Chesham & Amersham

2015 Result:
Conservative: 31138 (59.1%)
Labour: 6712 (12.7%)
Lib Dem: 4761 (9%)
Green: 2902 (5.5%)
UKIP: 7218 (13.7%)
MAJORITY: 23920 (45.4%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Buckinghamshire. The whole of the Chiltern council area.

Main population centres: Chesham, Amersham, Great Missenden, Chalfont St Giles, Little Chalfont , Chalfont St Peter.

Profile: An affluent group of towns and villages set in the Chiltern hills. Chesham and Amersham are very much within the London commuter belt and are the furthest outposts of the London Underground, in their own special zone 9. The proposed High Speed Rail 2 line is planned to run through this seat and is an important local issue.

Politics: A safe Conservative seat, held by the party since its creation in 1974 - normally with over 50% of the vote.

Current MP
CHERYL GILLAN (Conservative) Born 1952, Cardiff. Educated at Cheltenham Ladies College. Former marketing consultant. Contested Greater Manchester Central 1989 European elections. First elected as MP for Chesham and Amersham in 1992. Junior education minister 1995-1997. Shadow Secretary of State for Wales 2005-2010. Secretary of State for Wales 2010-2012.
Past Results
Con: 31658 (60%)
Lab: 2942 (6%)
LDem: 14948 (29%)
UKIP: 2129 (4%)
Oth: 767 (1%)
MAJ: 16710 (32%)
Con: 25619 (54%)
Lab: 6610 (14%)
LDem: 11821 (25%)
GRN: 1656 (4%)
Oth: 1391 (3%)
MAJ: 13798 (29%)
Con: 22867 (50%)
Lab: 8497 (19%)
LDem: 10985 (24%)
UKIP: 1367 (3%)
Oth: 1567 (3%)
MAJ: 11882 (26%)
Con: 26298 (50%)
Lab: 10240 (20%)
LDem: 12439 (24%)
Oth: 692 (1%)
MAJ: 13859 (27%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
CHERYL GILLAN (Conservative) See above.
KIRSTEN JOHNSON (Liberal Democrat)
ALAN STEVENS (UKIP) Educated at Cambridge University. Buckinghamshire councillor since 2013. Contested Chesham and Amersham 2010, South East region 2014 European elections.
Comments - 144 Responses on “Chesham & Amersham”
  1. As almost a polar opposite of Hartlepool, it will be very interesting to see if the Tory vote holds up as well

    The Lib Dems have selected a pretty good, telegenic candidate, and it will be interesting to see if they can muster any sort of a challenge to the Tories

  2. I just don’t see the Lib Dems winning in a place they’ve never won before while they’re bumping along at 6-7% in national polling.

    They may be “good at by-elections”, but it’s been a long time since one delivered them a seat they’d never held before – Dunfermline and West Fife, all the way back in 2006. And that was in the pre-coalition era when the party was consistently getting about 20% of the national vote share.

  3. That’s an interesting point. I suppose all their BE gains since then have been in places they’d held before. And with Brexit not being as salient, I can’t see them doing much here.

  4. Matt, I’m still a member of Wandsworth Conservatives, even though I haven’t lived there for three and a half years. The last thing I took part in was the selection evening for Battersea in December 2018. I missed a really good evening out with church friends and Kim Caddy, whom we selected, was comfortably beaten by Marsha de Cordova. The reason I am still a member is purely inertia on my part. I meant to cancel my membership when I realised Boris was going completely in the opposite direction from what I would have wanted, but have twice forgotten to check when the Standing Order goes out. I might remember to cancel it next year. I was recently invited to a Zoom meeting to select council candidates for the new Lavender Ward, but I’m not going.

  5. I’m hearing strong reports that the Lib Dems campaign here is very NIMBY indeed. A problem for the Lib Dems is that they are now restricted (in England at least, Scotland is a little different) to a very specific type of seat – affluent, middle-class, high house prices but also high home ownership – and so the party’s rhetoric inevitably leans into those people’s concerns.

    The average Lib Dem voter is better off than the average Tory voter, so is it any surprise the latter talk of levelling up while the former are doing their best to keep the various levels apart?

  6. Whilst I don’t doubt the sincerity of many Conservative MPs in wanting to level up – particularly those in red wall seats – it would be bizarre if they didn’t – I don’t get the impression that most of their colleagues necessarily share that aim.

    Prior to Brexit, Boris was an economically dry, socially liberal Tory – much in the Cameron/Osborne mould.

    To be fair, the culturally Conservative and economically paternalist Johnson is a much more potent electoral cocktail than anything the likes of Cameron and Clegg could cook up, and luckily for the PM his new found fans seem far more forgiving of his many mis-deeds than traditional Tory voters

    Any polls on the by-election?

  7. Thanks Andrew.

    Surprised by how close it is but I guess it is pretty much in line with current demographic trends.

    I still think the Tories will prevail but if they do lose Chesham & Amersham whilst having won Hartlepool just a month earlier, it will be pretty remarkable

  8. Tories winning by nationalising airports, Lib Dems winning by courting people who like the status quo – it’s a topsy-turvy world for sure…

  9. Well I know everyone is going to be saying how spectacular the result was here. But I have to say I said the Lib Dems were likely to win it way back on the day Cheryl Gillan passed away.
    This is EXACTLY THE sort of byelection the Lib Dems SHOULD have won and HAD to win to be able to claim still to be relevant.

    1) A Remoaner constituency.
    2) Heavily affected by HS2
    3) Planning reforms
    4) Lib Dems already in 2nd place and actually needing a swing to win that was SMALLER than they actually got in Witney in 2016.

    If they couldnt win here under those circumstances, thrn they cant win amywhere.

    It is also clear that there was massive tactical voting with Labour losing a HUGE share of their vote to lose their deposit.

    Sarah Green may well not be able to hold on at a general election (the last lib dem byelection win they held at a general election was Brent East in 2005).
    But the Lib Dem win here was thoroughly trailed, obvious for all to see, and to be honest I am astonished that everyone seems to be so astonished about it !!!
    For me, its nothing to see really.

  10. I must say I have mixed feelings about this result.

  11. I have to say, in response to Shaun, that hindsight is 20/20. I don’t think people were discounting a Lib Dem victory, but it was for most people an outside bet, and not by 8000 votes certainly.

  12. Some thoughts on the implication of this result – it probably wasn’t solely down to HS2, there are plenty of other things that could motivate voters to oppose the Conservative Party here. For example, many middle-class parents moved into the area to get their kids into a grammar school, only to see their education completely buggered up for the past year.

    Nevertheless, The Discourse is chalking this one up as a win for NIMBYism, this is the narrative that the Tories will take to heart. The party’s planning reforms are utterly dead in the water now, because the Tories will be terrified of more Chesham & Amershams if they go ahead with it. So will one less Tory MP in the house is a good thing from my perspective, it’s probably outweighed by the effect it will have on the 365 of them who are still there.

  13. “I have to say, in response to Shaun, that hindsight is 20/20. I don’t think people were discounting a Lib Dem victory, but it was for most people an outside bet, and not by 8000 votes certainly.”

    You didn’t need hindsight to be able to work put the Lib Dems were going to win it. It would have been absolutely astonishing if they HADN’T won it.
    If nobody could have worked that out months ago, then the quality of reasoned psephology has certainly deteriorated over the years.

    I will admit I didn’t expect it to be by 8000 though. I will give you that.
    Although with the Labour vote collapaing to none-existant, we can all see why.

  14. I am fairly surprised, nay, shocked by this result, perhaps because the by-election has been so under the radar. The Tories are still polling well and the Lib Dems aren’t particularly. And I can’t say it’s an area I know well. Shaun probably has more experience of the LDs on the ground than I do (I’ve mostly lived in areas where they have no presence).

    Tactical voting clearly plays a part. Yes, it would appear unlikely that the LDs will hold this at a general election, but at least it might shake the Tories out of their complacency.

    “I still think the Tories will prevail but if they do lose Chesham & Amersham whilst having won Hartlepool just a month earlier, it will be pretty remarkable”
    This comment from Tim now seems prescient. Kit Malthouse said “We’re seeing a change in British politics, we need to understand that.” I wonder how true that is.

  15. The last Lib Dem by-election gain from the Conservatives which they held at the subsequent general election was Romsey in 2000 – which was also the last time the Lib Dems gained a by-election seat from the Tories until Richmond Park in 2016.

  16. Shaun – I don’t disagree with much of what you say but to claim you’d be astonished if a party who have been flatlining on 6/7% since their ill fated decision to form a coalition with the tories, hadn’t won what has been traditionally one of the safest Tory seats in post war Britain, is complete and utter shit and you know it.

    In normal circumstances this wouldn’t be that much of a shock, but coupled with a government with a double digit lead that had just won Hartlepool, it is astonishing and is future proof that the Tory is becoming less affluent and educated almost by the day.

    Not all Tory MPs will be happy about that

  17. Also, as trade says, this by election went completely under the radar. They didn’t even mention it on the politics show this week, which must be a first. The only comment was a typically arrogant remark from some obscure backbench Tory MP, alluding to the what he thought fact that the tories would be holding it in this week’s PMQs.

  18. “but to claim you’d be astonished if a party who have been flatlining on 6/7% since their ill fated decision to form a coalition with the tories, hadn’t won what has been traditionally one of the safest Tory seats in post war Britain, is complete and utter shit and you know it”

    Then you clearly haven’t learned absolutely anything from previous Lib Dem by-election wins in ultra safe seats. Do you need me to list them? Many of them were won from a similar national position.

    Seems to ne people want to believe this is a shock when it really wasn’t.

    Still, its not the first time Chesham and Amersham has had a Liberal Democrat MP. They elected bloody Ian Gilmour for years. No wonder local Tories got out of the habit of going out and campaigning in the seat.

    If Ed Davey can bring about a byelection in every single south of England seat within the next 4 years, then I am sure he can do what he has been crowing about today and break the so called “blue wall”.

    If not, then Sarah Green will be a good single term MP and we can all go back to normal in 2024.

  19. If you were so confident of the Lib Dem win why did you not come on here saying that – I suspect it’s because you never thought that in the first place.

    Tbh If you think that, in you seem to be as stupid as the people who now vote for your party

  20. Thought Davey’s stunt with the orange mallett and blue wall felt premature. Be careful, it’s this kind of hubris that left Swinson out in the cold after talking up her party’s chances.

    A single by-election where planning reforms and HS2 factored heavily isn’t the best measure of whether the shires are drifting from the Conservatives. Keep in mind the South East is not a monolith. For all the remainy areas there’s also places like Kent that were very pro-leave and strengthening the grip of the Conservatives. That said if they manage to consolidate their 2019 vote in seats they came a strong 2nd, some “blue wall” seats could go their way. Notwithstanding how much boundary changes could impact that though.

    The usual stupidity coming from the Labour left with their confirmation bias analysis of the result. They’re insisting their vote collapse is a result of their typical shopping list of complaints. It’s clear it was a tactical vote where Labour supporters voted LD to defeat the Conservatives. Data outweighs stupidity but they still won’t learn. That’s not to say Starmer hasn’t been ineffectual, but this result wasn’t on him.

  21. Totally agree Neil – Davey’s reaction to the result was full of the type of bravado and bragging that has come back to haunt the Lib Dem’s in the past – Steel, Swinson etc – I thought the leader had more political nouse than to fall into that trap.

    It’s very off-putting to voters too

  22. Neil, I’m not surprised the Labour left are crowing about this result. I think they project whatever they want onto any result. The media of course picked up on the Labour result, like I recall happening with the Richmond Park by-election. It’s surprising and perhaps bad that Labour came fourth behind the Greens – however, in a middle-class affluent area, Labour supporters would often be politically aware enough to vote tactically. And perhaps there were fewer Greens willing to vote tactically. I’ve found that supporters of other parties of the left, like the Greens and Lib Dems, can be very Puritan in their views – before Corbyn, Labour potentially lost out in seats with enough Green voters to have swayed the result. Essentially, in seats where another progressive party is challenging the Tories, I don’t think poor Labour results really say much important.

  23. I don’t think we’re crowing about it. My friend is a town cllr in Buckingham and was up on polling day with Labour MPs. I’m really disappointed for them. You’re quiet right that there was clearly a lot of tactical voting but Labour’s vote almost vanished behind the Lib Dems. I’ve never seen Labour’s 7/8 of Labours vote disappear like it did on Thursday. At least in Richmond Labour held it’s deposit. I looked it up, this is Labours worst result ever

  24. @ Neil

    Data kind of confirms that something has caused Labour’s squeezed vote to be their worst ever performance in a by election.

    By elections always have strong elements of squeezed vote, local issues etc and the Lib Dems are masters at squeezing a vote and making a big thing out of any local issue. However this particular by election didn’t have anything exceptional about it- not like it was going to change the maths of this parliament or stop brexit or whatever.

    However Starmer’s long term strategy works out (and I assume it is to make him an acceptable alternative to the soft Tory vote as well as to Lib Dem 2019 voters) it is clear that at present the core vote (of whatever shade) can’t be bothered to go out and vote Labour. Core votes don’t win elections and because Greens are so distinctive their core vote held up a lot better but it must say something when Labour has less people who can find a reason to vote for them than the Greens had.

    Maybe it is just a moment in time but two by elections now (one Labour were trying to win) have shown former Labour voters not bothering.

  25. Apparently it is Labour’s worst result in a by-election ever. But it’s hardly a seat they would ever have won. Tactical voting would have had a big influence. It’s been a while since there was a by-election in a seat Labour could realistically gain from the Tories. The last one was probably Corby in 2012, which Labour did indeed gain. These things are fairly random, although perhaps by-elections are more likely when the MP is old and/or in poor health.

    Labour had a smaller gap to close (than the margin the Lib Dems overcame in C&A) at the Clacton and Rochester and Strood by-elections, but the incumbents standing for a new party (UKIP) made those quite unusual circumstances.

    There was a swing to Labour at the Airdrie & Shotts by-election recently. But with the SNP as the incumbent, that’s a different kettle of fish to taking seats off the Tories elsewhere. I wonder if the Tories will hold Hartlepool at the GE, as they did with Copeland.

  26. If for any reason a London Tory MP in a marginal stood down during this Parliament triggering a by-election, feels like that’d be Labour’s most winnable prospect in current circumstances. E.g. somewhere like a Kensington or a Chipping Barnet. Elsewhere maybe Southport, giving them a clean sweep of Merseyside.

    Even others which seem to be steadily trending their way like Altrincham & Sale W or High Wycombe wouldn’t be guaranteed in a by-election unless there were local factors or the government was having a really bad spell.

  27. I do agree that a marginal in London or the South where Labour was the main candidate would look very good. I don’t think that’s a good thing though. If Labour want to win the election, the next one if not this one, they can’t just win seats in the South of England. They also need to gain seats in the North not only in the Red Wall but in seats where they haven’t been competitive since 2010 like Carlisle, Briggs & Goole, Blackpool, Scarborough, etc.

    I do think there is a big problem in allowing the Labour Party to basically be viewed as an acceptable progressive party interchangeable with the Lib Dems and Greens. There are short term gains. Potentially a coalition in 2024 and a shot at PR. But Labour losing it’s distinct identity that makes it different to the Lib Dems and the Greens means a very soft vote that can exploited by both parties. We need to say something more than we’re not the Tories or one day people in a maj or places will say but you’re not best placed to beat the Tories

  28. @ Neil

    Labour have been particularly unfortunate with the by elections that have turned up and Wakefield would be another nail biter. Not sure about Southport but perhaps East Worthing. There just don’t seem to be that many where Labour would relish a by election which normally an opposition would love at this stage of a parliament.

    @ Trade Mark

    I think what you say is all quite reasonable (never going to win there) but there still needs an explanation for why C&S was as bad as it was for Labour beyond the factors that would be present in any by election. Personally I think Starmer has given Labour voters no reason to get out and vote.

  29. Labour have subjected themselves to these by elections. Mike Hill was told to resign by Starmer. I don’t know if the outcome of the tribunal would have forced him to resign but if Starmer prempted that to save himself a tricky by election that didn’t work and Labour have proved before they can win elections desite horrible MPs. Starmer was not to know the Tories were about to get a massive poll boost but I think the decision to go early on this was a big reason why this by election was lost

    As for Batley. This is another seat surrounded by seats Labour lost like Wakefield and Dewsbury. Surely someone thought if Tracey Brabin stands for Mayor that’s going to be a difficult election. I’m sure Starmer could have offered Tracey a nice job to avoid a difficult by election or get her to doublehat like Dan Jarvis

  30. Matt, I think Tracey Brabin had to resign as MP, as she becomes the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, a role you cannot hold as a MP. That’s why Dan Jarvis is able to double hat. It’s one of the things I don’t understand about the regional mayors, why some have become PCCs and others not, even when the boundaries of their areas are the same as the police force. Ben Houchen can’t become PCC for Tees Valley, as both Cleveland Police and Durham Constabulary cover his area.

  31. But Boris was able to double hat as MP for Uxbridge and Mayor of London for a year despite the Mayor of London being responsible for police commissioning

  32. You’re right there, Matt. I don’t know if they’ve changed the legislation since then. It was definitely mentioned in coverage I heard that Tracey would have to stand down if she won. So why Boris was able to stand for Uxbridge I can’t think. Did Ken Livingstone stand down as Brent East MP straightaway? I thought he carried on until the 2001 General Election.

  33. There was a by election I think that was won by the Lib Dems.

  34. No, that was later. It looks like WV is right – Livingstone remained an MP until the 2001 election. See here

    The 2003 Brent East by-election had a huge swing to the Lib Dems – the 2001 result looked like a safe seat for Labour. The Iraq war was in the background of the 2003 by-election though.

    Neil – yes, Wakefield could just be another bit of bad news for Labour. A by-election in London or the (urban) south east would indeed be more promising. It also depends on the national polls too though.

    SHEVII – as you suggest, maybe the Green ‘core vote’ is much more sticky than Labour’s, particularly in a place like C&A. Although they were starting from a fairly low base.

  35. Yes you’re right sorry

    Wakefield does look difficult. If that Survation poll bares out I really struggle to see how we gain any seats in the north apart from ones mentioned above like Southport or maybe Altrincham

  36. Though I do think places Bury might be better for Labour

  37. I think the more urban parts of the north, like Bury, are still fairly marginal, whereas the small town ex-industrial areas (ie. Rother Valley) have bigger Tory majorities.

  38. There is a ‘pollster’ firm called LeanTossup who do some pretty outlandish projections but they were bang on about Hartlepool and not far off what Survation is saying in Batley. I gave them another look. Cast my eye over my home in South Yorkshire and it looks awful. It’s not just Rother Valley. Apart from Sheffield and Barnsley Central its all blue. Even Sheffield South East. They look pretty rubbish but if there is pattern in these by elections. I’m going to start asking my comrades questions about how we’re feeling about the Sheffield South East.

    In the locals we did okay, held Mosborough with a large maj but lost Beighton by a whisker. I think we might have won Beighton with a big push. Everything else was as it was.

  39. The Tories didn’t generally gain city seats in 2019 – Birmingham Northfield being one exception I can recall.

  40. The definition of “city” is a bit arbitrary – an amusing story I heard recently is that Rochester lost their city status because Medway Council was too incompetent to renew their designation with the authorities. But a decent practical definition might be “somewhere large enough to have multiple seats named after them.” Under that definition the Tories took:

    Birmingham Northfield
    Blackpool South
    Bolton North East
    Bury x2
    Derby North
    Dudley North
    Stockton South
    Stoke-on-Trent x2
    Warrington South
    West Bromwich x2
    Wolverhampton x2

    They also took Kensington but that one is kind of sui generis…

  41. I think Derby is the only “big” city in that list, apart from Birmingham. So to clarify, the Tories mostly didn’t gain big city seats. Wolverhampton and Stoke are cities, but smaller. They’re part of larger conurbations. Carshalton and Wallington is maybe a bit like that. Greater London, but on the edge, certainly not inner London.

  42. @MattWilson

    ”They also need to gain seats in the North not only in the Red Wall but in seats where they haven’t been competitive since 2010 like Carlisle, Briggs & Goole, Blackpool, Scarborough, etc.”

    The Tories won over 70% of the vote in Brigg and Goole last time, their 10th highest in the whole country, Labour meanwhile barely surpassed 20%. There’s not a single Labour councillor left in the entire constituency either. That seat is so far gone for Labour that it wouldn’t even fall in a greater-than-1997 Tory meltdown.

    But other than that. I agree. Labour’s path to a majority lies through coming up with a plan to deal with the yellow menace north of the border, winning back the more urban parts of the red wall including the Blackpools of this world as well as flipping the increasingly diverse and young Tory seats in the South (Bournemouth, Worthing, Basingstoke etc.) The more rural/small town seats in the red wall e.g. Bishop Auckland, NE Derbyshire, Bolsover, Rother Valley etc. will probably continue to trend Tory regardless, as the reasons for their fall has much to do with changing demographics as anything else.

  43. I agree broadly with PMT but I don’t think it’s changing demographics that are likely to see seats like Bishop Auckland, Brigg & Google, Bassetlaw etc remain in Tory hands for the foreseeable future – more the changing way different demographic groups now vote

    Outside the cities, the Conservatives have working class England under lock and key and there’s plenty more Hartlepool’s out there up for grabs. In comparison there’s fewer seats that look likely to go the other way – outside the likes of Worthing etc

    Labour already hold most of the trendy, affluent seats in London already and as the Chesham and Amersham vote showed – they aren’t making any headway in the ‘kind yuppie’ sort of places that find the new Conservative Party off-putting and out of kilter with their values and outlook on the world.

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