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. Yes, labour could re-emerge but the lib dems were making some inroads in 2005 and 2010

  2. Yes, Labour came close in 1997 but have since fallen back quite sharply. Given the evident decline in the Lib Dem position since 2010, I think the Tories are reasonably placed to consolidate their hold Hexham in the medium-term. I dare say that recent sluggish performances have had something to do with a high turnover of MPs- Opperman himself was a first-timer in 2010 which probably didn’t aid his vote share.

  3. Barnaby- I’ve summarised the county council election results for the wards covering Hexham on the Hexham page.

  4. thanks – seems a shame just to call you Tory….

  5. SNP intervention into this constituency could cause the Lib Dems to lose –

    Conservative: 12000
    Lib Dem: 11000
    UKIP: 5800
    SNP: 5500
    Labour: 2600
    BNP: 700

    MAJORITY: 1000

  6. The Lib Dems will hold on with suspendors momentum even if the snp stand.
    It’s an excriting time to be a Lib dem.

  7. It can’t really be true that the SNP are standing here,
    although it may help the Tories if they did, and in Thurrock aswell.

  8. I think this is a game Dalek likes to play he’s got a post on what some Glasgow seats would be like if the dup stood!

  9. Alan Beith has announced he is to step down in 2015. This is the opportunity that the Tories so badly needed here but whether they take it or not is a different matter.

  10. We really do need to win this seat in 2015 if we are going to have a fighting chance of winning an overall majority.

  11. The Tories will definitely fancy this one next time now.

  12. I would be surprised if the Tories didn’t win this. I actually think it may be their most likely gain in the whole country. They have picked a good local candidate who did well last time.
    Sir Alan has been a good and very popular MP and will have a sizable personal vote.

    Berwick upon Tweed- Con gain
    Con 42
    LD 28
    Lab 22
    UKIP 6
    GRN 2

  13. With Beith gone this does have the look of a Tory gain about it, although the Liberals have always been quite strong here and if they pick a well-known local candidate they might be able to make a fight of it

  14. Although I would naturally b verye pleased to see the Tories gaining Berwick-upon-Tweed by 14% points, I suspect it will be rather tighter than that. The Tories did carry the constituency in this year’s council elections but it was fairly close and I would expect a similar type of contest in 2015.

  15. I’m 90% certain the result will be somewhere between a Conservative win by 5 percentage points and a LD win by 10.

  16. Why would the LD increase their majority here? The swing I predicted was the same as in Harrogate the last election so its not unrealistic.
    The Tory candidate is also campaigning to dual the A1 which is a big issue in Northumberland.

    Nationally however, I actually think the LIb Dems will hold up well in their battlegrounds against the tories. Only losing about 10 and maybe gaining a couple back. Although I’m only sure of 3 tory gains this far out.

  17. The LDs increasing their majority here with Beith gone is unthinkable. I would put it at 90% within a LD hold by 5 and a tory gain by 10.

  18. County Durham Boy:

    Consider this — the Tory share at the next election over the whole country will almost certainly fall to some extent, so you can’t compare what will happen next time to what happened in places like Harrogate in 2010 when the Conservative share was up.

  19. This is the kind of seat I can imagine the Tories winning by 1000 in 2015 and 7-8,000 in 2020.

  20. Andy is right.

    Too much wishful thinking in the Tory party right now, in contrast to the over-pessimism of 6 months ago.

    A Tory gain here is certainly possible but it could easily be ruined by a high UKIP vote or a strong LD candidate.

  21. If I had to make a guess at this early stage I’d say a LD hold by about 1,500 votes.

  22. Again I agree with you

  23. Con lead over Lab in 1992 was 10% and now its 24%.

    If you compair this to somewhere like Tynemouth its moving in the opposite direction.

  24. This could go either way.

    Berwick does have a number of economic problems though, and the LD vote was I think somewhat sticky in the town itself this May.

    The Tories should have a good chance – the only County where they increased their share of the vote compared to 2009 and I think 2010.

    I don’t know how high Labour are likely to go here – it’s natural state would be fairly respectable, but we can’t in the Conservatives on the one hand hope to hold off Labour in Con-Lab marginals at the same time as hoping for large Labour increases in LD/Con contests – it’s more likely to be a small rise or a larger rise everywhere.

  25. Actually a 7% gap is pretty likely for the Tories to overturn – but Beith didn’t have a very good result in 2010.
    Perhaps his personal vote is overdone.

  26. A lot depends on LibDem candidate selection.

    The best way to turn this into a safe Conservative seat would be to win here in 2015 but to lose the election nationally.

  27. Might win the election Richard.
    But you seem to think if we do, we’ll be down to 100 MPs in 2020
    rather than 400 if the 2 Eds wreck it for good from 2015.

  28. I’ll buy you a pint though if you’re right.

  29. If the LDs do something silly like choose a councillor from Haringey they could lose the seat.

  30. It will be probably the North East MEP Fiona Hall doing a chicken run (of sorts)

  31. I know what Andy means when he says the Lib Dems could hold this, but the Conservative candidate seems to be up to the job of gaining this. Any fall in the Tory vote here would more than likely be accompanied by something similar happening to the Lib Dems, and so if Trevelyan doesn’t go down as much, she will probably gain this, but I’m not saying she definitely will as there are other factors to take into consideration.

  32. “Actually a 7% gap is pretty likely for the Tories to overturn – but Beith didn’t have a very good result in 2010.
    Perhaps his personal vote is overdone.”

    I recall David Steels majority fell from 8000 in 1983 to 5000 in 1987 and then to under 3000 in 1992. He retired in 1997. Perhaps Alan Beith will do the same.

  33. Alan Beith to retire in 2015. All to play for but wouldn’t undermine Lib Dem resilience.

  34. That should have read underestimate!

  35. Lib Dem majorities do go up and down sometimes. I think there’s quite a lot of evidence that this one is a likely Tory gain, but it’s not a very affluent seat which could have held them back so far.

  36. Although Tories do get support from lower income groups and should try to get it of course.

  37. Trevelyan has a great chance of gaining this now that Beith is retiring. In fact, if she is successful over time this seat could potentially become relatively safe for the Tories should they win it back.

  38. Incredibly, Trevelyan is the Conservatives’ ninth candidate to stand here since Lambton resigned in the early 70’s. That surely says everything about the electoral achievements of Alan Beith during that long period.

  39. It will be interesting to see who the Lib Dems select here.

  40. A closer look at the result here in February 1974-
    Beith (Liberal)- 15, 732 (44.51%, +22.56%, +4.61% against 1973 by-election)
    Hardie (Conservative)- 15, 289 (43.25%, -7.41%, +3.55% against 1973 by-election)
    Adam (Labour)- 4, 326 (12.24%, -15.15%, -7.56% against 1973 by-election)

    Majority- 443 (1.25%)
    Swing- +14.985% From Con to Lib.
    +0.53% From Con to Lib.

  41. Interesting – would that be Gordon Adam, later MEP for Northumbria? If so, this seat would have been a comedown for him – I think he stood & only narrowly lost in Tynemouth in 1966.

  42. @Barnaby Marder
    Yes that is correct. He also contested this seat in 1992, and did a lot better on that occasion.

  43. A closer look at the result here in 1979-
    Beith (Liberal)- 19, 351 (54.33%, +11.22%)
    Baker-Cresswell (Conservative)- 13, 663 (38.36%, -4.53%)
    Elliott (Labour)- 2, 602 (7.31%, -6.69%)

    Majority- 5, 688 (15.97%)
    Swing- +7.875% From Con to Lib.

  44. The Conservatives must be favourites here given that they have an experienced candidate with strong local family connections. They may win this seat even if there is a strong LibDem recovery nationally,

    The LIbDems will need to find a high profile candidate with strong Northumberland connections, and this looks like a tall order.

    The LIberals won a by-election here in 1944 with an extremely high profile candidate in Sir William Beveridge. Berwick was then one of the few Conservative gains in 1945.

    Beith has done better than Beveridge, but this could be an example of a by-election gain where the victor hung on for (quite) a few elections but could not pass the constituency onto a successor.

    It is an interesting question as to whether the LibDems could have held this seat in 2010 with a candidate other than Alan Beith. If the Conservatives do win next tim, we will never know whether, from the point of view of politcal tactics, he stayed on one election too many.

    It is possible that a rise in the UKIP vote could save the LibDems, as there are suggestions that the UKIP vote may not be squeezed in margnals in the way that LibDem or Labour votes are squeezed when they are in third (or worse) place. Information about UKIP strength in this seat would be helpful.

  45. @Frederic Stansfield
    I suspect that the Conservatives have a great chance of gaining this seat, especially with Beith retiring as you say.

    And RE the candidate I’m not sure who the party would go for.

    The point about Beveridge is intriguing- He won the by-election in 1944 with 87% of the vote and an enormous majority in a very different time politically in any case. But it set a historical precedent and proved that there was real scope for the Liberals to be successful once again here in the post-war era.

    Beith has indeed fared a lot better than Beveridge, and IMHO he did much more than hang on for quite a few elections- He held this seat with handsome four-figure majorities of varying sizes from 1979 all the way through to 2010 (So eight general elections of majorities that weren’t tight three figure ones like the 57, 443 and 73 he obtained in the 1973 by-election and at the two 1974 elections.) But yes in a sense it applies because it took him six years to really find a solid personal vote that would keep him in here in the long-term.

    I rather tend to think that the Lib Dems would have lost this without Beith in 2010- His majority was well down, and he came within 7% of losing a seat that he had at the time held for 37 years. And a good deal of that must have been down to the hard work of Ms. Trevelyan. And Frederic you are correct in saying that the Lib Dems might regret it if they do lose this in 2015- It might say to them that had Beith gone in 2005 then another Lib Dem would have been successful in 2010 as well, thus keeping this from being lost.

    Finally RE the UKIP vote, the size of it may come into play, but given Trevelyan will continue to be the candidate she may just take this narrowly even if UKIP do take significant votes away from the Conservatives.

  46. If a large chunk of Sir Alan’s personal vote is Conservative-leaning, then this will be a shoo-in for the Tories, but it is hard to see the Conservatives surging to victory here. It is more likely to be one of those strange mathematical equations where votes shift all over the place between parties.
    One would assume that the Labour vote will rise quite substantially in the absence of the sitting MP and unhappiness with the Coalition. UKIP may be the fly in the ointment for the Tories, but I doubt if it will make much difference.
    It will be close but, even with a hard campaign from the Liberal Democrats, the electoral arithmetic seems to be shifting against them and I agree that the Conservatives should gain this seat in 2015, even with the same share of the vote as 2010.

  47. @CatholicLeft
    I agree that if the Tories do take this, it won’t be an overwhelming victory, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Trevelyan took this with a majority in the three figures.

    Long term I think that this will remain marginal between the Tories and the Lib Dems, and that will be the only lasting impact that the byelection will have on this seat I think.

  48. What happened to the Conservative vote in Berwick-upon-Tweed during the Alan Beith era-
    1. 1973 by-election- John Donald Morrison Hardie (12, 432, 39.7%, -11.0%)
    2. February 1974- John Donald Morrison Hardie (15, 289, 43.25%, -7.41%)
    3. October 1974- Charles Addison Fitzherbert Baker-Cresswell (14, 611, 42.89%, -0.36%)
    4. 1979- Charles Addison Fitzherbert Baker-Cresswell (13, 683, 38.36%, -4.53%)
    5. 1983- Julian Brazier (13, 743, 32.98%, -5.38%)
    6. 1987- John Terence Middleton (12, 400, 29.49%, -3.49%)
    7. 1992- Dr. Anthony William Henfrey (14, 240, 32.77%, +3.28%)
    8. 1997- Nick Herbert (10, 058, 24.1%, -8.7%)
    9. 2001- Glen Sanderson (10, 193, 28.1%, +4.0%)
    10. 2005- Mike Elliott (10, 420, 28.9%, +0.8%)
    11. 2010- Anne-Marie Trevelyan (14, 116, 36.7%, +7.7%)

    What happened to the Labour vote in Berwick-upon-Tweed during the Alan Beith era-
    1. 1973 by-election- Gordon Johnston Adam (6, 178, 19.8%, -7.6%)
    2. February 1974- Gordon Johnston Adam (4, 326, 12.24%, -15.15%)
    3. October 1974- Gerald Thomas Preston Spain (4, 768, 14.00%, +1.76%)
    4. 1979- G.M. Elliott (2, 602, 7.31%, -6.69%)
    5. 1983- Vera Baird (5, 975, 14.34%, +7.03%)
    6. 1987- Stephen Lambert (7, 360, 17.51%, +3.17%)
    7. 1992- Gordon Johnston Adam (9, 933, 22.86%, +5.4%)
    8. 1997- Paul Brannen (10, 965, 26.2%, +3.4%)
    9. 2001- Martin Walker (6, 435, 17.7%, -8.5%)
    10. 2005- Glen Reynolds (6, 618, 18.3%, +0.6%)
    11. 2010- Alan Strickland (5, 061, 13.2%, -5.1%)

  49. Have Alnwick and Bamburgh always been in this constituency, and what have been the boundary changes here since 1918?

  50. Both Alnwick and Bamburgh been in Berwick upon Tweed throughout its existence (1885 to the present). I am not sure about boundary changes. My instinct is that they have been pretty minimal but Pete Whitehead will know I am sure.

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