MP: Alan Meale, Labour
Usually, this former mining town nestled in north Nottinghamshire wouldn’t be considered an ‘interesting’ seat (in electoral terms). While Nottinghamshire’s last remaining colliery in nearby Thoresby closed in 2015, the political legacy of the area is dominated by Labour. Mansfield is still home to the Union of Democratic Mineworkers, which broke away from the National Union of Mineworkers in 1985.
But these are not normal times, and Labour’s uninterrupted 95-year hold in Mansfield could be under threat. The seat voted overwhelmingly to Leave the EU in 2016, and was considered (demographically at least) to be one of UKIP’s top target seats. But it is to the Conservatives that the current MP Alan Meale is most vulnerable in June.
With polls showing UKIP’s vote collapsing and flooding to the Conservatives, Meale’s 5,315 majority looks shaky. In 2015, the Conservatives won 28% of the vote, with UKIP narrowly behind on 25%. If even half of this UKIP vote goes to the Tories, Labour look set to lose Mansfield. And make no mistake, Theresa May has seats like Mansfield firmly in her sights. The Tories made a splash when they bought full front page adverts in the local paper, the Chad. Channel 4 News found, on the market square at least, hostility towards Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party, and approval of May’s approach to the Brexit negotiations.
If Mansfield falls to the Conservatives, it will be a dark day indeed for Labour. The fact that it is even in play is a sign of how Brexit has shaken up the political map.
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Joshua Townsley is Democratic Dashboard’s Research Assistant and a doctoral researcher in local campaigning and voter mobilisation at the University of Kent. He tweets @JoshuaTownsley