How big’s the Tory challenge in Lib Dem bastions?

How big’s the Tory challenge in Lib Dem bastions?


A view from a Top Tory analyst

There’s an interesting analysis of the May 5th local election result by Rob Hayward on ConHome part of which focuses on the Lib Dem seats which the Tories would hope to take given current polling.

“…Nothing in politics is ever perfect nor consistent and the LDs showed remarkable resilience in a number of places probably in the form of incumbency. Where there was a sitting LD MP or Mayor they generally performed much better than elsewhere. The gains in the Vale may have in part reflected the defeat of Evan Harris in 2010 and Harrogate and Teignbridge followed similar lines.

In Eastleigh however the seat is now a Tory free zone, in Bath the LDs went forward and in Watford and Bedford – with LD mayors -the Tory didn’t make the progress of elsewhere.

Incumbency is clearly a major factor for LD organisation. Removing the remaining LD MPs in seats which we should hold is not going to be easy. Neither Chris Skidmore nor Jack Lopresti has an LD councillor in their parts of South Glos but almost every ward in Thornbury & Yate is still LD held and in nearby Bristol W, Portsmouth S, Cheadle and Hazel Grove the clock against the LDs barely shifted.

North Norfolk’s Tory council gain is illuminating. The Party made eleven gains but there are six wards and eight councillors in N Norfolk wards included within Keith Simpson’s Broadland seat. In that area we gained seven seats from the LDs and one from Ind. Well done Keith but that means very few gains at all in Norman Lamb’s actual constituency.

Be under no illusions even in what will probably be the LDs’ darkest days they could still defend their bastions very effectively.

The key to this is more, I believe, than the popularity of the incumbent MP/MP – but that there’s likely to be a stronger organisation in place and that is central.

Tonight/tomorrow morning: My wife and I are off to spend the night at the newly re-furbished St Pancras hotel – a birthday present from my children.

Mike Smithson

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