2015 Result:
Conservative: 29606 (55.8%)
Labour: 8956 (16.9%)
Lib Dem: 3983 (7.5%)
Green: 2202 (4.1%)
UKIP: 8339 (15.7%)
MAJORITY: 20650 (38.9%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Berkshire. The Southern part of the Bracknell Forest council area and three wards from Wokingham.

Main population centres: Bracknell, Crowthorne, Sandhurst, Finchampstead.

Profile: The east of this seat is the economically successful new town of Bracknell. Bracknell has managed to attract many high-tech industries and houses companies like Panasonic, Dell, Hewlett Packard and Siemens, as well as the UK head offices of Waitrose and BMW. To the south of Bracknell itself is Swinley Woods, a large area of woodland owned by the Crown Estate, which separates Bracknell from Crowthorne, home to Broadmoor High Security Psychiatric Hospital and wellington College, and Sandhurst, home of the Royal Military Academy where British army officers are trained. To the West is the village of Finchampstead. The seat also contains the Transport Research Laboratory at Crowthorne.

Politics: Bracknell has been a safe Conservative seat since its creation in 1997. The MP until 2010 was Andrew Mackay, the former Conservative shadow cabinet minister and Parliamentary aide to David Cameron who was forced to stand down as part of the expenses scandal.

Current MP
PHILLIP LEE (Conservative) Born 1970, Buckinghamshire. Educated at Sir William Borlase`s Grammar and Kings College London. Former general practioner. Contested Blaenau Gwent 2005. First elected as MP for Bracknell in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 27327 (52%)
Lab: 8755 (17%)
LDem: 11623 (22%)
UKIP: 2297 (4%)
Oth: 2134 (4%)
MAJ: 15704 (30%)
Con: 25412 (50%)
Lab: 13376 (26%)
LDem: 10128 (20%)
UKIP: 1818 (4%)
Oth: 407 (1%)
MAJ: 12036 (24%)
Con: 22962 (47%)
Lab: 16249 (33%)
LDem: 8424 (17%)
UKIP: 1266 (3%)
Oth: 324 (1%)
MAJ: 6713 (14%)
Con: 27983 (47%)
Lab: 17596 (30%)
LDem: 9122 (15%)
Oth: 2754 (5%)
MAJ: 10387 (18%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
PHILLIP LEE (Conservative) See above.
PATRICK SMITH (Liberal Democrat)
RICHARD THOMAS (UKIP) Educated at Brakenhale School. Runs a chain of pharmacies. Former Bracknell Forest councillor for the Conservatives. Contested Leicester West 1997 for the Conservatives.
Comments - 71 Responses on “Bracknell”
  1. Disclaimer: I’m a Labour activist in the region.

    Clearly, the constituency is going to remain Conservative after the next election. The real parliamentary battle will be Labour trying to reclaim second place.

    The real drama is this seat, however, is going to be for the council elections. It’ll be the first time in many years that the general and council elections have coincided, and that will drive up Labour turnout. On the borough council right now Labour has only 2 councillors (no Lib Dems), but that skews the fact that traditionally Labour have won a fair number of seats, and 2015 is going to be a real opportunity for them. Even moreso for Bracknell Town Council, where alot of their support is concentrated. Nevertheless, the Tory election machine there has a very good reputation, so expect a tough council battle.

  2. Although Labour only had 2 seats in Bracknell Forest in 2011, they reduced the Tory majorities in a few others.

    It would take landslide conditions for them to be a threat though, even in the Bracknell Forest part.

  3. The 2011 elections in Bracknell Forest are a lesson in why an overall increase of the vote for your party sometimes doesn’t mean much if you can’t focus that increase on winnable areas. Labour significantly increased their vote, especially in the Bracknell bit of the borough, and were certainly helped by the Liberal Democrats effectively forfeiting and not campaigning. As you said JJB, Labour managed to eat up alot of the Tory majorities in some wards – but at the end of the day, they weren’t able to focus that swing towards them in the areas they could win. Combined with a slick Tory election machine, Labour ended up losing a borough seat.

    I agree Labour won’t be a threat in as so far as there’s no chance they can win the borough council. With places like Sandhurst and Crowthorne in the mix, that’s just not going to happen. But they do have a real opportunity to increase their number of seats significantly, and honestly have a shot at Bracknell Town Council – it’s an outside shot, but more likely they’ll end up a sizable opposition on the town council. So long as they run a better campaign than in 2011.

  4. Thanks for these details.
    I guess a 1995 situation could one day come back
    but I don’t think we’re into that yet.

    I got the impression the 2011 elections generally had quite a good Con turnout (nationally).
    Perhaps the AV referendum helped them.
    Plus being only 1 year on from 2010, people still wanted to give them a chance.

  5. Certainly I and other Labour activists I know agree with your two ideas. From what we could see, the AV referendum did bring out Tory voters who might otherwise have stayed home. And the Tories were still relatively popular. In Reading, which is where I’m based, the Tories did gain a seat from the Lib Dems in the 2011 local elections, precisely because their support mostly held whereas it didn’t for the Liberals. And I’m sure that was at play in Bracknell as well. From our perspective, the Tories didn’t really start hitting hard times until the 2012 budget fiasco, and they’ve not really been the same since.

  6. Yes, the budget was the turning point.
    Boris managed to buck the trend in London
    (despite a pretty heavy Labour current on the GLA)
    plus of course the LDs went down in parity
    so limiting the impact in the C/LD areas.

    The CC elections will be interesting (elsewhere of course).

  7. I wonder whether Labour may have a few votes in Crowthorne actually – in General Elections.

  8. Not really in Crowthorne. Labour don’t really have a presence there. Certainly in recent history, we’ve never come close to winning anything there. Even in 1997, we got beaten out by the Liberals in Crowthorne, let alone the Tories. To be honest, as far as I know, there isn’t anywhere outside of Bracknell itself where Labour can gain much traction in the borough, save with the surprising example of parts of Sandhurst. Sandhurst is an affluent town and houses the military academy, but some parts are more lower-middle class, and there’s a concentration of Nepalese people.

  9. Although Bracknell is much the largest town in the seat (unsurprisingly), and it does have a Labour presence, the problem for Labour, quite apart from their lack of support almost throughout the rest of the seat, is that it has a greater concentration of professional & managerial voters than probably any other new town, with probably Basingstoke the runner-up. This restricts Labour’s lead in the town even in a very good year like 1997 and ensures that the constituency is safe for the Tories. I know that Labour won Bracknell Forest council in 1995 but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Tories still had more votes.

  10. IIRC it said on the old thread that in the early 1980s both Labour and then the Alliance thought they might be in with a chance in the new East Berks constituency although of course in the event the Tories won the seat with very large majorities.

  11. Labour had won all the county council seats in bracknell forest in 1981 and had been pretty level with the tories in 1979 in the town itself. I think they won Great Hollands then in the locals on same day. Obviously by 1983 thinhs were different, with the fragmented anti c vote nationally, but the non new town elemet always made it rather unlikely

  12. 1981 – Bracknell town
    not the whole Bracknell Forest

  13. I echo all of what BM said, and I too wouldn’t be surprised if Labour lost the popular vote in ’95 despite winning the council. Bit of trivia: Bracknell is the only new town never to have had a Labour MP representing it. And no, Basingstoke isn’t a new town.

  14. Yes, because it’s not large enough.
    Although your party must have won the popular vote in the town itself in 1997/95/2001 – if it could achieve parity in 1979.

    Basingstoke is a City though,

    City of Basingstoke
    Basingstoke Outer

    Looks like Basingstoke was a bit beyond Labour’s grasp.

  15. Oh I’m sure we won the popular vote in the town. Just not in the borough in ’95. Like BM said, wouldn’t be surprised if we lost it.

    And Basingstoke isn’t a city. And I don’t know what you’re referring to by ‘City of Basingstoke’ and ‘Basingstoke Outer’ – are you thinking they’re constituencies? Because there’s only Basingstoke.

  16. I think I’ve got the 95 results somewhere – I’ll check.
    IIRC it was close on the popular vote in Bracknell Forest and still a few lib Dems around then.

  17. Basingstoke city status was a joke.

  18. On its current boundaries Basingstoke would have voted Labour in 2001, and possibly in 1997 as well. It is true that the town hasn’t had a Labour MP though.

  19. Labour did very narrowly win the popular vote in Bracknell Forest in 1995. They carried it by a larger margin in 1973

  20. Thanks for the info, Pete! Interesting to think about the area from the 1970s: that election wouldn’t have been so far off the borough’s creation from Easthampstead Rural District council. Back then, Bracknell was quite literally a new town.

  21. Indeed it was the first election for the new Bracknell Forest district. Although Bracknell is a New Town, I suspect at that time it made up a greater proportion of the electorate than the outlying areas. From my recollection, quite alot of the housing in Sandhurst is 1970s and 1980s built and of course areas like Warfield are newer still

  22. The borough boundary is quite strange here in that it cuts right through the middle of Crowthorne in the West and Ascot in the East. There are Ascot wards both in Bracknell Forest and in Windsor & Maidenhead and a large part of the Crowthorne area is part of the Wokingham without ward. Doubtless this is a consequence of ancient parish boundaries, but you’d have thought the 1973 reorganisation would have been a good excuse to get rid of some of these anomalies

  23. Labour was close to winning the Wokingham parliamentary seat in 1974, which must largely have been on the votes for the Bracknell new town housing estates. The population had left London. In the 1980 and 1990’s new housing developments have been private houses and the people are drawn to the jobs in the area. This is where some of the “white flight” from London and nearby Slough and Reading has gone.
    Warfield and parts of Ascot, Winkfield and Binfield, all in Bracknell Forest come under the Windsor Parliamentary seat.
    The demographics have shifted massively against Labour and there is no way back.
    I expect similar trends in the towns around the M25 and the Midlands motorways.

  24. To nitpick, Bracknell is the only new town *in England* never to have had a Labour MP represent it – Newtown in Wales was also designated a new town and is in Montgomeryshire, which has only ever been Lib and Con. And there’s Northern Ireland…

  25. From what I hear, not many Tory activists there will be jumping up and down at that. I’m not being partisan – I’ve been quick to praise folks like Sharma and Redwood nearby as good local MPs – but I know Lee doesn’t elicit much personal support. Tories there complain he’s far more interested in Maidenhead matters – his most notable campaigns have been to try to get a new hospital and railink for Maidenhead. He’s dubbed the wanabee MP for Maidenhead. Probably something to do with him living there before his selection for Bracknell. And that reputation has tricked down into local public opinion.

    Not though that it puts his re-election in any doubt. He’ll walk this.

  26. Two by-elections here on the 6th. One for Bracknell Town Council, the other for Crowthorne Parish Council.

    Town by-election (Great Hollands South ward):

    Labour 556
    Conservatives 343
    Liberal Democrats 64
    Green Party 58

    Little hard to compare exactly with the multi-seat election in 2011, but in 2011 the results were:

    Conservatives 896
    Conservatives 830
    Conservatives 825
    Labour 622
    Labour 586
    Labour 546

    Basically, a Tory majority of at least 200 has been overturned into a Labour majority of over 200. And on a lower turnout. I may be a Labour activist, but I don’t think anyone can accuse me of being partisan in saying that’s a great result.

    Parish by-election:

    Conservatives 403
    Liberal Democrats 256
    Labour 241

    Partial 2011 results (just the bottom 4 candidates, the others above were all Conservatives):

    Conservatives 892
    Liberal Democrats 554
    Liberal Democrats 529
    Labour 440

    Looks like both Labour and the Liberal Democrats made up ground here.

  27. Don’t think we need worry much about coming third here again in 2015.

  28. To be frank, Labour should never have never been 3rd here to start with

  29. Fair point.

  30. I could certainly see Labour getting somewhere around 25% next time, though I suspect most will be as a result of a Lib Dem decline. Something like:

    Con – 50
    Lab – 25
    LD – 14
    UKIP – 8
    OTH – 3

  31. 2011 council election results for this constituency:

    Conservatives: 15,715 (58.8%)
    Labour: 7,877 (29.5%)
    Liberal Democrats: 1,676 (6.3%)
    Greens: 590 (2.2%)
    UKIP: 508 (1.9%)
    Independent: 369 (1.4%)

    Total votes: 26,735

    Notes: The Lib Dems only put up a handful of candidates, and there were no elections in the two Finchampstead wards – they’re both Tory strongholds, so the Tory vote above is underestimating their support.

    Compared to the 2010 general election:

    Conservatives: +6.4%
    Lib Dems: -16%
    Labour: +12.7%
    BNP: -2.4%
    Greens: +0.6%
    UKIP: -2.5%

    Swing from LD to Con: 11.2%

    I noticed on the old page the surprise that Labour actually lost a seat in 2011, rather than make gains. If this comparison between general and local is a good reflection of local election trends, deserting LD voters actually went for the Conservatives in good numbers. That being the case, this is probably one of those rarer areas where Labour will hope the LDs stand more candidates for the 2015 locals.

  32. The MP attended my old school….

  33. I was surpised to find that a certain Peter Kellner attended mine.

    Aside from that we have Ian Lucas (Wrexham, Lab) and Timothy Kirkhope (Con, Yorkshire)

  34. My old school has no notable political alumni. Then again, it pretty much has no notable alumni at all. Shame – I missed out on being able to tell tales of what famous folk were like when they were younger.

    Though at least one of my classmates from primary school has gone on to become a famous singer. Shame not my taste in music, but I digress.

    Mike, was Phillip around the same time you were?

  35. Winkfield & Cranbourne by-election result: Cons 582, UKIP 318, Lab 139, LibDem 69.

  36. Off the back of my comments in the Surrey Heath, was just thinking that maybe Bracknell itself might be good UKIP territory? Concentration of lower-middle class Tories.

  37. *Surrey Heath thread

  38. Certainly yes. A fairly high BNP vote here as well.

  39. As far as I’m aware the BNP haven’t selected a single candidate yet for 2010. The figures for the other parties are currently Con 202, Lab 338, LD 132, Green 21, SNP 0, PC 24. (Presumably the SNP would regard selecting candidates for a UK general election as bad karma).

  40. “And no, Basingstoke isn’t a new town.”

    It is an Expanded Town so did accept quite a lot of London overspill, so the contention I suppose, partly holds.

    Certainly Basingstoke appears much more professional than other Expanded Towns like, say, Kings Lynn, its location on the M3 corridor near the Capital probably helps with that. Bracknell is of course close to both the M3 and M4 corridors.

  41. UKIP = 82.

  42. prediction for 2015-

    con- 49%
    Lab- 24%
    Lib- 13%
    UKIP- 11%
    Green- 3%

  43. Following on from my Wokingham comment, Bracknell Forest was the only authority in Berkshire, and one of the few in the general area, that went UKIP. They got 33%, the Tories on 32.5%, and Labour on 15.3%. Neighbouring authorities like Wokingham and Windsor were still convincing Tory wins.

    Stands to reason UKIP won convincingly in Bracknell itself, whilst the Tories won the rest of the borough. I would expect UKIP to make a play for some wards in the town, some areas seem good territory for them.

  44. Should have mentioned this was for the Euros, whilst the borough has locals sametime as the general.

  45. Looks like the election is hotting up in Bracknell. Dr Lee had a go at the Lib Dem candidate, Patrick Smith live on BBC Berks. Lee seems a bit of a hot head and was restrained by his dad, otherwise he would have punched out. This is Patrick Smith’s account and challenge for a public debate with Lee on the NHS:

    You can hear Lee lose it at 2:48

    There has been no media coverage as far as I can see.

  46. Conservative Hold. 15,000 maj

  47. A bit surprising that Bracknell Forest is apparently the third most Eurosceptic place in the country.

  48. I saw that, and knowing the area slightly, I can see it is possible.
    That area north west of Surrey, and the M3/4 outer corridoor including Bracknell Forest are brasher and different in other ways from other rural areas nearby.
    Perhaps it is mainly to do with the New Town neighbourhoods itself, or quite likely, a large margin of error.

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