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. May I correct the info on the header here? The name was changed from Honiton after 1992 (not Tiverton).

  2. A good result for UKIP in many parts of the constituency on May 2nd, but the Tories held on to all their seats. Independent held Ottery St Mary, and Lib Dems lost Exmouth (Brixington and Withycombe) to UKIP.

  3. Good territory here for UKIP. Does anyone have a breakdown of the voting figures in the locals for just this constituency?

  4. Here are the Devon county council results:


    Results for East Devon district:

    Con: 13,087
    UKIP: 8,489
    LD: 5,098
    Ind: 4,382
    Lab: 2,893
    Green: 1,893

    Electorate: 103,632
    Total votes: 35,842
    Turnout: 34.6%

    This covers a larger electorate than the parliamentary seat.

  5. These big UKIP votes are very ironic.
    They’ve damaged the Conservatives,
    but if you work on the basis that a protest party had to emerge sooner or later,
    they have taken a lot of LD votes, and in that sense,
    actually helped the Conservatives, as they don’t do quite that well as the LDs in the past, and are not as well targeted.

    Thanks for the figures, Andy, and of course, the excellent spreadsheet for Devon.

  6. Tim Dumper (above) must be mortified. IIRC he was always extremely bullish about Lib Dem prospects both here and in the rest of the south west. It does now seem that the best case for the Lib Dems in the region will be hanging on to most of what they already hold.

  7. They will need to improve considerably on the May elections even to hold N Devon. If they lost there, they would be lucky to win any seats in Devon or Cornwall.

  8. A pity there weren’t any elections in Torbay. I would guess that the Lib Dem demographic there – relatively unaffluent, relatively low education, retired C2 types – would be prime UKIP territory. Until now I expected at least Torbay, North Cornwall, St Ives and North Devon to be Lib Dem holds. But it’s hard to be so sure now.

  9. Tim Dumper stood in Exmouth Halsdon & Woodbury and finished 3rd behind Conservatives & UKIP with only 22%. He stood in the same ward in 2009 and finished 2nd behind Conservatives with 40%.

  10. My apologies for not coming here earlier to respond to your analysis. I can’t say I am entirely “bullish” these days, HH. I was not a happy bunny after the elections, Matt. Looking at the wider results across Devon, all areas seem vulnerable to UKIP, and although one seat in Exmouth went to UKIP, I wouldn’t characterise ED as any more vulnerable. More later

  11. As one Lib Dem activist has put it on another site, ‘the anti-establishment vote [for the Lib Dems] has gone and it isn’t coming back’

  12. Honiton was one of the last seats to declare on the first day of the 1992 Election IIRC though I don’t remember the exact time.

  13. About 3:45am I think, after Huntingdon but before Chris Patten arrived in Smith Square at 4am.

  14. ‘As one Lib Dem activist has put it on another site, ‘the anti-establishment vote [for the Lib Dems] has gone and it isn’t coming back’’

    That’s a big problem for the Lib Dems in this part of the world – as they have always been the benefeciaries of that vote

    The county council election results in Devon for the Lib Dems were utterly appalling

  15. yes

  16. It is Somerset that the Lib Dems will be really worried about next time, if the anti-establishment/everything vote has really gone permanently astray – it’s easy to see a situation where they would collapse back to just holding Yeovil (and with a smaller majority there also).

  17. I don’t know Yeovil at all – does it have any potential for a decent labour vote?

  18. ”About 3:45am I think, after Huntingdon but before Chris Patten arrived in Smith Square at 4am.”

    Ah yes Andy of course, I also seem to remember that some of the other latest seats not in Northern Ireland on the first day that declared were Chipping Barnet, Orkney and Shetland, Waveney and South West Hertfordshire as well as a couple of seats that were recounting such as Vale of Glamorgan and Ayr. I think the only Northern Ireland seats that counted and declared overnight were the four Belfast ones, as well as North Down and Strangford.

  19. Yeovil town is a fairly scruffy place these days and elsewhere in the country might well be Labour-inclined.

    But at the recent CC elections Labour did poorly, scoring only around 10% of the vote. It was UKIP that were the big winners; they are potentially a more likely repository for the SW anti-everything vote discussed upthread. I think that also goes for the other smaller towns in the constituency e.g. Chard.

  20. I also remember a little bit later on when the results had hit a barren spell as the early hours of the morning drew in evermore, there was a strange period where two Labour and Conservative holds came in considerably late so to speak- Brent South and Leominster. As hardly any seats were left to declare that night, David Dimbleby ran through both in some detail, then went to Denis Murray in Belfast.

  21. Yeovil has never been won by Labour, though it was close in 1945. Even in 1995, Labour only won a single seat on the district council. It’s probably therefore fair to say that whilst Labour OUGHT to have some potential in the town, there’s no real likelihood of it being brought to fruition any time soon.

  22. What I think is interesting is that when Ashdown retired in 2001, the Lib Dems actually fell by less than the Tories increased here- Did they perhaps get back a lot of the votes the Referndum Party managed to poll in 1997 as well as some personal votes for Ashdown?

  23. I have to admit that I prefer the constituency names used by the BBC, ITN, Sky, Press Association, Times Guide, etc. rather than the official ones, mainly because you have consistency with compass points. If Leicester South is so named than I think it should be Leicestershire South rather than South Leicestershire. Also it’s easier when looking at a list of constituencies to find the one you want when they have the place listed first.

  24. Ashdown was certainly popular locally, and indeed remains so. A Tory canvasser friend of mind was still finding voters saying they would vote ‘for Mr Ashdown’ in 2010, some of whom were not even in the Yeovil seat.

  25. For a former MP to have had that effect is quite extraordinary but it is a measure of the large impact that Ashdown left in Yeovil. I wonder what would have happened if he had never been the Liberal candidate there?

  26. Actually I do rather think that Ashdown was greatly helped by the retirement of longtime Conservative MP John Peyton, but he might well have gained Yeovil regardless in 1983.

  27. Ashdown was unemployed when he won this seat in 1983. It is indicative of the way unemployment was viewed much more leniently by society in the early 80s. It is extremely unlikely that an unemployed person would be selected or elected today.

  28. Not this seat, I mean Yeovil of course

  29. LibDem vote seems “stuck” at 30% here since ages..

    maybe the changes before the 2010 election (towns of Axminster and Seaton were transferred to the Tiverton and Honiton constituency) neutralised any improved performance.. or maybe not..

  30. It does seem to be rather constant, if anything, the Lib Dem vote in this seat. I don’t think there are enough areas of natural strength for them in this area of Devon, hence the reason why they haven’t really ever threatened the Tories here- It’s probably one of their best seats in the entire county.

  31. Along with Devon South West, this does somewhat stick out as the Devon country seat where the Liberals have never really been competitive

    The old Honiton seat was always strongly Tory – very strongly by the standards of the South West

  32. I think Devon outside the cities by and large overall is competitive enough between the Tories and Lib Dems, but in a select few seats such as this and South West Devon, there appears to be no solid challenge to the Conservatives where they hold a seat.

  33. Though this seat has never been any good for the Lib Dems, I think if they’d sent enough activists to this seat in 2005 they might have made a bit of progress, but all the same their vote seems stuck around 30% and they look highly unlikely to ever threaten the Tories in this seat, unlike in say Newton Abbot or Torridge and West Devon for example.

  34. As a previous Lib Dem candidate in ED, I hope I can cast some light on this discussion. The big difference between this seat (and its predecessor the old Honiton) and most other seats in Devon, and several in Cornwall too, is that Labour have never had strength here. Apart from the freak 1966 result Labour have never come second. So the Liberals, and Lib Dems have always been relatively STRONG here, not weak. Since 2010 the boundaries have included a slice of Exeter, admittedly a Tory slice, but I don’t think this now makes it likely that Labour cannot come second.

    Torridge West Devon which one poster here compared ED with, is not really comparable at all. TWD is much more like North Cornwall, being much more nonconformist in background, with l(L)iberals at all levels in society, eg farmers, and with little in-migration from richer parts of the country. TWD is so big, so rural, and so difficult to organise, that Libs only make an impact once in a generation. In ED the towns, especially Exmouth, but also Seaton and Axminster, which were included before, are usually quite well organised by Lib Dems, and a big local govt presence. Exmouth, of course has 38% of the electorate, (both old and new boundaries). The Tories win these days because of their hold and superior organisation in Sidmouth Budleigh Salterton and the villages, where wealth and age (Tory strong qualities!) predominate. ED has the 5th biggest over 65 population in the country, I think. I think it was 1923 when George Halse came within 300 of beating the Tories in the old Honiton!

  35. ‘The big difference between this seat (and its predecessor the old Honiton) and most other seats in Devon, and several in Cornwall too, is that Labour have never had strength here. ‘

    Away from Plymouth and Exeter, Labour has never had any real strength in any of Devon. Indeed, two of the four constutuencies where they were beaten by UKIP in 2010 were in Devon, so there’s nothing unusual about Labour’s lack of strength in this particular seat

    What doies distinguish it from most othger seats in Devon is the lack of a Lib Dem challenge. Even in the Tory nadir years of 1997 and 2001, the Lib Dems couldn’t even muster up one-third of the vote

  36. Nice to see you back Tim Dumper. I would imagine you are the kind of Lib Dem who has been quite disillusioned by the coalition?

    Great to see you posting again, even though you did once call me a young fogey 🙂

    (that title has since been taken up by The Results since you left)

  37. What do Hugo Swire, Bernard Jenkin, David Campbell Bannerman and Jacob Rees-Mogg have in common?

  38. They all stood for Scottish seats before being first elected.

  39. The LDs somehow contrived to be beaten by both the Greens and Labour in the Euro election in East Devon:

    UKIP 14,475
    Con 13,647
    Green 4,974
    Lab 3,623
    LD 3,085
    AIFE 614
    ED 366
    BNP 213

  40. I think the coalition the Lib Dems assembled over the years in these kinds of West Country seats is in real danger of disintegrating now.

  41. A lot of the Lib Dem vote in the south west could be heading to UKIP, save for their most solid areas like Yeovil. Seems like some of them are heading to the Greens too.

  42. There’s the thing. The Lib Dems in the south west were strong as a combination of left-wing voters wanting to stop the Tories and “sod the lot of you” protest voters kept them in contention. Now those two groups are abandoning the party in different directions.

  43. I think we’ll have to find out what happens.
    Some of the swings seem quite localised.
    If the Tories are lucky they could do a near clean sweep of the rural south west but not on the share of the vote of 1979 for example
    but because of the fragmented opposition.

    I think the Euro election isn’t our best guide though.

  44. Do not underestimate the chances of declared IND candidate, Claire Wright – already making waves as an IND cllr on East Devon District Council and Devon County Council. Concerned and involved with many local, regional and national issues – ones which Hugo Swire MP keeps ignoring and putting on the back-burner

  45. Ladbrokes latest:

    1/20 Cons
    8/1 UKIP
    50/1 LD
    66/1 Claire Wright (IND)
    100/1 Lab

  46. Strange seat to advertise on shadsy.

  47. I popped in because a couple of local customers had asked for odds on the Indy candidate. Looks like she might be slightly more credible than average.

  48. It was very interesting and insightful to hear from Tim Dumper here a few months ago. Having read about the Independent candidate, I feel I am now ready to predict this seat-
    Swire (Conservative)- 42%
    Chapman (UKIP)- 24%
    Liberal Democrat- 19%
    Pearce (Labour)- 10%
    Wright (Independent)- 5%

  49. Stuart Mole has decided to stand for the Lib Dems. He’s a formidable campaigner and a good candidate, I can see him giving the Libs a degree credibility to.

  50. Stuart Mole has resurfaced as Lib Dem candidate for this constituency.

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