2015 Result:
Conservative: 15700 (36.4%)
Labour: 18393 (42.6%)
Lib Dem: 1308 (3%)
Green: 1275 (3%)
UKIP: 6481 (15%)
MAJORITY: 2693 (6.2%)

Category: Semi-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.

Current 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
Con: 15753 (38%)
Lab: 17416 (42%)
LDem: 5299 (13%)
BNP: 1745 (4%)
Oth: 1751 (4%)
MAJ: 1663 (4%)
Con: 12105 (34%)
Lab: 15381 (44%)
LDem: 5669 (16%)
UKIP: 1024 (3%)
Oth: 1126 (3%)
MAJ: 3276 (9%)
Con: 10859 (32%)
Lab: 17855 (53%)
LDem: 4121 (12%)
GRN: 706 (2%)
Oth: 251 (1%)
MAJ: 6996 (21%)
Con: 13528 (31%)
Lab: 23710 (55%)
LDem: 3701 (9%)
Oth: 1075 (2%)
MAJ: 10182 (23%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

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.
JAMES PARKER (Green) Policy advisor.
Comments - 135 Responses on “Eltham”
  1. People forget that yes Battersea has gentrified heavily parts of it are still absolute shitholes. Inner/Outer London is a good debate, I would say Merton and Brent are more inner London in character. Croydon you would have to class as outer despite inner characteristics in parts because it borders Surrey. Epsom and Ewell perhaps more outer SW London in character than like East Surrey, it has surprisingly less %white British than Bexley and Havering.

  2. It wasn’t a Labour gain from Con (split ward) the winner was replacing a Labour councillor who had died.

  3. I would say seats like Mitcham & Morden, Ilford South, Croydon North etc are more inner city these days.

    The border between Inner London and Outer London is far from clear, unless you use LCC boundaries.

  4. The trend since 2015 has not been great for the Tories in various electoral events in Wandsworth. It was, of course, very pro-Remain which may not help going forward.

  5. Yes very true about those seats, Merton as a borough doesn’t feel like outer London at all. Wimbledon has always had an inner London feel but in a Hampstead way. Mitcham and Morden was more of a Barking and Dagenham of the South in the old days. Nowadays Mitcham resembles Lambeth and Morden resembles the southern parts of Lewisham and Greenwich.

  6. Re Wandsworth

    Obviously Labour carried it because it’s Khan’s area.

    The Tories held up well in the Tooting by-election so soon after a crushing defeat there in the mayoral election.

    I think there is disenchantment with the national Conservative Party due to Brexit but it isn’t exactly fertile territory for Corbyn.

  7. What is it with some people on this site and selective reporting? If your going to quote local by-election results quote all of them held on the night not just the one that makes your party look good (and that applies to people of all political persuasions)

    As it is I’m pleasantly surprised with the Queenstown result and not very surprised with Eltham North. I’ll no doubt once again be accused of being an apologist for this but both are really Tory wards in that the Tories carried them in 2014 but they were sufficiently close that Lab also won councillors (three member wards after all) but its the Lab councillors vacancies that triggered the by-elections thus when it comes down to first pretences alone essentially both are Tory defences rather than Lab defences since they came first amongst the same electorate in 2014.

  8. @Rivers10

    I think you’ll find I quoted both. For completeness there was also a Labour hold (on a reduced vote, mainly due to an indy coming second) in Hitchin Oughton, North Hertfordshire and a Tory hold with 66% of the vote in Southwater, Horsham.

    On Wandsworth I agree Corbyn isn’t likely to be popular there (though you could say that about almost anywhere bar the Brighton Pavilions and Bristol Wests of this world). But moderate Labour seem very active in the borough and have Khan as a high profile figurehead. The proposed boundary changes cut Jane Ellison’s majority in Battersea to about 5,500 – whilst that should be safe enough in the current climate it is just conceivable that Labour could mount a challenge in an election where Brexit was a significant consideration. Remember that on Chris Hanretty’s latest estimates Battersea was the 9th most Remain seat in the country and the most Remain Tory seat in the country (the next most Remain Tory seat was Putney, followed by Wimbledon and Richmond Park).

  9. Can’t follow that last bit and doubt it’s to do with Khan, this is a ward in the north of Battersea constituency, not even adjacent to Tooting.

  10. Xed I meant Rivers’ bit.

  11. Not sure that Khan is that high profile in the whole of the borough. In fact his own former seat is very polarised, hence low swings.
    Worth pointing out that Jane Ellison herself was very pro-remain.

  12. Pro remain Con-Lab ward battles to watch in 2018


    St Mary’s Park


    Wimbledon Park – doubt Labour will pick this one up?
    Merton Park (would be marginal in a Con Lab battle) – demographically edging Labour in the Morden part of seat but the Residents should easily hold it.


    Ashburton – Lab gained for first time in 2014 can they hold?
    Fairfield – Pro remain area and town centre ward
    Croham – A lot said about this ward trending, the well off bits of the ward should still see a Con Hold

  13. Jack
    I wasn’t accusing you of being selective, as you rightly point out you mentioned the other results.

  14. Sbjme19
    Re you not understanding my last bit I’ll try and explain again.
    The two London wards were last contested in 2014 and London rather than electing in cycles like most parts of the UK elect everything in one go thus on election night each (or rather most) wards have three councillors up for election and voters have to elect all three and parties obviously put up full slates to try and win all three in each ward.

    The exact way the votes fall is complicated (a lot of split ticket voting, etc) but for the most part really close wards tend to elect a mix of councillors. That’s what happened in Queenstown and Eltham North.

    This resulted in two Tory councillors and one Labour.

    Eltham North
    This resulted in one Tory and two Labour (weird that Lab won more councillors here than the Tories I know as I said its complicated)

    In both cases the Tories beat Lab though in the popular vote and thus they are both in the traditional sense Tory held wards yet both by elections were caused by vacancies of elected Labour councillors thus resulting in them being deemed a Lab defence in a ward that the Tories actually beat Labour in last time. Thus even if the votes fell exactly as they did in 2014 rather than resulting in a elected Labour councillor as it did in 2014 it would result in an elected Tory councillor. Slightly bizarre but hope that makes sense.

  15. I knew one of the Tory councillors who lost Eltham North in 2014. A greasier nerdier Tory Boy SPAD would be hard to find. Try to imagine a 35 year old version of Maxim Parr Reid :-). So I’m not surprised that this was a split ward in 2014 and am not surprised the Tories have won here again with a better candidate. This is still quite a Tory ward and I doubt the Corbyn factor was primarily responsible, though it will have played at least a minor role.

  16. @Hemmy I’m not greasy 😛

  17. And I’m far less disingenuous in reality than my online presence would have you believe 😉

  18. HH – wasn’t Eltham the Con Assoc where they were all gay?

    I thought they’d look more like something out of Suits or Wall Street if any hair gel was used? lol

    Not that British gay politicians tend to live up to the ‘good looking gay’ stereotype (Rev Flowers, Nick Brown, Crispin Blunt, Iain Stewart, Mandy, Cyril Smith etc)

  19. Lib Dems got over 1,000 votes in 2015 so that’s a firm base to build on, with suspendors momentum.

    Sorry for the late post, good increase in the byelection. I was calling out desperately for paper but nobody helped.

  20. Eltham North in 2014

    Con 1975
    Lab 1946
    Lab 1942
    Con 1823
    Lab 1556
    Con 1519 (is this one HH’s acquaintance?)

    Con and Lab first 2 candidates were or or less at the same level. The third candidates for both parties were way behind.

    UKIP fielded only one candidate getting 1221 votes, possibly taking votes from both parties.

    In yesterday’s by-election Labour had again the candidate who polled less than his colleagues in 2014. The Conservatives had a new candidate.
    The result has been:

    Con 1335
    Lab 1297
    (LD 279 UKIP 160 Greens 110)

  21. Lancs

    Former cllr here Nigel Fletcher, to whom I was referring, is indeed very gay, as is a large proportion of the local association so I’m led to believe. Perhaps it does have some impact on the Tory vote as the population here is quite WWC and rough round the edges. The Tories do seem to underperform in Eltham.

  22. Maxim

    Apologies for my joke. Just my way of warning you of the perils of becoming a bitter 35 year old Tory Boy, washed up at such a young age having done nothing else with your career.

  23. ‘Wasn’t Eltham the Con Assoc where they were all gay?’

    If that’s the case it certainly explains the canditature of David Gold in 2010 – a likeable but unremarkable mainstream Tory who had tried but failed in considerably more gay-friendly seats than this one

    Even the parts of the seat that are more suburban – like New Eltham – are quite noticeably wwc and even though its in London with an increasing ethnic minority vote, this is a seat you might have thought the Tories would have fared better and I’d imagine it will be one of their target seats the next time the country goes to the polls

  24. @Hemmy

    I actually deplore SPADs. One of the first things I watched when starting out studying Politics was ‘Posh and Posher’. It basically solidified my view that we don’t need SPADs who have no jobs outside the Westminster bubble.

    My real passion is journalism. I do a lot of stuff for the Cherwell magazine here, something I really enjoy being a part of. Either newspaper columnist or political correspondent would be the dream job for me at present. Possibly a political career after that but it’s not the main thought.

    OUCA and the Union are both good fun but I’d make a terrible hack. I go out and campaign in the same way I’ve been campaigning since 2014 – I campaign because I enjoy having a presence in the community and being active. Port & Policy is just a bit of fun at the end of intense weeks that often leave you burning the midnight oil (though I am yet to reach that stage!).
    The Union event on Tuesday night was quite something. I was reporting on their coverage of the election and the social being held for Cherwell and it was quite the night.

    Re Eltham

    So I haven’t lived in the borough since 1999 so have zilch in terms of local insight.

    Two things I’ve noticed:
    In 2010 the BNP-UKIP vote was bigger than the Labour majority. I do think strong BNP and UKIP showings have deprived the Tories of this seat. Labour took a large chunk of 2010 LD voters in 2015.

    On these boundaries and with Corbyn as leader I do think Efford is not out of the woods yet. The Labour vote dropped 13% between 1997 and 2010 and so isn’t impregnable.

    I think the Tories could tap into the sizeable wedge of UKIP support, though this is a seat they can only win in a landslide nationally IMO, given Labour’s floor of c40%.

  25. Maxim
    “In 2010 the BNP-UKIP vote was bigger than the Labour majority. I do think strong BNP and UKIP showings have deprived the Tories of this seat”

    As I often point out to you Maxim its unwise to assume those that vote for the far right parties prefer the Tories over Lab, BNP especially. I believe there was polling done a few years back which showed a clear majority were ex Lab voters and the second biggest group their support came from was people who have always supported the far right (National Front ect) followed by non voters with ex Tories coming in fourth. I can’t speak for 2015 but I’d hazard a guess the relatively strong BNP showing in 2010 helped the Tories here rather than hindered them.

  26. As I point out above, and also suggested by Lancs, the Tory party in Eltham is ultra Cameroon and has long had a reputation as a gay mafia, in the kind of demographics which are not generally friendly to that (unlike much of the rest of London). A Rosindell kind of Tory would have done better in Eltham and might have won the seat.

  27. Yes. David Gold was probably a hindrance here. I don’t think this is impossible for the Tories to take but they would need a landslide to do it.

    The majority was pretty slender here in 1992 and at least the seat hasn’t swung against them as heavily as Lewisham East and West.

  28. The demographics now mean you’re probably correct. In 2010 this was a much easier seat for the Tories to take with the right candidate than it will be in 2020 with a much higher ethnic population.

  29. Fletcher was the one polling 18xx in 2014. The worst performing Conservative candidate was another one, Adam Thomas who was a Cllr in Eltham South and then stood as Greenwich and Lewisham GLA candidate this year

  30. HH – thanks.

    Yes, it is an odd fit with this area.

    It is odd how certain groups take control of local Parties. From what I’ve seen, it usually involves Freemasonry and local properties being owned by individuals who then run the local Con Assoc, irrespective of their popularity in the Party or with the public.

    The Tories fielded a few gay Catholics in wards in the NW where there was still an Orange/Unionist presence, which struck me as sheer political suicide. There was also that infamous case where a group of gay Anglo Catholics who liked a tipple forced the vicar out of Runcie’s old parish church in Crosby. The Vicar was in the right but the Diocese caved in as money talks, ie they threatened to stop donations.

  31. I visited Eltham for the first time a couple of months ago in order to visit Eltham Palace, and was surprised by how leafy and middle-class that part of the constituency was. I guess it isn’t representative of the seat as a whole.

  32. The Conservatives polled poorly in London in 1970 and failed to win many bell weather seats that they had held during the 1951 to 1964 Conservative government –

    Baron’s Court
    Battersea South
    Brentford & Chiswick
    Ealing North
    Holborn & St Pancras South
    Lewisham North
    Wandsworth Central (now Tooting)
    Willesden East (later became Brent East)
    Woolwich West (now Eltham)

    The only exceptions were Clapham, Hampstead and Lewisham West. Hampstead had once been an extremely safe Conservative seat before 1964 and there was a clear racial element in the Clapham result.

    The Conservatives won most of the successors to these constituencies in 1983 and 1987.

  33. With the exceptions of Brent East, Norwood and Tooting,

  34. I think Norwood on 1970 boundaries would have been a Tory seat in the 1980s

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