Torridge and West Devon

2015 Result:
Conservative: 28774 (50.9%)
Labour: 6015 (10.6%)
Lib Dem: 7483 (13.2%)
Green: 3941 (7%)
UKIP: 10371 (18.3%)
MAJORITY: 18403 (32.5%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Devon. The whole of the Torridge council area and part of West Devon council area.

Main population centres: Bideford, Great Torrington, Tavistock, Holsworthy.

Profile: A large rural seat running down the western side of the border with Cornwall. Tourism is important along the relatively short stretch of coast in the north of the seat, which includes the steep coastal village of Clovelly, the Victorian seaside village of Westward Ho! (named after a novel and famously the only British placename with an exclamation mark) and the small port of Bideford. The rest of the seat is deeply rural and agricultural, with the main settlements small market towns like Great Torrington, Tavistock, Holsworthy. The glass manufacturer Dartington Crystal is based in Torrington, set up in the 1960s by the Dartington Hall Trust to bring employment to rural areas and now an important local employer and tourist attraction. To the south the constituency contains a large part of Dartmoor, including the prison.

Politics: The seat and its predecessors had traditionally been strongly Conservative, represented by the party since 1924. In 1995 the sitting Conservative MP, Emma Nicholson, defected to the Liberal Democrats and while Nicholson herself did not contest the next election (instead going on to become a Liberal Democrat MEP), the seat stayed in Liberal Democrat hands in the form of John Burnett. Burnett remained the MP here until 2005, but failed to pass his majority onto his successor after his retirement, with the seat returning to the Conservative fold.

Current MP
GEOFFREY COX (Conservative) Born 1960, Wroughton. Educated at Kings College Taunton and Cambridge University. Barrister. Contested Torridge and West Devon 2001. First elected as MP for Torridge and West Devon in 2005.
Past Results
Con: 25230 (46%)
Lab: 2917 (5%)
LDem: 22273 (40%)
UKIP: 3021 (5%)
Oth: 1816 (3%)
MAJ: 2957 (5%)
Con: 25013 (43%)
Lab: 6001 (10%)
LDem: 21777 (37%)
UKIP: 3790 (6%)
Oth: 2003 (3%)
MAJ: 3236 (6%)
Con: 22280 (40%)
Lab: 5959 (11%)
LDem: 23474 (42%)
UKIP: 2674 (5%)
Oth: 1297 (2%)
MAJ: 1194 (2%)
Con: 22787 (39%)
Lab: 7319 (12%)
LDem: 24744 (42%)
Oth: 2349 (4%)
MAJ: 1957 (3%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
GEOFFREY COX (Conservative) See above.
PAULA DOLPHIN (Liberal Democrat) Born 1970, San Paulo. Educated at Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Campinas. Cornwall councillor since 2009, former North Cornwall councillor.
DEREK SARGENT (UKIP) Born Dorset. Educated at Swanage Grammar School. Insolvency Service investigator, former hotelier and serviceman.
CATHRINE SIMMONS (Green) Retired housing officer. Torridge councillor since 2013. Contested West Devon and Torridge 2010.
Comments - No Responses on “Devon West and Torridge”
  1. “I wonder how well Mr Cox’s outside interests – earning £820,867 as a barrister in 2014 – plays in this seat. He is the epitome of a part time MP.”

    I know people who live here. They think it’s qutie good that they’ve got someone who is talented enough to be a QC…it’s not a negative for Cox.

    I find it extraordinary that in little more than a 100 years we’ve gone from a system where MPs pay was introduced so that people without any financial resources could be members of parliament, to one in which MPs will be banned from all other forms of employment.

    But of course the really rich MPs, people with serious capital, investments, property, can carry on as before, only people with useful experience in medicine, the law and other professions will be banned from practising those professions. It’s crazy…it’s not a surprise that we are badly governed.

  2. I’m not so sure about Labour fifth places in the south west.

    It would take a very strong LD tactical consolidation (to keep those voters away from Labour), the Greens to save deposits (often starting from scratch), and UKIP to make half an effort (the votes are out there for UKIP to be a comfortable third in a lot of places, but if they literally don’t try the big two parties will reel them back in).

  3. James, not sure who your “people who live here” might be, but I suspect that a lot of other people might beg to differ…

    as for his experience coming in to bear… how, if he is so busy working the Inner Temple? Does he have much time for parliament let alone the constituents..

    Maybe that explains why he spoke in parliament less than the average MP last year…

    if his experience is so useful why wasn’t he drafted in as a minister… or was he offered and turned down as they would be a real killer of the QC sideline?

  4. Antiochian,

    I have heard all that lefty claptrap for ages…he won the seat in 2005, held it in 2010 and i expect he’ll extend his majority in 2015. ’nuff said.

  5. Never been accused of being of the Left before…. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose was mother’s milk to me…

    You haven’t bothered to address the issue of where all his great QC experience is rubbing off in parliament or on the constituency…

  6. “if his experience is so useful why wasn’t he drafted in as a minister”

    the idea that the sole purpose of a backbencher is to become a minister is seriously worrying. Rather the opposite.

    Most speeches and interventions in parliamentary debates are almost entirely worhtless and are made to grandstand ….

    Yes, I do want QCs, who one would think know something about the law, in a legislature, as they have always been.

    I want GPs, businessmen, actors, authors, accountants, farmers, union activists, energetic, driven and successful people in the legislature of my country.

    I don’t want the house of commons to become a Soviet style chamber of commmissars with robots spouting out the party line in order to get preferment. I don’t wan the house of commons to be a chamber of social workers whose sole income derives from the state …you bang on about constituents, rightly, but seem to think it’s ok when those MPs become ministers….our system is broken, as people don’t really seem to understand how it evolved.

  7. You should check out the “They Work for Us” record on this specific case and then report back on the value added of QCs….

    This one reminds me of Guthrie Featherstone QC MP in Rumpole of the Bailey..

  8. “I don’t want the house of commons to become a Soviet style chamber of commmissars..”

    And neither do I. I think it valuable that MPs have some experience “outside the bubble” before they enter parliament. (Lord, deliver us from SPADs).

    But like many people I have a preference for MPs who treat their role in Westminster as their PRINCIPAL occupation and am bemused as to how you can earn £800K + in a single year if that is what you are doing.

    I was interested if anyone knew if this was an issue in the constituency – thus my original posting.

  9. Alex Carlile was active as a barrister while he was an MP and remained popular in Montgomeryshire, increasing his majority over time. Emlyn Hoosen was also a barrister while he was an MP here.

  10. Point taken BazinWales.

    But the issue is the extent to which they pursue other activities : which is why I used the word PRINCPAL. And whether that impacts on the service they provide to their constituents or the work they do in parliament.

  11. I don’t think the constituents care, and ultimately it’s up to them not some nanny-state intervention. Certainly, in the case of Sleaford and North Hykeham, their last QC MP got done on expenses, and the association selected another full time QC, who said he wouldn’t give up his practice. He got a majority of 19k at the general election!

    Practising barristers have served as MPs since the model parliament of 1295.

  12. Sorry .. PRINCIPAL

  13. “which is why I used the word PRINCPAL”

    What about nadine dorries who made a ton of money on her cr*p novel, or the other MPs, generally tories, who have extensive business interests, should they be disqualified too.

    If you go down the “ban second jobs route”, you’ll end up with a parliament of some really rich people with lots of social workers and career hacks. marvellous.

    The idea that barristers shouldn’t serve in the legislature is really really bizarre.

  14. ‘I don’t wan the house of commons to be a chamber of social workers whose sole income derives from the state ‘

    There’s far more people in today’s Parliament who are wealthy through their business interests than their are people who have relied on the state from their income – social workers, council leaders, public sector beurocrats and the like

    Of course the House of Commons aspires to have people in it who have led very successful careers but there’s still the suspicion that this helps create an old boy’s network whose member’s personal wealth is so vast that they are rarely affected by the decisions they make – which can play havoc with the lifes of the people who put them there

    That sounds very much like what we’ve got with the current government – and whilst that arrrangement might benefit those who like the members of the government are doing well, it’s less likely to do so for those less fortunate who often lives lifes their government can’t begin to comprehend – even if they wanted to

  15. It’s not right wing to argue that we want talented and successful MPs, nor is it left wing to argue that politicians should have life experience that enables them to fully grasp the impact of policies on typical lower and middle income households.

    Alas, examples of MPs that fall into both categories are fewer than one might hope. Surely a more robust criteria is to have MPs who make clear to both their party and their electorate where they stand on the tricky issues. We don’t have enough of that from any party, big or small, Britain-wide or provincial – the vast majority from all parties are completely at the beck and call of the leader of the day.

  16. Well I certainly seem to have got a debate going this morning! Sorry to Anthony if we seem to be drifting away from the site guidelines.

    James : At no point did I propose or even mention “banning” or “disqualification”. I would be grateful if do not imply that I did.

    I would however suggest that we should have absolute transparency when MPs are carrying out paid work in addition to their parliamentary activities, and this should be made fully available to their constituents. Then they can decide if the non-parliamentary work is or is not appropriate. I do not believe just publishing data on a website which most people do not access or may not even be aware of meets this criteria.

    Also why should MPs who treat their parliamentary role as a secondary activity be paid the same as those who treat it as their main activity? Isnt there a case that their salary and second home allowances should be restricted.

  17. Antiochan:

    It really depends on what you want. As They Work for You reminds us it is quality not quantity that counts. Cox’s maiden speech was voted one of the 4 best of that parliament. Quentin Letts, a man notoriously hard to please, wrote of him,
    “Backbench Tory Cox, 52, has represented the rural seat of Devon West & Torridge since 2005, when he seized it from the Lib Dems. He is known at Westminster for his sink-plunger of a voice — it is so deep and echoey you almost suspect he must he putting it on — and for his small-State philosophy.
    His Commons interventions are comparatively rare (he has a busy and lucrative career at the Bar) but when he does speak, the House listens closely.

    Mr Cox was one of the heroes of the last Parliament’s campaign against identity cards. In his 2005 maiden speech, he spoke of how, as a barrister, he had often seen the State point its ‘finger of accusation at an individual in the dock’ and how it was frequently wrong. MPs, he said, ‘should guard jealously their constituents’ freedom and autonomy’.

    Not surprisingly, Mr Cox is a firm Eurosceptic, much admired by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith. A friend suggests he was in two minds about standing again for Parliament in 2010 but decided to do so because he had hopes of office.

    Were Geoffrey Cox the Attorney General, the spirit of Magna Carta and habeas corpus would return with gusto to the highest counsels in the kingdom.”

    Read more:

    Frankly, you could say that one speech by Cox is worth 10 of some of the clones and apparatchiks who read their scripts into Hansard on the parliament channel every week. He is a leading QC and has just defended the Deputy Editor of the SUN and last year exposed a scandal in the Cayman Islands when its Prime Minister was put on trial on a charge later shown by Cox to be a plot by the Foreign Office appointed Governor to bring him down. Cox is a throwback to a different age. Light years from the current crop of party hacks. But maybe thats what the public wants?

  18. Couple of candidates missing here!

    Cathrine Simmons for the Greens and Derek Sargent for UKIP.

  19. I am in Cox’s constituency sadly and am a GP. I have written to him repeatedly about the real plight of the NHS and my patients and their increasing suffering with the benefits squeeze. But if he replies AT ALL he just spouts the party line! Last time I wrote I asked him how we could provide GPs 8am-8pm 7 days a week in all sugeries across the land when training places are unfilled and partners are leaving-emigrating or retiring early or becoming locums. His response was: we will ensure that you can see your GP within 48 hours 7 days a week!! He maybe intelligent but he doesn’t bring his intelligence into hi political life

  20. Conservative Hold. 9,000 maj.

  21. My prediction:

    Cons 40%
    Ukip 25%
    LD 20%
    Lab 10%
    Grn 5%

    which would be a majority of about 9000.
    I don’t think you’re far off the mark SB.

    Ukip to do possibly better at expense of LDs

  22. result

    Geoffrey Cox (Conservative) 28,774
    Derek Sargent (UKIP) 10,371
    Paula Dolphin (LD) 7483
    Mike Sparling (Lab) 6015
    Catherine Simmons (Grn) 3941

    Cox’s vote share was 51%.

  23. I wonder what John Burnettt thought about the result in his old seat?

  24. Why John Burnett is in the Lib Dems at all has always been a bit of a mystery.

  25. Indeed. He was known in the party as The Cat That Walked Alone for some of the stances he took.

  26. “I wonder what John Burnettt thought about the result in his old seat?”

    Or indeed another former member for this seat, Emma Nicholson. Seventy per cent vote for right wing candidates.

  27. This and Hereford are probably the LD’s most terrifying results. This is a seat with a strong historical liberal tradition yet their vote completely dissipated. Strongly suggests the LD vote was an anti tory vote and nothing else. 5 years is a very long time in politics but I can’t see a liberal recovery to threaten the tories in seats like this.

  28. This seat is presumably now Cox’s for as long as he wants it.

  29. As I have noted in here in the past, the SW Lib Dem vote was always an unstable amalgam. Now, finally, its disparate strands are going their separate ways.

  30. fair point about the SW Lib Dem vote and arguably the Lib Dem vote in general. The biggest surprise is perhaps not the extent it’s collapsed over the last few years but that they actually managed to hold it together for as long as they did

  31. I agree

  32. I think it very much depends where in the southwest. The SW definitely has a lot more naturally liberal seats than many other parts of the country – especially in Cornwall – though in more fundamentally rural areas (like Yeovil, or Somerton & Frome) I think more of it was based on historic strength and effective MPs perhaps. I’d certainly be wary of referring to the SW Lib Dem vote as a single entity.

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