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The 2015 battleground: the UK’s top 10 most marginal seats

25 April 2014

5:35 PM

25 April 2014

5:35 PM

With the Tories trailing just behind Labour in the opinion polls, predictions are rife that the 2015 general election will be a bloody tough campaign. With a drop in the Lib Dem vote, the rise of Ukip and a potential swing towards Labour, it’s difficult to predict who will win. But like all general elections, a handful of marginal seats will decide who walks into No.10. Here are UK’s most marginal seats which will play a vital role next year.

1. Fermanagh & South Tyrone

Held by: Michelle Gildernew — Sinn Fein
Majority: 4

Easily the UK’s most marginal seat, Michelle Gildernew has held Fermanagh & South Tyrone since 2001. Although she managed to increase the Sinn Fein vote by seven per cent, Gildernew clung on with a 0.01 per cent majority in 2010. A challenge from the independent candidate Rodney Connor — who had the backing of the DUP and the Ulster Conservatives — almost took the seat. Connor tried to challenge the result in court, after claiming he witnessed six votes uncounted, but was unsuccessful. It’s unknown whether Connor will run again for the seat in 2015.

2. Hampstead and Kilburn

Held by: Glenda Jackson – Labour
Majority: 42
Electoral Calculus prediction: 72 per cent chance of LAB hold

One of the surprises of the 2010 election, Glenda Jackson managed to hold onto the seat she has held in one form or another since 1992. The Tories put a lot of effort into the seat but their candidate Chris Philp failed to win. Hampstead and Kilburn, a three-way marginal, looks set to be an interesting case study for the state of the political parties in 2015. Simon Marcus, who sat on the London riots panel, is running for the Tories while the Quilliam Foundation’s controversial Maajid Nawaz will be running for the Liberal Democrats. Labour councillor Tulip Siddiq will be stepping into Jackson’s shoes; she’s retiring from Parliament.

3. North Warwickshire

Held by: Dan Byles – Conservative
Majority: 54
Electoral Calculus prediction: 74 per cent chance of LAB gain

Previously held by Labour since 1992, Dan Byles took the seat in 2010 with an eight per cent swing to the Tories. Once held by Francis Maude, it would be surprise if Labour don’t retake this two-way marginal at the next election, if there is a swing to Labour (as the polls currently suggest).

4. Camborne and Redruth

Held by: George Eustice — Conservative
Majority: 66
Electoral Calculus prediction: 60 per cent chance of CON Hold

A new seat in 2010, David Cameron’s former press secretary George Eustice managed to take the seat with a 12 per cent swing from its predecessor seat Falmouth and Camborne. With the Lib Dem vote likely to collapse somewhat in 2015, the Tories have a good chance of holding onto it. Labour only managed to bag 16 per cent in the last election.

5. Thurrock

Held by: Jackie Doyle-Price – Conservative
Majority: 92
Electoral Calculus prediction: 73 per cent chance of LAB gain

Previously a Labour seat since 1992, Jackie Doyle-Price took Thurrock at the last election with a seven per cent swing to the Tories. It’s a two-way marginal with Labour, so again assuming a swing towards Labour, they are likely to retake it in 2015. Labour’s candidate will be Polly Billington, a former BBC journalist and media advisor to Ed Miliband.

6. Bolton West

Held by: Julie Hilling – Labour
Majority: 92
Electoral Calculus prediction: 75 per cent chance of LAB hold

Once represented by Ruth Kelly, Bolton West came close to going Tory in 2010, with the Conservatives increasing their vote by six per cent but Labour managed to hang on. Based on the current polls, it’s unlikely the Tories will come near to challenging Labour next year.

7. Hendon

Held by: Matthew Offord – Conservative
Majority: 106
Electoral Calculus prediction: 74 per cent chance of LAB gain

Like many of the other two-way marginals, Matthew Offord managed to take the seat from Labour in 2010 with a four per cent swing. The seat was subject to a boundary review, which undoubtedly helped him win. Offord was one of the vocal critics of Maria Miller and her initial refusal to resign. Labour will probably have a good chance of retaking Hendon.

8. Sheffield Central

Held by: Paul Blomfield – Labour
Majority: 165
Electoral Calculus prediction: 94 per cent chance of LAB hold

A Labour-Lib Dem marginal, Paul Blomfield managed to see off a concerted effort from the Lib Dems to take the seat four years ago. There was a seven per cent swing away from Labour, but with the expected collapse of the Lib Dem’s vote, a reverse swing could happen in 2015.

9. Solihull

Held by: Lorely Burt – Liberal Democrat
Majority: 175
Electoral Calculus prediction: 70 per cent chance of CON gain

One of only two coalition marginals on this list, Lorely Burt (who is PPS to Danny Alexander) has held Solihull since 2005. Although boundary changes in 2010 notionally made this a Tory seat, the Lib Dems managed to hang in. Based on the current polls, it’s likely the Tories will take it in 2015; Labour only garnered nine per cent in 2010.

10. Oxford West and Abingdon

Held by: Nicola Blackwood
Majority: 176
Electoral Calculus prediction: 74 per cent chance of CON hold

With a seven-point swing from the Lib Dems to the Tories, Blackwood took this seat from the prominent press campaigner Evan Harris, who held it since 1997. Boundary changes removed several Oxford University colleges from the seat, and with them much of the Lib Dem vote. It’s likely that the Tories will hold onto Oxford West and Abingdon, given that Labour only made a 10 per cent showing in 2010.

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