Harrogate & Knaresborough

2015 Result:
Conservative: 28153 (52.7%)
Labour: 5409 (10.1%)
Lib Dem: 11782 (22.1%)
Green: 2351 (4.4%)
UKIP: 5681 (10.6%)
MAJORITY: 16371 (30.7%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: Yorkshire and Humberside, North Yorkshire. Part of the Harrogate council area.

Main population centres: Harrogate, Knaresborough, Boroughbridge.

Profile: A genteel North Yorkshire town that became a thriving spa town for the English elite in the nineteenth century and has more recently specialised as a conference venue, hosting several Liberal Democrat party conferences. The seat also includes the historic market town of Knaresborough to the East of Harrogate itself.

Politics: Seeped in affluent Victorian splendour and associated with antiques and teashops, historically Harrogate was the safe Conservative seat you see today, but between 1997 and 2010 it was held by the Liberal Democrats. In 1997 it was lost to the Liberal Democrats by Norman Lamont, who stood in the seat after his own Kingston seat had been abolished as part of the boundary review. He was perceived as a carpetbagger and amongst the nationwide swing against the Tories lost the seat. Liberal Democrat Phil Willis comfortably held the seat for 13 years, but failed to pass on his substantial majority to his casework assistant Claire Kelley after his retirement in 2010.


Current MP
ANDREW JONES (Conservative) Born 1963, Ilkley. Educated at Bradford Grammar and Leeds University. Former marketing consultant. Contested Harrogate 2001. First elected as MP for Harrogate & Knaresborough in 2010. Junior transport minister since 2015. Chairman of the Bow Group from 1999-2000.
Past Results
2010
Con: 24305 (46%)
Lab: 3413 (6%)
LDem: 23266 (44%)
BNP: 1094 (2%)
Oth: 1056 (2%)
MAJ: 1039 (2%)
2005*
Con: 13684 (32%)
Lab: 3627 (8%)
LDem: 24113 (56%)
UKIP: 845 (2%)
Oth: 589 (1%)
MAJ: 10429 (24%)
2001
Con: 14600 (35%)
Lab: 3101 (7%)
LDem: 23445 (56%)
UKIP: 761 (2%)
Oth: 272 (1%)
MAJ: 8845 (21%)
1997
Con: 18322 (38%)
Lab: 4159 (9%)
LDem: 24558 (52%)
Oth: 614 (1%)
MAJ: 6236 (13%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
ANDREW JONES (Conservative) See above.
JAN WILLIAMS (Labour)
HELEN FLYNN (Liberal Democrat) Born 1963, Wakefield. Educated at Wakefield Girls High School and Cambridge University. Former commissioning editor and businesswoman. Harrogate councillor since 2012. Contested Skipton and Ripon 2010.
DAVID SIMISTER (UKIP)
SHAN OAKES (Green) Educated at Plympton Grammar School and Leicester University. Former teacher and LEA officer. Contested Haltemprice and Howden 2008 by-election, Yorkshire and Humber 2009, 2014 European elections.
Links
Comments - 140 Responses on “Harrogate & Knaresborough”
  1. Remarkable that Labour just didn’t bother at all in 2010. It is however truly atrocious territory for that party.

  2. Ashcroft polling:

    Con 41%
    LD 24%
    UKIP 16%
    Lab 11%

  3. I think for HARROGATE & KNARESBOROUGH

    Conservative- 44%
    Labour- 10%
    LibDem- 26%
    UKIP- 15%
    Other- 5%

  4. This constituency’s thread seems to be totally becalmed…

    As for the MP the most interesting thing I could find on http://www.theyworkforyou.com is that he has used three-word alliterative phrases (e.g. “she sells seashells”) 56 times in debates — well below average amongst MPs.

    This compares with 464 times by Jacob Rees-Mogg..

  5. The reason that the thread is totally becalmed is that there is no evidence that the LDs have any chance whatsoever of regaining the seat. It looks like as cut-and-dried a Tory hold as there’s been here since 1992.

  6. I predicited the Tories would win here in 2010 despite the huge Lib Dem majority. Should have placed a bet! Haha! What were the odds of a Tory gain here in 2010?

  7. Lib Dem: 21000
    Conservative: 19000
    UKIP: 7000
    Labour: 5000

  8. Stupendous momentum!

  9. Plopwell? Is that you?

  10. what happened here in 2010?!

  11. The Tories gained the seat after Phil Willis retired, and as he had a large personal vote that didn’t transfer to the new Lib Dem candidate that would largely have contributed to their loss of the seat, but the new boundaries were also in any case more favourable for the Tories.

  12. yes, a pretty accurate summary.

  13. Cheers Barnaby that was just my rough assumption based on the results here when Willis was the MP for a long time.

  14. I can remember being agast at this result on GE night even after Montgomeryshire. Obviously the inflated LD scores after the first debate had focused the mind on possible LD gains not losses. The LD had wilted by Election Day and I had been assuming a result similar to 2005 with a handful of gains on either side.

  15. I wonder if the effect of the debates and those polls that had LD on around 28,29,30 was to provoke the LD organisation into a more scattergun approach to seats across the country which cost them as their polling ticked down and they lacked a more realistic, focused effort?

  16. Its interesting to look at UKIP here. Their social media campaign talks about them as real challengers here. How much of an impact do you think they will have here ?

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/UKIP-Harrogate-Knaresborough/202880599754658?ref=hl

  17. I am a resident on the Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency and in response to the above post I would suggest this could be a seat to watch with some interest. The current MP is rather unpopular and has been embroiled into the ‘Post Office Horizon’ scandal. I have seen more UKIP posters and boards than any others and in my line of work I have daily dealings with the public, from my conversations with them there is a lot of support for UKIP in this seat and they have a candidate Mr David Simister who is a very capable performer as I witnessed from the hustings I attended

  18. Conservative Hold. 9,000 majority.

  19. Nonsense. This is not ukip territory at all outside Bilton and bits of Starbeck. They will do well to break into double figures in the restf Harrogate and wont do much better in Knareaborough.

    Only interesting fight here is for 3rd.

  20. Well we shall she, I doubt they will win but perhaps its not unrealistic to think they might come in second. Their social media campaign suggests they are confident

  21. I see we have yet another example of ‘the local MP is unpopular/scandal-tainted/gaffe ridden’ theme here…really if all these cases were the real thing, we would be expecting no-one to be re-elected at all.

  22. I live in Knaresborough, definite Conservative hold, have not even had any literature from UKIP, probably a 5000-7000 majority for Cons

  23. The Conservative numerical vote here in 2015 was more than double what it was in 2005.

  24. ..despite the local MP being ‘rather unpopular’. Who’d have thought it, eh?

  25. Indeed!

  26. Andrew Jones has clearly done well here but really this is the type of seat the Tories should be winning with decent five-figure majorities, now the lib dems are now out of the picture

    Robert Banks, a genuinely poor constituency MP who ended up getting de-selected – managed an almost 20,000 majority in the old seat in 1979, and Harrogate itself is one of the most sought-after places to live in Northern England.

    Local man Phil Willis did extremely well to make this one of the Lib Dem’s safest seats during his 13 year stint as MP, but once the Lib Dems lost in 2010, it was always likely the Tories would consolidate their position in 2015

    Willis might not have even won had the Tories not selected Norman Lamont to fight the seat in 97, who at the time was one of the most disliked figures in British politics, despite having left the government four years earlier

  27. ‘Willis might not have even won had the Tories not selected Norman Lamont to fight the seat in 97…’

    Considering the scale of the victory, it seems quite likely that the Tories would’ve lost here even if Lamont had not been the candidate. The majority may have been smaller, but I’m not sure by how much.

    A couple of little random factoids about James Ramsden, the MP here 1954-74.
    He’s still going at the age of 92, and served as the last Secretary of State for War 1963-64 (before the MoD was formed).
    He and Lord Carrington are the last survivors of the Douglas-Home Cabinet.

  28. There has recently been discussion on the Canterbury thread about Conservative MPs who lost their seat because of its abolition.

    Also with reference to Tim Jones’ post, we might remember that after his Kingston seat wa abolished before the 1997 election, Norman Lamont struggled to find another seat before finally being selected in Harrogate where, as Tim Jones reminds us, he lost to the LIberal Democrats.

  29. I do think there will be backlash against MPs who try and parachute themselves into seats that they don’t know with constituents who don’t know them.

    Lamont was an extreme case as most MPs who chicken running from unwinnable seats because he trekked to a seat that was on the other side of the country.

    I can see problems with MPs searching for new seats because of this Boundary Review though.

  30. I don’t think there will be many – or perhaps any – that go across the country like Lamont did. If they tried I doubt the local associations would take them unless they were a top rank politician (in which case they’d probably have no problem getting something local). The difference between now and 1997 is that then the Tories knew they were going to get hammered so Lamont, who was hardly a popular individual, knew he had to find somewhere absolutely rock solid if he were to get back. As it happened even Harrogate wasn’t safe enough.

  31. “As it happened even Harrogate wasn’t safe enough.”

    You are not explaining the full context here. Harrogate was never regarded as safe ahead of 1997 – indeed, even when I was an intern in CCHQ in 1996 it was privately regarded as a likely loss.

    Lamont’s move up to Yorkshire was being facilitated by William Hague, his former PPS. North Yorks gained an extra very safe seat in the boundary review (Vale of York) and the intention was that Lamont would get that. He was pipped to the post there by Anne McIntosh so reluctantly settled for Harrogate in the knowledge that he was very likely to be defeated.

  32. ‘He was pipped to the post there by Anne McIntosh so reluctantly settled for Harrogate in the knowledge that he was very likely to be defeated.’

    To be fair it was Lamont’s candidature in Harrogate (he got selected as Tory PPS in Jan 1996) that woke local Lib Dems up to the prospect of a Lib Dem gain – and from then on they went all out to win it – and when the result was announced few were surprised – much like another safe Tory seat in Tatton where everyone knew that Bell would defeat the resurgent Neil Hamilton before the result was announced

  33. The Lib Dems were on track to win with or without Lamont, though as you say his selection provided them with a big boost. It probably made the difference between a majority of 3000 and one of nearly 10000. Phil Willis the popular local headmaster against the most unpopular chancellor in decades parachuted in from 200 miles south, the stuff of Lib Dem dreams in days gone by.

  34. The Tory majority was smaller in Folkestone and Hythe than this seat in 1992 but given the majority in 1997 I think the LDs would’ve won it anyway.

  35. Maxim, one of the more surprising things about 1997 is that the Liberal Democrats not only failed to gain Folkestone & Hythe when they could have but fell backwards somewhat. I wonder if their selection of David Laws (later MP for Yeovil until he lost on a 16% swing in 2015) had something to do with it. cf. Hastings & Rye and Conwy constituencies in 1997.

  36. ‘Folkestone & Hythe when they could have but fell backwards somewhat. I wonder if their selection of David Laws (later MP for Yeovil until he lost on a 16% swing in 2015) had something to do with it.’

    It might have been surprising had not the same thing happened in not only nearby seats like Hastings & Rye and Ashford, where the Lib Dems were overtaken by Labour, but almost throughout the country as the electorate decided to vote tactically to get the Tories out

    I would have thought the selection of David Laws had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever

  37. Of course in both Hastings and Conwy the LD challenge was overtaken by Labour’s surge. Anthony’s profile of Hastings suggests a local poll showing Labour best placed to beat the Tories may have played a part, though that doesn’t explain how they ended up being best placed in the first place. Conwy was already a close three-way marginal so given Labour’s surge it was perhaps always likely they’d also overtake the LDs there.

    Looking at the Folkestone result it seems Labour did too well, thereby splitting the anti-Tory vote (Howard’s vote did not hold up any better than most). Perhaps they failed to observe the tacit agreement not to campaign too hard in LD targets that were unwinnable for Labour in this particular case, or perhaps the voters simply didn’t take to David Laws as Alan B suggests.

  38. Jack,

    I think the local poll you are referring to in Hastings in 1997 was one of 16 constituency polls which were published in the Observer on 27/4/97, the weekend before the General Election. This gave Labour 34%, Lib Dem 29% and Conservative 28%. The actual result was Labour 34%, Conservative 29% and Lib Dem 28% – so a rather better result than Lord Ashcroft’s recent attempts! Not clear how the poll affected the voting – if at all – but certainly it gave Labour supporters no incentive to vote tactically.

    The most interesting of the Observer polls which MAY have had a effect was that showing a mere 4% Conservative lead in Enfield Southgate over Labour.

  39. St Albans also had a pretty crucial poll in that list iirc.

  40. Helen Flynn has been reselected as the Lib Dem candidate in the event of their being a snap election. It is a temporary appointment until May.

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