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.
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Comments - 141 Responses on “Harrogate & Knaresborough”
  1. Yes your last point is a good one, also however we won’t know nationally how well UKIP are going to do until just before the election. They could have a Cleggasm and end up with 15% or get squeezed heavily in the campaign and end up with 5%. Either will seem possible until we are well into March/April 2015.

  2. Cleggasm. That was an entirely logical and fabulous idea wasn’t it.

  3. Be that as it may, if Farage can worm his way into the debates it is a distinct possibility.

    If UKIP were to win the Euro elections and poll consistently above or close behind the Lib Dems next year, there is a reasonable case to let them into the debates. Labour and the Lib Dems might back up their claim to be included, as it will be by far the most damaging to the Tories. If Cameron is faced with a fait accompli of the other 2 parties and the BBC, he will have to accept it as to refuse to take part is now simply not an option.

  4. Crikey, how do you lose a healthy majority like that? Especially as 2010 wasn’t a landslide election. Could it have been the Lib Dem candidate selection?

  5. ‘Crikey, how do you lose a healthy majority like that? Especially as 2010 wasn’t a landslide election’

    A combination of unfavorable bpundary changes and the retirement of a popular and well-liked incumbant

    The Toroes still did well to win here

  6. It does go to show that there may be a couple of strange gains from the liberals in 2015 by the tories.

    I have a feeling that North Devon will be gained. Poor rural antiestablishment voters are the type to go ukip – i think our vote is rather more affluent and core like.

  7. Cameron would be wise to not enter pre-election debates if Farage is present.

  8. Even a Cleggasm doesn’t bring home the bacon as we found in 2010…

  9. Put them next to each other.. fists might even fly!

  10. “Cameron would be wise to not enter pre-election debates if Farage is present.”

    He doesn’t have the option not to enter the debates, unless he wants to look like a complete chicken and hand the election to Miliband on a plate. For better or for worse, debates are going to be an established part of all general election campaigns. When is the last time a Democrat or Republican candidate was able to duck out of a presidential debate? It would be doubly lame of Cameron not to take part given that so much of his campaign will be based on him being more prime ministerial.

  11. while such a debate might make good bloodsport it would range across a range of issues and frankly Farage doesn’t have much to say on most of them. Without the EU and immigration he might be high and dry…

  12. ‘while such a debate might make good bloodsport it would range across a range of issues and frankly Farage doesn’t have much to say on most of them. Without the EU and immigration he might be high and dry…’

    If that were so Cameron might actually gain from involvoing Farage in the debates

    And whilst i fully expect a few of his answers to show Farage for who he really is, it’s unlikely to put off those people considering voting UKIP – in fact quite the latter

    For all this talk of UKIP’s popularity, it’s worth remembeing that Farage is still the most disliked of all the party leaders by a big majority – as poll afer poll consistently show

  13. Managing the economy – 37% Cameron, 23% Miliband, 5% Clegg, 5% Farage

    Crime & anti-social behaviour – 37% Cameron, 20% Miliband, 10% Farage, 6% Clegg

    Europe – 30% Cameron, 22% Miliband, 17% Farage, 8% Clegg

    The NHS – 35% Miliband, 25% Cameron, 9% Clegg, 5% Farage

    Social care for the elderly and disabled – 36% Miliband, 21% Cameron, Clegg 12%, 5% Farage

    Clegg comes marginally below Farage if you sum these.

  14. Yes – but far more voiters have an unfavourable view on Farage than they do Clegg

    He is someone you either love and loathe and poll after poll has shown that a clear majority of people loathe him

    It always tends to be that way with people on the fringes of politics – George Galloway being a good left wing example

  15. One really has to wonder about these surveys… Clegg scarcely talks about crime or anti-social behaviour (except his gypsy outburst).. does that mean that 94% disapprove of him rarely saying anything..? or 6% approve of what he almost never talks about..?

    and he loves Europe so do 92% disapprove of his stance on Europe or how he projects it…?

    Only 5% approve of Farage’s management of the economy.. does that mean his policy (which scarcely exists) or of his own personal economy.. when talking about third or fourth parties its better to ask what proportion of the people that vote for them or say they might vote for them approve or disapprove…

    otherwise its garbage in, garbage out..

  16. Its about trust more than policy.

    Do people trust Farage to run the economy – no.

  17. ‘One really has to wonder about these surveys…’

    They just highlight how politically naiive a lot of British voters are

  18. so more people trust Cameron on Europe than Milliband? where is the logic in that? That Cameron “keeps em honest”..? and Milliband doesn’t? and if Labour support is at 38%, then 15% of the people voting for them don’t trust him on the economy… its a bizarre disconnect… and clearly 6% of non-Tory voters trust Cameron on crime… I havent seen Cameron being tough or soft on crime.. (though he was hugging a hoodie). I think Tim is right, people are answering surveys in a way where they do not rationalise the cognitive dissonance between their stands on various things…

    maybe people are afraid to say “dont know” or don’t care” on issues they havent worked through in their own minds..

  19. The number of people who’ve even thought about Nigel Farage’s possible handling of the economy can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. What a silly question.

  20. @Tim Jones

    ‘For all this talk of UKIP’s popularity, it’s worth remembering that Farage is still the most disliked of all the party leaders by a big majority – as poll afer poll consistently show’

    True but UKIP will have more members than the LDs soon enough ……….

  21. The LibDem membership is rising quite strongly, so they are chasing a moving target…

  22. When you say moving target, are you referring to this seat or UKIP?

  23. The 2013 Local Council Elections provided UKIP with the breakthrough we needed in this constituency. The share of the vote from the elections was :
    Tory – 33%
    Lib Dem – 33%
    UKIP – 21%
    Labour – 11%

    All this from a standing start and there was even a UKIP gain in Bilton. Next years council elections will I believe turn this seat into a 3 way marginal UKIP- Tory – Lib Dem

  24. Are you the same Mark Simpson that stood (and lost) in the Bilton seat? The other Bilton seat was gained by UKIP from the Lib Dems not the Tories who hold the Parliametary seat. They picked up another three seats from the Lib Dems. Perspective required!

  25. I don’t think Harrogate is fertile UKIP territory- too genteel. I think this will be a reasonably comfortable Tory hold in 2015.

  26. For the record, I think The Results’ prediction on the previous page is pretty astute- Tory hold by c 5500.

  27. This seat, while having some UKIP potential does simply not have sufficient potential to make this marginal with that party.

    Bilton is run-down and I can see UKIP types there, in Knaresborough and the rural parts. Less so in most of Harrogate.

  28. Joe, please don’t mock my predictions.
    I reckon this seat could prove to be a barrel of surprises 😀
    I’ve got a feeling to expect something crazy here- the demographics and tactical unwinds etc are not easy to predict. Perhaps:
    LD GAIN MAJ: 11.8%
    LD 38.9
    CON 27.1
    UKIP 13.5
    LAB 13.5
    GRN 7.0

  29. FFS

    Can you show us where is your evidence for the Tory vote falling by 19%. Even though we are in mid term, the national polls show them down on 2010 by somewhere in the 2%-5% range.

    Even in a by-election the Tories would perform far better than your prediction

  30. HH, that was a comedic dig at my good old friend Joe haha. Of course I would never honestly predict that, though one never knows 😉 I would have to laugh if that ever did come to pass. I am only ever going to put the Tories down by somewhere in the range of 2-8.5ish%!

  31. Not for the first time Tory is right. UKIP won’t be anywhere near here & I think it would be surprising if they beat Labour though that isn’t entirely out of the question. This will be a Con hold.

  32. I would put the Conservatives on 37.4% if predicting seriously and LDs on 30.0%.

  33. I think these decimal points are a waste of time & even if you got it right it would be a total fluke. No-one can possibly predict a result scientifically to such exactitude a year & a half before an election. If you think that this makes you look cleverer than the rest of us, you are sadly mistaken.

  34. No it’s to show better differentiation between results where they are tight, especially for smaller parties/low vote shares.

  35. If I were making predictions this far out I would probably give a range of percentages for each party.

  36. I think WindsofChange is a WUM to be honest if he is seriously predicting the Cons in the 20s.

  37. Joe I was being sarcastic! Did you not realise it was a joke? 🙂 As I said above, if predicting this seat I’d say a Tory majority of about 7% over the LDs- perhaps 37/30.

  38. I wouldn’t say that. I’d say the Tories are more likely to win here by about 48% to 37.5% over the Lib Dems here.

  39. I still cant work out just how the Lib Dems did so spectacularly badly in 2010. Was their candiate really that dreadful.

    Gavin

  40. ‘I still cant work out just how the Lib Dems did so spectacularly badly’

    It’s more of a case of them doing spectacularly well between 1997-2010 as Harrogate has never had any kind of liberal history, and being both affluent and picturesque has always been a strong Conservative seat

    Phil Willis did extremely well not only to hold it – but to hold it with such a robust majority

  41. i have been told the candidate in 2010 was Phil Willis’s researcher. Is that correct and was it some kind of nepotism that got her the nomination. Did he seee it as in his personal gift to handover the seat to his chosen successor.

    I have heard of dropping the baton but this was a spectacular foul up even by GB mens relays standards!!

    Just goes to show however large the majority you take the electorate for granted at your peril.

    Gavin

  42. I don’t really think the Lib Dems’ loss here in 2010 was all that surprising- Willis must have had something of a personal vote, having long been the Headmaster of various schools in Leeds, and many of his former students might have later moved to Harrogate and voted for him personally. He was generally well thought of locally and had a high profile and respected by many. So when he stood down in 2010 it was always likely that without his presence that this would revert to its natural Tory guise, I would have thought.

  43. Or rather perhaps the parents of his former students perhaps.

  44. 10000 Lib Dem majority to a 1000 Conservative majority!! He must have had one hell of a lot of personal vote then.!!

    Gavin

  45. ”I still cant work out just how the Lib Dems did so spectacularly badly in 2010. Was their candidate really that dreadful.”

    ”10000 Lib Dem majority to a 1000 Conservative majority!! He must have had one hell of a lot of personal vote then.!!”

    I’m not too familiar with this seat but I had a funny feeling the Tories would regain it in 2010!!

    I regret not putting a bet on it now!! Would of won a lot of money!! Haha!!

  46. Do you know which bookmakers offer individual seats odds and when they emerge into the public domain.

    I would be interested in identifying some individual seats where there are some interesting local factors at play unknown to the national media.

    Does anybody have a list of the biggest individual seat swings across the country. Presumably this seat along with Redcar, Ashfield and maybe some others must have been pretty large compared to the average.

    Gavin

  47. “Willis must have had something of a personal vote, having long been the Headmaster of various schools in Leeds, and many of his former students might have later moved to Harrogate and voted for him personally.”

    That sounds like a complete crock of shite to me.

    I would guess a large percentage of people hated their former headmaster, especially those now over 40 who would likely have been caned at school (ie those aged over 24 in 1997 – ie almost all voters when Willis first won). I certainly wouldn’t vote for my former headmaster in a million years.

    In any case, plenty of MPs are former teachers and former headmasters – far too many if you ask me. And where is the evidence that this somehow gives them 10,000 personal votes.

    Tim Jones has said this till he is blue in the face but still you are not listening – the Lib Dem victory in Harrogate came about because of Robert Banks and Norman Lamont, not really because Phil Willis was any kind of superman.

  48. I think you’re being highly unfair Hemmelig.

  49. I think the Conservatives will probably increase their majority here next time. Here is a reminder of my prediction for 2015-
    Possible result in 2015-
    Jones (Tory)- 25, 289, 48.1%, +2.4%)
    Lib Dem- 19, 723 (37.5%, -6.3%)
    Lab- 4, 623 (8.8%, +2.4%)
    UKIP- 1, 627 (3.0%, +1.0%)
    BNP- 1, 233 (2.3%, +0.2%)
    Turnout- 52, 495.
    Majority- 5, 566 (10.6%)
    Swing- +4.35% from Lib Dem to Con.

  50. Harrogate local elections, popular vote:

    Con 11,195 (37.01%)
    LD 8,077 (26.70%)
    UKIP 5,363 (17.73%)
    Lab 3,147 (10.40%)
    Ind 1,410 (4.66%)
    Green 988 (3.27%)

    Changes since 2010 locals:

    Con -4.32%
    LD -25.37% (didn’t contest 3 wards in Ripon this time)
    UKIP +17.73%
    Lab +10.40% (didn’t contest any wards in 2010)
    Ind -0.89%
    Green +3.27%

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