Bath

2015 Result:
Conservative: 17833 (37.8%)
Labour: 6216 (13.2%)
Lib Dem: 14000 (29.7%)
Green: 5634 (11.9%)
UKIP: 2922 (6.2%)
Independent: 499 (1.1%)
Others: 63 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 3833 (8.1%)

Category: Marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Avon. Part of the Bath and North East Somerset council area.

Main population centres: Bath.

Profile: A compact seat drawn tightly around the city of Bath itself and entirely surrounded by the North East Somerset constituency. Bath is an elegant and attractive Georgian spa town, tourism is important to the economy, but there are also strong software and service industries and two univerisities - the University of Bath and Bath Spa University.

Politics: Bath was historically a Conservative seat but was famously lost to the Liberal Democrats in 1992 when Chris Patten, the then Chairman of the party, won the general election but lost his own seat. It was regained by the Conservatives in 2015.


Current MP
BEN HOWLETT (Conservative) Educated at Cambridge University. Former recruitment consultant. First elected as MP for Bath in 2015.
Past Results
2010
Con: 14768 (31%)
Lab: 3251 (7%)
LDem: 26651 (57%)
GRN: 1120 (2%)
Oth: 1296 (3%)
MAJ: 11883 (25%)
2005*
Con: 15463 (34%)
Lab: 6773 (15%)
LDem: 20101 (44%)
GRN: 2494 (5%)
Oth: 1005 (2%)
MAJ: 4638 (10%)
2001
Con: 13478 (29%)
Lab: 7269 (16%)
LDem: 23372 (50%)
GRN: 1469 (3%)
Oth: 708 (2%)
MAJ: 9894 (21%)
1997
Con: 16850 (31%)
Lab: 8828 (16%)
LDem: 26169 (48%)
Oth: 950 (2%)
MAJ: 9319 (17%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
BEN HOWLETT (Conservative) Educated at Cambridge University. Recruitment consultant.
OLLIE MIDDLETON (Labour) Born 1995, North Wales. Educated at Ralph Allen School and Westminster University. Student.
STEVE BRADLEY (Liberal Democrat) Born Northern Ireland. Educated at Bath University. Sustainability consultant.
JULIAN DEVERELL (UKIP) Born 1978. Runs a traditional toys and games company.
DOMINIC TRISTRAM (Green) Software architect.
JENNY KNIGHT (English Democrat) Born North Yorkshire. Educated at Bournemouth University. Communications manager. Contested Thornbury and Yate 2010 for UKIP, London region 2014 European elections.
LORAINE MORGAN-BRINKHURST (Independent) Born Bath. Promotions, events and marketing consultant. Bath and North East Somerset councillor since 1996, elected as a Liberal Democrat. Awarded the MBE in 2010.
Links
Comments - 463 Responses on “Bath”
  1. As one of the few seats where I felt the Lib Dems had a reasonable chance of re-taking, this is very bad news for their prospects. After the Yeovil candidate’s withdrawal too, is there some issue with their selection process?

  2. They selected Last year and I imagine they didnt expect to stand until 2020

  3. Oh come off it. This is probably the most vulnerable Tory seat anywhere in the country.

  4. An 8% lead and the Libs don’t have a candidate in place. It’s vulnerable to the Libs’ Remainiac position but it wouldn’t stun me if Howlett held on.

  5. LD candidate is Wera Hobhouse.

  6. “Oh come off it. This is probably the most vulnerable Tory seat anywhere in the country.”

    Closely followed by the three SW London seats (Richmond, Twickenham and Kingston). Knowing that area fairly well I’ll be gobsmacked if the LDs don’t win all three, and by implication it will be extremely difficult for the Tories to hold here also, where they suffer the extra handicap of a dreadful incumbent MP.

  7. Plop
    “The only consolation is the UKIP vote I guess, which would most likely go Tory”
    It was one of the worst UKIP results outside London, have to say the UKIP vote here isn’t much of a consolation at all and best case scenario might give the Tories 2-4 points extra.

    “I don’t think Labour and the Greens will simply collapse”
    Which is odd cos that appears to be what your predicting most everywhere else…

    All in all I agree with the consensus here that this will be a fairly straightforward Lib Dem gain which is a shame in some respects given that Howlett is very much of the socially progressive branch of the Tory party and one of the very few Tory MP’s who supports PR. I’d naturally like to see more like him in the Tory party but alas.

  8. Candidates at close of nominations:

    Eleanor Rosemary Field – Green Party
    Wera Benedicta Hobhouse – Liberal Democrats
    Ben Howlett – The Conservative Party Candidate
    Joe Rayment – Labour Party

    No UKIP, no independents.

  9. While UKIP were never going to do well here, surely this is the kind of seat they ought to stand in, given there’s a lack of an obvious Brexit option, unless the Labour candidate, Joe Rayment is of that viewpoint?

  10. I expect a lot of UKIP dropping out of seats is as much about lack of resources/ willing candidates as about strategy.

  11. It is possible to envisage the Tories holding on with a majority lower than the 2922 votes UKIP polled in 2015, certainly.

  12. PT – that doesn’t follow here though.

    Howlett was a Remainer.

    I suspect most UKIP voters here will either stay at home or spoil their ballot.

    Unless the Green is a Leaver as some are of course.

  13. Is there any evidence that former UKIP voters ( rightly or wrongly not normally regarded as very sophisticated) are distinguishing between Tory Remainers and Tory Brexiteers?
    Also the idea that the Progressive Majority is monolithic is clearly not the case, as the West Midlands Mayoral election showed. The Liberal Democrat, Green and Communist vote was over twice the UKIP vote yet the the Labour candidate certainly got nowhere near that majority in second preference votes, from memory the split was not even 55/45.
    This ought to be a Liberal gain, but Electoral Calculus has it as a Tory hold on the basis of the national polls. Evidence from the Constituency would be very helpful.

  14. I struggle to see Howlett surviving here- the required swing is too small and the Remain vote too large.

  15. Orielensis: a major factor that you have ignored is that many Greens may have cast their second preference vote for Lib Dem, and vice versa. This was certainly a major factor in the West of England mayoral; I’m less sure that would be the case here because it would require considerable naivety on the part of those voters to not realise that the run off was most likely to be between Labour and Conservative; nonetheless experience suggests it is hard to overestimate the naivety of voters.

  16. It is a problem with SV that people fail to understand they should be casting their second pref for a frontrunner. However, based on the results around 1/3, possibly more, LD second prefs must have gone Tory. Same in West of England and Tees Valley.

  17. Very helpful comments. Thank you.
    But:
    Is it right that ex UKIP voters will not vote for a Tory Remainer?
    There is no evidence of any national swing from the Tories to the LDs. Why should there be in Bath? I note H.Hemelig’s comments about Howlett. Personally I find his position, Tory wet with a colourful private life, rather appealing, but that might not be his constituents’ view.
    As there is a national swing from Labour voters to Tory ( that is actual voters not differential abstentions) might Howlett pick up a few Labour voters,particularly those who voted for Brexit?
    As I say it should be aLiberal gain, but I am not sure it is in the bag.

  18. UKIP are short of potential candidates, lots of people who stood in 2015 have joined the Tories.

    Plus there’s the added issue of having to raise your own deposit. A seat like Bath, where they barely retained it last time, would surely be a lost deposit… £500 isn’t an inconsiderable figure to most people.

  19. I put 500 on a bet on a seat. It’s a lot of money. But not all the ukip vote will go tory. Some of it will never vote again. Some goes to the lds. Some might go back to lab here

  20. Some Greens starting to express some dissent at the progressive alliance policy http://www.mayorwatch.co.uk/the-green-partys-focus-on-progressive-alliances-risks-sending-it-backwards/

  21. Howlett will probably be more remain-y than the Lib Dem. But that won’t help, since he’s still in the Brexit government.

    Still, I have a suspicion that he might hold out here. There’s been so little time for the LD candidate.

  22. I don’t think Bath was ever expected to be won by Labour, PT.

  23. This morning’s Today programme featured a Question Time-esque session from Bath with Mark Harper, Karyn Smith (Bristol South MP) and Paddy Ashdown. The crowd seemed very hostile towards the Tories – that might have been a vocal minority, though, and in fairness to Harper I didn’t hear him say “strong and stable” once.

  24. An article in today’s The Times about Bath. Slightly iffy about the LD candidate apparently needing a minder during the interview. Shades of Sarah Olney’s car crash interview with Julia Hartley Brewer?

  25. Ah indeed, I only just heard that Wera Hobhouse, 57, is the new LD candidate here.

    She’s moved physically and politically a few times. Her and her husband were Conservatives in Liverpool in the 1980s and 1990s. I think both joined the LDs via the Pro-Euro Cons Party.

    She became the LD leader in Rochdale and had to apologise for defaming the City Solicitor.

    I feel sorry for the people of Bath with Howlett and her being the choice on offer!

  26. looks like a tory hold to me.

  27. Agreed — this seat is one I think is harder now for the LDs in practice than on paper. I think they have better hopes in other remain southern seats: Lewes, Cheltenham. They’re also pushing surprisingly hard in Winchester, which leads me to think they’re hoping for a strong second and a victory next time around.

  28. The Libs have certainly done their damdest to ensure they don’t win the seat.

  29. Well, I suppose you can’t hold them entirely responsible for the first candidate withdrawing for personal reasons. Why they selected Bradley last time is a mystery, too, though.

    You’d think they’d want to either select someone incredibly local or parachute in a star candidate (Daisy Cooper comes to mind).

    If the LDs can eat into the Green/Lab vote, they should be able to take it, but I have doubts about that, particularly since there should be a few LD-Con and Lab-Con switchers (though, conversely, a few Con-LD ones).

    If I had to guess now, I’d say both parties will be in the low 40s and Howlett will just edge in.

  30. Tossup in Bath

    ( according to YouGov’s constituency estimates )

  31. I think the Lib Dems will be very disappointed if they don’t retake Bath as it’s a quintessential Lib Dem seat in what used to be their best part of the country

    All the demographics are in their favour – highly educated, middle class, large student and public sector vote, backed Remain fairly heavily in the EU referendum etc – and if they don’t win here, it’s hard to envisage many other Tory seats which will go their way

  32. Tim Jones,
    Changing candidate after the election was called means the Lib Dems are relying on some Brexit-related swing, rather than the normal way they win seats..

    I would be very surprised if the Lib Dems win Bath without an established candidate, but you never know!

  33. The real story in those yougov Bath figures is how high Labour are. Almost above LD!

    Could be an interesting win through the middle here for Con. I wonder if Howlett’s moderate and anti-Brexit credentials may save him by dampening the urgency for tactical voting.

  34. Yes, they have it as a three-way marginal. Which I highly doubt, but ah well.

    Lib Dems much more competitive, if we believe YouGov, in seats like OWAB, Lewes, Eastbourne (they have the LDs up, bafflingly, in both of those, as well as Carshalton and North Norfolk).

  35. ‘Lib Dems much more competitive, if we believe YouGov, in seats like OWAB, Lewes, Eastbourne (they have the LDs up, bafflingly, in both of those, as well as Carshalton and North Norfolk).’

    Eastbourne is an odd one but the Lib Dems are having a right go in Lewes – aided by a fairly ineffective incumbent who hasn’t made a great deal of friends in the two years since she unexpectedly won the seat for the Tories

  36. That is true, Tim — I was more surprised by Eastbourne (where they have them further ahead, actually). Also, Blundell seems a very strong, experienced candidate. If she wins, could see her as a leadership candidate in the future…

  37. YouGov’s constituency poll has Bath as a toss-up, with the LibDems narrowly ahead (36% to 35%).

    It is interesting that YouGov have a considerably larger range of uncertainty fo the LIbDem result than the Tory one.

    Labour , on 26%, are not totallyout of it.

    It is interesting that the LibDems appear to be making progress here, and form other posts it appears Eastbourne and Lewes, whilst they are going nowhere in the rural South-West. o

  38. Frederic,
    I would keep an eye on St Ives, where the independent minded Cornish may like the idea of getting Andrew George back. Otherwise I don’t see any possible gains in the SW. They will only win Bath if the Green vote collapses..

  39. It’s not a poll, Frederic!

    Not a poll!
    Not a poll!
    Not a poll!

  40. OK. Constituency estmate. It is not wonderful, but it is the best we have.

  41. Any last minute news about this seat? It is one the LibDems desperately need.

  42. YouGov seems to think it’ll go Lib Dem, but I have major misgivings on YouGov’s model, to be honest.

  43. I’ve worked with machine learning and tbh I think yougov’s seat modelling is a reliable method. The problem is that no two seats are quite alike, and their samples are small, so there is a high degree of uncertainty, reflected in their error bars (for example here the error bars show anything from Con +4 to LD +25 is not very surprising. And remember that is a 95% seat interval – there is as much as a 1 in 20 chance it will be outside that range (depending how strongly errors on the Con and LD voting intention correlate)

    Summary: I think it’s reliable, but not precise. So the seat snapshots aren’t a firm prediction, but they are certainly valid evidence of something imo.

    Of course, EVERY seat snapshot is also subject to any national bias that transpires in yougov’s estimate.

  44. More or less my point: so many unknowns and confounding factors. You might as well throw darts at a wall and predict based on where they hit. (Well, not quite.)

  45. Nah I think I’m much more optimistic about it than you. Supposing the national figure of 42-38 is correct, I guess the model will be within its 95% margins in over 600 seats (and probably have the correct result in well over half of marginals).

    And for sure the 42-38 is so consistent and on such large samples that I’m sure it is precise The crux of the issue is whether the national figure is reliable? Or have yougov got a systematic skew to their results? We’ll find out tomorrow.

  46. There’s been such a wide spread in polls it’s all but certain at least a few pollsters will have a big problem.

  47. “Supposing the national figure of 42-38 is correct, I guess the model will be within its 95% margins in over 600 seats.”

    Well, part of the error margins are about national, not local factors. The interplay between the two is complicated because results in individual seats are not independent.

    If the national result finishes outside the 95% confidence interval, there will be an awful lot of seats, over half of them, that will also finish outside their error margins.

  48. Lib Dem gained from Con with a 6k majority

  49. Interesting that it wasn’t even close as LDs told me she was unimpressive and obviously that appeared to be the consensus on Howlett.

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