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The eight big losers from YouGov’s poll

28 November 2019

10:03 AM

28 November 2019

10:03 AM

Labour is heading for its worst election performance since 1983, according to YouGov’s long-awaited MRP forecast. The poll also makes for miserable reading for parliament’s independent candidates, most of whom look set to lose their seats. Given that YouGov was one of the few pollsters to correctly predict a hung parliament in 2017, it would seem foolish to dismiss their predictions. Here are the eight big names who could find themselves booted out of parliament come 13 December:

Don Valley – Caroline Flint, Labour
Prediction: Likely Conservative GAIN

A former minister for Europe under Gordon Brown, Flint is one of the few Labour Remainers to have undergone a full Brexit conversion. She was one of just 19 Labour MPs to have voted for Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. What’s more, she is the only Labour MP reselected in 2019 to have voted against the Letwin amendment that forced Boris Johnson to seek a delay to Brexit. Yet it appears her heavily Brexit supporting constituents in Don Valley are not grateful. With 68 per cent of voters backing Leave in 2016, they have plumped for Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal over Corbyn’s second referendum.

Bolsover – Dennis Skinner, Labour
Prediction: Leaning towards Conservative GAIN

Dennis Skinner is perhaps the biggest Labour name predicted to lose his seat in the YouGov MRP poll. The 87-year-old ‘Beast of Bolsover’ has been representing the area since 1970 and is known for his fervent Euroscepticism. Indeed, over 70 per cent of his constituents also voted to Leave in the referendum. But the YouGov poll puts the Tories around four points ahead of him. Skinner is seen as a socialist grandee within the Labour party, having nominated Corbyn for the leadership in 2015. The constituency is known for its strong mining tradition and has been Labour since its creation in 1950. If Bolsover does switch, it will be seen as emblematic of the new cultural divide between Labour and the Tories.

Beaconsfield – Dominic Grieve, independent
Prediction: Likely Conservative HOLD

The former attorney general knew he was going to have a difficult time retaining his seat as an independent and overcoming his previous majority of 24,543. Boris Johnson removed the whip from Grieve after he voted for MPs to take control of the Commons agenda to stop no-deal. The YouGov poll predicts that all three former Tories who are standing again as independents will lose their seats. Grieve was seen as having the best chance of survival between him, David Gauke and Anne Milton. And while the pollster predicts he will eat into his former majority, even on a best-case scenario he is around seven points behind his Tory rival.

Broxtowe – Anna Soubry, Independent Group for Change
Prediction: Likely Conservative HOLD

Soubry had been one of the most outspoken Tory Remainer rebels before she quit the party in February. She went on to become a founding member of the short-lived ‘Change UK’ party, which quickly descended into infighting and defections of its own. She is now the leader of the Independent Group for Change. There was some talk that Soubry might attempt to fight a different constituency but instead she elected to return to her Tory-Labour marginal of Broxtowe. The Lib Dems have stood aside in order to give her a fighting chance, although they received less than a tenth of her 26,000 Conservative votes in 2017. It looks unlikely that she will even be able to beat Labour (25,100 votes in 2017) and take second place.

Peterborough – Lisa Forbes, Labour
Prediction: Leaning towards Conservative GAIN

Labour managed to cling on to Peterborough during a by-election earlier this year after the former MP Fiona Onasanya was convicted of perverting the course of justice. The by-election saw Labour’s overall share of the vote slashed dramatically from 48 per cent down to 31 per cent while their majority stayed at around the 600 mark. This was because the Brexit party swooped in and split the Leave vote, pushing the Tories into third and handing the seat back to Labour (Peterborough backed leaving the EU by about 63 per cent). YouGov predicts the Brexit party will achieve only about three per cent of the national vote share and fail to pick up any seats. The Conservatives will be heartened to see they’ve failed to split the vote in a seat like Peterborough.

Kensington, Labour – Emma Dent Coad
Prediction: Leaning towards Conservative GAIN

The result in Kensington was seen as one of the big shocks of 2017. Emma Dent Coad managed to beat the Tories with a wafer-thin 20 vote majority. But last night’s poll predicts Labour will be pushed into third place, with ex-Tory Sam Gyimah of the Lib Dems in second. Labour’s failure to broker a Remain alliance and their inconclusive message on Brexit may well have split the vote; only 31 per cent of Kensington residents backed Leave. But it is also worth remembering that Kensington is one of the wealthiest constituencies in the country. Dent Coad’s socialism may prove too toxic this time around for the constituency’s well-heeled residents.

Cities of London and Westminster – Chuka Umunna, Lib Dems
Prediction: Likely Conservative HOLD

None of the Lib Dem defectors are expected to win back their seats. In fact, Jo Swinson’s Liberal Dems are set to pick up only one more seat than they did in 2017, falling back from their current set of 21 down to 13. Umunna, who decided not to fight his Labour safe seat of Streatham after quitting the party, chose instead the constituency of Westminster. Perhaps not a bad choice. Over 70 per cent of Westminster voters backed Remain and the incumbent Tory Mark Field is stepping aside after he grabbed a protester by the neck earlier this year, leaving someone else to defend his eminently beatable majority of 3,148. The YouGov poll suggests that while a Lib Dem win is still possible, Chuka is currently on course to come third behind the Tories and Labour.

East Renfrewshire – Paul Masterton, Conservative
Prediction: Tossup between SNP and Conservatives

Masterton has been one of the more visible Scottish Tories, having won his seat in 2017 after the Conservatives achieved a surprisingly strong result. This time around, Tory strategists have factored in losses north of the border, betting that their Brexit message would win them more seats in the Midlands and the North. If the YouGov poll is correct, their gamble will paid off. Masterton’s seat is by no means a foregone conclusion but the loss of a young, liberal Scottish Tory would surely be seen as part of a change in tone for Boris Johnson’s party.


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