Wednesday, 24 February 2010

A Look @: Devon (Part I)

Devon is split into 12 seats for the 2010 election, one more than in 2005, of which 5 are held by the Conservatives, 3 by the Liberal Democrats and 3 by Labour. This post is looking at the constituencies not hugely affected by the new Devon Central seat. Rural Devon is CON/LD battleground but one in which the Tories have the upper hand. They’ll be hoping to take a couple of seats from the Liberal Democrats this year to help them get that coveted majority. In the 2009 County Council results the Conservatives made sweeping gains at the expense of the Lib Dems taking control of the council with 41 of the 62 seats. The Tories will hope to repeat this success in May.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed




Anthony Steen




CON Hold


Adrian Sanders




CON Gain

Devon North

Nick Harvey




LD Hold

Devon W & Torridge

Geoffrey Cox




CON Hold

Devon South West

Gary Streeter





CON Hold

Totnes has been left open by Anthony Steen (CON) after revelations about his expenses forced him to stand down. This shouldn’t affect Tory PPC, GP Sarah Wollaston, as it will be difficult for her opponents to paint her with the same brush. Besides, attacking the Conservative Party over expenses in this area of the country could cause the Lib Dems problems in neighbouring constituencies where their MPs have had problems of their own. Wollaston is clearly a different candidate to Steen; and is unlikely to hire a tree surgeon anytime soon! Although Steen has represented this corner of Devon since 1983, his recent majorities have been consistently small. There is definite potential for local councillor Julian Brazil to pick up Totnes for the Lib Dems the safe prediction is a Tory Hold. UKIP and the Greens, who have a county councillor elected from Totnes, could be strong here too so there is potential for an upset but the safe prediction is a Tory Hold.

Adrian Sanders (LD) won Torbay in 1997 from the Conservative incumbent. However, Sanders has been unable to solidify this gain for the Lib Dems and with a small majority he is facing a tough fight. The Lib Dems vote dropped 10% here in 2005 although none of this when to the Conservative candidate Marcus Wood who is standing again in May. Sanders himself has come off fairly well in the expenses row relative to other MPs in Devon but he still endured some scrutiny and had to pay back over £600. This is sure to be another closely fought contest with a lot riding on whether Labour hold on to their 5% increase from the last election. I think the majority either way is going to be small but if pushed I’d say Wood will take this for the Conservatives.

Liberal Democrat MP Nick Harvey is in a much stronger position than Sanders. He won his Devon North the seat from the Conservatives in 1992 and has enjoyed consistently strong majorities since. Harvey was not bothered by Sir Thomas Legg and has fairly comfortable majority to defend. The Conservative PPC here is businessman Philip Milton and he’ll do well to take this seat for the Tories; LD Hold.

Geoffrey Cox (CON) took Torridge and West Devon from the Lib Dems in 2005 after John Burnett stood down. He’s defending a small majority in a seat that neither the Lib Dems nor the Tories have made their own in recent years. Torridge Councillor Adam Symons has some hope of winning the seat back for the Liberal Democrats however Cox has very little on him regarding expenses. I don’t think there will be a significant LD>CON swing in the South West but the reverse is also unlikely to happen. Although UKIP may prove to be a nuisance for the Conservatives here, I predict a Tory hold.

Although Gary Streeter paid back over £3,000 over his mortgage it’s very likely he’ll be returned in Devon South West. He has held the seat since it was created in 1997 and had represented Plymouth Sutton in the previous Parliament. The opposition vote is evenly split between the Lib Dems and Labour which has helped Streeter consistently increase his majority. Conservative Hold.


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