Only a pocket of Labour seats remains in Nottingham following a Conservative gain of 92 seats in England in Thursday’s General Election – a local result predicted by a poll conducted by the Nottingham Evening Post in conjunction with Impact in the weekend preceding the vote. While the Tories saw some sizeable swings in constituencies like Nottingham North and South, they couldn’t break into the city centre with the Labour Party holding onto four local seats while the Conservatives held two and gained two.
Broxtowe and Sherwood were the Conservative gains, and both saw fiercely contested electoral battles. Tory candidate Mark Spencer won in Sherwood by just 214 votes over Emilie Oldknow – a victory which needed to be confirmed by a recount. In what seemed to be a common theme nationally, Oldknow – despite being from the incumbent party – struggled as a new candidate, following previous Labour MP Paddy Tipping’s decision to stand down at this election. The swing from Labour to the Conservatives was 8.2% – higher than the overall East Midland swing of 6.7%.
Broxtowe’s incumbent Labour MP Nick Palmer – who had been in the seat since the 1997 landslide – was unseated by Anna Soubry as the vote swung by only 2.6% towards the Tories. Following two recounts, Soubury’s majority was given as 389. Students on Broadgate Park have, however, complained of being denied the ability to vote on polling day. A petition has been started by members of the off-campus accommodation alleging that “what we believe was an admin/communication error left almost 2,000 students off of the electoral registers in Broxtowe and Nottingham South”. Broadgate JCR Vice President Daniel Cooper said “I don’t have any faith in the accuracy of the Broxtowe result.”
Speaking following her victory, Soubry stated: “Broxtowe has a tradition of returning MPs who work hard for their constituents, and work hard to everyone in their constituency. You can be assured that as your member of Parliament, I will continue in that tradition.”
Palmer conceded defeat graciously, but said “I look forward to the rematch.”
Nottingham North and South saw above national average swings to the Tories, with North swinging by 8.7% and South swinging by 7.4%. Veteran Labour MP Alan Simpson was replaced by Lilian Greenwood in Nottingham South, notable as the constituency which includes University Park, Jubilee, NTU’s Clifton Campus and a large amount of student housing. While the most marginal of the three constituencies in the city centre, Greenwood was returned with a comfortable 1,772 majority. Labour MP Graham Allen was even more comfortable, winning Nottingham North by 8,138 votes.
Venerable Tory and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Mandelson’s equivalent on the Conservative front bench) Kenneth Clarke held Rushcliffe as expected. A traditional safe seat for the party, Clarke increased his vote share by 3% to 51.2%. Patrick Mercer firmly consolidated his position in Newark with a Conservative majority of 16,512, although Labour MPs Christopher Leslie and Vernon Coaker have held onto their seats in Nottingham East and Gedling respectively, securing Nottingham City against Tory incursion.
While the student vote had been expected to assist in predicted significant gains for the Liberal Democrat Party (which lost five seats nationally despite reaching record high poll levels in the weeks preceding the election), this did not manifest itself in Nottingham as predicted by the Evening Post/Impact poll. In Nottingham South the Liberal Democrat vote went down, while it saw only a slight increase in Broxtowe. Following national disappointment, and with his party losing its only seat in the East Midlands, Nick Clegg must be content with a kingmaking role in Westminster for this Parliament.
The local results were as follows:
Broxtowe: Con Gain
Gedling: Lab Hold
Newark: Con Hold
Nottingham East: Lab Hold
Nottingham North: Lab Hold
Nottingham South: Lab Hold
Rushcliffe: Con Hold
Sherwood: Con Gain