The East Midlands Flipchart?

The East Midlands Flipchart?

Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire are in part a section of the Red Wall. At present we have 22 MPs, 5 in Nottingham and Derby, and the other 17 in County seats.

Back in March in the PB comments I suggested that of the 8 County seats in Nottinghamshire, currently all Conservative, 5 to 7 would flip to Labour – possibly excepting Newark (Robert Jenrick) which has a majority of 22k and is no 256 on Labour’s target list according to Election Polling. Derbyshire is slightly more mixed, with Chesterfield held by Labour, and Derby North held by the Conservatives.

The last published prediction I saw was that they would all – in both counties – end up Labour, except Newark. That is the extreme end of my suggestion. 

** Is this the region which may flip the most dramatically?

Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, with Nottingham and Derby, is now known as D2N2, or – slightly optimistically – “The East Midlands”. We have a new “East Midlands Combined County Authority”, with a 30 year deal for £38m a year funding, and future longer term, joined up (we hope) council plans. And various places at the edges of the D2N2 region, or left outside it, seem slightly narked. NW Derbyshire looks to Manchester and feels semi-detached; NE Derbyshire keeps getting bits annexed by Sheffield as TSE knows, and was hokey-cokey with the Yorkshire regional setup for years; and Leicestershire feels left out. I’m happier because Ashfield now feels more central, and we are getting part of the Notts County Council Offices moving from Nottingham.

I see this as a baby step forwards – as short-termism forced on Councils, especially in Government funding, is one of the real problems with the way our country is governed. 

The deal has been negotiated partly by Mansfield’s own Oliver Twist – Ben “Can I have some more political jobs, please” Bradley. He has worked with a nearly-complete set of Tory MPs for both Counties, the Conservative-controlled Derbyshire County Council, but the opposite for the two cities. If he loses Mansfield at the Election he will have, I think, two jobs left – Councillor and Council Leader, where it could have been four.

I’d say that after July 4th we will have a nearly full set of Labour MPs, which may make N2D2 the region with the greatest flip in the country. Ben Bradley will be at the table wearing his Notts CC leader hat, facing the Labour Mayor. 

All the change will be a test of the new structures.

** Thoughts about Seats?

I’m not tipping, as there are too many moving parts, I am not very good at it.

But I do wonder the reason for Newark, by the raw numbers the safest Con seat, having odds of Labour 1/25 and Conservative 5/1. Why? Is there something beneath the surface? Is Jenrick expected to flip to RefUK, and kneecap both them and Conservatives, as is a risk in Ashfield? That would say lay Labour, if there were a market.

By comparison Ben Bradley in Mansfield is around 7/2 and Labour are aroudn 1/7. Which is a less obviously safe seat in 2024.

In my own constituency of Ashfield the politics remain a shark-infested custard. My only call is that the Ashfield Independents may have finally peaked. They currently have more than 30 District Council seats from 35, and all the County Council seats. They won extra seats in 2023, yet the Deputy Leader Tom Hollis’ vote share in his seat fell from 81% to 42% in the 2023 election after his latest criminal conviction, which was in part for phoning up 999 and performing a sound charade for the operator of his neighbour attacking him with a knife. He received 200 hours of unpaid work, and a compensation order for the campaign of harrassment for which he was seeking to avoid taking responsibility.

Jason Zadrozny the Ashfield Independent candidate for MP and the District Council Leader is going into the election claiming that a large number of charges he faces are a ‘political prosecution’, having succeeded in moving his trial out of area and delaying it until 2025. To me that is a hole below the waterline in his prospects.

If Zadrozny misses out on the seat, and the dynamic duo remain in place, I’d say that the Ashfield Independents have only one way to go. But it will take Ashfield Labour, assuming they are now sane, another decade to dig them out – like extracting Swampy from a tunnel, or Liberal Democrats (the roots of the AIs) from anything. 

In the northern ex-mining areas of Notts and Derby there is an smallish embedded populist Right / Further Right vote. This was relatively fertile ground for BNP, then UKIP, then the Brexit Party, and now RefUK. Now there are signs that RefUK are pivoting this way in part, and we all know the populist games that Rishi Sunak is playing. I have mentioned before that there are signs of a gradual increase in diversity in the population in this area.

We have lost several long-term MPs – Ken Clarke and Dennis Skinner after 49 years in 2019, and this time Margaret Beckett after 41 years. The Con majority in Rushcliffe declined at each election from 2010 to 2019. In Bolsover the Lab majority fell in every election from 2001 to 2019 except one, and then it flipped Tory. That speaks to personal votes, but also to secular change.

Greens and Lib Dems are generally not very generally prominent.

** Wrapping Up

I’m interested to know thoughts on seats in the D2N2, and broader East Midlands regions, but also about how the balances are working out in other regions, and if there are any others we can watch.


Disclaimer: this has been written fairly quickly. Any errors are mine. Please call out any errors in the comments, as ever.

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