On 10th February, a leaked list of Conservative target seats revealed that the party’s campaign headquarters will not be targeting several Birmingham seats.
These include Birmingham Ladywood, Birmingham Selly Oak and Birmingham Edgbaston. There are a total of 102 seats that will not be targeted for various reasons, from being ‘super-safe’ to ‘unwinnable’.
Birmingham Edgbaston is a somewhat surprising find on the list. In 2010, Gisela Stuart retained her seat for Labour by 1,247 votes. This makes it one of the smallest majorities Labour have over the Conservatives in the country. It was also a target seat in both 2005 and 2010.
Speaking as an individual rather than on behalf of the party, Rogelio Barcena Biyang, party activist campaigning for Conservative Edgbaston candidate Dr. Luke Evans and a UoB student, he was ‘surprised when they [the Conservative Campaign Headquarters] announced Edgbaston would not be on the target list for the Party’. However, he believes that it will make it ‘not harder, but more challenging’ to win the seat with a lack of funding. He said that it is seats like Edgbaston that the Conservatives must win to be able to form a majority government in May. Despite this, he commented that the funds would be put toward Birmingham Northfield, where he believes that the voters are leaning towards the Conservatives.
Even without Edgbaston being considered a target seat, the campaign will continue and ‘a lot of people turn up to fight for the seat’. Rogelio said that over the past year, he has not seen a UKIP or Green campaigner for the seat, so it is likely to be a straight-forward fight between the Conservatives and Labour, unlike other areas of the country.
This follows Ashcroft Poll findings that say the Conservatives are unlikely to win more than a handful of Labour-held seats. The poll claims that the Conservatives will make most of their gains through Liberal Democrat seats. It is also interesting to note that the list contains the constituency of Rochester and Strood, which became the second UKIP constituency after Mark Reckless triggered a by-election by defecting to the Party in late 2014.