This seat was first fought in 1997 and mostly replaced the former seat of Langbaurgh. Richard Holt won Langbaurgh for the Conservatives in 1983. He died in 1991, and the seat was won in a by-election by Ashok Kumar for Labour. Kumar lost the seat to Michael Mates at the 1992 general election, but effectively won it back in 1997 when the new seat of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland was formed. Kumar died just before the 2010 general election, and Tom Blenkinsop won it for Labour. Blenkinsop, an outspoken critic of Jeremy Corbyn, has decided to stand down from Parliament.
Tom Blenkinsop’s majority in 2010 was 1,677. He increased that slightly in 2010 to 2,268. Apart from the Blair years, this has never looked like anything approaching a safe Labour seat, nor did the old seat of Langbaurgh look anything like a safe Conservative one. Unless Labour is riding high in the polls, this is every inch a marginal. The East Cleveland part of this seat holds the clue. It covers towns like Guisborough and Saltburn which have nothing in common with Middlesbrough.
There’s only one way this is going to go on 8 June. The Conservative candidate, Simon Clarke, is a local man, and this will help increase his majority. He is also a lifelong Middlesbrough fan, and considering the season they are having at the moment, he deserves all the sympathy he can get!