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All posts by June2017

The 650 | 4th May 2017

How worried are Labour MPs about losing their seats?

Despite their party’s abysmal poll ratings, MPs find cause for optimism on the campaign trail.

Labour enters the general election with subterranean expectations. A “good result”, MPs say, would be to retain 180-200 of their 229 MPs. Some fear a worse result than 1935, when the party won just 154 seats. Rather than falling, the Conservatives’ poll lead has risen as the prospect of electing a government concentrates minds (last night’s YouGov survey, showing the Tories a mere 16 points ahead, was an exception).

Though Conservative strategists insist they could lose the election, in an attempt to incentivise turnout, their decision to target Labour MPs with majorities as high as 8,000 shows the scale of their ambitions (a Commons majority of circa 150 seats). But as well as despair, there is hope to be found in the opposition’s ranks.

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The 650 | 27th April 2017

Could the 2017 general election turn Wales blue?

The Conservatives have a chance to capture both the Leave Labour and the Ukip vote.

For almost a century, general elections in Wales have been about Labour victories. Labour got the most votes in Wales for the first time in the 1922 general election, and it has done so at every general election since then. But this could just be the election where that formidable run comes to an end. Yes, things really are that bad for Labour.

Labour dominance in Wales has long meant Conservative weakness – the Tories always do worse in Wales than in England. But 2015 saw jubilant Tories across Wales celebrate their best general election result since the 1983 Thatcher landslide. Now they have realistic prospects of further advances. Even Bridgend – not won by the Tories since 1983, and held for the National Assembly by Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones – looks very winnable. Not only do the Conservatives face an enfeebled and divided Labour party; Theresa May’s bold pitch for a Brexit mandate will likely win significant support in Wales. Almost the entire Welsh political establishment supported Remain here last year. But the Welsh people voted Leave, and the polling evidence suggests that they have not changed their mind. A Brexit-focused campaign could be particularly problematic for Labour in its most iconic Welsh bastions: all of the south Wales valleys voted Leave, many by substantial margins.

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The 650 | 27th April 2017

The constituencies where the Liberal Democrats can take on the Tories

There are nine seats where Liberal Democrats are within striking distance of victory in an election fought on Brexit issues.

“Comeback is a good word, man,” said actor Mickey Rourke when he was catapulted back into Hollywood stardom after a long stint in the wilderness. Tim Farron is no Rourke but at the rapidly approaching general election he too is betting on a comeback.

Liberal Democrats have a score to settle. Two years ago, the traditional third party in British politics were a mere 25,000 votes away from losing all of their seats in Westminster. But the vote for Brexit has given Farron and his party a lifeline. With Labour divided, the party has taken an opportunity to pitch to disillusioned Remainers. And they have made some inroads. Local by-election victories for Liberal Democrats are now commonplace, while the parliamentary by-election in Richmond Park provided further evidence of a comeback.

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