UKIP could take both parliamentary constituencies in Plymouth at the next election, according to a think tank linked to the Conservative Party. Research by the Bow Group indicates that Oliver Colvile, Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton & Devonport and Alison Seabeck, Labour MP for Plymouth Moorview, could both lose their seats next year if UKIP repeats its performance in the recent Newark by-election.
According to the group, the anti-EU party could snatch a dozen constituencies from the Conservatives’ “40/40 list” list of the 40 most vulnerable seats they need to defend and 40 marginal seats they hope to gain from other parties.
UKIP would gain Camborne & Redruth, Thurrock, Newton Abbot, Waveney, Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, and Halesowen & Rowley Regis from the Conservatives, while also taking Great Grimsby, Telford, Walsall North, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Plymouth Moorview from Labour and St Ives from the Liberal Democrats.
The Plymouth Herald says that both Plymouth MPs are dismissive of the data, however.
Alison Seabeck said: “It’s a bit of a crude assessment and the reason I say that is because at the last Euro elections, before the last general election, UKIP did very well. And despite Labour being extremely unpopular, we lost the general election, we still polled very well in Plymouth.”
She added, however: “There was a very significant protest at the latest local and European elections but what none of us know is whether that will carry on to the general election.
“I don’t think anyone should make any assumptions on how people will vote, we have to go out and earn those votes.
“That’s why I’m going out and speaking to as many people in the community as I can.”
Oliver Colvile told the paper: “I take the threat from anyone standing seriously, but when you look at the council elections last month, UKIP came third in my constituency.
“In the Moor View constituency in the North of the city UKIP did very well.
“Ultimately, the choice is for people to make next year. Voters will decide if they want to support calls for a referendum on Europe. I don’t even think UKIP are suggesting they want to form a government.”
The Bow Group has warned that Prime Minister David Cameron must address the concerns of voters on issues such as Europe and immigration if they are to effectively combat UKIP.
Chairman Ben Harris-Quinney said: “There has been much talk of listening and hearing from the Conservative Party leadership following Ukip’s success in the recent European and Newark elections, and much resulting criticism of continued federalism in Europe following the candidacy of Jean-Claude Juncker for EU president, yet at home we remain in coalition with a committed euro-federalist party in the Liberal Democrats.
“Whilst this continues to be the case, it will be impossible to convince voters that the Conservative Party remains genuinely committed to conservative policies on Europe and immigration. Breaking up the coalition Government as soon as possible would send that signal, and it might be a bold enough move to give the Conservative Party a chance of a majority in 2015.”