North Devon

2015 Result:
Conservative: 22341 (42.7%)
Labour: 3699 (7.1%)
Lib Dem: 15405 (29.4%)
Green: 3018 (5.8%)
UKIP: 7719 (14.8%)
Others: 138 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 6936 (13.3%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Devon. Coterminous with the North Devon council area.

Main population centres: Barnstaple, Lynton, Ilfracombe, Braunton, South Moulton.

Profile: A rural seat on the western edge of Exmoor. The biggest town by far is Barnstaple, a market town and former port that is the commercial and administrative centre of North Devon. The rest of the seat is made up of small rural villages and small seaside towns along the North Devon coast. The seat also contains Royal Marines Base Chivenor.

Politics: This has been a marginal seat between the Conservatives and the Liberals since its creation in 1950. It was previously represented by the Liberal party leader Jeremy Thorpe, who lost his seat in 1979 while facing charges of attempted murder and opposed by a wonderfully odd variety of candidates, including perennial candidate Bill Boaks and Auberon Waugh`s Dog Lovers Party. In 2010 was one of four seats where UKIP finished third (the others being West Devon and Torridge, North Cornwall and the Speakers seat in Buckingham).

Current MP
PETER HEATON-JONES (Conservative) Born 1963. Former BBC radio presenter. Swindon councillor since 2010. First elected as MP for Devon North in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 18484 (36%)
Lab: 2671 (5%)
LDem: 24305 (47%)
UKIP: 3720 (7%)
Oth: 2141 (4%)
MAJ: 5821 (11%)
Con: 18868 (36%)
Lab: 4656 (9%)
LDem: 23840 (46%)
UKIP: 2740 (5%)
Oth: 1826 (4%)
MAJ: 4972 (10%)
Con: 18800 (38%)
Lab: 4995 (10%)
LDem: 21784 (44%)
UKIP: 2484 (5%)
Oth: 1191 (2%)
MAJ: 2984 (6%)
Con: 21643 (39%)
Lab: 5367 (10%)
LDem: 27824 (51%)
MAJ: 6181 (11%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
PETER HEATON-JONES (Conservative) Born 1963. Former BBC radio presenter. Swindon councillor since 2010.
MARK CANN (Labour) Born 1950, London. Educated at St Josephs College, London and Reading University. Retired teacher. Former Mendip councillor. Contested North Devon 2010.
NICK HARVEY (Liberal Democrat) Born 1961, Chandlers Ford. Educated at Queens College and Middlesex Polytechnic. Marketing executive. Contested Enfield Southgate 1987. MP for North Devon 1992 to 2015. Minister of State for the Armed Forces 2010-2012.
STEVE CROWTHER (UKIP) Born Devon. Contested Devon North 2010.
RICKY KNIGHT (Green) Language teacher. Contested North Devon 2005, Bristol West 2010. Contested South West region 2009, 2014 European elections.
GERRY SABLES (Communist Party GB) Contested North Devon 2010.
Comments - 231 Responses on “Devon North”
  1. Well ‘top of the bill’ would be Yeovil, followed by Chard, Wellington, Minehead…

  2. ‘A lot of people on the left can’t understand it but the Lib Dems and UKIP are fishing in substantially the same pool in a lot of these seats – I’d call it an anti-everyone/political establishment vote rather than specifically anti-Tory though. ‘

    I’ve long held this view

    Away from the east coast, the South West is UKIP’s strongest area.

    As we all know it’s also the Lib Dems best area, and they have long benefitted from tactical votes from the more working class voters, which added to their cire vote is often enough to see them home.

    It’s these such voters who will be most suspetible to UKIP and the Lib Dems could find themselves the main victims to UKIP’s success in this part of the country and away from Plymouth, Devon North is arguably the most working class seat in the county

    However I think Harvey is too well entrenched here and the biggest threat to the Lib Dems is in the seats they hold in Cornwall and Somerset

  3. Well ‘top of the bill’ would be Yeovil, followed by Chard, Wellington, Minehead…’

    I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned Shepton Mallet, Midsomer Norton, or industrial Bridgwater. Along with Yeovil and parts of Taunton they fit the scruffy town definition perfectly

  4. I wasn’t suggesting the list was exhaustive. You could add Crewkerne as well (though I don’t think it is really in the same league as Chard or Yeovil), and moving into Devon there are several other candidates e.g Paignton/Torquay…

  5. I very much agree with Tim and Runnymede. Many Lib Dem voters in the south west do not conform to the Lib Dem stereotype- a lot will be working-class socially conservative folk who vote for reasons not intimately connected with the content of the Lib Dem manifesto. Look at how well the Lib Dems do on the council estates in the south-west in places like Torquay and Taunton. I dare say a reasonable number will go over to UKIP in 2015- in fact Ashcroft’s table for North Devon shows that only slightly more of those intending to vote UKIP voted Conservative than Lib Dem in 2010.

  6. Some great points, particularly about the Lib Dem working class vote going to UKIP.
    Tory, Tim and Runnymede are spot on and that re-enforces my gut feeling that this will be a Conservative/Ukip battle.

    I can’t see Harvey hanging on, more so given his voting record which has seen him vote to cut the budget to local Government whilst he hypercritically fronts local campaigns and petitions against cuts in local services when he himself has voted for such cuts in the Commons.

    It will be a very interesting result that’s for sure, I here the first hustings skirmish is this Friday(6th March)

  7. If UKIP took just 1/3 2010 VI from both Lib and Con they’d win the seat on around 34%. I don’t think this will happen though, Con in particular have a much stronger candidate this time.

    I maintain this seat will come down to how the short campaign goes both nationally and locally, too close to call at this juncture. No sign of any real campaign locally yet but perhaps it’ll kick off with the above hustings

  8. Only 1 of the 3 statements below is true, can you pick the right answer.

    1) Man dressed as a Chicken to enter the race for the parliamentary constituency of North Devon.

    2) David Icke to host Channel 4’s ‘alternative’ election night coverage.

    3) The Greens in North Devon reckon they are currently polling 28%.

  9. Is it number 3? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Peter Christie et al think they have that much chance!

  10. Why Peter Christie? His area is Torridge, You mean Rickie Knight.

    The question is will people hold their noses and vote for Harvey again because at least he’s not a Tory. Or, with his voting record and anti-cuts posturing, will people think he’s no better than a Tory anyway.

  11. Old Thorpo’s old seat , was this Tory 79-97? (After the whole Rinkagate thingy?)

    Currently doing a thesis on the Liberal Party in the early 70s, N. Devon pops up an awful lot,

    As for scruffy Somerset towns, Congresbury isn’t great or is that Backwell, they all seem the same to me

  12. 1979-1992, John Smith. Nick Harveythe present Lib Dem MP for Devon North, won it from Antony Speller (the Conservative MP who unseated Jeremy Thorpe) in 1992.

  13. cheers Lotus, impressive performance from Harvey then, very young when elected.

  14. The most recent unsuccessful Liberal candidates in North Devon were Roger Blackmore in 1983 and Aza Pinney in 1987.

  15. Quite a few LD and UKIP posters sprouting up on the main road side of the Forches Estate. Is this a sign of the sensible national LD strategy of circling the wagons round their key incumbent MPs and throwing the rest to the wolves?

    I don’t think Mr Harvey’s got too much to worry about. So far, the Tory campaign has been pathetic. In any case, they’ve shot themselves in the foot again choosing another duff candidate like they did last time.

  16. Doug, I still think the Tories are well placed to take this seat. But then again, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Nick Harvey hangs on.

  17. Yawn

  18. LOL

  19. I think I might stop reading this site if all the threads are going to be gummed up with ‘winning here’ stuff and similar ramping e.g. ‘party X’s candidate is rubbish’ or ‘there are lots of party X posters in the windows here’. It’s just inane.

  20. Agreed it isn’t what this site is for. We need more good old psephological analysis of seats, which is of course the real purpose of Anthony’s site.

  21. Mine wasn’t a ‘winning here’ comment as I’m not a LD supporter.

    I’m also going to stop reading this site if it’s going to be gummed up with people making assumptions about other peoples motivations for their contributions, and peoples’ idiotic comments about the qualities of various West Country towns.

  22. ‘I’m also going to stop reading this site if it’s going to be gummed up with people making assumptions about other peoples motivations for their contributions, and peoples’ idiotic comments about the qualities of various West Country towns.’

    Whilst I agree with your first point – especially when that criticism comes from ultra-partisan contributors like Runnymead who never pass an opportunity to further highlight their utter hatred of the Left in an attempt to look tough – if this place isn’t for political debate, but debate about the constituencies themselves and how they vote, how talking about the quality of West Country towns themsel;ves ‘idiotic’ – surely its fundamental to the way these towns vote

  23. Meanwhile the latest Ashcroft poll puts the Tories clearly ahead here, and actually in a pretty good position overall in the five Lib Dem held Lib Dem/Con marginal seats seats he has polled – either ahead or within a few points in all.

    Only 61% of Lib Dem voters from last time in this tranche of Ashcroft-polled seats said they would vote Lib Dem again, even when prompted by constituency.

  24. CVI from Ashcroft:

    CON 38
    LD 31
    UKIP 16
    LAB 8
    GRN 6
    OTH 2

    Looks a big ask for NH to close that gap now.

  25. This one is doisappointing for the Lib Dems, though the naming of Nick Harvey may make a reasonable difference in this big, rural seat. I may just be clutching at straws here though :/

  26. I can imagine it making a couple of percent, the idea that it could make seven points difference seems very improbably to me.

  27. Yes, I don’t doubt the Tories are ahead, but if I’m right then the seat could still be just about recoverable.

  28. *improbable, can’t type…

  29. The 38 to 31 is already including the in your constituency bit.

    Before that it was 42 to 19 which is painful.

  30. Yes – Iain was suggesting that naming the candidate directly, which Ashcroft doesn’t do, could produce a further swing.

  31. So the consensus on the basis of the latest poll is that Harvey is now going to lose his seat to the Tories?

  32. there’s no evidence he can hold it. l’ve had this down as a lib dem hold, but no longer.

  33. So it’s all over for poor Nick Harvey- sorry, Sir Nicholas Barton Harvey, the long-serving incumbent of 23 years standing. He’s certainly had a very interesting career I think.

  34. He strikes me as a good man. Ah well. I should think this will be one of those very graceful Lib Dem departures, in the mold of Sir Graham Watson.

  35. I wonder if the result will be effected by the recent story in the Mail, regarding Harvey claiming £39, 997 of tax payers money to rent a third property.
    Which he needs to live in as he has already rented out his second home in Lambeth for a greater amount.

  36. Have to say I’m surprised it’s that bad for Nick Harvey, though as Neale suggests, the details of housing expenses claimed won’t do him any favours.

  37. Movement between the 2 Ashcroft polls (which are barely 4 weeks apart):

    Con +8
    L/Dem +2
    UKIP -7
    Lab -1
    Oth -1

    So the only movements beyond the margin of error are Conservative and UKIP.

    One suspicious thought : is it likely that the Conservatives are ahead of their vote % in 2010?

  38. Harvey is doomed here

  39. For Harvey to be competitive, he needs to get four or five points back from Labour and the Greens combined and nab a few UKIP and Tory voters – it’s hard to see that happening. My personal guess is that it will be closer than this – something like CON 41, LD 38 – but a Tory gain nevertheless.

  40. I don’t think Harvey is doomed yet. Still plenty of time to go.

  41. out of interest, how many seats are we thinking the tories will win off the liberals…looking at the numbers, it looks like the market is expecting 12 gains by the blues from the yellows?

    Does this make sense?

  42. I would say Solihull, Wells, Mid Dorset, Somerton, St Astell and Newquay, Taunton, Portsmouth South are all definate gains. Then perhaps half of these St Ives, Chippenham, Cheadle, Devon North, Cornwall North, Berwickshire, Berwick upon Tweed, Brecon, Torbay. Plus 1 or 2 surprise losses like Hazel Grove. So around 12 losses, maybe a touch higher.

  43. let’s be generous and give the tories 14 lib dem seats…that leaves them on 317…

    then you subtract losses to labour…

    I think the range for this is 30 to 50…so the tory range is 267 to 287, which is roughly where the market is.

    I don’t think the tories will win berwickshire or brecon or cornwall north…12 makes more sense to me.

    I actually think the blues will lose 40 to labour, so i get to 275 (net loss of 28 seats)…this is where the bet2015 website is.

  44. I went through every seat a few weeks ago and got high 40’s for labour gains from tory. Predict feb 1974 redux Tory under 1% ahead but CON 270 LAB 282 LD 27 SNP 45 PC 3 GRN 1 UKIP 4 NI 18

  45. I think that latest Ashcroft poll for N Devon looks wrong – I just looked at the swings in all the Lib Dem-Tory seats and this is the ONLY one where he has the Tory vote higher than 2010, and one of very few where the % fall in the Lib Dem vote is greater than the National % fall… The average swing Lib Dem to Tory in Lib Dem seats with an incumbent (see my post on “Lib Dem defence”) is only 1.2%, and 9% in N Devon looks highly unlikely (even the previous poll with a 6% swing is higher than others in Devon and Cornwall)

  46. CON GAIN

    LD – 35
    CON – 37
    UKIP – 14
    LAB – 8
    GRN – 4
    O – 2


    I’ve done a similar analysis and I believe we’re looking at 14 Tory gains from the Lib Dems, 9 SNP gains from them and Labour gains. This totals 32 losses, leaving them with 25 MPs.

    For the record, Sheffield Hallam I believe Clegg will hold, but by a whisker. 🙂

  48. This seat really does fall under the ‘too close to call’ category. I believe it will be a narrow hold for Sir Nick, but my partner Derek (who is from Barnstaple) predicts the Tories will slip in.

    We spent a delightful weekend down here recently, and there did seem to be significantly more evidence of a Lib Dem campaign on the ground than a Conservative one.

    I’m predicting..
    Liberal Democrat: 35%
    Conservative: 33%
    UKIP: 17%
    Labour: 10%
    Green: 5%
    Communist: 0%

  49. Clive

    Oh go on, give Gerry Sables 1%!

    The big question is will the recent LD targetting of Labour and Green voters (to appeal to their anti-Tory sentiments) pay off? It did in the past but after 5 years of coalition government we’re in unknown territory now.

  50. CON win

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