2015 Result:
Conservative: 19625 (42.6%)
Labour: 18528 (40.2%)
Lib Dem: 1958 (4.2%)
Green: 1412 (3.1%)
UKIP: 4434 (9.6%)
Independent: 129 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 1097 (2.4%)

Category: Marginal Conservative seat

Geography: Eastern, Bedfordshire. Part of the Bedford council area.

Main population centres: Bedford, Kempston.

Profile: The constituency is drawn tightly around Bedford, the commercial and administrative centre of the area and the adjacent town of Kempston. A diverse town, Bedford has a large population of Italian descent and also has a large Asian population..

Politics: A tight marginal between Labour and the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats retain some strength at a local level despite the collapse in their vote in Parliamentary elections. On the same day they lost their deposit in the general election the Lib Dem elected mayor Dave Hodgson won re-election.

Current MP
RICHARD FULLER (Conservative) Born 1962, Bedford. Educated at Bedford Modern and Oxford University. Former venture capitalist and management consultant. Contested Bedford 2005. First elected as MP for Bedford in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 17546 (39%)
Lab: 16193 (36%)
LDem: 8957 (20%)
UKIP: 1136 (3%)
Oth: 1270 (3%)
MAJ: 1353 (3%)
Con: 14174 (34%)
Lab: 17557 (42%)
LDem: 9063 (22%)
UKIP: 995 (2%)
Oth: 283 (1%)
MAJ: 3383 (8%)
Con: 13297 (33%)
Lab: 19454 (48%)
LDem: 6425 (16%)
UKIP: 430 (1%)
Oth: 973 (2%)
MAJ: 6157 (15%)
Con: 16474 (34%)
Lab: 24774 (51%)
LDem: 6044 (12%)
Oth: 149 (0%)
MAJ: 8300 (17%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
RICHARD FULLER (Conservative) See above.
PATRICK HALL (Labour) Born 1951, Birmingham. Educated at Bedford Modern School and Birmingham University. Planning officer. Bedfordshire councillor 1989-1997. Contested Bedfordshire North 1992. MP for Bedford 1997-2010.
MAHMUD ROGERS (Liberal Democrat) Educated at LSE. Accountant. Bedford councillor 2006-2009.
CHARLIE SMITH (UKIP) Educated at Pilgrim Upper School. Consultant and property landlord.
BEN FOLEY (Green) Born 1966. Educated at Newcastle University. Academic. Contested Mid Bedfordshire 2005, Bedford 2010.
FARUK CHOUDHURY (No description)
Comments - 127 Responses on “Bedford”
  1. “There were major boundary changes after 1992, and as far as I am aware the swing here in 1997 was nothing out of the ordinary that year.”

    That is why I said “notional majority”. Actual majority in Bedfordshire North in 1992 was around 11000, notionally reduced to approx. 6000 by boundary changes. That implies a swing in 1997 of circa 14% which was indeed above the national average of circa 11%.

  2. There has been demographic change in Bedford & Kempston, which has a great deal to do with ethnicity, but also the so-called Poets Corner, centred around the Shakespeare Road, is a good owner-occupied area which seems to have sprouted a large number of “intellectual” mostly white British Labour supporters, so it isn’t just ethnicity. I’d say from old knowledge of this constituency (I used to be a very frequent visitor, because my then best friend lived here, and my band rehearsed in the area) which has recently been renewed by a new friendship in the town that demographic change has perhaps slowed a little, and that the demography is essential pretty stable here now. Which would tend to be suggested by this year’s election result. Perhaps Mohammed Yasin was particularly good at getting the Pakistani Muslim vote out, especially in his own ward, but might have done relatively less well in more heavily WWC areas of the town where Patrick Hall did fairly well.

  3. To the more academic posters on here – have there been any studies on the effect of candidates’ ethnicity on voting intention? Is there a measurable effect which causes minority-ethnic voters to gravitate towards minority-ethnic candidates, or white voters towards white ones? And is this effect bigger in areas where minority communities are struggling to integrate?

  4. Certainly I’ve heard of foreign sounding names on the ballot influencing a persons decision

  5. In local elections it is very obvious from looking at results that ethnic-sounding names often underperform English-sounding ones from the same party by up to several hundred votes, though perhaps this is a diminishing factor these days, and it is also obviously hugely variable based on the area in question.

  6. “To the more academic posters on here – have there been any studies on the effect of candidates’ ethnicity on voting intention?”.

    There has indeed:

    That article is open access.

  7. In local elections of course you typically have 2-3 votes and people often spread them between the parties.

    In general elections you have one vote only, and voting decisions are largely based on national factors, so I imagine race of the candidate is almost always an irrelevant factor these days.

  8. As it happens I am on friendly terms with Cllr Paul Lynch, long-time Tory councillor for Chiswick Riverside ward on Hounslow council. He was bemoaning the fact that in 2006, when the Tories did extremely well in the Feltham wards (none of the 5 wards in the postal town of Feltham was won outright by Labour), several wards were split, with candidates with Asian names, whether Labour or Conservative, doing significantly worse than those who were white British, again whether Labour or Conservative. A look at the Hounslow Council website & you’ll see what I mean. If however you fast forward to 2014, it’s rather remarkable that in Chiswick Homefields ward, a ward which remains overwhelmingly white British, a Labour candidate with a clearly African name got nearly twice as many votes as a Labour candidate with a clearly white British name (though the Tories held all 3 seats with a fair degree of ease). I’m acquainted with both the Labour candidates in question.

  9. I doubt foreign-sounding names are a big factor in London elections any more, even in the outer suburbs. The last remaining redoubts of this phenomenon would be in outer London council estate wards which retain a big WWC element – the likes of Hainault, New Addington, St Helier and the Crays.

  10. Thanks, Keiran! Kind of worrying that 5% of electoral contests are decided by the ethnicity of candidates’ names, or their order on the ballot paper.

    Name order, I’ve always thought, could easily be eliminated by printing half the papers with the candidates in reverse order. Is that really too much to ask?

  11. Yes, there’s been a few studies.

    Even for academics that really was a bit wordy.

    It’s far easier to just list sample wards in different councils (as from memory the one in the NW did), eg in Tameside it was clear to see that (an Asian) Labour candidate polled 300 fewer votes in the Locals than his white counterpart – and it was more stark because the BNP stood too so some Labour voters clearly gave them one of their votes.

    HH – that’s only true of all out locals. We still elect by thirds up here and again there are examples of clear ethnic names underperforming compared to neighbouring wards.

    But equally in Oldham there were clear examples of both increased turnout and voters defecting to a Party with an Asian candidate in majority Asian wards.

    From memory the last Strathclyde study on the topic showed 2% wouldn’t vote for a female candidate in a General Election and 8% wouldn’t vote for an ethnic minority one. But that was carried out in the 1990s. I’m not even sure whether that Q is still asked in any studies or polls.

  12. While looking for flats here I was struck by a comment one of my prospective landlords made. The government is planning on cutting some of the trains from Bedford to other cities in the East Midlands, and he thinks it’s punishment for the good folk of Bedford voting the “wrong” way.

    I wouldn’t be too worried if I were him. Their stubborn commitment to help-to-buy will work wonders for his property portfolio…

  13. That would be a bit of a problem for me as I change at Bedford or Luton to get home.

  14. What a load of rubbish people talk at times. This is all about speeding up services to the midlands and nothing to do with who voted for whom. When the Thameslink upgrade is finally complete (it was originally due in 2000) it will increase service frequency and speed to Luton and Bedford and release more trains to the midlands from having to stop at Luton & Bedford.

    This phenomenon has been going on for some years now on the main lines out of London – many fewer long distance express trains now stop at stations like Watford, Stevenage and Slough.

  15. People always jump to silly conclusions over things like this, when Liverpool lost out in its bid to Birmingham to host the commonwealth games lots of folks immediately jumped to the conclusion that its because Liverpool hates the Tories and the Tories hate us, while that’s undoubtedly true I imagine it had no bearing on the commonwealth games decision.

  16. I think it’s likely Richard Fuller will run as Mayor of Bedford. Since the borough is considerably Conservative than the constituency, he must have a great chance of unseating the LD incumbent.

  17. considerably more* Conservative

  18. True, though I think we’re probably heading into a period where the Tories are likely to be doing pretty badly in local elections. When is the next Bedford mayoral election?

  19. How is the mayoralty decided – is it just a plurality vote or is there a run-off like in London & other big mayoral elections?

    It would be much harder for the Tories to beat the Lib Dems under a run-off/ alternative vote system. The Lib Dems are much more transfer-friendly.

  20. A good question.

    Tory successes in mayoral elections in unlikely places like North Tyneside suggests to me they probably aren’t AV-esque like the London mayoralty.

  21. I’ve done the research and it seems that all directly-elected mayors are chosen by instant run-off.

    As for Bedford in particular, it appears Dave Hodgson has considerable local popularity and will be very difficult to shift. Tories and Labour are probably battling it out for second place on current national and local polling – but their problem is that they are not going to give transfers to each other, whichever one of them gets to the run-off.

  22. Hodgson is quite popular, but Fuller would be a very strong opponent. Although he lost this seat in the general election, he certainly wasn’t disliked as I understand it.

  23. Rivers10 – it’s only far to point out to non-Merseyside readers that the belated Lpool bid for the Commonwealth Games was ridiculed by the Opposition Liverpool LibDems, Liberals and Greens as merely a vanity project by the city Mayor – to distract from the administration’s current woes* – which had no chance whatsoever.

    That view was echoed in comments and letters in the Liverpool Echo and callers to the Roger Phillips’ show on BBC Radio Merseyside (both of which are Labour leaning in their current affairs’ coverage).

    * The City Council’s Chief Exec has been arrested. The City Mayor refused to suspend him (as is normal), although this eventually happened months later after pressure at a Labour Group meeting. UNESCO has threatened to remove the Liverpool Waterfront’s World Heritage Status over the city mayor’s planned skyscrapers and work on 3 current skyscrapers has been stopped after investors pulled out after a Judge noted that blatant money laundering from known criminals had infected the city.

    PT – the LDs may be transfer friendly in Redcar or Cambridge or Devon, but they certainly aren’t anymore in Lpool or Manc. AFAIK it was upto each area to decide on whether there was a Referendum to have a city Mayor (Manc and Salford had these, Lpool didn’t) under GO’s city deal offer. Equally, I think most used AV so I don’t accept your premise. In urban municipalities such as Stoke and the North East, Labour are often unpopular and lose out under this system too (as Ind & LD voters are anti-Labour in essence and so wouldn’t surprise me if they gave their 2nd Pref to a Tory to eg beat John Prescott or an incumbent Mayor). Cities can also vote to abolish the position, as Stoke did and Lpool may do (a petition for the Ref began recently).

  24. ‘ Tory successes in mayoral elections in unlikely places like North Tyneside suggests to me they probably aren’t AV-esque like the London mayoralty. ‘

    All Mayoral elections in England, including London, use the SV system.

  25. “All Mayoral elections in England, including London, use the SV system”

    Something which the Tories pledged to change in their manifesto instead reverting to a straight FPTP system. They were looking to do this for nakedly partisan reasons (unsurprising) in that the run off system raised the distinct possibility or them losing the Cambridgeshire plus the Greater Bristol mayoralties at some future date without actually assisting them all that much in the likes of the West Midlands or Teeside where the sizable UKIP vote seemingly split quite evenly for both Lab and Tories

  26. My MP was sent a potentially dangerous parcel today:

    Deeply worrying, and apparently linked to the “Hit a Muslim Day” flyers that have been delivered recently. I guess it is fortunate that the kind of gutter-draggers who make these sort of threats are generally not clever enough to put together an actual working letter bomb.

  27. I sympathise with her. That must have been an unsettling experience.

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