Although Labour and the Lib Dems have made modest gains in the built-up parts of the region, the predominantly leafy South and South West remain overwhelmingly Conservative. A couple of red dots in a sea of blue is what meets the eye when looking at the election map as it emerged in the early hours of this morning. In a nutshell:
- The Conservatives maintained their dominance in the rural constituencies of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Dorset and Hampshire, holding all rural seats.
- The ‘red dots’ are popping up in urban seats along the Severn and South coast:
- Stroud: Labour’s David Drew takes the seat from the Conservatives with a narrow majority of 687 votes.
- Bristol: by gaining Bristol North West from the Conservatives, Labour now have all four Bristol constituencies. In their new seat, the party increased their vote share by an impressive 16.2%, reaching just over half (50.7%) of the vote. The new Labour MP is Darren Jones.
- Plymouth Sutton & Devonport: Labour’s Luke Pollard beats the Tory incumbent, Oliver Colvile, by 6,002 votes.
- Exeter: in the next coastal conurbation further East, Ben Bradshaw holds Exeter for Labour with a convincing 62% of the vote and a 16,117 majority.
- Southampton Test: Alan Whitehead has successfully defended his seat, which he has held for Labour for 20 years (since 1997). Although the seat was earmarked a Conservative target, Alan managed to increase his share of the vote by 17.4% and now enjoys a comfortable 11,503 majority.
- Portsmouth South: Conservative Flick Drummond was defeated by Labour’s Stephen Morgan who increased his vote share by 21.5%. His majority isn’t large though: 1,554 which makes the seat one to watch in future elections.
- The Liberal Democrats’ only but interesting achievement in the region is taking the city of Bath from the Conservatives. Wera Hobhouse gained the seat for the Lib Dems by beating incumbent Ben Howlett by 5,694 votes.
The results reveal how the region’s rural communities maintain a clear preference for the Conservatives, whilst the left-leaning vote is predominantly found among its city-dwellers. Business as usual therefore; this pattern has been well established in the South and South West for quite a while. The major upsets of this General Election have taken place further afield.