Dartford

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
2010
Con: 24428 (49%)
Lab: 13800 (28%)
LDem: 7361 (15%)
UKIP: 1842 (4%)
Oth: 2649 (5%)
MAJ: 10628 (21%)
2005*
Con: 19203 (41%)
Lab: 19909 (43%)
LDem: 5036 (11%)
UKIP: 1407 (3%)
Oth: 1224 (3%)
MAJ: 706 (2%)
2001
Con: 18160 (41%)
Lab: 21466 (48%)
LDem: 3781 (8%)
UKIP: 989 (2%)
Oth: 344 (1%)
MAJ: 3306 (7%)
1997
Con: 20950 (40%)
Lab: 25278 (49%)
LDem: 4827 (9%)
Oth: 943 (2%)
MAJ: 4328 (8%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
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.
ANDY BLATCHFORD (Green)
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.
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Comments - 201 Responses on “Dartford”
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  1. I notice that in the recent county elections the Tory vote held up far better here than it did in neighbouring Gravesham. Indeed the Tories came close to not losing a seat here, coming within 23 votes of gaining one from the Swanscombe & Greenhithe Residents Association. That would have cancelled out the loss in Dartford NE.

    The Labour share was actually down slightly on the last GE.

    I make the figures with changes from 2010:

    Conservative 8,097 41.6% (-7.2%)

    Labour 5,364 27.5% (-0.1%)

    UKIP 4,701 24.1% (+20.5%)

    Residents 673 3.5% (+3.5%)

    Eng Dem 489 2.5% (-1.8%)

    BNP 160 0.8% (+0.8%)

    The Lib Dems did not field a candidate in any of the Dartford divisions, so they are technically down the full 14.7% they received in 2010.

    Clearly this seat is safe for the Tories in a way that Gravesham isn’t. In the latter seat I have Labour ahead by around 450 this year; in my view nowhere near enough for them to have a chance of unseating Adam Holloway in 2015.

    As a recent incomer to this area I struggle to understand why Dartford seems to have shifted so markedly to the Tories in recent years, while Gravesham hasn’t to the same extent. To me they seem like very similar places.

  2. “As a recent incomer to this area I struggle to understand why Dartford seems to have shifted so markedly to the Tories in recent years, while Gravesham hasn’t to the same extent. To me they seem like very similar places”

    Dartford borough has had a lot of new housing built over the past couple decades, but more so over the last 10 years around Bluewater and Greenhithe. The area is also somewhere that white British South East Londoners move out to when leaving London. There are many people who live here who originate from places like Woolwich, Greenwich, Eltham, Lewisham, Peckham etc etc. This has helped the Tory vote over the years.

    Gravesham on the other hand ha always had a large (for Kent) Indian population which has always helped Labour gain a healthy amount of votes in that seat. Gravesend is also a great deal more ‘rough round the edges’ (particularly Northfleet) than Dartford and the villages less salubrious again helping Labour there. It is also a borough that those who are moving out of London and want to live somewhere with a small ethnic minority population would not move to…they’d either go to Dartford or Sevenoaks (around Swanley) or further into Kent.

    On the surface they are both fairly similar seats and in turn aalso share similarities with their South Essex neighbours, but there are small differences which allows Labour do better in one seat more than the other.

  3. KieranW

    What has made you move south from your beloved Chesterfield??

  4. A large part of it was better employment prospects, Hemmelig. The fact that Gravesend has a direct service to London via HS1 was a big factor in my deciding to come here. Housing is also relatively cheap here, at least by the standards of SE England. Initially my plan was to live inside Greater London, but decided the premium you have to pay to do that wasn’t worth it, especially given that places like this outside London have such good transport links to there.

    A nice side benefit of moving here from Chesterfield is living somewhere that has a more viable Conservative Party, and that is largely a Lib Dem free zone into the bargain.

    I had noticed, LBernard, that Northfleet is a bit rough. We did look at a place there, but decided immediately that it wasn’t suitable. I had also noticed the ethnic composition of Gravesend. Particularly there seems to be a big Sikh population; you can see the huge Gurdwara from the upstairs window of our place on the edge of Windmill Hill.

  5. Interesting.

    I’ve pretty much decided the opposite of you, and will probably move back to Derbyshire pretty soon.

    1. It will be lovely to be able to buy a nice house for cash rather than having a 300k mortgage round our necks

    2. I do not want my baby son growing up in south east London, even a relatively nice bit like here in Beckenham

    It will be interesting to see if you think the same when your kids come along.

    Best of luck.

  6. 2. I do not want my baby son growing up in south east London, even a relatively nice bit like here in Beckenham
    It will be interesting to see if you think the same when your kids come along.

    Maybe thats why he moved to an area outside London?

  7. Possibly yes.

    My own personal view is that if you’re going to move out of London then you might as well move right out.

  8. Will you commute to London from Derby/Chesterfield station?

  9. I’m self-employed so no more than 2 or 3 times a month I hope.

  10. I’ll definitely move back to Derbyshire some time in the future, kids or no kids. I like my walking, but down here everywhere is just so built up that you have to travel a pretty significant distance to get to some decent countryside. Back up north I always felt it was pretty much on the doorstep.

    I have though enjoyed in recent weeks the fact that I can now go from my living room to Lords Cricket Ground in less than an hour.

    No Joe, cost was pretty much the only consideration in my choosing outside as opposed to inside London. Even factoring in travel costs there seemed to be a definite premium to pay for the dubious privilege of living inside Greater London. I just thought I’d sooner spend that money on other things.

    I see that local commuter services have been operating on HS1 since 2011. I would have thought that might have had some sort of gentrification effect on the area served by the line, with it bringing London that bit closer. Perhaps it’s a bit early yet, or it’s had more effect on the area served by Ebbsfleet station. Certainly the morning trains do get markedly busier there.

  11. I was at Lords on Friday, were you? It was bloody cold.

  12. No, I was there Saturday when it was a bit better. Still, a cold day at Lords is probably still warmer than a cold day at Derby. Very little shelter from the wind at Derby.

  13. I’ve never really seen the need to move outside of the West Midlands.

    My kids are 8 and 4 now and raising a family in outer suburbia isn’t all that bad.

    Still glad I got out of Walsall though before house prices shoot up.

  14. Adam: aren’t you in the Aldridge-Brownhills constituency? Are parts of it becoming as desirable as Sutton Coldfield (I’m thinking Streetly here)?

  15. I was born and brought up in Bucks

    But I have lived in the north for nearly all my adult life – that was definitely a choice. I find the values and attitudes here much closer to mine. Its also so much cheaper: we have a great lifestyle and if we were in London we would have to spend so much more on housing

    Danny Dorling’s work is really interesting – he says that we are tending to live alongside those who share our views and outlook, and that is partially why the political map of the country is becoming more skewed and diverse dependent on area

  16. I like London, I really do. But I don’t think I could ever face living in it.

  17. Tory, yes I do live in Streetly, and the area certainly isn’t in anyway becoming more desirable.

    The whole Sutton/Streetly/Aldridge area has slowly being sliding downwards for about 30 years now as people move out from the council estates in Kingstanding and Erdington looking for a better life and the middle classes move further out to places like Lichfield.

    Although places like Streetly, most of Aldridge, Boldmere and Wylde Green are still affluent by West Midlands standards they are becoming noticeably less affluent. Another key sign of this was Labour’s victory in Sutton Vesey in last years local elections.

    The Mere Green/Four Oaks area of Sutton is still very middle class and contains the Four Oaks estate with it’s million pound houses alongside Sutton Park, and over in Staffordshire (but still part of the conurbation) Little Aston has Roman Road, the Beverly Hills of Birmingham and home to several footballers.

    Sutton is still a nice little town and I’m happy living there but I think it’s now becoming very unfair that people from the black country and other parts of Birmingham still associate Sutton as being a bastion of the middle classes.

    I do sometimes wonder what the area will be like in 20 or 30 years time and whether Aldridge and Streetly will start to look more like Kingstanding and Erdington.

  18. Adam: thanks. That’s very interesting (and surprising). Given that both SC and A-B are sliding downwards, then why is A-B getting Torier and SC less? I can’t quite understand that. Are the people who live in the respective constituencies different? More of an aspirational working-class/lower middle-class element in A-B perhaps?

  19. The answer to your first question is that I have no idea. It’s been puzzling me for years too.

    Might be something to do with changing demographics in the north of the A-B constituency, and are that I’m less familiar with.

    Brownhills has a lot in common with towns like Cannock, Burntwood and Rugeley and may slowly be starting to trend towards the Tories, as evident in the tory gain in Cannock Chase in 2010.

  20. Indeed- in fact, I reckon that the Tories will have carried Brownhills in 2010. Even in the 2012 locals, Labour won it by only 150 or so. Then there is Pelsall, which appears to have swung massively to the Conservatives in recent decades.

  21. Yes, I understand Pelsall was if anything a Labour outpost in that constituency during the 1980s, but has a large Tory majority even in a bad year.
    Looks like the West Midlands has some quite extreme examples of large swings to the right on the edge of the main conurbation – but not everywhere – like Solihull.
    Does anyone know why Pelsall has changed this much though?

  22. i’m quite shocked to hear this description of Streetly – but I haven’t been there for about 20 years. It definitely looked very affluent and desirable then.

  23. There was a time when Brownhills was solidly Labour, every bit as much so as Aldridge was Conservative. Although Labour has been winning it again of late, it’s certainly seen some demographic shift in favour of the Tories. I suspect that there are quite a lot of owner-occupied estates built since the formation of this seat in 1974 which have further helped to change this seat from a marginal into a reliable Tory one. I think Joe is right about Pelsall too – it used to be a Labour-inclined area, it certainly isn’t now.

  24. Pelsall – It’s semi rural, with a network of canals. The housing looks like quite pleasant estates that were sold.
    Barnaby’s point may be correct, but the swing is higher than other similar areas, and some where Labour has been winning seats back.

  25. Yes, perhaps the Tories are helped in A-B by the fact that it includes farther out places like Brownhills and Pelsall which are becoming more desirable and which are trending Tory. Sutton Coldfield, by contrast, does not extend that far. If it did, the Tory majority would be more commanding, since any outwards expansion would bring in heavily Tory places like Little Aston.

  26. There’s talk about a lot of new housing being built in Sutton over the next 20 years or so taking the conurbation right up to the M6 Toll and A38 in the east and up to the boundary with Lichfield district in the north.

    But this will no doubt be so called ‘affordable housing’ and will probably drag the demographics of the area down even further still.

    It’s all part of Birmingham city councils long term plan to build an extra 100,000 homes in the city over the next 20 years. But the problem is is that there isn’t much undeveloped land left within the city boundaries.

    I haven’t seen the plans in detail, but the plans for new housing in the city will almost certainly require the city council to acquire land in the Bromsgrove district around Frankley and Rubery. It may even require central government intervention is Bromsgrove district council object to boundary changes, which my guess is that they almost certainly will.

  27. Could Labour win here?
    I think this is the kind of seat that it should see as an extreme target aim. If Labour takes Dartford from the Tories, it would be an excellent feat. However, it will have to win with New Labour 2.0 in Kent.

  28. No

  29. New Labour’s dead Bob. Didn’t you get the memo?

    Still you do have a point. I think that you should get all your activist chums together and spend the entire GE campaign in Dartford.

  30. Bob, no Labour won’t win in Dartford. Their result here in 2010 was – I think – their worst ever in Dartford.

    They are not even making an impact at local level, with the Tories actually taking council seats from Labour in the 2011 borough elections.

    For Labour to stand any chance at all here they would need to be in a stronger position at this stage.

  31. In short, Bob, no.

  32. I don’t think Labour will win here in a while, but it is possible in the not too distant future. If Labour did win here, it would be landslide territory.

  33. ‘It is possible in the not too distant future’

    What do you base that on Bob?

    Local results suggest no enthusiasm at all for Labour, and new housing developments in the area, along with a number of extremely well regarded schools have meant that the population demographic seems even more promising for the Conservatives than before.

    Labour support in Dartford is, more than ever, confined to a few wards that have traditionally voted Labour.

  34. In the medium term its becoming a safer tory seat, not reverting to marginality.

  35. I would be very surprised if Labour get even close to winning here in the future. I think their resources should be concentrated on nearby Gravesham instead. While nowhere near as strong as Slough, Luton or even Hastings, Gravesham still has solid levels of support for Labour. Gaining the seat in 2015 won’t be easy but I would be far more confident of Labour winning there in the near future than Dartford.

  36. What accounts for the massive shift in political allegiance here over the years? When Thatcher stood here in 1950/51 she was heavily defeated – as was Peter Walker in 1955. I recall that Stanley Irving’s loss in 1970 was quite a shock – though he regained it in Feb74. Boundary changes perhaps !?

  37. I know the loss of heavy industry, new housing (particularly Joydens Wood), an influx of South East Londoners (many of whom probably voted for Thatcher in the 1980s) and the grammar schools would haved helped the Tories here over the years.

  38. ‘What accounts for the massive shift in political allegiance here over the years?’

    Dartford is more of a commuter town nowadays than an industrial town, although I would have thought that the strengthening Tory position here is less to do with demoraphic change and more due to the fact that working class people (especially those in kent and Essex) are a lot less likely to vote Labour nowadays than they used to be

    The same thing has happened in south Essex – another working class area where Labour has been all but wiped out.

    Even Grays – which was once the most Labour town in the South East outside London – sticking with the party in 83, and returning Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay with a majority in excess of 17,000 in 1997, went Tory in 2010 – which really underlines just how far Labour has fallen out with such voters

    Labour did of course win the seat back in 97, but during the 80’s the Tories enjoyed large majorities here, and the MP at the time Bob Dunn was a classic right-wing Thatcher-supporting working class Tory (who was actually from the North)

  39. “What accounts for the massive shift in political allegiance here over the years? When Thatcher stood here in 1950/51 she was heavily defeated – as was Peter Walker in 1955. I recall that Stanley Irving’s loss in 1970 was quite a shock – though he regained it in Feb74. Boundary changes perhaps !?”

    Boundary changes are a large part of it. I think the Dartford constituency that Lady Thatcher stood in in the 1950s was more like Erith & Crayford than the current Dartford.

    That said, the electorate has moved to the Conservatives nevertheless. I think the Tories would have won Erith & Crayford in 2010.

  40. Kieran W gave the borough council result at the top of the page. The constituency is only slightly different with the inclusion of the Hartley & Hodsall Street ward from Sevenoaks. This ward seems to make up about a third of the electorate of the Sevenoaks North East county council division and if you assume it voted the same throughout (which of course it wouldn’t have) you would get the following figures for the Dartford constituency:

    Con 8,711
    Lab 5,529
    UKIP 5,088
    Others 1,344
    Green 75

  41. Anthony’s absence with toddler clearly cost his party dear, since Labour gained Newtown ward from the Tories rather easily last night:
    Labour 536 45.42%
    Conservatives 376 31.86%
    UKIP 268 22.71%
    Looks like a case of UKIP damaging the Tories more than Labour. It was a marginal but it’s still a pretty good result for Labour.

  42. Thats a decent result for Labour here. When will the Tories start taking UKIP seriously?!

  43. Decent result for Labour, and this ward is part of the same area that they narrowly regained in the county elections in May.

    They would be needing to do a lot better than this to trouble Gareth Johnson’s majority in 2015, especially as a lot of non-Tory vote still appears to be going to UKIP rather than to Labour. It is reasonable to suspect that in a general election this is less likely to be repeated.

  44. Incidentally, I believe UKIP have dipped back below 10% (and the Lib Dems) in the latest YouGov poll.

  45. Been reversed again today but there is a danger UKIP could go into menopausal problems like the “Alliance” in 1982 and mainly help Labour

  46. ‘When will the Tories start taking UKIP seriously?!’

    The Tories do take UKIP very seriously – to the extent of toughening up their stance on both the EU and immigration

    The only Tory dismiss them for what they are was Ken Clarke – who basically said they were the British version of the French National Front now it too has distanced itself from the thuggery of its past, and in doing so managed to convince plenty of voters (presumably most of whom were Tory) to vote UKIP in the upcoming council elections

    That tactic clkearly backfitred and since then the Tories have been bending over backwards to appease those who sympathise with UKIP’s hard-right agenda

  47. In some ways it’s not a hard right agenda though – it’s a sort of impatience with things not improving – almost protectionist old Labour agenda
    aswell.
    Much more complex.

  48. It is much more complex, but you must agree that UKIP’s policies are very similar to those of the French National Front – certainly the platform they ran on in last year’s presidential election

    protectionism is very much a feature of most hard-right governments – certainly those on the authortarian side of the authoritarian/libertarian divide

  49. UKIP received an average of about 25% in yesterday’s local government by-elections which doesn’t match up with their low showing with YouGov recently.

  50. UKIP performances in yesterday’s by-elections:

    BASILDON – Billericay East: 29.84%

    DARTFORD – Newtown: 22.71%

    PLYMOUTH – Southway: 26.45%

    RUTLAND – Ketton: 17.47%

    SOUTH TYNESIDE – Cleadon and East Boldon: 26.06%

    SOUTH TYNESIDE – Primrose: 34.64%

    WORCESTERSHIRE – Stourport-on-Severn: 25.97%

    UKIP overall performance in contested by-elections yesterday:

    UKIP votes: 3,705
    Total votes: 13,863
    UKIP percentage: 26.73%

    UKIP overall performance, including Newark & Sherwood where they didn’t stand:

    UKIP votes: 3,705
    Total votes: 15,719
    UKIP percentage: 23.57%

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