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GE2019: Spotlight on...

November 19th 2019

GE2019: Spotlight on... Yorkshire, the Humber and the North East

Over the course of the most unpredictable General Election campaign of living memory, Lodestone will be producing a series of notes shining a spotlight on the regions and nations that will decide the outcome. This week, Yorkshire, the Humber and the North East.

If you ask any Conservative Party adviser where they hope to pick up the seats they need to achieve a majority then the three regions of Yorkshire, the Humber and the North East will crop up. Why? For two primary reasons: One, they are some of the most Brexity places in Britain (57.7% Leave in Yorkshire and the Humber, 58% in the North East); Two, the Conservative Party’s vote share in these regions has gone up whilst Labour’s polling - at least at the moment - is plummeting.

That is not to say that the Conservatives have an easy or unobstructed path to sweeping away what the Tory think tank Onward has characterised as Labour’s ‘Red Wall’. This region has been heavily impacted by the flooding earlier this month and even those areas unaffected will have had wall-to-wall coverage of the devastation (and slow Government response) from their regional media. Boris’ delayed response to crises appears to be a feature of his style of leadership (it took him several days to return from his holidays when London rioted under his Mayoralty) and it could hurt him with voters who may want Brexit but also want a Prime Minister they believe cares about their everyday lives. The Tories are also hindered in these seats by Nigel Farage’s ‘unilateral Leave alliance’ which has resulted in Brexit candidates standing against Conservatives in almost all the seats that they need to win from Labour. Tory strategists hope that the signal Farage has sent, that the Brexit deal isn’t a complete betrayal afterall, will be enough to dampen support for the candidates he is fielding in Brexit’s heartlands.

2017 Results – Yorkshire and The Humber


Seats (change)

2017 vote share

Share change

2017 votes

Vote change

17 (-2)
37 (+4)
Lib Dems
0 (-2)
0 (0)
2017 Results – North East


Seats (change)

2017 vote share

Share change

2017 votes

Vote change

3 (0)
26 (0)
Lib Dems
0 (0)
0 (0)

2019 Projected vote shares

Labour’s vote in these Brexit-orientated constituencies has collapsed in comparison to their 2017 result and they have a lot of ground to make up in order to reach those levels again. YouGov regional polling (conducted before the recent floods) has Labour on 32% in the North East (down by 23 points) with the Tories on 34%, the Lib Dems on 15% and the Brexit Party on 19%. The picture is similar in Yorkshire and the Humber. The Labour Party is polling at 29% (down by 20 points) whilst the Tories are up to 41%, the Lib Dems are on 16% and the Brexit Party is at 14%.

What does it mean?

The Labour Party will probably manage to squeeze some of the Lib Dem vote in these regions, as we are seeing elsewhere. But it is equally possible to see the Conservative Party mining the Brexit Party’s numbers as voters begin to feel the crunch and begin to focus on likely overall outcomes from the election. It is difficult to see the Conservative Party failing to pick up some seats from Labour in these regions and Labour will also be worried about losing some more metropolitan constituencies, islands of Remain in Brexit land, to the Lib Dems. If, on the night, the red wall is holding strong across Yorkshire, the Humber and the North East then that points to Boris Johnson having failed in his quest for a majority. If red to blue seat coversions enter double figures here then, overall, he has probably succeeded.

Seats to watch out for on the night

Using the Lodestone Election Barometer, we have compiled a list of seats for each region that are ones to watch - i.e. particularly marginal or particularly telling about the overall direction of travel on election night. Below are our top picks for Yorkshire, the Humber and the North East.

Bishop Auckland, County Durham, Helen Goodman (Labour)

▪Total votes cast in 2017: 43,281

▪Majority: 502

A good barometer in itself of how well Labour have done at retaining the Leave-voting, more rural members of their own party. Bishop Auckland voted to Leave by 60% and Helen Goodman held the seat for Labour in 2017 with a 1.2% majority, or 502 votes. Bishop Auckland has never been represented by a Conservative candidate. If Labour lose this seat, which is by no means impossible, a Tory majority looks probable.

Hartlepool, Mike Hill (Labour)

▪Total votes cast in 2017: 41, 835

▪Majority: 7,650

The Labour Party held this seat in 2017 with a pretty comfortable majority of 18.6%, but since then Hartlepool has been the focus of constant campaigning by the Brexit Party and the Conservatives. Hartlepool returned a resounding Leave result in the 2016 referendum, with more than 69% of those who turned out voting for Brexit. The Brexit Party’s Chairman, Richard Tice, has chosen to stand here and it is their top target seat. The results here will give us a clear picture of whether the Brexit Party is taking enough votes off the Tories in Leave areas to let Labour back in through the middle.

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Simon Clarke (Conservative)

▪Total votes cast in 2017: 47,620

▪Majority: 1,020

The Conservatives took this seat from Labour in the 2017 Election with a 2.1% majority. This part of the North East is typically a Labour safe spot but - in 2017 - this Leave constituency chose the Conservative candidate Simon Clarke, who will contest the seat again. The Labour candidate, Lauren Dingdale, has concentrated her campaign around austerity and reversing public sector cuts. This seat is Brexit versus public services. If Labour can win over the voters in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland it will show that they have succeeded at least in part in shifting the debate on from Brexit.

Dewsbury, Paula Sherriff (Labour)

▪Total votes cast in 2017: 56,545

▪Majority: 3,321

The incumbent Labour MP, Paula Sherriff, has a majority of just 6% in this Leave voting seat and the Conservatives believe they are in with a chance. They might be helped by the Green Party, who are re-fielding their 2017 candidate and the Lib Dems. Between them, these parties took almost 2,500 (or 4% of the total vote) in 2017. A lot in this seat will depend on what Lib Dem and Green voters choose to do this time, and that will tell us a great deal about how effective Labour has proved to be in squeezing the centre-left vote.

Pudsey, Stuart Andrew (Conservative)

▪Total votes cast in 2017: 53,539

▪Majority: 331

Pudsey voted by 51% to Remain in the 2016 European referendum but went on to elect a Conservative MP in 2017. It is crucial to the Conservative Party that they retain seats like Pudsey - and build on them - if they are to get a majority. They are helped in this by the fact that the Labour candidate, Jane Aitchison, has already been involved in controversy - having called the royal family ‘scroungers’ and those who shop at Waitrose ‘scum’. Pudsey will be a seat to watch on election night; will the Remain majority, as slim as it is, back a second referendum? Or will the Conservatives hold on?