2015 Result:
Conservative: 25670 (49%)
Labour: 13325 (25.4%)
Lib Dem: 1454 (2.8%)
Green: 1324 (2.5%)
UKIP: 10434 (19.9%)
Others: 211 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 12345 (23.6%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Kent. The Dartford council area and one ward from the Sevenoaks council area.

Main population centres: Dartford, Greenhithe, Wilmington, Hartley.

Profile: The last seat in Kent before Greater London, Dartford is a former industrial area that is now largely a commuter town, best known for the tunnel and bridge across the Thames and the Bluewater shopping centre. The town is undergoing rapid expansion with a planned Garden City at Ebbsfleet, which is served by the high speed Channel tunnel rail link, and proposals for a Paramount Pictures theme park on the Swanscombe peninsula.

Politics: Dartford itself contains strong Labour areas like the Tree and Temple Hill housing estates, but is balanced out by outlying Conservative supporting areas like Joydens Wood and Longfield. Since the 2010 election Dartford has been the country`s strongest bellwether seat, having returned an MP from the party that went on to win the election since 1964.

Current MP
GARETH JOHNSON (Conservative) Born 1969. Educated at Dartford Grammar School. Former solicitor. Bexley councillor 1998-2002. Contested Lewisham West 2001, Dartford 2005. First elected as MP for Dartford in 2010. PPS to David Gauke 2014-2015. PPS to Matt Hancock since 2015.
Past Results
Con: 24428 (49%)
Lab: 13800 (28%)
LDem: 7361 (15%)
UKIP: 1842 (4%)
Oth: 2649 (5%)
MAJ: 10628 (21%)
Con: 19203 (41%)
Lab: 19909 (43%)
LDem: 5036 (11%)
UKIP: 1407 (3%)
Oth: 1224 (3%)
MAJ: 706 (2%)
Con: 18160 (41%)
Lab: 21466 (48%)
LDem: 3781 (8%)
UKIP: 989 (2%)
Oth: 344 (1%)
MAJ: 3306 (7%)
Con: 20950 (40%)
Lab: 25278 (49%)
LDem: 4827 (9%)
Oth: 943 (2%)
MAJ: 4328 (8%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
GARETH JOHNSON (Conservative) See above.
SIMON THOMSON (Labour) Born Strood. Former BBC journalist.
SIMON BEARD (Liberal Democrat)
ELIZABETH JONES (UKIP) Educated at Cardiff University. Solicitor. Contested Dulwich and West Norwood 2010, London region 2014 European election.
STEVEN UNCLES (English Democrat) Born 1964, Blackheath. Educated at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar. Project Manager. Contested Bromley and Chislehurst by-election 2006, Gravesham 2010. Contested South East region in 2004, 2009, 2014 European elections. Contested Kent Police Commissioner election 2014.
Comments - 200 Responses on “Dartford”
  1. I’ll comment. Your assertion is total crap and based on zero evidence.

  2. What an arsey comment from the hitherto reasonable BMARDER.

    Evidence, you want evidence! People speaking* – that’s evidence. (And no, it’s not just a few).

    *used in courts of law, by the way.

    You will get a nasty surprise on 8 May, BM – there are few others who realise people will desert Miliband on 7 may.

    You seem to know the science but you don’t know the people.

  3. ”Something is happening in Dartford, and the election is far more open than people think. ”

    David Gardner – Do you have any local knowledge? Have you been campaigning for a particular party or is this your gut feeling?

  4. I do laugh at what everybody thinks who will win or will they look after my little area that Gareth Johnson is looking after himself I joined the army in the 80s was taught how to stay alive with no hope in the early 90s the government sent me miles away to kill humans I lost friends that I will never forget when , later on in life I was shot down and only two of us lived I never woke up until 2 months afterwards
    Now my family had married quarters who after I was found unfit to every work again to get out the house some how my wife pulled us threw
    Now this government don’t give a thing for me as a disabled person yes Iam on benifits but when your parlized what can you do
    Gareth Johnson voted for the bedroom tax with out a thought of why somebody would need another room ?
    If he gets in I will one day give him a piece of my mind as the torys don’t like sick or disabled people and one day I hope you lot on here never find that out

    Think before you vote ?

  5. Sorry to hear about your situation. Sounds like you’ve been through the mill. I also despise the Bedroom Tax! Very nasty policy!

    On a different subject, I passed through Dartford yesterday (Sunday) and didn’t see any posters/boards from the Conservatives, UKIP, Lib Dems, the Greens etc, etc. However, very surprisingly I saw two Labour posters/boards – one window poster in a house in The Brent and a board in the garden of a house just off West Hill near the boys’ grammar school.

  6. that’s hardly surprising. you’re bound to see the odd Labour poster in non-target seats. l even saw one in my own seat today l hadn’t seen before, on the S Circular. Certainly l’ve seen a lot of Labour posters up in Kensington, which in terms of gap between Con & Lab is sort of comparable to this seat. Not in the true blue part of the seat though – though l did see one in a very Tory part of Abingdon ward in the last mayoral election. Maybe it was Tony Benn’s flat?

  7. I saw eight or nine Labour posters up in Belper the other day, and that’s certainly not in a target seat.

  8. It’s in Amber Valley council though, which is marginal.

  9. You can indeed find the odd Labour poster in unlikely places. I saw one on Lower Sloane Street in Chelsea this weekend in what must be an extremely safe Tory ward.

  10. it must indeed! l have a friend in Flood Street (Thatcher’s former street) who is voting Labour and so is her husband. Not many there will do….

  11. Conservative Hold. 8,000 maj

  12. Shaun – UKIP will eat into the Tory vote here. The majority will be around 4000-5000 for the Tories.

  13. Although the Tories increased their majority to 12, 345, Labour did well to maintain their second place position considering the threat from UKIP.

    Dartford is the type of commuter town that Labour will need to win in 2020 if they have any hope of winning with a majority at the next General Election.

    Which Labour leadership candidate do you all think could win Dartford for Labour? Although I Iike Burnham and Cooper, I just can’t see them cutting it with the voters here. For me, only Liz Kendall will appeal to voters in this type of seat.

  14. Labour do not need to win Dartford to win a general election there his about 100 odd seats they could win instead of this one. It’s not even marginal in fact I don’t think Labour will have another MP in Kent let alone Dartford. They could possibly win Gravesham in a landslide year but that’s it. I’d say they are as likely to win Dartford now as they are to win Wimbledon.

  15. Surrey Politics is spot on…Labour will not win this seat again unless the demographics start to go the way of Erith and Thamesmead.

  16. How many people will have moved into the Ebbsfleet Garden City area before 2020?

    In the 1980s it was sfiicult to see Labour again getting more than a couple of seats in Kent; but in the Blair years they held a whole string of seats in the County. It would be rash to write off Labour in Kent generally short of the complete collapse of the party (which is admittedly a possibility). However, for demographic reasons it is difficult to believe that Labour will regain Dartford any time in the forseeable future.

    Presumably there will be boundary changes here when parliamentary seats are next redistributed. Are there any indications as to what will happen and what the psephological implications will be?

  17. Frederic Stansfield – The garden cit yin Ebbsfleet is a 20 year scheme. It is being completed in phases and will be totally developed by 2035. When it’s completed it will house 40,000 residents so I’m guessing just between 5000 – 10,000 residents would have moved in by 2020.

  18. I agree with Frederic- Dartford looks almost completely beyond Labour for a long time to come given the rightward shift that seats like it and others nearby have taken during the last 30 years and perhaps maybe more.

    They should I think focus on Canterbury which has now realistically come into play for them I would say, and if there is one seat they should actively target in 2020 is Kent, they should make it that seat as there is still potential there I feel for further Lib Dem and Green supporters to coalesce around them to really push Julian Brazier even closer.

  19. I am sorry but I can’t see Labour winning Canterbury in a million years, it’s a safe Conservative seat.

    I was not won 1997 or 2001 so I can see possibly how it good ever be won now unless there was a mega Labour landslide which is clearly not going to happen.

    If all towns with universities were Labour then Kingston and Surbiton (which is more BAME than Canterbury) and Guildford would surely be won.

  20. Oh I’m not saying they’ll necessarily ever win it, but they should by no means give up on targeting it in the long-term either.

  21. They may not win it any time soon but it was about the only seat in Kent where the Labour vote went up by any significant amount this year.

  22. Indeed and that is crucial I think- they shouldn’t necessarily abandon their more traditional marginal territory in Kent but they should campaign heavily here by all means.

  23. I thought Gravesham was Labour’s “best” result in Kent this year.

  24. It was definitely the best result out of the seats that were already at least semi-marginal between them and the Tories.

  25. This May Dartford swung to the Conservatives whereas Gravesham swung to Labour. Gravesham is a much more realistic prospect for Labour than Dartford, although looking on from East Kent Gravesham has in some ways more in common with a London constituency than others in Kent.

  26. Frederic Stansfield – Yes, Gravesend itself is becoming quite multi-culture and there is a growing eastern European and also a growing Sikh population . However, there are some very leafy / prosperous villages like Meopham and Sole Street which I suspect are strong areas for the Tories.

  27. *multicultural

  28. Gravesend itself has always been quite strong for Labour itself I think, but it is outvoted by the other areas in the seat which are extremely Conservative.

    Even in the Blair landslides the Labour majorities here were comparatively small.

  29. This used to be a “bellweather” seat but it is very difficult to see any party other than the Tories winning it in the forseeable future.

  30. It hasn’t been a bellwether since the 1970s. The Tories won in 2005 and even in 97 and 01 Labour’s majorities were smaller than in some previously safe Tory seats.

  31. LOL thought we were still discussing Gravesham.

  32. Yes H. Hemelig you are the right there and I actually don’t believe Gravesham let alone Canterbury will ever be won by Labour again. They will have to win seats like Thurrock and Harlow (the latter is unlikely too) before they start winning seats in Kent again. I find the thoughts of Canterbury being won by Labour it was never won in 1945, 1966 or 1997 so I doubt it ever will just because of universities. Labour have a similar number of district councillors as as likes of Broxbourne, Epsom, Kingston, Hertsmere etc. if any university town goes Labour in the future it will surely be Colchester. It has a large university and is much more of rough and ready council estate dominated town than Canterbury and it was also won in 1945 and 1966 and was closer to going Labour in 1997 despite being in 3rd place.

  33. ‘Yes H. Hemelig you are the right there and I actually don’t believe Gravesham will ever be won by Labour again.’

    That’s a grand statement to make

    People were saying the same about seats like this in the 1980s, only for them to fall in the 97 landslide

    Of course someone like Milliband would had little appeal to the voters in places like Gravesham and Dartford but who’s to say than in five or ten years time, Labour won’t have a leader who can again appeal to the electorate’s in Southern England

    Never say never again…

  34. I agree: never say never in politics.

    At the moment, Labour is on the back foot. But even if they were on the front foot they would have difficulty in winning Gravesham and Dartford. These seats have had well above average swings to the Conservatives and dmeographic change, i.e building of masses of new houses and flats on the edge of London, means that this will continue or the forseeable future.

    Canterbury is a different matter. The seat has been Conservative since 1910, and even in December 1910 it only went Independent Conservative; but it has repeatedly been won by the Conservatives on a minority vote. It nearly went Labour (to Emily Thornberry) in 2001. Canterbury has an absolutely huge student vote: University of Kent is much bigger than University of Essex. Not only are many of the students Labour, or whatever other anti-Tory vote is flavour of the month; but the town has been absolutely wrecked by the Conservative Government by massive building of student accomodation and the speculative purchase of local housing for the same purpose. Canterbury houses are becoming totally unaffordable for local people, as opposed to students occupyng houses in multiple occupation. At the same tiime, there has been no investment in roads and infrastructure, which is already a nightmare and is going to get much worse. It is therefore not surprising that Canterbury is swinging heavily away from the Conservatives, and is almost certain to go on doing so, even if the Tories are doing well elsewhere in the country.

    Canterbury has lost its barracks, not least because the Tories rip off any Government land they can to sell for porpoerty investment, damaging local services yet further. This has taken hundreds of army voters off the register, many of whom would vote Tory, although admittedly this effect is small compared with the student influx. Does Colchester still have an army presence e.g. the “glasshouse” for aremd services criminals?

    I don’t think that these demographic difference between diffent seats in Kent are likely to be directly affect by who is elected Labour leader, although there will be indirect effects because of the degree of unpopularity the leader inflicts on the Labour Paarty.

  35. Going back to Christian’s comment about house-building in this constituency, it is worth pointing out that such development will put yet further pressure on the M25 and the Dartford Crossing, alnd also on the High Speed railway to St. Pancras.

    In relation to the railway line,whilst this is not yet working at capacity, the amount of traffic the line can take is fairly severely limited by the differing speeds of Eurostar and Javelin trains and the lack of four tracks between St. Pancras and Ebbsfleet.

    There are also likely problems if incompetent politicians try to use HS1 several times over, e.g. for outer suburban commuters and also for long-distance commuters to East Kent. This is likely to have political repercussions down the line. Boris Johnson was guilty of this when he envisaged using the railway to access a Thames Estuary airport.

    Heavy use of HS1 for traffic to Ebbsfleet, which can never reach great speed, inevitably means that the railway to Ashford can never be used to full capacity, with financial and political implications.

  36. See the heartbreaking post upthread :
    JACK TIBET: April 28th, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    It would be great to hear from JACK TIBET.

    How are you getting on? I hope life is better for you and hope you haven’t been financially penalised for having a spare bedroom. Did you see Gareth Johnson?

  37. An Interesting post, H.Hemmelig, but amongst other things won’t we need to substitued rail for air transport firstly becasue an extension for Hethrow won’t become available for years and secondly because at some point the sir industry will have to enter the real world and accept that oil prices (whatever is happening just now) are going to have to ake account of lited supply. And perhaps most of all we have got to realise that if we burn even most of the oil we have diiscovered now we will be landed with catastrophic climate change, one effect of which will be political catastrophe.

  38. Thanks for drawing our attention back to Jack Tibet,, Deepthroat. Sadly, I feel many politicians reckon that people who are REALLY in trouble have more immediate things to do than to make political representations, and the rest of us seem to let the politicians get away with it.

  39. Agreed. I think it’s beyond Labour for a long time to come and is demgorgaically moving against them indefinitely, which only serves to benefit the Tories in the long run I feel.

  40. Make that demographically even.

  41. ‘Can’t see this being the bellwether seat for much longer’

    As with Chorley, the 2010 result lost this seat its ‘bellwether’ status

    Places like Corby, Thurrock, Croydon Central, Bedford the Plymouth and Southampton seats, to name but a handful, are better examples

  42. Increasing rates of demographic change mean that there are less likely to be bellweather seats which are (a) marginal and b) stable in terms of their population.

    Major changes in boundaries also reduce the numbers of bellweather seats because the political parties all seem to argue to divide areas up into safe seats rather than marginals. The planned reduction in the total number of seats does not help either.

    I believe that demographically South Ribble may now be the seat most typical of the whole country, although that constituency was only created in 1983 and had boundary changes before 2005 .

  43. This will be an area where Corbyn goes down very badly.
    Worst Labour result ever here I think.

    Con Hold possibly 19,000

  44. Gareth Johnson’s voting record gives you an indication of the type of interests he has (personally and politically).

    Take a look:

    Particularly interesting to look at his voting record on Welfare and Benefits, Health and Education.

  45. Dartford is still technically the longest standing bellweather seats, having been won by the winning party since 1964.

    However, with a 24.3% Conservative majority, it is now a safer Tory seat than Huntingdon, which only 20 years ago was the safest Tory seat in the country.

  46. I don’t actively maintain this part of the site at all now. I may or may not replace it with a fresh constituency guide ahead of the next election. The comments are left open purely so people can discuss seats if they want too. Please don’t post libellous things about each other, or I’ll just shut all the comments down.

  47. I got the distinct impression that was someone posting in Joe’s name rather than Joe himself (the one poster on this forum that I’ve met). Rather cowardly if so.

  48. I didn’t write the above post (just found another one on the Normanton thread).
    They are not my views.

    Hi Jason – hope all well.

    Given I haven’t posted much recently, if you see any more posts like this I would treat them with caution.

    Posted by the Real Joe James B.

  49. Gareth Johnson has resigned as a whip in order to vote against the deal. He was previously PPS to David Davis and Dominic Raab.

    “I am sorry but I can’t see Labour winning Canterbury in a million years, it’s a safe Conservative seat.”
    August 12th, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    In 2015, the Tory lead was reduced to 18.3%. I’m not sure a lead of less than 20% can count as “safe”. People (not necessarily SP) often conflate long-term incumbency for a party with a seat being “safe”, even if it has often held the seat with a small majority. The same goes for some “red wall” seats. Labour holding on for decades concealed how close they came to losing on some occasions. It only takes the stars to align the right way for that seat to eventually go. Many of Labour’s red wall seats weren’t particularly “safe” in terms of the majority back in 2010.

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