The English region of Yorkshire and the Humber covers the metropolitan areas of West and South Yorkshire, including Sheffield, Leeds, Doncaster, Rotherham, Huddersfield, Barnsley and Bradford. The region also covers the largely rural North Yorkshire, the City of York, Hull, the East Riding of Yorkshire, and parts of northern Lincolnshire on the southern shore of the Humber.
Labour is dominant in the urban areas of South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Humberside. In South and West Yorkshire there are two Liberal Democrats MPs, one Conservative, and 35 Labour MPs. Labour holds all four seats in southern Humberside and all three seats in Hull. The Conservatives dominate in rural East Yorkshire and North Yorkshire.
While most seats in the region are straight Labour-Tory contests, there is a cluster of seats in South Yorkshire where Labour’s main rival is the Liberal Democrats, including all of Sheffield.
The redistribution abolished a Labour seat in both West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire. North Yorkshire’s eight constituencies were dramatically redrawn, creating the seat of York Outer as a notionally Liberal Democrat seat, and abolishing a third Labour seat.
- 1987 – 33 LAB, 23 CON
- 1992 – 34 LAB, 22 CON
- 1997 – 47 LAB, 7 CON, 2 LD
- 2001 – 47 LAB, 7 CON, 2 LD
- 2005 – 44 LAB, 9 CON, 3 LD
Labour managed to hold 60% of the seats in the region at the 1987 election, despite the large Conservative majority nationally. In 1992 Labour gained one more seat off the Conservatives.
At the 1997 election, Labour wiped out all Conservative seats in South and West Yorkshire, with the Liberal Democrats winning Sheffield Hallam, the only non-Labour seat in the metropolitan region. The Lib Dems won a second Conservative seat in North Yorkshire, leaving only seven Conservative seats.
The 2001 election produced the same result, with Labour winning 47, the Tories winning seven and the Lib Dems winning two.
In 2005, Labour lost three seats. They lost the North Yorkshire seat of Scarborough & Whitby to the Conservatives and the West Yorkshire seats of Leeds North West to the Lib Dems and Shipley to the Conservatives.
The key seats
- Calder Valley, Cleethorpes, Bradford West, Brigg & Goole, Halifax – these five Labour seats are the most vulnerable to the Conservatives in the region, sitting 23rd, 55th, 60th, 68th and 72nd on their target list.
- Keighley, Dewsbury, Pudsey, Elmet & Rothwell – these four Labour seats are in the range of the swing the Conservatives will need to win a majority.
- Batley & Spen, Leeds North East, Wakefield – these seats could fall from Labour to the Conservatives on a substantial swing.
- York Outer – this new seat is a donut seat covering the outer suburbs of the City of York. It completely surrounds the seat of York Inner. The seat is notionally Liberal Democrat, but it has been calculated that the Lib Dems have a margin over the Conservatives of only 4.5%, with Labour a further 10% behind.
- Haltemprice & Howden – a Conservative seat in the East Riding of Yorkshire, this seat is held by senior Conservative David Davis, who resigned in 2008 to trigger a by-election on the issue of civil liberties. He holds it by a 10.7% margin over the Liberal Democrats, and he could be vulnerable if the Lib Dems perform strongly.
- Harrogate & Knaresborough – this Lib Dem seat in North Yorkshire is held by a 15% margin over the Conservatives, and could be vulnerable if the Conservatives perform strongly.
- Sheffield Central – this Labour seat is held by a 16% margin over the Liberal Democrats. If the Lib Dems perform well, particularly considering that Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg holds the neighbouring seat of Sheffield Hallam, Labour could lose this seat.
- Leeds North West – the sole Liberal Democrat seat in West Yorkshire, this seat is a target of both Labour and Conservative.
- Bradford East – this Labour seat is held by a 13% margin over the Lib Dems.
- Colne Valley – this Labour seat is a three-cornered contest and is on the target lists of both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.