East of England

The East of England consists of the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. Politically it is solidly to the right of the country, it consistently returns large numbers of Conservative MPs. However it contains many marginal constituencies that tend to swing between governing parties.

This is seen clearly during the 1960’s and 70’s, when Labour won a majority in 1966 they had 15 MPs in the East of England, this dropped to 4 when Heath won his majority in 1970. However, in the October 1974 election Labour were back in government and had 13 MPs in the region. The election of Thatcher in 1979 would usher in a long period of Conservative dominance in the East of England as they were able to hold all but a handful of seats. This was in part due to a high vote share, consistently over 50%, but also due to a split in the opposition vote between Labour and the Liberal/SDP/Liberal Democrats.

This decisively changed in 1997 when Labour captured 39% of the vote and 22 seats with a massive 12 point increase in the share of the vote. National polls before that election overstated the Labour lead but the East of England is one area where Labour did make double digit vote share gains. From this high point the Labour vote slowly shrank but it did not flow exclusively to the Tories. UKIP emerged as an electoral force in the East of England, at their peak in 2015 they won 16% of the vote. This combined with by-election victories in Clacton (Essex, EOE) and Rochester (Kent, SEE) were key drivers of the Brexit referendum that would follow in 2016. However UKIP were unable to hold their seats at the general election and they withered after the referendum.

The two post referendum elections had very different vote shares for Labour (33 and 24) but similar outcomes in terms of seats (7 and 5). The Conservatives stranglehold on the region continued. Since 1955, they have always held a majority of seats (even in 1997) and currently hold 52 out of 58. In 2019, all six counties in the region voted more strongly for the Conservatives then did either England or the UK as a whole. This is part of a pattern that stretches back decades.

General Election Time Series

Seats Won in the East of England 1955-2019

Share of the Vote Won in the East of England 1955-2019

2019 General Election

Seats Won in the East of England in 2019, by County

Share of the Vote Won in the East of England in 2019, by County

Share of Seats Won in the East of England in 2019, by County

Change in Vote Share and Seats Won in the East of England in 2019, by County

Local Government Composition

Local Councils Held 1973-2023 in the East of England

Local Council Seats Held 1973-2023 in the East of England

Election Model Forecast for Next Election

ConstituencyCountyNotional Winner 2019Forecast WinnerClassificationForecast Party ChangeBattleground
Basildon and BillericayEssexCONCONLikely0NA
BedfordBedfordshireLABLABSafe0Southern England
Brentwood and OngarEssexCONCONSafe0NA
Broadland and FakenhamNorfolkCONToss-Up0NA
Bury St Edmunds and StowmarketSuffolkCONCONLikely0NA
Castle PointEssexCONCONSafe0NA
Central Suffolk and North IpswichSuffolkCONCONLikely0NA
ColchesterEssexCONLABSafe1Southern England
Dunstable and Leighton BuzzardBedfordshireCONLABLean1NA
Ely and East CambridgeshireCambridgeshireCONCONLean0NA
Epping ForestEssexCONCONLikely0NA
Great YarmouthNorfolkCONCONLikely0NA
Harpenden and BerkhamstedHertfordshireCONCONLikely0NA
Harwich and North EssexEssexCONLABLean1NA
Hemel HempsteadHertfordshireCONLABLikely1NA
Hertford and StortfordHertfordshireCONLABLean1NA
IpswichSuffolkCONLABSafe1Southern England
Luton NorthBedfordshireLABLABSafe0NA
Luton South and South BedfordshireBedfordshireLABLABSafe0NA
Mid BedfordshireBedfordshireCONCONLikely0NA
Mid NorfolkNorfolkCONCONLikely0NA
North BedfordshireBedfordshireCONCONLikely0NA
North East CambridgeshireCambridgeshireCONCONSafe0NA
North East HertfordshireHertfordshireCONLABLean1NA
North NorfolkNorfolkCONCONLikely0NA
North West CambridgeshireCambridgeshireCONToss-Up0NA
North West EssexEssexCONCONSafe0NA
North West NorfolkNorfolkCONCONLikely0NA
Norwich NorthNorfolkCONLABSafe1Southern England
Norwich SouthNorfolkLABLABSafe0NA
PeterboroughCambridgeshireCONLABSafe1Southern England
Rayleigh and WickfordEssexCONCONSafe0NA
South Basildon and East ThurrockEssexCONCONLikely0NA
South CambridgeshireCambridgeshireCONLIBSafe1Southern England
South NorfolkNorfolkCONLABLean1NA
South SuffolkSuffolkCONCONLikely0NA
South West HertfordshireHertfordshireCONCONLikely0NA
South West NorfolkNorfolkCONCONSafe0NA
Southend East and RochfordEssexCONLABLikely1NA
Southend West and LeighEssexCONLABLikely1NA
St AlbansHertfordshireLIBLIBSafe0NA
St Neots and Mid CambridgeshireCambridgeshireCONToss-Up1NA
StevenageHertfordshireCONLABSafe1Southern England
Suffolk CoastalSuffolkCONToss-Up0NA
WatfordHertfordshireCONLABSafe1Southern England
Waveney ValleySuffolkCONCONLikely0NA
Welwyn HatfieldHertfordshireCONLABSafe1NA
West SuffolkSuffolkCONCONLikely0NA

Abbreviations used in the table: CON = Conservative, LAB = Labour Party, LIB = Liberal Democrats, GRE = Green Party, IND = Independent, UKI = UK Independence Party (UKIP), REF = Reform UK