In 1992, the Conservatives won a surprise 4th consecutive majority- reduced to just 21. To realistically govern, taking into account possible rebellions, by-elections and the like, this is pretty much the bare minimum that would be required (in fact the Tories ended up losing their overall majority before the 1997 election).
So let’s look out of interest at the 20 most marginal Conservative held seats after 1992, with the name of the constituency, the size of the Conservative majority in 1992, and the corresponding result in 2010.
|Constituency Name||Con Maj 1992||2010 Result|
|Vale of Glamorgan||19||Con Maj 4307|
|Bristol North West||45||Con Maj 3274|
|Hayes and Harlington||53||Lab Maj 10824|
|Ayr||85||Lab Maj 2545|
|Brecon and Radnor||130||Lib Dem Maj 3747|
|Bolton North East||185||Lab Maj 4084|
|Portsmouth South||242||Lib Dem Maj 5200|
|Norwich North||266||Con Maj 3901|
|Corby||342||Lab Maj 7791*|
|Slough||514||Lab Maj 5523|
|Southampton Test||585||Lab Maj 2413|
|Edmonton||593||Lab Maj 9613|
|Tynemouth||597||Lab Maj 5739|
|Stirling||703||Lab Maj 8354|
|Amber Valley||712||Con Maj 536|
|Bury South||788||Lab Maj 3292|
|Luton South||799||Lab Maj 2329|
|Dover||833||Con Maj 5274|
|Edinburgh West||879||Lib Dem Maj 3803|
|Hazel Grove||929||Lib Dem Maj 6731|
*2012 by-election result
As we can see from this table, the Conservatives are a long way short of even their 1992 performance- they hold just 5 of these 20 seats. What is even more astonishing is how uncompetitive they are in several of them- seats like Hayes & Harlington, Edmonton, Stirling- even Slough and Hazel Grove- you would have to be an incredibly optimistic Conservative strategist to see how they could take these seats in two years time, even if their current poll ratings recover.
Going even further down, there is even worse news for the Conservatives.
|Aberdeen South||1517||Lab Maj 3506|
This might not seem particularly bad- until you realise that the Labour majority here is actually over the Liberal Democrats- the Conservatives are in 3rd place in Aberdeen South now, almost 7,000 votes behind Labour.
This should serve as a reminder to the Conservatives that they are still quite a way from even recovering to 1992 levels- in my next post I will be looking at the similar Labour position from 1992- in my opinion they are very useful elections to compare, as the two parties ended up in similar positions.
We also should remember a couple more very important points:
1) The Conservatives polled 41.9% in 1992, and still only won a slender majority. They have not come close to reaching this in any subsequent election. They are currently polling between the high 20s and low 30s.
2) The Liberal Democrat position is much stronger than it was in 1992- this could change at the next election if their vote does unravel as has been predicted (although many people are far more unsure after Eastleigh)- this is more bad news for the Conservatives as many Labour voters are prepared to vote tactically in Con/Lib marginals.
Both of these things- added to their comparatively weak position in marginal seats from 1992- as well as a third, untested factor (the rise of UKIP) make it very hard to see how the Conservatives can win outright in 2010. The big question for me, is can Labour win a majority so soon after losing in 2010? This is what we will be looking at in future posts.