Peterborough is precisely the sort of seat where Tories are right to worry about the presence of Brexit Party, whose 29% in a by-election earlier this year was mostly achieved at Tory expense. While that enabled Labour to hold the seat despite their previous MP going to prison for perverting the course of justice, their 31% tally on that occasion is well short of what will be required in a seat that voted Leave by a 61/39 margin. Incumbent Lisa Forbes lost the 2015 general election here.
Jason McCartney‘s defeat in 2017 following two comfortable victories was another big surprise – perhaps a consequence of the nature of the constituency. Colne Valley is more Remainer (50%) than most and was a three-way marginal back in 2010. The Lib Dems finished second on that occasion but were squeezed to a paltry 4% last time. A repeat seems unlikely in the current environment without very well co-ordinated tactical voting.
This was another great win for Labour last time, with Sandy Martin benefiting from a 4.5% swing against the Tories. He’s up against it defending a mere 836 majority in a 57% Leave seat but hope springs eternal from the demographics. This population is younger than most with only 27% aged over 55 and only 54% are homeowners. They dominated May’s borough council elections and tactical voting to squeeze the Lib Dems seems realistic, given the third party never features here.
Again the demographics offer hope for Labour here, despite a mere 789 majority. Bedford is much younger and ethnically diverse than the national average, which likely explains how Labour performed relatively well even in the defeats of 2010 and 2015. As elsewhere, their chance depends upon avoiding Remainer defections to the Lib Dems, who are strong at council level and won the most seats at May’s elections. Hard to call.
Stockton South is another of those Northern, Leave (62%) seats that swung surprisingly hard for Labour in 2017. Looking at the UKIP effect in the last two elections, it seems they may have been worse affected by their rise and therefore, the Tories may benefit from the Brexit Party standing. Certainly if the Tories can better 46% for the third election in a row, they will be mighty hard to beat.