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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nai or Oxi: whether Greece says Yes or No today its citizens will continue to struggle  

Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy

Rupert Cornwell
George Osborne likes to think of himself as the greatest political mind of his generation  

Budget 2015: It takes a lot of hard work to be as lucky as George Osborne

John Rentoul
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test