Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A Look @: Wiltshire

Wiltshire, excluding Swindon, is a Conservative heartland. The Liberal Democrats, who are the Tories closest challengers in the county, haven't won a seat here since World War II. However, recent boundary changes and a clanger by a Tory MP have left a couple of seats in play for 2010. In last years elections for the new unitary authority the Conservatives comfortably secured a majority with 62 or the 98 seats. However, the Lib Dems did well in the council seats contained within the new Chippenham seat which could help them secure an historic gain in Wiltshire.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed




New Seat




CON Gain

Wiltshire N

James Gray




CON Hold


Robert Key




CON Hold


Michael Ancram





CON Hold

Wiltshire SW

Andrew Murrison




CON Hold

The new Chippenham seat will be a closely fought contest between Wlifred Emmanuel-Jones (CON) and Duncan Hames (LD). Emmanuel-Jones is an entrepreneur selected straight off Cameron's A-List (#28) and the Tories hope The Black Farmer will overturn this notional deficit. But his Lib Dem opponent, a former district councillor, will be hoping to build on his parties recent local results in the constituency to become Wiltshire's first Liberal representative for almost 90 years. This is going to be a tight one, with a lot riding on the large notional Labour vote, but with the Conservative's push to get BME candidates into parliament they'll put a lot into this and I think they'll just nick it. I've gone for Tory gain, but this is one to watch.

The rest of the county should be very straight forward for the Conservatives but their MP for Wiltshire North, James Gray, has managed to give the Lib Dems a slight chance of unseating him in May. He has had to deal with allegations surrounding expenses claims for wreaths which although he denied had Tory bloggers calling for his head. He then faced more calls to stand down at the end of last summer when he married his mistress. The local party almost deselected Gray in 2006 when it came to light he'd been having an affair whilst his wife was undergoing chemotherapy. Astonishingly, Gray has limped on and will contest the seat he's held since 1997. Mike Evemy, a former Swindon councillor making his third run for parliament, is hoping to capitalise on Gray's misdemeanours and take the seat for the Liberal Democrats. His biggest problem is the size of the majority he needs to overturn and I think this will be just too much. I'm going for a Conservative hold, but it will be a lot closer than it should.

As for the other three seats something extraordinary will have to happen to prevent them staying with the Conservatives. John Glen, who contested Plymouth Devonport in 2001, will replace the retiring Robert Key in Salisbury. Michael Ancram, who stood for leader of the Conservatives in 2001 is also stepping down and Claire Perry, a policy advisor to George Osbourne, is being propelling into this safe seat. Finally Andrew Murrison will secure a third term in Wilshire South West, formerly Wesbury.


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