Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A Look @: Bradford & Calderdale

We've spilt the West Yorkshire metropolitan area into four posts. This will focus on Bradford and Calderdale and you can find Kirklees here, Wakefield here and Leeds here. West Yorkshire is dominated by Labour on a Parliamentary level as the party hold 20 of the 22 Parliamentary seats. The area has lost a seat in the boundary review with the Kirklees and Wakefield seats taking the brunt of the alterations.

In 2006 the Council split in Calderdale was: CON 21, LD 15, LAB 9. There hasn't been a lot of change in the three elections held during this parliament with the Council still under No Overall Control. The Conservatives are down one, the Liberal Democrats up two and Labour are unchanged. Bradford has also remained in No Overall Control for the entire Parliament but the two largest groups have fluctuated quite a bit. The Conservatives had the most seats going into the 2006 local elections with 37 of the 90. Labour were then second with 30 but made six gains that year to over take the Conservatives. They won more seats in 2007 before dropping back to 36 again in 2008. The Conservatives form the second largest group with 35 and the Liberal Democrats are way back with 14 Councillors.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed



Calder Valley

Chris McCafferty




CON Gain


Linda Riordan




CON Gain


Ann Cryer




CON Gain


Phillip Davies




CON Hold

Bradford West

Marsha Singh




LAB Hold

Bradford South

Gerry Sutcliffe




LAB Hold

Bradford East

Terry Rooney





LD Gain


The Conservatives need only a 1.4% swing to take Calder Valley off Labour. Christine McCafferty won the seat in 1997 but she is standing down this year, a decision taken because she has reached retirement age. She leaves behind a difficult seat for Labour to hold and they've selected Cherie Blair's stepmother Stephanie Booth to contest this. However, the strong favourite is the Conservative Chris Whittaker and rightly so. This is target seat #24 for the Tories and Labour do not currently have a Councillor elected from within the constituency boundaries. Something strange will be happening if this isn't a Tory Gain!

Halifax is a bit tighter. The seat has been Labour's since 1987 and Linda Riordan is completing her first term in Parliament. Escaping the expenses scandal with only £2,000 of over paid mortgage claims to her name she's not open to personal attacks. And although on national swing the Conservatives will easily take this they have only held for one term in the last 50 years from 1983-87. Labour also have all 9 of their Calderdale Councillors elected from within this constituency, although the Conservatives are only one behind on 8. I don't think the Conservative candidate Philip Allott, contesting a Westminster seat for the third time, will sweep to victory on Thursday but he should still sneak it. It's one to watch mainly because historically this is only real turns blue in Conservative landslides. Riordan might manage a surprise hold but the smart money is on a Tory Gain.

Keighley was another pick up for Labour in 1997 but their popular MP Ann Cryer is standing down. This is target seat #100 for the Conservatives so one Cameron needs for a majority. The Tories look set to gain this on crude national swing so Labour's Jane Thomas has a fight on her hands to hold this for his party. Kris Hopkins is the Conservative candidate and this is his third attempt to win a seat in Parliament. Locally the Conservatives are ahead here holding 12 of the 18 council seats within the seat so it's all looking good from them. It'll be close but Tory Gain.

Philip Davies snatched Shipley back for his party in 2005 after this usually loyal seat voted for Blair in 1997 and 2001. He's had a colourful first term which included wading into a vandalism story where the initial reports suggested the perpetrators were Muslim. Davies was quoted in The Sun as saying 'If there's anybody who should f*** off it's the Muslims who are doing this kind of thing.' A fairly risky comment especially as it was soon shown Muslims has nothing to do with the crime! To be fair, Davies' cards are on the table as he is the Parliamentary spokesmen for 'The Campaign Against Political Correctness'. But all this probably won't put off the electorate in what natural Tory territory. Susan Hinchcliffe is hoping to regain this for Labour but I reckon she'll drift further away; Tory Hold.

Bradford West is an interesting constituency. 43% of the electorate here are Muslim yet is the current MP is the only Sikh in the House – Marsha Singh. He's seeking a fourth term in Parliament but his seat is under threat from the advancing Tories. They'd like to take target #76 on their list and have selected Zahid Iqbal to contest this for them. The council split is very even and apart from having to pay back some overpaid mortgage claims there isn't a lot on Singh. Minor parties are likely to have a good showing in this racially split seat with Respect and the BNP both running. Their performance could alter the result in what is certain to be a close contest. In contrast to most seats Respect will peel voters from the Conservatives given their tactic to select Muslim candidates against Singh and I doubt any BNP inclined voters helped elect a Sikh MP in the first place so I think the small parties may aid Labour. I get the impression Singh could have just enough to hang on against the swing; Labour Hold.

Bradford South is one of the few boring seats in West Yorkshire. Gerry Sutcliffe won this in a 1994 by-election following the death of Ann Cryer's husband Bob. Sutcliffe will win comfortably; Labour Hold.

Bradford East is virtually identical to the Bradford North seat Terry Rooney has held since a 1990 by-election. The boundary commission's tinkering has increased his notional majority by some 1500 votes and I suspect he'll need them if he's to hold this on Thursday. The Lib Dems are targeting this seat as it's one of their best prospects in this region. They hold twice as many Council seats in this constituency as Labour and the LAB>LD swing in the North is likely to be high. The Lib Dems have a strong candidate in David Ward who is a long serving Councillor and has contesting this seat for the last two elections. His efforts have doubled the Lib Dem vote and I think he'll continue this trend and sneak home. This is another seat that will be very close but I'm going for a Lib Dem Gain.


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