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Matthew Vallender

Constituencies in Focus 1: Reading West and Mid Berkshire

DevComms has begun a series of articles putting constituencies in the South East under the spotlight. In the first, senior account executive for DevComms South East Matthew Vallender, looks at the new constituency of Reading West and Mid Berkshire.

On May 22, 2024, the Prime Minister announced a UK Parliamentary General Election to be held on Thursday, July 4, 2024, and requested the King dissolve Parliament.

In this series of articles, we’ll explore key battlegrounds across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, and Oxfordshire. We’ll delve into constituency profiles, analyse previous election results, introduce the major party candidates, review polling data and make predictions for the upcoming General Election.

The first constituency in focus is Reading West and Mid Berkshire, a new seat for this General Election.

Constituency Profile

Reading West and Mid Berkshire, a new seat for this General Election, boasts a diverse mix of urban and rural landscapes. It includes parts of the continuously built-up urban area of Reading, both within and outside the borough boundaries, alongside an extensive rural area encompassing a range of villages.

Previous General Election Results

As a newly formed seat, direct historical comparisons are tricky. However, a notional result from the 2019 General Election provides a rough benchmark:

  • Conservative: 28,078 votes (56.8 per cent)
  • Labour: 11,320 votes (22.9 per cent)
  • Liberal Democrat: 8,356 votes (16.9 per cent)
  • Green: 1,690 votes (3.4 per cent)

Had this seat existed in 2019, the Conservative candidate would have triumphed with a significant majority of 16,758 votes, translating to a 33.9 per cent lead.


The lineup for the upcoming election features seasoned and diverse candidates:

  • Conservative: Ross Mackinnon, originally from Glasgow, now a resident of Burghfield. As the leader of the opposition on West Berkshire Council, Ross brings substantial political experience and community involvement.
  • Labour: Olivia Bailey, born in Reading, with a robust background in policy and public opinion research. She lives in Tilehurst with her partner and two young boys, bringing a local perspective to her candidacy.
  • Liberal Democrat: Helen Belcher, a former secondary school teacher turned IT systems analyst. Helen founded her own computing company in 2004 and, after selling it in 2019, has dedicated herself to campaigning.
  • The Greens, Reform UK, and an Independent candidate have also thrown their hats into the ring, promising a dynamic and competitive race.


Current polling presents a tightly contested race. Electoral Calculus predicts:

  • Labour: 42.1 per cent
  • Conservative: 36.4 per cent
  • Liberal Democrat: 9.1 per cent

This forecast gives Labour a 64 per cent chance of winning, with the Conservatives trailing at 36 per cent.

YouGov’s MRP (which has a good track record previously – the most accurate of all pre-poll predictions of the result in 2019, and the only one to predict 2017’s hung Parliament) agrees – putting the seat on 38 per cent Labour, 35 per cent Conservative, and 11 per cent Lib Dem. Given the notional 2019 results, this shift would represent a Labour gain.


With polling margins as tight as these, the race in Reading West and Mid Berkshire is too close to call. The traditional margin of error of +/- three per cent makes this seat a true battleground, where the final outcome may hinge on last-minute campaign efforts, voter turnout on election day, or campaign slip ups, such as the early D-Day departure by Rishi Sunak. As always, however, the only poll that truly matters is the one delivered by voters at the ballot box.

Stay tuned as we continue our series, bringing you the latest insights and updates on key constituencies leading up to the pivotal General Election on July 4, 2024.

DevComms’ South East team, based in the heart of Reading and the region, is working with many of these key political stakeholders and is well placed to help our clients as they seek to navigate these political changes.

By Matthew Vallender

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