Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A Look @: Devon (Part II) [Update]




Swing Needed



Devon Central

New Seat




LIB Gain

Devon East

Hugo Swire




CON Hold


Ben Bradshaw




LAB Hold

Newton Abbot

Richard Younger-Ross




LIB Hold

Tiverton & Honiton

Angela Browning




CON Hold

Number 11 Lib Dem target seat, the new large and rural Devon Central constituency is at first sight a straight Con/Lib heads up. However, the data suggesting that a 1.9% swing is needed for a Lib Dem victory can be a little misleading. Most of the areas this new seat occupies are old Tory heartland taken from the Tiverton & Honiton and the Torridge & West Devon county constituencies. And although Lib Dem PPC Phil Hutty is 2nd favorite, Ladbrokes offering 7/4 on Hutty taking the seat, the Oxford Graduate and compassionate conservative, Mel Stride, will have their work cut out with recent polls suggesting a 5% swing from the Tories to Lib Dems in the South West. I doubt the UKIP vote will be strong enough alone to let Hutty through on a split conservative vote. But it seems that momentum is behind Hutty. LIB Gain.

Devon East’s Tory MP Hugo Swire has a notional majority of over a nine thousand votes. So confident is this backbencher of his electoral base that in the face of a potentially damning expenses scandal, he simply posted the details of the Telegraph’s investigative report into MP’s expenses on his own website. Ladbrokes put the Lib Dem’s on 20/1 as then nearest challengers. Nothing short of a well-timed scandal will knock this MP off his perch. CON Hold.

Exeter is looking like a tight race. Electoral redistricting may have favored Ben Bradshaw, the current Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, possibly increasing his majority some 4.8% to over nine thousand votes. However, there are many forces at work in the Exeter constituency and the bookies would advise Bradshaw that there is no ‘fat lady’ in sight just yet. Ladbrokes put Bradshaw favorite at 5/6 but the Tory PPC Hannah Foster a close second, offering even stakes on the Human Resources Director ousting the Secretary of State in May. Bradshaw was one of the high profile members named and shamed in the Telegraph’s report into the expenses scandal last year, which makes that nine thousand majority look shaky. On the other hand, Exeter’s split from Devon County Council may go some way to holding the Labour vote together. What will likely save Labour however, is ironically a Tory. Well an old one anyway. Educated at Eaton, Oxford Graduate, the 10th Earl of Dartmouth, ex-member of the House of Lords, and now an MEP for the South West, William Legge defected to UKIP in 2007. Legge will undoubtedly eat into the Tory vote here and most likely split the Conservatives just enough to prevent them edging it. Slashed majority, but LAB Hold…just.

The new Newton Abbot constituency is, in essence, a reduced version of the old Teignbridge CC, with the addition of a very small conservative area from Totnes. Lib Dem MP Richard Younger-Ross will be defending a remarkably similar seat to 2005 with less than a 1% reduction to his notional electoral majority. However, this ‘Don Juan’ Member of Parliament was due to be punished for his ‘wicked financial deeds’, though not quite as criminal as the 14th Century Legend himself. A Conservative landslide in the South West is looking very unlikely after ‘Cleggmania’. The political mood nine or ten weeks ago would have ended Younger-Ross’ career. The bookies have him as the slight favorite, 1/3 against the Tory PPC Anne-Marie Morris at 2/1. But I did fully expect Ross to join a cohort of MP’s to lose their seats in an ‘expenses scandal reshuffle’ come May. But the TV debates and successive polls made me change my mind. LIB Hold.

Tory MP Angela Browning announced in 2006 that she will not be contesting the next election, leaving the gate wide open for Tory MEP Neil Parish to clear up this seat. Tiverton & Honiton is yet another heavily redistricted constituency in Devon. A large number of its former conservative constituents now form part of the new Devon Central constituency. These are only to be replaced by even more Tory faithful next door from Hugo Swire’s old Devon East seat. Although there are some major boundary changes here, there is no real change in the result. Neil Parish should walk this. CON Hold.

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