Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A Look @: Leeds

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

Local elections in Leeds during this Parliament have been a fairly dull affair. The Council has stayed in No Overall Controll with Labour as the largest group. They have gained three seats since the last General Election but with 43 of the 99 seats they are still well short of a majority. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have similar levels of support in Leeds with latter winning 24 seats in 2008 to just pip the former, 22 seats, into second.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed



Morley & Outwood

Ed Balls




LAB Hold

Leeds West

John Battle




LAB Hold


Paul Truswell




CON Gain

Leeds North East

Fabian Hamilton




CON Gain

Leeds North West

Greg Mulholland





LD Hold

Leeds Central

Hilary Benn




LAB Hold

Leeds East

George Mudie




LAB Hold

Elmet & Rothwell

Colin Burgon




LAB Hold


I doubt the term 'Portillo moment' is a loved amongst Conservatives hence their desperation to replace it! This year they are looking for a 'Balls moment'. Doesn't quite have the same ring to it though, does it?! My personal favourite is their desire to 'castrate' the Labour Party by removing its Balls! Schools secretary Ed Balls had his Normanton seat disbanded meaning he is instead defending Morley & Outwood. This new seat is much closer to the old Morely & Rothwell seat held by Labour MP Colin Challen but he did not contest the selection battle against Balls. There has been controversy surrounding this with Challen implying the decision wasn't entirely his. Apart from being deeply involved in the New Labour project, he was Gordon Brown's economic advisor before becoming an MP, and all the problems that that will cause electorally this year Balls has also faced questions over his and his wife's expenses. The 'flipping' will only add to the extensive pool of material the Conservative candidate Antony Calvert, a former Councillor, can use in his campaign literature. The Council split here is very even but interestingly the BNP hold a seat within this constituency. That could have a big affect on the outcome depending on where their support comes from. I think there is definitely potential for an upset here but I'm sticking with Labour on this. But all eyes should be glued to the telly when they go to Morley & Outwood for the declaration on Thursday; Labour Hold.

John Battle won his Leeds West seat of the Liberals in 1987 and he's stayed there ever since. In fact, the 83-87 Parliament was on only period in 50 years Labour have not held this seat. The popular Battle is standing down this year leaving a safe seat for his party to defend. Rachael Reeves is the Labour candidate virtually assured of victory; Labour Hold.

Pudsey MP Paul Truswell is standing down after 13 years in Parliament because he feels a number of personal issues, including his injuries suffered during a car crash last May, would make it difficult for him to run for office again. He leaves behind a seat on the cusp of the latest Regional swing figures and it's going to be tough for Jamie Hanley to hold this for Labour. The Conservatives hold half the Council seats in this constituency and look set to for a number of gains in Yorkshire above the national swing. They've selected Cllr Stuart Andrew as their candidate and I think he'll manage a Tory Gain.

Fabian Hamilton enjoyed a high profile in the expenses scandal last year following revelations that he had designated his mother's London home as his main residence and had claimed for decorating his Leeds home. The Leeds North East MP defended his claims stating he spent a lot of time with his mother before her death in 2005. He was eventually only asked to return over claimed mortgage payments but I'm sure this will be an issue on the door steps. The Conservatives need quite a large swing and they do not get close on current national polling. But as the LAB>CON regional swing here is expected to be around 7-8% Hamilton should be worried. The Tories have selected Cllr Matthew Lobley to contest this for the second time and he'll be looking to win back a seat lost to Labour in 1997. His party also have more Councillors elected from within this Constituency and the scene is set for a big swing towards them here. This will go down to the wire but I can see Lobley just winning, possibly after a recount; Tory Gain.

Greg Mulholland won Leeds North West with a magnificent 9.6% swing in 2005. Liberal Democrat MPs are hard to shift at the best of times, let alone in a year where they will almost certainly increase their national share of the vote. Like most Lib Dems Mulholland did not have any expenses issues and it's going to be very difficult for Labour candidate Cllr Judith Blake to do what she failed to do in 2005 and win this seat for her party. Labour do not have a Councillor elected from within this constituency and the swing is with Mulholland; Lib Dem Hold.

Hillary Benn, son of Tony, was first elected to Leeds Central in 1999. Labour have held this since it was established in 1983 and the notional majority is huge. His expenses were highlighted by the press last year but for all the right reasons. 'Bargain Benn' will cruise to victory; Labour Hold.

Leeds East was Denis Healy's seat and it has been Labour held since its creation in 1955. In fact, current MP George Mudie is only its second MP as Healy only stood down in 1992. Securing a fifth term won't be a problem for Mudie; Labour Hold.

Elmet & Rothwell is the successor of the old Elmet seat. In fact, the only change in the boundary review was to add the Rothwell ward, hence the name change. This has served to increase Labour's majority here by some 1500 votes and they'll need them to survive here. The current MP Colin Burgon is standing down at 61 to pursue other interests leaving the Tories a nice open seat to gun for. The Council split is even with both Labour and the Tories managing to get six Councillors each elected from within this Constituency. Unsurprisingly, Labour gets stronger the closer we get to the urban areas of Leeds and so relative turnout between the two parties strongholds will be key here. This really could go either was and Labour have selected Cllr James Lewis to go up against Alec Shelbrooke for the Conservatives. Another complication her is the pocket of strength the Liberal Democrats have in Rothwell, where all three Councillors are from the party. The Guardian are suggest they should vote Labour but how many will heed this message? I think maybe just enough, but this is yet another that will be extremely close. Labour Hold…if only to spread my bets on all these coin flips!


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