5 Labour seats at risk from UKIP

4th August, 2014 12:45 pm

That UKIP could stop Labour winning target seats next year – and even win some of those seats themselves – is now an established truth for the Labour Party. Whilst there’s a great deal of denial going on about UKIP (including, as Conor Pope expertly skewered yesterday, the idea that UKIP doing well secures a victory for Labour) those activists and candidates fighting against UKIP in seats the party needs to win next year know the challenge Farage’s party present.

Farage Miliband

But what has been spoken of far less so far are the seats that Labour currently holds that could go UKIP in 2015. Matthew Goodwin – who has been writing about the risk to Labour from UKIP for longer than most – has identified five Labour seats that could go purple in the Independent today. The whole article is worth a read, but here are the key details about the five Goodwin believes are at risk:

Great Grimsby – Austin Mitchell is the MP but he’s stepping down, and last weekend Melanie Onn was selected to replace him as Labour’s PPC. Goodwin calls this “by far Ukip’s strongest prospect”, and with Labour just 2.2% ahead of the Tories last time round, this now looks like a possible 3 way marginal. To complicate matters further, the UKIP candidate could be the Tory candidate from 2010. UKIP won the popular vote here in May by a whopping 18 points.

Plymouth Moor View – Alison Seabeck is Labour’s MP here, and she’ll be concerned by UKIP winning here by 14 points in May. Southern coastal towns are traditionally strong for UKIP too. Seabeck will have been the local MP for 10 years by next year, so her incumbency could be a factor.

Ashfield – perhaps the biggest concern for Labour HQ will be to see Ashfield on the list, because the MP is none other than rising star and Shadow Cabinet member Gloria de Piero. She also has a role in the party’s campaign nationally, but she’ll also want to keep a close eye on her own marginal seat, which Goodwin believes is facing a UKIP threat as well as a Tory one. De Piero and her CLP have been out campaigning every week for the past four years though, which is exactly the kind of campaigning that can help keep seats like this one Labour. And lets not forget, back in 2005 Geoff Hoon (remember him?) had a 10,000 majority here.

Dudley North – combative MP Ian Austin is the MP here. He’s already made it clear that he wants an EU referendum (which may head off off some of the UKIP pressure locally) and with 12% of the local population being BME, it’s not the kind of seat UKIP would normally be aiming for. However, they did beat Labour by 12 points here back in May.

Rotherham – UKIP’s performance in Rotherham (winning 10 of 21 seats) was one of their biggest successes in the local elections this year. Rotherham Labour Party has had a turbulent time, with a by-election caused by Denis MacShane’s resignation, followed by a difficult selection (including a mass walk out). UKIP finished second in that 2012 by-election, and an under fire local Labour council now face UKIP as the official opposition. Local MP Sarah Champion – elected in 2012 – will be hoping that she enjoys similar success in 2015.

So clearly there are Labour seats where a UKIP surge could hurt Labour directly. However, the situation could perhaps be even worse than the one Goodwin outlines. There were other traditionally strong Labour areas where UKIP beat Labour back in May. Perhaps the most notable was Doncaster – where the three MPs are Rosie Winterton (Chief Whip), Caroline Flint (Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change) and of course – Ed Miliband. It’s also a town that until 2013 had a mayor from the right-wing English Democrats, and will be the venue for UKIP conference this year.Goodwin also mentions Stoke as an area where UKIP performed well in 2014, but says “popular Labour MPs like Joan Walley are well entrenched”. Yet Walley is stepping down in 2015. Labour’s PPC is no stranger to taking on UKIP (Ruth Smeeth – she’s the Deputy Director of Hope Not Hate), but neither she nor Stoke Central MP (Tristram Hunt, Shadow Education Secretary) can afford to be complacent about Stoke either (Rob Flello, the City’s other Labour MP, was first elected in 2005).

There has been much talk – before and since the May elections – about Labour’s approach to taking on UKIP. Indeed, over a year ago I was told that Labour HQ was conducting a review into approaches to UKIP. There still doesn’t seem to be a clear answer. Simply parotting “they don’t share your values” (which, incidentally, annoys some potential UKIP voters by assuming Labour knows their values) won’t work – a more sophisticated approach is needed. Otherwise cheering for UKIP in the belief that Labour will always benefit might look both morally and electorally questionable.

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  • Jack Fate

    Good article. Last sentence really sums it up too

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      Oh yeah- really good. If UKIP win these 5 seats I’ll run down Jesus Lane in Cambridge shouting ‘I love David Cameron’ at the top of my voice.
      Let’s get off idle, speculative rubbish like this and on to developing policies to win the election.

      • Jack Fate

        I don’t think the article says UKIP will win them, but they could prevent Labour winning them is the point

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          Here’s what Mark wrote verbatim:
          ‘But what has been spoken of far less so far are the seats that Labour currently holds that could go UKIP in 2015. Matthew Goodwin – who has been writing about the risk to Labour from UKIP for longer than most – has identified five Labour seats that could go purple in the Independent today’.

          It’s pretty unequivocal mate- these seats ‘could go purple’.

          • Doug Smith

            The word ‘could’ and the word ‘will’ have different meanings.

      • Wuffo the Wonder Dog

        ‘ . . and on to developing policies to win the election.’

        Any policies come to mind yet – another Iraq/Afghan war, more immigration, deathcamp hospitals a la Stafford, Red Princes (Kinnock, Blair, Straw, Harman, Prescott) to represent them as MPs?

        What do you suggest?

  • Zool

    UKIP is the future for this country, It’s the true working class party.

    • treborc1

      UKIP is a good old fashioned protest vote, but to even suggest it for the working class is the best laugh I’ve had.

      If I vote I will be voting UKIP but it’s a bigger bet I will sit at home.

      • Wuffo the Wonder Dog

        and who does the Labour party represent – the black working class?

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          Ah UKIP’s racist voice- wondered when we were going to here it.
          You’ll be welcomed with open arms by Mark and the ‘moderators’.

    • Danny

      You’re a funny guy. Got any more like that?

    • Redshift1

      Yep that ex-hedge fund managing golf-enthusiast of a leader is definitely one of us isn’t he?

      • Zool

        He’s still more working class than Millionaire Milbrand.

        • Redshift1

          Not really. Miliband went to comp. Farage went to a private school.

          Now in my book, Miliband is a bit posh and clearly comes from a well-off background being the son of a leading academic and that, but Farage is from the same kind of background as Cameron and Osborne and had a career in the City as a financier doing the kinds of things that caused the recession. How is that working class? You seem to have a very odd definition.

          • Farage was never in banking, never in finance, but don’t let the facts spoil your childish bigotry.

          • Redshift1

            Hedge Fund Manager (true) and he worked in the City (true)

            And what bigotry exactly am I guilty of? Explaining that there’s nothing remotely working class about Farage isn’t bigoted. Trying to make out he is however, is simply a lie.

          • Wuffo the Wonder Dog

            Miliband went to the same comprehensive that Boris Johnson went to – all you had to do to get in was have a house in Primrose Hill (garrets starting at £500,000). Oh yes, Miliband is one of the people all right, the chosen people.

          • Why has this blatantly antisemitic post not been deleted?

    • PoundInYourPocket

      “Longer hours less pay no rights no NHS no unions flat tax and no H&S for the workers !”
      Is the UKIP slogan.

      • treborc1

        Lets not get carried away it was not that long ago Milibans labour were willing to set the Unions free, and it was not that long ago Labour used Unum Provident and ATOS a task, and it was not that far back labour wanted to sell the NHS and the Royal mail and the post office and royal Mint and a number of others as well.

        So these days trying to scare people with we will not have, is long gone because none of us know the ambitions of Progress do we they are secretive behind the scenes.

        • PoundInYourPocket

          I know your opinion of New Labour and Progress, and I agree. But to make the leap from that position that somehow UKIP will better serve the interests of the working class is very odd. Farage is a populist so I’m not sure quite where he’ll try and take UKIP , but on the whole hs centre of gravity is on the libertairian free-market side of politics. That would mean all the things I’ve listed above. No matter how bad Progress may be they can’t be equated with the libertairian (Tea-Party) style of UKIP politics.

          • Dan

            To be fair, although by all accounts Farage privately is an uber-Thatcherite, UKIP have actually been shifting well to the left on economic issues over the past year. Probably because they’ve realised that most of their voters, despite having Daily Mail-esque views on immigration and the EU, also hate big businesses, the rich, the “markets”, etc. I think they’ll probably be the most anti-austerity of the 4 big parties at the next election, though it’s probably all posturing and if they ever (God forbid) sniffed power then they’d probably revert to type.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            I mentioned above that I wasn’t sure where Farage would end up on policy as he has discovered the populist movement of Beppe Grillo and the LePen blend of nationalism that includes state ownership. The last time I saw him being interviewed he was clearly shifting position as he agreed with an audience member that the railways should be nationalised. It will be interesting to see the manifesto but I expect an incoherent mix of free-market libertairianism with state ownership as a means of covering all populist bases.

      • Dave Postles

  • NT86

    Ashfield was taken to a 3 digit majority in 2010 due to one Daniel Zadrozny who is meant to be very popular locally. He was reselected by the Lib Dems for next year. No one really rates their chances as a national party at this point, but there must be some jitters about Gloria De Piero defending such a wafer thin majority. I don’t think UKIP are an immediate threat in Ashfield despite the seat’s demographics probably favouring them.

    • Ultra_Fox

      De Piero will have had five years to establish herself in the area. Her predecessor in Ashfield was also heavily implicated in the expenses scandal, which undoubtedly had a negative impact on the Labour vote.

      She should hold on to the seat comfortably.

    • reformist lickspittle

      The best chance for the LibDems in Ashfield was in 2010 – and that would be true even if they hadn’t nosedived nationally. But, equally, they haven’t gone to pot as they have in many similar areas since the GE.

      Its another reason, however, why there is zero chance of UKIP winning here.

  • Danny

    Well, if any Labour MPs have to lose there seat, it might as well be Gloria De Piero and Tristram Hunt.

    • Doug Smith

      The Progress entryists fight tooth and nail secure the safest seats. They know that New Labour lost 5 million votes between ’97 and 2010. They’re living on borrowed time but will try to postpone the inevitable for as long as possible.

      The Labour Party is no longer the party of ordinary people. They’ve dumped the unions, they’ve adopted the Tory narrative. They’ve minimised internal democracy and won’t give ordinary members a voice. The elite now run the Party as if it is their own private club.

      No surprise that long-time Labour voters are now looking for a protest party or a real alternative.

      And that’s the problem for Miliband and his Progress chums: their sense of entitlement prevents them from seeing their own deficiencies. But the electorate increasingly sees them for what they are.

    • High Sheriff

      We need Tristram to undo the damage Gove visited on education.

      • Redshift1

        There’s people that could do that particular job with a great deal more conviction than Hunt.

  • Frankie D.

    You mean Matthew Goodwin, the former tory and IDS fan?

    • Redshift1

      I think it might be a different Matthew Goodwin. I.e. this is ex-National Front guy who became a big anti-fascist.

    • MikeHomfray

      Goodwin certainly appears to have a very right wing agenda

  • JoeDM

    How many articles on UKIP in the last couple of weeks?

    UKIP must be doing something right !!!

  • Dan

    Good article, but I wish the party would stop thinking the only way of targeting UKIP voters is to be “tough on immigration”. Simply confirming people’s beliefs that their problems, the lack of jobs and lack of wealth, is caused by immigrants (rather than by the rich and powerful) does not help the Left win the argument in the long term and it’s questionable whether it will even help Labour in the short term.

  • Edward Carlsson Browne

    Idiotic headless chicken rubbish. For a start, it’s using the European elections as a baseline and UKIP are not going to be on level-pegging with us next year, even if we spend the next year hyper-ventilating instead of campaigning. European elections are mickey mouse elections that the electorate don’t take seriously and the results should be interpreted accordingly. If you must use a deeply flawed yardstick, try local elections, where the picture for UKIP is much less rosy in those areas.

    There’s no reason Ashfield should be on there – UKIP have conspicuously failed to make inroads there. This is the usual crap of somebody inputting the demographics and being too lazy to actually check if the areas manifest what they ‘ought’ – see also Bishop Auckland, where the support for UKIP Goodwin and Ford allege has stubbornly refused to actually exist.

    Nor is Rotheram realistically under threat – think how appalling the circumstances of the 2012 by-election were, remember that we won almost 2 to 1 and get a grip.

    As for Plymouth, this seems to have replaced Southampton as the southern city where UKIP pose the greatest threat to us. This wouldn’t happen to be because UKIP’s 2014 results were notably underwhelming in the latter city and so the zombie narrative needed a new figurehead, would it?

    I get that research funding is difficult to come by and that Goodwin has to put food on the table somehow. But it’s getting increasingly dull seeing his hackery repeated every three weeks in the left-of-centre press. There are places where UKIP could have a serious impact on the result of the next election, and with the exception of Grimsby none of these seats fall into that category.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      Yup- absolutely right.
      In the absence of meaningful debate or thought about policy Mark serves up this rubbish. I’ve come to the conclusion that Mark is a lazy thinker who is intensely relaxed about running a Labour site that is overrun by Tory/UKIP trolls.

      • reformist lickspittle

        Sadly, I agree.

        Which is why I spend less and less time on here – sort it out, Mark 🙁

        (superb post E C-B, but you are wrong in one respect – we didn’t beat UKIP in Rotherham in 2012 by “almost” 2 to 1, but more than that)

  • Paul Adams

    I want to see Doncaster, Rotherham, Ashfield and Grimsby plastered with that photo of Nigel Farage posing with that Thatcher mug in the runup to the next Election – he’s been allowed to get away with his fraudulent, cheekie-chappie, man-of-the-people act for far too long.
    BTW, having watched her on a BBC2 program earlier this afternoon, can somebody please tell me what is so terrible about Gloria Del Piero – she seems a very nice and intelligent person.

    • Doug Smith

      But New Labour have also been allowed to get away with their fraudulent act for far too long.

      If voters are deserting Labour, Labour has no one to blame but themselves. I never voted for any party other than Labour but I certainly won’t be voting Progress/Labour in 2015. Enough is enough.

      • Paul Adams

        I’m the last person on earth to defend “New” Labour, a party I never joined and hope we will never see again. Miliband has at least cautiously ( not as much as I would like ) moved Labour on from that discredited era.

        • PoundInYourPocket

          Really ? I can’t see it in terms of policy, so far its all pro-business neo-liberal New Labour Progress stuff. Although I don’t think Blair would have latched on to Tory austerity in the way Balls has, I think he would have had a more “aspirational” narrative, followed by austerity.

          • reformist lickspittle

            You need new glasses, then 😉

          • PoundInYourPocket

            Tory austerity, tougher than the tories on welfare, business “friendly”, pro EU, no corporation tax rises, no real hit on banking reform or tax avoidance, pro free-schools. All sounds very New Labour to me. The only non-New Labour policies I can see with my dwindling eyesight are the toothless energy freeze and rent caps. New Labour 9 : Old Labour 1 ?

    • JoeDM

      Good idea. UKIP are after the spirit of the old ‘white van man’ Tory and Labour voters who put and kept Maggie in Government throughout the 1980s !!!

  • volcanopete

    Add the 3-way marginals of South Thanet,Great Yarmouth,Basildon and Thurrock and you get the need for a specific Labour strategy for these constituencies with those involved.Then,these seats are probably going to require a larger slice of the national funding cake,community organising and quick.The only way to win is to boost the contact rate and maintain a high presence.

    • Wuffo the Wonder Dog

      What, offer the proles another Iraq/Afghan war, more immigration, deathcamp hospitals a la Stafford, Red Princes (Kinnock, Blair, Straw, Harman, Prescott) to represent them as MPs?
      You sure know how to sugar the pill, don’t you?

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  • Tickety Boo

    Hate Not Hope – government funded fascist organisation designed to intimidate free speech, Bunny Blue Hair at the helm.


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