Tuesday, 4 May 2010

A Look @: Kirklees

We've spilt the West Yorkshire metropolitan area into four posts. This will focus on Kirklees and you can find Bradford & Calderdale 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.

Kirklees is a very competitive council. Before the 2006 elections the breakdown of seats was: LD 24, CON 22, LAB 18. All the parties have won and lost seats during this Parliament and the end result is that the council is still under No Overall Control. The Lib Dems were usurped as the largest group in 2006 by the Conservatives who have remained on top ever since. The Tories won 22 of the 69 seats in 2008 with Labour second on 21. The Lib Dems are now third with 19 but they did gain a seat at the last election. This will be a key battleground to watch out for on election night.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed



Colne Valley

Kali Mountford





LD Gain


Barry Sheerman




LAB Hold


Shahid Malik




CON Gain

Batley & Spen

Mike Wood




LAB Hold


Kirklees will play host to one of the most exciting contests of this election in Colne Valley. Kali Mountford won this seat for Labour in 1997 but she is standing down for health reasons leaving her party with a difficult open seat to hold. Debbie Abrahams has been selected for Labour but the Rochdale Councillor is fighting a losing battle. The swing required for the Conservatives to take this is so small polling companies assume this is certain to turn blue and ignore it when conducting Marginal polls. But things aren't quite a simple as they seem here, much to the annoyance of the Tory candidate Jason McCartney, a local news and sports presenter. The Lib Dems actually hold the most council seats in this constituency and have shipped Clegg in to help their campaign. The notional share of the vote here is very similar to the national figures from 2005 so a crude national swing would leave Lib Dem candidate Nicola Turner second behind the Conservatives with Labour in third. But regional swing would see the Lib Dems come from third to take a sensational gain. I think a lot will depend on how many Labour voters desert their party knowing their candidate doesn't have much of a chance. As the Observer has apparently instructed Labour voters here to vote Lib Dem to keep the Tories out I think enough of them will switch, leaving McCartney to rue missing out on what seemed like a sure thing. Certainly one to watch out for but I'm going for a Lib Dem Gain.

Labour are on the back foot here but Huddersfield represents their best chance for a hold in Kirklees. Barry Sheerman has been an MP in Huddersfield since 1979 and he's standing again this year. He's kept out of trouble and must have build up a bit of a personal vote over the years so I think he'll be difficult to shift. He caused a stir by calling for Brown's to be replaced in December but if anything this will gain votes! James Blanchard will be the Lib Dem candidate trying to cause an upset and the swing is on his side. But although he'll probably reduce Sheerman's majority I think he'll come up quite a way short; Labour Hold.

Labour have held Dewsbury since 1987 and Shahid Malik is finishing his first term as an MP. The seat has undergone some major changes to take in a number of wards from the old Wakefield seat. Malik would be under threat from the Conservatives as it is but he's gained an unwanted high profile in the expenses scandal. He initially resigned as Justice Minister to allow for an enquiry into his rent claims to see if they broke Ministerial rules. After being cleared he rejoined the Government but he was soon under investigation again for the same issue, but this time to see if they were allowed under the Parliamentary rules. They only a couple of weeks ago he hit the headlines a third time over an insurance claim against an engagement ring. Under the dubious assumption there is no smoke without fire I can't see Malik winning his re-election fight. But if this wasn't enough there is an Muslim ex-Conservative Independent candidate standing. If Khizar Iqbal has a good showing where he peels his votes could alter the outcome. But realistically if Simon Reevell can't win this for the Tories then they will be having a pretty bad night. That's unlikely I'd say, Tory Gain.

Mike Wood won his Bately & Spen seat for Labour in 1997. The boundary commission have tinkered around the edges of this but the notional majority is pretty similar to the margin Wood won by in 2005. This seat is currently on the cusp of the national swing and Janice Small will be hoping this will help her gain a seat in Parliament for the Conservatives. The Council split is pretty close with Labour holding 8 seats to the Conservatives 6. More ominously for Labour is the one BNP Councillor elected from within this Constituency and so Wood will be hoping their Parliamentary Candidate doesn't take too many votes off him here. This will be very close on the night but Wood appears to be a good Constituency MP and I think this will help him hang on by a thin margin; Labour Hold.


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