Express & Star

Labour and Tories prepare for ‘red wall’ tussle in North East

All eight seats the Conservative are defending in the region are Labour targets.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer talks to a child at Whale Hill Primary School in Eston in the constituency of Redcar in north-east England, during the election campaign

Labour and the Conservatives finished in either first or second place in every seat in north-east England at the 2019 general election, suggesting the region could be a straight two-way fight this year, with no obvious targets for any other party.

A redrawing of boundaries means the North East now has 27 constituencies, down from 29 in 2019, and had the last election been fought on these new boundaries it is calculated the Labour would have won 19 seats and the Conservatives eight.

Notional results for the 2019 election based on the 2024 boundaries have also been calculated, in order to determine the scale of the challenge facing candidates this time, and it is these notional majorities that are used below.

All eight seats the Conservative are defending in the North East are Labour targets, with some needing only a small swing to change hands.

A map of key battleground seats in north-east England at the General Election
Key battleground seats in north-east England at the General Election (PA Graphics)

The brand new constituency of Newton Aycliffe & Spennymoor is the most vulnerable of the eight, where the Tories are defending a majority of just 3,408.

It includes most of the now-abolished constituency of Sedgefield, the seat once held by former Labour prime minister Tony Blair and which remained Labour until being won by the Conservatives in 2019.

Redcar and Darlington are the next most vulnerable seats on the list, with Tory majorities in 2019 of 4,878 and 4,968 respectively.

The 2019 result in Redcar was historic: it was the largest Labour majority overturned by the Conservative at the election and it was the first time since the seat was created in 1974 that it had been won by the Tories.

A profile of the Redcar constituency
A profile of the Redcar constituency (PA Graphics)

Bishop Auckland, the next seat on Labour’s North East target list, was held by the party continuously for more than 80 years from 1935 until 2019, when it gained its first Conservative MP, Dehenna Davison.

Ms Davison is not a candidate in this election – one of a record number of former Tory MPs who have chosen not to stand again.

Labour will be looking to restore the seat to its former status as a solid brick in the so-called “red wall” but will need to overturn a Tory majority of 8,113 to do so.

All four of these seats would change hands if there was a swing in the share of the vote from Conservative to Labour of 8.2 percentage points.

The other four Tory defences in the region present more of a challenge and have majorities between 10,000 and 20,000: Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland (10,299), Stockton West (11,749), Hexham (12,186) and Northumberland North (17,306).

The last of these, Northumberland North, would need a swing from Conservative to Labour of 16.5 percentage points to change hands.

This is smaller than some of the swings to Labour in recent by-elections, so if Sir Keir Starmer’s party performs strongly in this area of the UK, it is possible that there will no Conservative MPs in the North East after the election.

Labour’s most vulnerable seat in the region is Cramlington & Killingworth, a newly created constituency where the party’s notional majority in 2019 would have been 2,157.

Labour is also defending a small majority of 2,964 in Sunderland Central, which is likely to be one of the first seats to declare on election night and as such will give an early indication to how the party is faring.

All notional majorities and swings mentioned above have been compiled by professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher of the University of Plymouth, on behalf of BBC News, ITV News, Sky News and the PA news agency, and will be used as the basis for reporting the gains and losses at the General Election.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.