Political pundit’s verdict on Herts general election prospects is a curate’s egg for sitting MPs
- Credit: Archant
There are mixed Christmas tidings for sitting MPs in North Herts and Stevenage as the holiday season dawns – a blog by top political commentator Iain Dale reckons that while some are sitting pretty for next year’s general election others could be out of a job.
Mr Dale is working his way around the country assessing the state of play in every parliamentary seat in the run-up to the 2015 poll.
His verdict on Herts, published on Tuesday, will be very welcome for long-serving North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald - because he reckons that the Conservatives will win easily, and possibly even increase the current majority of more than 15,000.
In Hitchin & Harpenden he’s predicting an increased majority for Peter Lilley, too. The Tories polled more than 54 per cent of the vote in 2010 with the Lib Dems in second place. Mr Dale says: “Any reduction of the Lib Dem vote here is bound to give the Conservatives a bigger majority, assuming UKIP don’t take too much of the Tory vote.”
But in Stevenage, where Stephen McPartland is defending a majority of just over 3,500, it’s not such good news.
According to Mr Dale: “A bellweather seat, held by the Conservatives from 1983 to 1997 and Labour from 1997 to 2010.
“Stephen McPartland will do well to hang on here if Ed Miliband comes within a sniff of Number 10. Could be one of the closest results of the night.”
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But his prediction is a very narrow Labour win for candidate Sharon Taylor.
He also believes that Labour will sneak home in Watford, making inroads on the clean Conservative sweep of the county last time round. “Rather like Stevenage, if Ed Miliband is doing well, this is the kind of seat he will expect to win,” says Mr Dale, who will next be casting his eye over Bedfordshire seats.