Tuesday, 4 May 2010

A Look @: North Yorkshire

The ceremonial county of North Yorkshire contains a county council of the same name and a unitary authority in the City of York. The Conservatives dominate the rural areas but York itself is more competitive. The county has undergone extensive boundary alterations despite their allocation of 8 Parliamentary seats remaining unchanged. In 2005 the Tories won 5, Labour 2 and the Liberal Democrats 1. But the new boundaries changes have gone against Labour notionally removing one of their seats and creating a tight CON/LD marginal.

The North Yorkshire council is controlled by the Conservatives who increased their number of seats in 2009 to 48 of the 72. The Lib Dems were second largest group with just 11. The York council elections in 2007 also didn't go well for the Lib Dems. They lost ten seats, and therefore overall control, with most of their support switching to the Conservatives. This will help the Tories in their quest to win the newly formed York Outer. Labour form the opposition on the Council and their 18 Councillors are elected from wards in the York Central constituency, which they currently hold.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed



York Outer





LD Hold

York Central

Hugh Bayley




LAB Hold

Selbey & Ainsty

John Grogan




CON Hold

Thirsk & Malton

Ann McIntosh





Harrogate & K'borough

Phil Willis




LD Hold

Skipton & Ripon

David Curry




CON Hold

Richmond (Yorks)

William Hague




CON Hold

Scarborough & Whitby

Robert Goodwill




CON Hold


York Outer is the one to watch in this county as the newly established seat will be a hard fought battle between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. With such a massive boundary alteration the notional majority is virtually meaningless. All that is certain is that it will be close! Two experienced Councillors have been selected by the two parties; Julian Sturdy for the Conservatives and Madeline Kirk for the Lib Dems. Both have tried and failed to win a seat in Parliament before but that will change for one of them. As I've said, the notional majority is unlikely to be spot on so other indicators will be required. The Conservatives 8 Councillors in York are all elected from within this Constituency but that still leaves them with half as many as the Lib Dems who have 16. Regional and National swings also seem to be towards the Lib Dems, which will help Kirk. On top of this, notionally almost a quarter of the electorate here voted Labour last time out giving the Lib Dems a fair amount to squeeze. All things considered I think the gold team have enough to win this; Lib Dem 'Hold'.

Hugh Bayley won his seat in Parliament in 1992 and the minor alterations to his renamed York Central seat shouldn't affect his re-election chances. He has made this pretty safe for his party and should be returned on Thursday; Labour Hold.

Selbey & Ainsty is mostly the old Selbey seat which John Grogan just won for Labour in 2005 with a 467 vote majority. The alterations have left the Conservatives as the notional incumbents and, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, Grogan will not seek a third term as an MP. The Conservative candidate Nigel Adams is the hot favourite to 'hold' this for his party and former Councillor Jan Marshall has the unenviable task of trying to win here for Labour. I think the former will be returned, probably be a fair margin; Tory 'Hold'.

Thirsk & Malton is similar to the old Ryedale seat which had been held by John Greenway since 1987. However, the boundary alterations essentially disbanded the Vale of York seat held by Ann McIntosh thus forcing the two MPs to battle for the Tory candidacy for this election. McIntosh won and Greenway has not sought another seat to further his Parliamentary career. Since then McIntosh has survived a mystery attempt to deselect her and with a massive notional majority she should have been easily re-elected on Thursday.But the election has been countermanded following the death of the UKIP candidate John Brookes. The Tories should still win this on the 27th May, but stranger things have happened in by-elections. This technically isn't a by-election as only UKIP are permitted to re-select but I don't think anyone knows where British politics will be in three weeks so we'll cover this seat in more detail closer to the time.

Phil Willis is the sole Lib Dem MP in North Yorkshire but he is not seeking re-election to his Harrogate & Knaresborough seat. Willis defeated the former Conservative Chancellor Norman Lamont in 1997 to claim his seat in Parliament and he's build up a solid majority for his party since. The Lib Dems have selected former councillor Clare Kelley to defend this against Andrew Jones for the Conservatives. Without an incumbent the Tories may take a chunk out of the Lib Dem's majority but with the polls as they are its hard to see anything other than a Lib Dem Hold.

Skipton & Ripon has been tinkered round the edges but it's still a safe Conservative seat. David Curry has represented this constituency since 1987 but he is standing down. The Conservatives have selected Julian Smith as Curry's replacement and he'll win with ease; Tory Hold.

Richmond (Yorks) is William Hague's constituency, and has been since a 1989 by-election. The former leader of the Conservatives will become Foreign Secretary if his party win a majority on Thursday, and if he's re-elected here. The latter is a certainly, the former…not so sure! Tory Hold.

Labour won Scarborough & Whitby when it was established in 1997 but Robert Goodwill gained this for the Conservatives in 2005. Like most MPs in North Yorkshire he was unscathed by the expenses scandal and there isn't much to suggest the Labour candidate Annajoy David will be able to retake this on Thursday; Tory Hold.

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