Berwick-upon-Tweed

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
2010
Con: 14116 (37%)
Lab: 5061 (13%)
LDem: 16806 (44%)
UKIP: 1243 (3%)
Oth: 1213 (3%)
MAJ: 2690 (7%)
2005*
Con: 10420 (29%)
Lab: 6618 (18%)
LDem: 19052 (53%)
MAJ: 8632 (24%)
2001
Con: 10193 (28%)
Lab: 6435 (18%)
LDem: 18651 (51%)
UKIP: 1029 (3%)
MAJ: 8458 (23%)
1997
Con: 10056 (24%)
Lab: 10965 (26%)
LDem: 19007 (45%)
Oth: 352 (1%)
MAJ: 8042 (19%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
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)
Links
Comments - 675 Responses on “Berwick-upon-Tweed”
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  1. James Rodriguez – don’t worry about Robberbutton, he is wilfully misinterpreting so he can find an opportunity to Lib Dem-bash.

    He knows perfectly well that this was a comparatively good result – indeed the best among seats with an incumbent retiring.

  2. It was most likely less catastrophic for the Lib Dems this time round as the Tories had already achieved a 9% swing here in 2010.

  3. It wasn’t exactly brilliant either though was it? I do believe Julie Pörksen was a good candidate, but just relying on continuing tactical votes from Labour was never going to be enough for her to come anywhere near holding this seat. But if this hadn’t been an election of collapses all over the place for the Lib Dems, I concede this could have been a lot closer than it was, and that JP might have managed to hold this by the narrowest of margins had we not seen the national collapse on the scale we did. I still think incidentally however that to call this result comparatively good is to wilfully ignore the reality of the already truncated level of the Lib Dem’s vote share here- they did badly in 2010 even under Beith, so there was an ever-so-slight correction of that fall at work here to some extent, but not that much.

  4. And Simon is quite correct. The Tories had already done very well here in 2010 just to get into contention, let alone get anywhere near defeating Alan Beith at all. So this is another reason as to why the Lib Dem showing here in losing was nowhere near as impressive as you might at first suspect- they only lost loads more ground this time which in my mind is not good enough to justify a 14.8% decrease not being all that bad when you consider they’d already lost 8.9% with Beith at the helm five years prior to their defeat on his departure. Losing a total of 23.7% of the vote in two elections is to my mind nothing short of an utter disaster quite frankly,

  5. Yes grim for the Libdems.

    Will that convince the SNP to stand next time? (assuming they aren’t already independent by then). This seat would strategically be a very useful gain for an independent Scotland, in that it would severely weaken tHe English case for North Sea Oil. We may all be friends at the moment, but maybe it will turn heated eventually!!!!

  6. That is an interesting thought and it would certainly be fascinating to see. As it stands however I don’t see the Lib Dems coming back here any time soon, even though it looks marginal right now further slippage in 2020 combined with a strong incumbency effect for AMT might see the Tory majority go up to as much as 9-10000 votes. Of course, however, should the SNP stand in the near future, they would probably come very close either way to winning this in the three figures- but without the SNP standing I can see both the Tories and Labour only continuing to benefit from what looks set to be a longterm collapse in the Lib Dem’s vote in this seat without Alan Beith’s massive personal support being there to help them.

  7. If the SNP stand in this seat they will lose their deposit.

  8. Agreed.

    Now let’s get back to the real world.

  9. Tories will push 50% here in 2020, (see Hexham 2010 to 2015) with the added effect of people getting out of the habit of voting lib dem (see, eg SW Surrey, Newbury).

  10. The Results…

    You do realise that most people in this seat live 25 miles + from the border and are unambigosly english?

  11. Yes LOL. I was kind of joking TBH!

  12. The people of Northumberland did not live in Tower Houses in mediaeval times for nothing.

    Berwick itself changed hands between England and Scotlland on a number of occasions in the Middle Ages, before being fortified at great expense under Elizabeth I to keep the Scots out.
    Three have been instances of Berwick being at war, e.g. against Russia, when the town was specifically included in a declaration of war but not included in the subsequent peace treaty.

    From Berwick’s point of view it is highly unlikely that the people who like to rejoin Scotland. However, what about becoming a Monaco-style independent tax haven?

  13. The problem is it isn’t Monaco. If it was that easy to become a tax haven everywhere would be, it’s difficult and more so in a world increasingly intolerant of them.

  14. I can’t think of a proper tax haven as cold as Berwick, though I suppose the Isle of Man kind of counts. Berwick doesn’t have the space to park many yachts nor the climate or calm sea for the super rich to enjoy sailing there.

  15. This seat should not be lost by the Conservatives. However this behaviour is disgusting. This lady is Anne Marie Trevelyans press officer.

    http://www.northumberlandgazette.co.uk/news/local-news/berwick-mp-horrified-by-press-secretary-s-behaviour-1-7460061

    She was not the only Conservative parish councillor to turn up uninvited to this meeting and this is exactly the behaviour that will make this seat competitive when it shouldn’t be.

  16. I doubt the actions of a now ex-press officer will change a single vote in 2020.

    The probability favours the Tories increasing their majority in this seat assuming the current MP stands again.

  17. Georgina Hill’s resignation (press officer) is not an issue for the CLP as a whole – solely related to internal matters within Berwick itself and will have no impact on Anne-Marie Trevelyan who is proving to be popular. Her quick resignation ensured little if any damage to the MP – meanwhile the local issues continue to smoulder (along with the Police investigation) but are probably of little interest to this site.

    More important is the way that policy decisions are taken 50 miles away (Morpeth) by a County Council seen as remote & out of touch with local opinion. Thus all incumbent County Councillors` regardless of party affiliation are at risk – though most are Lib-Dems.

    Labour ought to be doing better in Berwick itself based on demographics, so where will Lib Dem votes go?

    We have the interesting contrast of a resurgent Tory Party, incumbent Lib Dems all at risk, but a large swathe of voters that should go Labour but are dissatisfied with a remote minority labour led administration in County Hall.

    Watch Berwick North for a pointer in 2017.

  18. The whole press officer affair should make this a pretty straightforward LD gain

  19. I agree that the press officer thing is already old news, and won’t affect the result in 2020 (or hopefully before then!)

    The real question mark is simply “to what degree will the Libdems recover?”. My guess is “probably a bit”, but that may be off-set by AMT’s incumbency. Tory hold, unless the tories hit really big trouble in the polls.

  20. I honestly did not for one minute suggest that we would gain the seat due to the press officer incident.

    Locally however, if you were from Rothbury and you had you local meeting hi-jacked by some complete strangers from Berwick, you’re not going to forget that. Even by 2020, though area wise I doubt it will effect anywhere else in the seat.

    The point I was making is that the Conservative Party don’t want any repeats of this sort of incident, as that is when it becomes an issue.

  21. This seat will do what Hexham did from 2010 to 2015. Expect the Tories to do 5 points or more better than the national vote change

  22. EcoWirral, you may be right that the good people of Berwick may have forgotten about the Georgina Hill incident, but fear not, Conservative town councillor number 2 has decided to get involved in an even more subtle way…

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tory-caught-camera-daubing-obscene-6752471

    This is not AMT’s fault in any way, however why has this parish councillor not been kicked out of the Conservative Party. To be honest I hope the police step in here properly, forget about politics, this behaviour is appauling.

  23. JAMESRODRIGUEZ – Brilliant!

  24. If trhe reports are true, the behaviour of Conservative councillors, if only town councillors, in this area is absolutely incredible. It is essential that the Conservative party leadership distance themselves immediately from this behaviour and call in the police.

  25. Terrible behaviour from the town councillors but really this is the type of thing hardly anyone will notice now, let alone in 2020. Alan Beith overperformed here for a long time – famously his first three majorities were 57 (1973 by-election), 443 (Feb 74) and 73 (Oct 74). He then built up a majority from 1979. However, with LD incumbency out of the way I think there is every chance this will become ultra-safe Tory territory as it was between 1945 (when William Beveridge was the defeated Liberal) and 1970.

  26. Perhaps, even after all this time, we should remember the reason the Conservatives had to call a by-election in 1973.

  27. Watch the Council Elections in 2017.

    If seats like Rothbury, Berwick East and all of Alnwick returns Conservative councillors this seat turning into a Conservative bastion assured,promised and guaranteed by Conservatives across Berwick may well happen.

    More likely Amble West will go Liberal Democrat and we will hold steady across Berwick. I think a shock loss for us may well be Berwick North but otherwise we shall hold steady.

    If Bamburgh, Lynemouth and Pegswood go orange then AMT will begin to worry.

    This will be make or break for us as it will show how strong our groundwork is, or if Alan Beith have been holding us afloat. The Longhoughton bye election was however a good omen.

  28. “Have to wait to see what happens in Berwick in 2020”

    The Tories will hold the seat easily IMO.

  29. 2020 is a long time ahead, but given the strength of the new MPs local connections and the likelihood of a “ftist time incumbency effect” she will take some shifting, particularly as there seems to be little or no sign of a LibDem “bounce back.”

  30. To be honest this seems like a naturally Tory seat much like Hexham or Penrith & the Border, which happened to have a Liberal (and then Lib Dem) MP who held on due to his personal popularity. (In fact I would go so far as to put Westmorland & Lonsdale in that category too – while the seat is Tim Farron’s for as long as he wants it, I have doubts over his ability to pass it on to a successor.)

    The Lib Dems were famously good at holding onto seats once they had captured them (until this year at least), but the converse is they are not very good at recapturing seats once they have lost them – which unfortunately for them, is the task they are now faced with. And there are more realistic targets for them than Berwick-upon-Tweed.

  31. If you are a LibDem in the North you don’t “focus on Eastbourne or Cambridge”..

    Its a five hour drive.. by the time you got there it would be time to drive back.. I am not sure exactly how dumb other parties think the LibDem “focus” is.. but I am very happy to let them think that we are that clueless, its what delivered a raft of seats our way in the past.

  32. John Leech has already announced he will run again and in fact is standing in May for a seat on Greater Manchester to put himself in the limelight..

  33. But this seat isn’t Hexham. Hexham has areas of huge wealth such as Darras Hall in Ponteland (4 wards) and to an extent Corbridge and Hexham. We have small spots of it, perhaps most obvious in Longframlington Ward but nowhere near as obvious.

    Berwick also has some rather deprived areas such as Amble, Druridge Bay and if you go through Lynemouth you can see a former mining town which has never been able to recover. Berwick is struggling and Alnwick, while nice on your drive through, the areas away from the main street such as Barrasdale are a stark contrast.

    Shillbottle and Wooler are both Conservative bastions but these two towns are split between very deprived areas and areas of retirees. If voting was compulsory the Conservatives would struggle to carry Wooler (probably Lab) and Shillbottle would be a load closer.

    Berwick will still be carried by the Conservatives in 2020 but not like Hexham or Penrith.

  34. @Maxim

    I would say….

    Very likely to stand again:

    Andrew George
    Stephen Gilbert
    Duncan Hames
    Martin Horwood (describes himself on Twitter as the LibDem parliamentary spokesperson for Cheltenham)
    Julian Huppert
    John Leech (have put him here because Antiochian did, but surely the LDs in Manchester are dead)
    Stephen Lloyd
    Tessa Munt (has said she wants to)
    Adrian Sanders (has been re-elected as a councillor already)
    Jo Swinson (likely Deputy Leader once constitutional change is completed)
    Mike Thornton

    Possible:

    Mike Crockart
    Sir Ed Davey
    John Hemming (I would say very likely but his seat would be extremely tough to win back)
    Sir Simon Hughes (hasn’t ruled it out but surely he’ll think better of it)
    Dan Rogerson
    Stephen Williams (the LDs look dead and buried in Bristol West)
    Jenny Willott

    Unlikely:

    Sir Danny Alexander
    Norman Baker (has said he doesn’t want to)
    Gordon Birtwistle (will be 76 in 2020)
    Paul Burstow
    Sir Vince Cable
    Sir Nick Harvey
    Mark Hunter
    David Laws
    Michael Moore
    Alan Reid
    Sir Bob Russell
    Sir Robert Smith
    Viscount Thurso
    David Ward
    Steve Webb
    Roger Williams
    Simon Wright

  35. Berwick was never an ultra-Conservative seat in the 1945-1973 era and I would be a bit surprised to see a Hexham-style result in 2020 though at this extremely early stage in the Parliament I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a comfortable enough Conservative hold.

  36. Stephen Lloyd has also ruled out restanding.

  37. David Heath didn’t stand in May so I doubt he’s planning a comeback.

    Of the eight survivors I’m fairly certain Clegg will stand down and John Pugh could well do as well. Not sure about the others at this stage.

    I wouldn’t like to make detailed predictions at this stage but I expect 2020 for the LDs will be more about holding the eight they have (possible, because in a number they are benefiting from divided or demographically struggling opposition) and targeting a handful of others. Seats against first-time incumbents will be very tough indeed barring a significant national Tory decline. Oddly enough their best chances might actually be in Scotland, where there are still a few seats where they are the only unionist party in the game.

  38. @JamesRodriguez I confess I don’t know much about there area but I think it would be near impossible for Labour to carry a ward (Wooler) where they can currently barely get above 5% even if voting was compulsory. If there was a large latent Labour vote there they would certainly do better than that even if their voters are relatively low turn out.

    The other thing I would point out is that less wealthy communities in rural/small town areas very often does not mean a large Labour vote. Lincolnshire is hardly a wealthy county but look how badly Labour does there and how entrenched the Tories are even in their nadir years.

  39. If voting were compulsory I don’t think the Conservatives would carry Wooler. I can only really use the 2005, 2008 and 2011 elections as boundary changes prevent me from going further back but since then the turnout has dropped and as it has done so, so has the LD and Labour vote. At its peak turnout was only 50%.

    I think the retiree vote shows up and the rest of Wooler doesn’t bother. The one time turnout was up it has been a lot closer.

  40. I could probably see the Lib Dems winning it but I can’t see Labour getting anywhere close nowadays even on full turnout particularly after their complete abandonment of the centre ground.

    I don’t know the specifics of this seat but the Lib Dem and Labour vote is not interchangeable in most places. In a lot of the former Conservative-Lib Dem marginal seats the Lib Dems failed to appreciate that a large chunk of their vote was Conservative leaning which is why seats like Newbury have reverted to being ultra-safe Conservative.

    Turnout in the Berwick constituency was about 70% in the general election and the Tories still would have carried Wooler (probably by a very wide margin). If turnout was boosted to 100% I can’t really see it helping Labour a great deal, if anything it would be by far the most beneficial to UKIP and the Greens who’s status as anti-establishment, ‘protest’ parties would appeal more to the non-politically engaged.

    Again I don’t know the area but the demographics don’t look like the kind of place which would be at all friendly to Labour. Poor communities in rural or small town (non industrial) England don’t tend to vote or identify with Labour nowadays they mostly vote either Tory, Lib Dem or UKIP.

  41. Labour are certainly going nowhere in this seat, but the level of conviction people seem to have that they are about to implode just isn’t backed up.

    Despite an incredibly hostile and biased media, Corbyn’s leadership hasn’t actually had very much impact on Voting Imtention polls at all. Admittedly, they weren’t good in the first place (a combination of methodology changes and “Las election” ID) but he hasn’t worsened them. As for his personal ratings, yes, they are “bad”, but they measure a muddled picture of people who want to dislike him and people who have been made to worry about him due to the press onslaught.

    Most people don’t vote on ideological “left and right”. They tend to vote on issues, and against things they are afraid of. Labour now potentially has a lot in common with the public on the first (nationalised railway & NHS, fuel security/pricing) but has problems on the second “fear” factor, which is crucial. But the fear factor worked for the Tories in 2015, too; the public (wrongly) believed that Miliband was a left-winger, and they thought he would personally be a disaster as PM. Don’t assume that the Tories can out-do their performance on scaring the public in 2015- the fact Corbyn really is to the left of Miliband doesn’t matter in the least. I think what will, if anything, increase the fear factor is if labour are still so openly at civil war.

    The threat to Labour is from the Blairites.

  42. MAXIM PARR-REID- the right shouldn’t try to live in the past.Those elections are gone, and they aren’t coming back.

    The first-work debt crisis and the increasing evidence of dystopian anthropocene epoch both show capitalism to be a busted flush. We need to modernise to that reality.

  43. Something like that!

    Of those 3 elections, I think 2005 is the most interesting: The election that nobody wanted to win. Labour got a majority on an even more pitiful showing than the current tory one, and both the big centre-right parties (that’s Labour and the tories- yes, I know it’s controversial describing the tories as ‘centre’-right) very very much damp squibs. The Libdems did ok, positioning themselves to the left of labour, and there was that very interesting result in Bethnal Green & Bow. If UKIP had got their act together by then, the result would probably still have been a labour govt on an even smaller vote share. What lessons are there for this election? That New Labour was already going flat before then, and that there continues to be enormous political apathy. Who will win in those circumstances? The only thing which might be substantially different is that Labour currently have a conviction politician. If they can keep him, maybe something big will happen, in either direction. If not, it’s a small tory majority on another “damp squib” vote.

  44. “2005 was partly to do with boundaries”

    Cobblers.

    I don’t agree with Ecowirral very often but I completely concur on this. Both Blair and Howard were widely hated. People re-elected Blair because of Brown’s reputation running the economy and a complete lack of any plausible alternative, with mass defections to the Lib Dems as a by-product (from some Tory voters as well as left wingers).

  45. H.HEMMELIG – Thanks. I’m sure we agreed on something else once, too!

  46. 2005: H.HEMMELIG is spot on, and in lots of ways, this seems the blueprint for modern elections. The public are increasingly cynical about politics (often rightly) and elections aren’t so much won as “attained”. Only just over 40% COMBINED of the electorate voted for the “big 2” in 2005, and only a few more in 2015. Many of those, of course, did so tactically and with a heavy heart. FPTP then sustains the two, and the arms race of party funding & disingenuous populism feed that cynicism fresh meat. Anyone who doesn’t want to play the game is devoured by the powerful self-interested.

    A seat like this exemplifies the problem. From my time in the area (not up to date, admittedly) there wasn’t a great enthusiasm for the Conservatives (or anyone ese, really) yet this seat looks as safe as houses. If I lived here, I would obviously vote Green, but it still surprises me that so many people bother to turn out at all!

  47. Hardly unique to this seat – people don’t like politics and/or politicians generally. The one thing that all politicians, advisors, commentators, pollsters, psephologists and anyone else whose job is politics, must remember at all times, is that most people – the people who decide electoral contests – don’t care about politics to a fraction of the extent they do.

  48. Ecowirral, in general I agree with you. But don’t forget that this seat elected a LIbDem, Alan Beith, continuously from 1973 to 2015.

    Given that in many, and probably most, seats many electors are voting for the candidate they regard as least bad, we need to explain two things. Firstly, why don’t new parties manage to come from nowhere and sweep the board? Secondly, why do so few Independents manage to win, even in places like Fylde and Isle of Wight where the sitting MP is manifestly a disaster?.

  49. Frederic Stansfield: both of your questions can be answered by the phrase “first past the post”. Lots of people vote for a party they don’t like, in an attempt to beat a party they despise. In 99.9% of cases a vote for an independent would have been better off going to an established party – it’s telling that of the only two true independents in the Commons during my lifetime (ie, ones with no previous party affiliation), one – Martin Bell, who won Tatton in 1997 – only managed to win because Labour and the Lib Dems stood down, effectively making the contest a referendum on the Conservative incumbent. If they had stood then the Conservative candidate would probably have squeezed through the middle among split opposition.

  50. The incentive to vote for an Indy is arguably even less under other systems (with the exception of STV, which has produced a fair number of indys in Ireland) and extremely few get elected. Those that are exceptions are very often ex-party politicians as Margo Macdonald was in Scotland.

    The fact is that whilst individual candidates can have effects to varying degrees on the results in particular seats at general elections people are mostly concerned with which party will form the next government. You just have to look at what happened in the south west in 2015. Anecdotally, and supported by some polling evidence, the Lib Dem MPs there were very popular. But when it came to it in what appeared to be a very tight election people opted to cast their votes in the way they thought had most chance of ensuring they got the government rather than local MP they wanted.

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