Gillingham & Rainham

2015 Result:
Conservative: 22590 (48.1%)
Labour: 12060 (25.7%)
Lib Dem: 1707 (3.6%)
Green: 1133 (2.4%)
UKIP: 9199 (19.6%)
TUSC: 273 (0.6%)
Independent: 44 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 10530 (22.4%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Kent.

Main population centres:



Current MP
REHMAN CHISHTI (Conservative) Born 1978, Pakistan. Educated at Aberystwyth University. Former barrister and adviser to Francis Maude. Medway councillor since 2003. Contested Horsham 2005 for Labour before defecting to the Conservative party in March 2006. First elected as MP for Gillingham & Rainham in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 21624 (46%)
Lab: 12944 (28%)
LDem: 8484 (18%)
UKIP: 1515 (3%)
Oth: 2219 (5%)
MAJ: 8680 (19%)
Con: 18367 (41%)
Lab: 18621 (41%)
LDem: 6734 (15%)
UKIP: 1191 (3%)
Oth: 254 (1%)
MAJ: 254 (1%)
Con: 16510 (39%)
Lab: 18782 (44%)
LDem: 5755 (14%)
UKIP: 933 (2%)
Oth: 232 (1%)
MAJ: 2272 (5%)
Con: 18207 (36%)
Lab: 20187 (40%)
LDem: 9649 (19%)
Oth: 1148 (2%)
MAJ: 1980 (4%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Gillingham

2015 Candidates
REHMAN CHISHTI (Conservative) See above.
PAUL CLARK (Labour) Born 1957, Gillingham. Educated at Gillingham Grammar School and Keele University. Political strategist and former trade union officer. Gillingham councillor 1982-1990. Contested Gillingham 1992. MP for Gillingham 1997-2010. Government whip 2003-2005, PPS to John Prescott 2005-2007, PPS to Ed Balls 2007-2008, Under-Secretary for Transport 2008-2010.
PAUL CHAPLIN (Liberal Democrat) Auditor.
MARK HANSON (UKIP) Born 1951, Isle of Man. Obstetrician.
MIKE WALTERS (No description) Born 1955, Buckinghamshire. Educated at Witney Grammar School and Preston Polytechnic. Bus driver. Contested Dover 2010, Eastleigh 2013 by-election for the English Democrats.
ROGER PEACOCK (No description)
Comments - 100 Responses on “Gillingham & Rainham”
  1. I ,too, live in this constituency and have been a UKIP member for a few years.I am continually being sent emails regarding getting Mark Reckless re-elected but have heard absolutely nothing regarding my own candidate. It appears that the local UKIP office has given up on Gillingham completely. I have seen no posters or placards for Hanson. There was a completely unprofessional ‘spat’ because the locally chosen candidate was overruled when Hanson was ‘given’ Gillingham, apparently for allowing Reckless to stand in his old constituency. That’s my take on it anyway.
    I think it will be a close run thing between Chisti who most regard as an opportunist who jumped the sinking Labour ship and Paul Clark who is respected locally even though he was connected to the Blair administration.

  2. I think you’re correct- it’s gonna be a tight one either way. It’ll either see Chishti stay in but with a smaller majority, as he hasn’t done a great deal as an MP for the area, or it’ll swing back over to Clark.

    As you say, UKIP don’t seem to be making much of a push in the constituency, especially compared with Rochester & Strood, while both the Greens and Lib Dems are non-existent. The TUSC candidate, Jacqui Berry, is slightly more prominent, but probably not a great threat to anyone.

    Aside from the photo I’ve linked below which makes him look like a 20-something student (and for all I know, he could be), the Internet has no information whatsoever about the independent candidate Roger Peacock, ,or his policies.

    The other, Mike Walters, is part of a self-titled “SDP comeback”, featuring heavily on his site, although they’re fielding candidates as independents.

  3. Christian,

    Apologies for late reply – only just seen your post. I mainly saw Labour posters in the streets in the south part of Gillingham just off the A2 if that’s any help. I too was very surprised at the apparent level of Labour support in Gillingham although I still expect Chishti to hold on relatively comfortably.

  4. Geraldine,

    How high would you rate Mark Reckless’s chances of reelection especially bearing in mind the recent Ashcroft poll (which I personally thought wasn’t too bad for him) . I used to live in the constituency and have campaigned with him in the past but not for a long time now.

  5. Democracy, Geraldine and Law – I spoke to friend today who lives in this seat. He said Labour/Clark have been working this seat very hard and has been bombarded with leaflets from them through his door. He said (as Law mentions), Clark is popular with residents as he is very down-to-earth and personable. He mentioned that one of his friend’s voted for Chisti in 2010 but feels he’s been useless as an MP and has done nothing for the constituency since being elected so is voting for Clark at this GE. I’m starting to think even though Labour won’t win here in May, they may have a chance of dramatically reducing the Tory majority here.

  6. …. Forgot to metion, another friend of his said Chishti has been very disappointing due to the number of shops that have closed down and the general state of Gllingham town centre since he became MP.

  7. Is it really an MP’s fault if a town centre goes to shit? They can campaign for/persuade more private investment and make a case to the relevant ministers in Parliament. No MP has a magic wand to regenerate high streets.

    If an MP is lazy, unresponsive, unhelpful, caught up in expenses row, etc that’s another matter.

  8. …Or they can needle a local council where relevant. In Sheffield Hallam Nick Clegg has been particularly proactive at that. There are likely examples elsewhere.

  9. “Is it really an MP’s fault if a town centre goes to shit? They can campaign for/persuade more private investment and make a case to the relevant ministers in Parliament. No MP has a magic wand to regenerate high streets.If an MP is lazy, unresponsive, unhelpful, caught up in expenses row, etc that’s another matter.”

    Neil – I know this, you this, everybody on that posts on this site knows this but the average voter just sees red when they have a problem and vent their anger on their local MP.

  10. Rubbish. The average voter doesn’t even know who their MP is.

  11. What percentage of the electorate do you think have had personal contact with their MP since 2010? I’d be absolutely amazed if it was above 1%.

  12. “What percentage of the electorate do you think have had personal contact with their MP since 2010? I’d be absolutely amazed if it was above 1%”

    Im sure PAUL WAY could find out.

  13. Depends what you mean by “personal” HH.

    I’ve no doubt that literally thousands of voters in my constituency have had some sort of pre-campaign interaction with the MP and/or Mayor in the last five years, but if on the other hand you’re talking about voters who could say “ah yes, I know [the local MP] well from [dealing with them on a specific issue after I initiated contact]” then you’re undoubtedly right.

  14. ”Rubbish. The average voter doesn’t even know who their MP is.”

    I should have expanded my point by saying people in authority i.e. MP, councillor, LA, the government etc, etc.

  15. Really surprised that UKIP haven’t put much effort into this seat considering it’s in north Kent.

  16. I was too but it would appear that defending Rochester & Strood has been more of a priority. They probably reasoned that they were unlikely to win both so putting more effort into keeping Rochester & Strood was more worthwhile. After all one win and a bad lose is better than two average loses if you see what I mean!
    They might not do too badly!

  17. I suppose you’re right Democracy. As I mentioned above I’m also surprised Labour are putting in a lot of effort here as one of my friend’s. has been bombarded by Labour leaflets through his door.

  18. At first glance it doesn’t make sense for Labour to try and challenge here (compared to Chatham & Aylesford for example) but I suppose they do have a former MP standing here who perhaps has a small personal vote compared to a new candidate in Chatham. They will also no doubt be wanting to try and hold on to their second place status for the future and perhaps have seen UKIP threatening to take this (with Rochester & Strood nearby).

  19. If Labour come second here next week, it will be a good result for them in what Isuspect will be a terrible GE for them in Kent and Essex.

  20. Conservative Hold. 5,000 maj

  21. Shaun – I think the Tory majority here will be lower than than 5000. My friend has told me he’s seen several UKIP posters around Gillingham and Labour have been fighting hard to win back the seat. Plus, their candidate (former MP of yhis seat Paul Clark) is well-liked across Gillingham and Rainham.

  22. You’re wrong Shaun. The Tory majority here in May 2015 was 10530. Labour came second and UKIP came third.

    Paul Clark was on the Sunday Politics (South East England edition) a few weeks ago and said he might stand for selection to be the 2020 Labour candidate for this seat. He also said that only Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall could win back seats like Gillingham and Rainham for Labour.

  23. Well I would think it highly virtually impossible for Labour to get the 11% swing required to win here in 2020 regardless of who they choose as leader. Though I do agree that Kendall and to a lesser extent Cooper may play fairly well here (at least compared to Miliband). Burnham would not play very well in this kind of seat while Corbyn would be a disaster (the Tory majority may well go over 30% in the unlikely event he became leader).

  24. Agree with everything you’ve written in that post Peppermint Tea

  25. Until Labour can reconnect with voters in seats like this one in estuarial Kent, they won’t be winning an election again any time soon…

  26. In fact in all honesty I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Tories win again in 2020, and increase their overall majority to about 30 seats…

  27. “In fact in all honesty I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Tories win again in 2020, and increase their overall majority to about 30 seats…”

    The Results – Yes, Labour won’t be back in office until about 2040 unless they start reaching out to these types of commuter towns here and across the country (just like Blair did).

  28. Labour didn’t win in 97 because of Blair. They won because the Tories fucked up big time on Black Wednesday and the public wanted a change after more than 15 years of Thatcherism. John Smith or Neil Kinnock would have won in 97, arguably even Foot or Scargill would have. Blair gained unlikely seats no other leader could have done, but the lesson is that Labour will be back in office when the Tories make a big enough fuck up and the public are fed up of them. The leader is almost incidental as long as they are not a total no hoper. I think you’re ignoring this fundamental reality with your tiresome ramping of Kendall on various seats….there are plausible national scenarios where even Corbyn could win here and equally plausible scenarios where none of the candidates could.

  29. That is all very true. At the end of the day, it might not matter who the leader is for Labour in the end- what matters the most is Labour relying on the Tories do make the biggest balls-up of their current time in office that they can, so they don’t have to wait too long to benefit electorally from such a serious gaffe.

  30. Basically agree, although I’m interested to hear scenarios where Corbyn could win seats like this.

    I suspect that the main reason for the different results in various parts of the country has as much to do with where people are beginning to see the benefits of economic recovery as anything else.

  31. I mean, let’s look at the two main parties’ last long-term periods in office-
    Conservatives in office under Thatcher and Major-
    1979-1997 (18 years)
    Labour in office under Blair and Brown-
    1997-2010 (13 years)

    So we have two precedents there I think for parties being in government over many decades. On that basis, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Tories got back in again in at least 2020 and 2025 unless something really drastic happens to them in the next 10 years, which isn’t entirely inconceivable. But I just have this feeling that they may not lose again until 2030, but I don’t really know why. As you say H Hemmelig it didn’t take the Tories too long into the 1992-1997 Parliament to be condemned to their fatal fate of going down to a heavy landslide as soon as the ERM debacle of Black Wednesday had taken place. After these shocking events, they were never trusted the same way again for economic competency as they had been credited up until this point, given the recession at the time. Conversely, Blair had various things affecting him in 2005- Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and tuition fees as well. But he still won, which was significant I think.

  32. Also, I think it goes without saying that although the Tories did leave the country in good shape economically speaking by the time they were defeated in 1997, and a lot of this work was obviously overseen by Kenneth Clarke as Chancellor at that time, the shadow of Black Wednesday was dominant and still looming large over them and prevented the party from being anywhere near able to convince the electorate that they had made the country’s finances better in the last five years and more- I think unemployment was also at a record low when they left office as well.

  33. Unemployment was lower in 1979 than 1997, and indeed I don’t think it has ever returned as low as it was in 1979 since, though there were times in the Blair government when it got close.

  34. That’s interesting. It was only really for the fact in any case I suppose that by 1997 that the Tories had been in for so long that their record of recovering the economy largely went unnoticed by disillusioned swing voters- All the sleaze and scandals ironically following Back To Basics during that final Parliament overrode all that in a lot of peoples’ minds also.

  35. I spent the day in this seat today (Thursday 10th Sept). Can’t believe this was a Labour seat only five-and-a-half years ago. Really can’t see Corbyn going down well in a seat of this nature.

    I expect a Tory majority of at least 17,000 here if Corbyn leads Labour into the 2020 General Election!

  36. “Can’t believe this was a Labour seat only five-and-a-half years ago.

    Well that’s probably because it wasn’t…Gillingham & Rainham was (notionally) gained by the Tories in 2005.

  37. ”Well that’s probably because it wasn’t…Gillingham & Rainham was (notionally) gained by the Tories in 2005.”

    I don’t really take much notice of’ ‘notional gains’ I find them meaningless to a certain extent. This seats predecessor (Gillignham) is more or less the same seat as the current Gillingham and Rainham. Gillingham was held by Labour in 2005 – 2010 with a majority of 254. Even in 1997, this was a very ,marginal seat for Labour (2580). A Corbyn-led Labour Party will turn this into a very safe Tory seat.

  38. “I don’t really take much notice of’ ‘notional gains’ I find them meaningless to a certain extent.”

    So when your statement is shown to be wrong you say the evidence is “meaningless”….you actually sound like the ideal Corbyn supporter!

  39. ”So when your statement is shown to be wrong you say the evidence is “meaningless”….you actually sound like the ideal Corbyn supporter!”

    Come on, you know full well I’m not a Corbyn supporter nor do I sound like one. I just think notional majorities are pie-in-the-sky and what matters is the result on the day. For instance, Croydon Central was a notional win for Labour in 2010 but it was won by the Tories in the General Election of that year. It would be completely ridiculous of me to say that Labour (notionally) won Croydon Central even though Barwell was (and still is) the MP for the seat during between May 2010 and May 2015.

  40. Although I don’t think that notional results are meaningless, one has to consider the methodology used to derive them carefully.

    Some approaches simply take the number of electors moving from a predecessor seat and assume they move across and vote in exact proportion to the electorate in the seat that they left. Thus if a Conservative voting village is moved from one seat to another, the method assumes they may vote like the electorate of the urban and suburban seat they leave. Better methodology looks at local election results and tries to adjust for the voting tradition of the electorate that is moved. This may be fine in areas where traditionally all parties stand, but can be distorted by independents at local level.

    So whilst notional results are a useful guide, for example when a new seat is formed from several others, it is of very limited value in describing a tight marginal seat such as Croydon Central in 2010. It would be better simply to say “too close to call”.

  41. THe BBC today referred to the increase in car parking charges at Medway Maritime hospital from £5 to £8. In the report I recollect that they read out the name Gillingham with a hard ‘G’, as for the place in Dorset. Enough said about how much the “establishment” bear this area and its needs in mind.

  42. “As for Gillingham and Rainham. I think Labour will struggle to even get 2nd place in North Kent marginals in 2020. In fact I think it’s possible UKIP could come 2nd in all the Kent seats apart from Maidstone and The Weald where I imagine the LDs would be in 2nd as per usual.”

    I would imagine Labour will still retain a distant second place Gravesham.

  43. Yes, most of Kent is a becoming a dead zone for Labour but I’d expect them to retain 2nd place in Canterbury, Dover and Gravesham and those are just about the only constituencies where it makes sense for them to put medium term effort into.

    I wouldn’t have been shocked if Labour had been 3rd here and in Chatham and Aylesford.

    I think most of Kent post 2020 will turn into more of a Con-UKIP battle along with parts of Kent, Essex, Lincolnshire and the Fens as the EU referendum aftermath could cause the Tories trouble in these areas where Labour are perceived to be out of the game anyway.

  44. Labour’s best chanceaamy actually be in Canterbury which now has a huge numebr of students, a considerable proportion of whom may be attracted by the Corbynistas.

  45. Rehman Chishti has decided to support LEAVE as a result of the views expressed by his constituents regarding the EU Referendum.

    In my opinion, Chishti is an opportunist/carpetbagger (he famously switched from Labour to Conservative when it was clear Labour were likely to lose the 2010 General Election). Therefore, his constituents must have overwhelming expressed their support for LEAVE for him to go against the view of Tory leadership regarding the EU Referendum.

  46. Ah yes. Didn’t he stand against Francis Maude and then ask him for a seat?

  47. Allegedly, he did!

    Here’s the statement on his website regarding his decision to support LEAVE in the EU Referendum:

  48. This part of Kent is one of the most Eurosceptic places in England and therefore it makes sense for the local MP to come to this conclusion if he wants to remain in place for a long time, (which I guess he does).

  49. I don’t really go along with all this tosh that MPs are forced to go along with what their local party (or constituency) majority view is.
    They are intelligent people, elected, and capable of defending themselves.
    We all have a vote in the referendum, and MPs are entitled to their view – they are not delegates.
    Anyone sensible – on either side – knows that.

  50. I agree with Joe that constituency party pressure is overstated. Deselections over the issue are very unlikely (they very rarely happen over ideology, when they do happen like with Anne McIntosh in the last parliament it is usually more about personalities and internal matters – they replaced her with another pro-European in Thirsk and Malton). Plus, they have a couple of years to patch things up with their parties before selection happens anyway. Having said that I expect some of the newer MPs who have been late declarers/not declared yet are torn between selection meeting commitments that they don’t support EU membership without substantial change to the terms and their instincts to support Remain.

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