Monday, 12 April 2010

A Look @: Hertfordshire (Part I)

We've split Hertfordshire into two parts. This one will discuss the western side of the county, including Watford, and you can find the eastern seats here. Politics in Hertfordshire is dominated by the Conservatives. They currently hold 9 of the 11 Parliamentary seats in the county and the other two Labour constituencies are well within their reach this year. As for the council, the Tories currently hold 55 of the 77 seats. In the 2009 local elections they picked up 9 seats as Labour lost 13, which has left the Liberal Democrats as the opposition on the council. Both the Greens and the BNP hold a seat each as well.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed




Claire Ward






LD Gain

St Albans

Anne Main





CON Hold

Hemel Hempstead

Mike Penning




CON Hold

Hertfordshire SW

David Gauke




CON Hold


James Clappison




CON Hold


Watford is set to be one of the closest races in the country. In 2005 Claire Ward only just beat her challengers to secure a third term in Parliament with all three main parties within 2000 votes of each other. Ward was cleared of any wrongdoing in the expenses scandal but that's the least of her worries when it comes to her General Election chances. With the political momentum swinging away from Labour nationally and locally Ward will probably find herself dropping to third place. The next MP for Watford is likely to be either the Conservative candidate Richard Harrington or the Lib Dem Sal Brinton, who increased her party's vote by 14% here in 2005. I think the Lib Dems are narrowly ahead in this as they won the mayoral election, currently hold almost all of the council seats in the constituency and they run Watford's district council. In fact, the Conservatives do not currently have a county councillor in Watford, which will not aid Harrington's chances. His best hope is that the Labour and Lib Dem voters split their vote sufficiently but it seems the voters in Watford are far more willing to back the Lib Dems. This is certainly going to be a close one, and the final vote totals are likely to be extremely close again, but I think the Brinton will sneak it; Lib Dem Gain.

The neighbouring St Albans seat looks like another close contest in Hertfordshire. Anne Main gained this seat for the Conservatives in 2005 after her party had lost it to Labour in 1997. But she emerged as one of the worst offenders in the expenses scandal after it was revealed she hardly spent any time in her second home. Instead her daughter seemed to be the main resident and the cost of each night Main stayed there herself is said to have been more than a luxury hotel! It will be interesting to see how the voters react to this. Labour are second and held the seat between 1997 & 2005 so Roma Mills, who leads their group on St Albans Council, will hope to capitalise on Main's problems. But the Lib Dems dominate locally holding all 8 county council seats in constituency and they secured control of the district council in 2008. As a result I'm sure Sandy Walkington, who was the director of communications for the Lib Dems at the last election, will see himself as the main challenger to the Conservatives here. I fear between them they'll split the anti-Conservative vote and allow Main a second term despite her misdemeanours. It'll be close, and I'd love to hear from anyone in the local area on this, but I think Main will hang on; Tory Hold.

Mike Penning won't be too pleased his notional majority in Hemel Hempstead is now only a third of that which he secured in 2005. But with the swing behind him he should be confident of beating the Labour candidate Ayfer Orhan to win a second term in Parliament. This seat is another Labour held from 1997 to 2005 and they could retake this if the electorate are unhappy with Penning's rule breach over foreign trips. I don't think this will be enough to reverse the national swing; Tory Hold.

The Conservatives have held South West Hertfordshire since its creation in 1950 and so I'm sure David Guake will be quite confident of defeating his Lib Dem challenger Christopher Townsend in May; Tory Hold.

Hertsmere was created for the 1983 election and the Conservatives have held the seat ever since. James Clappison became the constituency's second MP in 1992 and he's likely to keep his job in May. His only concern is that although he did nothing wrong with his expenses, the fact he still claims a second home allowance despite owning over twenty properties may put off some voters. I doubt this will be enough for Labour's candidate Sam Russell to get close to causing an upset though; Tory Hold.


  1. The Labour party is dying in St Albans - it is a fight between the Tories and the LibDems.

  2. Mr Harris confuses St Albans District with St Albans constituency. The Lib Dems won 7 out of 10 county divisions in St Albans District, but they won 8 out of 8 divisions in the St Albans constituency which is what matters in the General election. St Albans constituency does not include Harpenden (two divisons), Wheathampstead or Redbourn (St Albans Rural), but does include the Bedmond and Primrose Hill section of Lib Dem held Abbots Langley in Three Rivers. The Conservatives actually managed to lose two divisions to the Liberal Democrats as a result of deep divisions over Anne Main.

  3. Thanks for that. I think the point that the Lib Dems are doing well at a local level in St Albans remains! So is it the case that Main is struggling?

  4. Just a month ago, Labour won a parish by-election despite massive Liberal Democrat presence. Recent results suggest they're just not reaching the voters.