Blog: The Midlands General Election Battleground

So the nights are getting gloomy and the days cold and increasingly wet - it's game on for the first December General Election since the 1920s, writes political correspondent Alison Mackenzie.

Results here in the Midlands will be crucial in determining who gets into Downing Street and whether they have a majority comfortable enough to get anything done - let alone Brexit!

  • The numbers

There are 102 constituencies across our region - at the last election 64 Conservative MPs were returned and 38 Labour MPs.

The seats include two of the most marginal in the whole country - at Dudley North (majority 22) and Newcastle-Under-Lyme (majority 30).

Both were Labour seats in 2017 - but earlier this year Dudley North's Ian Austin resigned from Labour over anti-semitism. He is not standing this time and has controversially called on voters to elect Boris Johnson as Prime Minister!

Credit: PA

Any seat with a majority of fewer than 5,000 is considered to be marginal - we have 22 of those including others where the incumbent MPs are now either standing down or have switched parties.

  • The movers and quitters

Since 2017 - and mostly due to the Brexit impasse - 8 MPs became Independents or joined Change UK - Anna Soubry at Broxtowe is the leader of the breakaway party and will challenge again. She is buoyed by the decision of the Liberal Democrats not to stand against her giving her free rein for the Remain Alliance.

Her colleague Chris Leslie who left Labour to join Change UK will challenge again in Nottingham East.

The veteran Rushcliffe MP Ken Clarke lost the Conservative party whip after voting in favour of what Boris Johnson described as the 'Surrender Act' - but he has now stood down from Westminster after 49 years. His seat is now a target for the Liberal Democrats as Rushcliffe voted Remain in the EU referendum.

Margot James the Stourbridge Conservative MP who also lost the whip but then regained it - is also standing down.

Credit: PA
  • Ones to watch

Other seats to watch are the seven which were the only ones to change hands last time. They are:

  • Warwick & Leamington

  • Stoke-on-Trent South

  • Walsall North

  • Mansfield

  • Derby North

  • North East Derbyshire

  • Lincoln

All have slim majorities and are on the target lists for both main parties.

Derby North should be a fascinating contest. The incumbent Chris Williamson - who failed to be accepted back into the Labour fold after being suspended - again linked to anti-semitism claims - will stand as an independent candidate.

How will voters respond to the departure of Tom Watson at West Bromwich East? He was a firm believer in a second referendum - but the Labour deputy leader is handing over to new blood. A casualty of splits in the Labour ranks.

Credit: PA

The big unknown this time will be the impact the Brexit Party might have.

They are not standing in any of our Conservative held seats but Nigel Farage has ignored calls to stand aside in the Midlands Labour marginals.

It could hinder Conservative efforts to make gains in Leave territory in their quest for a parliamentary majority. Seats such at Stoke-on-Trent North and Stoke-on-Trent Central and those in the Black Country will see intense contests as polling day draws near.

The Green Party will want to capitalise on local election success and the election of their first Midlands MEP earlier this year. But it's a tough battle for them here in the Midlands and they may decide there is safety in aligning with the Liberal Democrats in order not to split the Remain vote.

Labour will want to hold onto Warwick & Leamington having snatched it from the Conservatives last time. They face an uphill battle to gain extra seats - they are not riding high in the polls and know that some voters of the view that Brexit should be done, will place their faith in the Conservatives.

We have bell-whether seats here in the Midlands. Whoever wins at Nuneaton, Telford, and Amber Valley tends to be the party walking into Downing Street the day after the election.