2015 Result:
Conservative: 23484 (46.8%)
Labour: 15114 (30.1%)
Lib Dem: 1111 (2.2%)
Green: 1124 (2.2%)
UKIP: 9306 (18.6%)
MAJORITY: 8370 (16.7%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Kent. The whole of the Gravesham council area.

Main population centres: Gravesend, Northfleet, Meopham, Vigo.

Profile: A seat in North-West Kent. Gravesend itself is one of the poorer towns in Kent with the largest proportion of ethnic minorities and the highest proportion of council housing of any of the Kent constituencies. Like other areas in North Kent the area is undergoing large scale development, including in the Ebbsfleet valley to the west of Gravesend, close to the high speed rail station and in the run-down industrial area of Northfleet along the Thames waterfront. Labour voting Gravesend is balanced out by the Southern part of the constituency, south of the A2, which is made up of picturesque (and solidly Conservative) villages and hamlets such as Cobham, Sole Street and Meopham.

Politics: This is a classic marginal seat. Until 2005 Gravesham was the preeminent bellwether seat - it had been won by the party that went on to form the government at every general election since World War One with the exceptions of 1929 and 1951 - and in both of those cases Gravesend was won by the party that got the largest national share of the vote. In 2005 the trend was broken as Gravesham fell to the Conservatives, leaving neighbouring Dartford the most reliable bellwether.

Current MP
ADAM HOLLOWAY (Conservative) Born 1965, Faversham. Educated at Cranleigh School and Cambridge University. Former Grenadier Guards Officer, seeing service in the Gulf War, and television journalist. First elected as MP for Gravesham in 2005. PPS to David Lidington 2010-2011. Resigned as a PPS in 2011 to vote against the government on holding an EU referendum. As a journalist worked for Newsnight, ITN and World In Action, including living homeless for three months as part of the "No Fixed Abode" series.
Past Results
Con: 22956 (49%)
Lab: 13644 (29%)
LDem: 6293 (13%)
UKIP: 2265 (5%)
Oth: 2145 (5%)
MAJ: 9312 (20%)
Con: 19739 (44%)
Lab: 19085 (42%)
LDem: 4851 (11%)
UKIP: 850 (2%)
Oth: 654 (1%)
MAJ: 654 (1%)
Con: 16911 (39%)
Lab: 21773 (50%)
LDem: 4031 (9%)
UKIP: 924 (2%)
MAJ: 4862 (11%)
Con: 20681 (39%)
Lab: 26460 (50%)
LDem: 4128 (8%)
Oth: 543 (1%)
MAJ: 5779 (11%)

2015 Candidates
ADAM HOLLOWAY (Conservative) See above.
TANMANJEET SINGH DHESI (Labour) Born 1978, Ascot. Educated at Gravesend Grammar and University College London. Project director in the family business. Gravesham councillor since 2007.
ANNE-MARIE BUNTING (Liberal Democrat) Educated at LSE. Parliamentary researcher.
SEAN MARRIOTT (UKIP) Born 1967. Solicitor.
Comments - 179 Responses on “Gravesham”
  1. Labour had one of their better local election results in Gravesham. Compared to the 2010 election they registered a swing of 10.8% from the Conservatives.

    Result, local election:

    Lab: 8,497
    Con: 8,040
    UKIP: 4,446
    LD: 380
    Others (mostly Eng Dem): 2,598

    Lab: 35.5%
    Con: 33.6%
    UKIP: 18.6%
    LD: 1.6%
    Others: 10.8%

    Changes since 2010:

    Lab: +6.7%
    Con: -14.9%
    UKIP: +13.8%
    LD: -11.7%
    Others: +6.3%

    Swing, Con to Lab: 10.8%

    Compare this to a seat like Gloucester where there was actually a slight swing to the Conservatives, or Worcester where Labour couldn’t overturn a Tory lead in 2010 of 6.1% (ie. swing required of 3.1%).

  2. That is quite surprising. When Labour took control of the council here in 2011, it was despite being clearly outvoted in terms of the popular vote (taking into account the number of councillors per ward), but this is clearly Labour’s best result in Kent – a major change from the 2005 general election when Labour held 7 seats in the county but not this one. As well as this, Adam Holloway will be the only Tory MP in any of these seats who won’t enjoy first-time incumbency in 2015, but I would still be astonished if he lost here. Perhaps however the demography isn’t working against Labour to the same extent as it seems to be in e.g. Dartford.

  3. I think Adam Holloway will hold this seat come 2015. Labour will run him close though especially if UKIP and the English Democrats continue to be popular with the electorate here.

  4. I agree.

    This is one of those starkly divided seats, with a lot of core voters for both parties and not so many swing voters, meaning that on a general election turnout we are unlikely to see swings as big as elsewhere.

  5. Maybe this does still have an old style traditional Labour vote which can bounce back though

  6. Yes. It’s obvious a lot of them stayed at home in 2010 and possibly 2005 too.

  7. “I think Adam Holloway will hold this seat come 2015. Labour will run him close though especially if UKIP and the English Democrats continue to be popular with the electorate here.”

    I don’t think Labour would achieve a swing of anything like nearly 10% with Ed Miliband as leader. David Miliband, would have come across (like David Cameron) as Prime Minister material.

  8. To elect Ed Miliband over David Miliband (who had the presence of Tony Blair) was madness, and this will make it difficult for Labour to challenge the Conservatives in seats like this!

  9. “David Miliband (who had the presence of Tony Blair)”


    The best one can say about David Miliband is that he is perhaps slightly more capable overall than Ed, but I have to say I’m not sure I believe that myself.

    However, he is no way equivalent to Blair, who was an electoral genius.

    If David was anything like as good as Blair he would not have lost the election in the first place. Nor would he have bottled out of challenging Brown for the leadership, nor been such an unremarkable Foreign Secretary, nor allowed himself to be pictured with a banana.

    Had David been elected Labour might have made slightly more inroads back into middle England but they would not have been able to leave Iraq behind them as Ed has managed to. That has been crucial in winning back votes from the Lib Dems.

  10. Admittedly David is the less bland brother and less irritating than Ed.

  11. I’ll give you that, although I also find David quite irritating and bland as well.

    There are quite a lot of parallels between David Miliband and Michael Portillo. They both bottled their big chance to be prime minister by being too scared to challenge a badly wounded leader. And having been rejected by their parties in favour of (in their opinion) an inferior leader, they both sulked off out of elected politics within a very short time.

    David Miliband is no more the equivalent of Blair than Portillo was the equivalent of Thatcher.

  12. I’d never considered the parallels, before but that seems a worthy comparison. Although David never gave us a “Milliband Moment”.

    From a personal point of view, I never thought DM was the great white hope he was cracked up to be.

  13. David Miliband told us an awful lot about what’s gone wrong generally
    when he resigned his Northern working class seat after a career set back
    and couldn’t even get stuck into doing that job until the next General Election as a back-bencher
    as I’m sure most senior politicians of either party would have done in the past.

    That means getting stuck in,
    not associating with football.

    A cold piece of wet pasta salad.
    The kind of people who think understanding business is little more than defending slebs
    and allowing the banks to run up massive debts.

    I can assure you, if I represented an area like that, whatever Richard may say – I would have thrown myself into the job if I had left the front bench.

  14. He’s also a wimp who couldn’t stand up to the Americans .

  15. Gravesham 2015

    Lab 12,934
    *Con 12,878
    UKIP 12,289
    ED 2.289
    Green 1,543
    LD 734

    Lab gain
    Majority 56

  16. No SF candidate this time Joe James?

  17. No I don’t think it would go down very well here,
    I’m also doing this to warn people about what may actually happen.

  18. The English Democrats won’t get as many votes as that if they stand here. Nor would UKIP in all probability.

  19. Sounds more like blatant tory scaremongering to me!

  20. I know somebody who lives here and is still technically a member of Labour I think – quite left wing in a rather unfocused way, but gets on with Adam Holloway personally. Anyway, for what it’s worth, he appeared pretty despondent about Labour’s chances here in 2015.

  21. That would hardly be surprising. Both parties’ members tend to be pessimistic about their prospects at the moment, even though we have people like Bob on one side, and Dalek (perhaps not quite in the same league, but always noted for his optimistic tendencies from a Tory point of view). Of course, it’s possible that both sides are right – maybe neither party will clearly win the election, or be able to form a government it can clearly be the dominant partner in.

  22. Adam Holloway won this seat in 2005 and not 2010.

    I don’t see 10 years of incumbancy and a majority of nearly 10000 being simply swept aside in 2015.

    For this seat to fall to Labour by even a few hundred Labour would win by a landslide with around 42% to the Tories 28% and win around 393 seats to the Tories 204.

    Such a result would be well in excess of what any of the mid term opinion polls are currely predicting.

    Unless people think that their will be some of the North London scaled swings to Labour that occurred in 1997 (much greater than the national average), but is their any evidence of this?

    Local election results, Police Comissioners elections ect?

  23. I don’t see Labour winning here in 2015. Admittedly they are stronger in Gravesham locally than in many other areas of Kent, but it would take a 1997 style landslide for Labour to overturn majorities like this, and local election results don’t suggest that is on the cards.

    Labour did recover slightly in this year’s county elections, but they were generally taking back some seats they lost in 2009. They weren’t winning Tory seats. To overturn 8/9/10 thousand majorities in two years’ time they would need to be performing better than that in Tory areas and certainly in marginal areas.

  24. A good set of results for Labour. As it happens I don’t think Holloway is in any serious danger here. Even if Labour manages 35% in 2015 (by no means inevitable) it won’t be enough- indeed, we’d probably be in 1992 territory with Holloway holding on by about 10% points.

  25. My view is that the swing to Labour will be greater in this seat than in most areas of the country with a very small Labour majority. They already have control of the local council where they are quite popular.

  26. I don’t see Labour regaining every seat they lost in 2010, therefore taking seats they lost in 2005 is far less likely.

  27. That’s probably true, though Ilford N is a very decent bet.

  28. “They already have control of the local council where they are quite popular”

    I am yet to find anyone other than a Labour supporter who thinks Labour run councils are a good thing. It’s more likely that people in Gravesend voted for a Labour council, just, to kick the Tories. The same is true for Harlow and Thurrock. Evidence for this would be the fact that in all three places Labours majority was tiny (In Thurrock it was 1)
    Also Gravesend is not a place where Camerons style of Conservatism is going down well. However having said that there is also a large segment of this seat which is more old Labour working class who vote Labour regardless.

  29. That is of course a ridiculous over-generalisation. Many Labour councils are popular not least because of the way they try & defend local services – at least, they are seen to do so more than most Conservative councils. Quite a number of Labour councils receive positive votes rather than a negative anti-Tory one – judging from the ticket-splitting which seems rife there, Stevenage is almost certainly one, & you will find a great many more have a pretty good reputation.

  30. Maybe my bad experiences with Labour controlled councils and what has sometimes been seen as the deliberate running down of places I have lived has clouded my judgement.

    I am sure there are good Labour councils out there, I’m just yet to come across one.

  31. Labour won’t regain all the seats it lost in 2010. I doubt it will take back Staffordshire Moorlands, Dartford, Richard Drax’s seat and unless there is a strong UKIP presence then I am sceptical of its chance in South Thanet. But Labour is strong here, they have been building local presence here, Ed Miliband was down here launching his local elections campaign. Work to be done but I think the swing in Estuary seats would be stronger. Also, just a tip for Labour in Kent and Essex, they could back a third runway at Heathrow (provided the environmental effects are mitigated) and strongly oppose a new airport in the East by having a strong campaign against a Thames Estuary Airport.

  32. In Estuary seats, Labour should campaign against a Thames Estuary Airport to gain these seats. They could even back Cameron into a corner to force him to rule them out, but it should be done.

  33. I don’t think it would be worth their while Bob considering Labour, Tories, Lib Dems and UKIP don’t want another airport in the Thames Estuary. I think only Boris wants it! With Southend Airport recently expanded I think it would be difficult to cram another airport in to the South East/East of London.

  34. One day people in this area may campaign in favour of an Estuary airport because they’ll want the jobs that go with it.

  35. I am not convinced that the airport issue is a major one for voters in this part of Kent, and it certainly wouldn’t be enough of one to overturn majorities of this size.

    A more important transport related issue to Kent voters would be roads, or specifically the proposed new river crossing and where it might be situated.
    However, since it was the last Labour government that broke its promise to scrap the Dartford tolls then the Labour Party would be unlikely to have a lot of credibility on this issue even now.

  36. I grew up in a rather poorly ran labour council area (why else would labour lose newcastle). Perhaps it wasn’t so much poor as being shamefully pork-barrel in its approach which led to many middle class areas having a strong dislike for the council while still backing labour to a greater extent nationally.

    For the sake of avoidance of partisanship I won’t say what I think about Durham CC. I will say that I strongly preferred Newcastle CC even when labour controlled.

  37. On the airport issue, the Tories have not ruled out a Thames Estaury Airport. Labour can rule an airport in the Thames Estuary and can campaign heavily on it. Boris wants one, but think about it.. Boris. He is a future Tory leader who wants this new airport, Labour can have fun with it by campaigning on this issue, using community organising from Movement for Change and winning votes.
    It would work because not only are the swings in the seats higher than the national average towards the winning party, but if you look at the effect it had on Putney. Justine Greening heavily campaigned against the Heathrow expansion, made a strong name for herself in West London and Labour was in favour, her rather slender majority became one in excess of 10,000.

  38. Hector – it really isn’t at all (well, it might be in Medway) but not in Dartford and Gravesham, probably because its seen as a pipe dream that will never happen.

    The lower Thames crossing, now that’s a completely different story. That will be an abolutely critical local issue if the government ever pick one of the sites. Obviously people in Dartford don’t want an extra crossing at the existing site, people in Gravesham won’t want a new one there, I doubt either want the Swanscombe peninsula option which would mess up the proposed Paramount development and annoy both boroughs.

  39. In 1983 there was a swing of only 1.8% from Lab to Con. This may have been because the previous Labour MP, John Ovenden, stood again that year.

  40. Labour select their candidate here tomorrow (I assume as its not one the 106 targest seats, its an Open shortlist) – anyone have any news on the contenders?

  41. Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi selected by Labour.

  42. Gravesham is number 125 on the Labour target list according to percentage swing required.

  43. The LD candidate in 2010, Anna Arrowsmith, is a self-proclaimed feminist pornographer. She is currently being interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight.

  44. ‘The LD candidate in 2010, Anna Arrowsmith’

    I saw her last night on Newsnight

    As a business woman, pornographer and freedom of speech campaigner I had her down as a libertarian Tory, so am surprised that she was a Lib Dem

    I remember hearing about her at the time of the election – I think she achieved quite an underwhelming vote

  45. Candidates with colourful views on matters personal do tend to turn up quite regularly as Lib Dems, I find. Which doesn’t strike me as being very surprising.

  46. It was a good debate on Newsnight last night, and to me showed up the complete absurdity of the government’s view that they will somehow be able to prevent people from watching porn.

    And although few will say so publicly, such proposals will be massively unpopular with male voters.

  47. “In 1983 there was a swing of only 1.8% from Lab to Con. This may have been because the previous Labour MP, John Ovenden, stood again that year.”

    I think the Tory share dropped about 3-4% against 1979 and Labour held within about a 7 % drop.

    Perhaps the large swing in 1979 had rather over extened the Tories and Labour was getting near it’s large core here in a seat which may still have not been particularly affluent in 1981-3.

  48. Also the sitting Tory MP Tim Brinton was renowned as one of the laziest members of the house, famously going AWOL for several months in the 80s with no-one having any idea where he was.

    He died quite recently, having joined UKIP in his last years.

  49. I can remember Labour being very disappointed not to get control of the council here in 1991 – they did pick up an awful lot of votes in some of their strongholds but not enough in the one which would have carried them through.

  50. Jacques Arnold was obviously a far more diligent MP than his predecessor, and his results show it. He did very well in 1997 to hold 40% of the vote and only lose by 5000.

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