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. I might as well be the first to point out that the North Devon Gazette “poll” might as well have been carried out by PAUL WAY…

    (If you don’t want to read the article, they basically asked 53 people in the street who they were voting for)

  2. I wonder if this will have any effect?

    I’m sure it will appear on some LD leaflets

  3. We rightly scoff at polls like this but they do actually influence voting. I know someone who is intending to TV tory in Southend west based solely on the crap Yougov Newscast.

  4. Hi Iain,

    I think it will have a small effect, I have already spoken to people who have seen a leaflet, they told me it was just a copy of the article as it appeared in the Newspaper, with the appropriate publishing details added off course, apparently the story was also was covered by the Daily Mirror.

    I don’t think the Lib Dems stand to gain much though, perhaps it will persuade a few Tory’s not to vote at all, but is more likely to turn a few hundred Blue’s to Purlple.

  5. Con gain, 800.

  6. Lib Dem Hold. 1,500 maj.

  7. UKIP win by 100

  8. Ukip win???? Thats pretty outlandish

  9. Conservative gain, majority 750.

  10. Cllr Ian Meadlarkin has defected from UKIP to the Conservatives here.

  11. Harvey announced to stand again.

    I think he’ll improve on 2015, but probably fall short of winning, though I wouldn’t be shocked if he did scrape through.

  12. With retreads a lot depends on whether they can maintain their personal vote or whether they suffer from a “We told you last time to f*** off” and send the message again

  13. I think there’s less of the latter sentiment when it’s more about punishing the party, which is undoubtedly what happened to the LDs.

  14. I expect the Lib Dems to come up short in most south west seats like this one. If they recover to 20 or even 30 seats I expect very few will come from their former strongholds in this region. Remember it took the Libs 13 years to win back Devon North and Cornwall North from 1979 to 1992. They may be back here but at this election I doubt it.

  15. Fascinating new discovery pertaining to Jeremy Thorpe’s trial:

  16. The Jeremy Thorpe drama on BBC1 begins tonight at 9pm: A Very English Scandal.

  17. Not a Hugh Grant fan particularly but I thought he was excellent. Very convincing.

  18. I think he just plays himself, but it was an era of posh, aloof politicians so he was needed.

    It’ll be interesting how much more is made of the cover up in parts 2 and 3.

    I liked the police > Scotland Yard > MI5 > safe part (as that’s apparently also what happened with evidence re Cyril Smith).

  19. The case and trial showed the power of the old boys network.

    At the trial the judge described the main witness against Thorpe, a man who was the victim of an attempted murder: ‘a hysterical, warped personality, accomplished sponger and very skilful at exciting and exploiting sympathy’. ‘He is a crook, a fraud, a sponger, a whiner and a parasite.’ Before added: ‘But of course, he could still be telling the truth . . .’

    Hilariously imo Private Eye columnist Auberon Waugh in the 1979 GE in NORTH DEVON, stood against Thorpe as the ‘dog-lovers’ candidate’!! A facetious election address declared: ‘Rinka is not forgotten. Rinka lives.’

  20. Alex F – I agree.

    Although of course both are true (he was a victim and a blackmailer).

  21. The Jeremy Thorpe docu the BBC ordered be destroyed is to finally be aired tomorrow at 10pm.

    The police have re-opened the case after the Mail apparently found the gunman Newton/Hann Redwin still living in London!

  22. I watched A Very English Scandal and enjoyed it. Hugh Grant’s portrayal was excellent.

    Nevertheless, as I’ve regularly moaned on these pages in the past, I absolutely deplore the modern tendency in so-called “biopics” of dead people (who can’t sue) to pass off unproved assertions and in some cases blatant untruths as hard facts. See the Curse Of Steptoe case, which was such a flagrant tissue of lies about Harry H Corbett that the BBC were forced into the rare step of pulping the DVD release and never ever repeating the programme.

    In A Very English Scandal, Thorpe is shown blatantly conspiring to murder Norman Scott, in total defiance of the fact that he was found not guilty of these allegations in a court of law. Were he still alive he would be able to take the BBC to the cleaners on that alone.

  23. The documentary on BBC4 was actually better – it made me see both Thorpe and Scott in completely different lights – although to be fair it’s not something i knew a tremendous lot about beforehand

  24. I really enjoyed the three part series. It’s unusual to enjoy a drama where both of the main characters were so apparently unlikeable. I don’t think the judge should have described Scott in the way he did at trial, but I don’t think you could actually disagree with his description of the man.

  25. “It’s unusual to enjoy a drama where both of the main characters were so apparently unlikeable.”

    And there you’ve nailed the problem. It is a drama masquerading as fact. Obviously many parts of it are indeed fact, but key aspects are mere supposition and indeed fly in the face of Thorpe having been found not guilty of the allegations. I’m guessing 95% of the viewers won’t see the significance of the small print “based on a true story” and assume the drama is a 100% accurate dramatisation of what happened. Sadly this is routine these days with all so-called biopics. Indeed the writer of the screenplay Russell T Davies admitted as much in an interview recently when he said the crux of his job is “to imagine what the characters might have said to each other”.

  26. HH – although that might have been interesting.

    I very much doubt Thorpe would have sued, given that the test for it to be defamatory of having the effect of lowering him in the opinion of he average man.

    Whilst it is a fact that he was found not guilty, it’s also a fact that he chose not to defend himself (because the prosecution had letters proving he had lied) and the Judge was biased and his misdirection of the Jury would be appealed today.

    Incidentally, Peter Bessell (in the Tom Margold documentary after the drama) sounded just like Ronnie Fearn. Were all Liberals camp back then, or just them two and Tyler?

    I’m surprised David Steel hasn’t come in for more scrutiny, after this case and Cyril Smith. I hadn’t realised that all six then living Liberal leaders attended Thorpe’s funeral.

  27. Incidentally, I had no idea that George Carman QC was rumoured to be gay (or bisexual at the very least). Not a particularly pleasant man by all accounts, but obviously very good at his job.

    Peter Cook’s satire of the biased judge remains very, very funny.

  28. ‘Not a particularly pleasant man by all accounts, but obviously very good at his job.’

    When the immoral Jonathan Aitken tried to pocket some money by suing the Guardian for telling the truth about him, it was all about which side could get Carmen first

    Fortunately on that occasion the good guy’s got him – which to be fair to him, was usually the case – think Hamilton v Fayed, Channel 4 v Allan etc

  29. There was a good guy in the Hamilton/ Fayed debacle, Tim? Talk about a lesser of two evils! 🙂

  30. ‘There was a good guy in the Hamilton/ Fayed debacle, Tim? Talk about a lesser of two evils! ‘

    I think not

    Even if you buy the tabloid narrative – which I don’t – that Al Fayed is a vile, egotistical, misogynistic, violent bully, he’s still a Saint compared to Neil Hamilton, whom the less said about the better

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