Bury St Edmunds

2015 Result:
Conservative: 31815 (53.6%)
Labour: 10514 (17.7%)
Lib Dem: 3581 (6%)
Green: 4692 (7.9%)
UKIP: 8739 (14.7%)
MAJORITY: 21301 (35.9%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: Eastern, Suffolk. Part of St Edmundsbury and Mid Suffolk council areas.

Main population centres:


Politics: A safe Conservative seat, continously returning Tory MPs since 1885.

Current MP
JOHANNA CHURCHILL (Conservative) First elected as MP for Bury St Edmunds in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 27899 (48%)
Lab: 9776 (17%)
LDem: 15519 (26%)
UKIP: 3003 (5%)
Oth: 2521 (4%)
MAJ: 12380 (21%)
Con: 24332 (46%)
Lab: 14402 (27%)
LDem: 10423 (20%)
UKIP: 1859 (4%)
Oth: 1603 (3%)
MAJ: 9930 (19%)
Con: 21850 (43%)
Lab: 19347 (38%)
LDem: 6998 (14%)
UKIP: 831 (2%)
Oth: 1231 (2%)
MAJ: 2503 (5%)
Con: 21290 (38%)
Lab: 20922 (38%)
LDem: 10102 (18%)
Oth: 272 (0%)
MAJ: 368 (1%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
DAVID CHAPPELL (Liberal Democrat) Born 1953. Educated at Edinburgh University. Chartered surveyor. Former St Edmundsbury councillor. Contested Bury St Edmunds 2005, 2010.
JOHN HOWLETT (UKIP) Contested Bury St Edmunds 2005, 2010.
Comments - 163 Responses on “Bury St Edmunds”
  1. I doubt a former solicitor would accept a caution (and the negative publicity attached to this) if he hadn’t done it.

    You are correct that the consequences for the ordinary person doing this kind of thing are very grave indeed, if the police get involved. Certainly worse than a night in the cells and a slap on the wrist.

  2. If I had a girlfriend I must say I’d treat her like a queen and with an immense amount of respect. To even contemplate assaulting a woman, in my mind, at least is cowardice, utter cowardice. I can understand why men drink, and smoke and fight other men, otherwise they wouldn’t be real men would they now? Maybe I’m too fey and that’s why I’m not successful with women but the point I’m trying to make is that in politics, as in life, you must surely be held to account exactly the same way and face the same consequences that Joe Public would face.

    To my mind it follows that a member of parliament’s position is rendered untenable if they step out of line in any number of ways therefore- be it a financial scandal, sleaze, an affair, something else, something else or this type of incident?

    Now they say a week is a long time in politics. All I can say is God knows how long the next few days are going to feel for Mr. Ruffley, but more importantly his poor poor partner. For all the reports centring around him, at the end of the day the one who should be getting all the sympathy and support I feel is her.

  3. Fey was the wrong word, perhaps shy is a bit better.

  4. Learning to bite your lip and not hit out in frustrating domestic situations is part of being a (married) man and someone who can’t do this is IMO totally unsuited to being an MP.

    The worst victims of domestic violence are children, who often grow up and continue the behaviour themselves.

  5. But why would any man want to physically attack a woman? The thought just sickens me. I could go on and on probably sounding like some sub-metropolitan Brighton PC trendy with my whole view from the ethical side of things, but when Adam met Eve, did he get angry with her and beat her? I didn’t think so, but then again I’m no religious fanatic.

    I think the point I’m trying to get across here is merely that most fighting men should do if they have to, should be between themselves, and not get women involved and maybe hurt. Even better of course there could be not at all, but we sadly don’t live in an ideal world.

    I personally think that at the end of the day that us men should be eternally thankful to women to be quite honest- if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here, and if they weren’t there we might never have existed at all.

  6. MPs can have personal lives, even rather sordid personal lives, without it interfering with their parliamentary duties. People understand that some people are idiosyncratic and do things they might personally find distasteful but they’re willing to forgive. I wouldn’t argue for a single MP to be deselected because he frequented prostitutes or occasionally used recreational drugs, for example.

    However, his actions have crossed a certain line of minimum decency which underpins the trust people have in their MPs. It’s the difference between an MP visiting prostitutes and an MP being a pimp, or using drugs vs. selling drugs.

    It is not a difficult thing not to hit somebody. That’s the whole basis of a democracy, that disagreements can be hammered out with words. I understand being frustrated with my girlfriend, even arguing with her on occasion, but I still retain that understanding that violence is not acceptable and will not help the situation. If he has mental health issues which mean he has trouble distinguishing what are acceptable ways to resolve conflicts, the ultimate requirement is on him to get help for those problems.

  7. I have to say I can’t really disagree with any of that.

    But I would be disgusted if I knew my MP had been using drugs, or worse still, visiting prostitutes. In fact, I don’t really know what’s worse, taking drugs, being involved with prostitutes, or having an affair?

    You should be proud of yourself as you know how to be with your girlfriend MrNameless. At least you can give a firsthand example of how to disagree with your other half without it ever denigrating into violence.

  8. Having an affair is something which has frankly been accepted for almost as long as humans have been humans & have married, at least to some degree. Monarchs & powerful people have had numerous affairs over the centuries, though our present queen certainly hasn’t I’m sure, nor I think have any of the last 3 Prime Ministers (Major being presumably the last to do so. But Edwina Currie? How COULD you?). Knowing all of this, I don’t think in general we should condemn MPs who also do so. I’m not keen on the present criminalisation of drugs either, so wouldn’t tend to condemn an MP who took them unless they had an impact on that MP’s work & could be shown to have done so. Going to prostitutes is perhaps slightly different but I wouldn’t invariably condemn automatically all those who do so. I say this as someone who has never used drugs, gone to a prostitute or had an extra-marital affair. I don’t really mind what MPs do with their private lives, as long as it doesn’t affect the job they are supposed to be doing, and – very strongly I’d emphasize – they are not by so doing being hypocrites.

  9. I think the only corrective I’d like to give to the views expressed here is that violence is unacceptable against anybody. Their gender or sex should not be a factor in whether hitting them is okay. I know plenty of men who would have great difficulty defending themselves against a number of women I know and vice versa. Hitting anyone is not okay, and cowardice or lack thereof depends on the individual not their gender.

    I also feel quite uncomfortable with The Results’ attitude that men should fight, drink and smoke to be men. Whilst I’m sure it was meant light heartedly, it’s not a fair attitude either to men that don’t do those things or women that do – and slightly odd given its juxtaposition with “I would be disgusted if I knew my MP had been using drugs”. Those ARE both drugs…

    (As to the question in TR’s last post, the affair is inherently the worst of the three, IMO, though it depends on the state of the sex workers (aka whether they were in a fundamentally exploitative situation or whether it was a private, licensed brothel as you get in Nevada). And drugs, well, not great but at least the effects on people beyond the user are proportionally more limited.)

    Anyway, all that was irrelevant. Ruffley should certainly be deselected, seems impossible that he can reasonably carry on now. Can’t imagine that it’ll damage the Tories at all here at the next election though, with some LD fallback to Lab their majority may well increase.

  10. …….any paedophile activities however should be strongly condemned & I deplore those of Cyril Smith, or any MP or politician who has done anything like that. Obviously I don’t want MPs murdering innocent people in their “private lives” either – hope my remark in the last post wasn’t too general.

  11. Right James, to respond to your points.

    Firstly, I hate violence. I think it’s terrible in whatever form.

    Secondly, on the fight smoke drink point I was being rather cynical and very very sarcastic. I was merely giving an example of the sort of stereotype that has historically existed in society when we think of real hard men for example. I wouldn’t actually advocate that at all. Don’t read too much into it James for God’s sake man.

    Maybe it was a bad idea for me to even contemplate questioning what type of scandal is the worst?

  12. Just to clarify a bit, I was referring to my hypothetical MP taking drugs which wouldn’t interfere with his work (ie occasionally smoking cannabis, not becoming a meth addict) and an MP not in a relationship receiving “executive massage” from one of those mentioned Nevada-style brothels. I might still find such behaviour distasteful but understand that it doesn’t make much difference to their conduct in the Commons.

  13. “I think the only corrective I’d like to give to the views expressed here is that violence is unacceptable against anybody. Their gender or sex should not be a factor in whether hitting them is okay.”

    Agreed, though hitting out is a natural human reaction in various situations and part of adulthood is learning to control and suppress these natural reactions, especially for men. My view is that hitting someone who can’t hit you back with as much force is worse than violence against someone as strong as yourself – you’re right that this is not just about gender, but age and build etc.

    It is quite obvious that some and maybe most of the posts above are made by those too young to have experienced the severe stresses of being married, especially with young children; the extreme sleeplessness and financial stress can easily lead to one or other partner hitting out, and it is part of a successful marriage or relationship to make sure it never happens. As I said, domestic violence is worst when there are kids around.

    (admittedly none of this applies at all to the Ruffley case – he is apparently single and has no children)

  14. I could be wrong – but wasn’t David Ruffley the MP who tried to commit suicide by jumping in front of a train some years ago?

    Its no excuse for violence, but clearly there is something wrong here

  15. Yes he was, though someone jumping in front of a train which has almost stopped clearly isn’t serious about killing themselves. Agreed he needs help but equally his constituents deserve an MP who has full control of their faculties.

  16. Hemmelig – I agree it’s a natural reaction, I just think that the assumption that women are always going to be weaker or worse at fighting is a slightly inadequate one.

    The Results – you have my full and sincere apologies, the sarcasm just didn’t come over well enough. Am quite sleep deprived and prone to miss subtexts at the moment. Re “what is worst”, indeed probably a can of worms, I guess I was just trying to make the point that I feel there’s a gap between things that are socially frowned upon but mainly damage the user and things that undoubtedly damage other people very severely. Again, sorry for missing the point.

  17. It’s alright James don’t worry.

  18. The only other point I would make here is that you can be guilty of common assault without actually using violence: common assault is about immediate fear.

    That distinction is much of a muchness as far as the line eluded to above is concerned, but I’d caution people on assuming that accepting a caution for common assault automatically means that the person in question has physically attacked a woman.

  19. I think Ruffley needs some time out of Politics and should be given the time and space to do so, but that would mean giving up this seat.

    I dread to think of who the Tories would nominate to replace him though.

  20. This is an interesting discussion. I would agree with the view that politicians should not be crucified for making mistakes in their private lives (depending, of course on what these transgressions were). We always say that politicians should have real-life experience, and to me making mistakes and learning from them is part of that. That is not to excuse domestic violence, that is just to say that in general, we cannot say that politicians should be more like us, then attack them when they are like us in ways we do not like.

    As for David Ruffley, it is clear there are issues going on behind the scenes which he is struggling with and now the people around him are suffering as a result. I would think that it would best for everyone including Ruffley himself if he stood down next year. Being an MP is a demanding job, and if you are not in control of yourself, then lashing out like is this will happen when the stress becomes too much (look at Eric Joyce). The fact he seemingly tried to take his own life a few years ago should have acted as a warning over whether he could handle these demands without harming himself or others.

  21. “I dread to think of who the Tories would nominate to replace him though.”

    How about Anne McIntosh? She was the local Euro MP for a while.

  22. Tim Yeo is another Suffolk MP!

  23. HH – I agree. I don’t usually name MPs who I’ve heard things about from colleagues, but he’s apparently a car crash waiting to happen. He threw a bin at a researcher and threatened another who didn’t even work for him – and that’s just what I can say (as it’s already been published on Guido etc). I’m told the Whips have been informed, but as with the Nigel Evans’ case, nothing was done to protect staff.

  24. You may already know that Mark Ereira-Guyer is the Green Party PPC for Ipswich in 2015. Mark is also seeking to be elected as the Deputy Leader of the Green Party nationally.

    I’m confident that Mark will continue to work diligently as one of the two county councillors representing the Tower Division in Bury St Edmunds and not leave everything to the other councillor – who’s name escapes me.

    Sorry, I forgot – it’s me!

  25. Some talk on VoteUK discussion forum that David Ruffley is about to be deselected, if he doesn’t resign first.

  26. Eh? What’s that all about?

  27. @The Results

    I do know a case where a lesbian caused her partner to have a nervous breakdown – she got promoted.

  28. Neil, it relates to this

  29. Channel 4 News has just reported Ruffley is standing down at the next election.

  30. An MP who is so widely disliked in parliament can’t expect much support in this kind of instance. The silence from Ruffley’s colleagues was deafening, in great contrast with the support for the much more popular Nigel Evans. There is never any excuse for domestic violence.

  31. I’m genuinely surprised by the spate of recent Tory MPs retiring. I suppose that’s partly from having spent so long watching the likes of Clarke and Haselhurst seemingly hanging around for aeons. There’s a definite change in attitude with a younger generation wanting to do “other things” before it’s “too late”.

  32. ‘ I don’t really mind what MPs do with their private lives, as long as it doesn’t affect the job they are supposed to be doing, and – very strongly I’d emphasize – they are not by so doing being hypocrites.’

    So you wouldn’t mind if your MP was using his spare time to mug old woman, watch child pornography and murder police men so long as he was doing a first-class job in representing his constituents. The logic of your statement Barnaby suggests that would indeed be the case!

    I take a totally different view to most on this. I think it very much matters how MPs conduct themselves in their private lives because its part of the pictutre of who they truly are, and their constituents desrve to be armed with as much information as possible on a person who might represent them in Parliament.

    Don’t get me wrong, like nearly everyone else I’ve got no shiratage of skeletons in my own cupboard, but then I’m not asking people to vote for me

    Those who do need to adhere to higher rules

  33. But an MP who did those things would be a hypocrite, because they presumably do not stand for those things being legal or a good thing. There are certain things being an MP rules out but the acid test is “Would you vote in Parliament to allow other people to do it”.

  34. HH – that’s true. Apparently Ruffley was forced to go by Gove and CCHQ in the end, as he’d lied about a letter he said existed in support of him from his ex. Coffee House and Guido have more details. The Association had called an EGM in August to deselect him in any event.

  35. That’s another scalp for Guido. Do you think he’ll meet his nemesis one day, and how?

  36. I think, Tim, that Barnaby’s statement about MPs conduct out of office should be taken to apply only to legal behavior. That is, Barnaby said:

    ‘I don’t really mind what MPs do with their private lives, as long as it doesn’t affect the job they are supposed to be doing, and – very strongly I’d emphasize – they are not by so doing being hypocrites.’

    It should instead say:

    ‘I don’t really mind what MPs do with their private lives, as long as it doesn’t affect the job they are supposed to be doing, and – very strongly I’d emphasize – they are not by so doing being hypocrites AND as long as their actions do not violate the law.’

    I tend to think that was implied, but evidently not.

  37. The MP for this seat seems to have got himself into a mess, not just over a single incident. He is probably best, in his own interests, finding himself a fresh start outside politics.

    With a new candidate, I doubt whether Mr. Ruffley’s retirement will have much effect on the result.

  38. It’s interesting because for about 13 years he was a very quiet constituency MP. In the same number of years, for example, John Major went from newly elected MP to prime minister winnig a general election.

  39. PTR – yes it was an important omission. If an MP breaks the law, it is generally going to be relevant to their suitability to be an MP.

  40. Precisely. I’d agree, largely, with your statement, if that is added in. If a politician avoids illegal acts and blatant hypocrisy, his or her actions are not precisely my business. So Mike Hancock, who was allegedly committing acts of sexual harassment, would be a different matter entirely from John Hemming with his 26 (I might be getting the exact number wrong) reported affairs.

  41. Something completely unrelated now-
    The Lib Dem candidate here has been exactly the same at the last four general elections (1997-2010)- Fiona Martin. She has been for a very long time a councillor locally in East Lindsey.

    There can’t be too many seats where an unsuccessful Lib Dem candidate for one particular seat has been the same for the last FOUR general elections- the only other ones I can instantly think of right now are Martin Garnett in Erewash and Chris Bramall in Stourbridge.

  42. The above was meant for Louth and Horncastle.

  43. Labour do usually do rather better here than one might expect, but I don’t know the seat.

    A very poor performance in 2010 though. I think they’ll come second.

  44. Labour’s close miss in 1997 would have been down to their support in Bury itself & Stowmarket. The latter town has got a great deal worse for the party since but there are still one or 2 decent wards in Bury, which is quite a socially mixed town.

  45. Any chances of Tim Yeo standing here?

  46. Not as a Conservative.

  47. It is funny how in a seat they were so close to winning in 1997, Labour have since fallen all the way back to the extent they have here.

    Also worth noting is that the Green’s candidate in 2010 and also for 2015, Mark Ereira-Guyer, is a popular local councillor who I think has a bit of a personal vote.

  48. And what also makes that intriguing is that he was for a long time with Labour and was their candidate here in both 1997 and 2001, increasing his vote slightly again on the latter occasion despite not taking the seat.

  49. “It is funny how in a seat they were so close to winning in 1997, Labour have since fallen all the way back to the extent they have here”

    It’s not funny at all. In fact it is fairly common considering these types of seats were never Labour inclined constituencies in the first place. Admittedly Labour did exceptionally well to come so close here, and winning in other unlikely places but fast forward 17 years and such seats have reverted to type.

    The same could be said for Maggie winning a whole host of Labour inclined seats in 1979/1983 which were then lost in 1992/1997 such as Mitcham, Hayes, Basildon etc etc

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