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. Chippenham, votes cast in local elections:

    LD: 8,320 (31.0%)
    Con: 7,716 (28.7%)
    UKIP: 5,349 (19.9%)
    Lab: 2,706 (10.1%)
    Ind: 2,192 (8.2%)
    Green: 135 (0.5%)
    Others: 431 (1.6%)

    Changes since 2010 GE:

    LD: -14.8%
    Con: -12.3%
    UKIP: +16.5%
    Lab: +3.2%
    Ind: +8.2%
    Green: -0.3%
    Others: -0.4%

    Swing, LD to Con: 1.2%

  2. Not bad for the LDs. They will surely start as favourites to hold on.

  3. The LDs built up a lead of 685 votes in the Chippenham divisions and self-evidently were able to draw level with the Tories in the rest of the constituency since their overall lead was 604 votes.

  4. Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones appeared quite disillusioned with the entire political process in the comments he made after the election.

  5. AA Gill wrote an article just after the elction claiming that racism probably made the difference between Emmanuel-Jones winning and losing.

  6. I think it had more to do with sticking a farmer in a semi-urban seat. As someone that the Tories could well have done to have in parliament, they essentially shafted him with a completely unsuitable seat (the area that is now this seat had been slipping slowly away from them for some time). Despite that, I think his background would have gained him some votes (and the fact that he seemed to come across pretty well) but lost him others. Nowhere near enough to cost him the seat entirely because of racism though.

    This year’s results were indeed very encouraging (and indeed, across Wiltshire as a whole).

  7. ‘AA Gill wrote an article just after the elction claiming that racism probably made the difference between Emmanuel-Jones winning and losing.’

    I don’t think that had anything to do with it

    Given that Chippenham, Bradford and Melksham arew Liberal Democrat voting towns it stands to reason that the Lib Dems would gain the seat, and if anything, the Tories did quite well to keep their majority down to a couple of thousand

  8. Bradford is a bit of a mixture, being simultaneously quite popular with well-off commuters to Bath & Bristol but having some industry (the BTR factory). I think it used to be quite close between the LDs & Cons but it seems to be voting more consistently for the former these days.

  9. ‘Bradford is a bit of a mixture. I think it used to be quite close between the LDs & Cons but it seems to be voting more consistently for the former these days.’

    It certainly does

    In 2010 the Lib Dems got 62% of the vote in Bradford North and achieved 65% in Bradford South.

    The Tories didn’t even manage half of that – so Bradford is clearly a Lib Dem stronghold – so much so that without it Chippenham would have been almost neck and neck between the Lib Dems and the Tories

  10. Bradford-on-Avon was in the old Westbury seat right up until 2010
    Melksham was in Westbury up to 1997 when it moved to Devizes
    Chippenham itself of course was in Wiltshire North for 27 years

  11. I hadn’t realised that Duncan Hames is married to Jo Swinson (who is currently pregnant).

    It struck me that both of them could quite easily lose their seats in 2015.

    Has a married couple in parliament ever lost both of their seats in the same election?

  12. Not off the top of my head.

    Ann and Nicholas Winterton both stood down from Parliament in 2010. They were caught up in the expenses row though I don’t know the extent to which that played a role in their decision.

    Ann Keen lost her seat in 2010 while Alan held. He passed away just over a year after that.

    Apart from Duncan Hames and Jo Swinson, seems like the few married couple MP’s represent/represented neighbouring seats. The Winterton’s in East Cheshire, the Keen’s in Hounslow and Ed and Yvette in West Yorkshire.

    Given the marginality of both Hames and Swinsons’ seats, defeat is a possibility. Not to mention their fawning loyalty to Nick Clegg.

  13. “Given the marginality of both Hames and Swinsons’ seats, defeat is a possibility.”

    In Swinson’s case, it’s a probability.

    Not sure about Hames. Narrowly I’d go for a Lib Dem hold, but I don’t know the area at all.

    It will be a tough campaign for them, with a 1 year old toddler and each having a marginal seat at each end of the country. Swinson might give up and concentrate on helping Hames to hold on.

  14. CON GAIN
    CON 35
    LD 33
    LAB 15
    UKIP 11
    GRN 6

  15. I wonder if Swinson has considered chicken-running to NE Fife.

  16. AJS.

    She committed to her re-election attempt long before Ming announced he was standing down. Even then it would have made no difference as this is her home seat, why would she want to represent anywhere else given the chance? Why would anyone unless they’re just a cynical careerist?

  17. Sometimes you have to be realistic in politics, and that isn’t always the same thing as being cynical.

  18. I have a feeling HH is right. I do know this seat a bit though I was a lad when I used to visit regularly (I used to go to a music summer school every year), but we did visit one weekend after a very traumatic event in our lives as well. Chippenham itself is not very good for the Tories & Melksham is almost certainly going to have a decent LD lead over them too. Bradford-on-Avon is rather mixed – it’s quite popular with commuters & has some lovely streets & houses but it also has traditionally had some manufacturing industry too. The last municipal elections didn’t show much sign of a Labour revival, and really they haven’t amounted to much for donkey’s years except to some extent in Melksham. I thus tend to favour an LD hold, because I doubt the extent to which Labour’s vote will rise here, but I agree it will be close.

  19. If we take the CC results as indicative, there was a 1.2% swing LD -> C cited above, which would obviously cut Hames’s majority to 2.3%.

    If we take “racism as part of the reason for WEJ losing” then that would imply a further LD -> C swing.

    This could be a knife-edge, especially if Labour recover disproportionately at the expense of the LDs

  20. I agree AJS, but I’d want to represent my home seat for as long as I could, even if it meant losing it at an election. Possibly then I’d pop up elsewhere. Being a retread is far better than being a chicken-runner (which is never helpful for the party trying to hold, especially in a difficult election). Plus I don’t know the last time a Liberal/Lib Dem did the chicken run and I think they’d be unlikely to get selected if they tried.

    On this seat I agree with HH and BM. Our election results this year were pretty good and the Tory’s were pretty poor. This is one place where Labour’s vote has very little potential and I would put this seat as a likely hold at the moment, despite the small majority.

  21. Paul, if the racists voted LibDem in 2010 (strange thought indeed) then surely they would vote UKIP in 2015… which doesn’t help the Tories…

  22. Lots of Powellites voted Liberal in 1974. People cast protest votes in the most surprising ways.

  23. There are racist Lib Dem and Labour voters, just as there are racist Tory and UKIP voters. A quick look at local election results where three candidates of different ethnicities stand is in many places an easy proof of that.

    Bernie Grant made a lot of honest and perceptive comments about racism amongst Labour’s WWC core vote, which has almost disappeared from London but still forms the most solid base of their support almost everywhere else.

    The Liberals have often been adept at benefitting from racist and homophobic votes without necessarily doing anything to elicit them. Cheltenham and Bermondsey spring immediately to mind. There certainly is an absolute dearth of non-white Lib Dem candidates in safe and winnable seats compared to the other two main parties.

  24. I heard there were some racist and homophobic campaigns by the Liberals in Southwark and Tower Hamlets in the 80’s.

  25. Yes, Tower Hamlets was in the 1990 local elections, where the now almost extinct WWC voter base was very strong for the Liberals 25 years ago, and there was resentment against both Asian incomers and the redevelopment of the docks.

    Probably best to avoid a discussion on Bermondsey, we’ll be here all night.

  26. They do tend to target seats where the leader of council or leader of opposition is standing.

    For example in Sutton 1986 election they had a decapitate the leader strategy targetting one the Worcester Park wards of which the leader council lost their seat on the tories lost to NOC the Lib/SDP Alliance later won a by election in Clockhouse in Autuman from which they have held control ever since.

  27. My forecast for 2015

    LD 36
    Con 27
    UKIP 18
    Lab 14
    Others 5

  28. A Brown, the Liberal tradition of Chippenham and the surrounding towns means that UKIP’s share will most likely not be as high as 18% in 2015…although they will poll above 10% probably given the seat’s profile. The Lib Dems have a good chance to hold this seat, but their majority over the Conservatives will not be that good-as I have said before, UKIP can in the South West take votes from both the Lib Dems and the Conservatives (more from the Conservatives,though).

  29. Duncan Hames has been in this area for quite a while now, either as candidate or MP. He certainly cut his electoral teeth in other seats beforehand (Tottenham and Watford I think) before standing at Westbury in 2005.

  30. Noticeable that this is one of the 2 seats where the consensus is different from my assessment. The consensus is that the Lib Dems are in considerable difficulty here. However there is little commentary here as to why. Any thoughts?

  31. How did they perform in last year’s Wiltshire locals in the Chippenham wards? Might not be a great indicator though.

    Don’t have a clue about Hames’ reputation as a constituency MP. If he’s built up a big enough personal vote, he could hold.

  32. As AndyJS posted above:
    LD: 8,320 (31.0%)
    Con: 7,716 (28.7%)
    UKIP: 5,349 (19.9%)
    Lab: 2,706 (10.1%)
    Ind: 2,192 (8.2%)
    Green: 135 (0.5%)
    Others: 431 (1.6%)

    I don’t know if Hames is popular, but he is a first time incumbent which usually counts for something.

  33. Not sure how Tim Jones can say racism had nothing to do with the result here (up thread) when one local was actually caught on camera telling the Tory candidate “I’ve shot better things than you”.

    This is one place where I would have voted Tory in 2010 – just to spite the bigots.

  34. This is one where the Labour vote share rising could be the deciding factor. If Labour goes substantially up, and UKIP doesn’t, it’s a Tory gain. If Labour and UKIP both go substantially up, it’ll still be a straight LD/Tory battle. If UKIP go way up and Labour doesn’t, it should be a relatively strong LD hold. We’ll see. I’d tend to think Hames, who seems pretty competent, will eke out a victory. But I doubt his wife will be so lucky.

  35. There doesn’t appear to be any kind of Labour past in the towns which form this seat. At best they’ll finish in the low teens and I wouldn’t rule out UKIP getting 3rd place.

  36. I wouldn’t dream of doing what you might have done Robin. In fact I hardly ever buy his products, since I prefer to buy products the profits from which will not be donated to the Conservative Party.

  37. Ashcroft polling:

    Con 35%
    LD 26%
    UKIP 19%
    Lab 12%

  38. “Not sure how Tim Jones can say racism had nothing to do with the result here (up thread) when one local was actually caught on camera telling the Tory candidate “I’ve shot better things than you”.”

    Did someone actually say such a thing? And on camera? Surely that is prosecutable as hate speech? I thought such attitudes had died out long ago even in the most backward of rural backwaters.

  39. If that is what he said then it doens’t explicity refer to the tory’s skin colour as the reason for the local’s distate for him.

  40. It’s always difficult to pinpoint racism as the cause of an individual candidate winning or losing…i remember the Cheltenham result in 1992, when I thought that it wasn’t an enormous tory majority in 1987 that Taylor had to defend. It may have been a factor, but Irving never really had that solid majorities in 1983 or 1987…less than 10%

  41. @ H.HEMMELIG

    Yes, the remark was caught on camera by a crew of television producers and featured in their documentary about Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones shortly after the 2010 General Election. And I’m afraid there are people like that down there – one of my very close relatives (who I’m delighted to say I haven’t seen since the 1980s) holds similar views.

    @ JOE R

    You are joking, aren’t you? What else was the local referring to, presumably he didn’t resent the fact that the Tory candidate was a farmer.

  42. I’ve given this seat very little thought, and I think it’s time I do so. Hames strikes me as a likable and talented MP, but I think between a high-profile UKIP candidate and the general malaise in the Lib Dems’ vote, he should lose.


    Donelan (Con) 37
    Hames (LD) 34
    Reid (UKIP) 16
    Newman (Lab) 10
    Oth 3

  43. Here you seem more optimistic about Tory chances than I am.
    I know little about this seat although often seem to pass through it.
    The Conservatives stand a better chance here than somewhere like Eastbourne but I think I put it in the slightly more difficult group of LD seats.

  44. How many cases have their been of husband and wife MPs both losing their seats on the same day?

    Is it a good idea to take 6 months maternity leave when you have a majority of just over 2000 and your party is in single figures in the polls?

  45. I’d rather not criticize peoples’ personal choices here.

    And I’d mark this seat down as a likely Tory gain, without doubt.

  46. John & Gwyneth Dunwoody both lost their seats in the 1970 general election, in Camborne & Redruth and Exeter respectively.

  47. “Is it a good idea to take 6 months maternity leave when you have a majority of just over 2000 and your party is in single figures in the polls?”

    Don’t be a complete arse. Can I ask how your wife managed not to take maternity leave when your kids were born….did the babies feed themselves?

  48. That is slightly more blunt than I’d choose to put it, but I do agree.

  49. I think Duncan Hames has a chance of narrowly holding on to this, mainly on the basis of incumbency.

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