Many Labour Gains Expected
But The Government Should Get A Clear Majority
The electoral battle has started in real earnest this week and already indications may be seen in some areas as to which way the wind is likely to blow, although this by no means excludes the possibility of surprises and changes in the course of the campaign.
It may safely be predicted that there will be plentiful Labour gains, particularly in the industrial areas, as was only to be expected. In its backward areas Labour polls may well make surprising progress, but will gain few, if any, seats. The government should, despite heavy losses, maintain a slender majority over all opponents, while the Liberals (Samuelites) will be all but wiped out save in traditional strongholds like northern Wales, northern Scotland and Cornwall. The next House will see a bare dozen.
LIBERALISM SICK BUT NOT DEAD
London has for some time been regarded as likely to provide many Labour gains; 1931 left Labour in possession of only four of London's 62 seats—Bermondsey, Limehouse and the two Poplars— and since then there have been three gains at by-elections—East Fulham, North Hammersmith and Lambeth.
The L.C.C. and borough council elections, however, indicate a strong swingback, and Labour gains are extremely likely in North Battersea, Camberwell, Finsbury, S. and W. Islington, N. and S.E. St. Pancras, and West Fulham, while practically all East London is almost certain to revert to Labour, as well as such South London seats as Southwark, Deptford, Kennington. Peckham and Botherhithe.
The contest is likely to be very close in Stoke Newington, S. Hammersmith, N. Islington, S.W. St. Pancras, N. Kensington, E. Fulham (which Mr. Wilmot, the retiring member, may well fail to hold), C. Wandsworth and N. Paddington, and it would he hard to forecast a result in these seats. The remaining London seats, with the possible exceptions of Greenwich and East Lewisham, are nearly certain to remain Conservative.
The south of England is unlikely to
provide surprises. Chatham, Dartford, Faversham, Portsmouth Central and Southampton will in all probabili:, provide stiff fights, but the only really unsafe Conservative seat, even of these, is Dartford; elsewhere the solid South will remain Conservative. •
The home counties, too, and East Anglia (with the exception of Essex) will remain government strongholds. Norfolk will undoubtedly provide some Labour gains, whilst East and West Ham, Romford and South-East Essex are also likely to see Labour successes. Reading is the only probable government loss to Labour in the home counties, although Buckingham might prove a Labour outsider. The government will also probably lose sonic Middlesex seats such as Acton, Enfield, Edmonton and the two Tottenhams, while Twickenham is by no means secure.
The south-west position is interesting. Here Liberalism is very sick. but not yet dead, and, indeed, in Cornwall displays
surprising vigour. Bristol will probably see more than one Labeur gain, and Dr. Addison will hold Swindon, but Fronze is the only other likely Labour gain, although the Sutton and Drake divisions of Plymouth arc by no means safe government seats, and Labour Is pressing hard at Penryn. As regards the Liberals, Mr. Isaac Foot should just pull off Bodmin, but Sir Francis Acland is in grave danger in North Cornwall. Elsewhere all are government seats, although Labour is likely to poll more Ilea ily than usual in Dorset.
Midland Labour Gains
The Midlands will see Labour gains. although a sweep is unlikely. In Birmingham the government candidates are in serious danger in Deritend. Duddiston, and King's Norton divisions, while Yardley and Ladywood are not too safe; the Staffordshire seats, whether in the Black Country or Potteries, will show many Labour gains, and Derbyshire is sure to follow suit.
Worcestershire (with the exception of Stourbridge), Leicestershire, and Shropshire will remain loyal to the government as a whole, but Leicester itself is, as in the past, uncertain, and in Northamptonshire Labour gains are probable at Kettering and Wellingtovough, not unlikely at Northampton itself, and not impossible at Peterborough.
Labour will retain its hold in Nottinghamshire, and probably gain West Nottingham and possibly South Nottingham: But it is the North that will provide the most sweeping changes. The swingover in 1931 was greatest in the industrial North, and the resentment of the distressed areas, coupled with bitter memories of the means-test operation, is likely to cause a reverse swing now (though on a lesser scale) unless there are surprises between now and November 14.
A Danger Spot The government is in real danger in 5"/z/ford and some four of the Manchester
divisions. Labour will hold two of its three Liverpool seats, although Mr. Cleary is not likely to see Westminster again; Kirkdale, with its " Protestant candidate," is an enigma.
Accrington, Barrow, Bootle, Blackburn (where Mrs. Mary Agnes Hamilton will be sorely missed by friend and foe alike), Bolton, Burnley, Bury. Eccles, Nelson, Preston, Rochdale, St. Helens, and Warrington are all seats where government candidates are in grave peril; and in the Lancashire county divisions, Clitheroe. Farnworih, and Newton are likely to fall to Labour, while Ormskirk remains problematic.
Yorkshire will in all probability see a similar turn-over: by-elections here have provided some hint of this. There is already a substantial labour nucleus in the mining districts, and Batley, Dewsbury, East (and possibly West) Middlesbrough, Stockton, Cleveland, Colne Valley, Doncaster, El/amid, Keighley, Penistone, Pontefract, Shipley, and Spen Valley are all divisions where government candidates will have to fight very hard.
In Bradford Labour will win at least one seat, and only I.L.P. intervention will stop it winning another. Leeds will return three or four Labour members at least, and Sheffield will do the same, but Huddersfield will remain true to Mr. Mabane and its Liberal traditions.
Mr. MacDonald's Seat
The distressed North-east should be the scene of interesting fights. Mr. MacDonald is contending with overwhelming odds at Sea/man,. but is unlikely to survive the Labour a‘alanche coming in Co. Durham, where only Hartlepool can be regarded as safe fatthe government.
Tyneside will also continue the Labour push, although on a lesser scale. Newcastle East and Central, Wallsend, South Shields, and, further north, Morpeth and Wattsbeck are all probable Labour gains.
('timberland will return Labour members in Carlisle, Whitehaven, and Workington, but the declining Liberal polls should save Northern Cumberland and Pettrith for the government. Scotland is always harder to assess. Here the Labour vote was steadier in 1931, but Liberalism and Scottish Nationalism are important factors with which to reckon, and accurate predictions are far more difficult.
There will be at least five Labour gains in Glasgow, and the 1.L.P., too, would hold a few seats but for the fratricidal war with Labour. The picturesque Jimmy Maxton is, however, likely to hold Bridgeton against all opposition.
Labour Hopes That popular Edinburgh figure, the late Mr. Willy Graham, will be missing, but Edinburgh will probably produce at least two Labour gains, and similar successes arc likely in Dunfermline, Dundee, Greenock, Montrose, Paisley, West Fife, South Ayr, Stirling, Peebles, West Renfrew, and many of the Lanark seats, but elsewhere the government should triumph, save in the far north, where Liberalism lingers on. Wales will not see a great change in close fights between Liberals and Labour, but the Lloyd George family, save for Megan, are extremely secure. Elsewhere the situation will not alter.
These observations are based upon figures, past records, and often personal contacts and experience.
But the entire complexion of a constituency may alter in four years, and the