Easy for the Conservatives?
Of England's 533 parliamentary constituencies, 319 are currently held by the Conservatives, 206 by Labour, 6 by the Liberal Democrats, 1 by UKIP and 1 by the Greens. The Conservative party have won the popular vote in England in the last three elections and the most seats in the last two. In 2015, Derby North was won by the Conservatives with a majority of just 41 votes, making it the most marginal seat in England.
The last voter intention survey in England suggested that the Conservatives can hope to achieve close to 50 percent of the English vote. This survey was, however, carried out in October 2016 so it is difficult to judge how opinion has changed since then. The Conservative win in the Copeland by-election suggests that the party have the potential to perform well in the traditionally Labour north of England. A swing to the Conservatives, similar to that in Copeland, would put around 20 Labour seats across the north into contention for the Conservatives. In the Midlands, the Conservatives have the potential to take Coventry South, a seat held by Labour's Jim Cunningham since 1992 (1997 without boundary changes). If they are having an exceptional night, they might even manage to overturn the 4,509 majority in Coventry North West, a Labour seat since February 1974. Any swing to the Conservatives puts Labour's marginal seats into play and the opinion polls suggest that this is likely to be the case. Seats such a Birmingham Edgbaston, where the incumbent Labour MP is standing down, are looking like fertile ground for a Conservative surge and Labour slump.
For Labour to have a chance at being the largest single party, or having a small overall majority, they need to win seats in the Midlands and the North as well as the South. A swing of 5 percent from Conservative to Labour would bring 44 seats into the mix. This would put Labour on around 250 seats in England and 281 seats across the United Kingdom. This would still be 45 seats short of an overall majority and due to the spread of the seats across England, is a very difficult task. To achieve a national swing of 5 percent is also considerably more difficult than it sounds. London bucked the national trend in 2015 and returned 45 Labour MPs compared to 38 in 2010. If Labour were to do well, they would be looking to make further gains in London in seats such as Hendon, Croydon Central and Harrow East. An exceptional performance would see Enfield Southgate, Finchley and Golders Green and Chipping Barnet turn red. For the overall majority, Battersea and Chingford and Wood Green must return Labour MPs. A recent voter intention survey suggested that Labour had lost ground in London since 2015, Sadiq Khan's personal rating remains high in the capital and this may result in Labour once again performing better in London than the rest of the country.
The Liberal Democrats are starting from a low base in England, having lost 37 of their constituencies in the country in 2015. They will be looking to target constituencies in remain-heavy London where they lost long-held seats such Twickenham to the Conservatives. Their by-election victory in Richmond Park looks set to turn blue, but incumbency may save Sarah Olney. Cambridge, which the Liberal Democrats lost to Labour by the wafer thin margin of 599 votes looks set to return to the party but some of their defences such as Southport (no incumbent) and Carshalton and Wallington look at risk from a Conservative advance. These might well find themselves cancelled out by localised gains from Labour in Burnley and Bermondsey and Old Southwark.
UKIP's large popular vote share in 2015 only returned them one MP and despite a lot of second place finishes, it looks likely that the party will go backwards and end up with no representation in parliament. Paul Nuttall's embarrassing defeat in Stoke-on-Trent Central back in February and the party's huge vote share drop in Copeland suggests that UKIP are little threat to the Labour vote and many of the 2015 Conservative-defectors are returning to the Conservatives. This could lead to UKIP tying with the Liberal Democrats with around 10 percent of the vote each.
It will be fascinating to see whether or not Mrs May's party manages to make big gains in Labour's northern heartland and whether the Liberal Democrats manage to revive in places that voted to remain the European Union. Labour's chances of making any headway in England look slim but, any swing to the party makes gains in the country inevitable. For UKIP and the Greens, the 8th June is likely to bring little progress and is almost certain to see UKIP lose its only parliamentary seat. The Greens may pull of an upset in Bristol West, but at the moment it looks highly unlikely.
2015 Result: London
2015 Result: West Midlands