Revealed: Newly registered voters piling up outside Labour's 'red wall'

Voter registration: Numbers aren't stacking up where Labour needs them.
Voter registration: Numbers aren't stacking up where Labour needs them.

This article will be updated later today with fuller information from across the UK.

By Chaminda Jayanetti

The surge of newly registered voters is not located in the 'red wall' of northern and Midlands marginal seats Labour is fighting to hold, according to figures seen by politics.co.uk.

Instead, registered voter numbers are rising strongest in metropolitan and student-heavy seats that are mostly already held by Labour.


However, there is also evidence of moderate gains in registered voters in a few marginals where a handful of votes could make the difference.

The current dataset can be viewed by clicking here.

Newly registered voters are not a conclusive indicator of electoral fortunes. In 2017, new registrations were also concentrated in city and student-heavy seats rather than what, on paper, were expected to be marginals.

But while this pointed the way to Labour gains in seats such as Plymouth Sutton, the Labour surge owed more to people who were already registered to vote, didn't vote in 2015 but did in 2017 - and therefore weren't captured in the data for newly registered voters.

However, with Labour proving unable to narrow the Tories' solid poll leads entering the last few days of the campaign, supporters are now increasingly hoping that the large number of newly registered voters - primarily in the Labour-friendly younger demographics - will drive an upset that denies Boris Johnson a majority to get a hard Brexit through parliament.

But data compiled from 233 constituencies in England that had provided finalised registered voter figures as of Friday evening shows that these new voters are not located where Labour desperately needs them - in its Leave-voting marginal seats in northern England and the Midlands.

In many of these seats, registered voter numbers are actually down compared to 2017 - falling by 2,201 votes, or three percent, in Hyndburn in Lancashire, and also down in Labour-held Tory targets such as Heywood and Middleton, Wirral West, Rotherham and the two West Bromwich seats.

The four constituencies in Kirklees in West Yorkshire are all Labour-held. Three - Dewsbury, Colne Valley, and Batley and Spen - are Tory targets. All four are showing a fall in registered voters.

Both York seats also show a fall in voter numbers, despite a large student population. York Central is a safe Labour seat but there had been hopes that student voters might nick York Outer from the Conservatives.

Meanwhile, the largest rises in registered voter numbers are primarily in existing Labour seats in cities - 9,310 more in Southampton Test, amounting to a huge 13% rise in a seat where Labour already has a 25% majority.

Other safe Labour seats showing big rises in registered voter figures include Nottingham South, Nottingham East, the two Hackney seats, and the three Lambeth constituencies of Dulwich, Vauxhall and Streatham.

Even within London, the distribution of new voters isn't ideal for Labour - registered voters are down by 565 votes, or one percent, in the key target of Chingford and Woodford Green, where Labour is trying to oust Iain Duncan Smith.

However, there are marginal seats where registered voter numbers have grown more strongly. Notably, Southampton Itchen - one of the UK's most marginal seats, held by the Tories by just 31 votes in 2017 - has racked up an extra 7,284 registered voters in 2019, a rise of ten percent since the last election.

However, in the likely event that these are primarily students, it is possible that come election day they will vote in their non-term addresses around the country rather than in Southampton Itchen itself, which is thought to have voted 60% for Leave in 2016.

The 4,021 extra voters in Kensington - a rise of seven percent - could help Labour hold the seat in a three-way fight with the Tories and Lib Dems. In Portsmouth South, where a three-way tussle has become a straight fight between the incumbent Labour MP and the Tories, registered voters are up by 4,401, or six percent.

One of the largest rises in registered voter numbers outside the cities is in East Devon, where the independent Claire Wright is standing on an anti-Brexit platform and is thought to be very close to taking the seat from the Tories. Registered voter numbers in East Devon are up by 4,764 - six percent.

In some marginals, more modest rises in registered voter figures could swing tight results. In Labour-held ultra-marginal Newcastle-under-Lyme, which is expected to go Tory, registered voter figures are up 2,613 - four percent.

There are also 1,535 extra registered voters in Weaver Vale, 2,021 in Canterbury, 2,205 in Hastings and Rye, 1,928 in Reading East and 2,136 in Warwick and Leamington, all of whom may have a decisive impact locally.

There are anomalous figures. The third highest rise so far recorded is in the non-metropolitan safe Tory seat of Faversham and Mid Kent, where registered voters are up by 6,979 - an 11% rise on 2017. The Tories have a huge 17,413 majority there, however.

The location of large increases in registered voter numbers may relate to students' term-time addresses, students' non-term home addresses, and in some cases recent large-scale house-building.

Chaminda Jayanetti is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter here.

The opinions in politics.co.uk's Comment and Analysis section are those of the author and are no reflection of the views of the website or its owners.

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