Tuesday, 30 March 2010

A Look @: Berkshire



Notional Majority

Swing Needed




Andrew Mackay




Con Hold


Theresa May




Con Hold


Richard Benyon




Con Hold

Reading East

Robert Wilson




Con Hold

Reading West

Martin Salter




Con Gain


Fiona MacTaggart




Lab Hold


Adam Afriyie




Con Hold


John Redwood




Con Hold

Andrew Mackay won't be contesting Bracknell in May. He was the first MP to lose his job thanks to the expenses scandal 'soap opera' instigated by the Telegraph last year. R&T say the boundary change is 19.5% and this appears to have shaved two thousand votes off the 2005 Conservative majority. An 11% swing is an unthinkable target for local Labour councillor John Piasecki. Even if the choice is there for Bracknell voters, they'll almost certainly choose Mackay's replacement, Tory PPC Dr Phillip Lee. No Change in Bracknell. Con Hold.

R&T say that Theresa May's position has been strengthened in Maidenhead. The 8.3% alteration has taken her seat size from 68,536 to just under the 74,000 mark, and her majority has increased some one and a half thousand thanks, most of the additional Tories originating from the thoroughly Conservative Windsor seat. Having been omitted form the 'naughty list' by the Telegraph's Gordon Rayner and Rosa Prince, she'll be gunning for one of the big jobs in the cabinet should the Tories secure a majority in May. Con Hold.

Not much of a boundary change for Richard 'the saint' Benyon according to R&T. Newbury will be his again in May. Too much defeatist language coming from the Lib Dem's David Rendel and Labour's Hannah Cooper. When a PPC's campaign is focused on informing constituents that there happens to be a choice come May, it soon becomes obvious that their party didn't drop them into that tight marginal they were gunning for. Con Hold.

Reading East was a Conservative safe seat in 1992, safe for everything but a Labour landslide. Unfortunately John Watts, Tory MP for the old Eaton & Slough seat, didn't get that memo. In the worst political manoeuvre of his career, Watts decided to contest Reading East to secure his future at Westminster. I needn't explain the outcome. As hilarious as Watts misfortune was, the point here is that Reading East has always been a Conservative seat, it was Blair's ability to lure centre-ground conservatives that flipped seats like Reading East in 1997. R&T say that there hasn't been much change here. With a 739 notional majority, this seat is a marginal on paper only. Won back by for the Tories by Robert Wilson in 2005, Reading East's flirt with New Labour is well and truly over. Even though Wilson was sued for libel by MP for Reading West Martin Salter, that was in 2005 and if a day is a long time in politics then 5 years should be enough water under the bridge. Besides, he's a 'saint'. Con Hold.

If Martin Salter were to defend
Reading West there would have been a good chance of securing an important Labour hold. Like Wilson, Salter has been dubbed one of the 'saints' of the Telegraph's expenses scandal. Instead, PPC's Naz Sarkar (Labour) and Alok Sharma (Tory) will be squaring up in what's sure to be a tight contest. Unfortunately Sarkar appears to be prone to a few gaffes in his time, not what Labour need in a marginal this important for the Tories. It's target seat 107 for the Conservatives, but Labour have to stick the best PPC's they can get their hands on in openly contested marginals like Reading West. The more 4.5-7% Tory swing seats that Labour hold, the less likely that Conservative majority looks. Not good enough from Labour here! Con Gain.

R&T put the Slough boundary change at just under 5%. Slightly reducing Fiona MacTaggart's majority here, but it's essentially still a safe seat. You may remember her from the dodgy statistics she gave on sex trafficking. She's gained a few thousand constituents from the neighbouring Conservative seat of Windsor, but not enough Tories to affect the final result. Lab Hold.

Windsor is a Tory safe seat. The official residence of the Queen is in Windsor. Roger Eykyn (Liberal) was the last non-conservative to represent Windsor in parliament. He was ousted in 1874. During some years the seat was unopposed by any other party. There, I've tried to make this seat interesting. Con Hold

John Redwood will hold onto Wokingham for many of the reasons as Adam Afriyie will hold on to Windsor (except for the Queen). Wokingham has only ever been represented by long serving Conservative members of parliament with significant majorities. Labour could return a 200 majority in May and still not take this seat. Con Hold.


Michael Turner


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