2015 Result:
Conservative: 26354 (47.6%)
Labour: 4561 (8.2%)
Lib Dem: 16278 (29.4%)
Green: 2330 (4.2%)
UKIP: 5884 (10.6%)
MAJORITY: 10076 (18.2%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Wiltshire. Part of the Wiltshire council area.

Main population centres: Chippenham, Bradford on Avon, Melksham.

Profile: A Wiltshire seat based around the rapidly growing market town of Chippenham itself, and Bradford on Avon and Melksham to the South. Compared to the sprawling, rural Conservative seats that dominate Wiltshire, Chippenham is tightly drawn around the more Liberal Democrat voting towns.

Politics: Chippenham was created for the 2010 election thanks to the growing electorate of Wiltshire and was briefly held by the Liberal Democrats after its first election, with Duncan Hames defeating Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, the eponymous "black farmer" of the food brand. In 2015 the seat fell to the Conservatives.

Current MP
MICHELLE DONELAN (Conservative) Educated at The County High School, Leftwich and York University. Former marketing professional. Contested Wentworth and Dearne 2010. First elected as MP for Chippenham in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 21500 (41%)
Lab: 3620 (7%)
LDem: 23970 (46%)
UKIP: 1783 (3%)
Oth: 1512 (3%)
MAJ: 2470 (5%)

2015 Candidates
MICHELLE DONELAN (Conservative) Educated at The County High School, Leftwich and York University. Marketing professional. Contested Wentworth and Dearne 2010.
ANDY NEWMAN (Labour) Educated at King Edwards School, Bath and University of the West of England. Telecoms engineer.
DUNCAN HAMES (Liberal Democrat) Born 1977, Hertfordshire. Educated at Watford Boy`s Grammar School and Oxford University. Consultant. West Wiltshire councillor 2003-2007. Contested Westbury 2005, Watford 2001. MP for Chippenham 2010 to 2015.
JULIA REID (UKIP) Born London. Educated at John Bentley School and Bath University. Research biochemist. Contested South West region 2009, Chippenham 2010. MEP for South West since 2014.
Comments - 93 Responses on “Chippenham”
  1. I thought so too, but the Ashcroft poll is pretty pants for Hames & I tend towards a Con gain at present.

  2. Even if the Tories do take this back in 2015, I think it will remain very marginal and the Tory-Lib Dem battleground like the old Chippenham seat was.

  3. I’d agree with that assessment. I’d predict a narrow Tory gain, but it could well do a Taunton and flip right back at the next election.

  4. I’m from this constituency and this is my prediction:

    I predict Lib-Dems won’t succeed in Chippenham 2015 because look at where they are now. They only have one MEP and the national polling shows they are very weak compared to 2010. I Predict it could be a UKIP seat gain because many Tory supporters are defecting to UKIP and towns such as Trowbridge are being hit hard by immagration.

  5. Lord Ashcroft’s latest poll won’t make enjoyable reading for the Lib Dems-

    Con 39
    LD 24
    UKIP 16
    Lab 14

    It looks like the LDs are having more problems with UKIP than the Conservatives.

    I think the 2015 contest will be tighter than that but I have to say that Ashcroft’s two polls point clearly in the direction of a Conservative victory.

    To answer Mr Anstee, the polls do not give any real grounds for predicting a UKIP win.

  6. *It looks like the Lib Dems are having more problems with the UKIP than the Conservatives are.

  7. This one surprised me. I had been leaning towards an LD hold, on the back of pretty good council results in the area. I would still be surprised to see a gap that big, unless Duncan Hames has been an absolutely terrible MP.

  8. yes same here. But 2 polls have now put Hames behind, although the previous one more narrowly. It’s difficult to see him holding now

  9. That does look like bad news for the Lib Dems. Even
    with first time incumbency, the Tories should be able to make a gain. I might have to reevaluate some of the Lib Dem/Tory marginals where I’m currently predicting the Lib Dems to narrowly hold on. North Devon is a seat which immediately comes to find.

    Chippenham is now the 6th Tory gain I’m predicting along with Mid Dorset & North Poole, Somerton & Frome, Wells, Solihull and Berwick upon Tweed.

  10. the blues will pick up a couple more lib dem seats, I think, but not much more. I think one of the cornish seats will go to the tories and Taunton Deane could surprise.

  11. Main party candidates:

    Con: Michelle Donelan
    Lab: Andy Newman
    LD: Duncan Hames
    UKIP: Julia Reid
    Greens: Samantha Fletcher

  12. Even Lord Ashcroft would have to admit that are always likely to have a dud poll or two if you commission enough of them , and I suspect the poll for this seat might be the dud!

    Had this seat existed prior to 2010 it would probably have seen a Liberal Democrat vote of 40%+ in every general election since 1997. The local election results since 2010 show the Lib Dems still clearly ahead in Chippenham, Bradford and Melksham and competitive in some of the rural wards. And lastly as a first time MP Hames might be expected to benefit from an incumbency boost.

    So a 24% rating seems dubious. So does a Conservative vote fall of a mere 2% , given a rise in UKIP support of 13%.

    Given the long established Conservative/Liberal rivalry in this area dating back to the 1960’s, I suspect this will be a far more competitive seat than Ashcroft predicts.

  13. In all South West seats which the Lib Dems are defending, the working class vote is not being taken into account.
    The Lib Dems have won these seats in the past as they have secured the working class vote but having seen their loyalty betrayed by the Lib Dems forming a coalition with the Conservatives, the blatant lies over tuition fee’s, and more recently Clegg stopping legislation to prevent radical preachers from lecturing and encouraging terrorism in universities, the working class vote will desert the Lib Dems.

    These ex Lib Dem voters are highly unlikely to go to Labour as Labour have no hope of winning, neither will they go to the Tories as they are not natural bedfellows, therefore it is highly likely that most of these votes will go to UKIP.

    Lib Dem held seats across the South West which have a high working class demography will be the ones that fall to the Ukip, 2, maybe 3.

  14. Neale- you make some fair points and I think that some people do underrate the extent of LD to UKIP switching, particularly in the south west. However, the Ashcroft polls (and to be fair the 2013 local elections as well) indicate that the main beneficiaries of Lib Dem decline will be the Conservatives. And in any event it looks like the Lib Dems will in fact leak votes in all directions, including quite a lot to Labour and some to the Tories and here and there, the Greens as well of course to UKIP. In Chippenham, the Conservative vote share appears to be holding up well and they look well on course to win.

  15. Hi Tory, yes I think in Chippenham you will win, but partly due to working class votes going from Lib Dem to UKIP, I feel that UKIP will be very close in Torbay, Camborne & Redruth and North Devon.

    If the Tory campaign is hard and mean enough when attacking Labour, you could also snatch Exeter.

  16. Neale – I was born and brought up in Chippenham and now live in Exeter. Michelle Donelan will win here but Ben Bradshaw will hold Exeter. Easily.
    He’s always out and about and is very visible, I’ve seen him ‘canvassing’ all over my part of the city (which leans lib dem/labour) quite a lot recently. he can’t be in Westminster much at the moment! Easy labour hold

  17. Hi Ian,
    Yes I also live in Exeter and have seen Ben Bradshaw out and about very often, he is undoubtedly a hard working and honest MP. But if the Conservatives were to attack his voting record, particularly his voting against outlawing discrimination on the grounds of Cast and his failure to vote in favour of allowing merchant seamen to be covered by Existing Minimum Wage Laws, he could find himself in a close run battle.

    Furthermore, there is the added credibility question, following the grooming scandals in Rotherham, Sheffield and Rochdale, all having of course Labour MPs, Labour controlled councils and Labour Police Commissioners, this is being seen by many as absolute Labour failure, all in the interest of not wanting to upset Asian communities, this is absolute discrimination by Labour, therefore many are asking themselves, ‘Do I really want to be associated with the Labour Party’?.

    In all but 2 General Elections since 1900 there has also been a ‘last few days’ swing, back toward the governing party, this, and the above is why I think that it will be less than a thousand votes either way, in Exeter.

  18. The Tories don’t have much chance because their best areas of the city were moved into another constituency before the 2010 election.

  19. Sorry to interrupt this conversation but why on the Conservatives “well on course to win”?

    I have queried the validity of the Ashcroft poll for this seat (see Jan 12th entry) and have given what I thought were good reasons why it could probably still be a close contest. And I’ve just rechecked the 2013 county election results again and – for those wards wholly within the constituency – reckon the Liberal Democrats outpolled the Conservatives albeit it by a narrow margin.

    And yet there seems to be an assumption that the Conservatives are going to win easily. Why?

    Can you please provide me with some enlightenment!

  20. This was one where I thought the Lib Dems would win, like you on the back of the council results. However, there have been two Ashcroft polls here, both with similar results. This has changed my mind.

  21. Iain- same here.

  22. Maybe the ‘black farmer’ WEJ underperformed even more than was thought ie Hames would have lost anyway next time against another Tory.

  23. He was certainly a peculiar choice for this kind of seat.

  24. Had not spotted the 1st Ashcroft poll and that existence of 2 does add some additional credence to their findings. There still however seem to be a significant gap between the tradition in this seat and the actual voting in it since 2010, and M’Lords findings. I’d say a Conservative gain is favoured but one by a margin of 15% is highly improbable.

  25. ‘Maybe the ‘black farmer’ WEJ underperformed even more than was thought ie Hames would have lost anyway next time against another Tory.’

    Whilst you would clearly love that to be the case – being generally scathing of ethnic minority candidates in general – on these boundaries I think the Lib Dems would have won this seat in 97, 2001 and 2005 if it had existed, so Haimes small majority was very much on the cards

  26. March 20, 2015

    LD Hayley Spencer 511 [67.1%]
    Conservative 250 [32.9%]
    LD gain from Con
    20.8% turnout
    Lib Dems take majority control of Melksham Town Council

  27. David Cameron has been at a campaign event here today.

    Guardian journalist Nicholas Watt raises a pertinent question:

    “Strange: if @David_Cameron trying to frame election as binary choice between him + @Ed_Miliband he goes to easy-to-gain @LibDems Chippenham”

  28. I hope I’m wrong, but from comments in the local press (on-line) Hames may just hold this seat

  29. CON GAIN

    CON – 38
    LD – 32
    LAB – 13
    UKIP – 11
    O – 6

  30. I seem to have been a sole voice in expecting this to be a much tighter contest than most pundits on here so its a pleasant relief to see John Smiths prediction which enters the realm of plausibility.

    Theres been a few comments about the chances of Wells being a surprise Lib Dem hold. Although I still think Hames will lose, there is a similar dynamic in this seat. I still think it could be quite close.

  31. The Cleggs were visiting yesterday so clearly the Lib Dems feel theres still something to play for here.

    Out of interest if Mr and Mrs Hames (Mrs Hames aka Jo Swinson) both lose on 7th May, I am correct that they would be the first married couple to be defeated in the same General Election since the Dunwoodys in 1970?

  32. Con gain, 3800

  33. Conservative Gain. 1,500 maj.

  34. Not many Lib Dems seemed to come to the count here.

    For some reason the Returning Officer announced the result of a by-election for the Wiltshire unitary first and then the General Election immediately after.
    Perhaps here they used the system where you put the local ballot in the same box so they were sorting them out together rather than counting them the next day(time).

    I was a little surprised the Lib Dems really tanked here but the Tories seemed to put a lot of effort into this one, and the Ashcroft poll I think picked up what was afoot earlier in the year.

  35. The Ashcroft poll correctly predicted the LD vote would tank here, where they were on only 24% and it only underestimated the tory margin by 3%.

    The Tories did surprisingly well though (higher than the LD’s 2010 vote) and Lab and to a lesser extent UKIP both did surprisingly poorly, indeed Lab actually got a marginally higher vote next door in N Wiltshire.

  36. Perhaps it’s not that the Tories did surprisingly well, more that they did unexpectedly poorly in 2010 and this has been ‘corrected’. Perhaps for whatever reason (including maybe the obvious one) WEJ was the wrong candidate here in 2010.

  37. I think in 2010 the notional votes for both C and LD had risen by 2% or so in about parity.
    It was a notional LD seat in 2005 and I very much doubt the majority would have been this big in 1992.

  38. With June 8th announced, it looks like this is one of the possible Lib Dem gains from the Conservatives in the South West. Do we know who the Lib Dem candidate is yet? If Duncan Hames then it would strengthen their hand – he was a decent local MP.

  39. After my calamitous speculations in 2015 (see above), I return to this seat with some trepidation.

    Certainly in 2013 the Lib Dems maintained their local electoral base in the Unitary authority elections, and that plus their long competitive tradition in West Wiltshire was the reason I expected them to do better than in fact proved the case.

    So it will be interesting to see what happens in 4 days time, the first local elections since 2015. Will they lose further ground, resulting in the seat becoming more like say Devizes, retain their position or show signs of a bounce back?

    I doubt if this seat is competitive in 2017 (sorry South West Watcher) but in the longer term could revert to marginal status.

  40. I am was talking this weekend with someone who was at the count here .. I think this seat is a good example of how 4 net gains in Scotland (to deliver an overall increase in seats) masks how truly awfully the LibDems did at the election and how it will have ramifications for many elections to come.

    According to my source were it not for their stronghold of Bradford on Avon the LDs would have come third behind Labour and were largely forgotten about in the other key population centres.. this kind of performance will haunt them in coming elections and it will be really challenging to re- bulid from irrelevance outside Bradford on Avon.

    Apparently the key to the larger than expected Tory vote here was the mammoth vote they ran up in the villages .. rural England turning even more solidly Tory than before.

    The net seat gain seen by the LDs masked just how badly they did in a lot of seats they were expecting to be competitive in e.g Thornbury and Yate and here and is going to make it very challenging to be competitive again…

    Vince cable will continue the staunch anti brexit left of centre approach which farron did and so will do well in pockets of remain voting cities and e.g south west London and Bath but will continue as an irrelevance I’m most of provincial and rural England.

    Just my thoughts but re the above comment I expect this seat to be labour Vs con next time with LD in a poor third

  41. How well the Lib Dems did depends on how long a view you take. If you look back forty or fifty years it’s pretty clear that 1997-2015 was a period of anomalously high Liberal representation.

    In general, you make a good point about how the Lib Dems have lost competitiveness in a lot of places they used to be a real threat or even a dominant force. Perhaps the most dramatic example is Berwickshire, a seat they held from 1983 to 2015, but where they have now lost their deposit. Their best chance to recover properly will be the next Labour government – because that government is bound to disappoint some people who voted for it, and they will go looking for another option.

    Labour will probably finish second here next time, but to call this “Tory v Labour” suggests that the latter can win it. That would require a swing greater than that suffered by Michael Portillo. Not going to happen. Chippenham is now a safe Tory seat.

  42. I wouldn’t read too much into the Chippenham result, from what I gather it wasn’t really a serious Lib target (what with the very comfortable Tory majority and its Leave voting status) Its true there where some terrible results for the Libs, you mention Thornbury and Yate but also Colchester (which they had serious hopes of winning but instead fell into a distant third) or Lewes we’re they fell even further behind the Tories.

    However the real disappointment for the Libs was that they just missed out in most of their “real” targets. Seats like Cheltenham, St Ives, Cheadle, Hazel Grove, Devon North etc there where swings towards the Libs, just not enough for them to win. They will likely be gunning even harder for them next time.

    I do agree though we probably wont return to the days of 50 odd Lib Dem seats for quite some time.

  43. It’s a shame not to see Andrew George return to parliament. I don’t know if he’ll stand next time

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