Seat Preview: City of Chester

15 May 2017

City of Chester

MP: Chris Matheson, Labour

Majority: 93

Labour-Conservative marginal

The city of Chester, famous for its two-tiered high street and well-preserved city walls, is also one the UK’s most marginal constituencies. According to YouGov’s Anthony Wells, it is number one on the list of seats the Tories are hoping to gain from Labour in June.

The seat has a recent history of switching between red and blue. Chester went from Labour in 2005 to Conservative in 2010, and back again to Labour in 2015. But the Conservatives were fewer than 100 votes short of holding Chester, and they will be confident of it turning blue again in June. The candidate they have selected for the job is Chester-born Will Gallagher, who previously worked as a special advisor to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

Yet the current MP Chris Matheson has a little cause for optimism. While the Cheshire West and Chester council area voted narrowly for Brexit, the City of Chester parliamentary constituency is estimated to have voted decisively Remain. Matheson campaigned strongly against Brexit in the referendum, and will hope to garner anti-Brexit votes in the city. Labour will need to further squeeze the 6% Lib Dem support in the constituency for that strategy to work.

With such a slim majority – the third smallest in the country – the Conservatives require only a fractional swing to wrest Chester out of Labour’s hands. The UKIP vote last time was 8.1% - lower than the national average of 12%. But it’s not difficult to imagine that the Conservatives will get the extra 93 votes required from the 4,148 UKIP won last time around. If the Conservatives don’t gain Chester from Labour, something will have gone seriously wrong for them.

Candidates, previous results, Brexit vote breakdown - Democratic Dashboard has all the data you need in every constituency ahead of the June General Election.

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