Bridgwater & Somerset West

2015 Result:
Conservative: 25020 (46%)
Labour: 9589 (17.6%)
Lib Dem: 6765 (12.4%)
Green: 2636 (4.8%)
UKIP: 10437 (19.2%)
MAJORITY: 14583 (26.8%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Somerset. The whole of West Somerset and part of Sedgemoor council area.

Main population centres: Bridgwater, Minehead, Watchet, North Petherton, Williton.

Profile: A long thin seat, running east west along the Somerset coast. It includes most of Exmoor to the west, a thinner coastal strip and the town of Bridgwater to the east, giving it a shape a bit like a dumbbell. West Somerset is made up of picturesque small villages, including many listed building and linked by a heritage railway, set amongst the rolling hills and moorland of Exmoor and the Quantocks. The largest settlement is the coastal town of Minehead, known for its Butlins holiday resort. Like many coastal towns it is a popular retirement location, and West Somerset has the highest average age of any local authority in England. To the east is the much larger administrative and manufacturing town of Bridgwater. Hinkley Point to the north of Bridgwater is the site of two nuclear power stations (one now closed) with plans for a possible third.

Politics: Bridgwater and West Somerset is a safe Conservative seat. Its predecessor Bridgwater came under threat from the Liberal Democrats but the Conservatives held on, helped by the split in the opposition between the Liberal Democrats and the robust Labour vote in industrial Bridgwater. The seat includes Porlock Hill on Exmoor, the place where Norman Scott's Great Dane Rinka was shot by Andrew Newton in 1975, precipitating the scandal that would end the career of the Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe.

Current MP
IAN LIDDELL-GRAINGER (Conservative) Born 1959, Edinburgh, a great-great-great grandson of Queen Victoria. Educated at Millfield School and South Scotland Agricultural College. Former farmer and Major in the Territorial Army. Contested Torridge and West Devon 1997. First elected as MP for Bridgwater in 2001. A member of the right-wing Cornerstone group of Conservative MPs.
Past Results
Con: 24675 (45%)
Lab: 9332 (17%)
LDem: 15426 (28%)
UKIP: 2604 (5%)
Oth: 2456 (5%)
MAJ: 9249 (17%)
Con: 21240 (44%)
Lab: 12771 (27%)
LDem: 10940 (23%)
UKIP: 1767 (4%)
Oth: 1391 (3%)
MAJ: 8469 (18%)
Con: 19354 (40%)
Lab: 12803 (27%)
LDem: 14367 (30%)
UKIP: 1323 (3%)
MAJ: 4987 (10%)
Con: 20174 (37%)
Lab: 13519 (25%)
LDem: 18378 (34%)
MAJ: 1796 (3%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Bridgwater

2015 Candidates
IAN LIDDELL-GRAINGER (Conservative) See above.
THEO BUTT PHILIP (Liberal Democrat) Contested Bridgwater and West Somerset 2010.
STEPHEN FITZGERALD (UKIP) Semi retired project management consultant.
Comments - 34 Responses on “Bridgwater & Somerset West”
  1. Votes cast in Bridgwater & Somerset West constituency in local elections, (with one division split between constituencies):

    Con: 10,166 (40.37%)
    UKIP: 5,326 (21.15%)
    Lab: 4,932 (19.59%)
    LD: 2,859 (11.35%)
    Ind: 1,605 (6.37%)
    Green: 292 (1.16%)

  2. This always seems to be the least interesting seat in Somerset, not so much because the Tories are any stronger than the others constituencies in the country but because the opposition is more fractured.

  3. I think they are all very interesting.
    A pretty good Con performance – perhaps their turnout is better in a year of rather bad turnout.

  4. A horrendous result for the Lib Dems.

  5. I think it’s mildly interesting in that it’s the most down market seat in Somerset (at least in the main town) but the safest Conservative one.

  6. ‘I think it’s mildly interesting in that it’s the most down market seat in Somerset (at least in the main town) but the safest Conservative one.’

    It’s the way the world’s going – look how popular the Tories have become in working class parts of South Essex and North Kent that used to be Labour-leaning or marginal

  7. Bridgwater itself is still Labour-inclined – it’s the rest of the seat where the Tories pile up the votes. The Exmoor section, Dunster & the Porlock area are all solidly Tory & the Tories also do fine in the Quantock hills for the most part.

  8. Barnaby is largely correct – it is the areas outside the town of Bridgwater that really make this seat so strong for the Conservatives. The addition of the Exmoor wards was a real bonus for the Tories here – and a real loss for them re. the Taunton seat.

    That said, the Tories still won two of the four Bridgwater divisions this year, while in 2001 Labour won all four – so Labour’s position in the town is weakening as well.

  9. Appalling turnouts in the two Labour seats in Bridgwater: 15.11% in North & Central and 18.35% in South. Average turnout in Somerset was 34.60%.

    Aggregates for the 4 Bridgwater town divisions: (although East & Bawdrip includes a lot of rural areas as well)

    Lab 2630
    Con 2258
    UKIP 1151 (contested 2/4)
    LD 396 (contested 3/4)

  10. ‘Lab 2630
    Con 2258
    UKIP 1151 (contested 2/4)
    LD 396 (contested 3/4)’

    So between them, UKIP and the Tories got more than more half the vote in what is meant to be one of Labour’s strongest towns in the South West

    If I were Ed Milliband I’d be seriously concerned

  11. UKIP also did well in Yeovil, which shares some characteristics with Bridgwater. There is a constituency in these scruffier towns which in other parts of the country would often be Labour, in the SW has in recent years flirted with the Lib Dems and now seems attracted in part to UKIP.

    Where this vote will go in a GE is an interesting question – and is a crucial one I think for some Lib Dem MPs in the region e.g. David Heath.

  12. Minehead was in the old Wellington (Somerset) constituency until 1918 and in Bridgwater since then.

  13. Whilst I gather that the number of people directly affected by the current floods is quite small, political action to address this disaster has been a total shambles. What will be the electoral effects? Labour are as much to blame for their long-term neglicence towards an area in which they have no chance as the Tories (and LibDems) for their crisis management.

    The Green vote here is way below their national average. It is difficult to see them getting the benefit.

    By default, is this seat going to see a swing to UKIP greatly above their national average at the next General Election?

    In terms of political competence, lkeaving aside ideology, the Conservatives thoroughly deserve to lose here, but as in too many places there is no credible opposition to replace them.

  14. “The Green vote here is way below their national average. It is difficult to see them getting the benefit.”

    Natalie Bennett gave yet another piss poor interview for the media last week, in the form of Sunday Politics. I really doubt her views on alternatives to dredging are going to endear her much to voters in this part of the country.

    Labour has some strength in Bridgwater, but I wonder if anger towards Chris Smith (Labour peer and Environment Agency boss) locally will have a knock-on effect on their vote. Otherwise I wouldn’t be surprised if their vote went back into the 20s.

  15. Realistically the only effect Bridgewater has is to split the opposition here.

  16. I am pretty sure Labour wil be back in second place in 2015, turnout being the main issue for them.

  17. This is one of the few seats in the South West where Labour has a chance of getting back into contention in 2015, not in a position to win the seat then but at least to establish itself as the main opposition to the Conservatives for the general election after that. That would be important in a seat where a split opposition vote has always allowed the Conservatives to win, even in 1997 with only 37% of the total vote. I expect that the LD vote will at least halve here in 2015.

  18. A quarter of the votes is as good as it’s ever likely to get for Labour here, but agree they may well creep into second place. Oddly enough, they went from third to second here in 2005 after being third in both their peak years of 1997 and 2001. Can’t be many places where that happened. I think the effect of the floods may in the end be politically neutral, with the Tories being blamed because they were in power when the floods occurred and the Lib Dems also being viewed with suspicion because of their tendency to support eco-politics which was seen by many as one of the contributors to the problem. I don’t think Chris Smith’s chairmanship of the EA will necessarily cause Labour much damage. The link between that and him once being a Labour MP is tenuous to say the least.

  19. Not that there is a great deal of damage that can be done to a party which had just 17% of the vote last time.

  20. The Labour vote is in any case primarily concentrated in the town of Bridgwater rather than on the Levels, As the town didn’t flood (correct me if I’m wrong), those worst affected would not generally be likely to support us whatever had happened.

  21. I think that’s right, although the issue will probably continue to reverberate locally, whether individuals were directly affected or not. As I say, I’m not sure it will play to the great and obvious advantage of any party. UKIP may pick up some extra votes perhaps.

  22. Labour will surely come second here.
    Andy Stidwill’s figures from 2013 show UKIP not that far in front of Labour.

    But abysmal turnouts in Bridgwater in the local elections.

  23. Well, the seat appeared becalmed but is no longer…. a UKIP style bunfight has developed in the Tory camp:

  24. Antiochian- can I just clarify something? Are you attempting to suggest that this is going to affect the outcome of the election?

  25. did I hint anything to that effect?

  26. BTW… Justine Baker apparently resigned as the LibDem PPC here to compete for Taunton Deans when Jeremy Browne announced he was going.. and then she did not win that.. despite being a councillor there

  27. Mr Liddell-Grainger is a deeply unpleasant person as we saw during last year’s floods. However this never stopped anyone getting elected, and certainly won’t make any difference in Bridgwater.

  28. The local Council Leader has sent a 125 page dossier on the MP to the PM, Chief Whip and Party Chairman. From what I can see the MP was investigating corruption at the Council, but the Tory Group backed a motion of No Confidence in ILG.

  29. Conservative Hold. 12,000 maj. Labour 2nd.

  30. Proposed changes in business rates for each constituency:

    I suspect it’s a typo/clerical error, but apparently rates are going up here by 65%, more than twice as much as anywhere else. I can’t think of any specific reason why this area has been hit so badly – all the other big rate increases are in central London (Haringey, Hackney & Hammersmith are all hit with 20%+ rises).

  31. Minehead South Ward By-election, 22.02.18:

    LibDem 318
    Cons 291
    Lab 125

    6 Spoilt ballots

    LD Gain from Ind.

    No Ind this time (28% in 2015)

    37% Turnout.

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