Rob Hayward: The vulnerable MPs who are beginning to feel the heat

MPs who will be worried include 13 whose constituencies have been held by Labour in the past 10 years

Share
Related Topics

Seventeen Liberal Democrat MPs – nearly one-third of Nick Clegg's parliamentary party – will be looking over their shoulders as Labour support recovers. Among those suddenly appearing vulnerable are the party's deputy leader, Simon Hughes, and Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary.

If the threat to Liberal Democrat MPs comes from voters defecting to Labour, then the first bloc of MPs to be worried will be the 13 (of 57) whose constituencies have, in the last decade, been held by Labour. Four of these now have fairly large majorities and/or such a weak Tory vote that they can relax.

But in the other nine, the majorities are not large and the Tories can hold on to their own voters well, so the sitting Lib Dem appears precarious. They include Children’s Minister Sarah Teather in Brent Central and the Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone in Hornsey and Wood Green. The others are Bradford East, Burnley, Dunbartonshire East, Manchester Withington, Birmingham Yardley, Norwich South and Redcar.

A further 11 seats historically have had a large Labour vote of over 20 per cent. These former supporters have generally voted tactically to “keep the Tories out”, resulting in a heavily eroded Labour vote and the return of a Lib Dem. Of these seats, three have such safe majorities that the MPs could, if they have the nerve, not worry.

But the other eight – including Mr Hughes and Mr Huhne – know that “keeping the Tories out” is no longer a message that will work. The other seats are Bath, Berwick, Brecon & Radnor, Colchester, Portsmouth South and Taunton.

There are therefore 17 (9 plus 8) MPs who will feel under pressure.

That in itself will not mean that MPs will turn their backs on the coalition, but unfortunately for Mr Clegg, some of these MPs will have only too regular reminders of their mortality in the form of elections.

Many Liberal Democrat MPs face what may seem like almost incessant elections. It is the misfortune of those who represent former Labour territory that just when they have got over one set of metropolitan or district council elections they will be fighting another. Nothing can be worse for an MP’s morale than trying to motivate himself/herself and their workers while forever losing votes and seats at local election level.

A further difficulty in quite a few of these same constituencies is that they contain large numbers of students (and professors). The educational elite, as many MPs of all parties will confirm, is notoriously voluble and effective in lobbying.

So if as a Lib Dem MP you inhabit a constituency with a formerly large Labour vote, regular elections and a university campus, the next five years are likely to be hell in a Con-Lib coalition. They may be the first to be flaky in relation to the coalition.

Rob Hayward is a psephologist and the former Conservative MP for Kingswood

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Critics of Fiona Woolf say she should step down amid accusations of an establishment cover-up  

Fiona Woolf resignation: As soon as she became the story, she had to leave

James Ashton
 

Letters: Electorate should be given choice on drugs policy

Independent Voices
Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities