 807 and 1,159 votes, respectively. Both seats had high Leave votes of around 60%, meaning that gaining them will be challenging for Labour, though not impossible. The absence of the Brexit Party could be key here, because these were two constituencies where the UKIP vote was, relatively speaking, quite high in 2015, which should also benefit the Conservatives, depending on whether or not they can convince voters who would otherwise have voted for the Brexit party to vote for them.
The perennial marginal of Derby North, decided by fewer than 7,000 votes in all but one election since 1966, with notably close results in 1979, 2010 and 2015. In 2017, Labour regained it by a margin of 2,015 votes, having previously lost in 2015. The seat is a fair bet to shift allegiances again, for the third time in three elections. It isn’t quite as easy to call as Ashfield, because the Leave was not as high in 2016, and the fight is clearly still on here, but the Conservatives are currently projected to regain it.
Two more Labour seats with similar majorities are Lincoln and High Peak, the other two seats that Labour were able to win from the Conservatives in 2017. Then, the Conservatives were unable to take advantage of a significant Leave majority in Lincoln, possibly because the UKIP vote was not very high in 2015, meaning they were unable to make gains from that party, as they were able to across other constituencies in the region. High Peak will be even harder to regain, as it was split almost down the middle in the EU referendum, and they have to overturn a slightly higher Labour majority of 2,300.
Next on the list are three Labour targets, those of Corby, North East Derbyshire and Loughborough. Labour lost North East Derbyshire in 2017, a consequence of its high Leave vote, though this was against the general trend in Derbyshire last time out. Loughborough offers perhaps the best chance of a gain from those three, and the seat is a reliable bellwether, predicting the largest party at every election since 1974.
Looking down even further, we see two seats that have been represented by the same two politicians since 1970, those of Bolsover (Dennis Skinner, Labour) and Rushcliffe (Kenneth Clarke, Conservative). Clarke is retiring at this election, whereas Skinner will seek re-election. As one of the very few Labour MPs to support Leave during the referendum, he is likely to hold on.
In conclusion, good performances from either party will see them make gains, although the high Leave votes in the majority of these constituencies means that the Conservatives will be confident of making some gains.