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)
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Comments - 675 Responses on “Berwick-upon-Tweed”
  1. POLLTROLL – I agree that there are lots of seats which you could say the same for, and that is the problem. The more one thinks about it, the more perverse FPTP is.

  2. FPTP doesn’t necessarily prevent radical swings in votes, and eruptions of new parties. Look at the Canadian experience over the last 25 years.

    Therefore you do have to analyse why this doesn’t happen here, and anti-politics cynicism doesn’t go anywhere.

  3. JOHN CHANIN – It is ludicrous to suggest that FPTP doesn’t present an almost insurmountable obstacle for new parties. Obviously, it is still very occasionally possible to do it (ie Labour in the 1920s – only exceptional political climates can lead to this), but the same duopoly always arises afterwards. The question isn’t “does it prevent new parties growing”, because nobody could seriously dispute that it does. The question is “is it a problem that it prevents new parties growing”. My answer is a definite YES. The duopoly always attracts corruption, as the two parties become vehicles for power, and need financial backing to fund their arms races. Corruption can (and does, though often for cultural reasons) in PR systems, but then I is much easier to just cut the offending party adrift and start a new one. The only arguments in favour are around “stable governments”. Much as I disliked the LD-Con coalition, it was stable, and I think that shows that stability is possible. British politics wouldn’t become like Italy, we just have a different political culture.

  4. PR does make a difference if you’re trying to grow a party. Suddenly, it’s not that hard to get elected representatives at local authority level. That gives you plausible and well-known candidates at Parliamentary level, and depending on the system, you may well get Parliamentary representatives, if you can get a reasonably small proportion of the vote. They can focus their attentions on particular seats, leading to potential to win first past the post seats.

    That said, you still won’t grow all that much if there isn’t a reason. Most countries with PR still have most or all of a small right wing party, a large centre-right party, a smallish centre party, a large centre-left party and one or two small leftist/green parties. Most of the small parties usually spend their time trying to preserve their Parliamentary representation, while the big two try to form Governments with the least objectionable other parties.

  5. Ecowirral: my concern is not so much the corruption as the fact that it makes politics so narrow. (I desperately want to avoid using the word “neoliberal”, a word that seems to get bandied around pejoratively without anyone knowing what it really means). It’s all about the centre, and stuff anyone else.

    The Conservative majority was decided by 5000 – 10000 people in a dozen or so ultra-marginal seats: first-time buyers in Thurrock and junior office workers in Croydon. For the policymakers it makes good sense to pander to these people and stuff the people who most need support but probably won’t vote anyway.

  6. Jack Sheldon is right that the incentive to vote for Independent candidates is often (usually?) even less under PR than under FPTP.

    This is before we observe the dsgraceful fact that politicians wanting, (or being forced?) into intriducing PR repeatedly seek Party List systems, which many of us ordinary voters abhor.

  7. I think a compromise between locality and proportional representation, the system of Single Transferable Vote, works out best for voters, political parties and independent candidates.

  8. STV also has its flaws, like all electoral systems… I would argue that it demands too much political knowledge of the voter, who has to be able to rank not only parties but different candidates from the same party. It is also fiendishly complicated at least as far as the general public (who couldn’t understand AV when it was put before them) are concerned, which some might argue doesn’t matter but I’d say it is important voters understand how their vote translates into seats. It can also encourage MPs to be very locally-focused given the need to compete with rivals in the same party as well as other parties.

  9. I’d agree with the criticism of STV that it demands too much of the voter. One thing that becomes very apparent in local election results in Scotland is that it really helps to be first alphabetically amongst the candidates your party puts up, to the extent that long-serving councillors can be defeated just because their party’s other candidate appears further up the ballot paper.

    On the other hand, people all appear to manage to successfully complete the ballot paper, and the complexities of d’Hondt don’t really seem to bother anyone much.

    Realistically, there isn’t an answer that keeps it simple, avoids lists and leads to a proportional outcome. It’s just a question of which downside you find most palatable.

  10. Arguably the biggest problem is the voter him- or herself. How many people, up and down the country, answer a canvasser with “I vote X because my whole family has always voted X” or “I’d never vote for Y”.

    Well, in that case why on earth would any party formulate policies for that voter – either they already have their vote guaranteed or they could never win it, so from an electoral standpoint policies geared to that sort of voter are pointless so they get ignored.

  11. “Realistically, there isn’t an answer that keeps it simple, avoids lists and leads to a proportional outcome. It’s just a question of which downside you find most palatable”.

    True, but for the fact that lists don’t have to be a bad thing. Open lists are my system of choice. STV is OK. What puts me off it thought is that party representation can depend on chicanery such as vote management by parties, and them neither standing too many or too few candidates in a constituency.

    Open list are a completely level playing field, and give the voter the chance to choose between candidates as well as between parties.

  12. @Simon

    That alphabetical advantage is also quite common in London locals which use what might be called first three past the past. Usually all three seats go to the same party but where things are marginal and there has been vote-splitting it is often the candidates higher on the ballot (i.e. alphabetically first) that get in.

    My preferred system for local election would be a form of FPTP where each party can name a two-candidate list. The winning parties candidates would both get elected, only the first candidate for the runner-up would get election. This would alleviate the alphabetical problem and ensure one-party councils are avoided whilst maintaining the likelihood of majority control. This would also involve abolishing elections by thirds which I’m not a fan of.

    I am fully in agreement with your point that the electoral system debate is about the least bad system. There is no perfect system with no major downside.

  13. The AV referendum killed the chance of adopting PR for a generation.

    The Tories will never support it, neither will most of Labour when they are in a position where they look like winning again (until then their opinion is irrelevent). The Lib Dems are dead in the water. This debate is therefore totally pointless.

  14. H.HEMMELIG – Blimey….I am going to agree with you AGAIN!!! This is becoming quite uncanny. My new best friend on Ukpollingreport!

    I would, however, like to retain the privilege of remaining grumpy about our tin-pot, sorry excuse for a democracy which is an insult to our citizens and an embarrassment for our nation. But you’re quite right-it looks like we’re stuck with it for quite some time.

  15. @HH

    That is absolutely the case, and to be quite honest ever was. Even with a hypothetical LAB/LD coalition I can’t see why LAB would want to move to PR.

  16. Good. First-past-the-post is the worst system of voting apart from all the others. Personally I’d like us to return to that system for elections to the European parliament, should we choose to stay in the eu of course

  17. “I would, however, like to retain the privilege of remaining grumpy about our tin-pot, sorry excuse for a democracy which is an insult to our citizens and an embarrassment for our nation. But you’re quite right-it looks like we’re stuck with it for quite some time.”

    I think the large chunk of voters who supported UKIP and the Greens deserve a more appropriate parliamentary representation as befits the votes they received. I’d be personally supportive of a PR system that did not involve adding up preferences. But as we seem to all agree, it won’t happen, as it is not in the interest of the main parties.

  18. H Hemmelig: We now have a referendum on EU membership and a Labour leader who embodies many of the Green Party’s principles. On that level it’s worked out okay for UKIP & Green voters, despite FPTP.

  19. It’s worked out terribly for UKIP supporters. We are about to vote to stay in the EU for another generation, whilst net migration (the reason most UKIP voters voted for them) has continued to hit record levels and is now approaching 400,000 per year.

  20. But it’s UKIP and its supporters that are party responsible the impending Remain victory. Had they gone more down the Carswell than the Farage route they might actually have helped to build the kind of broad based coalition needed to win a referendum. Instead they’ve contaminated the Leave cause.

    I’ll still vote Out, but with no expectation that they can win. It’s all about making sure Remain doesn’t win by too much.

  21. In contrast to the Indy ref I think such a margin would be enough to shut the question of membership down for at least a generation. The SNP have been very good at making sure that the border question continues to be connected with day to day issues in the minds of a significant number of voters, thus keeping the issue alive. A similar trick will be much harder for a defeated Leave campaign to pull off.

  22. “I’ll still vote Out, but with no expectation that they can win. It’s all about making sure Remain doesn’t win by too much.”

    Given your general political stance I’m quite surprised to hear that, and it is not a good harbinger for Remain that people like yourself are voting to leave.

    It does seem from personal observation that a lot of natural Remainers have become quite disillusioned with the EU over the past year. Though most will perhaps still vote to remain it will be through gritted teeth. I certainly include myself in this camp, my vote for Remain will be highly reluctant and solely reflects my personal economic interest, whereas a year ago it would have been based on a bit more enthusiasm and belief. I think Merkel’s unilateral behaviour over the Syrian refugees has been despicable.

    I do think you are right that it is in our interests for the vote to be close so the EU doesn’t take it as a green light to run roughshod over our views afterwards. I think there is perhaps merit in the Portillo/Johnson idea of voting Leave to secure a better deal in a second referendum, though in the end it’s too personally risky for me.

  23. Whether the issue goes away again after the referendum depends mostly on whether UKIP can make significant electoral progress at the expense of the Tories or not. The reason that the Scottish question remains very live is because the referendum led to wholesale shifts in voting behaviour. Without that happening in the UK (and without the result being nail-bitingly close) then it ought to kill the Euro-debate for quite some time.

  24. I think you would struggle to find many (perhaps any) British people who were fully satisfied with the EU and thought it did as good a job as possible – but I simply don’t see many advantages to the UK as a country if we left

    It’s too big a risk and I do wonder why clearly intelligent people – like Keiran for example – can’t or don’t see it like that

    I think Cameron’s approach is broadly right – try and renegotiate better terms & conditions for British membership whilst still recognising it’s in the UK’s interest to remain in the EU if they aren’t forthcoming

    I think it’s another example that pragmatists make better leaders than idealists

  25. I guess my view is broadly similar to Tim’s.

    As someone who travels extensively on business, in recent months I have been struck by the large number of people who have raised this topic with me overseas as part of small talk in meetings, dinners etc (both inside and outside Europe). Every single one of these people thought the UK would be mad to leave the EU and was surprised the referendum had been allowed at all. Yes, they were all business people which gives them a particular slant on life, but it has convinced me that we do face serious reputational damage if we leave, certainly in the medium term.

    The result will hinge on how people feel their personal economic circumstances would be impacted by withdrawing. As the Leavers have been totally unsuccessful in drawing up a credible vision of how things would work post-departure, I think many voters will reluctantly vote to stay.

  26. “but I simply don’t see many advantages to the UK as a country if we left”

    Control of our borders?

  27. In reality we can’t control our borders any more than we do at present and still remain part of the single market in the form of EFTA or EEA.

    Leave haven’t made any effort to credibly explain how they could achieve this. So we would have a choice of control our borders but suffer huge economic dislocation outside the single market, or join EFTA/EEA which would save very little membership fees and do nothing at all on immigration.

    IMO this is the crux of why Leave will lose. Much as people dislike immigration they will not want to risk their own prosperity to control it.

  28. ‘Yes, they were all business people which gives them a particular slant on life, but it has convinced me that we do face serious reputational damage if we leave, certainly in the medium term.’

    That argument certainly isn’t confined to the European business community

    Of the Europeans I have spoken to about the subject, I’d say about nine in ten share that view and can’t understand why people can get away with perpetuating myths about how the UK would really fare if it left, and why the UK’s newspapers – which are largely owned by foreigners – are so keen to advocate withdrawal

  29. In a close race, the papers could be crucial. Probably the best chance Leave have of winning would be for the Sun and Mail to come down strongly on their side. But I’m not convinced that in the end they will, especially if it looks like Leave is going to be clearly defeated. The Sun in particular hates being on the losing side.

  30. I will probably vote to remain, despite disagreeing with a lot of things the EU Commission initiates.

    I understand, however, why people want to leave,
    and
    doubt it would be a disaster if we left actually – you find a way of making things work.

    On balance, I would rather remain in.

  31. 1. Will you campaign in the referendum?
    (from the tone of your post I’m guessing probably not)

    2. If Remain wins narrowly, let’s say 51-49, do you envisage a backlash in your Conservative association against the minority of activists such as yourself who supported Remain? And against the majority of the cabinet and (probably) MPs?

  32. “…doubt it would be a disaster if we left actually – you find a way of making things work”.

    That’s why I am comfortable voting Leave. I don’t think the outcome will make as much difference as the partisans on both sides make out. Hemmelig is right that Brexit won’t make an impact on immigration as in all likelihood we’d still have to accept free movement in any post exit arrangement with the remaining EU.

    I see a marginal benefit to the UK in disentangling itself to an extent from an organization that isn’t (and never can be) democratically accountable, and in gaining our own seat on the WTO.

    But fundamentally as globalization continues I think a lot of these kind of arguments are pretty inconsequential. The economically developed world is so interdependent that the era of powerful state machinery, whether national or supranational, is over.

  33. 1) Probably not.
    2) No. I don’t think the party is split in the way it was. We may be on different sides, but we are not really.

    The logic of the EU is diminishing, and this country opened up it’s trade in 1979.
    However, I’m actually slightly in favour of free movement but anti the beaurocracy and costs

  34. Interesting debate here, and presumably there will be a dedicated page for the referendum when it’s announced.

    I’m currently a very wavering “IN” purely on the basis of feeling it’s better to be inside the tent partaking of a bodily function outwards, I suppose my view is to be shaped by what sort of deal we get from Cameron’s negotiations. If he comes back empty-handed I may change my mind, if he achieves most or all of his targets then my “IN” vote would be firmed up somewhat.

    I’ve yet to see a compelling case on either side though, as both arguments are somewhat of the scaremongering variety.

  35. I think there is scaremongering yes.
    If we got nothing in the negotiations I could be pushed into the No, but it’s not an outcome I would want.
    Better to be a bit in ideally.

  36. ‘The logic of the EU is diminishing, and this country opened up it’s trade in 1979.’

    That depends on how one =views the EU

    My own belief is that many on the Right started turning against the European Union when they started getting involved in improving conditions for employees, placing legal limits on working hours, working pensions and all the other stuff which led the Major government to opt out of the Social Charter/Chapter

    Had it stayed as the kind of rich boy’s free trade club many on the Rignt initially envisaged (and hoped for), I suspect they would view the EU like most other centre-right European parties

    It also helps explain why those on the Left have moved in opposite direction

    From reading The Sun you would think they have already signed up to the ‘Leave’ campaign but as Hemmelig says their hatred for being on the losing side might leave them to resit formally committing themselves to ‘Out’

    I’m sure The Mail will have no such qualms

    The interesting one will be The Times – with Murdoch once bizarrely claiming he doesn’t even attempt to exercise editorial control

  37. Thank you Joe for answering my questions.

    I don’t believe it would be a disaster for the country if we left the EU….but I’m in no doubt it would damage my own business, hence my family’s livelihood, to some degree.

  38. Following the discussion on boundaries from the Crewe and Nantiwch thread my own thoughts on Northumberland are as follows.

    “Northumberland Moors/Rural” or “Berwick and Hexham” kind of clueless on a name for this one.

    Contains the following wards
    Berwick North/East and West, Norham, Bamburgh, Longhoughton, Ainwick, Shilbottle, Amble, Amble West, Longhorsley, Wooler, Rothbury, Bellingham, Humshaugh, Haydon, Haltwhistle, Corbrdidge, South Tynedale and the three Hexham Wards.

    Electorate 78,115

    “Cramlington and Prudhoe”
    Contains the following.
    Prudhoe North/South, Stocksfield, Bywell, the four Ponteland Wards, the three Bedlington Wards, all six Cramlington Wards, Kitty Brewster, Seghill, Holywell and Hartley

    Electorate 76,403

    “Blyth Morpeth and Ashington”
    Contains the following
    All the remaining wards in the Northumberland Authority.

    Electorate 77,930

    As far as I am aware this is one of the few amalgamations that doesn’t require a cross county seat and it keeps all the former industrial areas together in two seats while the vast rural areas and smart towns of Hexham and Berwick are paired together.

  39. On these figures, Northumberland clearly loses a seat.

    Am I right in thinking that this would leave one very safe Tory seat: Berwick and Hexham, and one safe Labour seat. The remianing seat would be less clear but might well be marginal (veering towards Labour).

  40. Your analysis is correct. Northumberland is indeed required to lose a seat on the present figures.

    Berwick and Hexham would be rock solidly Tory but I do believe it would have probably fallen to the Lib Dems at some point between 97-10.

    The Blyth, Morpeth and Ashington seat would be very safe Labour and the Cramlington and Prudhoe seat would I believe be reliably Labour but not overwhelmingly, the Tories would be in contention and could win it in a good year.

  41. In the distant past, Blyth was of course the scene of a big internal Labour bust-up which for a short time resulted in the election of an Independent Labour MP, Eddie MIlne.

  42. Anne Marie Trevelyan v Guy Opperman- what a treat.

  43. There is a lot of nonsense spoken about Rothbury, and in general, by the Liberal Democrats who are the dirtiest fighters in British politics..

    They are desperate to regain a seat like Berwick as they fight for their very existence .!

    The split of the anti-Tory party vote and demise of the Lib Dems may see AMT hold on to the seat but it is far from safe.

  44. After reviewing the figures I’ve come to the conclusion that Northumberland will really be an area to watch in the coming review. All four seats are very undersized and one definitely has to get the chop so whatever changes are proposes will be fairly drastic.

    As far as I can tell my earlier proposed boundaries are really the best option as the alternatives either require a cross county seat (something which is supposedly to be avoided unless there is no other option) loads of ward splitting and town splitting and/or the lumping of hugely disparate areas together (more so than Prudhoe already being paired with Hexham)

    Given that my proposed boundaries would be pretty bad for the Tories it will be interesting to see what happens. Anybody else got any other proposals?

  45. Doesn’t the law say that everywhere needs to be within quota now, except for Orkney & Shetland, the Western Isles and the Isle of Wight?

  46. Northumberland is actually entitled to three seats and this can be attained (my above proposals managed it)

    Crossing county lines is pretty much forbidden unless you have NO other option. Given there are other options it will be very suspicious if the BC go down that route here. Crossing regions is entirely forbidden so no Berwickshire seat to be had I’m afraid although I assume you were only joking with that one!!!

  47. My proposals with no crossing of boundaries with Newcastle, Durham or ‘south Northumberland’ 😛

    HEXHAM (all of current seat less Bellingham plus Cramlington) 77,127

    WANSBECK (Blyth Valley less Cramlington combined with Wansbeck less Morpeth and Bedlington West) 78, 404

    BERWICK UPON TWEED 76, 863 (All of current seat plus Morpeth and Bellingham).

  48. *BERWICK UPON TWEED also includes Bedlington West- not ideal but it’s the only solution that works numerically.

  49. I would have the thought the boundary changes would be worse for Labour than the Tories here unless seats start going across county. While the Tories will certainly take a significant hit in one of their two seats (Berwick or Hexham) this is not as bad as having a safe seat abolished as Labour is probably going to be faced with. An example of what could happen is:

    The current Berwick-on-Tweed picks up the three Morpeth wards and Pegswood from Wansbeck as well as Bellingham and Humshaugh from Hexham.

    The remainder of Wansbeck gets combined with all of Blyth Valley except for the Cramlington wards and Seghill with Seaton Delaval.

    The rest of the current Hexham (- the two wards lost to Berwick) gains all of Cramlington plus Seghill.

    As for the partisan impact of these changes the modified Blyth Valley seat would obviously be ultra safe Labour. The Berwick seat would remain roughly the same in terms of its partisan leanings. The Hexham seat becomes more favourable to Labour but not overwhelmingly so, the notional Tory majority over Labour would fall from 12,000 to about 8,500. These changes would obviously be worse for Labour than the Tories, sure the modified Hexham becomes significantly more marginal though still remains fairly heavily Tory leaning but this is nowhere near as bad (from Labour’s perspective) of having a safe seat totally abolished.

    I think something like this may well be likely as the commission will not want to split towns into different seats. To me it seems obvious to put Morpeth in the Berwick seat and then naturally it follows that Ashington, Blyth and Bedlington form a seat which means that Cramlington gets put in with Hexham.

  50. I think so. Hexham would become a fair bit more marginal though the Tories do very well indeed in Cramlington North which consists entirely of a plush newbuild estate. Berwick would probably become a tad Torier though not much. Wansbeck would be very safely Labour.

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