Castle Point

2015 Result:
Conservative: 23112 (50.9%)
Labour: 6283 (13.8%)
Lib Dem: 801 (1.8%)
Green: 1076 (2.4%)
UKIP: 14178 (31.2%)
MAJORITY: 8934 (19.7%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Essex. The Castle Point council area.

Main population centres: Canvey Island, Thundersley, South Benfleet, Hadleigh.

Profile: Castle Point is a South Essex seat on the Thames estuary, consisting of Canvey Island and the nearby towns of South Benfleet, Thundersley amd Hadleigh. The area expanded rapidly after the second world war as people moved out of London and it is a solid slice of owner-occupied, middle class commuterland (in the 2001 census it had the highest rate of owner-occupation of any seat in the country). Canvey Island is a seaside resort, attached to the mainland by bridge. To the west of the island there are oil and gas terminals, but this too is now largely residential.

Politics: For a comfortable Conservative seat Castle Point has a chequered history. It was originally held by Bernard Braine, the veteran Conservative MP and father of the House who had held the seat and its predecessors since the 1950s. He was succeeded in 1992 by Bob Spink, who enjoyed what appeared to be a rock solid majority of over 30%. However like many seats which people assumed to be unassailable Conservative fortresses it fell to Labour in the 1997 landslide. Bob Spink retook the seat for the Conservatives in 2001 but left the Conservative party in 2008 over ructions within the local party, with Spink claiming he had resigned and the Conservatives claiming the whip had been removed. He was later described as a UKIP MP, although it is unclear whether he ever actually joined the party. In 2010 he stood unsuccessfully as an Independent, but lost to the new Conservative candidate Rebecca Harris. In 2015 it looked possible that the seat would again be represented by UKIP, for whom it was a key target seat. In the event they fell long short of the Conservatives, despite Castle Point being one of their strongest performances in the country.


Current MP
REBECCA HARRIS (Conservative) Born 1967, Windsor. Educated at Bedales School and LSE. Former special advisor to Tim Yeo. First elected as MP for Castle Point in 2010.
Past Results
2010
Con: 19806 (44%)
Lab: 6609 (15%)
LDem: 4232 (9%)
BNP: 2205 (5%)
Oth: 12174 (27%)
MAJ: 7632 (17%)
2005
Con: 22118 (48%)
Lab: 13917 (30%)
LDem: 4719 (10%)
UKIP: 3431 (7%)
Oth: 1617 (4%)
MAJ: 8201 (18%)
2001
Con: 17738 (45%)
Lab: 16753 (42%)
LDem: 3116 (8%)
UKIP: 1273 (3%)
Oth: 883 (2%)
MAJ: 985 (2%)
1997
Con: 19489 (40%)
Lab: 20605 (42%)
LDem: 4477 (9%)
Oth: 1301 (3%)
MAJ: 1116 (2%)

Demographics
2015 Candidates
REBECCA HARRIS (Conservative) See above.
JOE COOKE (Labour) Educated at Liverpool John Moore University. Carer and former systems analyst. Former Castle Point councillor.
SEREENA DAVEY (Liberal Democrat) Public affairs account director.
JAMIE HUNTMAN (UKIP) Born 1968. Small businessman. Essex councillor since 2013.
DOM ELLIS (Green)
Links
Comments - 212 Responses on “Castle Point”
  1. I suspect quite a lot of Scottish Labour-held seats will show a Lab to Con swing. What’s left of the Scottish Tory vote is quite stable, whereas there aren’t many seats where Labour’s boost from the LD collapse looks like being more than enough to offset losses to the SNP.

  2. Labours collapse will cause a Lab to Con swing in almost every Scottish constituency. A more interesting question would be in which seats the tory vote will increase?

  3. Best chance of that is likely to be in some of the currently Lib Dem held seats, I would have thought.

  4. I would suggest the best chance of a Tory vote increase would be in Bromsgrove where the tory vote fell 7 points last time due to Kirkbride.

    Other chances

    Hexham or Penrith Where there are new sitting members and the swing was lackluster last time.

    Westmorland or Norfolk North. Tory dead cat bounce? Also see Solihull and Wells.

    Bexhill & Battle. Where the retiring tory MP seems to have developed an anti-personal vote.

    West Central London. Demographic change and the mansion tax backfiring.

    Southampton Itchen. For reasons we have discussed too death on this forums.

    Reasonable?

  5. Any intelligence on this seat. ladbrokes now have ukip 8/11 favourites which seems significant to me….

    do any of our ukpr gang have any sense of how things are going here…

    I notice that Stephen called this for UKIP last october 12th which was a bold call then

    I now think this will be a UKIP gain:
    My revised prediction is:
    UKIP- 39%
    Conservatives- 35%
    Labour- 19%
    Lib Dems- 3%
    Others- 4%

    I still think a tory hold, but the sentiment seems to be running in ukip’s favour here.

  6. I’ve thought for a while this could be a UKIP gain, especially if they could resolved their differences with Bob Spink (which seems unlikely).
    If they remain in double figures and are seriously looking at half a dozen seats or so then this one seems as likely as anywhere else.

  7. Labours collapse will cause a Lab to Con swing in almost every Scottish constituency – that’s got to be an exaggeration. It is far from clear that there will end up being a collapse as such, though some swing from Labour to SNP is surely inevitable even if Labour does recover a good deal.
    With regard to this seat, we could really do with a poll. Nationally, there are signs that ardour for UKIP is cooling noticeably, so I find it surprising that the bookies’ odds have turned in favour of them here. It does seem likely to be close though; I’m not sure that Rebecca Harris is the right sort of Tory for the area, especially these days. I’m still guessing Con Hold while national polls are as they are now, unless a local poll corroborates the narrative the bookies are getting.

  8. @ Peter Crawford,

    Calling this for UKIP last October was hardly bold. This has always been one of UKIP’s best chances in the country (though for some reason it seems to always have been under the radar). In the very first 2 comments in this thread (from May 2013) HH and I made this point. I never realised it was a common opinion that UKIP didn’t have at least a very strong chance.

    FWIW, I’d put this as the 3rd most likely UKIP seat in the UK after Clacton and Boston: so ahead of both Thanets and Thurrock.

  9. I honestly don’t see how this can be a better prospect for UKIP than Thanet South where Farage is standing. But it is a very good target for them nonetheless.

  10. Local people of various colours are calling this for UKIP now. I am less sure, a normal independent (rather than a UKIP supporting CIIP) won a seat on Canvey recently. I think this demonstrates that the Island is not going to swing behind UKIP with the ease many expected.

    This is the sort of seat where a lack of UKIP’s ground game in the last few weeks may become important. I can’t believe that they can fight this and Thurrock effectively, they do not have organised postal vote strategies, don’t have many identified supporters and haven’t used Spink effectively.

    That said if UKIP can stay well in touch during the debates and short campaign then it is the sort of seat they will win without needing to try.

  11. Could this be a plausible prediction?
    Huntman (UKIP)- 37%
    Harris (Conservative)- 37%
    Cooke (Labour)- 18%
    Green- 5%
    Liberal Democrat- 2%
    Gandy (English Democrats)- 1%

  12. ‘I honestly don’t see how this can be a better prospect for UKIP than Thanet South where Farage is standing. But it is a very good target for them nonetheless.’

    Maybe because of the candidate

    Rebecca Harris is easier to characiture as the type of careerist MP that UKIP keep telling us is at the root of what’s wrong with British politics, whereas the candidate in Thanet is arguably as right-wing as Farage himself and would I imagine end up agreeing with UKIP on a wide range of issues

    As a liberal(ish) moderate, Harris does seem quite an odd choice for Canvey Island

  13. I actually wonder if the Lib Dems will bother putting up a candidate here at all- It’s quite possibly one of their worst seats anywhere, certainly in England.

  14. There will be a Lab to Con swing in virtually every Scottish constituency as even though ‘collapse’ is probably a slight exaggeration when describing Labour in Scotland their vote share will probably fall by ~10% while the Tories will probably drop by ~1%. This would equal a Scotland swing Lab to Con of ~4.5% (meaning there will be a theoretical Lab to Con swing in most seats though the Tories will be in a very poor third or forth in most) however Barnaby I wouldn’t get too worried about this prospect the Tories aren’t winning any Labour seats. The only negative that will come from this is Dumfriesshire which is probably hopeless for Labour this May and will probably slip further from their grasp.

  15. ‘however Barnaby I wouldn’t get too worried about this prospect the Tories aren’t winning any Labour seats.’

    More importantly – and more worryingly from a Labour pont of view – Labour only seem to be winning over a tiny per centage of those people who desserted them for the Tories in 2010

    A Labour governmet propped up by the SNP is a recipe for disasater, and I think the behavioir of the tabliod press if were to happen would make the stuff uncovered by the Levesson inquiryt look like the smallest of beer – calls for military rule, contract killings of Laboir and SNP politicians etc etc

  16. I personally think that Labour’s best result in Scotland will come in East Renfrewshire, solely because of Jim Murphy’s presence.

  17. Tim Jones. Yes I know it is actually pretty shocking that Labour has gained back very little of their former vote that went Tory in 2010. This is why the ‘swingback’ theory isn’t happening because there as been almost no direct Con to Lab swing since 2010 so there is virtually nothing to ‘swingback’. Intrerestingly in one of the Ashcroft national polls it had more people switching from Lab to Con than Con to Lab since 2010! I don’t know if this is a common feature or not but it is still shocking nonetheless.

  18. “A Labour governmet propped up by the SNP is a recipe for disasater, and I think the behavioir of the tabliod press if were to happen would make the stuff uncovered by the Levesson inquiryt look like the smallest of beer – calls for military rule, contract killings of Laboir and SNP politicians etc etc”

    More likely it will finally provoke the English public out of their indifference on the Scottish question, making independence inevitable. That’s exactly what the SNP want, of course, which is why their “support” will be used to engineer such an outcome.

  19. ‘More likely it will finally provoke the English public out of their indifference on the Scottish question, making independence inevitable. That’s exactly what the SNP want, of course, which is why their “support” will be used to engineer such an outcome.’

    Exactly – and as someone who supports the Union I think that would be disastrous

    Looking at all the possible outcomes, a continuation of the Conservative/Liberal coalition seems one of the the least bad, which serves to highlight the unenviable choices ahead

    ‘Intrerestingly in one of the Ashcroft national polls it had more people switching from Lab to Con than Con to Lab since 2010! ‘

    That certainly is truly shocking – although i’m still not sure I buy the argument that Labour should be as grateful to UKIP as the Tories were to the SDP in the 1980s, because despite taking votes from Labour, they have taken proportionately more votes from the Tories

    Their existence has still harmed Labour as it’s given the plenty of disillusioned Tories a new, fresher, albeit less savoury, option

  20. TIM JONES

    The only option that isn’t good for the SNP is a Labour Majority I’m afraid. The best for them would be a Conservative Majority, closely followed by a strongly Conservative coalition.

    A Labour government with SNP confidence and supply could be bad for the Union, but only depending on how adroitly the two sides played it. Its legitimacy in the eyes of the English might depend on whether Labour wins the popular vote in England (a quite possible outcome).

    As for what the papers say, they are just paper tigers nowadays.

  21. I agree with the point that the UK is finished if the next government is a Labour minority propped up by the SNP.

  22. Today’s Ashcroft poll puts UKIP just 1% behind the Tories whereas in Boston & Skegness they’re 3% behind. Maybe this should be UKIP’s top target.

    See Lord Ashcroft’s Twitter feed for details. He also polled Basildon South and Cambs NE.

  23. It should be noted that in Boston and Skegness as well as Castle point that UKIP were ahead before 2010 DK reallocation. Both are highly probable UKIP gains.

  24. It’s looking like the Tories made a serious mistake in selecting a non-Eurosceptic MP before the 2010 election.

  25. To be honest, nobody really knows which of the various figures in Lord Ashcroft’s polls are best – how to reallocate don’t knows, what weighting to use, or whether the CVI or the national voting intention or a combination of the two is most accurate. All of that, coupled with the normal margin of error involved in any such polling, suggests that both this seat and Boston & Skegness are very close, and it would be pretty difficult to say anything more than that with any authority.

  26. @ Simon , I’d go with that. I believe at least one will be a close UKIP gain , but I agree it’s difficult to call. I’d say nigh on impossible.
    @Andy JS
    Yep , pretty much!

  27. I wonder if Bob Spink will endorse & campaign for the UKIP candidate.

    As with Clacton, once a UKIP bandwagon gets rolling here it could become impossible for the Tories to stop.

  28. ‘I wonder if Bob Spink will endorse & campaign for the UKIP candidate.’

    Did Spink actually fight the seat in 2010 under UKIP colours – and if not, why not?

    Either way, he got a fairly respectable tally when compared to most incumbants who defect from one of the mainstteam parties

  29. Castle Point is a bit like the opposite of SW Wiltshire as far as Tory seats go. SW Wiltshire is one of the least volatile constituencies in the country whereas in Castle Point you get the impression large numbers of votes are ready to change their vote if they take umbrage at something or other. Which is good for UkIp.

  30. Spink stood as a “Green Belt” independent, though clearly with UKIP support.

  31. ‘Castle Point is a bit like the opposite of SW Wiltshire as far as Tory seats go’

    Quite a good analogy Andy

    There seem to lots of volatile seats in Essex, Kent and Herfordshire, although they look increasingly ominous for Labour who seem to be out of the picture for good

    It seems bizarre that Laboiur won here in1997 – and does suggest that Blair was a bit of a Bill Clinton in being able to get Labour votes in areas the party is way out of favour now

  32. Seems our predictions were pretty close to the Ashcroft poll. Anyway this is one to watch!

  33. It should be noted that in Boston and Skegness as well as Castle point that UKIP were ahead before 2010 DK reallocation. Both are highly probable UKIP gains.

    I think reallocating don’t knows on the basis of 2010, clearly favours the tories as against ukip , but there’s no other methodologically sound way of doing this….how about divying up the dk’s on the basis of the actual poll?

    As a result of Ashcroft, i would change my castle point prediction to a ukip gain. I though the tories would be further ahead, tbh. I think the Boston UKIP 12 year old may struggle with waverers though.

  34. On the SNP point, I take the view that independence is inevitable, and that the nationalists’ job is to smoothen the process so that in a decades’ time they can convince people that the transition isn’t as big as it seemed in 2014 – in rosier economic times they might have convinced some of the doubters to take the chance. A deal with Labour could get them closer to that point, but could also have the opposite effect if that government is seen by English and Scots alike to have failed.

    As for this seat, for my money this is as close as you’ll get to a UKIP bellwether seat. If they can’t concentrate support here, then how many places can UKIP hope to win primarily on the strength of the party’s popularity, rather than being reliant on established candidates?

  35. Peter Crawford. Highly probable is a gross exaggeration sure ukip could take both Castle Point and Boston and Skegness but neither is certain or even likely. I would make them both tossups for now with Basildon South and Thurrock East being lean Conservative and North East Cambridgeshire being Safe Conservative.

  36. I like Chris’ point about this being a UKIP bell weather seat. I agree that this is the closest thing we have to a seat where UKIP could win on a national swing rather than personalities.

    Carswell, Reckless (who may well lose anyway) and Farage have advantages. The 21 year old Boston and Skegness candidate may suffer due to his age and experience. SBET candidate furore has killed their chances their by the sounds of it.

    Possibly only Castle Point and Thurrock are now seats that are likely to be won on national popularity alone?

  37. Agree with Rob Brown. Ashcroft is confirming my longstanding view, which dates back to the old site, that this is UKIP’s best chance of winning a seat (other than the special circumstances of the by-elections, and Farage’s high personal profile).

    UKIP wil however need to campaign effectively here, which they haven’t managed up until now. If they get distracted by Thurrock and Basildon, or collapse into feuding as in Basildon & Southend, then they will lose the opportunity.

  38. Probably UKIP will total only one or two or three – I would say two – Clacton and Thurrock. But their popularity & vote share could gain momentum and might see them winning in Grimsby.Yarmouth. Cannock. ROTHERHAM. Castle Point. Louth…

    Also Farage might play some aces/jokers that could shift further public opinion and UKIP vote share. TV debates / PPC Broadcasts / playing the Turkey card ( “77 million Moslem EU citizens with the right to enter UK..”.etc)

    My guess is they will do very mediocre or very well. – Either 1-3 or 11-13 seats.

  39. I am certain that UKIP will be some distance behind both Labour & the Tories in Cannock Chase. Louth & Horncastle is also extremely unlikely.

  40. “however Barnaby I wouldn’t get too worried about this prospect the Tories aren’t winning any Labour seats”

    Wouldn’t be so sure – Dumfries & Galloway has potential for the Tories (as a possible gain from Labour in Scotland).

  41. Lord Ashcroft poll February 2015:

    Con 37
    UKIP 36
    Lab 16
    LD 3

    Could be one to look out for come May though I lean towards a Conservative hold- at least the Conservatives have an incumbent here which is more than can be said for South Thanet and Boston & Skegness.

  42. As someone who lives in the constituency myself, there is the general feeling that the Conservatives will hold this seat – mainly due to the fact that Rebecca Harris’ seems to be exceedingly popular among the residents. My personal prediction here is CON HOLD, but a close one; specifically:
    Con 39
    UKIP 35
    Lab 15
    LD 3

  43. Sereena Davey is the Lib Dem candidate.

  44. “Rebecca Harris seems to be exceedingly popular among the residents. My personal prediction.”

    Really? From what I’ve seen of her the one and only time I saw her on TV (she seems to be a very quiet MP) she doesn’t suit this seat at all as she seems far too middle class / posh.

  45. An incumbent doesnt always benefit from being so. I doubt Esther McVey will, nor perhaps the MP here or Soubry. It’s fine meeting lots of people, but not if you annoy them.

  46. To be fair, Rebecca Harris is no nowhere near as irritating as McVey or Soubry. Being quiet/ posh won’t necessarily kill her chances here.

  47. Kim Gandy (Eng Dem) has moved from here to Dagenham & Rainham. Possibly good news for UKIP.

  48. Could well be. UKIP gain on the cards very narrowly perhaps here?

  49. I think it’s possible, yes.

  50. UKIP could emerge with at least 4 seats after all I reckon…

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