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. You don’t automatically have any clout as a sole MP unless you have the charisma to project yourself onto the media – Caroline Lucas being a good example. Otherwise like Dr Richard Taylor or Lady Sylvia Hermon you can easily just remain an obscure nobody.

    Carswell is too weird to come across well on TV and was always going to be overshadowed by Farage. He must have known that when he joined. He also consistently proves that he is very clever and yet devoid of much common sense – “too clever by half” as the crusty knights of the shires said about Macleod.

  2. H.Hemmelig is correct

  3. I expect Carswell’s reluctance to become a spokesperson for UKIP policy in parliament is a source of frustration to Farage. But fact is without him defecting I very much doubt UKIP would have any MPs at all.

  4. Lovely to see you back Pete.

  5. Carswell is in the wrong party and he knows it. He must have thought that several other Tory Eurosceptics would have followed him across the floor, enough to collectively challenge Nigel Farage’s control over the party and take it in the direction he wanted.

    I actually agree with Douglas that Nigel Farage has taken the party as far as he can, in terms of voting intention at least. However:

    (a) Right at the moment it’s not their most pressing issue.
    (b) I don’t think they have anyone waiting in the wings that could deliver UKIP those gains, either in the short term or even over several electoral cycles.
    (c) If you want to get anywhere in UKIP, don’t criticise the Nigel.

  6. @Polltroll

    Your first point is an interesting one – Carswell may well have hoped more of his ex-colleagues would follow him – though I might be inclined to simply suggest Carswell isn’t and never has been a party man at all. He’s a natural independent and will probably become one in the end, possibly turning Clacton into an all-in bunfight between Carswell and his two former parties.

  7. Jack: in the scenario you describe, there’s a chance that, if Labour recover from their current malaise, then come 2025, say, they could sneak through the middle of very divided right-of-centre opposition to take the seat on around 30% of the vote…

  8. Best case scenario do UKIP is Farage resigning after the referendum in order to concentrate in S Thanet and replacing him with Diane James, Suzanne Evans or Tim Aker and then holdinh Clacton and winning a few other seats like Thurrock, Boston and Rochester in 2020.

    On the other hand Farage could remain or be replaced by Carswell or Nutall and descend into ruinous infighting.


    If UKIP completely collapsed I think The Tories would still benefit just as much if not more than Labour.

    I suspect Carswell will narrowly hang on in 2020 if he’s still in UKIP even on trickier Harwich and Clacton boundaries.

  9. Giles Watling is the son of the late Jack Watling and younger brother of Deborah Watling (who played Victoria in Doctor Who 1967 to 1968).

  10. @Polltroll

    I was going to add LAB could be in the game too, but thought better of it when I double checked the 2015 result. Realistically if Carswell stood as an Indy I think they’d just be squeezed even further.

    Also, Harwich may be slightly more favourable to LAB but the result in Harwich and North Essex suggests that they aren’t exactly storming it there.

  11. I don’t think Labour would come close in 2025. Carswell would struggle to win as an independent (I think he would struggle to hold the seat for UKIP in 2020 TBH) and if it is a CON GAIN next time they would in all likelihood walk it in 2025 as I doubt Carswell would stick around another 5 years to fight it again as an independent.

  12. The New Statesman have an article on Jaywick, the poorest ward in the country, which is in this seat.

  13. That actually under estmate. Been a few higher than that for leave.

  14. With nearly all the very strongest leave areas in I think I think my prediction that remain strongest place is stronger than leave;s strongest place has come true.

  15. Polltroll – they referred to a guy at the Count who saw just 4 votes for Remain in Jaywick!

  16. Not surprising. Jaywick is the poorest place in the UK with a lot of elderly.

  17. Farage talking about expelling Carswell.

    Carswell is more of a hypercapitalist independent anyway, so it would fit. Though hard to see him re-elected here on that basis.

  18. I’ve always thought he’ll end up an independent. Though he seems determined to hold on to the UKIP badge, even though in practice him and the ‘UKIP Parliamentary Resource Unit’ headed by Suzanne Evans have little to do with Farage and in fact hate Farage. As we’ve discussed on here before if he does become an Indy then you have a crowded field at the next GE with him, Tory and UKIP candidates (+ Labour who held this seat not so long ago themselves) all head to head.

  19. Reports that Carswell colluded with the Conservatives to defeat Nigel Farage in South Thanet:

    If true, this is surely grounds for suspension and possibly expulsion from the party.

  20. ‘I’ve always thought he’ll end up an independent.’

    I agree and think he still will

    UKIP has changed over the past six years from an obscure right-wing Eurosceptic pressure group – to a populist, anti-immigration working class party, and with his support for free-market economics and his very vocal objections to some of UKIP’s posters on immigration, you can understand why Carswell sees the current UKIP as something very different from what he thought he was joining when he defected

    But he does seem determined to stock with UKIP. Maybe these new revelations will take the decision out of his hands

  21. Yes, I wouldn’t be shocked if he tried to engineer a return to the Conservative Party in an effort to keep his job. How welcome he’d be is of course questionable

  22. Sure he’d be more welcome in the Conservatives than he is in UKIP at the moment?

    Problem for him that in the current political climate UKIP’s obvious electoral strategy is to focus on socially conservative working-class voters. Ayn Rand disciples, especially Carswell who as a matter of principle eschews the nativist populism of UKIP, just don’t fit into that picture.

  23. As much as I would happily see the back of Carswell I would have thought the new Harwich and Clacton would be very winnable for UKIP?

  24. Shouldn’t that be “would have voted Tory in 2015”?

  25. “Bye bye Douglas Carswell…”

    Unless he switches back to the Tories. I actually think he’d fit better in the post Brexit Conservative Party than he ever did in Farage’s UKIP.

  26. Anthony’s notionals ( actually suggest UKIP would have won Harwich and Clacton. I think Carswell would have every chance of winning it again unless UKIP completely collapse nationally whilst he remains in the party.

  27. ‘Winnable yes, but it would have voted Tory in 2020’

    Very winnable I would have thought – with the addition of working class Harwich, although the deprived ward of Golfers Green has been moved out, which one would assume would be bad news for UKIP

    This is quite similar to the Harwich seat that existed prior to 2010 – in containing both Clacton and Harwich and with it what was once a considerable Labour vote

    One imagines it will take one hell of a long time before Laboir are competitive in such areas again

  28. Douglas Carswell hasn’t bothered to go to UKIP’s spring conference:

  29. Labour won’t poll nearly 25% under Corbyn, or anyone else.

    Carswell clearly has a decent personal following which is odd considering his type of personality and views, in comparison with the demographic of the seat.

    He’ll take some shifting, I’m not convinced the Tories will go all that hard when there will be easier gains and marginals they’ll want to hang onto elsewhere.

    He’s a fairly reliable presence in the Aye lobby, for starters.

  30. Arron Banks will stand against him apparently…

  31. Why the Banks / Farage vendetta against Carswell?

    Are they that narrow a church that they can’t – if not embrace exactly, at least tolerate him?

  32. I could write a book on it, Carswell is less popular in UKIP than Thatcher was with the striking miners.

    Most of the members absolutely loathe the bloke, because he rails against their hero… and is liberal on immigration.

  33. I could write a book on it, Carswell is less popular in UKIP than Thatcher was with the striking miners.

    ‘Most of the members absolutely loathe the bloke, because he rails against their hero… and is liberal on immigration’

    It seems somewhat of an exaggeration to say Carswell is liberal on immigration. If he is, it’s the only issue he is liberal on – apart from of course the economy, which flies in the face of why UKIP started doing so well with the WWC around 2013 after ditching their libertarian economic policy in favour of a protectionist/statist one

    And whilst he strikes me as a fairly decent chap, one wonders why on earth Carswell decided to join UKIP after doing so

    It makes little sense

  34. Hello Luke

    How is Carswell liberal on immigration, excuse my ignorance?

  35. Carswell has long been known to want to ‘distance himself from UKIP’s immigration policy’ (Farage’s words). Luke may have meant to describe that attitude as being ‘Liberal’ ?

    Is it possible Carswell could leave UKIP (or be chucked out) – forcing a Bi-Election ?

    That would be interesting.

  36. I suspect that, apart from Carswell attacking Farage et al. in the media on a regular basis, one of the reasons they don’t like him is that despite being UKIP’s only MP he continues to run his own effectively independent operation in the Commons rather than promoting UKIP’s policy or grandstanding at PMQs etc. in the way Farage would if he were an MP.

    All rather inevitable if you ask me. He was always a very independent minded Tory and so was never likely to be someone who towed the line in UKIP.

  37. But supposedly that’s what they claimed made them different to other parties – no party whip, or being ‘told what to do from above’ etc.

    So much for that with Nigel Farage’s ego, not to mention Carswell’s extreme independence / stubbornness setting them up for a giant personality clash.

    I can see he’s not Aaron Banks’ type. I hope Nuttall sticks to his word and doesn’t let money (i.e. Banks’s) do all the talking in the party, but rather sticks to overhauling the operation and structure to make it a more effective organisation, especially at elections etc. Give him and Nuttall and Tim Aker a bit of time, and they could make something of it – if Farage hasn’t taken over again by then.

  38. ” Is it possible Carswell could leave UKIP (or be chucked out) – forcing a Bi-Election ?”

    except that only Carswell himself can force a bi election, and why would he?

  39. If he quit the party he would probably have to call a by-election (since he already did so when he left the Tories) – not legally but certainly plenty of people would ask him why he isn’t doing so. If UKIP kick him out then he can sit as an independent with no need to have a vote. If that did happen, maybe he’d have a quiet word with May and with his local Conservative Association…

  40. ‘If UKIP kick him out then he can sit as an independent with no need to have a vote. If that did happen, maybe he’d have a quiet word with May and with his local Conservative Association…’

    With May opting for a hard Brexit and with her almost certain to turn the UK into a Singapore-style economy when she doesn’t get what she wants from the Brexit negotiations, I would have thought Carswell will be asking himself why he left the Tories now its turned into the Europhobic, libertarian party he always wanted it to be

    Whether the Tories will have him back is another matter entirely – they are ones with the cards in their handsw

  41. Carswell vs Banks vs an official Tory candidate could be an interesting by election. Not sure who I would favour in that.

  42. Carswell has been open about his lack of faith in even the model of ‘political parties’ now, let alone the traditional model. The Conservative party isn’t for him (and doesn’t fulfil his definition of Libertarian either).

    On the idea he might go back to the Conservatives, there has been some interesting phrasing in his unambiguously ruling it out such as: “UKIP is my last party”.

    [As an aside, in trying to search for the clip I found a summer 2015 interview with Mr Jones, where Douglas described Mr Cameron as: “A very bright Patrician conservative, who is of repository of every failed orthodoxy of the age”]

    I cannot see Clacton being treated like Richmond Park. It would require the local association to refuse to select a candidate against Carswell – something they’re done twice already, and additionally CCHQ to not then impose one (in a seat that is still/more-so very much natural territory for May’s Conservatives).

    I don’t think they’ll be a by-election in Clacton (he’ll just sit tight if expelled), there will always be a Conservative candidate, and it will never again by Mr Carswell.

  43. The idea that anyone other than Conservatives would win a by-election here currently is laughable IMHO, they would get a good majority in fact – even if Kippers weren’t split between Carswell and Banks.

  44. it won’t be easy for carswell to get back to the tories. I don’t see why the local conservative party in Clacton would necessarily welcome him back as their candidate, after what he did to them in September 2014. His days as an MP are numbered, it would seem.

  45. “Is it possible Carswell could leave UKIP (or be chucked out) – forcing a Bi-Election?”

    It really depends on the candidates who run in the by-election.

  46. I’m beginning to reassess my thinking on why Carswell defected in the first place. I think I wrote somewhere on here a year or so ago that he probably imagined the rest of the awkward squad following his lead, enough to wrestle control of their new party out of Farage’s hands. But perhaps he really was the fifth-column double-agent that UKIP members feared he was all along.

  47. I have to say that I was baffled as to why Carswell joined UKIP in the first place. I could have understood had it been 2006 when UKIP had a Thatcherite libertarian tinge but by 2014,it was clear that UKIP was reinventing itself as a more protectionist party. Moreover, advocating Britain’s withdrawal from the EU was a relatively mainstream position within the Conservative party by 2014 whereas it hadn’t been in the early Cameron years.

  48. Carswell left the Tories and joined UKIP because –

    a) Cameron’s aides told him Cameron’s ‘renegotiation’was going to be a cosmetic exercise

    b) He wanted to further LEAVE’s chances in the upcoming referendum by detoxing UKIP and drawing some attention away from Farage who he (rightly) thought was too divisive a figure.

  49. ‘He wanted to further LEAVE’s chances in the upcoming referendum by detoxing UKIP and drawing some attention away from Farage who he (rightly) thought was too divisive a figure’

    Whilst I have no reason to question Carswell’s motives for defecting, if one of them was to detoxify UKIP he hasn’t got very far

    As Tory and Polltroll allude, and not even in hindsight, Carswell’s defection seems more illogical by the day and there’s more than a handful of Tory MPs who are considerably more right-wing that he is, sitting happily in Theresa May’s Brexit party, so I’m sure Carswell regrets his decision far more than his former Tory colleagues

    It’s perhaps ironic that they can now go ahead and implement some of the stuff he was advocating when he was sitting on the Tory backbenches

  50. At the time he was the only Tory MP in favour of proportional representation, he was serious about recall (the government was not), and he was serious about increasing the power of Parliament vs. the executive, and of course he was serious about leaving the EU.

    The logic of the defection is perfectly understandable, and the gulf that still exists between him and the May government much more substantial than the superficial analysis.

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