Chingford & Woodford Green

2015 Result:
Conservative: 20999 (47.9%)
Labour: 12613 (28.8%)
Lib Dem: 2400 (5.5%)
Green: 1854 (4.2%)
UKIP: 5644 (12.9%)
TUSC: 241 (0.6%)
Others: 53 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 8386 (19.1%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of Waltham Forest council and part of Redbridge council.

Main population centres: Chingford, Woodford Green.

Profile: A north-east London seat straddling the boundary between Waltham Forest and Redbridge. This is white, owner-occupied Tory suburbia on the edge of Epping Forest and alongside the Chingford reservoirs in the Lee Valley. The majority of the seat is made up of Chingford; Woodford is split between Leyton and Wanstead, Ilford North and this seat, with the part west of the Central Line coming under Chingford and Woodford Green.

Politics: A safe Conservative seat represented by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, but perhaps more associated with his predecessor for the Chingford portion of the seat, Norman Tebbit.

Current MP
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH (Conservative) Born 1954, Edinburgh. Educated at HMS Conway and Sandhurst. Former Army officer. Contested Bradford West 1987. First elected as MP for Chingford in 1992. Shadow social security secretary 1997-1999, shadow defence secretary 1999-2001. Leader of the Conservative party 2001-2003. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions since 2010. As a new MP Iain Duncan Smith immediately marked himself out as a right-winger and Eurosceptic by joining the Parliamentary rebellion against the Maastricht treaty. This would be one of the things that undermined his own position as leader a decade later. He became party leader in 2003, the first to be elected by the party membership. His leadership was short and troubled. He never had the full support of the Parliamentary party, his public speaking skills were derided and he was te victim of plotting within central office. Eventually he was ousted by a no-confidence vote of the Parliamentary party. On the backbenches he founded the Centre for Social Justice think tank, and returned as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions upon the Conservative partys return to office.
Past Results
Con: 22743 (53%)
Lab: 9780 (23%)
LDem: 7242 (17%)
BNP: 1288 (3%)
Oth: 2053 (5%)
MAJ: 12963 (30%)
Con: 20555 (53%)
Lab: 9914 (26%)
LDem: 6832 (18%)
UKIP: 1078 (3%)
Oth: 269 (1%)
MAJ: 10641 (28%)
Con: 17834 (48%)
Lab: 12347 (33%)
LDem: 5739 (16%)
BNP: 1062 (3%)
MAJ: 5487 (15%)
Con: 21109 (47%)
Lab: 15395 (35%)
LDem: 6885 (15%)
Oth: 1059 (2%)
MAJ: 5714 (13%)

2015 Candidates
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH (Conservative) See above.
BILAL MAHMOOD (Labour) Born Woodford. Educated at Nottingham University. Solicitor.
ANNE CROOK (Liberal Democrat) Teacher.
FREDDY VACHHA (UKIP) Businessman and entrepreneur.
Comments - 359 Responses on “Chingford & Woodford Green”
  1. Lancs – yes I would agree with most of that. If anything I would support unemployment benefit being a bit more generous for the initial few months but also more strictly time limited.

    The problem is indeed that using the panoply of other benefits available people have been able to construct a sufficient income to make lower paid work unattractive and live off the efforts of others. That’s why I specifically mentioned the benefits cap.

    No-one should be better off on benefits than on the minimum wage, and there should be some kind of lifetime limit on claims for out-of-work and related benefits eg 5 years.

  2. Your last proposal would be totally and utterly un-doable, especially for those with children. However frustrating the Mick Philpott types are, no government is going to allow their children to starve.

  3. This seat looks like in the longterm it could end up being held by Labour, and fairly safely at that, given the demographic trends in their favour.

  4. That’s a silly prediction. Labour will never win on these boundaries outside of a 1997 type result.

  5. Maybe it is silly but if the boundaries do get changed who knows?

  6. The proposed Chingford & Edmonton would probably have been a Labour gain. Though it would have had the benefit of unseating IDS, it was a very silly proposal. If a revised proposal brings in some of Walthamstow instead then yes the seat will be much better for Labour, especially if the Redbridge/Woodford wards are removed….but at least in 2015 a Chingford & North Walthamstow seat would probably still have been narrowly Tory.

    The result here looks worse than it was because it is the kind of seat where the UKIP vote is primarily ex-Tory.

  7. I think the Labour increase here was highly significant.

  8. I doubt there was much if any switching from Con to Lab here. Labour squeezed the Lib Dems right down and Con lost 5-6% to UKIP. I do not think that Labour have much potential in Chingford proper even today, though they are much stronger these days on the southern boundary with Walthamstow/Leyton.

  9. I still think Labour will win here one day in the future though if the demographics keep moving their way.

  10. Many US states have instituted lifetime limits on benefit claims so I see no problem with that being done here.

  11. Plenty of things which are accepted in the US would not have a chance of acceptance here (eg. the right to carry guns)….and indeed vice versa, such as nationalised healthcare.

  12. The point is I don’t see starvation of children as being a problem there with this tougher approach to welfare provision. People’s behaviour will adapt, which is of course exactly what you want to happen. Some US states have time limits rather less than the 5 years I suggest.

    I’m sure we are capable of learning from the Americans as well as laughing at them or condescending to them.

  13. “I’m sure we are capable of learning from the Americans as well as laughing at them or condescending to them.”

    In what way was I laughing or condescending at Americans? I was simply saying that the two countries are very different, something I know well enough having lived there for some years and indeed being married to an American.

  14. “The point is I don’t see starvation of children as being a problem”

    And I’m afraid that’s where your form of conservatism and mine part company.

  15. I think you have misunderstood entirely what I meant. What I mean is starvation of children is not happening in these US states.

  16. Fair enough. What the US does have though is a much bigger charitable sector, especially through the churches, and people in general give a lot more to charity. I’m very unsure how easy that would be to replicate here and indeed how willing we would be for the ultra poor to be totally dependent on charities.

  17. That sort of thing is starting to happen here with the growth of foodbanks, but it’s happening very slowly and the people who run these organisations tend not to have the small state/big society viewpoint you might expect. The Trussell Trust have a 90%+ market share for foodbanks and even they think that the long term solution to extreme poverty is increased state welfare spending. Whilst I think it’s a good thing that the voluntary sector are starting to take on some responsibility for helping societies most vulnerable, I think the public at large are still getting used to the idea, and people on the left of the political spectrum will probably never accept it.

    And there is probably a limit as to how much these organisations can grow. Weekly Church attendance in the UK (outside Northern Ireland) is around 2-3% of the population, although growing very slowly. In parts of America where foodbanks operate on a far larger scale, church attendance figures are more like 50%.

  18. HH & Runnymede – you certainly don’t see the child poverty today that existed pre the Welfare State.

    Obviously I can’t remember, but I’ve seen pictures in the Liverpool Echo archive of children in Bootle playing in the street without shoes and heard this same anecdote from those in their 80s.

    Equally I agree that not having a TV, shouldn’t classify you as being ‘in poverty’ as the Country is so much richer than then 70 years ago too.

    Adam – I’m not sure what stats you’re referring to. UK Church attendance is 10% of the population or 5.2m adults in the latest data published last year. This has fallen from 12% in 2008.

    By 2% you may mean the 800,000+ who attend a CofE church each Sunday morning.

    In terms of mere belief, rather than adherence/membership, or weekly attendance, 32% of the under 25s have no religious belief, but this has been almost counterbalanced by immigrants, over 90% of whom do express to have a faith.

    [I’m quite well up on this and have more data somewhere if you need it, as I had to cover a Church House conference last year]

    Runnymede – yes, time limited and/or contribution-based benefits are fairly common across Europe and I’m sure if we were setting up the DWP that’s what we’d do.. But you do see some children begging in Spain so it is an emotive area. In theory the benefit cap should be £13k pa or whatever the minimum wage is for a full-time employee. But as others have said when you add in housing costs and children, I can see why it was set so high. Of course JSA claimants only get £3k – 4k pa in JSA, it’s the myriad of other benefits as you say that complicate reform.

  19. “Obviously I can’t remember, but I’ve seen pictures in the Liverpool Echo archive of children in Bootle playing in the street without shoes and heard this same anecdote from those in their 80s.”

    Things like that were still common place long after the post war welfare reforms. My sisters was born in 1958 and 1960 and I can remember my Dad telling me stories about when he used to have pawn his best suit and his wife’s jewellery to be able to buy his daughter shoes and school uniforms.

    And I’m pretty sure there’s some people who still have to do things like that today.

  20. But what strikes me, living as I do in pretty deep countryside, is that there are quite a lot of people around here who are working very hard but really struggling to make ends meet given low wages and high living costs. Meanwhile, there are professional players of the system who are better off than they are without doing a stroke of work.

    That is simply wrong and causes huge resentment as well. I want those working people to feel the system is working in their favour, not against them.

    The poverty of the 1930s or indeed the 1950s was as much a function of the fact that the country was much poorer on the whole then than it is now. Respectable working people struggled to put decent food on the table more than once or twice a week then. We don’t automatically return to that if we cut back what has become an over-generous welfare system.

  21. Runnymede,

    I very much agree. I would like to see some kind of system whereby benefit claimants have to do some kind of community work in order to keep them. There’s certainly plenty that needs doing and it would certainly end the ‘something for nothing’ culture that exists.
    I also think that to some extent, the reduction in welfare benefits helped the Tories in the election with working class people, especially with the ‘white van man’ demographic that is especially prevalent in the south east.

  22. A famous 1959 quote from Labour legend Barbara Castle:

    “The poverty and unemployment which we came into existence to fight have been largely conquered”.

  23. Adam – yes there were poor people, backstreet bookies’ runners, pawnbrokers, pubs on every corner, the local money lender – but that was almost a working class cultural thing in parts eg the famous Scotland Road of Cilla fame and the nearby Bread streets used in the BBC sitcom. ie honest scrimping and saving to get by in the former replaced by benefit fraud in the latter.

    [Yes, I do realise it was a comedy drama, but again, as with The Royle Family etc they’re funny precisely because families like that do exist]

    Grants for school uniforms, free school meals for those on benefits etc must have all come in in the ’70s or later.

  24. IDS may regret the image of his aggressive cheering.

    Even though he was cheering the announcement of a new national minimum/living wage, it’s been used by broadcasters and online versions of regional and locals already next to the welfare/social security budget cuts.

  25. What’s the chance of Labour taking this in 2020? What sort of vote share would Labour be looking at nationally and which leader would be best placed to win areas like this?

  26. IDS cut a ridiculous figure punching the air to a specific budget announcement. It reminded me of Neil Kinnock in 1992 at the Sheffield rally. Freezing welfare for people with disabilities for 4 years is harsh. I don’t have a problem with changing tax credits through reductions compensated by increases in the personal allowance. The Conservatives have to watch their tone on benefits as it may appeal to a small vocal part of the Conservative tribe like the obsession with Europe but to many it is a turnoff in the general electorate. The Conservatives may have a majority of 12, they however have a small and weak mandate given the percentage of the vote they won in that 62% of the country cast their ballot for another party. In this parliament there is no Lib Dem top up of 24% of the vote to add to the mandate!

  27. As for IDS at the next election, the boundary changes proposed in 2013 were to cut his majority to an ultra marginal. If the changes go ahead and get through parliament then it would not surprise me to see IDS go to the House of Lords. Labour would have a golden opportunity to prize this seat from the Tories in those circumstances as a new Conservative candidate would not have the advantages of incumbency.

  28. Personally, I don’t get the impression that IDS would willing just give up his seat and by extension his position in the cabinet so I would think he would fight in 2020 .

  29. Apollo – to be fair I think disability benefits are exempt, but I agree re the tone and perception is a danger.

  30. Benefits for the Tories is one of those topics like the NHS is for Labour – voters generally agree with and like their policies on it, but they do have to be careful not to appear obsessed or take it too far.

  31. Although I would argue that benefits is much safer for the Tories than the NHS is for Labour. The Conservative vote is largely people who do not rely on benefits and working class people who at least think they don’t or think others do too much, this means its unlikely to do them any harm getting tougher on benefits.
    Labour seem to have lost initiative on the NHS last election when they only promised £2 billion which relied on there being a mansion tax, while others promised £8 billion (Conservatives, Lib Dems and UKIP) and £12 billion (Greens). It doesn’t really matter whether you can actual afford the promise (‘stronger economy will pay for it’ according to Osbourne), the symbolism was enough to put Labour on the back-foot and make them vulnerable on even their most safe topic.

  32. Today’s “Independent” had an article about Duncan-Smith sub-geadlined “Get on your bike and find a job, you’re not up to this one.

    The article rightly highlights Duncan-Smith’s inability to come up with ideas that will at least reduce unemployment.

    But perhaps the worst aspect of his incompetence is the way that for want of ideas Duncan-Smith encourages his staff to bully people in great need, “sanctioning”, i.e. taking money away from, people who already literally lack even food to eat.

    Duncan Smith rightly had a very poor result in 2015. Will voters who are disgusted by Duncan Smith’s behavious continue to desert him in his constituency?

  33. IDS was probably one of the only ministers (along with Esther Mcvey) who actually lost out because of the governments actions. If he continues to ‘modernise’ welfare, I think he will do badly come 2020. Negative personal vote, rapid ethnic make-up change and VERY unfavourable boundary changes should allow Labour to take it.

  34. Ian Duncan Smith will be 66 in 2020. Might he retire?

  35. He could do so in luxury, but I think, for all I would criticise his policies, IDS himself is a conviction politician and would want to remain W&P secretary for as long as he can, and since he hasn’t been fired yet I think the position is his as long as the Conservatives are in power.

  36. He might lose anyway if and when those boundary changes come into effect-if Wanstead & Woodford ends up being created as a result (would he contest a selection for Wanstead & Woodford in this hypothetical scenario?), Chingford would have to be redrawn to include wards in Waltham Forest that are further south and are much more Labour-inclined. Such a redrawing, combined with his notoriety, means he will likely be defeated in 2020 if he stands again.

  37. If the current boundaries stay in place here in 2020, I can see a result here like this-
    Conservative- 44%
    Labour- 39%
    UKIP- 9%
    Green- 4%
    Lib Dem- 3%
    Others- 1%

  38. Labour up 10%?

  39. Well I can see Corbyn going down well in London where his constituency is, but in any case I genuinely do believe the demographics will continue to change over the next five years and shift the vote Labour’s way evermore. They should view this as a longshot for 2020 and a genuine target seat by 2025 at the earliest.

  40. The Results
    I think if this seat was marginal, the Conservatives would probably be much closer to 40, but otherwise agree with your prediction.

  41. @TheResults. I seriously doubt Labour will get a 7% swing here in 2020. This seat is probably trending Labour but nowhere near that fast! The swing could even go against them if Corbyn becomes leader due to how niche his appeal will be. However this seat is likely to be ripped up making better seats for Labour anyway.

  42. Maybe that is more realistic. I think Labour will win this seat or its successor one day but it might take another 10 years for it to happen- as you say a lot will depend on the boundaries.

  43. IDS will be in difficulties pretty much however the new boundaries are drawn. If the 2 Woodford Green wards are replaced by 3 Walthamstow wards (most likely) then the majority completely disappears – and he’s most likely fighting Stella Creasy.

    If the proposal last time goes through – recreation of a Wanstead & Woodford seat with a substantial Ilford component, and he fights that, then demographic change will indeed probably do for him, unless Asian voters swing wholesale to the Conservatives. This part of East London is changing fast. He probably wouldn’t have to fight a sitting Labour MP though as Gapes will retire, and Streeting will fight the Ilford seat.

  44. Well IDS will be ok if the boundary commission keeps the seat and simply adds one of Snaresbrook, Roding or Bridge to it. But I think it is more likely that this seat will be more radically changed than that which is bad news for the Tories.

  45. I wonder whether the Greens and/or Lib Dems might be persuaded to not contest this seat (or its replacement) in 2020 if there was a real chance of IDS losing?

  46. The boundary changes in the 2013 review were said to make this an ultra marginal.

    Given IDS has embarked on an ideological crusade against the disabled. Labour could do worse than make an example of IDS himself by withdrawing from the contest and orchestrating a white knight candidate supported by progressives in the same vein as Tatton in 1997.

    IDS could well be made a Portillo or Balls in electoral terms as I am certain that more moderate Conservative supporters only tolerate IDS and his sanction agenda for the greater good. There will come a time when people will revolt against the inhuman policy currently being inflicted on people in drastic circumstances.

  47. Are there any high profile figures who could lead such an ideological crusade on behalf of the disabled, using the Tatton precedent? Suggestions please!

  48. Labour would already have won Chingford & Edmonton in 2015, and would have been quite close in Wanstead & Woodford too. I dislike IDS as you can clearly read upthread but the idea that he is comparable with Neil Hamilton is daft. Making the election about welfare reform might even improve his chances.

  49. I can see Labour going after IDS here in 2020 Esther McVey-style TBH given his highprofile position and controversial stances- this seat isn’t easy for them to win, but on these boundaries I don’t think it’s too silly to say they might get surprisingly close to a shock win.

  50. It is a pretty silly forecast. The demographics are still insurmountable for Labour here on these boundaries. As in a few other parts of nearby Essex, UKIP gained a lot of Tory votes here.

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