East Devon

2015 Result:
Conservative: 25401 (46.4%)
Labour: 5591 (10.2%)
Lib Dem: 3715 (6.8%)
UKIP: 6870 (12.6%)
Independent: 13140 (24%)
MAJORITY: 12261 (22.4%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Devon.

Main population centres:



Current MP
HUGO SWIRE (Conservative) Born 1959, London. Educated at Eton and St Andrews University. Former army officer and director of Sotheby`s. Contested Greenock and Inverclyde 1997. First elected as MP for East Devon in 2001. Shadow culture secretary 2005-2007. Minister of State for Northern Ireland 2010-2012. Minister of State at the Foreign Office since 2012.
Past Results
Con: 25662 (48%)
Lab: 5721 (11%)
LDem: 16548 (31%)
UKIP: 4346 (8%)
Oth: 815 (2%)
MAJ: 9114 (17%)
Con: 23075 (47%)
Lab: 7598 (15%)
LDem: 15139 (31%)
UKIP: 3035 (6%)
Oth: 400 (1%)
MAJ: 7936 (16%)
Con: 22681 (47%)
Lab: 7974 (17%)
LDem: 14486 (30%)
UKIP: 2696 (6%)
MAJ: 8195 (17%)
Con: 22797 (43%)
Lab: 9292 (18%)
LDem: 15308 (29%)
Oth: 1953 (4%)
MAJ: 7489 (14%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
HUGO SWIRE (Conservative) See above.
STUART MOLE (Liberal Democrat) Educated at St Johns School, Leatherhead and Nottingham University. Writer, researcher and former diplomat. Contested Chelmsford F1974, O1974, 1979, 1983, 1987 for the Liberal party.
ANDREW CHAPMAN (UKIP) Born 1947, Wolverhampton. Educated at Denstone College and Goldsmiths College. Retired accountant. Surrey councillor 1985-1989 for the Liberal party.
CLAIRE WRIGHT (Independent)
Comments - 197 Responses on “Devon East”
  1. I hear the popular local Indy is standing here again.

    That could be why this MP didn’t look very happy in the House at the prospect of fighting another GE so soon.

    I’d assume he’ll hold but maybe the opposition Parties’ votes will coalesce around her and make it closer than the MP might like?

    As I commented prior to 2015 though – predicting the Indy’s advance – she’ll find it hard on the ground in such a seat to cover the sheer miles on foot to canvass and GOTV where she isn’t as well known as where she’s the very popular district and county Cllr.

    Incidentally what is the problem locals have with this MP – is he absentee, aloof or something worse?

  2. Looking at her literature I wonder why Claire Wright isn’t standing as a Green.

  3. Incidentally what is the problem locals have with this MP – is he absentee, aloof or something worse?

    The allegation that he demanded a knighthood from Cameron in return for voting Remain might have something to do with it – how true that is I don’t know

  4. From Twitter she seems less a Green and a anything but Tory

  5. Her re-election as a County Cllr was certainly impressive last week:

    Claire Wright (Ind) 3,638 votes
    Conservative 1,104
    Labour 123

    46% Turnout


    From what I’ve read her popularity as a Cllr is based on her record of getting things done; but her shock huge vote at the last GE was as a result of East Devon Cllrs’ behaviour on planning issues coupled with Hugo Swire being disliked.

  6. Incidentally, this photo of her (and protesters) v Swire is fantastic and seems to sum them up even if you hadn’t heard of either of them before:


  7. Hugo Swire has refused to take part in any hustings here.

    Meanwhile Claire Wright has announced 12 locations across the seat where she’ll be speaking to residents.

  8. YouGov show this as “likely other”, so presumably their figures show Claire Wright to win.



  9. Yes, there does appear to be real momentum behind her judging from her Facebook page and photos of supporters and posters etc.

    At 6/1 her and Danczuk are the only Inds (on the mainland) that the bookies give an outside chance to.

  10. Not completely implausible Wright wins. But not sure on what basis YG can project this – they won’t have polled enough voters in Devon East.

  11. Their big 50,000 poll will have covered close to 100 from each constituency. That’s enough to give a decent indication, although not a reliable one.

  12. It is close enough to polling day to assume that in a two-horse race between the Government and an independent that there is unlikely to be a wild swing against the independent unless she is at the centre of something major.

    I personally think it more likely that this will be a Tory hold with a majority of less than 10% – noting that a Tory hold on a majority of up to 8% is within the lower and upper bounds of the balance between Wright and Swire.

    This does however appear to be the acid test of the wisdom of YouGov doing seat-by-seat projections. We on this site may understand margins of error, as I’m sure the majority of people would if they took the time to look. But the majority of people won’t. Assuming YouGov do one of these next week, people will see a seat projection that YouGov put out either next Wednesday or straight after polling closes (in the latter case it would be a rival to the exit poll and thus particularly high profile), and judge them on that in comparison to the actual result and to the exit poll.

    And it must be said that the last few exit polls have been pretty close. 2015 really wasn’t that far off, the problem being that when one party is close in either direction to 326 seats, a small difference massively changes people’s perceptions about the exit poll’s accuracy.

  13. Slight correction to previous post – a Tory hold of up to 10% would be within the bounds of YouGov’s predictions allowing for the margins of error they have set out – Squire on 44% and Wright on 34% are their high and low end estimates respectively.

  14. I haven’t read the detailed methodology, but I’m pretty sure YouGov are working on an extrapolation of trends among demographic groups and different regions rather than in effect publishing a series of constituency polls. Given that I don’t see how they can come up with what they have come up with in Devon East – it surely wouldn’t be possible to model Claire Wright’s support in any sensible way.

    Saying that isn’t to dismiss her chances, by the way. She did remarkably well for an independent starting from nowhere in 2015 and she could well build on that to get up above 30%. Though to win she probably needs a very bad Tory year, not one where, even now, they are still on course for their best vote share in decades.

  15. It’s machine learning Jack. The algorithms are smart enough to – without any manual meddling – detect where one factor is more important than others in the voting. This means that where the local trend is strong enough the model will make decisions based almost entirely on local trend, and largely discard demographics / national trends from its decision making. On the other hand in a mundane seat where their local sample doesn’t give much away, the wider trends will be weighted more heavily.

    At least that’s my understanding. Machine learning is a pretty big step up from regular weighting – it’s the same field that has enabled computers to storm ahead of the best human players of Go in the last two years. I think shortcomings in the method are more likely to be due to poor data than a poor algorithm.

  16. As for Claire Wright – it would be a remarkable achievement for a genuine independent to take a seat without any major scandal to weaken the incumbent. I have to say her website is very impressive and accounts of her “ground game” even more so. Definitely a result to watch for all of us; I for one would love to see more independents in parliament.

  17. There are parts of the country where independents have a real foothold locally maybe we are seeing that translate into parliament here

  18. She (the Ind) is 6/1 with Ladbrokes.

    That seems to be around the price they offer when they really don’t know what will happen in a seat.

    Ladbrokes keep suspending/removing North Down & Rochdale from their lists but the last I saw was that Lady Sylvia was odds-on and Danczuk was 5/1, so Claire Wright may well end up as the best ‘punt’ on offer to gamblers.

    Although I see that the best betting market pricewise is predicting the number of LD MPs precisely. They offer 10/1 or more on any of the possibilities! Seems a bit silly as clearly you could bet on 5 of the options and still double your money.Maybe they just assume no-one will go to this trouble now that Charles Kennedy is no longer with us. [For those unaware what I mean: the most prolific political gamblers are known to be A Salmond, N Farage & L Opik. AFAIK Robin Cook just backed the horses]

  19. Yougov model now showing IND 48 CON 34. If the result is anything close to that then Claire Wright will have taken significant numbers of votes directly from the Conservatives.

  20. There was a further swing to Claire Wright here but Swire held on:

    Cons 29,306
    Ind 21,270
    Lab 6,857
    LD 1,468
    UKIP 1,203

  21. The Ind PPC has raised the fact that most Tory Cllrs in Devon are Freemasons and has asked the Ombudsman whether they declared this before voting on a planning matter involving a mason:


    I can see her being elected at the third attempt at the next GE.

  22. Hardly surprising

    Swire is the classic example of an entitled Etonian who genuinely dislikes the poor and demanded a knighthood to support staying in the EU

    Whilst im not down with this anti establishmemt mood of the country in general, surely its good riddance if the voters here decide to elect somebody with at least some ethics – like Wright

  23. Exmouth Town Ward By-election, 01.03.18:

    LD 187 28% ( – 3%)
    Ind 176 27% (+27%)
    Cons 142 22% ( -4%)
    Lab 86 13% (-8%)
    Green 71 11% ( -13%)

    Well done to the few who voted in person here – apparently a mere 18 electors during the 15 hours at one polling station! – during drifting snow yesterday.

    Turnout: 12.4%

    LD Hold

  24. Can’t be very often that a candidate wins a ward with just 187 votes. 28% of the vote on a 12% turnout – only 3.5% of the electorate.

  25. Very true.

    Liverpool still holds the record:

    Liverpool Labour gained a seat from Labour (Melrose ward by-election in 1999) on a 6.9% Turnout. (lowest turnout, 3% of the electorate).

    Although a few have won wards in Liverpool with just 24% of the vote since in 3 other wards (on 20% turnouts so 5% of the electorate).

  26. Ottery St Mary Rural ward by-election, 20.09.18:

    Ind 755
    Cons 421
    LD 51
    Green 24
    Lab 20

    Ind Gain from East Devon Alliance

  27. Cons Cllr Brian Bailey has defected to Ind here.

  28. Reports suggesting that this seat could be moving closer to a Tory defeat to Independent Claire Wright, who is standing on an anti-austerity, pro-environment platform by the looks of things.

  29. Not sure about that – the Lib Dems might take votes that otherwise will go to her.

  30. Her main selling point was that she wasn’t Sir Hugo.

    As with Steve Radford, Martin Bell, the Kidderminster Dr, Inds tend to do well at 1 or 2 GEs, then fall back.

  31. “Reports suggesting that this seat could be moving closer to a Tory defeat to Independent”

    I seem to remember people on here predicting much the same thing in 2010. And even the hated Sir Hugo held on comfortably.

  32. Through lots of journalists seem to think her vote was not an anti personally Swire

  33. Who would she be more likely to support in a hung parliament with multiple options, (or in the event of a minority government)?

  34. I suspect she’d support Labour, but would treat votes on a case-by-case basis.

  35. Yes, her campaign literature seems to largely concentrate on environmental issues, austerity cuts and poverty so I suspect she isn’t likely to support the Tories.

  36. Hugh Grant – who I always had down as a Tory until his recent run-ins with the press – has been lending his weight to the delightful Claire wright, who I’m sure would be far better MP than whichever millionaire the Tories have picked to succeed the woeful Hugo Swire, who allegedly had to be bribed with a knighthood to back Remain in the 2016 referendum

    This is one of those seats which, perhaps understandably with its high proportion of elderly voters, the Tories have taken for granted for years, so it’s not surprising seeing Ms wright do so well. The Lib Dems and Greens should follow Grant’s advice and stand down

  37. I had always assumed Hugh Grant was a Tory too. You live and learn.

  38. Is that just because he’s posh?

  39. Posh and never struck me as a particularly liberal type, despite being an actor. Add in the fact that he’s a wealthy white male over the age of 50 from a private school background and I think my assumption was fair enough.

  40. I think the fact that he doesn’t look like people imagine progressives to look like probably counts in his favour, to be honest. There’s no-one going to be swayed by Lily Allen’s endorsement who wasn’t on board with the agenda anyway. But Hugh Grant’s cache is apolitical middle-classes – the people whose votes win elections.

  41. Ms Allen needs to stick to music (she’s a decent singer and quite a witty lyricist). The political pronouncements are cringe worthy.

  42. MRP has it 47/47 here.

  43. Is that Focaldata? YouGov has 51/43 to the Tories.

    Either way, I wouldn’t trust MRP to model a seat like this. Looks close but we’ll just have to wait…

  44. Tbf Tristan’s description of Hugh Grant also applies to Corbyn & McDonnell.

  45. Nope it’s you gov.

  46. Sasha Swire’s book is reviewed in several papers. Craig Brown noted that her, “gargantuan sense of entitlement – which makes her almost oblivious to the comic absurdity of her story – most tickled [him]”

    “Hugo comes across as a klutz – the unfunny Mr Bean of the Foreign Office.

    * In South Korea he presses the wrong buttons in the loo and emerges showered with water.

    * Opening a school sports centre in Shanghai, he throws himself to the ground when the fireworks go off, thinking he’s under attack.

    * He mixes up breath freshener with his lens cleaning liquid and complains that his glasses are steamed up and his mouth tastes funny.

    George Walden notes re DC/GO, “The biggest scandal in her diaries? That this entitled and frivolous clique got to run Britain.”

  47. Couldn’t agree more with Brown’s analysis – it certainly escaped The Times who thought they had a real scope on their hands in serialising her frankly absurd book

    And Swire’s comments on people who use food banks show there is a nasty edge to his Mr Bean persona- but then what would you expect from some body who had to bribed with a knighthood to support his boss in the 2016 referendum

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