This week we are looking at how a Progressive Alliance can prevent a Conservative majority by coordinating together to win enough seats for a majority. Last time we looked at the arithmetic of such an undertaking, and defined which seats should be considered already safe. We found that of 284 seats that aren't safe, the Progressive Alliance would need to win 238 in order to outnumber the Conservatives and related parties.
We are now going to look at each region of the country to see where the key battles are. In this article, we are going to look at all the regions in the south of England.
The West Country (Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire)
Total seats: 38
Safe seats: CON 25
With only 13 seats realistically up for grabs, this is clearly a very strong area for the Conservatives. The upside of this is that resources for progressive parties do not need to be split widely between the key constituencies. Below is a graph of each key seat and its probabilities:
We can see that in each seat, there is only one realistic opposition. Generally, the Lib Dems are the best opposition in less populated areas, whilst Labour are the best opposition in cities (this is a trend which will continue across regions). Therefore, it is clear that in this area that Labour should focus on Exeter and Plymouth, whilst the Lib Dems focus on the remaining regions.
South Coast (Hampshire, Isle of Wight, West Sussex, East Sussex)
Total seats: 35
Safe seats: CON 26
West England (Avon, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire)
Total seats: 30
Safe seats: CON 23
Home Counties West (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey)
Total seats: 32
Safe seats: CON 27; IND 1
Home Counties East (Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire)
Total seats: 46
Safe seats: CON 41
Total seats: 37
Safe seats: CON 10; LAB 9
Total seats: 36
Safe seats: LAB 10; CON 9
The south of England represents possibly the biggest challenge for progressive parties, with the Conservatives favourites in a huge proportion of seats. With plenty of ex-Lib Dem seats possibly there to be regained, collaboration between both them and Labour appears key to combat the Conservatives.
If anywhere could be described as the Conservative heartlands, it is certainly the south of England. Next time, we will be looking at the rest of England, where Labour hold far more seats, and where they will be facing many battles to keep their seats.
On a personal note, I should add that the areas above represent approximately half of England in terms of constituencies (254 of 533), but in no way am I suggesting that the north of England starts above here - this divide is cultural and clearly starts at the imaginary line between Liverpool and Sheffield.