Bexhill & Battle

2015 Result:
Conservative: 30245 (54.8%)
Labour: 7797 (14.1%)
Lib Dem: 4199 (7.6%)
Green: 2807 (5.1%)
UKIP: 10170 (18.4%)
MAJORITY: 20075 (36.4%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, East Sussex. Most of the Rother council area and part of the Wealden council area.

Main population centres: Bexhill, Battle, Pevensey Bay, Westham, Hankham, Heathfield, Northiam.

Profile: Though it covers a large geographical area, by far the largest settlement here is the genteel seaside town of Bexhill, a popular retirement location with a large elderly population. Further along the coastal strip is the much smaller seaside resort of Pevensey Bay and Westham, an inland village that is expanding as part of the greater Eastbourne area. The rest of the seat is a large swathe of rural territory, the rolling hills and woodland of the High Weald, dotted with small villages. It includes the small market town of Heathfield and Battle, a town that grew up around the Abbey built to commemorate William the Conqueror`s victory here in 1066.

Politics: A very safe Conservative seat, called Rye until 1983 when Rye itself was moved into the Hastings constituency.

Current MP
HUW MERRIMAN (Conservative) Former lawyer. Wealden councillor since 2007. Contested North East Derbyshire 2010. First elected as MP for Bexhill & Battle in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 28147 (52%)
Lab: 6524 (12%)
LDem: 15267 (28%)
BNP: 1950 (4%)
Oth: 2699 (5%)
MAJ: 12880 (24%)
Con: 24629 (53%)
Lab: 8457 (18%)
LDem: 11180 (24%)
UKIP: 2568 (5%)
MAJ: 13449 (29%)
Con: 21555 (48%)
Lab: 8702 (19%)
LDem: 11052 (25%)
UKIP: 3474 (8%)
MAJ: 10503 (23%)
Con: 23570 (48%)
Lab: 8866 (18%)
LDem: 12470 (25%)
Oth: 786 (2%)
MAJ: 11100 (23%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
HUW MERRIMAN (Conservative) Lawyer. Wealden councillor since 2007. Contested North East Derbyshire 2010.
MICHELLE THEW (Labour) CEO of Cruelty Free International.
RACHEL SADLER (Liberal Democrat)
Comments - 101 Responses on “Bexhill & Battle”
  1. Heathfield has only been in this constituency since 2010, it was in Wealden from 1983 and Rye from 1955, not sure which seats it was in from 1885 til then.

  2. My understanding is that it was in the Sussex Southern division between 1885 and 1918, whereupon it joined Rye.

  3. That’s interesting Harry, I hadn’t realised that it was in this seat now. Heathfield strikes me as a particularly solid Tory town even by the exalted standards of rural East Sussex.

  4. Not a great result for Barker in 2010, though given his issues at the time, I guess people saw it coming.

  5. Stuart Wheeler scored 4.9% for his party “Trust” in 2010.

  6. Which I believe has since been wound up and Wheeler I think has joined UKIP.

  7. Jonathan Dimbleby seemed quite camp on The One Show.

  8. I think the whole of the district of Rother was in this seat until 2010 when some of its wards were transferred to Hastings and Rye

  9. Given that Rye is part of Rother district, there’s a fairly obvious flaw in that theory

  10. Evening Pete.

    Any views on the polling question I posed on the Bognor thread?

  11. The Tories have recovered below the national average here since 1997, by 3.5% in all, compared to 5.4% for the party nationally. They stood still here in 2001, but increased their majority because the Lib Dems marginally fell. In 2005 Gregory Barker had a 4.5% increase here, which is so far the only election that the Tories have managed to increase their vote share I think since this seat was created. In 2010, Gregory Barker got his highest number of votes yet, but saw his vote share fall by 2.6%, with the Lib Dems getting a good increase, having arguably underachieved in the last three general elections here. Is the Tories’ below-average position here perhaps because of changing demographics?

  12. Middle class Tories retire to Spain or Cyprus these days, not to Bexhill or Eastbourne. Quite significant UKIP potential here too. Perhaps there’s also some spillover from the anti-Tory trend in Hastings. The reason the Tories haven’t declined more here is that the seat stretches quite a long way inland.

  13. Yes I suppose a lot of Sussex has changed a lot over the past couple of decades.

    It’s interesting that here in 1992 the Conservatives actually fell by 6.2%, and there was a striking 4.6% swing to the Liberal Democrats, who increased their own vote share by 3.0%, certainly worse than what happened to their vote in Shoreham and Worthing that year.

  14. Having left the government, Mr Barker is also to leave the Commons at the next election.

  15. This is a strong area for UKIP – the Tories will most likely replace the uber-Cameroon Barker with someone much more to the right (and happier in his marriage).

  16. I wonder if Farage might just consider this seat now the sitting MP is retiring. Still expect him to choose Thanet South though.

  17. He’s got to choose somewhere pretty quickly if he’s serious about getting to Westminster. It would be Thanet South probably given how marginal that is, without a doubt compared to the Tory position here.

  18. Just checked and Barker had already been reselected as Tory candidate for Bexhill & Battle in 2015.

  19. I don’t think Farage will stand here. The inland parts still make it very safe for the Tories.

  20. I too think he won’t stand here. It’s Thanet South or nowhere for me. If he tries anywhere else he’s not as guaranteed to come as close to winning, so he’ll have to take the chance there if he does decide to stand.

  21. Prediction for 2015-
    Conservative- 48%
    Liberal Democrat- 23%
    Labour- 15%
    UKIP- 10%
    Green- 2%
    Others- 2%

  22. Probably there’ll be loads of applicants but not quite as safe as it was. Bexhill has some of the most affordable housing in Sussex, a very modest centre and a very slow train journey to London.

  23. UKIP getting only 10% here would be a disaster for them. It would mean about 3-4% nationally.

  24. OK then what would your prediction be?

  25. UKIP on about 20%.

  26. 20? Are you joking? You’ve got to be.

    If they do get 20% here they’ll probably win Boston and Skegness and South Thanet…

  27. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

    They do have something of a history here, and it’s a seat where voting UKIP won’t let Labour or the LDs in.

  28. That much though? I mean, that much?!!! Granted it’s a Eurosceptic area, I could see them getting at least 10%, maybe 15% or more, but they’d have to be doing as well as they are now to do that well here, though it’s clearly not impossible.

  29. If UKIP get 10% UK-wide then they will be on about 20% here, no doubt about it. Though on the margin it will be affected by who the Tories select.

  30. Moreover, some of the UKIP vote will come from the Lib Dems, whose vote share will probably halve.

  31. A recipe for an increased Tory majority…

  32. Perhaps yes.

    UKIP is pretty sure to do well in many safe Tory and safe Labour seats, where even a 20% vote share for them isn’t going to affect the outcome. The marginal may be another story.

  33. In some marginals they might do well enough to let Labour slip in through the back door, particularly in the South and maybe one or two in the Midlands.

  34. There’s a clear huge protest vote element to much of UKIP’s current appeal, which will create something of a spoiler effect in said seats.

    One of the many problems they pose from many a Tory supporter’s point of view is that they do the work of Labour and the Lib Dems for them, without in some cases having to worry much about their own vote going down.

    To this end, I see UKIP as for now at least a contending fourth party in the UK political system, but whether they’ll last beyond a few decent byelection results where they’ve carved out a niche formerly occupied by the Lib Dems, and domination of the Euros is another matter entirely to be debated.

  35. A belated apology to Andy for wrongly doubting his quite astute 20% prediction, that is very likely.

  36. Now now the results, it was hardly an unreasonable suggestion to doubt.

    My logic is that the tories can still keep this as a nice safe seat if they were to fall to around 40%. If UKIP get their 12% drop and pick up a few points from other parties here and there, especially the LDs, they can get to 20. The seat still seams a Tory monolith.

    I might equally be talking nonsense. If so come back after the GE and rub my nose in it.

  37. I think there’s a lot of truth in that actually.

    In any case as we know it doesn’t make a huge difference- It’s still a very safe Conservative seat, what it could well do though is indeed split the Tories’ and Lib Dems’ vote.

  38. Once the Lib Dems have been out of government for a year or two, they will gradually start to garner the mid-term protest vote again by reverting to their notoriously chameleon brand of politics – lefty when standing in Sheffield and Liverpool and more traditional and conservative (oppose the new Gatwick runway!) when standing in seats like this.

    UKIP will not have the protest territory all to itself when that happens.

  39. Maybe.

    I’ll not be betting the house on that though

  40. The Telegraph is reporting that James Cracknell has put himself forward here.

  41. Farage stood here in 2001 actually. He managed 8%, 3,400 votes. I don’t know how well known Farage was in 2001 but it seems like a few people knew who he was because UKIP wouldn’t have managed 8% in many other places in 2001. If any.

    Trust stood here in 2010, unnoted by Anthony they very very nearly saved their deposit. 4.9% , 2600. votes .

  42. What sort of Tory is James Cracknell? If he’s a bit soft on Europe UKIP might start to fancy their chances.

  43. I think he’d row back from Cameron’s commitments on Europe.

  44. The Tories seem to be taking a long time to select a new candidate.

  45. Bexhill & Battle Conservatives to select tonight. Candidates are James Cleverly, Suella Fernandes, Huw Merriman, Jeremy Quin:

  46. I’ve seen Suella Fernandes’ name on various shortlists this year. Ditto Charlotte Vere (though she isn’t on this one). Wonder if she’ll strike it lucky this time. I think she’s of Goan background like the Vaz siblings.

  47. I wonder if some of these perennial Tory candidates will show up in Aldridge-Brownhills and/or Sutton Coldfield, despite the fact they’d probably never set foot in the West Midlands otherwise.

  48. Neil – Charlotte Vere was on the BBC News recently. I think she represents public schools.

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