Clacton

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
2010
Con: 22867 (53%)
Lab: 10799 (25%)
LDem: 5577 (13%)
BNP: 1975 (5%)
Oth: 1905 (4%)
MAJ: 12068 (28%)
2005*
Con: 21235 (42%)
Lab: 20315 (40%)
LDem: 5913 (12%)
UKIP: 2314 (5%)
Oth: 631 (1%)
MAJ: 920 (2%)
2001
Con: 19355 (40%)
Lab: 21951 (46%)
LDem: 4099 (9%)
UKIP: 2463 (5%)
Oth: 247 (1%)
MAJ: 2596 (5%)
1997
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

Demographics
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)
DOUGLAS CARSWELL (UKIP) See above.
CHRIS SOUTHALL (Green) Engineer and smallholder. Contested Clacton 2010, 2014 by-election.
Links
Comments - 1,117 Responses on “Clacton”
  1. “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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. ‘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

  6. 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.

  7. I get the strong impression that some posters want to think this move was somehow irrational just because they don’t like Douglas Carswell.

  8. Or perhaps more because they can’t stand UKIP? The logic being therefore, why would a relatively decent and principled MP detect to THEM?

  9. ‘The logic being therefore, why would a relatively decent and principled MP detect to THEM?’

    That was my logic certainly

  10. “I get the strong impression that some posters want to think this move was somehow irrational just because they don’t like Douglas Carswell.”
    Depends what he wants…if he wanted to stay being an MP post 2020, his action in defecting to UKIP was irrational. He may have other plans, however.

  11. Be a laugh if he got knighted and Farego didn’t.

  12. God some people on here are very slow.

    Carswell joining UKIP was key to Vote Leave getting the official designation of LEAVE group at the referendum, thus preventing LEAVE being fronted by Banks and Farage which would have ensured REMAIN won.

    It was a highly intelligent tactical move aimed at securing Brexit.

  13. Runnymede, I think you can forgive people for not picking up on what you were getting at because what you’ve just said isn’t the same as what you said upthread.

    Before you said Carswell defected in order to “further LEAVE’s chances in the upcoming referendum by detoxing UKIP”, but in you last comment you say he was aiming at detoxifying the leave campaign rather than UKIP. The two are definitely not he same. The latter certainly sounds more plausible.

    By the time Carswell joined UKIP had already decided to head down the Faragist, angry nativist route. From his point of view they were a lost cause by then. I remarked on here at the time how Carswell didn’t seem to be a better fit in his new party than he had been in his old one. If his aim was effectively distancing the leave campaign from what UKIP had become, paradoxically by joining UKIP then looking back his defection makes sense.

  14. ‘If his aim was effectively distancing the leave campaign from what UKIP had become, paradoxically by joining UKIP then looking back his defection makes sense.’

    Yes, that’s right. Top marks.

    It only appears paradoxical if you look at it from the point of view of Carswell moving purely on the basis of ideological ‘fit’. That wasn’t what it was about at all.

    When I said detoxing UKIP I meant in the specific context of the EU referendum – making sure they didn’t get the Vote Leave designation and then being a respectable face for UKIP within Vote Leave.

  15. It was a highly intelligent tactical move aimed at securing Brexit.

    But what about his career? does he want to continue being an MP post 2020.;… we are not thick, runnymede, we understand what you are saying.

    It seems that he will end his parliamentary career at the grand old age of 49 in May 2020. He was born in May 1971.

    This is what I am interested in now with respect to Carswell. Does he go back to the Tories or does he fight Clacton as the UKIP candidate. Clacton is very likely to go Tory in 2020.

  16. I’m sure Carswell has a good chance of holding Clacton in 2020 regardless of which party label he stands under.

  17. If that really was Carswell’s plan all along, then in hindsight it was a tactical masterstroke, but at the time it would have been a huge gamble. His action could have ended up denying the Conservatives a majority by convincing a crucial bloc of Tory voters to follow his lead. Then there wouldn’t even have been a referendum to contest.

  18. Maybe that would have helped Carswell he’d probably have had posters all up over Clacton 2020 ‘Only a vote for Carswell can ensure EU ref.’

  19. I don’t know if RUNNYMEDE knows Douglas & has inside knowledge but the timeline of events don’t support him.

    VOTE LEAVE was founded in Oct 2015. Carswell resigned in August 2014 and Carswell ‘s defection was way before any meaningful Cameron/ EU talks.

  20. IMO – he’ll keep his seat whatever his allegiance.

    I met him on the Leave campaign trail and although he looks a bit aloof, he came across as a nice guy and an intelligent one aswell (which doesn’t fit with UKIP). I hope he comes back to the Tories, but I doubt it.

  21. Would Vote Leave have been denied official status if Carswell had stayed with the Tories?

    On the grounds that UKIP wouldn’t have had any MPs?

    Back in late 2015 the odds were in favour of Farage getting elected, yet somehow he didn’t…

    He came to Leeds in the referendum campaign and tbh seemed exactly how he is on telly, stand offish yet engaging at the same time, uses five words when three would do, looks through people to a degree rather than at them when they’re talking.

    Having met him and Farage I certainly prefer him – I met Farage before he turned into a single issue BNP lite type as well…

  22. Just so you know, kiddies like you won’t be making that decision.

  23. Why wouldn’t he be welcomed back?

    If it was me making the decision I’d snap his hand off.

    He’s more reliable in the Aye lobby than he’s ever been.

  24. Ah the naivety of youth.

  25. ‘Would they welcome back Neil Hamilton or Mark Reckless?’

    Clearly not – but the more interesting questions are why UKIP allowed Neil Hamilton, arguably the most dislikeable and dishonourable politician of the 20th century, to join up in the first place, and secondly, why the Welsh public voted him in.

    Whilst being Welsh can always got you further in Welsh politics than your talent might otherwise merit, voting for one of few MPs who was more or less proven as being corrupt in a time of mass disillusionment with politicians, turns logic on its head, and just underlines how dim some of the British public really are

  26. It’s striking how so many of the people who are happy to call the voters stupid are people who illustrate few attributes of genuine intelligence themselves.

  27. It’s striking how so many of the people who are happy to call the voters stupid are people who illustrate few attributes of genuine intelligence themselves

    That’s quite something coming from a bigoted moron such as yourself

  28. calm down folks

  29. The way you three behave the moment my back is turned . . .

  30. My response was childish and unkind but Runnymede has a habit bringing out the worst in me

  31. I think Plopwellian Tory is way off beam here, and that his somewhat knee-jerk reaction may not be so widely shared amongst the people that matter in the Tory party.

    My hunch is that May will be magnanimous with Carswell, as it is clearly very advantageous for her to be so. Because of this, comparisons with the likes of Bob Spink and Neil Hamilton are an irrelevance. Carswell being back in the fold would help lock the Luke Senior wing of UKIP back into the Tories. The tricky bit might be squaring it with the Clacton constituency party though that might be assisted by boundary changes.

  32. I can easily see Carswell geing allowed to become a Conservative member\MP again.

    1. He is at loggerheads with Farage.
    2. Personal vote in this seat.
    3. He was treated with respect by Tory MPs when he defected – unlike Reckless
    4. He is close to the highest echelons in the Conservative party still.

  33. To avoid a byelection though I think he would have to be expelled by UKIP and sit as an independent until close to 2020 with an “understanding” with the Clacton Tory Association

  34. I agree with Hemmelig.

    As a moderate libertarian I feel far more at home within the Tories than I had done in UKIP for the previous couple of years.

    A few other former UKIP parliamentary candidates have joined or rejoined recently, citing the snarling, thin skinned attitude of lots of cultists and the failure of the party to grasp that single issue headbanging won’t win elections.

    One made his mind up whilst campaigning in Stoke, I believe.

  35. BBC news reporting that Carswell has quit UKIP amicably and will sit as independent

  36. Yes, an interesting statement.

    Sky said he’s had talks with the Conservative Chief Whip, but won’t be rejoining the Conservatives, so I assume he’ll just vote with them as James Kilfedder did as UPUP.

  37. Presumably if Mr. Carswell is to honour the principle he established previously – that switchers should resign and face the voters to attempt to be elected in their new capacity – then we should have a by-election here?

    Although he may possibly believe that this does not apply when one switches to an Independent. Although I don’t really see the logic of that.

  38. How many MPs have represented a seat under three different party labels? I guess there must be some Labour/SDP/Lib Dem MPs, but apart from that it must be pretty rare.

  39. I assume Carswell will be the Tory candidate in 2020 then if he’s chatted with the Chief Whip, though that could depend on how badly the local party still feel about his defection

  40. @POLLTROLL

    I’m not aware of any former Labour MPs who became Lib Dems via the SDP. Paul Marsden is an obvious Labour>Lib Dem defection.

    Mike Handcock is one of the few MPs elected as SDP who were then elected as a Lib Dem (he was previously a Lab Councillor but not a Lab MP)

  41. Robert Maclellan held the seat of Caithness and Sutherland for Labour 1966-81, SDP 1981-88 and the Liberal Democrats from 1988 until his constituency was redistributed and re-named in 1997..

  42. What we need is Carswell to have talks with Farron, and an arrangement stuck, possibly as a stepping stone like the Alliance then a full merged stuck together later.

    I really hope the Lib Dems come out for Brexit in Leave voting seats only.
    That way can hold together the Remain campaign with it aswell, and get into Government with an overall majority.

  43. What we need is Carswell to have talks with Farron, and an arrangement stuck, possibly as a stepping stone like the Alliance then a full merged stuck together later.

    I really hope the Lib Dems come out for Brexit in Leave voting seats only.
    That way can hold together the Remain campaign with it aswell, and get into Government with an overall majority.

  44. Paul D – I think that’s likely, although not certain.

    The Tory PPC who stood in the By-election and GE certainly won’t be, as he said it was his last outing, plus he’d be 67 in 2020.

  45. @POLLTROL – A politician who sat for three different parties is John Horman, who was Labour MP for Gateshead West between 1970 & 81, then defected to the SDP until 1983. He left Parliament and returned as Conservative MP for Orpington in 1987.

  46. Polltroll – I’m sure that exists as a quiz question somewhere and there were around a dozen or so examples from a poster on the old site.

    Eg David Alton was Lib > LD > Ind > LD from memory. [Which is presumably why he received his Peerage from John Major and not the LDs and he now sits as a Crossbencher]

    Most of the Lab>SDP>LD people tended to have only been Cllrs (Vince Cable) at the outset or Peers (Tom McNally) at the end though, so the number of MPs will be small.

    Galloway will be attempting Labour > Respect > Ind, of course.

    I have a feeling a couple in NI may have sat briefly for 3 Parties, although that’s in part due to name changes eg Paisley’s Protestant Unionist Party was short lived.

    I’ve heard of a couple of Cllrs who’ve been in 5 Parties though!

  47. Jim Sillars was a Labour MP then Scottish Labour MP then SNP MP.

  48. Not another non partisan forecast from Ploppy!

  49. @ Paul @ POLLTROLL Robert Maclennan was elected as Labour MP after defeating the sitting Liberal MP. He later defended Caithness and Sutherland for the SDP and Liberal Democrats.

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