Given that they are currently tanking in national polls, the Liberal Democrats will depend on incumbency and local factors to retain seats in the House of Commons. 'Go back to your constituencies and prepare for holding more seats than the polls say', as one wag put it.
Where incumbents are standing down and the majority is small, they are likely to lose, e.g., Berwick, Somerton & Frome. Even where the majority is large, the seat may fall, e.g., Bath.
What follows is far from scientific and has been done largely for my own interest. I don't know most of the constituencies personally. However, I reckon that the Lib Dems have 11 bedrock seats and another eight they will probably retain. That give them 19. They have a fifty-fifty chance in another nine, so if they retain five of those, they would have 24 seats which is in the middle of most forecasts. They may gain one seat which would bring the total to 25.
90 per cent + chance of holding
- Twickenham (Vince Cable)
- Orkney & Shetland (Jo Grimond’s old seat)
- Westmorland & Lonsdale (Tim Farron, possible new leader)
- North Norfolk (Norman Lamb has a 11,000+ majority)
- Yeovil (David Laws has a 13,000+ majority)
- Leeds North West (Big majority, opposition split)
- Colchester (Bob Russell has a big personal following)
- Thornbury & Yate
- Ceredigion (Welsh fastness)
- Bristol West (11,000+ majority)
75 per cent chance of holding
- Sheffield Hallam: Labour think they can come from third place to take Nick Clegg’s seat, but this was historically a Conservative constituency. There are plenty of students and university staff, but I’ll let you into a secret: by no means all of them are left leaning.
- Lewes: Norman Baker is popular enough to hold on
- Edinburgh West: Lib Dems can probably hold on in this former Tory seat
- Cheltenham: Liberal Democrat since 1992 and a popular local MP, losing it would be a big blow
- North Devon: Lib Dems are well dug in in Jeremy Thorpe’s old seat.
- Eastleigh: Held in by election, polls suggest they should hold on.
- Cheadle: A lot depends on how many voters go back to Labour.
- Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross: Aristo John Thurso can probably hold on in this remote seat
50 per cent chance of holding
- Carshalton & Wallington: Charismatically challenged Tom Brake is well known and well liked locally.
- Kingston & Surbiton: Tories think they can unseat energy minister Ed Davey, but he may just hang on.
- Hornsey & Wood Green: Labour may be able to edge out Lynne Featherstone.
- St Ives: Friends on the Isles of Scilly think that Andrew George is toast and that he knows it. However, there are few votes left of the Conservatives on the islands and although George has a small majority, a poll shows him just ahead.
- Chippenham: Duncan Hames may be able to hold on despite a small majority. However, one well informed individual has subsequently told me that this is unlikely. Unfortunately, his wife Jo Swinson, a campaigner on women’s issues, is unlikely to hold on in her Scottish constituency.
- Bermondsey & Southwark: Labour are confident that they can finally unseat Simon Hughes in what should be a Labour seat, but he may just be able to hang on.
- Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk Despite forecasts of the SNP wiping the board in Scotland, the Lib Dems may be able to retain David Steel’s old seat, but the Conservatives could sneak through.
- Torbay: A strong personal vote may enable Adrian Sanders to survive.
- Hazel Grove: Incumbent MP is retiring, but Lib Dems may be able to hold on.
Montgomeryshire, a traditional Liberal seat, now free of Lembit Opik. Watford, where the Liberal Democrat mayor is standing, is a another possible gain. An outside chance is Bosworth where the Conservative majority was just over 5,000 last time. The MP is not too popular, the Lib Dems have a strong local candidate and there is a substantial UKIP vote.