North East England is Labour’s safest region. In fact, their national party headquarters is actually in Newcastle. Nevertheless, there are still targets for other parties here, especially the Tories. There are a lot of Leave Labourites here as well as a lot of 2015 UKIP voters. Also, the Tories managed to shock the world and pick up the Tees Valley metro mayor’s office in the local election. The office covers Darlington, Stockton, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Hartlepool. Without further ado, here’s the target list:
This is how the parties stood in the region after 2015:
#1 Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland – 2.5% swing from Labour required, 65.3% Leave
On the very southern edge of the North East conurbation, the Tories sometimes have a chance in hell of winning. In fact they’re just about sure to win here. The swing is small, the seat is very pro-Brexit, and UKIP has a nice 15.2% from which to draw extra votes. I guess nothing is a sure thing, but this is pretty close.
#2 Darlington – 3.8% swing from Labour required, 58.1% Leave
Unlike most seats in this socialist corner of Britain, the Tories have actually held this one in living memory (though that was in the heady days of the Thatcherite 80s). They haven’t held it in a quarter-century, but that’s probably about to change. The Leave number is decent (though not amazingly high for the region) and the swing is very doable. The UKIP number is only 13.1%, which is a bit lower than I’d expect. Still, it should provide a Tory victory even if the regional polling breakdowns are a bit too rosy for Team Blue.
#3 Hartlepool – 7.4% swing from Labour required, 69.6% Leave
UKIP actually came second here in 2015. However, the Tories are almost guaranteed to come at least second in June. Hartlepool is a maritime and nuclear energy town. The first explains high Brexit numbers. The second augers badly for Labour because Jeremy Corbyn is opposed to nuclear energy. This hurt Team Red badly in the Copeland by-election. Honestly, since Labour only got 35.6% here last time, I’d call this one for the Tories if you put a gun to my head.
#4 Bishop Auckland – 4.5% swing from Labour required, 60.9% Leave
We’re kind of in uncharted territory on this one. As far as I can tell, no Tory has been elected here since the seat (as South Durham) elected two MPS in 1865. That may seem odd for what looks like a fairly rural seat, but this was coal country. Even to this day, rural seats with lots of former coal mines are generally heavily Labour. Anyway, UKIP’s 17.8% should come in handy. I’m not 100% sure that the Tories will get this, but I’d be fairly surprised if they didn’t.
#5 Sedgefield – 8.8% swing from Labour required, 59.4% Leave
This one is probably a bit of a reach, but I suspect that the Tories will make a big push for it. It would be very symbolic if they won it. That’s right, folks – this is Tony Blair’s old seat. In a competitive election, it would never be in play, but given the Leave number and the Conservatives’ current polling in Northern England, it’s on the board. UKIP got 16.6% in 2015, so the Tories should get a little bit of an automatic boost before they even get to taking votes from Labour.
#6 Tynemouth – 7.7% swing from Labour required, 47.6% Leave
Tynemouth, which as the name suggests is on both the River Tyne and the North Sea, is a bit of a question mark. It’s the Tories’ best target in Tyne and Wear, but it also voted for Remain. As you might expect, the UKIP vote is a bit low for region at 12.2%. I honestly don’t know how this constituency will shake out, but it should be a good measure of the Conservatives’ overall performance in the region. If they don’t take it, they should still be looking at a substantial victory.
#7 Stockton North – 10.6% swing from Labour required, 66.3% Leave
This one is probably pushing it. However, with a 19.2% UKIP 2015 vote to poach and the Tories’ current poll numbers up north, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
#8 Newcastle upon Tyne North – 11.3% swing from Labour required, 56.8% Leave
Until 1983, this was actually one of the few reliably Conservative seats in the North East. That year, even as Thatcher stormed to victory over a divided left (and Michael Foot, the prototype Bernie Sanders), her party lost a few urban seats that they never got back and failed to gain some urban marginals that haven’t been close since. This seat was one of them (another famously being Liverpool Edge Hill). I was actually thinking of putting this one at #7 due to the likelihood of a decent Liberal Democrat recovery here. They came in second in 2010 before getting royally screwed in 2015. However, that will likely be balanced out (and caused) by the lower Leave vote than in Stockton North. Blah blah blah UKIP blah 16.6% blah insert synonym for take from.
#9 North West Durham – 11.7% swing from Labour required, 55% Leave
This is probably the reach of all reaches, but it’s rural enough that i don’t want to rule it out completely. UKIP also got 17% here, so that helps, too.
#1 Berwick-upon-Tweed – 6.1% swing from Conservatives required, 55.3% Leave
If pickings are slim for the Tories in this region, they’re almost nonexistent for the Liberal Democrats. This was their only solid seat in the region before they lost it in 2010 (after Sir Alan Bieth had held it for decades). It’s on the Scottish border, which fits with the rural populist bent that Team Orange used to have until they recently jettisoned it to go all-in being the anti-Brexit party. Still, the Remain vote is high enough here that they could win in a crazy three-way fight. It’s not likely to happen, though.
#2 Redcar – 12.7% swing from Labour required, 67.7% Leave
This one looks very difficult, but the LibDems actually held this seat until 2015. I would have put this first but for the abysmally low Remain vote.
Thanks for reading. Give your opinions and next preferred region in the comments!