UK General Election Constituency Betting: Ten Tory seats that could fall to the Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson
Can Jo Swinson's Lib Dems land a few knockout blows on the Tories?

One of the most important battlegrounds of this election involves the resurgent Lib Dems chasing gains from the Tories. Paul Krishnamurty analyses their ten top targets, ranked by majority...

"Cheadle represents a golden opportunity to regain a seat lost in the 2015 wipeout...Critically here there is no argument about which party is best placed to beat the Tories. Expect the 19% Labour vote share to be squeezed."

Richmond Park

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Considering the Lib Dems are polling at twice the total they achieved in 2017, failure to win this top target would be catastrophic. Richmond Park is a wealthy constituency on the edges of West London that voted by 71/29 for Remain in 2016. It has transferred between Conservatives and Lib Dems for decades, with Zac Goldsmith reclaiming it by just 45 votes in 2017 following a by-election defeat in the aftermath of the referendum. The former Mayoral candidate will resume hostilities with Sarah Olney.

St Ives

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More than the big-two parties, Lib Dem success often hinges on the popularity of the local candidate. Andrew George has run in every General Election here since 1992, winning four times between 1997 and 2010. The personal vote built during that period has enabled them to stay competitive and outperform national trends during the dark years after the coalition. Despite this being a 55-45 Leave seat, George starts only 312 votes behind.

Cheltenham

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Martin Horwood held this for the Lib Dems until 2010 and, having lost it badly in 2015, stormed right back to within 3,000 votes in 2017. Horwood isn't standing this time around, whereas the Tory Alex Chalk may have built his own personal following during two terms. Nevertheless, this is a very good opportunity for the same reasons behind the 2017 swing - Cheltenham voted 57-43 to Remain in 2016 and the party is always very strong at council level.

North Devon

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Lib Dems are established across the South-West as the non-Tory alternative, given Labour's weakness in the region. This constituency was reliably yellow until the post-coalition meltdown in 2015, with Nick Harvey winning every election from 1992 to 2010. Less Europhile than his colleagues, Harvey isn't standing this time in a seat that voted for Brexit by 57/43. Consequently, there are much likelier targets further down the list.

Cheadle

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Cheadle represents a golden opportunity to regain a seat lost in the 2015 wipeout. This relatively wealthy suburb of Manchester voted 57/43 to Remain and that sparked a 2% Con-LD swing in 2017, in stark contrast to national trends. Critically here there is no argument about which party is best placed to beat the Tories. Expect the 19% Labour vote share to be squeezed, as was the norm prior to the coalition.

Lewes

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Famously independently-spirited, Lewes voted for a like-minded MP in Norman Baker until 2015. Without him on the ticket, 2017 saw a 4% swing away from the Lib Dems, despite this being a 53% Remain constituency. It should be noted that 41% of this population is over 55 - a number that would generally favour the Tories. The Greens thrived at the local elections and, unless they stand down at the last minute, could split the non-Tory vote.

St Albans

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Despite what appears a healthy 6,000 majority, Anne Main is vulnerable as she starts on 43%. This is a heavily Remain - 62/38 - suburban seat in the London commuter belt. Notably, in contrast to nationwide trends, the Lib Dem candidate Daisy Cooper emerged as the main rival, enjoying a 7% swing against Labour. Given subsequent trends and the prospect of tactical voting, one must expect her to squeeze them further and gain the seat.

Southport

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Here's a complicated seat. The Tories won it for the first time since 1992, but their 38% share wasn't formidable and Southport voted 54-46 to Remain in the referendum. Having enjoyed a 9% swing against the Lib Dems and good local council results, Labour will target it and make a good case for receiving tactical Remain results. However, given how the national swing has moved in the other direction since, any of the three parties can win.

Wells

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This could be a photo-finish, as it was in 2010 when Tessa Munt won for the Lib Dems. Broadly the trends here favour the Tories - 41% are over 55, the referendum produced a 54/46 Leave result - but Munt has a strong local profile and the Glastonbury part of the seat is very liberal. Now the Brexit Party have stood down, Munt could really use some help from Labour, who nearly doubled their vote share to 11% in 2017.

Hazel Grove

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Another seat with a strong Liberal tradition - Andrew Stunell racked up big majorities prior to standing down in 2015. It neighbours Cheadle - noted above as a likely Lib Dem gain from the Tories. A crucial difference here is the referendum result, won 52/48 by Leave. Nevertheless there is some evidence of a Remain swing in and around Greater Manchester, along with good local election results for both Lib Dems and Labour. There are 9,000 of the latter's voters to squeeze here.


Follow Paul on Twitter and check out his website, Political Gambler.

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