2015 Result:
Conservative: 27732 (51.5%)
Labour: 9482 (17.6%)
Lib Dem: 6394 (11.9%)
Green: 1892 (3.5%)
UKIP: 7652 (14.2%)
Liberal: 665 (1.2%)
MAJORITY: 18250 (33.9%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Essex. Part of the Chelmsford council area.

Main population centres: Chelmsford, Great Baddow, Galleywood.

Profile: While Chelmsford borough council covers a much larger area, the Chelmsford seat is tightly draw around just the city itself and the urban villages of Great Baddow and Galleywood to its immediate south. Chelmsford is an affluent middle class city with a long association with hi tech manufacturing through the world`s first radio factory in 1899, early electronic engineering industry and later defence industries. While this part of the economy has declined in recent decades as Chelmsford has become more a commuter town, British Aerospace and a2e retain a prescence in the city. Chelmsford is also home to one of the main campuses of Anglia Ruskin University.

Politics: The Chelmsford seat was recreated in 2010. Between 1997 and 2010 it had been divided between two seats, a partially rural West Chelmsford seat and a seat that paired East Chelmsford with rural Maldon. There is much Liberal Democrat support in Chelmsford itself and the old Chelmsford seat has been a prime target for the Lib Dems. The two successor seats both attached parts of Chelmsford to some very Conservative countryside, making them both reliable Tory seats. The new Chelmsford seat was more favourable to the Liberal Democrats on paper, although in the event Simon Burns managed to hold on with a comfortable five figure majority.

Current MP
SIMON BURNS (Conservative) Born 1952, Nottingham. Educated at Stamford School and Oxford University. Former journalist and company director. Contested Alyn and Deeside 1983. First elected as MP for West Chelmsford in 1987. Minister of State for Health 2010-2012, Minister of State for Transport 2012-2013. Resigned to run for the Deputy Speakership in 2012. Received a knighthood in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 25207 (46%)
Lab: 5980 (11%)
LDem: 20097 (37%)
UKIP: 1527 (3%)
Oth: 1782 (3%)
MAJ: 5110 (9%)
Con: 22946 (45%)
Lab: 13236 (26%)
LDem: 13326 (26%)
UKIP: 1544 (3%)
MAJ: 9620 (19%)
Con: 20446 (42%)
Lab: 14185 (29%)
LDem: 11197 (23%)
GRN: 837 (2%)
Oth: 1478 (3%)
MAJ: 6261 (13%)
Con: 23781 (41%)
Lab: 15436 (26%)
LDem: 17090 (29%)
Oth: 734 (1%)
MAJ: 6691 (11%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Chelmsford West

2015 Candidates
SIMON BURNS (Conservative) See above.
CHRIS VINCE (Labour) Teacher.
STEPHEN ROBINSON (Liberal Democrat) Born 1966. Communications consultant. Essex councillor 1993-2001 and since 2012, Chelmsford councillor, former Epping Forest Councillor. Contested West Chelmsford 2001, 2005, Chelmsford 2010.
Comments - 86 Responses on “Chelmsford”
  1. WOC is positing a rather moderate UKIP “surge” here for an East Anglian seat… or no?

  2. modest, I should say..

  3. I don’t think a surge can be either modest or moderate. An increase in vote share can be though. It rather reminds me of when the Guardian once described Nicholas Scott as an “ultra-moderate” which is a contradiction in terms.

  4. an “ultra-moderate” is great euphemism.. meaning he is so low-key that he is a shadow on the wall.. LoL

  5. My forecast for 2015 here:

    Con 35
    LD 28
    UKIP 17
    Lab 15
    Others 5

  6. The intro should read four figure majority (not five).

  7. Conservative Hold. 10,000 maj.

  8. Not a surprise, although I didn’t expect any official announcements so early on in this Parliamentary session, considering the uncertainty over coming boundary changes.

    I don’t think the aborted 2013 review proposed any changes to this seat. However, will CCHQ hold candidate selection back a couple of years, to make sure there are vacant seats available for MPs who’s own seats are abolished under the 2018 proposals?
    Or do they think there’ll be plenty of seats vacated anyway, so they won’t need to delay any selections?

    I see Sir Simon got a stonking majority and a respectable increase in vote share last year.
    Considering how tightly the boundaries are now drawn around the city that’s quite impressive.

  9. I would think none of the main parties will be making selections until the boundary review is finalised because it will have a knock-on effect on constituency associations. Also, I wouldn’t read too much into the aborted review conclusions because only a small shift in numbers might cause the map to be quite significantly different. Having said that the city of Chelmsford is a good size for a constituency of its own so I doubt there will be major changes here.

    As a sidenote I’m a bit surprised UKIP didn’t do better than 14%, which was only 1.5% above what they got nationally. I’d have thought Chelmsford would have been quite good UKIP territory.

  10. Chelmsford is one of the worst places for UKIP in Essex. It is too middle class, has a large(ish) student population and is a great deal more centre right than most of Essex.

    UKIP are right to target South Essex from Grays through to Southend and North Essex around Clacton.

  11. When I’ve visited – for cricket at The County Ground – I’ve always got the impression of a fairly dull and somewhat run down place. Perhaps my impression is misguided, or perhaps the seat is less favourable to UKIP because of the large number of commuters (though having said that Rochester is a commuter town and they do well there).

  12. Chelmsford will have a substantial local population connected with its local government status as a County Town. It has a cathedal as well.
    In addition, Chelmsford has long been a centre ofr light industry, historically as the headquarters for Marconi. Thie significance of Marconi has decreased in recent years, but there is plenty of employment in other firms in this industrial sector to compensate.

    Chelmsford has unemployment way under 2%: in fact many people would regard it as having overemployment.

    I cna’t say Chelmsford is particuarly attractive, but one can always retreat to the ciricket ground which has a very pleasant location by the river.

    In realtion to a recent comment, 7% of the electorate in further and higher education is actually a notably low percentage for a seat with Chelmsford’s demographics. Chelmsford lost out to Colchester for a university in the 1960s and more recently Anglia Ruskin unviersity has, for prestige reasons, been inclined to concentrate on Cambridge although it does have a campus in Chelmsford..

  13. I grew up just outside Southend. Believe me, by Essex standards, Chelmsford is regarded as somewhat ‘posh’ (certainly compared to Southend, Basildon and Thurrock/ Grays). Make of that what you will! I agree that the town centre of a bit blah, but many of the suburbs are quite nice, and some of the surrounding villages are gorgeous.

    Frederic’s comments re: the job/ student situation are also very accurate.

  14. “Not a surprise, although I didn’t expect any official announcements so early on in this Parliamentary session, considering the uncertainty over coming boundary changes.”

    Ronnie Campbell announced on the day after the election.

  15. 53 47 for leave here. For the night not too bad for remain as they way the vote is going the national vote will be more than this in this dead heat 50:50 place.

  16. I knew Stuart well at the time and although I am neither political nor a Liberal, canvassed for him. He never alluded to the old hypocrite’s homosexuality but it was widely known. Stevas had appointed himself spokesman for his church on moral issues such as divorce and abortion but was strangely silent on that other mortal sin. At one of Stuart’s electoral meetings a Stevas stooge asked his view on abortion. He replied forthrightly (unlike other politicians) and said “If you don’t like my view their are two other candidates standing in this election.” He slashed Stevas’ majority to about 387? That’s when Norman cut and ran for the Lords. I believe Stuart has reentered the fray in East Devon. I wonder how Parliament would deal with an honourable man in it’s ranks.

  17. MEP Vicky Ford has been selected for the Conservtives here. Can only see her Majority going up slightly through as while they was a decent ukip vote they could be some Tory to Lib Dem switchers there meaning overall little change to 2015

  18. A solicitor and former LibDem agent has been jailed for 20 years.

    Glen Bartlett, 60, was convicted of 10 counts of buggery of boys under 16, 35 years ago.

    Police said he showed no remorse and used his knowledge as a criminal defence and mental health specialist to adjourn proceedings several times, after his arrest in 2015.

    He lived in Rayleigh and worked in Chelmsford and Billericay, but previously lived in Brighton and Manchester where victims came forward.

    Bartlett denied being part of an historic CSE ring, but police said the National Crime Agency are still investigating his links to one.

  19. Remarkable result here today. A friend of mine was amongst the more than 30 Tories who lost their seats to the Lib Dem landslide. Being a keen Brexiter in a Brexity town didn’t save him or many of his colleagues, nor did it stop the town from electing a load of ultra Remainers.

    Local issues obviously played a part too but I’ve heard it argued that Essex Man is starting to get a bit fidgety over Brexit, as many such people have a lot to lose from a crash out. By contrast the Brexiters of the midlands and the north are generally older and/or have less to lose; in these kind of places the Tory vote held up much better.

  20. Quite possibly. Lib Dems also improved in wards covering Brentwood town – and the areas the Lib Dems won in Chelmsford tend to have similar demographics.
    The Essex Man people I know I suspect are still No Dealers but they not the wealthiest or are retired.

  21. I grew up just down the road from Chelmsford. Whilst I would not deny this is a surprising result, this is not really a classic Essex man seat…nothing like Southend, Basildon, Harlow etc. It’s also not got the tacky nouveau riche element that parts of the west of Essex have. The surprise to me is that the LDs haven’t done better over the years, frankly.

  22. Also…I would not consider Chelmsford as Brexity. Leave only barely won here, which is significant when you consider how Eurosceptic Essex is overall. Remain would have a great shout here in a second referendum.

  23. It was 55% leave. But sill a target council in the (very unlikely) second referendum for remain.

  24. That’s right…apologies, thought it was closer. Saffron Walden was the super close one (another atypical Essex seat).

  25. Uttersford council went Tory to Ratepayers today.

  26. I think Tristan’s points are fair actually. One issue here is that the parliamentary boundaries are complex relative to council boundaries and have changed very significantly over time. Chelmsford constituency now covers pretty much just the town whereas the council includes outlying areas which have at different times been in various other seats – Braintree, Maldon and Witham certainly. It’s therefore likely IMO that Chelmsford constituency is less Brexity than Chelmsford council.

  27. @H.Hemmelig

    That’s probably true but that still wouldn’t make Chelmsford especially Remain, it was probably around the national average of 52%. The Lib Dem victory here was probably more to do with local issues and unpopularity of the council than anything else.

    Looking at the results they vary quite wildly from place to place even in demographically similar areas. I imagine the explanation for this is how popular/unpopular the Tory council was (same for Labour) and how much people desired a change. Brexit itself probably damaged the Tories in very Remain places like Bath but in most other areas it would’ve been a mixture of local politics as well as general annoyance with the (correctly) perceived incompetence of the main parties Westminster.

  28. *at Westminster

  29. I would phrase it differently….in certain Leave-voting districts, Brexit didn’t prevent the Lib Dems from doing exceptionally well, mainly in places where they have had a long history such as here and in the south west. If the Lib Dems recover 30+ seats in these kind of places the Tories will be severely damaged.

  30. Chelmsford Council area was 47% Remain in the referendum, and estimates for the Constituency (which is smaller) are very close to 50:50. YouGov/Best for Britain’s MRP work last year put the constituency as 55:45 to Remain, which would be in line with the overall 5%-ish swing most polls have shown.

    And I wouldn’t discount the idea that the council result here wasn’t due to Remainers flocking to the LibDems. When the turnout is only 35% or so, it only takes a determined GOTV effort by one party to get god results. The LibDems have historically been very effective at doing this where their local organisation is strong.

  31. Had a chat on Facebook with my defeated ex-councillor friend at the weekend.

    He says the Tory defeat here was mostly about Brexit, amplified by a differential turnout of Remainers. He says Chelmsford town is not particularly Brexit supporting (the outer wards, all of which the Tories held, are a different story).

    Therefore it’s likely that James and Tristan are closer to the truth on this one and Peppermintea is a bit wide of the mark.

  32. I could imagine that – there is a lot of new developments in Chelmsford and it’s one of the most commuter heavy towns outside of London (with decent public transport meaning commuters can live there without a car.)
    Even the council built estates have a lot of city commuters and less working class people.

  33. Some sympathy for your friend, Hemmy. These local politicians slave away at a thankless task, making time-consuming and difficult decisions for communities they love, and end up powerless to stop a tidal wave of resentment against them that is entirely the fault of their higher-ups in Westminster.

  34. I have much sympathy for him on a personal level of course, but like the numerous other “liberal Brexiter” types I know, I think he was a fool to be taken in by Leave.

    As you say, not that his personal views or performance as councillor has much impact on the result, he would have lost whatever.

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