Conservatives lag in selecting candidates for marginal seats for 2015 election

  • @oliver_wright

The Conservatives have yet to select a parliamentary candidate in almost half of the most marginal seats they will need to win if they are to have a working majority after the next election, a new analysis reveals.

With less almost a year to go before polling day, a review of the 75 constituencies with the smallest Labour or Liberal Democrat majorities shows that so far the Tories have only selected candidates in 41 seats.

Even among the party’s top 50 targeted seats, 16 remained unfilled – including Birmingham Edgbaston, where Labour has a majority of just 1,274. By contrast, Labour has selected 48 candidates in its top 50 targeted seats.

The analysis also shows that more than 60 per cent of the vacant marginal seats are either in the North of England or the Midlands. This suggests that the Tories may have given up on challenging sitting Labour MPs across large parts of the country. The party has also, so far, not selected a single candidate in Scotland.

In contrast, the majority of candidates in London, the south-east and the south-west have all been chosen where Tory strategists intend to concentrate their firepower in 2015. Currently David Cameron has 306 Conservative MPs and would need to win another 20 seats to win an overall majority in the House of Commons. However, to be able to govern effectively and not regularly be defeated by backbench rebellions the Conservatives would probably need to win between 30 and 40 sears.

Tom Waterhouse, a Conservative councillor and campaign adviser who has carried out a similar analyis, said the Tories were lagging well behind Labour in organising key marginals. “It’s very clear that Labour’s party machine has really got itself into gear and raced through the selection processes,” he wrote on Ballotboxblog.