Brighton, Kemptown

2015 Result:
Conservative: 18428 (40.7%)
Labour: 17738 (39.2%)
Lib Dem: 1365 (3%)
Green: 3187 (7%)
UKIP: 4446 (9.8%)
Independent: 69 (0.2%)
Others: 73 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 690 (1.5%)

Category: Ultra-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, East Sussex. Part of the Brighton and Hove council area and part of Lewes council area.

Main population centres: Brighton, Woodingdean, Saltdean, Peacehaven.

Profile: Brighton Kemptown is the eastern part of Brighton and the semi-rural suburbs and villages stretching out to the east of the seat. At its western end it includes Queen`s Park ward, the centre of Brighton`s vibrant gay community, then Kemptown, the council estates of Whitehawk and Moulscoomb and then, beyond the racecourse, more affluent and genteel coastal villages like Woodingdean, Saltdean and the town of Peacehaven. At the north of the seat is Brighton University`s Falmer campus - despite Moulscoomb itself being in the constituency, Moulscoomb campus lies just over the boundary in Brighton Pavilion.

Politics: In the past Kemptown was the more Labour leaning of the two Brighton seats, but it is now the more Tory. There is also a significant Green presence here - although not when compared to their strength in Brighton Pavilion.

Current MP
SIMON KIRBY (Conservative) Born 1964, Hastings. Educated at Hastings Grammar School and Open University. Former radio, bar and restaurant entrepreneur. Brighton councillor 1995-1999, East Sussex county councillor 1992-1993, 2005-2009, Mid Sussex councillor 1999-2001. First elected as MP for Brighton Kemptown in 2010. PPS to Hugh Robertson 2012-2014, to Jeremy Hunt 2014-2015. Government whip since 2015.
Past Results
Con: 16217 (38%)
Lab: 14889 (35%)
LDem: 7691 (18%)
GRN: 2330 (5%)
Oth: 1578 (4%)
MAJ: 1328 (3%)
Con: 13121 (33%)
Lab: 15858 (40%)
LDem: 6560 (17%)
GRN: 2800 (7%)
Oth: 1380 (3%)
MAJ: 2737 (7%)
Con: 13823 (35%)
Lab: 18745 (48%)
LDem: 4064 (10%)
GRN: 1290 (3%)
Oth: 1281 (3%)
MAJ: 4922 (13%)
Con: 17945 (39%)
Lab: 21479 (47%)
LDem: 4478 (10%)
Oth: 704 (2%)
MAJ: 3534 (8%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
SIMON KIRBY (Conservative) See above.
NANCY PLATTS (Labour) Born London. Campaigns and Communications Consultant. Contested Brighton Pavilion 2010.
PAUL CHANDLER (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Felsted School and Essex University. Contested South Worcestershire 1987, 1992, Worcester 1997, 2001.
IAN BUCHANAN (UKIP) East Sussex councillor since 2013.
DAVY JONES (Green) Educated at Brighton Hove & Sussex Grammar School. Local government consultant and yoga teacher.
MATT TAYLOR (Independent)
Comments - 139 Responses on “Brighton, Kemptown”
  1. Labour shortlist

    Katie Ghose (chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society)
    Nancy Platts (2010 Pavillion candidate)

  2. Just those two? I thought shortlists usually had a bit more choice…

  3. IIRC I read somewhere that there were just 4 applications overall.

  4. That would be surprising – it looks like one of Labour’s stronger prospects for a gain.

  5. In contrast to my expectations Simon Kirby is turning out to be a fairly decent MP to be fair, but, as Barnaby says, this is one of Labour’s few genuine prospects of a gain in the South East at the next election so you’d expect a shortlist greater than two

    can’t say i’m overly impressed with either candidate who made it onto the shortlist either

  6. A local media suggested 17 men and 1 woman applied for Hove, 4 women for Kemptown and 3 women for Pavillion.

  7. I think Nancy Platts is related to my first piano teacher, and is probably also related to John Platts-Mills, who was a lawyer and Labour MP for Finsbury from 1945 – he was expelled from the Labour Party during his 5 years in Parliament, and was a friend of my parents until his death at a very advanced age a few years ago.

  8. Surprised no local councillors on the shortlist like Gill Haynes (who stood here in 1992). Would have thought Nancy Platts was the clear favourite.

  9. Interesting if 18 people applied for Hove and only 4 for Kemptown because one would have thought the latter was a slightly better bet for Labour.

  10. I have just done a search on Katie Ghose – seems she is local to the area, is an ex SPAD and barrister, and her partner is the Gen Sec of the Fabian Society.

  11. ‘Interesting if 18 people applied for Hove and only 4 for Kemptown because one would have thought the latter was a slightly better bet for Labour.’

    I’m, not sure if that’s true any more

    I would have thought Hove is still more affluent than Kemptown – but as we all know the group trending towards to Tories most heavily (forgetting for a moment the UKIP surge) is the WWC – and whilst these are well represented in Hove in places like Hangleton, Mile Oak and Portslade – I suspect there would be even more of them in the Kemptown seat

  12. Katie Ghose was the person in charge of the pro-AV campaign. I remember her looking very upset when the result was announced, as if she genuinely believed the electorate might have voted Yes.

  13. Labour selection: Platts 126 votes Ghose 48 votes

  14. Not surprised – quite a landslide really.

  15. Some years ago ( 1997, 2001 and 2010) Pavilion was regarded as stronger Labour seat than Kempton. Platts preferance for this seat infers that she is more confident in beating the Tories here than the Greens next door.

  16. Plus the fact she did poorly in Pavilion in 2010

  17. Kemptown was traditionally the better seat for Labour in Brighton. The only reason Pavilion became safer in 1997 was because Tory areas from outside the city were added to Kemptown in the 1995 boundary changes. In fact the Labour party were pretty annoyed at the time because they thought they would scupper their chance of winning Kemptown for the first time in 30 years but of course the 1997 swing was so large it didn’t matter.

  18. The addition of Peacehaven helped the Tories but also the transfer of part of central Brighton to Pavilion. In all it created a notional Conservative majority of over 10000….that many believed had made the constituency safe.

  19. Well not actually central Brighton but Hanover ward, traditionally one of the Tories’ very weakest areas in the town, north-east of the town centre. The town centre has always been in Pavilion since the formation of that seat in 1950. Hanover was a very Labour ward (although it was won by the SDP’s Tom Forester twice in the early 80s) until the Green upsurge in recent years.

  20. If I wanted to select a campaigner, I wouldn’t choose somebody partially responsible for the Yes to AV campaign.

  21. indeed.

  22. Just had a quick look of the map of AV results, I was suprised Brighton & Hove voted no, even if only by a margin of 250 votes.

  23. The Guardian today reports they have a plan to put 100 “community organisers” into some of the 106 battleground marginals they are targetting (do we have a list on UKPollingReport?). The article says that somebody called jack (the Labour party are not releasing his surname) is helping the candidate in Kempton, that an organiser is to be appointed in Hove and that the Regional Organiser, Rae Martin-Smith, will be “building a network” to try to unseat Caoline Lucas in Brighton Kemptown.A similar organiser is to be appointed in Hove.

    Does this initiative differ from past arragments to put organisers into marginal seats and what effect is this likely to have on the results?

    I see that Ed Miliband has been advised in this intiative by a New Yorkler called Andy Graf. Labour are ver definitiely not alone amogst the major parties in bringing in foregners to try to influence our elections, but I must say it makes me queasy. Do UKIP have a policy against this?

    I have a relative who is a Labour Party activist who made a long journey to Brighton to a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference but telss me that it would have cost hm £48 for a day visitor’s ticket. His constituency decided not to send a delegate on cost grounds. This is just one example of how all three long-standing major parties seem to other interests before those of their party members, supporters and “ordinary voters”. From a psephological viewpoint, this appears to be costing them both in terms of low turnout and the rise of parties such as UKIP.

  24. A little guess
    LAB 39
    CON 33
    LD 13
    GRN 8
    UKIP 7

  25. that’s not a bad stab actually. maybe the Greens will do better than that relative to the LDs, though. The Greens have local councillors in Queens Park ward though the LDs have some residual support in the Lewes district wards too – they’ve been known to win in Telscombe Cliffs in the past for example.

  26. The Greens only managed 6% last time so even on a 3% national vote share compared to 1.1% in one of their strongest areas, I’d be reluctant to place them higher whether absolutely or relatively than I have done.

  27. Though UKIP is an afterthought in the city itself, might there be support for them in the outskirts? I wonder if there is a UKIP presence in the Lewes wards of this seat. IIRC they took the Peacehaven/Telscombe division of East Sussex CC that would come under Brighton Kemptown. In such an instance it would hurt the Tory vote? Not sure if it would affect their support in the villages like Woodingdean. I suppose the locals next year will tell us.

    For Labour the risk might be if UKIP also hits their vote in the Whitehawk and Moulescoomb estates. I take it those areas are not exactly Kemptown proper in terms of demographic profile. Their best chance is to dig into the Queen’s Park ward for support (the Greens aren’t competitive at Parliamentary level here so may be tempted to offer their votes to Nancy Platts) while remaining fairly competitive in their two held wards here. Of course there’s a sizeable Lib Dem 2010 vote for them to go after.

  28. UKIP will do particularly well in the Lewes district wards in the constituency, where they will disproportionately hurt the Tories. They will do less well in the estates you mention but their support will be less negligible than in Queen’s Park. I can see them figuring a bit in Woodingdean but not much in Rottingdean.

  29. windsofchange @ if Labour win here I could not see Labour winning by 6%.

    Half this constituency (East Sussex wards and Rottingdean) will not move to Labour as much as the B & H wards further East.

  30. you mean further west of course. You say that Peter, but the Tories do have a potentially serious UKIP problem in the eastern wards – not perhaps so much Rottingdean village or Roedean, but in Saltdean, Peacehaven, Woodingdean & Telscombe Cliffs. If as I suspect UKIP poll quite strongly there it will reduce the Tory lead in those areas over Labour to a more modest one than they would need to prevent Labour from gaining the seat given the extreme Tory weakness in Queen’s Park, E Brighton & (to a slightly lesser extent) Moulsecoomb/Bevendean wards.

  31. ‘The only reason Pavilion became safer in 1997 was because Tory areas from outside the city were added to Kemptown in the 1995 boundary changes.’

    But the biggest reason – as Barnaby alludes – was transferring what in the mid 90s was the staunchley Labour ward of Hannover from Kemptown to Pavilion for the 97 election

    In 92 both seats had an almost identical Toiry majority

    ‘If as I suspect UKIP poll quite strongly there it will reduce the Tory lead in those areas over Labour to a more modest one’

    Although UKIP also seems to be good at mobilising the disllusioned Labour vote in the South East – especially in grimy coastal places like Peacehaven.

    That’s why Labour made such little recovery in the latest council and European elections.

    Interesting that even in a seat like this, where UKIP’s overall appeal will be extremely limited, their pressence can still have a decisive effect on the outcome

  32. Well yes, but Labour won’t have received all that many votes in those areas in 2010, especially not in Saltdean or Telscombe Cliffs. Therefore a good UKIP showing is likely to hurt the Tories disproportionately as in many other seats, though not all.

  33. If Labour win this back next year, will the Tories decline here like they have been in Hove and Brighton Pavilion as well long-term, so that one day this seat will become fairly safe for Labour, or is that pie in the sky?

  34. I would say no to that. It is only really in Pavilion that the Tories have declined to a point where it is difficult to see them ever recovering again. Hove may be on the same trajectory, but self-evidently hasn’t reached that point yet.

    This seat is different. Woodingdean, Saltdean and Peacehaven do not contain many left-liberal voters, are much more traditionally inclined and could even be tempted by UKIP. The Kemp Town and Queens Park end of the seat will ensure that Labour always stay competitive even in a bad year like 2010, but we are unlikely to see this seat leave marginal status any time soon.

    Nonetheless, I would firmly predict that Labour will take the seat next year.

  35. There might be a UKIP vote in the Labour leaning council estates like Whitehawk and Moulscoomb too.

  36. Ashcroft Constituency Poll

    LAB: 37%
    CON: 33%
    UKIP: 13%
    GRN: 10%
    LD: 6%

  37. Labour will be disappointed with that poll I think.

  38. Interesting to see the UKIP vote at 13%, as Barnaby mentions its going to be concentrated + disproportionately taking votes away from the Tories. For Con to win here I’d imagine they’d need UKIP to poll 10% or less.

    4 point gap at this point is a tad closer than I was expecting, Lab still favourites to take this in 2015 though definitely.

  39. I think John is right in his analysis – Kemptown definitely contains the parts of Brighton & Hove that should be most receptive to UKIP – Woodingdean, Saltdean, Peacehaven, Moulescombe, Whitehawk – althougfh I still don’t see UKIP doing THAT well

    30 years ago, Hove was a solidly Conservative seat, although knowing the town as I do, I can’t envisage which parts of it would have switched from Tory to Labour in that time

    Surely not Portslade, that has always been somewhat depressed

    Surely not the Brunswick and eastern parts of the seat which are considerably more prosperous today than they were back then

    And surely not Hangleton where 30 years there were a lot of houses that used to be owned by the council, which are owner-occupied today

    And not Hove Park area, where I used to live 30 years ago, which is just as strongly Tory today as it was back then

  40. This set of costituency polls is disapointing for Labour. Out of 11 polls they are behind in 1, tie in another and less than 5% margin in other 4

  41. Brunswick has indeed switched very much from Conservative to Labour, just as has largely been the case in neighbouring Regency ward in Brighton. In local elections the Greens have most recently won both wards, but in general elections it’s clear that Labour have heavily outpolled the Tories in both areas. The Tories now struggle even to get 3rd place in Brunswick & Adelaide ward most of the time. Another Hove area which has swung emphatically to Labour is Goldsmid ward slightly further to the north, which was still quite safe Tory even in 1995 but now is quite firmly Labour, again vis a vis the Tories though it votes Green in some local elections. Even Hangleton used to be more Tory than it was , as local election results will clearly show; for whatever reason, the council estate votes come out more for Labour than they used to there, and Labour were able to retain a council seat there even in the very poor elections of 2011 (the veteran Brian Fitch, formerly a Hollingbury councillor, and brother of the infamous Militant Rod Fitch, being elected). Hove Park as Tim correctly says is still solidly Tory, but it’s just about the only area of Hove left which is. Tim is also correct in saying that Portslade is the one & only traditional Labour area of Hove, Portslade N in particular being just about the most reliable Labour ward anywhere in Brighton & Hove, though even there Portslade S used to vote LD until Labour broke through there about a quarter of a century ago. Hope this answers your question Tim, which is a very reasonable one. A study of local election results will bear out what I’m saying.
    I agree with HH that the poll will be slightly disappointing, but Kemptown, containing as it does some strongly Tory areas in Rottingdean, Woodingdean, Saltdean, Telscombe Cliffs & Peacehaven, was never going to be a walk in the park for Labour, and is a harder gain than Hove is nowadays, especially on the post-1997 boundaries (the old Kemptown would have been well nigh impossible for the Tories to hold at the moment). Nevertheless I am fairly confident; just as the Tories have some very strong areas, they are extremely weak in Moulsecoomb, E Brighton & even more so Queens Park ward, the latter being a Lab-Green marginal with the Tories way way back, and their strength in the areas mentioned above may not be enough to compensate for that.

  42. Clearly Barnaby has a good point – Labour never had more than a 5000 majority here even at the height of the Blair years.

    Nevertheless 10% for the Greens must be a concern, as must be the 6% for the Lib Dems, which may swing back to some extent and perhaps eat into Labour’s share by the election.

    Together with some swing back from UKIP to the Tories the poll may give the Tories some hope of holding. As Andrea says, this is true in some of the other seats too – including very surprising ones like Halesowen, and Pudsey.

  43. Thanks for the explanation Barnaby

    Forgot about Goldsmid – which is surprising considering I lived in that ward from 2005-2010

    I’m surprised the Regency ward was ever Tory – bacvk in tge 80s many of the areas in that ward were verey tatty indeed

    And going back to Kemptown, can Labour win by relying on Moulsecomb, Queens Park and east brighton, given that likes of saltdean, woodingdean, peacehaven, rottingdean and telscombe will be considerably less favourable to labour than they were in 97

    The three Brighton & Hove seats will be ones to watch in 2015

  44. i don’t see why this is disappointing for labour. kirby won with 3.1% majority, while labour now have a 4% lead. this represents a swing of 3.5%, when they needed a 1.6% swing to win it…it’s not a slam dunk but it’s odds on. there has to be a 2% back to the conservatives from labour for this seat to stay blue next May…doable but challenging.

  45. Yes Tim Regency was a Tory ward even after it was merged with part of a Liberal ward in 1983. After all, it included, just as it does today, some good owner-occupied houses including some characterful & rather expensive terraced streets, the whole of the Lanes (admittedly very few people live there) and the exclusive flats by the seafront including some high-rise ones. There was always some serious deprivation behind the elegant facades, and Labour broke through in 1985 by getting through to some of the most marginalised voters, and the ward was pretty much safe from the Tories from 1993 onwards. It’s worth noting that there’s almost no council housing in the ward; even one of the very few council housing developments, Park Royal in Montpelier Road, now has the great majority of its flats in private hands. The Labour vote comes heavily from private rented households as does much of the Green vote.

  46. When I think of Regency I think of Russel Square and the multi-stored carparks behind the seafront

    There’s the exclusive hotels on the seafront – but I can’t see these housing that many people, and there’s the small, some would say cramped, albeit relatively expensive, terraced houses the other side of western road from Russell Square – Spring Street and the like

    Would the Brighton part of Severn Dials be included in this ward – as today that has some very grand houses, whereas back in the 1980s it was somewhat the ar**-end of town? The nicest propery I ever rented was on Compton Avenue in the heart of the Dials

    I’ve watched the Happy Shopper stores and run-down boozers turn into plush restaurants and wine bars

    Funny that all this has coincided with an eroding Conservative vote. It usually doesn’t work that way

  47. Hello,
    I am Joe Neilson. I am an Independent Candidate for Brighton Kemptown, I am a disabled candidate receiving a grant from the Access to Elected Office Fund. Please note that I am definitely standing as a condition of receiving the grant.
    Therefore, please enter me on your site as a candidate.
    Best wishes,
    Joe Neilson

  48. Peacehaven is the closest thing in England to Jaywick. There is bound to be a large UKIP vote there.

  49. UKIP will do extremely well in the outlying areas including Peacehaven, Telscombe Cliffs, Woodingdean, parts of Rottindean. The two county councillors representing UKIP come from this area. Moulscombe and Whitehawk will also go to UKIP with the former being more apathetic (and unlikely to help Labour) than the latter where the anti-Labour vote is strong. One thing for certain is that Simon Kirby’s career as an MP is over. He is probably the author of his own demise given his strong support for gay marriage and a pro-EU stance. In my view, UKIP may well finish second as national momentum continues to build.

  50. UKIP to do well in the petit bourgeois areas of suburban Brighton like Peacehaven and Woodingdean. Tories will keep the votes in Rottingdean and Ovingdean and other villages, whilst Labour may make gains closer to town centre, but lose votes in Whitehawk and Moulsecomb to Greens and UKIP. All dependent on how many are lost in this area I think. Predict the result to be:
    Labour- 32%
    Tories- 31%
    Green- 15%
    Ukip- 15%
    Libs- 7%
    Joe Nielson- 2 votes

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