General election: The seats where tactical voting could make all the difference

YouGov’s MRP poll for The Times was released last night, predicting a 68-seat majority for Boris Johnson and the Conservatives if the election were held today.

But the election still hangs in the balance with two weeks left to go. We’ve crunched some of the numbers ourselves, and have profiled six particularly interesting constituencies where tactical voting could make all the difference in stopping Conservative candidates.


You can find a comprehensive list of all seats that could be swung by tactical voting at the bottom of the piece.

Carshalton and Wallington (2017: Lib Dem)

MRP 2019 prediction
LD: 41% – Con: 40% – Labour: 9% – Brexit: 5% – Green: 3%

This leafy Greater London constituency swung to Tom Brake from the Conservatives in the shake-up of the 1997 election. Brake, the Lib Dems’ spokesperson for Exiting the European Union, has seen his majority reduce from its high of 5,260 in 2010 to just 1,369 in 2017.

YouGov’s projection reduces Brake’s lead to just 1% over his Conservative challenger, meaning the seat would be easily lost if the Brexit Party’s supporters voted tactically.

The Greens, who currently won’t keep their deposit, could join Labour and tactically vote to help put the, er, brakes on a Boris government by increasing the likelihood of a hung parliament.

Workington (2017: Labour)

MRP 2019 prediction
Con: 41% – Labour: 40% – Brexit: 9% – LD: 6% – Green: 2%

The Cumbrian constituency has only elected a Conservative once since WWII, in a 1976 by-election. It shot into fame at the beginning of the this year’s campaign (back in October, if you’d believe it) when centre-right think tank Onward coined the phrase “Workington Man” as the key demographic for the Conservatives to target if they wanted a majority.

A full swing by the Brexit Party towards the Conservative candidate is unlikely to occur, giving Greens (who, again, won’t get their deposit back) and Lib Dems an opportunity to secure the seat by voting tactically for Labour.

Canterbury (2017: Labour)

MRP 2019 prediction
Labour: 47% – Con: 43% – LD: 8% – Other: 2%

2017 saw a historic victory for Rosie Duffield and the Labour Party in this seat, which for 185 years had voted for a Conservative-affiliated candidate, the longest in British political history. Duffield, who gave a powerful speech in the House of Commons about her personal experience of being domestically abused, is standing again.

The current projection sees Duffield’s share of the vote increasing by 2 points up from her 2017 result where she won by just 187 votes. The seat is in the top 10 for Conservative targets.

The Liberal Democrat candidate, Claire Malcomson, was parachuted into the seat after the previous candidate, Tim Walker of the New European, stood aside to avoid splitting the Remain vote. While Lib Dem HQ refused to step down from the constituency, its voters could yet ensure Duffield’s return to the Commons.

Putney (2017: Conservative)

MRP 2019 prediction
Con: 38% – Lab: 34% – LD: 23% – Green: 4%

The heavily Remain-leaning London constituency is up for grabs after Justine Greening, its former Conservative MP who lost the whip and became an independent, announced she was not standing again. None of the candidates in the 2019 election have previously stood before in Putney.

The Conservatives are currently forecast to win the seat. But a small swing of Liberal Democrat voters behind the Labour candidate would stop the Conservative candidate, who has signed a pledge to back Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, from winning. Its council, which last had an election in 2018, is held by the Conservatives, as it has been since 1978. Despite that, Labour held the seat from 1997 to 2005.

Loughborough (2017: Conservative)

MRP 2019 prediction
Con: 47% – Lab: 40% – LD: 8% – Green: 3%

This Midlands bellwether seat has reflected the national result at every election since February 1974, and was last taken by the Conservatives’ Nicky Morgan in 2010. Morgan’s majority in 2017 was slashed to 8% from 18% in 2015, but the Culture Secretary is not standing again.

With a Tory majority of 7% being predicted, the backing of the majority of Liberal Democrats and Greens could see the seat return to Labour.

Peterborough (2017 & 2019: Labour)

MRP 2019 prediction
Con: 43% – Lab: 39% – Brexit: 7% – LD: 6% – Green: 3%

Peterborough somewhat encapsulates the strange political situation we find ourselves in. December will see Peterborough’s second election this year, following the June by-election where Labour retained the seat with new candidate Lisa Forbes by only 683 votes, which occurred after the conviction and recall of previous Labour MP Fiona Onasanya.

Forbes’s closest rival at the time was the Brexit Party’s Mike Greene, who is standing again and on whom we have extensively reported. This time, she is predicted to lose to the Conservatives amid a collapse of the Brexit Party vote, who were estimated to have won the seat at a constituency-level in the 2019 European Parliament elections.

While a full swing by the Brexit Party behind the Conservatives would make it nearly impossible for the Tories to lose, this seems unlikely to occur given Nigel Farage and Greene’s extensive campaigning. This leaves the future of the seat, pending a significant change in the polls, in the hands of its Lib Dem and Green voters.

We have identified 55 additional seats where tactical voting could make a real difference to keep Conservative candidates out.

Seats with a predicted majority of less than 1% (currently too close to call) and the party most likely to beat the Conservatives:

  1. Alyn and Deeside – Labour
  2. Bury North – Labour
  3. Cheltenham – Lib Dem
  4. Chipping Barnet – Labour
  5. Delyn – Labour
  6. High Peak – Labour
  7. Weaver Vale – Labour

Seats with a predicted majority of 1% and the party most likely to beat the Conservatives:

  1. Angus – SNP
  2. Bedford – Labour
  3. Bolton North East – Labour
  4. Carshalton and Wallington – Lib Dem
  5. Dewsbury – Labour
  6. East Renfrewshire – SNP
  7. Gower – Labour
  8. Keighley – Labour
  9. Leigh – Labour
  10. Ochil and South Perthshire – SNP
  11. Sedgefield – Labour
  12. Stoke-on-Trent Central – Labour
  13. West Bromwich East – Labour
  14. Workington – Labour

Seats with a predicted majority between 1% and 4% and the party most likely to beat the Conservatives:

  1. Bridgend – Labour
  2. Clwyd South – Labour
  3. Coventry North West – Labour
  4. Dagenham and Rainham – Labour
  5. Darlington – Labour
  6. Gordon – SNP
  7. Heywood and Middleton – Labour
  8. Scunthorpe – Labour
  9. South Cambridgeshire – Lib Dem
  10. Vale of Clwyd – Labour
  11. Aberdeen South – SNP
  12. Birmingham, Northfield – Labour
  13. Bury South – Labour
  14. Coventry South – Labour
  15. Erith and Thamesmead – Labour
  16. Gedling – Labour
  17. Hendon – Labour
  18. Lancaster and Fleetwood – Labour
  19. Lincoln – Labour
  20. Stockton North – Labour
  21. Warwick and Leamington – Labour
  22. West Bromwich West – Labour
  23. Winchester – Lib Dem
  24. Worsley and Eccles South – Labour
  25. Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock – SNP
  26. Bolsover – Labour
  27. Canterbury – Labour
  28. Crewe and Nantwich – Labour
  29. Hyndburn – Labour
  30. Ipswich – Labour
  31. Lanark and Hamilton East – SNP
  32. Newport West – Labour
  33. Peterborough – Labour
  34. Putney – Labour

Find out if you live in any of these constituencies using this tool from Democracy Club.

Even if you don’t live in one of these constituencies, tactical voting could still have an important role to play.

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