Epping Forest

2015 Result:
Conservative: 27027 (54.8%)
Labour: 7962 (16.1%)
Lib Dem: 3448 (7%)
Green: 1782 (3.6%)
UKIP: 9049 (18.3%)
Others: 80 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 17978 (36.4%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Essex. The western part of the Epping Forest council area.

Main population centres: Loughton, Epping, Chigwell, Buckhurst Hill, Waltham Abbey, Theyden Bois.

Profile: Epping Forest is the south-eastern corner of Essex, lying next to the boundary with Greater London. Towns like Chigwell, Loughton and Buckhurst Hill are contiguous with the London urban conurbation and are served by the far end of the London underground. These are affluent residential areas, stereotypically associated with the nouveau riche, of footballers and celebrities done good - this is where both "Essex Wives" and "The Only Way is Essex" were filmed. The seat also contains the towns of Waltham Abbey, Epping and the large village of Theydon Bois, as well as the northern part of the eponymous Epping Forest itself.

Politics: This has been a safe Conservative seat since its creation in 1974. Conservatives also dominate at a local level, although Loughton itself returns councils from its local Residents Association.

Current MP
ELEANOR LAING (Conservative) Born 1958, Paisley. Educated at St Columbas School and Edinburgh University. Former solicitor. Contested Paisley North 1987. First elected as MP for Epping Forest in 1997. Opposition whip 1999-2000. Shadow Scottish Secretary 2005, shadow justice minister 2007-2010.
Past Results
Con: 25148 (54%)
Lab: 6641 (14%)
LDem: 10017 (22%)
BNP: 1982 (4%)
Oth: 2796 (6%)
MAJ: 15131 (32%)
Con: 23783 (53%)
Lab: 9425 (21%)
LDem: 8279 (18%)
BNP: 1728 (4%)
Oth: 1645 (4%)
MAJ: 14358 (32%)
Con: 20833 (49%)
Lab: 12407 (29%)
LDem: 7884 (19%)
UKIP: 1290 (3%)
MAJ: 8426 (20%)
Con: 24117 (45%)
Lab: 18865 (36%)
LDem: 7074 (13%)
Oth: 743 (1%)
MAJ: 5252 (10%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
ELEANOR LAING (Conservative) See above.
JON WHITEHOUSE (Liberal Democrat) Epping Forest councillor.
ANDREW SMITH (UKIP) Born 1949, Burwell. Educated at Exeter University. Chartered accountant. Contested Epping Forest 2001, 2005, 2010, Essex Police Commissioner election 2012.
Comments - 42 Responses on “Epping Forest”
  1. Eleanor Laing elected the new deputy speaker

  2. Interesting: I wonder if she’s hoping to become Speaker eventually.

  3. If so then she won’t stand aside if Nigel Evans is acquitted.

    It’s fairly likely Labour will have most seats after 2015 so I would say a Labour candidate will most likely succeed Bercow.

  4. First preferences (from Guido Fawkes):

    Laing 148
    Binley 126
    Bellingham 87
    Streeter 86
    Burns 64
    Amess 27
    Dorries 13

    Very humiliating for Nadine Dorries, and to a lesser extent Simon Burns too.

  5. Binley openly campaigned on standing down if Evans is acquitted. He’s retiring as MP in 2015, so he doesn’t have any future ambitions.

    “after 2015 so I would say a Labour candidate will most likely succeed Bercow.”

    if the new Speaker is elected in the next Parliament and Labour has most seats, I guess Lindsay Hoyle could be the early frontrunner.

  6. I agree. Even if the Tories have most seats he will be a strong contender, as he is popular with Tory MPs.

  7. I don’t agree with Simon Burns on a number of policies but I’m quite sorry we have lost him as a Minister.
    He seems quite willing to get stuck into the domestic agenda and take on unpopular things – like the NHS changes, and rail (I still haven’t decided on HS2).
    ANyway, he seemed one of the more sure footed Ministers
    but perhaps he wanted something better having been there since 1987

  8. Yes, a good minister who has been in parliament a long time. The government is short of that type of minister.

    He must regret standing down, though clearly expected to be sacked anyway.

  9. I can’t think why – he was also quite good at explaining policies,
    for example he seemed to actually win over quite a few health staff on a Newsnight program in 2011/12

  10. I am surprised that UKIP didn’t win more seats in this area back in May, being very much a nouveau riche area with plenty of economically-successful white working class people around.

  11. It’s too wealthy and too middle class, with the exception of enclaves like Debden where the BNP have done well in the past.

    The poorer bits of Essex are much more fertile territory for UKIP, certainly Basildon, Thurrock and Clacton.

  12. ‘It’s too wealthy and too middle class,’

    Wealthy certainly, but is it really middle class?

    I thought this was the home of Sun readers, estuary accents, fake suntans and Barratts houses

    It certainly seemed that way the one and only time I went there – although that was 1996

  13. UKIP came quite close to winning in Waltham Abbey which is very far from posh and weren’t too far off winning Chigwell and Loughton Broadway (which combines the very posh Chigwell itself with parts of the Debden estate). Generally the party suffered in Loughton due to the strength of the local Residents association there but in the rest of the district UKIP candidates were getting a quarter to a third of the vote

  14. I think Tim has a point. The following census statistics are noteworthy:

    – 15 % of residents aged 16-74 work in intermediate roles (30th out of 578 E+W constituencies)

    – 13% are small employers/own account workers (43rd)

    – 15.4% of residents aged 16+ have their highest level of qualifications at level 1 (94th)

    -14.4% of 16-74 year old residents are managers, directors and senior officials (ranked 40th); 17.2% are professionals (ranked rather low at 239).

    Clearly, there is money in this constituency. But if one could call it middle-class it is not really traditional, ‘professional’ middle-class. And there is a substantial C1 element.

  15. The Lib Dems managed just 7 votes in a council byelection in Epping last night

  16. That’s a bit embarassing.

  17. In an episode of Birds of a Feather repeated on Drama last week, Sharon wanted to use Tracy’s husband Darryl’s polling card to vote Labour in a Chigwell (which would actually lie in this seat) by-election. She did and then they went to the results on TV where they said by one vote Labour had kept their deposit. It turns out all three of them had voted Labour. Just looked and the episode was “You Pays Yer Money” from October 1990. There was an Epping Forest by-election in 1988. Even then Labour polled 18.7% so no danger of losing their deposit.

  18. yes – it was won by Steve “Shagger” Norris. The Labour candidate was the perennial local Stephen Murray, son of Len Murray the former TUC General Secretary whose title was Lord Murray of Epping Forest.

  19. I think there was also a longstanding Labour candidate for Winchester for many years called William Allchin.

  20. There are quite a few examples of many-times candidates for the same unwinnable seat. Another was Labour’s Charles Garnsworthy who fought Reigate 7 times. Eventually he was given a peerage & became Lord Garnsworthy of Reigate. Winchester was actually won by Labour in 1945 but the member elected was George Jeger. After (inevitably) losing the seat in 1950, he subsequently became MP for Goole.

  21. Also Elspeth Buchanan stood in Glasgow seats for the Lib Dems for a very long time as well.

  22. Tracy would no doubt be a Tory now. Sharon remains to the Left politically if the latest series was anything to go by.

  23. Its interesting that the constituency in both Murray and Laing chose Tory MPs largely regarded as on the left of the party.

  24. That would certainly be so if they had chosen Murray!

  25. @Tory, Sharon accused Tracy of being Tory even then so perhaps it was always assumed that as “new money” in Essex she was. I hadn’t realised the series was so politically biting until I saw the new episodes, but then I was too young to properly remember the originals.

    In earlier episodes Dorien mentions being in the Young Conservatives although it’s a bit of a no-brainer she would be one (clichéd stereotypes I know).

  26. Epping Hennall ward By-election result: LibDem 607, Cons 386, UKIP 339, Green 69. LibDem gain from Conservative. 29% Turnout.

  27. “Sharon accused Tracy of being Tory even then so perhaps it was always assumed that as “new money” in Essex she was. I hadn’t realised the series was so politically biting until I saw the new episodes, but then I was too young to properly remember the originals.”

    Tracy was not a Tory in the early series. The episodes from 1991-92 mentioned the early 90s recession frequently; usually Sharon and Tracy were moaning about the government and Dorien saying that the recession was a “worldwide phenomenon” (which is a now-forgotten phrase which the Major government used every 2 minutes).

  28. ukip splitting tory vote in the Epping Hennall ward?

  29. HH – Tracey was described as a Tory in 2 episodes back then. Sharon said she’d vote Labour if she could. In One Foot In the Grave, Victor often moaned about the Govt, but the only overt reference to voting intention, was when Margaret said Victor, “…voted SDP last time and well that’s how she got in again.” 2Point4Children often had rants about Thatcher, but most (Minder, Only Fools, Fawlty Towers) were positive and moaned about strikes and the unions from ’75-’90.

  30. Anna Widdup has been selected as Green Party Candidate here.

  31. Conservative Hold. 18,000 maj.

  32. You were almost exactly right about the Conservative majority here, actually, Shaun (only 22 votes more than the real 2015 majority)!

  33. Just seeing the above about the political leanings of various TV shows over the years – there were a few references in the early years of “Only Fools…” around the government, and in a later episode with the inflatable dolls “Dirty Barry” complains about Thatcher closing down his industry and Uncle Albert replying “At last someone’s got something good to say about her.”

    Of course, neither Del Boy nor Rodney could vote as they made a point of not being on any official registers.

  34. What are the prospects of Eleanor Lang becoming Speaker if John bercow stands down, as he has indicate likely, during the current Parliament?

    Elaenor Lang is technically first in line as the First Deputy Chaiman of Ways and Means, and as a Conservative member on the Speaker’s Panel. However, she is arguably too low p;rofile.

  35. I don’t think Eleanor Laing’s chances are great. She is very good at ensuring order in the chair and has a very distinctive voice (a good attribute for a Speaker!) but has been involved in a few too many minor controversies – expenses and a few strange things whilst in the chair like being accused of picking on the pregnant Tulip Siddiq by having a go at her for leaving the chamber shorly after speaking – to win the cross-party support necessary to become Speaker in my view. Lindsay Hoyle is a much better chance because he’s popular across the house, whilst I’m not sure Laing is. Of course if Hoyle became Speaker, Laing would probably become Chairman of Ways and Means.

  36. Thanks for the view, Jack.

    I think it likely that the next Speaker will be a Conservative, much as I would welcome the election of Lindsay Hoyle. Who would be the best Tory candidate for Speaker? Geoffrey Clifton Brown?

    The way Eleanor Lang treated Yulip Siddiq was in my opinion a bad mistake on her part.

  37. Geoffrey Clifton Brown has a fine family tradition to live up to but not sure he’d be a serious candidate for Speaker – he’s not that well known and so probably doesn’t have much cross-party backing.

    The most likely Tory is probably Charles Walker. He is very much a ‘House man’ and is widely respected, in particular for his rare but outstanding speeches on mental health, the so-called ‘plot’ to get rid of Bercow and so on. His weakness may be his closeness to Bercow – I don’t think Bercow’s actually as unpopular as some media reporting suggests but there may not be much desire for Bercow 2.0 after 9/10/11 years of Bercow himself.

    Looking through the Tory members of the Panel of Chairs it is hard to find any other serious Tory candidates – generally these places have gone to the far right of the parliamentary party because these people aren’t on the payroll vote. Perhaps by the time the election comes up an ex-minister might run but the House is usually suspicious of that – or they were when Peter Brooke ran in 1992 and Margaret Beckett in 2009.

    I do think Hoyle would be pretty much a shoe-in if the contest happens before 2020 and he stands.

  38. “Perhaps by the time the election comes up an ex-minister might run but the House is usually suspicious of that”

    Is it? George Thomas and Selwyn Lloyd had both been cabinet ministers for example. They key is surely whether the candidate is respected enough across the house, and who their rivals are. Brooke was too much of a nobody and there was IIRC a widespread feeling in 92 that it was rightfully Labour’s turn for the speakership. Perhaps you are trying to say in these less gentlemanly times there is less respect for ministers across the house….perhaps that is true.

  39. @H. Hemmelig

    I think I’m right in saying Selwyn Lloyd was never a hugely popular Speaker with opposition members. Indeed, both Labour and the Liberals contested his seat at both 1974 elections. It is sometimes said that the position became politicised at this point and only returned to being strictly non-partisan through George Thomas’s very popular speakership. Thomas, of course, reached the speakership via Chairman of Ways and Means.

    I don’t rule out that a former minister could again become Speaker but it is difficult to imagine it. I think there would be suspicion that they wouldn’t be impartial, not only between parties but also and perhaps even more importantly between frontbench and backbench. Bercow has always set out to be a backbenchers’ Speaker and, whatever people think of him, I don’t think that is something the House (or at least non-ministers, who are clearly in the majority) will want to go back on.

    Ultimately I do say once again that I think it will be Hoyle. Before 2009 the last time the Speaker hadn’t previously been a deputy was Selwyn Lloyd, way back in 1971. There were special circumstances in 2009 that led to the wide field that I don’t think will be repeated.

  40. I lived in Cardiff West, which George Thomas had recently represented as Speaker, from 1983 to 1987. It makes me wonder with whom George Thomas was popular. “Sanctimonious” is a term that comes to mind in relation to local political views of him.

    It may also be relevant that upon George Thomas’ retirement the consituency was lost to the Conservative Party, in the form of a Ukrainian city councillor who had fought in the War for the Germans (I rather think for the SS although that would need to be checked.) Lindsay Hoyle, whom many of us would welcome as Speaker, has built up his majority in Chorley. However, his seat is far from impregnable.

    By the way, Bercow has got better over time; but he needed a large learning curve.

    I have just looked up the Borxbourne thread, as I had never heard of Charles Walker. I then looked up The Cptswolds about Geoffrey Clifton Brown, whom I had at least heard of. I don’t see why one should prefer Charles Walker over Geoffrey Clifton Brown, not least as the latter has a distinctive but uncontroversial personality.

  41. Lower Sheering Ward By-election, 19.10.17:

    Conservative 220
    Liberal Democrat 52

    A low Turnout of just 15.6%, although all were poor today in what was a day of almost constant rain in the Wigan, Hartlepool and Nottingham by-elections at least.

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