Election 97

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Golden opportunity

Robert Waller sums up the situation in South West England. VRML by Fin Fahey

VRML South East

South West England is, along with outlying parts of Scotland, one of the heartlands of Liberal Democratic support. Distance from London and a strong Non-conformist tradition play a large part in this. Close to the centre of the region is Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown's safe seat of Yeovil in Somerset, and the Lib Dems made substantial gains in 1992, unseating Chris Patten in Bath, and taking Cheltenham, where they will be on the defensive this time. They have many hopes in 1997, including St Ives, Taunton, Torridge and West Devon, Torbay, Mid Dorset and North Poole and most of the seats in Somerset. But they will be on the defensive against the Tories in their by-election gain of Christchurch in Dorset.

Labour has prospects too - Bristol NW, the new Forest of Dean and Swindon North could easily fall to them, and they have good chances in Exeter, Gloucester, Plymouth Sutton and three-way marginal Falmouth and Camborne.

Note that Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are not really in the South West, but have been lumped in here for bandwidth reasons - the official South East is just too big. These two counties are fascinating in their own right - the Isle of Wight (Britain's most populous constituency) and Portsmouth South are key Lib Dem targets, while the two Southampton constituencies, Test and Itchen, though officially marginals, should fall easily to Labour this time around.

Labour regional targets
Conservative regional targets
Liberal Democrat regional targets
3D Electoral density