Battleground Yorkshire: Mayoral victory could open up chances for more seats in North Yorkshire

The North Yorkshire mayoral election will provide Labour real hopes of going further than 1997 in Yorkshire.

During Blair's landslide election win, the Conservatives were forced back to their safest seats in North and East Yorkshire in places such as Skipton and Thirsk.

A win for Labour in York and North Yorkshire's mayoral contest does not mean that the party will sweep the board in the county that is home to Rishi Sunak's seat.

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It does however mean that it is more likely that Labour will win the seats that it is targeting.

Bolton Bridge spanning the River Wharfe on the Bolton Abbey Estate near Skipton.Bolton Bridge spanning the River Wharfe on the Bolton Abbey Estate near Skipton.
Bolton Bridge spanning the River Wharfe on the Bolton Abbey Estate near Skipton.

Seats such as Scarborough and York Outer now look to be more within Labour's grasp following this result.

Seats such as Skipton or Thirsk are more of a difficult task, with the sitting Tory MPs having majorities of more than double that of other seats in North Yorkshire.

The Prime Minister's seat of Richmond and Northallerton, along with Thirsk and Malton and Skipton and Ripon, all have majorities of over 20,000 votes, which will not be an easy nut for Labour to crack.

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What the mayoral contest will be able to do is give Labour more of a foothold in these seats to campaign on at the next election.

As we saw from Ben Houchen's win on Teesside ahead of Boris Johnson's victory in 2019, a mayor that can do good work locally in an area that is not the natural home of their political party is able to translate that vote to the surrounding area in a general election.

This will be perhaps a more difficult task than it was in the North East when frustrations over deindustrialisation and Brexit were big deciding factors.

For former Tory voters in North Yorkshire, who are generally older and better off than their counterparts in the North East, different frustrations must be tapped into ahead of the next election.

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Labour has already started to do this with its focus on pensions being unsafe with the Conservatives, but a compelling offer on rural life is needed to translate those mayoral votes into seat victories at the general election.

Just as the mayoral loss for the Conservatives gives Labour hope for the next election, it can also be a new route back for the Tories in opposition, as it is the kind of mayoralty that the Conservatives will see as vital to win at the first attempt to show that it has the support in its heartlands needed to make a tilt for government.

In the same way that Ben Houchen and Boris Johnson were both able to use their mayoral victories to precede a surge in Conservative support, the Tories will be able to do this in the future.

Unfortunately for them, the country is simply not listening to their offer at the moment, and it will be another four years until they will have another bite at the apple.

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