2015 Result:
Conservative: 16603 (41.1%)
Labour: 6042 (14.9%)
Lib Dem: 11689 (28.9%)
Green: 1488 (3.7%)
UKIP: 4513 (11.2%)
Others: 88 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 4914 (12.2%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: North East, Northumberland. Part of the Northumberland council area.

Main population centres: Berwick-upon-Tweed, Alwick, Seahouses, Wooler, Rothbury.

Profile: The most northerly constituency in England, covering the border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed and much of rural Northumberland. Sparsely populated, it is one of the smallest constituencies in England in terms of population, though it covers a large geographical area. Berwick is a market town and seaport, historically contested between England and Scotland. Alwick is a rural market town better known for its castle, the seat of the Dukes of Northumberland and the second largest inhabited castle in the country (and the exterior of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films), the town is within commutable distance from Newcastle and is becoming more of a dormitory town. The constituency also includes the seaside town of Seahouses, the tidal island of Lindisfarne and the small towns of Wooler and Rothbury, popular with walkers in the Northumerland National Park. The vast majority of the seat however is sparsely populated countryside.

Politics: Dominated by agriculture this seat should be a safe Tory seat, but has been held by the Liberals and Liberal Democrats for most of the last fifty years. There was a history of Liberals being elected in the seat prior to the war and following the resignation of Lord Lambton in 1973 after tabloid revelations that he used call girls and cannabis the seat was won by Alan Beith in a by-election. Beith held the seat for over forty years, transforming it from an ultra-marginal in the 1970s to a Lib Dem stronghold. He was unable to hand the seat onto a Liberal Democrat successor though and it was regained by the Conservatives in 2015.

Current MP
ANNE-MARIE TREVELYAN (Conservative) Educated at Oxford Polytechnic. Former chartered accountant. Contested Berwick upon Tweed 2010. First elected as MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 14116 (37%)
Lab: 5061 (13%)
LDem: 16806 (44%)
UKIP: 1243 (3%)
Oth: 1213 (3%)
MAJ: 2690 (7%)
Con: 10420 (29%)
Lab: 6618 (18%)
LDem: 19052 (53%)
MAJ: 8632 (24%)
Con: 10193 (28%)
Lab: 6435 (18%)
LDem: 18651 (51%)
UKIP: 1029 (3%)
MAJ: 8458 (23%)
Con: 10056 (24%)
Lab: 10965 (26%)
LDem: 19007 (45%)
Oth: 352 (1%)
MAJ: 8042 (19%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
ANNE-MARIE TREVELYAN (Conservative) Educated at Oxford Polytechnic. Chartered accountant. Contested Berwick upon Tweed 2010.
SCOTT DICKINSON (Labour) Born 1984. Youth and community project director. Northumberland councillor.
JULIE PORKSEN (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Ponteland High School and Oxford University. Agricultural economist.
NIGEL COGHILL-MARSHALL (UKIP) Retired compliance officer. Contested City of Durham 2010.
RACHAEL ROBERTS (Green) Educated at Leicester University. University Careers Guidance Practitioner and Manager.
NEIL HUMPHREY (English Democrat)
Comments - 675 Responses on “Berwick-upon-Tweed”
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  1. What is the liklihood that the Tories will win this seat in 2015? Or is 2020 a more realistic target?

  2. If Beith goes, I would say at least 50:50, if not maybe 20-30%. Obviously very dependant on the national position.

  3. I believe that with the same candidate as 2010, the Tories have more of a chance of gaining this in 2015 than they may have otherwise done.

    And if Beith does retire, then the writing will probably be on the wall for the Lib Dems here in the near future.

  4. I’m afraid if Labour gets back again in 2015,
    and the economy grows a little bit
    after this Government takes the flack now
    then it’s not automatic that the electorate will just hand the keys back again
    when we want them to.
    Better to sort this mess out best we can now.

  5. JJB

    (At the risk of getting further up AW’s naughty step)

    You are seriously underestimating the fundamental economic problems of this country.

    The mess isn’t getting sorted out and nor is it possible to sort it out presently.

    That can only be done when the full horror is exposed.

    In a similar way it needed the winter of discontent for Thatcher’s reforms.

    That’s why it is better for the Conservatives to lose in 2015, just as it was for them to lose in 1974.

  6. So what do you think the full horror is
    GDP contraction of 5-10% further?

    Regarding Berwick-upon-Tweed,
    it’s a difficult one to predict next time,
    C should have a chance.

  7. Joe James

    I made some comments on this page back in 2010, none of the issues I raised have yet been dealt with:

    Britain’s problems are more fundamental than another drop in GDP.

    To use an analogy, a recession is going into reverse on the railway.

    Our problem is that we’re on the wrong railway line. GDP growth on our current path is likely to make things worse.

    At some point we’re going to have to get on the right path.

    Not only will that be very difficult it will also damage many vested interests.

  8. To be more specific, this country has become addicted to living £100bn beyond its means.

    Do you think that can go be sustained indefinately?

    The likelihood is that it is brought to an end in 2016-2020.

    The same period in which the energy crunch will happen.

  9. Cheery thought, Richard.

  10. Hey Richard – found I do have some rhubarb on my allotment 🙂

  11. BTw, richard, if you think I’m optimistic about tory, government prospects, I refuse to change my name to gloy plopwell

  12. For once I agree with Richard, Britain is living beyond its means. Not only do we have substantial public debt we also have massive Private debt.

    The Lab-Con debate on whether/extent to cut the deficit is irrelevant because the markets will limit government action. The real issues should be where best to cut and structural reform which Britain needs (I believe in a Land tax).

    The Conservatives will have a chance to take Berwick if Alan Beith steps down but I dont think it is higher than 33%.

    The Lib Dems are strong here in local government – suspect they have the most elected councillors representing wards in this constituency.

  13. They do not. In the wards mainly in this constituency there are 6 LDs 6 Conservatives 2 Labour and 2 Independent councillors

  14. In this constituency Labour supporters may vote Lib Dem tactically in the knowledge that Labour cannot win. The coalition may reduce this but it will still be a factor.

  15. I think that if the Lib Dems do lose this in 2015, then it will be the end of their election night.

    This is a seat that Beith has held for 39 years- Mind-boggling in itself.

    But I agree with Glen, the Lib Dems would really be toast here if he were to retire. Imagine how unlucky they would be to lose this if he actually stood again 🙁

  16. Quite possible for the LDs to lose this and have a decent night overall. If Beith goes with no national swing it could still be lost

  17. “I think that if the Lib Dems do lose this in 2015, then it will be the end of their election night.”

    Berwick usually declares quite late on the Friday afternoon so it would be one of their last losses (just before Argyll and a couple of others of that ilk). I agree with Joe that if Beith retires this will go Tory and that would not necessarily reflect their performace elsewhere. On the other hand if Beith stays on I’d expect him to narrowly hold on

  18. Yep, usual routine is Beith sanctimoniously moans all through the election night studio program going on and on and on and obn about PR (paddy’s Rubbish) then goes here for result. But if they held on nearely everywheere with just 9 per cent of the popular vite, they would jave achieved PR

  19. If we get 30 years of Labour winning majorities at most general elections with 35% of the vote, interspersed occasionally by the Tories governing in coalition after getting 37% of the vote, might you finally accept that PR (not AV) would be in the Tories’ interest?

  20. I think Labour winning a small majority with 33% at the next election is a definite possibility, especially if UKIP take about 10%.

  21. Absolutely right.

    The emergence of 3-party politics enabled Labour to win a majority with 35% of the vote…..4-party politics means they could win a majority with 30%.

    Will this be the last straw for our increasingly ridiculous electoral system?

    Tory support for FPTP is increasingly like a beaten wife refusing to leave her husband.

  22. For many Tories to start seriously considering some form of PR, it would probably take an election that was the reverse of 1951 (i.e. Labour being the largest party despite the Tories having more votes) – although given the prominence of third parties nowadays it’s unlikely that Labour could win an overall majority despite losing the popular vote, as the Tories did in 1951.

    Additionally, that’s probably the sort of result that would wake much of the public up to the inherent unfairness of FPTP – and would be pleasantly ironic, given that a key argument the Tories deployed against AV in the 2011 referendum was, “But it might allow losers to win!”

  23. FPTP is the right system, in principle. Tories can win on it.

  24. Interesting. In a broadly similar discussion in the Other Place, I posited the suggestion that UKIP may win 17% of the vote but no seats (unlikely to hit 17%, I know, but still a plausible scenario).

    In principle, I’m a supporter of FPTP, I think it is the best electoral system around. However, it is clearly built for 2 party politics and seems a little stretched for 3 party politics. The dynamic in 2015, at least in terms of votes, is very likely to be 4 party politics. I’m not sure it is possible to sustain a good argument for keeping FPTP in these circumstances.

  25. One thing that is interesting about the PR systems we have adopted is it doesn’t encourage more people to vote Lib Dem, but for that dustbin vote to fragment off in different directions to other more clearly policy related parties.
    But I oppose PR on principle.

  26. How many here have heard of PR^2 ?

  27. To further worry JJB about future economic prospects:

    If we assume that Britain has been living, and continues to do so, 10% beyond its means since 2000 then there will become a point where we need to start living 10% within our means to pay back the accumulated debt.

    110% to 90% is a 20% drop in consumption.

    Now add in the need for structural change in the UK economy – less consumer spending replaced by increased infrastructure investment and pension saving – and the drop in consumption becomes even larger.

    Though a 20% reduction in consumer spending is only an average – many people already live within their means and so will find the adjustment relatively easy. While others live well beyond their means and so will need to make a correspondingly greater change, with the problem that they are by definition less inclined to do so.

    This means severe economic, social and political turmoil.

    Now the establishment consensus is that ‘grth’ will somehow sort out our problems.

    This ignores the reality that our problems have become solidified in the system (see the trade balance for example) and that economic stagnation is more likely that growth in a globalised world where we are competing with countries with lower costs, lower taxes and lower regulations but have work forces which are as well educated and harder working than Britain’s.

  28. JJB – FPTP was a good system for its time. But as Pete indicates, the 2015 election could see many 4-way constituencies, with parties winning on c.30%. By 2020 this could be even worse.

    No democrat can accept a Parliament made from members whose popularity/success was a quarter of those votes cast.

  29. It would be a case of turkeys voting for christmas. Another reason why the electoral system being decided by parliament is unacceptable.

  30. Richard is basically right on debt. His views aree similar to steve baker mp for wycombe. I am more optimistic about british workers ability to compete. We are bringing back outsourced it work because british are quicker and more flexiblke, while various others only do exactly what you tell them. As for PR etc, forget it. You had your chance. People don’t like bad losers.

  31. JJB – the referendum was not for a proportional system, but for AV. So we’ve not had it.

    Had Labour supported us, we would be on the stepping stone to greater reform. As Pete says above, the situation in 2015 will certainly bring the argument back into focus.

  32. Had Labour backed AV you would still have lost that referendum.

  33. Not so, I believe Labour would have helped us carry the message far more than we could, especially with such a biased media against the Yes campaign.

    I will always blame Labour for denying such a vital piece of constitutional reform.

  34. You can’t blame Labour for not supporting AV….FPTP is biased hugely in their favour and that suits them just fine.

    As so often in history, on this it’s the Tories who are the stupid party. As Richard has previously said, before 2010 they completely failed to comprehend either the disasterous depth of the hole we are in economically, nor the fact that under the current electoral system they are going to continue to lose the vast majority of future general elections.

    AV is not PR. It would have been a bad system from the Tories’ point of view, enabling even more tactical voting against them. If they had any degree of smartness or forward-thinking, they would have agreed as part of the coalition agreement to implement either STV or the additional member system with no referendum. Long term both of those systems would be much better for the Tories than FPTP.

    If they had done that, not only would the Lib Dems have been much happier coalition partners, but the Tories might have been able to govern in coalition with UKIP in 2015 rather than going down to the stinking defeat they are headed for.

  35. AV is a crap electoral system. It deserved to lose. I am pro-PR in some of its forms (although I dont like preferential voting) but was anti-AV on the grounds that it is less proportional for the top 2 parties and would introduce majorities so large that the government would not be held to account. Imagine the labour majority in 1997-2001 with AV … (or the tory majority in 1983)

  36. “If they had any degree of smartness or forward-thinking”

    This is the thing that baffles me and to my mind is yet another thing to condemn the Cameroons about.

    They must have known there was a strong chance of a coalition with the LibDem and Osborne once described them as ‘our future coalition partners’.

    Yet they made no preparations for electoral reform even though that would obviously have been at the top of the LibDem list of demands.

  37. If this lot lose office it will be primarily because they haven’t been all that intelligent on a number of issues.
    Having said that, Osborne went to my school……

  38. I always thought it was the lib dems who were the stupid party
    for putting PR at the top of the agenda.

  39. ‘I always thought it was the lib dems who were the stupid party for putting PR at the top of the agenda.’

    I would suggest not – and i say that as someone who doesn’t support PR – partly because it would enable the Tories to govern alongside UKIP – which surely must be more appealing to somerone like yourself than the current arrangement with the lib dems

    the tories can go on ruling out any form of PR if they want – and i sincerely hope they stick to their guns – but you don’t have to be enstein to conclude that they are shooting themselves in the foot by doing so

    you could make a convincing case that such a stance is very stupid indeed

  40. Of course, you could also make a case that particular electoral systems shouldn’t be favoured or dismissed for party political advantage. The Tories supporting FPTP even though it increasingly hurts them may be an expression of principle over pragmatism.

    The question of which electoral system is best largely depends on what you want out of your national assembly. If the Tories favour a system that produces single-party majorities most of the time, and aren’t too bothered about the results reflecting the voting preference of the majority of the population, then FPTP is the obvious choice. It becomes much less appealing if you think that Parliament should be more representative of voters’ choices.

  41. I think FPTP should stay personally.

    The Tories in their current mindset will not want any different, no matter how many times the Lib Dems try and turn them on to the ‘advantages’ of AV and PR.

    FPTP has been tried and tested and remains a reliable form of voting for elected representatives- If we had anything like AV or PR, we would probably end up with hung parliaments after every election.

  42. I notice JJB still has some economic optimism.

    Take a look at the ONS figures for industrial production (2009 = 100):

    Jan 2013 = 97.1
    Jan 1988 = 98.2

    Industrial production is now lower in Britain than it was a generation ago.

    Probably the first time that has happened since the Black Death in the 14th century.

    But remember the difficult economic background I hear you say?

    Well difficult economic backgrounds have happened before.

    Compare the 25 year generation before that (quarterly figures because the ONS don’t do individual months that early):

    1988 Qtr1 98.0
    1963 Qtr1 56.0

    A 75% increase during a period of world recessions, oil shocks, sterling crises, miners strikes, stock market crashes, 3 day weeks, winters of discontent and IMF bailouts.

    Still I’m sure we can afford to keep ourselves in the manner which we think we deserve by selling unaffordable houses to each other or by selling imported tat to each other or by selling expensive coffee to each other.

  43. This moment for the UK economy draws ever nearer:

  44. Disappointing results for the Tories here. Looks like the Lib Dems could hang on after all?

    The Tories missed out on a number of seats they should have taken from the Lib Dems if they were looking to be in a confident position for 2015. Rothbury,
    the second Alnwick seat, Norham and Islandshires, Berwick North, and Berwick West with Ord all stayed firmly in the yellow coloum.

    The only gain for the Tories was the Bamburgh seat which had a retiring Lib Dem Councillor. The Lib Dems also gained one seat, from an Inp. The result in Rothbury (once a Tory stronghold) says a lot..

    Con: 540
    Lib Dem: 1544
    Lab: 95

  45. Alan Beith’s electoral record in Berwick-upon-Tweed-
    1970- 6, 741 (21.95%, +2.62%)
    1973 by-election- 12, 489 (39.9%, +18.0%)
    February 1974- 15, 732 (44.51%, +22.56%, +4.61% against by-election)
    October 1974- 14, 684 (43.11%, -1.4%)
    1979- 19, 351 (54.34%, +11.23%)
    1983- 21, 958 (52.69%, -1.65%)
    1987- 21, 903 (52.10%, -0.59%)
    1992- 19, 283 (44.37%, -7.73%)
    1997- 19, 007 (45.5%, +1.1%)
    2001- 18, 651 (51.4%, +5.9%)
    2005- 19, 052 (52.8%, +1.4%)
    2010- 16, 806 (43.7%, -8.9, boundary changes)

  46. Northumberland results by division:

    This is probably the only council area where the Conservative vote increased compared to the 2010 general election, I assume mainly due to differential turnout.

    Changes since 2010 GE:

    Con +1.74%
    Lab +5.55%
    UKIP +4.38%
    LD -11.80%
    Green +0.14%
    Ind +3.78%
    Others -3.78%

  47. Pete has posted the constituency results for Northumberland elsewhere:

    Result for Berwick-upon-Tweed:

    Con 7756
    LD 6523
    Lab 4152
    UKIP 1798
    Ind 1476

  48. Changes since 2010 GE:

    Con -1.0%
    LD -13.6%
    Lab +5.9%
    UKIP +5.1%

  49. Looks like hopefully we have killed off any LD threats in Hexham
    but they remain a force here.
    Many thanks for the figures Andy.

  50. Not sure there ever were any LD threats in Hexham. It was Labour who nearly took that seat, though in fact the seat has never actually been won by Labour, or lost by the Tories in living memory.

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