2015 Result:
Conservative: 18919 (38.9%)
Labour: 7852 (16.2%)
Lib Dem: 13344 (27.5%)
Green: 2499 (5.1%)
UKIP: 5870 (12.1%)
Others: 109 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 5575 (11.5%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

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

Main population centres: Colchester.

Profile: Colchester is an ancient town, a provincial capital in Roman Britain. It has been a military centre since then and remains an important garrison town today, housing the 16th Air Assault Brigade at Colchester Garrison and the Military Corrective Training Centre, the only Military prison in Britain. Colchester is also home to the University of Essex, although the campus itself lies just outside the constituency boundary in Wivenhoe.

Politics: Until 1997 Colchester was split into two seats (Colchester North and Colchester South and Maldon), each with a large swathe of rural Essex attached and each comfortably Conservative - a classic "sandwich" formation in drawing up constituency boundaries. In the 1997 boundary changes it was replaced by a "donut" formation - a Colchester seat consisting of only the town itself, surrounded by a North Essex seat taking in its rural hinterland. North Essex remained Conservative, but the new Colchester seat was narrowly won by Bob Russell for the Liberal Democrats (defeating the Conservative candidate Stephan Shakespeare, who went on to found the pollsters YouGov). Bob Russell remained the MP for 28 years, building a robust majority but not enough to resist the anti-Lib Dem tide in 2015.

Current MP
WILL QUINCE (Conservative) Born 1982, Buckinghamshire. Educated at Aberystwyth University. Former solicitor. Colchester councillor since 2011 and former East Hertfordshire councillor. Contested Colchester 2010. First elected as MP for Colchester in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 15169 (33%)
Lab: 5680 (12%)
LDem: 22151 (48%)
UKIP: 1350 (3%)
Oth: 1789 (4%)
MAJ: 6982 (15%)
Con: 14868 (33%)
Lab: 8886 (20%)
LDem: 21145 (47%)
MAJ: 6277 (14%)
Con: 13074 (30%)
Lab: 10925 (25%)
LDem: 18627 (43%)
UKIP: 631 (1%)
Oth: 479 (1%)
MAJ: 5553 (13%)
Con: 16305 (31%)
Lab: 15891 (31%)
LDem: 17886 (34%)
Oth: 148 (0%)
MAJ: 1581 (3%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
WILL QUINCE (Conservative) Born 1982, Buckinghamshire. Educated at Aberystwyth University. Solicitor. Colchester councillor since 2011 and former East Hertfordshire councillor. Contested Colchester 2010.
JORDAN NEWELL (Labour) Born Harwich. Educated at Manningtree High School. Parliamentary assistant. Contested Colchester 2010.
BOB RUSSELL (Liberal Democrat) Born 1946, London. Educated at St Helena Secondary Modern. Journalist and publicity officer for Essex university. Colchester councillor 1971-2002. Contested Colchester 1979 for Labour. MP for Colchester 1997 to 2015.
JOHN PITTS (UKIP) Contested Colchester 2010.
MARK GOACHER (Green) Born Leicester. Educated at Lancaster University. Teacher.
KEN SCRIMSHAW (CPA) Retired mechanical engineer and church administrator.
Comments - 74 Responses on “Colchester”
  1. One might have expected Labour to push the Lib Dems aside in 1997, and although I was surprised at how small the Tory notional 1992 majority was, perhaps the Lib Dems managed to communicate effectively that it was them to challenge rather than Labour.

    Again, it depends how the seats are drawn, but here I am somewhat inclined towards your prediction The Results.

  2. Indeed. I think because the new Colchester seat was drawn quite favourably for the Lib Dems in 1997 it was easier for them to challenge for the seat and their tactical message must have got through to natural Labour supporters in the seat at the time. It is notable though that despite this Labour still came close to taking second place behind Russell. Had they narrowly moved into second place that year, I think the result in 2001 might have been slightly better for them and might not have suffered the 6% decrease they did having been in third place in reality. Thanks BTW Joe for agreeing RE the possible longterm picture in this seat.

  3. Remember living in Colchester when this seat came into existence at the 1997 General Election.

    It certainly would have been a Labour constituency in 1997 and 2001 if it hadn’t been for the presence of the Lib Dems. If Stanway ward has been excluded then it would have been even closer.

    This is a seat that could very well be a Labour seat if they win an overall majority in Parliament. Without the presence of Bob Russell, the Lib Dem vote is likely to fall away considerably and this should benefit Labour. It has also seen a very high degree of tactical voting.

    It is certainly a very mixed seat given the influence of the university and the military which benefits both sides. Colchester also contains areas of considerable deprivation in Greenstead where Labour have held council seats throughout their time in government.

    The boundaries should pretty much stay the same unless the commission decide to split the town in half like it was from 1983-97 which would then see two very safe Conservative seats. I’m sure the Conservatives would like to see a similar arrangement re-adopted by the commission in the forthcoming review. If they stay the same, then this seat will remain a marginal seat with either Labour of the Liberal Democrats’ challenging.

  4. I dont think the present seat is winnable for labour.

  5. The LibDems are the clear challengers here. The sizeable Labour and UKIP votes make things easier for the Tories.

  6. It is true though that Colchester never seemed the most likely LD seat.

  7. I have just been posting on another thread, Stoke, about needs for new teaching hospitals. My major point if that as UK population is growing at about 500,000 a year, whilst this situation continues we need approximately one new teaching hospital every two years (plus extr ones to make up the backlog). As Colchester is in an area of high growth near London, which hoovers up speclalist medical resopurces at the expense of the rest of South-East England, can I ask which parites, if any, have proposed siting an additional teaching hospital here and what the voting consequences are of such proposals or the lack of them?

  8. It is hard to think of constituency boundaries likely to be more favourable to Labour than a “doughnut”with a town centre seat surrounded by a suburban one. If you dount this, look at the two seats in York.

    I have just been commenting on theboundaries in Norfolk, where North Norfol and Broadlands have very odd boundaries, both being very long and thin.

    I can’t help thinking that politicians are pushing for too many seats with peculiar boundaries, which if one looks to the days in the US after the Civil War are historically “gerrymandered” seats. Rules which now emphasise equality of electorate rather than respect for local communities and boundaries means that there is a grave danger that the forthcoming boundary changes will result in even more seats with little geographical identity and which will raise grave suspicions of gerrymandering in the modern sense.

    All the major parties have been at it but in my opinion the Tories have been particualrly unscrupulous.

    In my opinion, again, doughnut seats as in Colchester, York and Bath increase the lieklihood of gerrymandering still further. In my view, “doughnut seats” should, like seats with enclaves in other ones, should be banned.

    As I am a floating voter, I do not care what the party implications are of the boundaries, except they should be naturally fair and sensible.

    Incidentally, the result here in 1997 must have been one of the tightest three way contests, with the obvious exception of Caithness and Sutherland in 1945.

  9. I guess the trouble is that with smaller cities like Colchester, Cambridge, or Bath, splitting them down the middle would mean bringing a large rural area into the seat, which would further break down any sense of geographical identity for the seat. Few of the UK’s doughnuts or near-doughnuts favour Labour much, I’d note, as most cities with them are too small to be solidly Labour in any case.

    York is perhaps the exception, and is I think the most obviously unnecessary case of this as the Outer seat is still very much part of York unlike the large rural seats some other smaller cities are set within.

  10. There’s been a news article here about the closure of a Co-op store for housing. Surprisingly large number of comments, few of them favourable to councillors for their policy of rezoning industrial and retail land for housing. There’s a belief that some councillors are getting rather wealthy as a result. There also seems regret for the closure of so much industry.Not many people mourn the closure of the rather high-priced Co-op but some regret that Colchester doesn’t still have its own independent society and that things started to go wrong when it merged

  11. A truly terrrrrrible night for psephology as Prof Anthony King of Essex University dies.

    Election nights haven’t been quite the same since he retired.

  12. Bob Russell is standing.

    Does that put this seat in play?

  13. The 71-year-old has denied he is too old for a comeback.

    We’ve now reached 22 MPs who have announced that they are not standing again.

    6 others are rumoured but yet to be confirmed.

  14. The local elections might give some indication of where this seat stands. Colchester is currently run by the Lib Dems with support from Labour and Independents.

    A good local campaign won’t be enough to turn this seat. For the seat to come into play, I there will need to be a national swing from the Conservatives to the Lib Dems. There’s no sign of this happening yet, though there’s still plenty of time.

  15. No this (Leave) seat is not now in play, Bob Russell or no.

  16. I want to vote tactically in this election to unseat the sitting Tory MP. Should I vote Lib Dem or Labour, given the Lib Dem campaign has failed to take off nationally so far?

  17. If Bob Russel had not tried to regain his seat and the Lib dems were under 10% here then which Party would have Benefited more. Labour or Tory’s.

  18. I think the Lib Dems may have collapsed and it being distributed evenly between Quince and Labour but I can’t say for certain.

  19. I don’t know, I’ve never been to Colchester in my life so this isn’t backed up with any local knowledge but a quick look at past local election results suggests the Libs totally supplanted Lab in many of their old wards while in the more Tory inclined wards they never quite did as well which makes sense given that Bob Russell was ex Labour, it all suggests that the Lib vote here might be more Lab inclined.

    Also many Lab voters here probably looked at the 2015 result and realised the Libs were best placed to beat the Cons and voted accordingly, on a semi related note I told a Lab supporting friend of mine in Southport to vote Lib Dem cos they were the only ones who could stop the Tories, many a would be Lab voter here probably found themselves in a similar situation with no idea that Lab would surge and supplant the Lib Dems as the main challengers.

    Thus I’d guess most of the residual Lib vote here is Lab inclined, how exactly it would split though I couldn’t tell you.

  20. The Conservatives have gained Shrub End ward from the Lib Dems. The LDs were 3rd behind Labour

  21. Will Quince has resigned as Gavin Williamson PPS due to his opposition to the Deal according to Tim Shipman of the Sunday Times

  22. And confirmed by Will Quince in an article in the Sunday Telegraph.

  23. Labour’s candidate here Tina McKay has apologized for her “offensive and inappropriate” remarks over Labour antisemitism made on the Facebook page of the University of Essex Labour society.
    This comes as the University of Essex is embroiled in a antisemitic scandal regarding backlas to the formation of a Jewish Society.

  24. Will Quince, who quit as PPS to vote against MV1 but backed it at MV2 and MV 2.5, has been made minster for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance.

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