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”
  1. There has been considerable polling evidence that gay voters are far more Conservative than was the case 20 years ago. l think there are now more gay Tory than Labour MPs, even allowing for the difference in party strength, though l could be wrong.

  2. Fairly or unfairly, Labour have been painted as the ultimate champions of a bewildering array of benefits and entitlements which a single gay man, for example, could never hope of claiming. Additionally, Cameron himself has played a very big part of detoxifying the Tories when it comes to the gay community.

  3. Yes, there was polling that the Tories ‘won’ the gay vote in 2015 ie a plurality, but I can’t remember the % lead over Labour.

    EcoWirral – why are HH’s & Rivers10’s observations on this subject any less valid than your own? Just because you do not like the shift, it does not make it any less true. Even Merseymike/MikeH has recognised this shift.

    Whilst I recognise DC enacting same sex marriage etc has helped, I’m not convinced that the gay vote was ever as Left as the gay rights’ activists such as Tatchell who claimed to represent them in the ’80s.

    There was an amusing piece in the Daily Post at the time of the Iron Lady (the film) that noted that half of the audience on the first day at the Odeon in Liverpool were gay and a reporter was equally baffled [it may have been Michael Crick] to discover that 200 copies of her book been sold in the city centre.

    Maybe there’s always been a gay Tory vote, it’s just now more open? Certainly in Liverpool, Blackpool and Manchester a few of the gay bars are owned by Tories some of who have even been Cllrs & PPCs.

    Pepperminttea – I agree entirely with your thoughts. Whilst its a stereotype it’s also true that gay men can be quite vocal and direct/un-PC in their opinions and that’s true of politics and with each other.

    I was amused when a new earnest colleague enquired whether a well known Lpool gay male Cllr would be attending an LGBT forum and he snapped back, “No, it’s run by 2 fat lesbians.”

  4. ‘The removal of the prejudice in the Tory party has made a big difference here.’

    Whist undeniably true what hasn’t been mentioned is that this has been somewhat forced on the Tories by the hugely disproportionate amount of gay men within their ranks.

    It’s very similar to the Church of England and their position on the subject

    Even in the late 90s there were still a few Tory backbenches who were openly hostile to gays in a way you just couldn’t imagine today – like Peter Fry, David Wilshire and James Spicer

  5. LANCS OBSERVER – you are misrepresenting me. I said that their observations were based on unrepresentative samples (wildly unrepresentative, actually). Gay Labour members aren’t representative of gay people more generally, and the ones RIVER10 has met are likely to be even less so! It is nothing to do with me “not liking it”. The premise that gay people have become more right wing (seemingly based on the fact that the gay tory vote had recovered to fairly average levels in 2015) does not mean that the same group have become more right-wing.

  6. From what I recall, it was that the tories have done particularly badly with gay voters at the previous couple of elections, and that Cameron has managed to reduce that problem (his seemingly genuine enthusiasm for gay marriage may well have helped?). Also, remember that Labour under Blair & Brown was fairly tory itself, so it is diffucult to correlate voting with a genuine shift along the political spectrum. (And, for that matter, a seeming shift to the right of the whole electorate. That really is something I ‘don’t like’, but I also don’t deny it).

  7. EcoWirral – but you didn’t just say HH’s acquaintances were unrepresentative. You denied there had been a “genuine shift to the right in gay men.”

    Thankfully you now admit it has taken place – but you qualify that its increased from a lower base (which I tend to agree with, although there was no large polling done in the ’80s on this matter)

  8. Incidentally there was also a Tory lead in the polls amongst gay voters prior to the 2010 election, but the Grayling B&B gaffe damaged that before Polling Day and its presumably why he never ended up as Home Secretary (his then Shadow position). Although he did make quite a few gaffes during that Parliament. The real shift and difference is therefore between say 1990 and 2010. It may even be true that there’s always been a Tory lead amongst gay voters barring the s28 time of the ’80s, although there’s clearly a lot of gay fans of Maggie as I mentioned above.

    Maybe it’s also that the type of person who was a gay activist in the ’80s would have happened to be far Left too, as seen in the film Pride.

  9. This poll from the end of 2014: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/12/28/pinknews-poll-nick-clegg-named-most-gay-friendly-leader-but-party-support-collapses/ found that Conservative support among gay people had increased from 10 to 23 percent since 2010. It put Labour ahead on 31 per cent, but had Cameron leading when the sample were asked who they wanted to be PM.

    It seems Cameron was a big factor in detoxifying the party’s image among gay people.

  10. LANCS OBSERVER – you have misunderstood both things I’ve said (though there was some bad typing & grammar in the first bit – sorry). H.HEMMELIG compared the gay men he knew 20 years ago to the gay men he knkws now. They are either different people (selected by knowing someone who is 20 years older than he was and working in mining) or they themselves are 20 years older, with similar shifts in their lifestyles. Not a representative sample, and it doesn’t really tell us much.

  11. Second- likelihood to vote tory can’t be directly correlated with being more right wing; especially if one thing which dissuaded people from voting tory was a particular perception; in this case (as I inferred) it may well be that Cameron’s position on gay marriage may have slightly detoxified the brand.

    KIERAN W’s link bears this out. 10% in 2010 was an appalling level of support compared to the general population, whereas 23% is only about 14% behind their actual result in 2015.

  12. I think it is very unlikely that Tory support was as low as 10% within the gay population just because gay people were more likely to be “left wing”. It is a gross over-simplification, backed up by observations which are highly dubious.

  13. (If it was for that reason, then what could explain such a jump?)

  14. EcoWirral – first of all I don’t know anyone who accepts the proposition that Tory support amongst gay voters was 10% in 2010.

    It did fall from 25% to 20% after the Grayling gaffe though.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/7557139/Chris-Grayling-support-for-Conservatives-among-gays-drops-sharply-after-BandB-row.html

    Another Pink News poll shows Tory support in 2010 at 19% (increasing to 26% in 2015).

    Also comparing the gay vote split with the general population is flawed. It was v Labour I was comparing. After all in that poll you’ll see only 26% of the gay vote supported Labour, 20% Green, 19% LD, 2% UKIP, 5% Other so the vote has always been more split than Labour claim/ed and the wider UK population as a whole.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/23/tories-level-labour-gay-vote

    Lastly, EcoWirral, I didn’t claim gay people were more likely to be left wing. Quite the opposite. I stated that perhaps the far Left were more likely to become gay activists in the ’80s (as they were anti-Govt on every issue).

  15. I don’t think there can be much doubt that a greater number of LGBT people are more comfortable voting Tory – or actively campaigning for the Tories – than used to be the case.

    Part of that reason may be a change in focus amongst the community, away from gay community issues such as the age of consent, adoption, marriage, the abolition of Section 28 etc.

    With these issues largely successfully dealt with, I think it’s allowed a greater focus on issues which affect the general populace at large, such as the economy, health, immigration etc.

    I can’t prove it, but I think this may help explain a slightly more ‘balanced’ voting pattern, perhaps slightly less skewed to the left.

  16. However I do think gauging the ‘true leftiness’ of the wider gay community in the 80s / 90s is difficult because our perceptions are influenced by high profile campaigns by Peter Tatchell, Stonewall, Ian McKellen etc, who were clearly anti-Thatcher.

    Presumably an element of peer pressure meant gay Conservative voters wouldn’t have wanted to advertise their allegiance back then.

  17. JOHN D – completely agree.

    Mind you, you did still have Biggins back then……

  18. Ian McKellen spoke very highly of John Major, who decided to allow a free vote on lowering the age of consent based on a meeting at 10 DS with McKellen.

    As Lancs says, the key period in time where the Tories did terribly with gay voters was from 1988 (Section 28) till 2005. They’ve recovered a lot since. In 1987 the Gay Times polled gay voters and the Tories were well ahead, so in a sense we have headed back to the future. I think the Islamic issues within the Labour party must’ve spooked quite a few gay voters too.

  19. EcoWirral – sorry I hadn’t realised my reply to you was awaiting moderation due to the poll links.

    Here it is minus links:

    First of all I don’t know anyone who accepts the proposition that Tory support amongst gay voters was 10% in 2010.

    It did fall from 25% to 20% after the Grayling gaffe though.

    Another poll for Pink News shows Tory support at 19% in 2010 (increasing to 26% in 2015).

    Also, comparing the gay vote split with the general population is flawed. It was Tory v Labour I was comparing. After all in that poll you’ll see only 26% of gay voters supported Labour. 20% Green, 19% Lib Dem, 2% UKIP, 5% Others, so the ‘gay vote’ has always been more split than Labour claim/ed and compared with the wider UK population as a whole.

    Lastly, EcoWirral I didn’t claim that gay people were more Left wing. Quite the opposite. I stated that perhaps the far Left were more likely to become gay activists in the ’80s as they were anti-Govt on all issues at the time.

    In the ’80s most popular entertainers were Tory including gay ones such as Kenny Everett hence the Youth Rally the Tories held with every TV celeb going. In the same way there’s always been more gay Tory MPs than on the Labour side. The difference of course is that they weren’t out back then.

  20. LANCS OBSERVER – well, if the 10% thing was always an under-estimate (which I admit is quite possible) then that makes the Tory revival less impressive, but still leaves them under-represented.

    I’d forgotten about Kenny Everett-I remeber being quite appalled when I heard he was a tory, as we watched the show regularly as a family (my Mum never expressed her disappointment at him, but she did sometimes used to throw her slipper whenever Thatcher appeared on TV).

  21. I’m not sure I can explain it any more times.

    The Tories are not “underrepresented” in gay terms, either by their number of gay MPs or in their lead over Labour amongst gay voters.

    Only if you’re comparing it with the UK electorate could you then say the 3 main Parties are underrepresented in their gay support by comparison and the Greens are overrepresented. But that would be an odd way of looking at it.

    Yes, there’s a couple of lists online of celeb Tories. Iain Dale also listed about 50.

  22. Kenny Everett didn’t really have any political views, at least if you believe his BBC biopic. His “lets bomb Russia and kick Foot’s stick away” thing was just part of his zany act and hijacked by the right. Though it showed immense naivety he didn’t realise performing for the Young Conservatives would be interpreted as agreeing with them, nor that no-one would understand that his act was a piss-take of the then very right wing views of the YCs. I never liked Everett nor got his humour but his death was very sad.

  23. LANCS OBSERVER – I didn’t say anything about the number of gay MPs, and nothing you’ve written contradicts my point, so I’m not sure why you make the slightly exasperated remark at the start of your reply.

    I agree that those figures suggest a very good performance by the Green Party amongst gay voters, and that, of course, reduces the votes available the other main parties. But the Tory “Lead over Labour amongst gay voters”? What lead?

  24. On tory celebs, of course, most of the amusing/likeable ones went to UKIP. Patrick Moore, Christine Hamilton etc and I’m sure Bob Monkhouse would’ve defected, too, had he lived long enough.

    Is Ruth Madoc a UKIPPER yet, by any chance?

  25. ‘Though it showed immense naivety he didn’t realise performing for the Young Conservatives would be interpreted as agreeing with them’

    Warren Mitchell who used to play One Nation Tory Alf Garnett, made himself a small fortune performing at Tory fetes and grand openings in character mode.

    And Mitchell was a life long Socialist, waaay to the Left of the likes of Everett

  26. TIM JONES -I hadn’t heard that, but I wonder if there is a consistent theme with Mitchell. The character Alf Garnett was, of course, a controversial character because of his racist views. Mitchell said that many people would actually congratulate him on the character, because they agreed with those views, and Mitchell would tell them that the joke was on them for being racist. Maybe he saw those performances as the same thing; taking the mickey out of racists in the Tory Party?

  27. I don’t think it anything more than a nice way of earning a bit of pocket money and as a Socialist Mitchell could always justify it to himself on the basis that he was taking money away from the Tories

    Mitchell would always remind them of the fact that he was lifelong Socialist, but they were paying for Alf Garnett – who despite being one of my childhood heroes was by any measure a fairly unpleasant man

  28. As someone who is gay myself this is my assessment:

    Tory support amongst gay men who I assume we are talking about it bound to be underestimated to a fairly large degree by a pink news poll while support for left wing parties is going to be overestimated. This not just due to the standard polling issue of underestimating Tory support anyway but in this case primarily due to gay people who can be bothered to self identify on a pink news poll will be more to the left than the average gay person.

    My guess is the Tories were probably in the mid 30s with with the gay male vote (the would have done significantly worse with lesbians though). As for the Green Party they definitely do do better with gay voters than with straight voters but not 5 times better! My guess is the Green Party got around 8%-10% of the gay male vote in 2015 and certainly nowhere near 20%. The Lib Dems also do better with the gay male vote and UKIP a lot worse. Labour I imagine performs fairly similarly to their share amongst the general population perhaps a tad worse actually. As H.Hemmelig says Labour’s association with Islam does not endear this demographic group to them.

    As a bit of anecdotal evidence I go to uni and while the student body is certainly on the left gay students seem to be less leftist/radical than rest the student body. Certainly on political correctness they are leagues away from the typical leftist position that we have become accustomed to nowadays…

  29. Pepperminttea
    I too am in uni and would definitely agree that gay students seem to be far less radical than students in general. I gave my own piece of anecdotal evidence a while back when I stated that in my uni’s Labour society all of the (to my knowledge) gay male members are of the Blairite wing of the party. Also totally agree with your assessment of Lesbians, for some reason they seem to be some of the most radical people out there, all of the (again to my knowledge) lesbian members in my uni’s Lab society are devoted Corbynites. A weird situation when you think about it, surely every issue that possibly results in gay males being slightly more rightwards inclined would have the same effect on gay females?

    I do have to disagree though on the “Lab association with Islam” point. I’ve heard that’ several times and I just don’t buy it. Things may change in the future but as far as I can tell the general, not particularly politically engaged public do not yet associate Labour as “the party of Islam” and thus I don’t buy the arguments that this association in any way tarnishes Labours rep amongst the gay community. Even amongst the more politically engaged who perhaps are aware of this association I generally feel its probably counterweighted by Labours historical strength on gay rights issues (legalisation, civil partnerships, equal age of consent, gay adoption, most MP’s voting for gay marriage, most MP’s being rated highly by Stonewall etc) and the Tories perceived (albeit much diminished these days) weaknesses (most MP’s voting against gay rights legislation, section 28 etc) I’m not arguing that Labour might underperform amongst the gay community (I honestly don’t know if they do or don’t) but if they do its probably due to other factors than Islam.

  30. RIVERS10 – I completely agree on the Islam point, but I think this whole “rightwing gay male” thing is nonsense, and seems to be underpinned by a lot of assumptions and stereotyping. Yes, I’m sure that the Lesbian members of your University Labour group are a pretty Corbynite group, but neither them or the gay men in that society are even representative of other gay men or lesbians in the rest of the University, let alone the country. They are both self-selecting groups (University Labour members) and their interactions with you probably aren’t very scientifically weighted.

  31. Ecowirral
    Oh I totally agree my anecdotal evidence isn’t in any way representative and should not really be taken as evidence of anything. I just find it fascinating that in my own personal experience such rumours/stereotyping/suspicions whatever you want to call them seem to have some semblance of truth to them. Whether this extrapolates to wider society is anyone’s guess.

  32. EcoWirral – the Tory lead over Labour amongst gay voters at the last election which you repeatedly fail to acknowledge. There’s also a poll showing Tory & Labour both on 26% in March 2015.

    But you keep incorrectly stating the Tories are somehow behind or underrepresented. Yes there were in the 1988-2005 period, but not before or since.

    As HH points out there was a Tory lead over Labour in a Gay Times 1987 poll too. He correctly pointed out that s28 ‘toxified the brand’ to use that popular parlance and DC then re-set the position back to normality again.

    So there’s both polling evidence and anecdotal evidence from almost all posters. Even the gay friends in Brighton on Gogglebox said they voted Tory in 2015.

    There’s therefore a disconnect between the ‘gay vote’ and the gay rights’ activists who purport to speak for 5% of the population or whatever it is.

  33. Lancs Observer
    Totally irrelevant to polling but are those gay guys in Brighton only friends? I always assumed they were a couple

  34. Perhaps the greater left-wingery of lesbians as opposed to gay men, that posters have commented upon, could be due to the added dimension of feminism?
    A cause more associated (in terms of pro-active, vocal campaigners) with the left than the right.

  35. Incidentally, I noticed that Ruth Davidson is now engaged.
    So it looks likely she’ll be the first British major party leader to enter into a sex marriage.

  36. Rivers10 – yes, both have other partners.

  37. LANCS OBSERVER -So let’s get this straight; 1 poll (which I can’t find, but that’s ok) suggests that the Tories got marginally more gay votes in an election which the Tories ‘won'(albeit by nefarious means) by about 7% over Labour, and that means:

    A) The tories have a gay “lead” over labour
    B) that gay men are somehow disproportionately ‘right wing’ (even though the Greens did remarkably well amongst gay voters)?

  38. I don’t understand why you’re so twitchy on it. Most people (even on here) seem to accept that the tories have had a bit of a problem with getting the gay vote. You are normally quite sensible, and yet here you are, being mightily selective with the polls and citing Gogglebox as evidence for the right-wing gay phenomenon. What is your problem?

  39. JOHN D – I think you are right about the left-wingery of lesbians being closely linked to feminism. Of course, what we’re really talking about is a subset of lesbians who are vocal and politically active (many of whom may not entirely or always identify as lesbian) and are ideologically steadfast in their anger at the percieved misogynistic phallocracy. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to suggest that many are partly lesbian for ideological reasons, but I also don’t think they are representative of lesbians more broadly, who in my experience have a wide range of political positions.

  40. EcoWirral – A) is correct.

    I’m not twitchy at all – you were the only poster unwilling to accept the facts – presented by 4 different posters – which was becoming annoying. You just kept repeating your view. I realise of the subset you know that may very well be true, but this is UK Polling Report. Instead, however, you assumed all other posters’ must be incorrect.

  41. LANCS OBSERVER- I think we’re having different conversations here. You’re presenting it as though I’m disagreeing with everyone, when I’m mainly disagreeing with you. And I think I’ve illustrated how weak your point is.

  42. One poll showing a tie with Labour on 26%, 14 months ago, and one poll (which I still haven’t seen) showing a tiny lead over labour (in an election where the general population showed a 7% lead) does not show that the Tories have a “lead”. And even if it did show that, you’re still looking at a rate of toryism which is lower than in the general population, lower UKIP, and much higher Green. So overall, that doesn’t support the proposition of a right-wing gay vote phenomenon. Is it sinking in yet?
    But I’ll grant you, the Gogglebox thing had me on the ropes…..

  43. @ecoWirral. The polls for Pink News are not anyway credible as are all self-selecting surveys for news sites so you might as well discard them. It is like the Daily Mail doing an online poll of its readers on immigration and then claiming based on the results that 95% of the public think immigration is too high! It is very difficult to poll how gay people vote because they are spread out much more evenly throughout the country than other minority groups where you can get an idea of how they vote based on results from a handful of constituencies. So the only thing we really have to go on is anecdotal evidence.

    My guess (which is based on anecdotal evidence seen as this is all we have to go on) is that you are probably right that the Tories don’t do any better with gay males than they do with everyone else they probably do about the same. Labour probably perform fairly similar to their national vote share too. UKIP will do substantially worse and the Lib Dems a bit better. The Greens will do a bit better to but you are completely deluding yourself if you believe they were within a country mile of getting 20% which is a full 5 times better than they did nationally which is not in any way shape or form credible. My guess is (yes and it is a guess) around 8% but still this guess is light years more believable than 20%.

    But yes if you are talking about ‘left’ and ‘right’ the margin the Tories+UKIP beat Labour+Greens with the general public (a huge 15.3%) will be much less amongst gay male voters. However if you are just talking about the Tory vote, I think it almost certain that they came first with said voters.

  44. EcoWirral – polls showing a lead do not show a lead in your opinion is what you think.

    I can’t argue with such doublespeak I’m afraid.

    [Incidentally I’ve never stated anything about a right wing phenomenon amongst young gay men – I think they were other posters’ anecdotes]

  45. John D – I think your post was missing the word “same”; I would assume most marriages involve sex…

  46. Paul, you had to draw attention to that didn’t you!

    Yes I think it accidentally deleted that rather crucial word whilst editing the sentence before posting.

    I have heard the phrase ‘sexless marriage’ though…

  47. PAUL D – Marriages involve sex? Are you sure?

  48. I’m not married so it’s just a hunch

  49. Berwick and Ashington turns out to be and interesting Labour/Conservative marginal.

    But who in their right mind decided to pair Berwick with Ashington, the two areas couldn’t be more different.

    To be honest the whole of the recommendations for the North East looks a joke.

  50. That’s the problem with Northumberland, either you pair hugely different areas (Berwick and Ashington, Hexham and Cramlington) or you create a huge “Berwick and Hexham” seat that while demographically sound leads one to get accused of gerrymandering against the Tories.

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