Nottinghamshire more politically volatile than ever after Reform UK's upsurge

Reform UK's Lee Anderson pictured at the Ashfield constituency count in the Kirkby Leisure Centre
-Credit: (Image: Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post)

Nottinghamshire has been left more politically volatile than ever after Reform UK recorded the biggest vote share increase across the county. Labour reversed its 2019 woes by winning nine seats across Nottinghamshire in a disastrous election for the Conservatives, which saw figures including Ben Bradley, Mark Spencer and Brendan Clarke-Smith lose their jobs.

The Tories also lost Ken Clarke's former seat of Rushcliffe for the first time since 1966 and only just clung on to their stronghold of Newark - the area now home to Nottinghamshire's only Conservative MP in the form of Robert Jenrick. Yet despite Labour increasing its number of Nottinghamshire seats from the three it won in 2019 under Jeremy Corbyn, the party's increase in the share of the vote was significantly less than Nigel Farage's Reform UK.

Reform did best in terms of the vote share increase in nearly all of Nottinghamshire's 11 constituencies, with only Bassetlaw and Nottingham East being the exceptions. Yet this performance only translated into one Nottinghamshire victory for Reform UK, with Lee Anderson triumphant in Ashfield.

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The splitting of the vote between Reform UK and Conservative Party candidates, coupled with smaller vote share increases for the Liberal Democrats and Green Party in some areas, has left Nottinghamshire with very few MPs enjoying huge majorities. Outside of the city, only Gedling now has an MP with a majority of 10,000 or more.

Even in the city, Labour's Lilian Greenwood and Nadia Whittome both saw their share of the vote fall back slightly. The overall picture in Nottinghamshire is therefore remarkably different to 2019, when the Conservatives broke down Labour's 'Red Wall' to achieve strong majorities in all areas outside the city.

Although Labour has made up much of that ground, this is by no means a return to the 'Red Wall'. The majorities enjoyed by Labour's Nottinghamshire MPs are much less than years gone by and the upsurge enjoyed by many of the smaller parties has put both Labour and the Conservatives on notice when it comes to the next election.

Nottinghamshire's political map after 2019 resembled a sea of blue around an island of red. This time, Nottinghamshire is a strip of red with one pocket of dark blue to the east and one pocket of light blue to the west.

As well as creating a more politically complicated county, the July 4 election also saw low turnouts across Nottinghamshire. Ashfield saw its lowest turnout for almost a decade and Sherwood Forest very nearly recorded its lowest turnout ever.

Ben Bradley watches the votes being tallied at the Mansfield general election count
Ben Bradley watches the votes being tallied at the Mansfield general election count -Credit:Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post

For all the major parties then, Nottinghamshire is now an absolute battleground. Next time around, this election will leave Labour defending relatively small majorities and Reform UK seeking to build on the progress they have made in the county, whilst the Conservatives will also be looking to win back some of their more established seats like Rushcliffe and Sherwood Forest.

As part of a small rump of Reform UK MPs, the spotlight will also be firmly back on Lee Anderson, who has confirmed that he will be returning to his Friday night GB News show now that the election is over. In Downing Street, Sir Keir Starmer is now taking office as the first Labour Prime Minister since 2010 after the party won more than 400 seats across the country.

Yet even nationwide, Labour only increased its share of the vote by around 2%, with its success mostly down to the plummeting support for the Conservative Party. Looking at the detailed results for Nottinghamshire, it is clear that this election was more of a protest vote against the Tories than an enthusiastic backing of Sir Keir Starmer.

Having hammered home his message of change over the last six weeks, the Prime Minister will therefore have to deliver some tangible results by the end of his first term to keep Labour's regained Nottinghamshire seats red. The low turnout figures across the county also make it clear that voters need to have hope and faith in politics restored.

Labour were truly licking their wounds in Nottinghamshire after the 2019 election and this time around, it is the Conservatives feeling bruised. Yet lost ground in parts of the city and the relatively small majorities in most of the county means we are unlikely to see a sense of prolonged jubilation for Labour in Nottinghamshire.

The county now has six brand new MPs, all of whom stood on Keir Starmer's platform of change. To keep their new and returning Nottinghamshire voters on side, Labour can now waste no time in delivering for them.