Chatham & Aylesford

2015 Result:
Conservative: 21614 (50.2%)
Labour: 10159 (23.6%)
Lib Dem: 1360 (3.2%)
Green: 1101 (2.6%)
UKIP: 8581 (19.9%)
TUSC: 125 (0.3%)
Others: 133 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 11455 (26.6%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Kent. Part of Medway council area and part of Tonbridge and Malling.

Main population centres: Chatham, Snodland, Aylesford, Larkfield.

Profile: Consists of Chatham and the semi-rural area south of the M2 and Blue Bell Hill, around the town of Snodland and the villages of Aylesford and Larkfield. Chatham is a tough, working class town, the middle of the three towns making up the Medway conurbation, that is historically associated with the military and Chatham Dockyard, though this closed in the 1980s. The historic site of the dockyard lies outside the constituency boundary in the Gillingham seat.

Politics: Chatham and Aylesford was created for the 1997 election and is a Conservative - Labour marginal, with Chatham tending to vote Labour and the Aylesford part of the seat Conservative. It was held by Labour from 97 and taken by the Conservatives in 2010.

Current MP
TRACEY CROUCH (Conservative) Born 1975, Ashford. Educated at Folkestone School for Girls and Hull University. Former head of public affairs for Aviva. First elected as MP for Chatham & Aylesford in 2010. Sports minister since 2015. She is a qualified FA football coach.
Past Results
Con: 20230 (46%)
Lab: 14161 (32%)
LDem: 5832 (13%)
BNP: 1365 (3%)
Oth: 2219 (5%)
MAJ: 6069 (14%)
Con: 16055 (38%)
Lab: 18387 (44%)
LDem: 5744 (14%)
UKIP: 1226 (3%)
Oth: 668 (2%)
MAJ: 2332 (6%)
Con: 14840 (37%)
Lab: 19180 (48%)
LDem: 4705 (12%)
UKIP: 1010 (3%)
MAJ: 4340 (11%)
Con: 18401 (37%)
Lab: 21191 (43%)
LDem: 7389 (15%)
Oth: 642 (1%)
MAJ: 2790 (6%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
TRACEY CROUCH (Conservative) See above.
TRISTAN OSBORNE (Labour) Educated at Kings School Rochester and Durham University. Legal and compliance consultant. Medway councillor since 2011.
THOMAS QUINTON (Liberal Democrat)
LUKE BALNAVE (Green) Born 1984. Educated at Haberdashers Askes Boys School and Durham University.
Comments - 92 Responses on “Chatham & Aylesford”
  1. Amazing to think the warnings of Labour candidate Tristan Osborne (Christian mentioned a report in the Sunday Times above) a year ago came back to haunt the party in a big way here:

    Those vying for Labour leadership ought to speak directly to a number of former PPCs in the south from the recent election given the important role those seats played in Tony Blair’s triumphs. And listen extremely carefully, because I’m sure not just Tristan Osborne understands what happened.

    I made the comment above about David Miliband not making a lot of difference if he was elected. I focused on the rise of UKIP at the time and Euroscepticism. Admittedly I’m sort of eating my words now.

  2. Tracey Crouch was named sports minister, which should be pretty interesting given her background in football coaching. Most likely a better choice than Helen Grant (who I think has returned to the backbenches).

    Crouch strikes me as being on the very moderate side of the party.

  3. ”Amazing to think the warnings of Labour candidate Tristan Osborne (Christian mentioned a report in the Sunday Times above) a year ago came back to haunt the party in a big way here:”

    Yes, Tristan was spot on about Miliband and it showed in the Labour result here. Although I like Miliband, I just knew in my heart of hearts even before he became Labour leader that he wasn’t going to cut through in seats like Chatham and Aylesford, Watford, Gillingham and Rainham etc, etc. As someone mentioned in a previous post it had the highest drop in Labour vote share of any seat in England and Wales where there hadn’t been a by-election between 2010 and 2015. It shows that Labour have a huge mountain to climb electorally before winning another general Election.

    Labour’s only hope of regaining seats like this is to elect Liz Kendall as leader. Yes, she’s a Blairite and I know many Labour supporters despise Blair but for all his faults, he never lost an election – he won three, yes three General Elections. Most Labour supporters just simply don’t understand the basic fact that there are those that will always vote Labour, those that will always vote Tory and the middle ground swing voters who have proved in the main, to be right of centre. If you win them over, as Blair did, you win the General Election. It’s really that simple!

  4. I have been reflecting on electoral succession to Christian

    Only three Labour leaders since 1945 have won majorities – Atlee, Wilson and Blair.
    All three ran on a “time for change” agenda. Their opponents were tired, lacking fresh ideas and unity. So all three were standing at the right time, with a message that registered with the electorate.

    When parties hand over to a second leader after an electorally strong leader it is difficult for the successor to win. Eden, failed very quickly after Churchill, but MacMillan was really the new era and Home failed to win after him. Callaghan did not win after taking over from Wilson. John Major only just won the election, despite losing a lot of seats after taking over from Margaret Thatcher. Gordon Brown failed to win after taking over from the winner Tony Blair.

    Wilson, Thatcher and Blair each won three elections. So is David Cameron’s promise to go after two elections going to be helpful to his successor, or will they follow the trend of electorally unlucky successors?

    The message for Labour is that they need to capture a mood for change and have the right leader to recover.

  5. I have just been posting on another thread, Stoke, about needs for new teaching hospitals. My major point if that as UK population is growing at about 500,000 a year, whilst this situation continues we need approximately one new teaching hospital every two years (plus extra ones to make up the backlog). As Chatham is in an area of high growth near London, which hoovers up speclalist medical resopurces at the expense of the rest of South-East England, can I ask which parites, if any, have proposed siting an additional teaching hospital here and what the voting consequences are of such proposals or the lack of them?

    University of Kent would doubtless like a major Medical School, training doctors, at its Canterbury headquarters but suggestions along thes lines in the local papers recently were firmly slaped down. In addtion, a medical school needs to serve a population in excess of a million, whic h the Medway towns at the centre of Kent could more easily find than Canterbury.

    it is of course relevant that hospitals all over Kent have failed woefully when it comes to recent quality assessments.

  6. I posted earflier today on the Gillingham thread because the BBC had been mentioning Gillinghma (which they proonouced with a hard GI abour car parking charges at Medway Maritime hospital going up from £5 to £*.

    The hospitalmin Medway is in an even bigger financial mess thatn Most NHS hospitals. Unless the Conservatives show great urgency to do something effective about this they will lose a lot of votes, and deserve to.

  7. Interesting that this seat now has the largest Tory majority (in percentage terms) of the North Kent seats – traditionally it has been the weakest of them. Some kind of personal vote perhaps?
    Also interesting is that Gravesham is now one of the weakest of them when it was gained by the Tories 5 years earlier.

  8. Why on earth has Tracey Crouch apologised for telling people to scrap their pay TV subscriptions if they’re short of money? Pay TV is a luxury not a necessity and her original comments were utterly sensible.

  9. Exactly my thoughts Andy JS. Her original comments were hardly ‘get on your bike’ territory, or even draconian in the slightest. Let’s remember that this is someone who is very much on the moderate wing of the Tory party.

  10. I broadly agree with Andy and Tristan on the issue itself but MPs, especially ministers, should where possible avoid making these kinds of pronouncements. IIRC there were a lot of very expensive TVs turning up on MP expense claims…

  11. Oh no, disgraceful out of touch tory pontificating what people should do with their hard earned handouts. She should be disbarred from ministerial office henceforth

  12. Why on earth has Tracey Crouch apologised for telling people to scrap their pay TV subscriptions if they’re short of money?

    Pathetic, isn’t it?

  13. Yes. Why don’t people think before they speak these days. Perhaps it’s because everybody is so used to talking crap on social media 24/7. Apologising for your own opinion does indeed look pathetic and if you feel you have to apologise it’s best not to say it in the first place.

    I agree 100% that TV subscriptions are luxuries given that we have Freeview but I strongly suspect the taxpayer will be paying for more than a few MPs’ Sky packages.

  14. Its the ratchet effect.

    What was originally regarded as a luxury quickly becomes a ‘right’ with the government being held responsible for its delivery.

    Whether that is subscription tv for the welfare class or immigrant domestic serfs for the metropolitan ‘elite’.

    The student who gave the “I want, I want, I want” speech at the Labour conference a few years ago was an example of this mentality.

  15. Crouch let slip that she was out of touch, like most Westminster centred Tories. She made a mistake, but not all of us think that apologies are the answer. The answer is changed policy (or rebellion, which is hard for a junior minister).

    Most people in Kent know that Tracy Crouch is hard-working and well-intentioned. I don’t think this banana skin will have much lasting effect.

  16. Frederic- whilst I don’t doubt that many/ a huge number of MP’s are out of touch, what exactly about her original comments was ‘out of touch’? Or is it that the British are so hugely entitled now that a few home truths can’t be aired?

  17. Loads of ordinary people, including those on benefits and more, can’t and don’t even dream of having subscription TV. They can’t cancel what they don’t have As I understand it, Tracy Crouch made a”let them eat cake” statement.

    Tracy Crouch (and every other Tory MP) might also remember the many thousands of people who are being criminalised each year because they can’t afford the basic TV licence (or poll tax as I think of it).

  18. But by the same token Fred, many do have it, and perhaps they were who Track was addressing

  19. I think Tracey Crouch was making a perfectly reasonable point – surely most would agree that subscription TV is an optional extra that people struggling to get by really should let go of. It is worth reading the full Spectator interview, she is a very impressive MP and minister and was talking about what she as a constituency MP can do to help people when she made the controversial comments –

  20. People vary a lot in relation to the extent that they can live within a tight budget. For instance, a substantila percentage of smokers are so addictied that they have great difficulties. There is a lot of difficulty, and indeed callousness, in the argument that if one person can do without certain goods everybody can do so.

    The real criticism about what Tracy Crouch said is that the large majority of people who are on benefts never had subscription TV or gave it up ages ago. Tracy Crouch showed that she did not realise how hard things are for people on beneftis.

  21. So you’re now likening a nicotine addiction to the need to have shy sports xtra +1 HD?

  22. Hell if we’re going to have a competition: I grew up in the 1990s with an unemployed father…etc

  23. Before 1997 I think the dockyard was in Medway and Chatham town centre in Mid Kent. Since then the dockyard was in Medway and then Rochester and Strood.

    1983 City of Rochester-upon-Medway parliamentary boundaries:

    Medway (unchanged 1997): All Saints; Cuxton and Halling; Earl; Frindsbury; Frindsbury Extra; Hoo St Werburgh; Rede Court; St Margaret’s and Borstal; Temple Farm; Thames Side; Town; Troy Town; Warren Wood.

    Mid Kent: Holcombe; Horsted; Lordswood; Luton; Walderslade; Wayfield; Weedswood. (this constituency also took in electoral wards from the Borough of Maidstone but I have not included them here)

  24. Chatham is apparently the most affordable commuter town for people working in London:

    The seat seems to have been trending towards the Conservatives over the past twenty years – but given the above, that may be about to reverse. It would have to shift quite a long way for Labour to be competitive here, but it could happen in ten or fifteen years time, if Londoners priced out of the capital continue to move in.

  25. I sometimes hear Tracey Crouch touted as a potential leader so could be interesting

  26. Oh the irony. One of the few Ministers in this government who is actually performing well is (almost certainly) going to resign over a point of principle,whereas the Caroline Nokes’ of the world keep bullshitting their way through. HH is right…there is seemingly very little room for you in politics if you aren’t an arsehole.

  27. Confirmed that she has Resigned.

  28. She really had no choice in the circumstances. My understanding is that she has worked extremely hard on her report into this particular area of gambling, and to have it treated so flippantly by the Sec of State must have been disheartening.

  29. It’s disheartening that a likeable, well-intentioned government minister who almost stands out for her ‘normality’ feels forced to resign because the government has essentially caved in to the gambling industry and gone back on what seemed like a genuine attempt to tackle some of the worst excesses in gambling by limiting fixed-odds terminals

    I’m not sure I even swallow the revenue argument, more the Conservative belatedly recognising who butters its bread

  30. The weird thing is, even the gambling industry doesn’t really want FOBTs. A successful parasite never kills its host, and FOBTs are most definitely a host-killer.

  31. Though it’s admirable to see a politician sticking to their principles, IMO this was an unnecessary resignation. It’s understandable that Hammond doesn’t want to risk a load of avoidable high street job losses right at the start of Brexit, when he might be having to content with a lot of unavoidable ones.

    As long as the government is committed to the £2 stake on FOBTs over a certain timeframe that’s what is most important. I see no problem with giving the betting companies some time to prepare and adjust.

    This also shows up Theresa May’s poor man-management skills to be rather like David Brent’s. She could have buttered up Crouch and persuaded her to stay, perhaps by promoting her or shifting her sideways to another job.

    It is an inevitable consequence of Brexit, in the early and transition stages, that the government is going to be spending a lot of time firefighting, and one side effect will be that ministers’ pet projects like this one are going to get postponed.

  32. There is a serious problem with high street shopping closing bit this isn’t something that has ever affected bookies

  33. There are too many bookies and many would welcome some of them closing down. Just that the timing right now isn’t the best.

    I worked in a few betting shops in the early 90s as a student job and they were a world away from what they are today. Problem is that horse and dog racing just isn’t profitable for the bookies, so they’ve turned their shops into amusement arcades.

  34. Which is where the appeal comes from. Shops close because you can go online. But a few of my friends enjoy a flutter and will tell you that you can’t recreate that on the internet. It’s one of the few social & commercial fronts that still thrive

  35. Not sure Crouch would have enjoyed a promotion – she seemed to love the Sport role.

  36. Tracey Crouch has been been diagnosed with cancer. Sounds like they caught it early and she should be okay.

  37. Sobering – we are the same age. And she’s a healthy sporty type – shows cancer is rarely fair when choosing who to target.

    Hope she gets well soon, she is one of the better Tories.

    Many people must be going undiagnosed at the moment, she is lucky to be an MP in that regard.

  38. Agree with HH – Crouch comes across as one of the more genuine politicians – someone who seems to be in it from the right reasons, much like her colleague Helen Whately

    As the stars of Kemi Badenoch and Dehenna Davison – who may be many things but they certainly aren’t very nice – are on the rise – it does the Tories no harm to have more sympathetic females amongst their ranks

    Wishing Crouch a quick recovery.

  39. I’ll add to the positive comments and well wishes here. Tracey Crouch has always struck me as a very nice person and certainly someone who is in politics for the right reasons. In fact I’ve often wondered if she’s rather too nice for the cut and thrust world of Westminster. Her cancer was caught very early and hopefully she will be fully recovered soon.

  40. Sadly being nice doesn’t always go you favours in politics – as the likes of Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston and Dominic Grieve could all testify.

    Of course it doesn’t always work out like that – and some nice people have had successful political careers – but not to the same extent as their nastier counterparts – and more than any other the Parliament of 2017/19 was given a harsh lesson on the cruel realities of British politics in the age of Brexit

  41. Wollastons flip flopping on Brexit certainly didn’t help her situation though. I’m no friend of the others but Wollaston is the one I really do not do. Like how do you expect people to take you seriously if you make your stance on an issue abundantly clear only to change your mind a bit further on. At the very least if you aren’t too sure on something its not too hard to keep a low profile and not make yoir views too well known. Anyway I digress.
    Tracy is a good MP and I hope she gets well soon. Of all the politicians I’ve had to do with she is the only one so far who has dished out thank you cards! That was actually back in 2010 when she was first elected – I still have fond memories of that campaign now…

  42. I think it was more the people she was associating with in supporting Brexit that caused Wollaston to switch sides, as opposed to anything about the merits, or lack of it, of Brexit itself

    She always struck me as a thoroughly decent person which in itself meant she was always an awkward fit for the Tories.

    I think most Tories disliked her because she played a role in bringing right winger Nigel Evans to court – despite the fact he, fortunately for him it has to be said, got acquitted

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