Torridge and West Devon

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25230 (45.7%)
Labour: 2917 (5.3%)
Lib Dem: 22273 (40.3%)
BNP: 766 (1.4%)
Green: 1050 (1.9%)
UKIP: 3021 (5.5%)
MAJORITY: 2957 (5.4%)

Category: Marginal 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. 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. In 2010 was one of four seats where UKIP finished third (the others being North Devon, North Cornwall and the Speakers seat in Buckingham).

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: 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%)
Con: 29627 (47%)
Lab: 5997 (10%)
LDem: 26013 (42%)
Oth: 1039 (2%)
MAJ: 3614 (6%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005
**There were boundary changes after 1992

Other 2015 Candidates
PAULA DOLPHIN (Liberal Democrat) Born 1970, San Paulo. Educated at Pontif

Comments - No Responses on “Devon West and Torridge”
  1. There is mileage in this game. You should patent it Barnaby ;)

    As for election night sustainance, last time out I ate lots of carbs before it all began and went by one or two cans of red bull when I needed it. IIRC, I fell asleep somewhere between the Barking and Hampstead declarations, so about 6.30ish.

  2. Ha ha now that’s the way!

    Incidentally, there’s definitely a good idea there that Barnaby has come up with.

  3. I wonder which constituency has the least famous most famous person.

  4. “Bloody hell. Alcohol is deffo out of the question for me. Tea is as far as I go, in my own funny way. I’d be out of it by about 2am even if it was a copious amount of coffee. I perish the thought…”

    I’m only a light drinker, but I usually have something at 10pm to celebrate the exit poll — whatever it indicates!

  5. I once tried to stay up for the 2011 local elections but as I had to be out the house by about 8:30am the next day, I only got as far as the first declaration for one of the South Lanarkshire seats in the Scottish Parliament elections at whatever time it was, and had to go to bed as I had developed a migraine which I felt the full effects of the very next day. If that episode is anything to go off, I might have to be ultra careful for 2015…

  6. I’ve developed quite a complicated drinking game for the 2015 election which I’m hoping to play with my flatmates:

    – Drink for each Labour gain.
    – Drink for each Lib Dem lost deposit.
    – Drink every time an interviewee says some variation of ‘it’s too early to tell’.
    – Finish your drink for every cabinet minister who loses their seat.
    – Finish your drink for every UKIP gain.

  7. Dear Christ. My rituals in comparison will be about as unorthodox as watching paint dry all night.

  8. There are only 2 cabinet ministers at any danger of losing. David Jones is a very clear favourite to hold in Clywd West and then there is Danny Alexander. Needs work on that area. I would add any labour loss should be a finish your drink and that tory gains should be 2 x a drink.

    The best drinking games are ones where the drinks are not shared evenly and some fool ends up a bit merry.

    I would produce 650 (much easier than it sounds if you have the seat name in an excel file somewhere) paper card type things, everyone selecting one each round until they are all distributed and then maybe if your seat changes hands you get to assign a drink to somebody else. Sadistic drinking games (particularly one where the electoral expert is at a big advantage) are far more fun.

  9. The electoral expert of course would know to go straight for places like Withington, Brent Central, Mid Dorset, Burnley, Bradford East etc.

  10. “Sadistic drinking games (particularly one where the electoral expert is at a big advantage) are far more fun.”

    LOL! I would have thought election nights and drink don’t go together too well. I wonder what Dimbers, Vine and Paxman drink or eat to keep themselves going all night?

  11. Mar bars, apparently.
    I usually go to the pub until about 10.30 and then wonder home for the early results. In 1997, I got so ‘emotional’ that I fell asleep waking up just in time to see the Portillo declaration. I actually thought that I was dreaming.

  12. You were still up for Portillo then? :)

  13. Absolutely – I read the book at least once a year to remember the thrill.

  14. Funny to think that a certain Jeremy Browne was the Liberal Democrat candidate in Enfield Southgate in 1997…

  15. @Joe,

    It’s been done, in a manner of speaking. It did not end well:

    The idea’s been raised that we all have some absinthe if Caroline Lucas loses her seat (Green Fairy, geddit?) but I’m vetoing that one!

  16. 25ml shots would be very difficult, 35ml is just gratuitous.

    If you had those rules in 1997 and you represented labour you would have to have drank nearly 26 pints of lager in the night!

    I in my younger and less wise days participated in a double centurion. One shot of beer every 30s seconds x 200. I didn’t make it (made a respectable 184), not many did.

  17. Prediction for 2015-
    Cox (Conservative)- 43%
    Liberal Democrat- 36%
    UKIP- 14%
    Labour- 7%

  18. I think this might be better, The Results-remember, there are two Green councillors in Torridge right now, so the Greens will put someone forward, almost certainly, in this seat in 2015:

    Con 39
    Lib Dem 36
    UKIP 13
    Lab 8
    Green 4

    UKIP will poll somewhat above average at least in Devonian seats, and may cause the Conservative vote to drop below 40%. Also, Labour’s potential is rather low in the rural South West. We Greens can make significant improvements in the South West-rural or urban-by comparison.

  19. A doubled Green vote predicted again without any real evidence. It won’t be as close as that between the Cons & the LDs. There’s no sensible reason to suppose that Cox’s percentage majority over the LDs would be any less than last time.

  20. Bideford East ward of Torridge Council saw an Independent retain the seat with nearly double the votes the second placed Conservative candidate received. In total the three Independent candidates received nearly 56% of the votes which squeezed the Liberal Democrat and Tory support. Labour finished in third place and the Liberal Democrats came in fifth.

  21. Geoffrey Cox MP reselected.
    Geoffrey Cox MP ‏@Geoffrey_Cox ·47m
    I can now confirm that I am standing as the Conservative candidate for Torridge and West Devon in the 2015…

  22. The winning candidate in East the Water was the former Conservative County Councillor and District Councillor for the ward!

  23. Brazilian lady from Cornwall, current Cornish councillor, selected for Lib Dems in Torridge. Says she has “great respect for Devon’s individual history, tradition and way of life”. Mmmmm……

  24. Incidentally rather belately referring to the by-election nearly a fortnight ago in Bideford, the Labour vote rose quite sharply though they were still well behind.

  25. LibDem PPC is Paula Dolphin, a local councillor for the past 9 years… (lives in Bude, where she became mayor in 2012)… not sure that having been born in Brazil is a negative…

    She was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to an English father and Italian-Portugese mother. Her grandfather, Jaroslav Sodek, was a pilot who came to Britain and fought in the Battle of Britain in 1940, flying a Spitfire.

  26. Stood but not elected by Lib Dems as their police commissioner candidate. Stepped down as town councillor in Bude because she wished to devote “all my energy into making sure Cornwall Council recognises the unique needs of Stratton, Kilkhampton, Launcells and Morwenstow.” Opposed proposed “Devonwall” seat “not because I don’t like Devon (Devon is lovely), but because Devon and Cornwall are separate places with separate issues. They must be respected and have there own representation.” Quite.

  27. UKIP candidate is Derek Sargent aged 67 years ex Royal Marine Captain. Strangely UKIP have not announced his selection and he is not referring to it but writes to local paper as Chairman of UKIP in Torridge.

  28. Thanks, I was trying to find out who was standing for UKIP earlier.

    Apparently I live in the same village as him, so that’s something.

  29. is it?

  30. This was the result here in 1983-
    Peter Mills (Conservative)- 31156 (58.00%, +0.81%)
    V Howell (Liberal)- 18805 (35.00%, +5.91%)
    WA Tupman (Labour)- 3531 (6.57%, -5.98%)
    MJ Beale (Independent)- 116 (0.22%, N/A)
    Henrietta Rous (Wessex Regionalist)- 113 (0.21%, N/A)

    Swing- +2.55% From Con to Lib.

  31. It wouldn’t be odd to see something not dissimilar from that now, with the addition of UKIP and the Greens.

    I’d hazard a guess:

    Con 47
    LD 28
    UKIP 13
    Lab 8
    Grn 3
    Oth 1

  32. I think the Lib Dems only really gained this seat in 1997 because of the landslide conditions that hit the Tories hard practically everywhere. It was already marginal but it was probably going to be gained anyway, even before the sitting MP Emma Nicholson defected to the LDs from the Conservatives.

    John Burnett did very well to hold this in 2001, given the Labour vote was already fairly low, probably on the basis of incumbency. The Lib Dems were hit hard by his departure here in 2005, and unless they make a nationwide recovery in the next few elections, I think they’ll be out of the picture here for as long as they were when Peter Mills was the MP way back.

  33. The Tories hoped to take this seat in 2001 on the back of foot & mouth (this constituency was badly hit by it), even though the LDs could hardly be blamed for it. But, as a local farmer himself, John Burnett did pretty well amongst agricultural voters & managed to hold on.

  34. Major party candidates:

    Con: Geoffrey Cox
    Lab: Mike Sparling
    LD: Paula Dolphin
    UKIP: Derek Sargent
    Greens: Cathrine Simmons

  35. The Lib Dems should be in second, and, indeed, they should be able to count on being in second continually, but I agree that they probably won’t gain it back for a long, long time. This seat isn’t really built in a way that suits them, either. The Lib Dems could do better in a seat that ran along Devon’s north coast, taking in the coastal part of this seat and North Devon, if this seat lost the southern bits, but that probably won’t happen.

  36. Yes that’s right. It’s been said many times before about this seat not being strong enough for the Lib Dems, certainly in Westcountry terms anyway. There was only enough strength there for them to hold on to this for two elections, both in bad Tory years as well. Since then, the Tories have managed to get the seat back, and although their vote share and majority aren’t as high as 1992, they could indeed become safer here in the long-term.

  37. True. The Lib Dems should continue to do decently, though. As I said elsewhere, the Lib Dems are falling back in Devon as a rule. While unlikely, it’s not inconceivable that they could have no seats in Devon next June, when they won four as recently as 2001, and controlled the council.

    Then take Somerset. In 2001, the Lib Dems held two of five seats. Now they have four. They did not lose a single councillor in the 2013 county election, against all odds. (They did lose control of the council in ’09, though, but still.) They also have Bath, for that matter. They’re holding up better in Dorset, where they don’t traditionally do quite as well as in Devon, at least in general. They’re also holding up decently in Cornwall. I’m still not at all sure what makes Devon different.

  38. I do agree that it is weird that the Lib Dems have been doing as badly as they have in Devon relatively speaking for the last few years, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Unless it’s getting more Conservative because of the demographics, I have to confess I don’t know what the cause (s) might actually be.

    Perhaps the Lib Dems have held up well in Somerset because of long-lasting strength that has kept Lib Dem MPs embedded in their seats, as well as more of an anti-Tory outlook perhaps in the areas where the Labour vote has disappeared to a large extent.

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