Beaconsfield

2015 Result:
Conservative: 33621 (63.2%)
Labour: 6074 (11.4%)
Lib Dem: 3927 (7.4%)
Green: 2231 (4.2%)
UKIP: 7310 (13.8%)
MAJORITY: 26311 (49.5%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Buckinghamshire. The whole of the South Bucks council area and part of the Wycombe council area.

Main population centres: Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross, Marlow, Denham, Flackwell Heath, Burnham, Stoke Poges.

Profile: An extremely properous part of the London commuter belt, located in South Buckinghamshire just outside Greater London, the M25 runs through the east of the seat. The constituency roughly corresponds to the area between the M40 and the River Thames. It is an area of affluence, picturesque villages, grammar schools and good transport links into London. Pinewood studios is based in the east of the constituency at Iver Heath, and is home to the largest soundstage in Europe. The studios have been used for many major film productions, including the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Aliens films, Bond films, Pirates of the Carribean and the Hobbit. The constituency also includes Dorneywood, one of the grace-and-favour homes reserved for senior cabinet ministers lies within the seat near Burnham. John Prescott was famously photographed here playing croquet during the last government, but it is more normally used by (and, indeed, is currently used by) the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Politics: This is an extremely safe Conservative seat, the Tory share of the vote here was one of the five highest in 2015 and their majority almost hit fifty percent. At the local level all but one of the councillors on South Bucks council were Conservative in 2015. The seat covers much of the area of Stoke and Burnham Hundreds... better known as two of the three Chiltern Hundreds, the Stewardship of which Members of Parliament are appointed to in order to resign from Parliament.


Current MP
DOMINIC GRIEVE (Conservative) Born 1956, Lambeth, son of Percy Grieve, former MP for Solihull. Educated at Westminster School and Oxford University. Barrister. Hammersmith and Fulham councillor 1982-1986. Contested Norwood 1987. First elected as MP for Beaconsfield in 1997. Shadow Attorney General 2003-2009, Shadow Home Secretary 2008-2009, shadow justice secretary 2009-2010. Attorney General 2010-2014.
Past Results
2010
Con: 32053 (61%)
Lab: 6135 (12%)
LDem: 10271 (20%)
UKIP: 2597 (5%)
Oth: 1434 (3%)
MAJ: 21782 (41%)
2005*
Con: 24126 (55%)
Lab: 8422 (19%)
LDem: 8873 (20%)
UKIP: 2102 (5%)
MAJ: 15253 (35%)
2001
Con: 20233 (50%)
Lab: 9168 (23%)
LDem: 9117 (23%)
UKIP: 1626 (4%)
MAJ: 11065 (28%)
1997
Con: 24709 (49%)
Lab: 10063 (20%)
LDem: 10722 (21%)
Oth: 2510 (5%)
MAJ: 13987 (28%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
DOMINIC GRIEVE (Conservative) See above.
TONY CLEMENTS (Labour)
PETER CHAPMAN (Liberal Democrat)
TIM SCOTT (UKIP)
DAVE HAMPTON (Green)
Links
Comments - 199 Responses on “Beaconsfield”
  1. I’m surprised the Communist Party aren’t standing here. They have significant support in the constituency, particularly in parts of Gerrards Cross

  2. Max- to be fair, Beaconsfield is an extremely nice, very affluent commuter town (one of the highest income towns in the country I believe). I’m more perplexed as to how the Tories win seats such as Harlow, or any part of Dudley.

  3. Tristan- well it’s because class is simply not the predictor of voting behaviour that it used to be, and even then, it was always more complicated than was made out. In the Black Country, for instance, you had a long tradition of working-class Conservatism going right back to the days of Joe Chamberlain.

  4. Beaconsfield never proved much good for the Lib Dems, even in their best elections, unlike similar commuter belt seats like Guildford or Chelmsford.
    The grammar schools in the county have continued to draw in people of Conservative outlook. Beaconsfield benefits from good commuter routes to London and strong business opportunities near Heathrow and in the Thames Valley.
    I doubt the Communist Party could get enough signatories to stand in the seat. In the local elections on 7th May, the Conservatives are guaranteed some council seats already.

    There is even a chance of an increased majority for Dominic Greave, as the Lib Dem’s support falls and UKIP moves to a very weak second place.

  5. Conservative Hold. 23,000 maj

  6. Last week Friday, I visited both Woolwich and Gerrards Cross due to work.

    I don’t think you’ll find two more contrasting areas.

    It’s actually hard to believe these areas are in the same country!

    Needless to say, I enjoyed my visit to Gerrards Cross considerably more! Haha! It’s a completely different world to Woolwich!

  7. Yes, how Mr Grieve QC’s nose must have crinkled at that! Astonishing.

  8. Well Beaconsfield is more than South Bucks it also contains part of Wycombe district in particular the very wealthy (and very Tory) village of Marlow. Marlow may well have voted remain by a comfortable margin thus perhaps tipping the Beaconsfield constituency to remain.

  9. Although not coterminous, was this (South Bucks) the most surprising “leave” result?
    Most surprising remain? Mendip, Monmouth?

  10. For me the biggest surprise win for Leave was Nottingham, only a narrow win but a city with that big a public sector and student population, truly awful result for Remain.

  11. I was stuck in Birmingham that night and had to get a taxi I looked up the results on the way back and saw Birmingham had voted I was surprised but convinced it was only a blip, how wrong I was.

  12. Maxim- Witney voted Remain so did Chesham & Amersham.

  13. Sutton Coldfield was a real surprise and in a way may be a good sign for the Tories (along with last year’s election result which showed only a small swing to Labour).

  14. I was also surprised when South Bucks voted leave, but now that I’ve looked closely at the 2011 Census, it doesn’t look as strange as it did back then. According to my calculations, South Bucks is indeed the most educated local authority to have voted leave (as per % of Level 4 or higher qualifications), but is still significantly less educated that nearby Chiltern (36,9% vs 41%). Of course, Chiltern voted remain 55% to 45%, whereas here it was 50%-50%. Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross may be very affluent and well-educated (around 50% with degrees), and I’m sure those towns voted Remain. However, the wards covering the Iver and Denham areas, as well as the Burnham wards, seem to be much closer demographically to neighbouring Spelthorne, which voted 60% for leave. These are not by any means working class”areas, but neither are they upper middle class. They could have easily countered healthy Remain majorities in Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross to produce a very narrow Leave win in South Bucks. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to clarify this, sadly.

  15. I am not sure I like these references to places being more or less ‘educated’. Not only does it have rather unpleasant connotations, it is also potentially misleading. Firstly, until comparatively recently you could join the middle-classes without having gone to university. Secondly, (and I put it no more strongly than this) I would question the extent to which the mere fact of completing a degree makes someone more ‘educated’ and by extension (at least in the eyes of some Remainers) more qualified to hold political opinions.

  16. I think you are looking at the wrong demographic. South Bucks is indeed a very expensive area to buy a house, so it is no surprise to find that the electorate there is older than average.
    There are lots of very affluent households, but also lots of white van drivers and self employed. Finally there are many people in the area, who may have moved out from Slough or London and don’t welcome the way the places they left have changed. All these are demographics that favoured leave.

    Marlow is a slightly younger town, but would probably have in similar way to the rest of the seat.

    The surprise for the remain side, was that they failed to win areas like this by similar margins to their lead in central London.

  17. Tory- My use of “educated” wasn’t a subjective one, and I wasn’t trying to convey the idea that people without degrees are silly or unable to take decisions by themselves. Maybe I should have used the expression “people with higher levels of formal educational attainment”, but I see no point in doing that. After all, it’s not like we never use simplified words to describe more complex realities. In any case, I understand that the widespread assumption is now that education (again, without any pejorative intent) was the greatest single factor (probably along with age) in determining the vote in the EU referendum, so that’s why I pointed out to official data to explain what could have happened in this particular area, instead of relying on stereotypes or generalizations about its overall character.

    GT- I completely agree with your assessment of the kind of demographics that inhabit some of the London suburbs, that’s why I referred to wards of South Bucks that look much more like Spelthorne than Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield, which feature demographics more akin to those of Elmbridge or Chiltern. We have seen ward results in places such as Hounslow which attest that there were wild variances in the vote within the same local authority (and indeed, very correlated to educational levels), so I would presume something similar happened here, as I described in my previous post. However, I can’t agree with you that Marlow voted Leave; more than 40% of its population held Level 4 qualifications or higher in 2011, and no counting area with such a high proportion of “educated” citizens voted leave (as I pointed out, South Bucks was the most educated area to do so, but it did so very narrowly and not even 36% of its population have degrees).

  18. Basque- fair enough. I would personally prefer people to say ‘undertaken tertiary education’ or something akin to that because ‘educated’ is always going to have those connotations you mention even where it is not intended.

  19. “There are lots of very affluent households, but also lots of white van drivers and self employed. Finally there are many people in the area, who may have moved out from Slough or London and don’t welcome the way the places they left have changed. All these are demographics that favoured leave.”

    That’s a very perceptive comment, which also describes my own area (Mid Sussex) extremely well….just substitute “Slough” with “Croydon”. But, unlike in South Bucks, it didn’t prevent Remain from winning quite handily in Mid Sussex. Having given it a lot of thought, I’ve concluded that proximity to Gatwick and the influence of Brighton in the south of the seat probably made the key difference here.

    Having said that, the extent of white flight out of south London these past few years has been extraordinary. The other week my next door neighbour told me that when he first moved to East Grinstead in 1985, he had virtually the only south London accent in the whole town, with all the neighbours looking down their nose at him. Now, much of the town speaks like he does.

  20. On the correlation between education and the EU vote: I have seen a lot of sneering comments about how people who voted to leave are “uneducated”, with the implication that they are stupid and didn’t know what they were voting for. My take on it is that most people vote in their own interest – and the EU most certainly offers far more opportunities for educated people. If you’re trapped on the minimum wage you aren’t really in a position to take advantage of the opportunity relocate to Spain. You don’t stand to gain from a market of 500 million customers because you aren’t selling anything. No surprise then, that you aren’t going to do middle-class twenty-somethings who are even bothering to vote themselves a favour.

  21. Poll Troll- I broadly agree with that- it’s something that a lot of my friends struggle to understand, particularly those living in London needless to say.

  22. H Hemmelig- has there been a lot of white South London flight into Sevenoaks? Leave achieved a surprisingly decisive victory there even when you factor in Swanley.

  23. Undoubtedly yes. Though mostly from Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham, whilst here in East Grinstead it is mostly from Croydon and Sutton.

  24. Brentwood would also be a good example of a seemingly middle class place that voted Leave more strongly than its demographics would suggest-it is very prosperous and the % of people with university degrees is somewhat higher than the average. I wouldn’t classify it as white van man territory, although it obviously has some of them, so its strong Leave vote could also be the result of many of its inhabitants being a product of white flight. It sort of fits the stereotype of brash Essex conservatism, as opposed to the pleasant countryside conservatism of say The Cotswolds or South Hams, which voted Remain.

  25. So the contrasting results in the more desirable parts of the Home Counties can to quite a large extent be explained by the radial patterns of emigration from the London suburbs.
    See also the Waverley (SW Surrey) result where emigration tends to be from SW suburbs like Wandsworth – indeed compare West Surrey and East Surrey, although Epsom and Ewell is a bit anomalous. I thought it was rather similar to Sutton (Leave) and indeed there’s no geographical gap between them. If guessing pre-result I would have swapped Surrey Heath and Epsom.
    I was aware of some of the characteristics of Sevenoaks and Tonbridge but still surprised at the strength of the Leave vote.

  26. SBJME 19 Yes I would broadly agree with that assessment.

  27. ‘although Epsom and Ewell is a bit anomalous. I thought it was rather similar to Sutton (Leave) and indeed there’s no geographical gap between them. If guessing pre-result I would have swapped Surrey Heath and Epsom.’

    Epsom narrowly voting Remain surprised me more than Surrey East and Reigate narrowly voting Leave tbh

    Epsom is quite similar to Sutton demographically (and I would imagine Ewell is quite similar to Cheam – smaller, more middle class and mote desirable than Epsom?Sutton) and there’s definitely an – albeit small – white van mam element to Epsom/Sutton that you don’t find further West in Surrey

    The South Bucks result surprised me as much tbh – and that of Runnymead – especially so when compared to neighbouring Warverley, which was one of Remain’s best results in the Home Counties

  28. As someone not from this part of the country, I was very surprised by the leave vote here, I thought the official remain campaign was basically tailored to the kind of wealthy demographic here (a big weakness of the campaign).

    While the leave votes in Birmingham, Nottingham and Sheffield were a surprise, I always thought they’d be just slightly more remain than the national average, so less shocking than this result.

  29. “I was aware of some of the characteristics of Sevenoaks and Tonbridge but still surprised at the strength of the Leave vote”

    I don’t have the time to comment here as much as I did pre-2015, but once in a while some comments reveal something important.

    The whole media narrative is that the leave vote was won in the north by a) undereducated b) low achieving and c) labour voting proletarians.

    The truth is that conservative/ukip votes outnumbered labour votes 3 to 1 on the leave side. conservative voters outnumbered labour voters on the leave side by 2 to 1, even if you think ukip was a northern vote.

    Leave’s core base was English tory voters outside london… In Hampshire, Wiltshire, Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, the Midlands- all over England, millions of voters rejected the EU. It was a revolt of the English yeomanry across the whole of England, that carried it. Farage instinctively understood this, as did the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Telegraph, the Spectator. Indeed, the leave coalition was the most broadly based coalition ever seen in British politics…

    while the london based media, undergraduates, politics students totally miss this, hence the “surprise”.

  30. But study after study found that the more unqualified, less educated and less affluent people were, the more likely they were to vote for Brexit which is why Leave got some of their best votes in places like Barnsley, Grimsby and Scunthorpe and why Remain got their best vote in places like City Of London, East Renfrewshire, and Wandsworth

    It wasn’t necessarily Labour voters who won it for Leave as much of the WWC that they used to call their base had already left them for UKIP or the Tories prior to the 2015 election

    Which is why the ‘63% of Labour voters voted Remain’ doesn’t mean as much as some people maintain

  31. If I understand Peter Crawford’s point, he is saying that it is mistaken to expect that predominantly middle class and Tory areas like Sevenoaks would vote Remain because that is in fact where the strength of the Leave vote came from. But if that’s the case, why did ANY of the areas similar to it discussed in the thread vote Remain?
    In fact Hampshire is not a good example because three of the districts voted Remain (affluent commuter areas, that SW axis again) and the county behaved very much as you’d expect given the varying demographics. I don’t know how Wiltshire divided up because it’s a unitary authority but I would confidently say there were Remain pockets comparable with Cotswold and Mendip.
    As for East Anglia and Lincolnshire, these areas have always been very Euro-sceptic and voted exactly as I would have expected. Similarly, I would not have expected a high Remain vote in the Midlands.

  32. If you take an exam and the pass mark is 50%, all the questions contribute to the pass mark. My point is that most of the 52% Leave got came from 1) Conservative voters (abt. 58% of tory voters acc. to ashcroft) 2) UKIP voters (abt. 95% of Ukip voters) and Labour (abt. 37%, again all ashcroft numbers)…even 30% of lib dems, apparently.

    Leave won arguably because Tory voters, not just members of the party, were not convinced by Dave and Co. The last PM was effectively unmoored from his support base in country….the media, and Tim Jones, are fixating on the 37% of Labour voters more of whom, I don’t know why, were expected to vote for continued mass immigration from Eastern Europe on an indefinite basis.

    My point is that, even though those aforementioned labour voters may have tipped leave over the edge, the vast majority of that leave vote (abt. 36% of the 52%) were tory and UKIP voters.

    Of course it’s not hard and fast. there were lots of regional variations. Sevenoaks different from Tonbridge etc. but the fact is that the leave vote was much more evenly spread across England than luvvies in the new statesman can ever understand. It was striking that on a first past the post basis, the regional district split was about 2 to 1 leave.

    Its a much bigger story than the Northern Labour disenfranchised people voting for leave. Chichester, every district in Suffolk, most of Norfolk, Lincolnshire, the Midlands, the West, the list goes on- rural England basically voted Leave… yes, there were pockets of Remain, but Remain’s showing in England (ex- London) was one of the big disappointments of the night. My point is that this was not due to labour voters… 17.4 million is a helluva lot of people. you can’t just write them off as dumb thickos who didn’t go to University and have no money

  33. Of course by 36% out of 52% , I mean 36/52, or 69.2%…

  34. “If I understand Peter Crawford’s point, he is saying that it is mistaken to expect that predominantly middle class and Tory areas like Sevenoaks would vote Remain because that is in fact where the strength of the Leave vote came from. But if that’s the case, why did ANY of the areas similar to it discussed in the thread vote Remain?”

    This is a bit daft. Of course, SOME (to use your capitals, SBJME19!) English tory districts outside london did vote remain but they were vastly outnumbered by Leave districts.

    A more interesting question than the endless debate about the Labour northern leave vote, is why was the EU so disliked by Tory England in general?

    Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but a few months ago, pundits genuinely thought Remain could win 55 to 45, even 60 to 40, as Andrew Cooper believed as late as the close of poll on 23rd…In such a scenario, Sevenoaks and a ton of other true blue places would have voted remain. This was widely expected in many quarters.

    It was the failure of DC to deliver his own Tory voters for Remain that did for that campaign. Yet ironically, Corbyn is getting most of the blame for failing to carry his base. I have been going on about the core right wing Thatcherite base of abt. 40% of the electorate for years…perhaps 2016 was when it finally roared!

  35. “Epsom is quite similar to Sutton demographically (and I would imagine Ewell is quite similar to Cheam – smaller, more middle class and mote desirable than Epsom?Sutton) and there’s definitely an – albeit small – white van mam element to Epsom/Sutton that you don’t find further West in Surrey”

    Epsom and Ewell has more in common with London Borough of than Elmbridge certainly. Both Epsom and Ewell have affluent areas and areas that are not affluent at all. The East of the borough is more wealthy similar to Sutton and Cheam and very minimal deprivation, The West of the borough is perhaps more akin to Carshalton and Wallington to a degree..

  36. I agree with some of what peter crawford said – it was clearly David Cameron’s failure to win over Tory voters to the remain side which is why the referedum went the way it did but i disagree with his statement that 40% of the electorate is thatcherite.
    10 years ago commentators were saying that tory base as a whole accounted for no more than 33% of the electorate
    Back in thatcher’s day tories tended to win a lot more middle class

  37. Continued… votes from people who certainly weren’t thatcherites but were scared of labour

  38. No way in hell 40% of the country are Thatcherites, the Tories struggle these days to hit 40% and nowhere near all of them are Thatcherites.

    Indeed if you believe surveys and polling on such Thatcherites make up less than 10% of the country.

  39. Well it depends on exactly what your definition of Thatcherite is as it a rather vague term. If your definition is ”on the whole Thatcher was pretty good for the country and there was really not a great deal wrong with her tenure in office” then 40% is in the right ballpark (obviously it would be much higher in this particular constituency). If on the other hand you are talking about neoliberal die hard true believers then yes it would be around 10% (again much higher for this particular seat). I wonder what the constituency with the highest percentage of neoliberal ‘true believers’ is, I would hazard a guess at Chelsea and Fulham (it would be either that or one of the monolithically Tory home counties seats).

  40. It would be somewhere in lower middle class Essex man territory, one of Tim Jones’s favourite seats like Romford or Bracknell. K&C Tories retain a strong paternalist/snobbish streak, as do the richer areas of Surrey and Buckinghamshire.

  41. Epping Forest isn’t a bad guess, though IMO it’s still a bit too upmarket. It certainly won’t be Clacton. The conservatism there is more Victor Meldrew than neo-liberal, especially in Frinton, plus too many very poor areas like Jaywick.

  42. I’m not sure if it would be a lower middle class seat as suggested and would have thought somewhere like Broxbourne, Windsor or Hampshire North East might be more Thatcherite, the latter two of which are decisively up market

  43. I would imagine areas with Ratepayer councillors would among the most Thatcherite so Epping Forest fits the bill.

  44. As Peppermint says it depends on what you mean by Thatcherite

    If it’s was Thatcher a great leader than I;m sure it would be somewhere like Romford which comes out on top

    If however you mean in terms of people who subscribe and believe in Thatcherite politics, then I think it might be one of the places I mentioned in my previous post

  45. Broxbourne and NE Hants are very good suggestions….I also think Billericay is a possible candidate. Windsor is unlikely IMO, as is anywhere else with strong royal connections.

    We also need to remember that Thatcherism was quite strongly socially conservative on issues like patriotism and Section 28, which is why I wouldn’t characterise otherwise staunchly capitalist areas like Wandsworth and Wimbledon as “Thatcherite”.

  46. By Thatcherite I meant die hard neo-libs and if I had to hazard a guess where most of them were I’d say Chelsea and Fulham.

    interesting reverse question which seat has the most Corbynista’s? Suppose that also depends on how you define Corbynitsa…

  47. Excellent posts from Peter Crawford up thread about the importance of not overlooking the number of wealthy areas that voted Leave

    Interesting debate re the most Thatcherite seat. Not surprisingly most are in the south. The nearest thing to a northern Thatcherite seat would almost certainly be Tatton.

  48. ‘The nearest thing to a northern Thatcherite seat would almost certainly be Tatton’

    I think Altrincham & Sale might run it close

    i agree with Maxim that all the Corbynsta seats would be in London and would add his own Islington North seat to the list

  49. ‘Another Thatcherite seat might be Castle Point perhaps.
    Also Buckingham, especially with that right-wing private university’

    Buckingham certainly

    Interesting that both the seats you mention had been Labour for at least one term during the post war period

  50. “Interesting that both the seats you mention had been Labour for at least one term during the post war period”

    Romford as well. I don’t see it as particularly surprising. Many who became arch-Thatcherites such as Bernard Ingham and Woodrow Wyatt were previously Labour, and there were many voters from working class backgrounds like that as well. Thatcherites repudiated the traditions of the old paternalist Tories including their old fashioned loyalty to the party come rain or shine. In 1997 many considered Blair the true heir to Thatcher, including reportedly the Lady herself, so it’s hardly surprising that many of her followers voted for him.

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