South West Bedfordshire

2015 Result:
Conservative: 28212 (55%)
Labour: 10399 (20.3%)
Lib Dem: 2646 (5.2%)
Green: 2106 (4.1%)
UKIP: 7941 (15.5%)
MAJORITY: 17813 (34.7%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: Eastern, Bedfordshire. Part of Central Bedfordshire council area.

Main population centres: Leighton Buzzard, Dunstable, Houghton Regis.

Profile: A fairly compact seat mostly consisting of the towns of Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard and the London overspill development of Houghton Regis.


Current MP
ANDREW SELOUS (Conservative) Born 1962, London. Educated at Eton and LSE. Former insurance underwriter. Contested Sunderland North 1997. First elected as MP for South West Bedfordshire in 2001. PPS to Iain Duncan Smith 2010-2014. Junior minister for prisons and probation since 2014.
Past Results
Con: 26815 (53%)
Lab: 9948 (20%)
LDem: 10166 (20%)
UKIP: 2142 (4%)
Oth: 1703 (3%)
MAJ: 16649 (33%)
Con: 22114 (48%)
Lab: 13837 (30%)
LDem: 7723 (17%)
UKIP: 1923 (4%)
Oth: 217 (0%)
MAJ: 8277 (18%)
Con: 18477 (42%)
Lab: 17701 (40%)
LDem: 6473 (15%)
UKIP: 1203 (3%)
MAJ: 776 (2%)
Con: 21534 (41%)
Lab: 21402 (40%)
LDem: 7559 (14%)
Oth: 608 (1%)
MAJ: 132 (0%)

2015 Candidates
ANDREW SELOUS (Conservative) See above.
STEPHEN RUTHERFORD (Liberal Democrat) Contested North East Bedfordshire 2005.
Comments - No Responses on “Bedfordshire South West”
  1. The correct spelling for the town mentioned in this page is ‘LEIGHTON Buzzard’

  2. How is “Leighton” pronounced?

  3. As in Leyton. My sister lived in Linslade, which is conjoined to Leighton Buzzard, for a time.

  4. CON HOLD MAJ : 21%
    CON 46
    LAB 25
    LD 14
    UKIP 11
    GRN 3
    OTH 1

  5. I think this seat is actually quite interesting.

    It was very nearly lost to Labour in 1997, probably because of the strong long-standing incumbent David Madel, they held on by just 132 votes, a huge reduction in the majority from 1992- I think when Labour failed to take this in 2001, despite keeping the majority down to three figures, they must have gone backwards quite fast locally- In 2005, they fell back by 10.2%, and again in 2010 by 10.6%.

  6. The history is indeed interesting, and I’m slightly surprised Labour didn’t take it in one of 1997 or 2001.

    That said, the lack of discussion is probably due to a feeling that while the Tories are likely to dip below 50%, split opposition means there is no real prospect of a challenge.

  7. I suspect that yes.

    It’s a shame really, because in actual fact UKIP might get a fair increase here. I think it’s highly likely also that Labour will retake second place from the Lib Dems.

  8. At present Labour has only one councillor in Central Bedfordshire. Dunstable to be precise.

  9. They had a real base here I think in the 90s as well, just goes to show how far they’ve fallen in recent years.

    Andrew Selous did have a very good result in 2005, perhaps as a result of incumbency, but maybe also because his 2001 swing was below the national average as he was a new candidate.

  10. Windsofchange’s prediction for the relative standing of the big four parties seems right to me.

    Local elections look set to be held on the same day as the GE, which could on the one hand ensure that the LDs hold up slightly better in the constituency than the national average, but equally could give Labour a boost in the local elections from voters who wouldn’t otherwise have turned up just for the council poll.

  11. There must be a core Lib Dem vote here of about 13-14% I think.

    They largely got second place last time because they were helped by the Labour collapse, but they only just managed it and I think next time any likely recovery in Labour’s vote will see them reclaim second and probably reduce Andrew Selous’ majority, but he’ll still comfortably hold.

  12. ”It was very nearly lost to Labour in 1997, probably because of the strong long-standing incumbent David Madel, they held on by just 132 votes, a huge reduction in the majority from 1992- ”

    Just to clear the above up. What I meant to say was that it was probably only held because David Madel was still the MP defending the seat.

  13. The Almanac of British Politics analysed this seat after the 2001 general election (the analysis written by Robert Waller). He calculated that with ticket-splitting between local & national elections Labour would have fractionally outpolled the Tories in those elections in both Linslade/Leighton Buzzard & Dunstable/Houghton Regis (Houghton Regis is generally Labour’s best area here). The Tories saved their bacon with a decent lead in the rather small rural remainder. He regarded many voters in the towns as “instrumental” – not loyal to a particular class, but likely to back the party which was seen to represent their immediate interests. Mind you, there are doubtless many such voters in other constituencies too.

  14. That’s interesting analysis from Robert Waller.

    What’s notable also is that the Lib Dem vote didn’t decrease here in 2001, unlike in other tight Tory-Lab contests, which I think was obviously significant to the result.

    The Tories still endured a recount here (or was it two, I can’t quite remember?) before the 776 majority for Andrew Selous was declared, it was very late so to speak, 12 minutes past five in the morning according to Richard Kimber’s site.

    While we’re on the theme of narrow Tory holds in 1997, Richard Kimber made a list of the majorities from smallest to biggest- Dorset South (77) was the smallest, and the biggest was of course, Huntingdon (18140). This seat had the second lowest majority that year for the Conservatives.

  15. The largest town in Bedfordshire to vote Conservative in 2001 was Flitwick (and that was close and would have gone Labour in 1997.)
    Of course in 1997 the entire Conservative majority in this constituency came from Kensworth which is actually in Hertfordshire (although it has been administratively part fo Bedfordshire since 1897 and included in Bedfordshire parliamentary seats since 1918)

  16. Thanks Pete that explains a bit. Always interesting how certain places make all the difference when the result is so close.

  17. Pete – I used to go to band practice, many moons ago, in Ampthill. Would that town have voted Labour or Tory in 1997? It always struck me as a Tory town, but not necessarily always by that much.

  18. It is interesting also that in the old South Bedfordshire, the Liberals came second behind David Madel in February 1974, his majority then was 4, 758 (8.84%). Then in October 1974, DM’s majority fell slightly to 4, 443 (8.83%). He then had a very good result in 1979, securing a 16, 483 majority.

  19. Ampthill would have voted Tory – not overwhelmingly but I a rasonable margin over Labour. There was always a sizeable Liberal vote in Ampthill

  20. Yes our drummer who lived there (the butcher’s son) voted Alliance 🙂 Thanks for answering my question Pete.

  21. The Liberal candidate in South Bedfordshire in both 1974 elections was David Penwarden, who was later a councillor in Oxford.

  22. What’s with this “Merrie England” silliness that for example says that Kensworth “is actually in Hertfordshire”?

    No: the boundaries were changed in 1897, it’s been in Bedfordshire (actually) ever since. Nobody alive in Kensworth today remembers a time when it was in Herts. It’s just a silly, rather childish notion that “real” boundaries are what they might have been hundreds of years ago, it adds nothing to life today, and it’s also usually a remarkably selective view of the past. I doubt that anyone would really want to return, for example, to the old situation of Warwickshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire all having “exclaves”, detached from the county proper.

    Get over it: boundaries changed. For example, Tamworth stopped being partly in Warwickshire in maybe 1894, there would be no benefit to anyone in returning to the old status quo. In fact, there could be a very good case for a further realignment of boundaries now, to unite suburbs with the cities on which they depend for their life, and to stop the segregation of the wealthy outer areas from the core which had generated that wealth, only to see it taken away at 5.30pm.

  23. Fullers have about 3 pubs in that particular area. I think they may have bought a job lot of pubs the rest of which are still in Hertfordshire!

  24. Andy JS,
    Leighton is pronounced like: “Lie” + “Guh” + “Her” + “Tone”. So it’s (phonetically) like Lieguhertone. Please tell all your friends!
    Always happy to help.

  25. Actually, if you knew anything about this area you would know that the town is a combination of Leighton Buzzard and Linslade. Linslade has a slightly larger population than Leighton Buzzard. The correct name for the town since the 1970s has been LEIGHTON-LINSLADE, although people and businesses commonly refer to it as Leighton Buzzard, probably because Royal Mail incorrectly labels it as the postal town of that name. Linslade not only has the larger population, but it also has the larger retail and public amenities, such as the railway station (wrongly named as Leighton Buzzard) and the large stores such as Tesco, Homebase and Aldi. How do I know all this? Because I have lived here for the past 3 decades.

  26. Conservative Hold. 10,000 maj.

  27. Labour retook second place here, but this seat will continue to be solidly Conservative for the foreseeable future, and the days of ultra-marginal contests here when the Labour candidate Andrew Date was breathing down the Tories’ necks in 1997 and 2001 now seem like another world away.

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