PLMR Account Director, Finn McGoldrick looks ahead to the most exciting contests in today’s election and the ones that may indicate which way the overall result is going…
For all the sound and fury there is only one poll that matters – and voters across the country will be in the driving seat today.
The Conservatives are hoping they hold on in seats with a strong remain challenge, like Wokingham and St Albans, and make big inroads into Labour’s ‘red wall’ across the North. We can expect to see Tory gains in heartland Labour seats like Bolsover and Newcastle Under Lyme. If the Tories can achieve these twin objectives, they’ll be on course for a big majority.
But Labour have real cause for optimism. It seems their 2017 electoral coalition of Remain supporters, young voters and city dwellers has held remarkably well. This combined with an impressive ground campaign in certain areas will see them keep their unlikely 2017 gains such as Canterbury and Battersea, and possibly even pick up new urban seats like Chipping Barnet.
The Liberal Democrats are still hoping to profit from Labour’s dithering over Brexit, but the surge they hoped for has certainly not materialised. They may benefit from benefit from tactical voting in seats such as Esher and Walton, where Tory Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab could lose his seat. In Scotland the SNP is likely to dominate, making gains from the Liberals, Labour and the Scottish Conservatives, a very bad night for the Liberal Democrats could see them lose their leader Jo Swinson in East Dunbartonshire to the SNP.
So, for those of you planning to stay up to watch the drama unfold, here is our guide to a few potential flash points.
The exit poll will be declared at 10pm, the past two elections have produced a shock exit poll result, so it is well worth tuning in.
Houghton & Sunderland South Newcastle upon Tyne Central – LIKELY LAB HOLD
While Houghton & Sunderland South is traditionally the first seat to declare, in 2017 it was beaten by Newcastle upon Tyne Central. Sunderland is historically a Labour city and will return Labour MPs however the margin of victory here will give an early indication of whether Labour have managed to hold off the Tories encroachment on the ‘red wall’.
Workington – LEAN LABOUR
The test of the ‘Workington Man’ theory put forward by Onward, a right-leaning think tank, which states the Conservatives new target voters are older, white, non-graduate males living in the North of England. This seat has also been traditionally Labour, and they are expected to narrowly hold the seat, a Conservative gain here would indicate a large Conservative majority.
Rutherglen and Hamilton West – LIKELY SNP GAIN
Labour gained the seat from the SNP in 2017 with a majority of 265, but it is expected the SNP will regain the seat. Labour made a handful of gains at the expense of the SNP in 2017, but the likelihood is that these seats will fall back to the SNP.
Battersea – LIKELY LAB HOLD
Labour is predicted to keep this surprise gain from the Conservatives in 2017, I would expect an increased majority thanks in large part to an impressive ground campaign. This seat is also a good indicator of how the parties will do across the London seats, where Remain seats have not broken in the Liberal Democrats favour as expected.
Wrexham – LIKELY CON GAIN
The Conservatives are predicted to take this seat from Labour who have seen a big drop in support from the last election.
Bishop Auckland – LIKELY CON GAIN
Labour has held this seat since 1935, but the Conservatives came within 502 votes of winning it in 2017. The seat voted to leave by almost 70%.
Cambridge – LIKELY LAB HOLD
Cambridge is a target seat for the Liberal Democrats, but the polling isn’t looking good.
Great Grimsby – LIKELY CON GAIN
Another Labour leave seat where the Tories are expected to win. Labour won with a majority of just 2565 in 2017.
Stirling – LIKELY CON GAIN
A surprise win for the Conservatives in 2017, who in the 2015 election came third in the seat. They defend the seat with a majority of 148, but it is still all to play for as they may attract the Unionist vote from other parties as they did in 2017.
Canterbury – LIKELY LAB HOLD
Labour surprised everyone by taking Canterbury from the Tories in 2017. Labour’s popular candidate Rosie Duffield has united the remain vote in the constituency, and looks likely to hold on.
Cheltenham and St Albans – LIKELY LD GAIN
Cheltenham and St Albans are traditional Conservative seats that may to be lost to a Liberal Democrat remain fuelled challenge.
Kensington – LEAN CON
The Conservatives held Kensington until 2017 when Labour won it with 20 votes. The Conservatives are hoping to win it back but this will be an interesting seat to watch as former Conservative MP Sam Gyimah is running there for the Lib Dems as well.
Ashfield – LEAN CON
Another Labour leave seat likely to be lost to the Tories. Labour is defending a majority of just 441 with a new candidate after incumbent Gloria De Piero stood down.
Finn is account director at PLMR and has previously worked on multiple election campaigns for labour.