Tim's time: which seats the Lib-Dems are after

19 May 2017

 Having lost 49 seats in the 2015 general election, the Lib Dems are seeking a comeback in Westminster. The party has realistic hopes of increasing its parliamentary force and has seen a large increase in membership since the last election, jumping from 61,000 in 2015, to just over 101,000 members in 2017.

The Lib Dems top target seat, Cambridge, is held by Labour with a slim majority of 599. A swing of 0.5 per cent to the Liberal Democrats would see Julian Huppert return as MP. The Lib Dems are hopeful that they can retake this seat as it voted 74 per cent 'Remain' in the EU Referendum.


Eastbourne is another seat the Lib Dems are hoping to re-gain after losing it in 2015. Stephen Lloyd is re-contesting this seat after being convinced by constituents to reconsider running again after retiring. Lloyd, however, is disadvantaged due to Eastbourne voting leave by 57-43. The Lib Dem's pro-EU message would not resonate with voters in the seat. He would have to rely on his record as an MP to win enough support to retake the seat.


Twickenham is another seat the Lib Dems are hoping to regain. Held by Sir Vince Cable for 18 years before his defeat, the Lib Dems are hoping their pro-EU message will be enough to see Vince Cable return as an MP, having won the Richmond Park by-election in 2016. Lib Dems would need a 1.6 per cent swing to win the seat back.

Dunbartonshire East is a top target for the Lib Dems in Scotland, having lost 10 of their 11 seats in 2015. Hoping to retake the seat for the Lib Dems is Jo Swinson, who was the MP for 10 years before her defeat. The Lib Dems are hoping to retake this seat, after winning 3 seats in the East Dunbartonshire Council. The decline of the SNP vote is raising hopes and a swing of 1.9 per cent is needed to win the seat from the SNP. Labour tactical voting would also help the Lib Dems to oust John Nicolson as an MP.


Manchester Withington is another seat the Lib Dems are hoping to win. A 14 per cent swing is needed to take the seat from Labour, a mammoth task. However, John Leech managed to achieve a 17 per cent swing in his favour in 2005. He quickly became popular with the electorate, increasing his majority in 2010. He was one of the 21 Lib Dem MPs to vote against the rise in tuition fees and the bedroom tax. A poll taken before the 2015, found he was one of Manchester’s most popular MPs. Manchester Withington looks like a seat Labour can hold, but with John Leech standing again, the Lib Dems stand a chance.


North East Fife is another top Scottish target for the Lib Dems. Willie Rennie took the seat for the SNP on a 9.5 er cent swing. The SNP are defending a 4,344 majority and a swing of 4.8 per cent is needed for the Lib Dems to secure victory.


Kingston and Surbiton, held by Ed Davey for 18 years before his defeat, is another London target seat that the Lib Dems are vying to take. The seat voted 61 per cent to remain in the EU,  a prime target for the Lib Dems. Former MP Ed Davey, has been selected to recontest the seat in the hopes of winning back the seat. Ed Davey was seen as a future leadership contender before his defeat, and winning the seat might see him contest any future leadership election.


While the Lib Dems are targeting seats, they hope to gain, the party does have to defend seats with significantly reduced majorities. 


Carshalton and Wallington, held by Thomas Brake, is defending a small majority of 1,510. He managed to hold onto his seat in the backdrop of the national collapse of the Lib Dem vote. He was the only remaining Lib Dem MP in the capital, until Sarah Onley won Richmond Park at a by-election in 2016. His constituency vote 56 per cent to leave the EU, which is a disadvantage to his re-election bid. If UKIP voters, like in the local elections, switch to the Conservatives, Tom Brake would be unseated. The Lib Dems would have to rely on Labour and Green voters to tactical vote to keep the Tories out.


Orkney and Shetland, their last remaining Scottish seat managed to survive the SNP landslide due to the large majority Alistair Carmichael had from the 2010 election. The party would be boosted by the fact they held both Orkney and Shetland in the 2016 Scottish election by vastly increased majorities. 


Sheffield Hallam, held by former Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, survived a strong challenge by the Labour party in 2015. Sheffield Hallam is the only Sheffield seat Labour does not hold. Trailing as much as 10 per cent behind labour in the constituency polls leading up to the election, he managed to hold onto his seat with a significantly reduced majority. The Lib Dems are optimistic that they can hold onto the seat. 


Westmorland and Lonsdale, held by Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, was the only seat which the Lib Dems received over 50 per cent.  Westmorland and Lonsdale is the safest seat that the Lib Dems currently hold, a swing on 9% from to the Conservatives would be needed to unseat Farron.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Cambridge will decide if the Lib Dems recover, and failing to win the seat would mean that the Lib Dems might not recover from its near wipe out in 2015. Winning other seats such as: Dunbartonshire East, Twickenham, Kingston and Surbiton and Eastbourne would decide if the Liberal Democrats can recover in future elections. Even if the Liberal Democrats do not regain much of what it lost in 2015, increasing their share of the vote in formerly held seats will bring them within reach in subsequent elections.


Anything above 25 seats would be a good night for the party, a good number of MPs to build on. 


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