2015 Result:
Conservative: 16205 (36.7%)
Labour: 6364 (14.4%)
Lib Dem: 812 (1.8%)
Green: 1184 (2.7%)
UKIP: 19642 (44.4%)
MAJORITY: 3437 (7.8%)

Category: Marginal UKIP seat

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

Main population centres: Clacton, Frinton-on-Sea, Walton-on-the-Naze, Holland-on-Sea, Jaywick.

Profile: A coastal seat consisting mainly of the chain of seaside resorts along the coast of the Tendring penisula, from the deprived Jaywick in the south through Clacton itself, the more genteel Frinton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze to the North, a destination for birdwatchers with its nature reserve and the marshes of Hamford Water. The towns have experienced the same decline as most English seaside resorts, and are perhaps better characterised as retirement destinations than tourist ones with a high proportion of over 65s in the electorate.

Politics: The Clacton seat is the successor to the old Harwich seat, renamed in 2010 after the town of Harwich itself was moved into the North Essex seat. Harwich had been represented by the Conservatives and their allies (it was one of final National Liberal seats when the party was finally wrapped up in 1968) since the 1930s, until falling to Labour in their 1997 landslide, probably helped by one of the Referendum party`s best performances in the country (they took just over 9%). The seat was won back by the Conservatives in 2005 and in 2010 Douglas Carswell increased his majority to an extremely healthy 28%, no doubt helped by the removal of the comparatively Labour voting Harwich and the decision by UKIP not to stand a candidate against him. In 2014 Carswell himself defected to UKIP and resigned to cause a by-election, the first Parliamentary defector to test his switch in a by-election since 1982. He successfully defended the seat again in 2015, the only UKIP success at the general election.

Current MP
DOUGLAS CARSWELL (UKIP) Born 1971, Westminster. Educated at Charterhouse and University of East Anglia. Former corporate development manager and Conservative party researcher. Contested Sedgefield 2001. First elected as MP for Harwich in 2005. Defected from the Conservative party to UKIP in 2014, resigning and winning the subsequent by-election.
Past Results
Con: 22867 (53%)
Lab: 10799 (25%)
LDem: 5577 (13%)
BNP: 1975 (5%)
Oth: 1905 (4%)
MAJ: 12068 (28%)
Con: 21235 (42%)
Lab: 20315 (40%)
LDem: 5913 (12%)
UKIP: 2314 (5%)
Oth: 631 (1%)
MAJ: 920 (2%)
Con: 19355 (40%)
Lab: 21951 (46%)
LDem: 4099 (9%)
UKIP: 2463 (5%)
Oth: 247 (1%)
MAJ: 2596 (5%)
Con: 19524 (36%)
Lab: 20740 (39%)
LDem: 7037 (13%)
Oth: 1290 (2%)
MAJ: 1216 (2%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Harwich

2015 Candidates
GILES WATLING (Conservative) Born 1953, Chingford. Actor and theatre director. Tendring councillor since 2007. Contested Clacton 2014 by-election.
TIM YOUNG (Labour) Born Clacton. Educated at Clacton County High School. Colchester councillor since 1992. Contested Clacton by-election 2014.
DAVID GRACE (Liberal Democrat)
CHRIS SOUTHALL (Green) Engineer and smallholder. Contested Clacton 2010, 2014 by-election.
Comments - 1,117 Responses on “Clacton”
1 2 3 23
  1. The very impressive UKIP performance in Essex in the county council elections was concentrated mostly in this seat, as well as around Basildon.

    I wonder if they will stand against Douglas Carswell next time.

    An interesting dynamic is that the areas where UKIP do best often already have extremely euro-sceptic Tory MPs – such as here and in East Lindsey.

  2. ”An interesting dynamic is that the areas where UKIP do best often already have extremely euro-sceptic Tory MPs – such as here and in East Lindsey.”

    Yes. Another example is Boston and Skegness- Although Richard Body was MP there before they even stood, but yes I agree with the statement otherwise.

    Interesting to note that when Carswell gained Harwich in 2005, the Tories’ vote share there only increased by 1.9%, although the national average for them was only 0.7%. It allowed them to make some gains from Labour in seats where Labour were down by a fair bit or had otherwise collapsed.

  3. Did Theresa Gorman join UKIP?

  4. i would like to see fusion voting esp in seats such as this then you could have con / ukip battles without fear(ok less fear) of losing it to labour.

  5. Interesting you say that – I thought your strategy was we lose to Labour and the Lib Dems
    so the threat of you getting none of your policy atall
    forces us to change that way?

  6. i admit that maybe the plan but it would not be mine( i did vote con until 2010) . i stopped because of way the cuts are been done(yes i agree there should cuts)e.g a sane person would cut the sky sports pack(in government terms aid) before cutting back on rent payments (housing Benefit reduction .jjb i belong to that key c2 group that cons should be winning but we need a solid “safety net” as the fear of losing that net is stopping us from voting for you(reform benefits by all means) and hard work should pay. (it does not for a lot of people e.g the company i work for the big boss got a bonus, the shareholders got increased divs and i get told there thinking of cutting the small amount extra i get extra on a Saturday) sorry for the the life story but i felt the need to give some reasons why i vote ukip. p.s that big boss is labour voter .

  7. Myth11

    In the council elections UKIP’s performance in Notts was pretty poor compared with neighbouring Lincolnshire. Why? Which bits of Notts are considered the most fruitful targets by UKIP themselves – the rural Tory areas in the east or the mining areas around Mansfield and Ashfield?

  8. I wonder if UKIP will oppose Carswell next time?

  9. Probably yes because they’ve said they want to contest every seat, including I think Northern Ireland.

  10. @AndyJS
    Northern Ireland?! Dearie me that will upset the applecart…

  11. I suspect UKIP will make some exceptions in 2015. This could well be one of them, along with Shipley.

  12. I don’t see UKIP standing in every seat in NI. According to Wikipedia they had 247 members in the province in June this year. On that basis I would think its quite likely that they don’t have members in every NI seat.

  13. They could easily put forward a paper candidate.

  14. a cardboard cut out

  15. Castle Point will be an interesting one- Will Spink stand again with UKIP’s backing like last time or will he stand back in their favour?

  16. UKIP may not be able to win any seats in 2015. That means their popular vote will be very important for them, and contesting every seat therefore makes sense. Even standing down in a few seats can have an unexpectedly large effect on the percentage share for a party. It could make the difference between 9.51% and 9.49% for example, which would mean people saying UKIP polled 10% or 9% for the following five years.

  17. But what about if Spink was to stand again in Castle Point? Would UKIP step aside for him?

  18. No I genuinely think they’ll stand in every seat.

  19. If they do, they’ll get a lot more votes than they did last time on that basis alone.

  20. “Jonathan Meades – The Joy of Essex (29 January 2013)”:

  21. 2015 Forecast for Clacton (assuming UKIP stands)

    Con 46
    Lab 29
    UKIP 15
    LD 4
    Others 6

  22. A Brown- I think Carswell will do rather better than that- he is exactly the kind of Tory who can stop the leaking of votes to UKIP.

    Con 50
    Lab 29
    UKIP 12
    Lib Dem 4
    Others 5

  23. Clacton on ch4 at the moment. It looks to be the roughest English town, or resort at least.

  24. Given that in 1997, 2001 and 2005 this was a VERY marginal seat, does anyone know what caused such a huge swing to the Tories in 2010 (i.e. way way above the national swing)

  25. Boundary changes taking Harwich out of the seat after 2005 made it safe for the Tories.

  26. Ah so Harwich was taken out completely? Thanks I didn’t realise that.

  27. Yes. Judging by local election results, Labour is still getting beaten across Clacton as a whole fairly handily, but what really buries us is that there’s no longer anything to cancel out the huge Tory margins out of Frinton et al.

  28. Actually I’m quite surprised that UKIP hasn’t won Frinton yet. It has very traditionalist residents – maybe they don’t like change.

  29. But Frinton’ doesn’t need UKIP.

    It’s just like the 1950s already.

  30. “But Frinton’ doesn’t need UKIP.

    It’s just like the 1950s already”

    I have to agree with this point. Frinton is lovely but the residents there do not live in fear of their town turning into a mess like much of London, especially East London, where many of the older residents of Frinton and Walton have migrated from….

  31. They probably object voting for a party formed in 1993. Simply not traditional enough.

  32. Each to their own, but I don’t personally understand why anyone wants to live in a museum of the 1950s.

  33. “Each to their own, but I don’t personally understand why anyone wants to live in a museum of the 1950s.”

    Nostalgia HH. They say as you get older you appreciate the way things were. You tend to look past the misery or the fact that things were not a bed of roses back then and probably quite tough. Having said that places like Frinton are attracting younger families as well. Only a couple years ago a friend of mine left South Ockendon, having been from Forest Gate before that, and relocated to Frinton. He’s in his 20s and loves it – the fresh sea air, the safety of the town and the people who are very community minded.

    I have no idea who he’d vote for but I’m guessing he’s a Tory.

  34. a town in which there are no pubs or fish & chip shops however isn’t nostalgia – it’s creating a little world which is different from the rest of the country. Heaven knows, in the 50s there were more chip shops & pubs than there are today, although neither is exactly dying out.

  35. The collapse of the Lib Dems in the old Harwich seat over time was rather striking-
    1992- 24.4%, -6.1%
    1997- 13.1%, -10.0%
    2001- 8.5%, -4.6%

  36. “a town in which there are no pubs or fish & chip shops however isn’t nostalgia – it’s creating a little world which is different from the rest of the country. Heaven knows, in the 50s there were more chip shops & pubs than there are today, although neither is exactly dying out”

    I’ve not been there for years so I have no idea what it’s like there these days. I can’t say I blame them for wanting to live in a bubble, IMO many parts of the country look like the third world thanks to Labour.

    As a general point Essex can be quite an insular county where too much change is frowned upon. I always say that it is basically like how the East End was 50 to 20 odd years ago. That same type of spirit but with more ‘nouveau riche’ and an establised middle class.

  37. The Results

    In the late 80s the Liibs/SDP polled relatively wellwinning votes from both the Tories and Labour in much of the South East/East Anglia. By 1992 much of this vote tailed off to Labour as that party looked fit for government. By 1997 Labour were firmly winning support from previous Lib Dem voters, and I would imagine a good degree of tactical voting occured in 1997 to get rid of the Tories.

    The drop in Lib Dem support by 2001 can be linked to an increase in votes for both Labour and the Tories rendering the seat a definate 2 way fight.

    Pete, Barnaby, HH, JJB may be able to expand on that

  38. LBernard, thanks very much for that explanation, it is very helpful.

    I imagined that the SDP would have done pretty well in this part of Essex once upon a time when they existed, so their solid vote here in the 80s is really no surprise. But the 6% drop in 1992 was what surprised me for some reason.

    I think it is only now the Tories are safe in Clacton that the Lib Dems have managed to marginally recover their vote, but they are still way behind Labour who are in a clear second place to Carswell here.

  39. North Essex has always been more liberal than the parts of the county closer to London. Relatively affluent Costal Essex, in particular, seemed(s) to attract more Lib Dem type voters i.e Leigh on Sea, parts of Colchester borough and Chafford Hundred up until the mid 00s but overall Essex is not really Lib Dem territory.

  40. It’s funny though when you consider that Colchester has for a while been very good for them, compared to elsewhere in the county.

  41. I found Jonathan Meades’ programme about Essex which was broadcast in January this year extremely interesting, even though it wasn’t directly about politics or psephologist. Everything impacts on politics in one way or another IMO.

  42. I think Essex is a good mix of safe Tory seats and classic Tory-Labour marginals personally- it’s notable for being the home of Basildon and TOWIE alone LOL!

  43. I find it extremely hard to believe that the East End was ever like Frinton-on-Sea. As Barnaby says, the East End has been criticised for its immoral behaviour since before Victorian times, when it was filled with pubs, brothels and debauched foreign sailors.

    I love nostalgia but it’s quite a different thing to want to live in it. You can’t turn the clock back and trying to do so tends to make one miserable. But as I say, each to his own.

  44. Further to Manchester Man’s question, Carswell’s notional majority in Clacton was rather greater than what he managed in Harwich in 2005:

    According to UK Polling Report, these were the notional figures going into 2010-


    Conservative: 19266 (45.9%)
    Labour: 14742 (35.1%)
    Liberal Democrat: 5377 (12.8%)
    Other: 2555 (6.1%)
    Majority: 4524 (10.8%)

  45. Speaking of debauched Victorian behaviour – here is the names of some Victorian erotica.

    “The Voluptuarian Cabinet: Being a Faithful Re-Print of Such Facetious Facts as Have Become Scarce” (1824)

    “The Confessions of a Voluptuous Young Lady of High Rank” (1871)

    “The Art of Making Love in More Ways Than One” (1830)

  46. Douglas Carswell made a common law arrest of a young male shoplifter today, in Boots in Clacton.

  47. Making himself useful.. LoL

  48. Was he Bulgarian?

  49. “In Clacton 40 per cent of adults have no qualifications.”


  50. An American once attempted to make a citizens arrest on one of my friends outside the old Safeways supermarket store in East Grinstead

    I remember him coming over, placing his hand on my friend’s chest and saying ‘Sir, I am placing you under citizen’s arrest”, to which we all laughed at presuming it was some sort of joke

    Fortunately we had a friend with us who was taking A-level law at the time and was able to convince him it wasn’t something that was commonly used in this country, and he relented

    Up until now, Carswell’s intervention is the only other incident I have heard of this being done or attempted to be done

1 2 3 23
Leave a Reply

NB: Before commenting please make sure you are familiar with the Comments Policy. UKPollingReport is a site for non-partisan discussion of polls.

You are not currently logged into UKPollingReport. Registration is not compulsory, but is strongly encouraged. Either login here, or register here (commenters who have previously registered on the Constituency Guide section of the site *should* be able to use their existing login)