Thursday, 6 May 2010

A Look @: Dorset [update]

The Conservatives are the strongest party in Dorset and they go into this election holding 6 of the 8 seats in the County. They also control the County Council with 28 of the 45 seats. This Council excludes Bournemouth and Poole who each have their own Unitary Authority and their constituencies are discussed here. Given the current political climate the Conservatives will expect to hold all their current seats and have to potential to turn the entire county blue.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed



Dorset South

Jim Knight




CON Gain

Dorset West

Oliver Letwin




CON Hold

Dorset North

Robert Walter




CON Hold


Christopher Chope




CON Hold


In 2005, Jim Knight holding South
Dorset for Labour was one of the shocks of the night. Knight managed to increase his wafer thin majority against the swing, but he'll be lucky to survive this time round. Knight has been in a bit of a pickle with his expenses claims, which still haven't been paid back in full, but it's the political tide that the Employment Minister should be most worried about. Labour lost their four remaining county councillors in the 2009 election, all of whom held their seats in Knight's constituency. The Conservative Candidate, journalist Richard Drax, could be forgiven for acting like the next MP for Dorset South, but Labour won't go without a fight. Knight has already produced one shock result and a recent by-election gain by Labour will have given him a glimmer of hope. But realistically this should be an easy Tory Gain.

Oliver Letwin held West Dorset in 2005 despite being targeted in the Lib Dems interestingly named decapitation strategy. However, he was implicated in the expenses scandal after he made a claim to fix a leaking pipe under his tennis court. With a fairly small majority this is not going to help him defend this seat against the Lib Dem swing in the South West. They have selected Cllr Sue Farrant to run against the Tory's manifesto author and she has a very good chance here. The Lib Dems have pockets of support in the towns of this consistency and with the regional swing this is sure to be very close. I think Letwin's may just hang on; Tory Hold.

Robert Walter is defending a majority of 4,000 in North Dorset for the
Conservatives in a seat they've held since 1950. He managed to get his name in The Telegraph attempting to claim for a rug bought in India. Emily Gasson, the wife of Lib Dem Campaign Chief Ed Davey, will be trying to take this seat off the Conservatives and she appears to have the swing on her side. But the Conservatives dominate local politics so it won't be easy. I think Walter should survive but it'll be closer than the odds suggest; Tory Hold.

Finally, Christopher Chope is one of the fortunate MPs to enjoy the support of over 50% of his constituents. He'll do well to lose his Christchurch seat, which he has held since 1997.


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