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 - 130 Responses on “Eltham”
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. I know this seat very well. Fairly easy constituency for the Tories to gain at the forthcoming General Election in June.

    Spencer Drury (councillor for the ward of Eltham North and the Tory candidate for this seat at the 2005 and 2015 General Elections) has confirmed he won’t stand here this time. I heard the local Tory association intend to choose their candidate within the next fortnight.

  9. This seat could come down to whether Peter Whittle – don’t forget, he’s now UKIP’s deputy leader – stands here again, and how much of that 15% he holds onto if he does stand.

  10. Peter Whittle isn’t exactly a household name in this seat so it won’t make much of a difference if he does or doesn’t decide to stand here in June.

    It’s just been announced that Matthew Hartley (Conservative leader at the Royal Borough of Greenwich and councillor for Coldharbour and New Eltham ward) has been selected as the Conservative candidate for this seat at the forthcoming General Election.

  11. No UKIP or Greens but the BNP are back

    John Clarke (BNP)
    Clive Efford (LAB)
    David Hall-Matthews (LD)
    Matt Hartley (CON)

  12. Wasn’t this the seat where HH said almost all of the Tory cllrs were gay? Hence Gold standing.

    Maybe that’s why Efford continues to hold on.

    I can’t imagine gay activists going down well in the WWC estates here, which is presumably why the BNP and UKIP always got a vote here too.

  13. Plopwellian Tory

    I think Eltham would have been Labour in 1992 on current boundaries.

    The boundary change in 1997 brought in Labour territory from Woolwich, and the 2010 boundary change made the seat worse still for the Tories by moving some of the more Tory roads into Greenwich & Woolwich.

    If the Tories win here they’ll be doing better than 1992, which won’t be the case in th majority of London seats.

  14. Lancs

    About 10 years ago, several Tory councillors here got into hot water for holding lesbian & gay only surgeries, something which would have raised eyebrows in Brighton or Islington let alone a white van man suburb. They all subsequently lost their council seats to Labour. The leading Tories here are mostly Cameroon liberal Remainers and many if not most are gay. That said, the Tories must be favourites to win by default due to Corbyn and no UKIP.

  15. HH – thanks. I hadn’t realised that.

    I recall a gay Tory activist Andy Jennings was/is a Cllr here? From memory he ran the Cons Campaign for Homosexual Equality, a decade or so ago which was presumably the precursor to LGBTory. The former sounded very much like Stonewall so I’m not surprised it wasn’t a success within the Party.

    Plus of course the latter had similar controversies, including rainbow Tory tree rosettes in Manchester and founder Matthew Sephton’s recent arrest and suspension.

  16. Andy Jennings was one of the councillors I was referring to, he lost his council ward in 2010 I believe. He was indeed one of the organisers of TORCHE which was the gay rights group in the Tory party up to the early 2000s, a very sleazy and backbiting group it was too. Several former leaders are now in the Lib Dems and the odd one ended up in jail!

  17. My rule of thumb is any seat where the UKIP Vote and the con vote together made >50% in 2015 is likely to go Tory in 2017… Efford looks like toast to me, but who knows? It would be interesting to see if and where my hypothesis is falsified!

  18. PC: “My rule of thumb is any seat where the UKIP Vote and the con vote together made >50% in 2015 is likely to go Tory in 2017”.

    There are some seats the Lib Dems are hoping to win back that fall into this category (eg Eastbourne, Wells). For Labour, I really struggle to see how they lose Heywood & Middleton, and suspect they’re narrow favourites in Hartlepool.

  19. The lib dems are not going to win wells in my view, Eastbourne maybe different. Let’s see how the rule of thumb works, I expect the vast majority of seats where the UKIP/Con vote is over 50% will go blue. There’ll be few exceptions which poll troll has ably pointed out.

  20. Looking up the boundary changes here in detail-

    The 1992 boundaries for Eltham excluded the following wards which are included in the current seat-

    25% of Middle Park and Sutcliffe, 40% of Eltham West, 70% of Kidbrooke with Hornfair, 70% of Shooters Hill.

    Labour won all these wards in both the 2010 and 2014 local elections. The 1992 Eltham seat was more tightly drawn around the wards in Eltham itself which mostly remain Tory held. I think it’s almost certain the Tories would have won Eltham in 2010 on the 1992 boundaries, though perhaps not in 2015.

  21. HH – thanks (again). Who was jailed?

    A quick search shows Greenwich Cons still mention Andy Jennings – maybe he’s still President? – though it also says he was elected a St Neots Cllr in Huntingdonshire in 2011.

    H Cons refer to him as being elected Group Leader of the Town Council, but now he seems to have disappeared again so perhaps he just served one term?

    Although it’s not as odd as LGBTory’s Matthew Sephton who I might have mentioned stood in the locals in St Helens, Lancaster, Wigan, Liverpool, Manchester, Trafford and I think one other council over just a 15 year period. So apart from uni years which is normal to move, he must have moved home and schools where he taught every couple of years. Whilst I realise he’s yet to appear in Court this of itself would raise suspicions with me or anyone looking at a CV, so I’m unsure why CCHQ made him a By-election PPC, other than him being close to the (gay) chairman of the Cons’ Candidates’ List, David Jones, as was mentioned on another thread and in the press.

  22. “HH – thanks (again). Who was jailed?”

    Michael Vearncombe, for fraud. He resigned as a Westminster councillor in disgrace after being found guilty. He is the civil partner of Westminster North agent Jonathan Frazer-Howells, who famously said his own candidate Joanne Cash’s pregnant stomach revolted him!

    Vearncombe changed his name to Michael Asher when released from jail and he and Frazer-Howells got into more controversy with the goings on at the hotel in Spain they bought.

  23. Thanks – v useful.

    As you may know the wider issue of Cllrs being convicted is something I follow and a colleague is working on this in greater depth. Yes, I’ve discovered quite a few convicted cllrs change their names upon release and this is of great concern and I’m frankly amazed it is allowed, particularly when many of them have been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.

    A friend of mine has recently started working in Merseyside. He’s keen on investigative journalism, which is sadly rare these days. In just over a month he has uncovered that 10% of Cllrs have Court orders against then for Council Tax arrears (which if they vote on the Budget to set Council Tax is a criminal offence) and 5% have criminal convictions. You can perhaps imagine the reaction to this – support has been overwhelming from the public (he literally had his own post bag of letters and emails thanking him and asking him to investigate some alleged corruption), but he’s received real vitriol and even a nuisance ‘phone call/threat from a local politico.

  24. Plenty of ‘Re-elect Clive Efford’ posters have gone up in windows round here admittedly the more labour end of the constituency but also the previously UKIP-stronger area. He would be a hard MP to dislodge from here. Plenty of non Corbyn lovers will probably stick with Clive solely down to liking him.

  25. I had had this down as a fairly certain Con gain. But with the changed national picture that now looks much harder. Efford may hold on.

  26. Nicky C and Jack Sheldon – I live in this seat. I had this down as certain gain for the Tories but you’re both right – the changing national picture in favour of Labour and Clive Efford’s popularity (Efford’s a very hard-working MP and effective MP) amongst most constituents here may ensure he holds on but it’ll be very tight!

  27. Yep Efford may well hold on. The Tory candidate has been baffling. He avoided the hustings last week and has gone quiet on social media despite having a decent profile before. When he has popped up it seems like he’s defending the Tory Transport Secretary against his terrible record with local trains. Not great in a London seat full of commuters where there’s no tube or DLR.

  28. Labour hold, perhaps narrow enough (as in 2010) for the negative boundary changes and the eccentricity of the local Tory association here to have been decisive factors.

  29. I think this seat is Toss-up could go either way.

    Efford may just hold on here, everyone forgets the Eltham seat isn’t just Eltham it goes into parts of SE18 as well which are solid Labour.

    The only Con gain I see in London is Carshalton, I believe Tom Brake is toast, he may get the votes in affluent bits of the seat, but the WWC Brexit anti-Corbyn/Abbot/Thornberry/McDonnell St Helier Estate parts will vote Conservative as UKIP have stood aside though and I have heard returns for the canvasses in the seat are good for the Conservatives.
    I know the seat very well parts of the seat look like they would be good for Labour though a lot of the people that live in those parts are rather Thatcherite.
    it’s not natural Liberal terrority at all. If there wasn’t a Lib Dem council presence it may have gone very narrowly be won by Labour in 1997 then probably lost in 2005 or even 2001 following the pattern of Upminster and Romford.

  30. This seat was another the Tories were very misguided on,, Labour increase their majority to just over 6,000.

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