Eltham

2010 Result:
Conservative: 15753 (37.5%)
Labour: 17416 (41.5%)
Lib Dem: 5299 (12.6%)
BNP: 1745 (4.2%)
Green: 419 (1%)
UKIP: 1011 (2.4%)
English Dem: 217 (0.5%)
Independent: 104 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 1663 (4%)

Category: Marginal Labour seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of the Greenwich council area.

Main population centres: Eltham, Kidbroke, New Eltham.

Profile: A south-east London seat in the borough of Greenwich. Parts of the seat like New Eltham are largely suburban commuterland with more in common with areas like Bexley. There is also a large amount of open green space here, such as Oxleas Wood, Shooters Hill and Avery Hill park, now a campus for the University of Greenwich. The suburban parts of the constituency though are balanced out by the large proportion of council estates such as Middle Park, Page, Horn Park and Coldharbour.

Politics: Eltham is the more Conservative part of Greenwich - in fact it was a Tory seat from 1975 when Peter Bottomley won a by-election in the then Woolwich West until 1997. Like much of London it has moved towards Labour in the intervening years, to the point that it can still be held by Labour in an election like 2010, one of their worst ever results.


Outgoing MP
CLIVE EFFORD (Labour) Born 1958, London. Educated at Walworth Comprehensive. Former London taxi driver. Greenwich councillor 1986-1998. Contested Eltham 1992. First elected as MP for Eltham in 1997.
Past Results
2005*
Con: 12105 (34%)
Lab: 15381 (44%)
LDem: 5669 (16%)
UKIP: 1024 (3%)
Oth: 1126 (3%)
MAJ: 3276 (9%)
2001
Con: 10859 (32%)
Lab: 17855 (53%)
LDem: 4121 (12%)
GRN: 706 (2%)
Oth: 251 (1%)
MAJ: 6996 (21%)
1997
Con: 13528 (31%)
Lab: 23710 (55%)
LDem: 3701 (9%)
Oth: 1075 (2%)
MAJ: 10182 (23%)
1992**
Con: 18813 (46%)
Lab: 17147 (42%)
LDem: 4804 (12%)
Oth: 165 (0%)
MAJ: 1666 (4%)

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

Demographics
2015 Candidates
SPENCER DRURY (Conservative) Born 1969, Woolwich. Educated at Colfes. Teacher. Greenwich councillor since 2002. Contested Eltham 2005, Greenwich and Woolwich 2010.
CLIVE EFFORD (Labour) See above.
ALEX CUNLIFFE (Liberal Democrat) Contested Erith and Thamesmead 2010.
PETER WHITTLE (UKIP)
JAMES PARKER (Green) Policy advisor.
Links
Comments - 50 Responses on “Eltham”
  1. There are so many new affordable homes and apartments going up in this constituency at the moment, mainly the new Kidbrooke village replacing the rundown Ferrier Estate, and others like Eltham Springs which promote shared ownership. My guess is it will have quite an influence on the election result here next time, as most of these homes should be occupied by then.Not sure the exact figures, but turnout on the Ferrier estate used to be pretty low, and most of the Ferrier homes were empty at the last election, so I’ll expect a significantly increased vote in this Eltham West ward…

  2. I think Clive Efford will be very hard to dislodge here – I can’t help thinking if Spencer Drury was the Conservative candidate in 2010 here, he would have just won.

  3. Eltham’s demographics are changing quite fast. This will be a safe Labour seat pretty soon.

  4. One of the few Labour seats in London with more than a 60% white British population in 2011. The figure was 67.52%.

  5. It’s been confirmed that Efford will stand here again in 2015.

  6. The Conservative parliamentary candidate for 2015 has been selected and will be local councillor Spencer Drury. He fought the seat and lost to Clive Efford in 2005, then tried Greenwich and Woolwich in 2010.
    If this seat wasn’t won by the Conservatives in 2010, I’m not sure they’ll be grabbing it next time. Probably missed their chance…

  7. I take it that Clive Efford has a strong personal vote in this seat, hence was able to hold in 2010 despite the odds. Are demographic changes happening as rapidly here as it has elsewhere in London? I read that there is a larger black population now than there was before, but is that Eltham itself, or in the less affluent parts of the constituency?

  8. Probably both, although the 3 remaining Tory wards are all still predominantly white British, and they’re all in Eltham proper. Efford does seem to be a very effective representative here. Somehow, as a taxi driver, he goes down well with white working class voters, yet his positions are hardly disliked by more “trendy” voters either, and he will be quite hard to replace when he does decide to retire, which shouldn’t be for quite a few elections yet bearing in mind he is still only in his mid-50s. He could still lose this seat in the event of a Labour catastrophe as bad as 1987 but it’s unlikely in any vaguely normal election.

  9. yep Clive Efford has a strong personal vote, which helps Labour immensely, and it’s definitely becoming a more ethnic area in the northern parts of the constituency. I’d guess Labour would be looking to have a 5000+ majority next time, but will be interesting to see local election figs first….

  10. Not many wards in the borough are marginal at all apart from the split one of Blackheath Westcombe. I guess Eltham N is a faint Labour target. It’ll be more a case of studying the aggregate vote than looking at any gains & losses since there won’t be many seats changing hands.

  11. “The Conservative parliamentary candidate for 2015 has been selected and will be local councillor Spencer Drury. He fought the seat and lost to Clive Efford in 2005, then tried Greenwich and Woolwich in 2010.”

    Why did he switch?

    Or was he given no choice with a Cameroon ‘A Lister’ being imposed on what was seen as a ‘certain’ gain?

  12. An article in the Guardian 5 days after the general election explored some of the factors surrounding Efford’s victory in 2010:

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk/davehillblog/2010/may/11/general-election-2010-boris-johnson-clive-efford-eltham

    It quotes a number of sources including a Telegraph article where Boris Johnson is mentioned giving his views on the Tory campaign.

    There’s also something about a vox pop on David Gold’s (the Conservative candidate) that caused a bit of a stir.

    If this guy was an A-lister that surely would’ve worked against him, while contesting a seat where the incumbent is popular locally. Perhaps Spencer Drury could have gained it if he was the 2010 candidate. I suppose that opportunity has sailed away now.

    David Gold beat off competition from Eric Ollerenshaw and Jackie Doyle Price to win the selection for Eltham. So if either of them were the candidate in 2010, they might not have been MP’s in this Parliament.

  13. *David Gold’s campaign website.

  14. “Why did he switch?

    Or was he given no choice with a Cameroon ‘A Lister’ being imposed on what was seen as a ‘certain’ gain?”

    That is basically exactly what happened.

    However, the smarter A-listers who might have been a good fit with Eltham steered clear of the seat, suspecting that it would be a very difficult seat to win despite the smallish majority. Liz Truss, for example, was a councillor here and could have easily had the candidacy if she wanted it. Instead she braved the Turnip Taliban up in Norfolk and gave her home seat a wide berth.

    Even by the normal standards of the Tory party in London, there is a significant gay mafia running the party in Greenwich borough.

  15. Here’s May 2014 local election in Eltham constituency…

    LAB 11158 (33.4%)
    CON 8139 (24.3%)
    UKIP 7078 (21.2%)
    GRN 3642 (10.9%)
    LD 1808 (5.4%)
    BNP 1583 (4.7%)

    Note BNP didn’t contest 2 wards, so probably would have been higher than Lib Dem if they had done so…

  16. Not good for the Tories to be so close to being overtaken by UKIP.

  17. That’s not a bad result for UKIP. Are the Eltham wards similar in demographic profile to the one they’ve done well with in other places?

  18. If you come into London on the A20, you go past quite a large chunk of this constituency. The Eltham wards look in most ways very much like the Bexley territory which would have preceded it on your car journey & the Tory-inclined ones are still rather similar to them in demographics to some extent, although the number of non-white residents (mostly Black Caribbbean or African) will now be noticeably higher.

  19. I think if there was any surprise Conservative in London this would be more likely to be it than Hampstead, Westminster North, Dagenham, Harrow West, Hammersmith, Tooting, Brent North or Ealing North.

  20. HH – interesting. I recall a couple of Tory Cllrs here were gay in around 2008, but perhaps it was more than that.

  21. I disagree with Dalek on this one. The Tories have to be well ahead in 3 wards to have any chance of winning here, and were unable to do so in 2010 even when they were a long way ahead in 2, and comfortably so in one (Eltham N). Instead, they lost partially to Labour in that ward. With Labour certain to be a long away ahead in the other 4, particularly so in Shooters Hill, I don’t see any chance of an upset. Hampstead is less straightforward for Labour, and so are Tooting & Westminster N. Brent N – well, while Barry Gardiner is there the Tories can forget it, and its demographics are very opposed to the Tory interest too despite the overwhelming majority of owner-occupiers.

  22. The sentence starting “Instead” should end with the words “in the local elections this year”.

  23. Looking at the local election results in 2014 it does seem like this is drifting away from the Tories. In 2001 it was 13% non white, by 2011 that was 23% – probably higher still by 2015.

    The 4 best wards for Labour gave the party 54% of all votes cast, compared to 22% for the Conservatives (Eltham West, Kidbrooke, Middle Park, Shooters Hill). Whilst the Tories were ahead overall in the other three – it was nothing like this sort of margin (42% to 35% in terms of all votes cast).

    The latest census also shows its employment base seems to be a bit more geared towards Health, Public Admin and Education than London as a whole (35% versus 31%).

  24. Unlike Westminster N, but pretty much like Hampstead & K; there’s very little hope here in Eltham for the Conservatives. This can be taken for granted a LAB hold.

  25. Far less activity here than five years ago. Hardly any leaflets and brochures, which we were inundated with last time. Probably a sign that this seat very unlikely to change hands, for many of the reasons already set out.

  26. I think as has been said before David Gold was transported in to Eltham in 2010 as a sort of Right of Centre hero that just didn’t connect with the sort of voters he needed to convince. His headquarters were in Eltham Park Ward (Staunchly Tory) and he didn’t seem to get to Middle Park, or Greenwich which could have won him this seat. The chance has now long gone. Clive Efford is a very likeable man and he will be the MP in Eltham for as long as he wants to be

  27. ”Clive Efford is a very likeable man and he will be the MP in Eltham for as long as he wants to be”

    I agree. I think Efford’s personal vote saved him in 2010. I know this seat well and know the Tories threw everything at this constituency in 2010 and expected to win it easily, yet Efford held it. As has been mentioned above, this seat has more in common with the Bexley borough and north Kent seats than the south London seats as it mostly consists of 1930’s suburbia and contains some very wealthy parts especially near Eltham Palace where houses sell for around 2.5 million pounds!

    The Tories will be back in the game here only when Efford retires.

  28. “The Tories will be back in the game here only when Efford retires.”

    No they won’t. This is a safe Labour seat now.

  29. Yes the majority here is rather deceptive and disguises the long-term trend here in Labour’s favour.

  30. Labour has also been very well-organized in this constituency, at least by repute, for many decades.

  31. They did very well here in the 80s locally I think given what happened in the neighbouring seats as well as in Greater London on the whole.

  32. About time you told us who you’re going to vote for, TR – even if you do live in a rock-solid Labour seat, and it won’t make any difference. TUSC? Labour?

  33. TUSC it is Barnaby. Peter Glover is their local candidate, he’s stood loads of times at a local level in Bootle as well as the parliamentary seat under various descriptions.

  34. Would you consider voting Labour in a marginal seat? (Sorry if the question is too personal).

  35. No Andy I would never. If there was no socialist candidate I would probably go for the Greens. In any case, I don’t think it would ever matter really given I will never live anywhere where I’ll be at risk of letting the Tories in if I don’t vote Labour (!)

  36. ”No they won’t. This is a safe Labour seat now.”

    H. Hemmelig – Eltham will never be a safe Labour seat. Some of my family live in this seat so I know it extremely well and visit it frequently. As I’ve mentioned, the Eltham constituency is not a typical south London seat like Woolwich and Greenwich where it has gone to rack and ruin over the past 20 years (expect picturesque Greenwich town centre, parts of East Greenwich and also North Greenwich) and is now staunch Labour.

    This seat has some very leafy streets and Eltham town centre is still a respectable shopping area. There are many aspirational voters (i.e. upper working class/ lower middle class) in this seat who work hard, hold decent jobs, own their home, drive an expensive car, send their children to the Bexley and Kent grammar schools or private schools and generally want to get on in life. These people are staunch Tory voters who will never dream of voting Labour despite Efford being an excellent MP (believe me, I know a few of these people!). Yes, the number of BME residents has increased in recent years but certainly not compared to other parts of London. There are a relatively high number of white British residents here hence the Tory vote here won’t go down the pan as it has in the other south London seats. Therefore, this will always be a marginal seat.

  37. This is certainly a seat that is still winnable for the Conservatives, but they have to be in overall majority territory. Experience for the last decade seems to show that the Conservatives are stuck on a third of the vote, and have lost the ability to stretch out to a wider section of the community. As others have commented this seems particularly true in London. However nothing is permanent in politics and this may well change in the future, and the aspirational non-white vote in places like Eltham is scarcely committed.

    At this election however Efford will win comfortably.

  38. The more I think about it, the more I’m leaning towards a Tory hold here. Despite Tolhurst being a weak candidate I just can’t see the UKIP vote holding up in a General Election. Even Farage admitted that the Tory vote in Rochester town centre and the surrounding residential area held up very well.

  39. Sorry. Wrong thread.

  40. Labour by 6000

  41. No, there’s no way Labour will win a seat like Eltham like with such a large majority as I said this seat is similar to the boroughs of Bexley and Bromley and also the north Kent which are all staunchly Tory. If Efford wasn’t standing here, there’d be a possiblity to the Tories would win here in May regardless of the national result.

  42. Not sure the last time you visited Eltham. You seem to have a very old fashioned view of it. Bits of the town proper still have a Bexley/Bromley feel to them, but the constituency takes in swathes of area further north through Shooters Hill almost as far as Woolwich which are far from the picture you paint. The west of Eltham town is also very strong for Labour and Labour are also generally ahead now in the north of the town. Its demographics are changing fast and it is now overall more like Greenwich than Bexley. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a 6000 Labour majority.

  43. H. Hemmelig – Eltham will never be a safe Labour seat. Some of my family live in this seat so I know it extremely well and visit it frequently. As I’ve mentioned, the Eltham constituency is not a typical south London seat like Woolwich and Greenwich where it has gone to rack and ruin over the past 20 years (expect picturesque Greenwich town centre, parts of East Greenwich and also North Greenwich) and is now staunch Labour.

    This seat has some very leafy streets and Eltham town centre is still a respectable shopping area. There are many aspirational voters (i.e. upper working class/ lower middle class) in this seat who work hard, hold decent jobs, own their home, drive an expensive car, send their children to the Bexley and Kent grammar schools or private schools and generally want to get on in life. These people are staunch Tory voters who will never dream of voting Labour despite Efford being an excellent MP (believe me, I know a few of these people!). Yes, the number of BME residents has increased in recent years but certainly not compared to other parts of London. There are a relatively high number of white British residents here hence the Tory vote here won’t go down the pan as it has in the other south London seats. Therefore, this will always be a marginal seat.

  44. I don’t think the Tory vote will go down the pan but nevertheless this is now a fairly safe Labour seat. Of the seven wards making up the constituency, Labour are massively ahead in four (the three wards in the north of the seat, plus Eltham West). The Tories can only rely on Eltham South and Coldharbour wards now, with Eltham North marginal but now leaning Labour. The local elections last year saw Labour beat Con here by 14% of the vote; in a general election that would indeed be a majority of about 6000. Remember demographic change is moving against the Tories here and that Ashcroft has found Labour ahead in some London seats where the Tories led in the local elections last year (eg Finchley, Harrow East).

    I’d willingly bet that Labour will have a majority here of more than 5000.

  45. You’re right that the majority wont be 6000, less than 3000 i’d guess. Some of the wards in this constituency are somewhat similar to the places you’ve mentioned, though even the Tories best wards (Eltham South, Coldharbour & New Eltham) have a stronger Labour vote than neighbouring wards in Bexley and Bromley and this is in local elections so no Efford effect. The north of this constituency has more in common with Greenwich & Woolwich and indeed includes parts of Plumstead & Charlton. Conservatives may have won here narrowly in 2010 if Efford had stood down, but this certainly a marginal that seems to be leaning towards Labour nowadays.

  46. This is my constituency, and my best guest here would be…

    Efford (Lab) 19,000
    Drury (Con) 13,500
    Whittle (UKIP) 6,500
    Cunliffe (Lib Dem) 1,500
    Parker (Green) 1,000

  47. oops re above) should read *guess here

  48. NICKYC

    This used to be my constituency and I would broadly agree with your predictions here. I think Spencer Drury is quite a well liked candidate here unless I am mistaken. For that reason only I would probably give him 15,000 and a few less for UKIP but still a 3000 majority for Clive Efford

  49. Yes, 6500 for UKIP would be approx. 15%. Somewhat too high.

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