Hastings & Rye

2015 Result:
Conservative: 22686 (44.5%)
Labour: 17890 (35.1%)
Lib Dem: 1614 (3.2%)
Green: 1951 (3.8%)
UKIP: 6786 (13.3%)
MAJORITY: 4796 (9.4%)

Category: Marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, East Sussex. Contains the whole of the Hastings council area and three wards from the Rother council area.

Main population centres: Hastings, Rye, Winchelsea.

Profile: A seat on the south-east coast at the eastern end of Sussex. Hastings, Rye and small town of Winchelsea are all historic cinque ports. Hastings is naturally best known for the 1066 Battle of Hastings, though the site of the battle is actually in the neighbouring constituency of Bexhill & Battle. It was once an important fishing port (a fishing industry remains, but much reduced) but thrived as a victorian seaside resort. It met with the decline common to most such seaside resorts with the growth of foreign package holidays, falling into deprivation and decline, run down hotels becoming bedsits and accommodation for asylum seekers. More recently Hastings has begun to recover though regeneration and redevelopment projects. Rye is another historic town and tourist centre, though more genteel with cobbled streets and medieval buildings. To its south east is the village of Camber and the brash holiday parks of Camber Sands.

Politics: This was an unusual Labour gain in 1997. The Liberal Democrats had been in second place in 1992 and it would have seemed more natural for them to benefit from the anti-Conservative tide. In the event it was the Labour party, possibly aided by an opinion poll published in the Observer shortly before polling day showing the Labour party best placed to defeat the Conservatives in the seat. The seat was regained by the Conservatives in 2010.

Current MP
AMBER RUDD (Conservative) Born 1963, London. Educated at Edinburgh University. Former managing director of a recruitment and consultancy firm. Contested Liverpool Garston 2005. First elected as MP for Hastings and Rye in 2010. PPS to George Osborne 2012-2013, Government whip 2013-2014, Junior Energy minister 2014-2015. Secretary of Stat e for Energy since 2015.
Past Results
Con: 20468 (41%)
Lab: 18475 (37%)
LDem: 7825 (16%)
UKIP: 1397 (3%)
Oth: 1649 (3%)
MAJ: 1993 (4%)
Con: 16081 (37%)
Lab: 18107 (42%)
LDem: 6479 (15%)
UKIP: 1098 (3%)
Oth: 1239 (3%)
MAJ: 2026 (5%)
Con: 15094 (37%)
Lab: 19402 (47%)
LDem: 4266 (10%)
UKIP: 911 (2%)
Oth: 1545 (4%)
MAJ: 4308 (10%)
Con: 14307 (29%)
Lab: 16867 (34%)
LDem: 13717 (28%)
Oth: 1667 (3%)
MAJ: 2560 (5%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
AMBER RUDD (Conservative) See above.
SARAH OWEN (Labour) Born Hastings. Advisor to Alan Sugar.
NICK PERRY (Liberal Democrat) Born 1976, St Helens. Educated at Cambridge University. Social worker. Contested Hastings and Rye 2010.
ANDREW MICHAEL (UKIP) Retired hotelier. Appears on Channel 4`s Gogglebox.
JAKE BOWERS (Green) Journalist and blacksmith.
Comments - 390 Responses on “Hastings & Rye”
  1. He didn’t resign voluntarily. Herbert that is. He left when Cameron didn’t make him a cabinet minister. As a man with no dependents with one of the most beautiful and safest tory seats in the country, he seems happy enough as a backbencher…he was prominent in the remain campaign and was tipped to be given cabinet preferment if remain had won.

    I have followed politics too long to think there is any rhyme or reason to preferment or success.. as i say Harper is very able too. similar to Herbert. they were both rising stars who have been brutally sidelined. Herbert was rude about Theresa in the 2010-15 parliament….

    Jeremy Browne, of the lib dems, was another junior minister who fell foul with her in that parliament.

    not sure what harper did to upset TM, but maybe he was seen as being too close to Osborne who after all made him Chief Whip in 2015. He is another who would have expected decent preferment if Remain had won.

  2. Hastings Tories do seem to like wealthy wet schoolma’amish MPs. Rudd seems quite similar to her predecessor Mrs Lait (whom I know and like). She’ll never get the leadership though.

  3. ‘He is another who would have expected decent preferment if Remain had won.’

    I thought Harper supported Leave

  4. “I thought Harper supported leave”…

    you really don’t get the tory party at all. He was chief whip between 2015 and 2016…you really think the chief whip placed by ossie and dave, when they secured a majority in 2015, supported leave? really?

    one of the most naive remarks I have seen here for a long time.

  5. As you well know Peter, Tory MPs were effectively given a free vote on the referendum and there was a string of cabinet ministers that Cameron had appointed who campaigned to Leave

    Harper might not have been one of them but in his 2015 campaign literature he claimed to be extremely sceptical about the benefits for Britain of remaining in the EU and he represents a white working class seat that was expected and did vote Leave

  6. Harper got into a spot of bovver about employing an illegal immigrant IIRC, at roughly the same time that Theresa May’s vans were driving round telling them to go home. That might partly account for the bad blood between them.

  7. Tim Jones obviously has a sneary attitude about the whole EU referendum.

    Most of us probably weighed it up on a range of points.

    Neither liberal/middle class left remoaners who are actually quite woolly (despite constantly suggesting others are stupid) with an obsessive Ratner mentality

    nor glazed BREXIT who can’t even understand why anyone would vote remain, despite perfectly sensible concerns about the risks and damage to free movement etc.

    We need to find a sensible way through all of this.

    I was catching up with someone from New Zealand at the weekend. I do like the clarity they have there – no lib dems.

  8. sorry to press the point tim, the chief whip voting for leave would have been one of the stories of the campaign. This i assure you did not happen. He was a close ally of George Osborne and would never have publicly campaigned for leave. sorry to point this out. His sacking was partly, I think, a consequence his very closeness to Osborne

    What HH says re. the immigration issue may ring true, but the fact that he is so firmly out suggests something even more personal. I worked in the palace of westminster out of uni, and i realised that we, on the outside, only see the tip of the iceberg…there are all kinds of feuds, rivalries and animosities that are out of sight. That’s why I laugh when people talk about so and so being promoted “on merit”.

    Most of the current cabinet were useful idiots of George Osborne, people he felt he could rely on to launch his eventual leadership bid (Rudd, Javid, Hunt, Gove (before he went AWOL)), or useful idiots and allies of Theresa May (Bradley, Brokenshire, Green, an Oxford buddy), then you have people who were on the Brexit campaign “for balance” (Johnson, Patel, Fox, Davis) and a few technocrats like Hammond, Clark and Gauke (who have demonstrated some ability)..

    Apart from the handful of technocrats, none of these people are that notable for intelligence, eloquence, managerial ability or technical expertise. This is how the thing works. As I say, I think Thatcher had a slightly higher bar of competence (bigger talent pool, more meritocratic too), but there were duds then too.

  9. I agree totally with Peter’s assessment of the current Cabinet. A largely unimpressive bunch.

  10. Peter’s assessment of the merits – or rather lack of – of the current cabinet seems about right

    Surprised there’s no mention of either Grayling or Leadsome – the worst of the lot by some distance I would argue

    Surprised there’s no mention of Michael Fallon either – who gives the government a bit of gravitas

  11. Walt- I’d already slagged off Leadsom and ‘Failing’ Grayling on another thread, so I didn’t want to be repetitive. 🙂

  12. I could have mentioned others but in the interests of brevity, I didn’t. Fallon is of the technocratic stamp. He was a junior minister under the thatcher/major government and reminds me of some of the steady types of those days- Tom King, Prior, Pym. solid men of government. they were plodders but look like rock stars in contrast to Leadsom et al.

  13. I think Fallon is competent and is clearly loyal. He didn’t have the best election though.

  14. WW: “Grayling or Leadsome – the worst of the lot by some distance I would argue”

    Not while Liz Truss is still somehow a cabinet minister. She’s been passed round from department to department and has been shown to be pretty dippy everywhere she’s been.

    Education minister: Involved in the awful mess that was Gove’s curriculum reforms, and also made some dodgy changes to childcare. Somehow got her a promotion to cabinet.

    DEFRA secretary: The infamous “THAT IS A DISGRACE” conference speech.

    Justice secretary: Failed to condemn far-right threats to supreme court. Thought getting guard dogs to bark extra-loud was a good way of keeping drones out of prisons.

    Treasury secretary: Seems to have gone into hiding recently. I wonder why?

  15. I forgot about dear Liz. I’m surprised she didn’t just leave the Cabinet altogether rather than accept the Minister for Paperclips portfolio. Her first conference speech as DEFRA secretary is surely one of the most laughable performances given by a senior politician in recent years.

    Karen Bradley has been very unimpressive too actually. Her outings on QT have been utter crap…robotic, inarticulate and deathly dull.

    It’s coming to something when even Priti Patel is being made to look relatively ok.

  16. Karen Bradley is a good shout – a singularly uncultured culture secretary.

  17. “Her outings on QT……”

    Or indeed every single interview I’ve heard since she was appointed.

  18. I think Liz Truss is a good shout for the worst Justice Secretary ever certainly. Her performance in that role was to be perfectly honest an absolute disgrace and the legal profession despised her

    She switched from a Republican Lib Dem to a economically dry, socially liberal Tory for career reasons and has made a mess of every job she has had

    However, I still think Grayling and Leadsome are worst

    ‘He was a junior minister under the thatcher/major government and reminds me of some of the steady types of those days- Tom King, Prior, Pym. solid men of government.’

    Although as a proud member of the No Turning Back Group Fallon is politically miles apart from the names you mention, but stylistically i agree there are similarities

    He’s a lot re-assuring than most of today’s cabinet ministers

  19. The barrister/recorder who lives opposite me is pretty posh and no Labour supporter – he’s a bit of a floater but certainly voted Goldsmith for Mayor (not sure if for MP). He was however so infuriated with Grayling’s record as Justice Secretary that he actually put Haldane Society (of Socialist Lawyers) posters on his front door for several weeks, saying Grayling Must Go. He was shocking.
    I must apologize for departing from the comments policy as several of us have.

  20. Not sure anybody cares anymore

  21. Back to my point on party leaders in their own seats
    A bonus in own seat.
    It seems to happen more for defeated leaders who are nevertheless
    personally quite liked (Callaghan, Major) and/ or in more rural seats.
    It’s by no means guaranteed.
    Thatcher and Blair didn’t do particularly well but perhaps that’s because
    they were leading their respective parties to success across the country
    An outright Tory defeat nationally would almost certainly mean a loss here
    so it’s not much use to the party.

  22. Amber Rudd has resigned as Home Secretary:


  23. I’m surprised…thought she’d maybe weathered the storm. As an instinctive liberal, I think this is a somewhat regrettable development. I guess the letter in today’s Observer sealed her fate.

    Does the focus now shift to May and her record as HS?

  24. TRISTAN – yes, I was starting to think she’d weather it, but the observer piece really showed it was a lie, rather than an error (although not knowing you’ve set targets would be a pretty big error!).

    I don’t understand why people continue to see Rudd as some sirt of centrist, sensible, pro-EU MP. She has meekly gone along with the May govts worst excesses. Unfortunately, she’ll be replaced by someone else just the same.

    It was very telling that the Blair-backed tactical voting site for 2017 actually suggested voting for Rudd as the pro-EU option, when all the candidates in this seat, except UKIP, were more pro-EU than her, and weren’t enabling “Brexit means Brexit” May.

  25. I’ve come to the conclusion she’s one of those non-factional Tories who just does whatever is asked of her – whether out of loyalty or ambition I guess depends on how cynical you are. I think her supposed liberal credentials came from her first big break, which was putting in a really big effort at the Paris climate talks when she was Environment Secretary. It just so happened that she was in the right job at the right time to distance herself from the cranks in her party. But she carries out every brief with equal enthusiasm – she got just as stuck in to the hostile environment.

  26. She’s clearly ambitious. I’m sure that she volunteered quite willingly to stand in for Chicken May at the debates, expecting her stock to rise after the tories held on for a comfortable win, and then maybe plan to replace May in the long run.

    Not sure how much this will thwart her chances of becoming PM in the future. It might even improve them inadvertently!

  27. The most interesting things about the whole story w\s seeing that utter creep Andrew Pierce suggest on Andrew Marr that the now vacant Home Secretary brief should go to Chris Grayling as he’s performed so well as Transport Secretary

    Good shout for the funniest thing said all weekend

  28. ‘I’ve come to the conclusion she’s one of those non-factional Tories who just does whatever is asked of her’

    She fairly consistently sided with the cabinet’s liberal wing over issues such as Europe and immigration, although her decision to vocally support Boris Johnson’s leadership bid after publicly saying the only reason he campaigned for Leave was because he wanted to become leader (one of the most truthful things she’s ever said) creates the impression she was a straight careerist

  29. There were some odd endorsements. Nicky Morgan backing Gove. I know they were at Education together but they ideologically seem very opposite

  30. Gove was probably seen as the lesser of five evils by Morgan.

    There’s no way she’d back candidates as right wing as Fox or Leadsom… May probably too authoritarian and Crabb wasn’t really ever in the picture.

  31. I think the critique of Rudd on this thread is pretty fair. Perhaps I only rated her in a ‘best of a bad bunch’ kind of way.

    I’ve always found Javid an unlikeable, slippery character. Bizarrely uncharismatic too for someone who rose up so quickly in his previous career. We’ll see how he does heading up what is, quite frankly, a shambles of a department irrespective of who is in charge.

  32. Luke- I’m sure you are right on that. That leadership election must have been quite the ‘Sophie’s Choice’ for someone like Morgan, and perhaps Gove is as charming in person as certain sections of the media incessantly tell us 🙂

  33. Matt: I think those “weird endorsements” were in some respects necessary for the Tory party at the time. If remainers had exclusively backed remainers and leavers had exclusively backed leavers, that would have just exposed the fact that the Tories were really two parties.

    Tristan: The thing about Sajid Javid is that he’s an instinctive libertarian, but he also seems insufficiently bold to make the argument for market freedom in a time when it’s about as popular as herpes (with the result that it will continue to remain unpopular). You could sense that, as Communities Secretary, he was desperate to take an axe to the Planning Act, but was too afraid of the NIMBY lobby to ever put that into practice. I fear that he may do something similar on immigration – he’ll too frightened of the Tory core to push for more open borders post-Brexit.

    Tim Jones: no, the funniest thing said all weekend was this brilliant prediction from the thinking man’s Marxist, Paul Mason.


  34. Should say I’m no libertarian, but on housing and immigration in particular my views overlap with the libertarian prescription, ie reform the Planning Act, and open the borders.

  35. ‘I’ve always found Javid an unlikeable, slippery character. Bizarrely uncharismatic ‘

    That’s pretty much how I’ve always seen him too – although he is clearly very bright, which in a government that includes the likes Grayling, Leadsome and Fox, is no bad thing

    Is Javid an instinctive libertarian? His decision to join the socially conservative Cornerstone Group on entering Parliament, calls that into question

    One area in which some claim he’s been extremely ‘slippery’ on, is Europe as despite always claiming to have been a Eurosceptic, he was believed to have been as vocally opposed to the idea of leaving the EU as his former bosses – Osborne and Cameron.

    You’d never know it

  36. PT – “one of those non-factional Tories…”

    As I probably explained upthread – or even on the old site – Rudd is another like McVey/Grayling/Mensch/Chisti/Truss/Wright et al who only joined the Party just prior to going for a PPC selection.

    What’s unusual is that this backsory would usually confine you to the backbenches for life – whereas under the Cameroon’s A List a lot of these characters ended up in the Cabinet within one term of entering the House!

    Rudd in particular had the worst performing result (largest % fall of any Tory PPC in 2005) at her first outing and it was her ex, AA Gill who got her that City Seat at the last minute. The local PPC increased the % and vote hugely in 2010 to show that it was largely down to her.

    Usually, being poor on the doorstep doesn’t matter if you land a safe seat – although even Grayling managed to underperform in his in GE & locals in his first two outings – but when they’re parachuted into marginal, it really is bonkers beyond belief from a strategical point of view.

    I suppose now she has time to ‘court’ her H&R seat – but if she’s as abrasive as she has been with people in all Parties and journalists of all persuasions, I can’t see that helping the Tory vote here.

  37. Though Johnny Mercer is said to have never even voted before becoming an MP and I keep hearing how good he is. Yet to have secured a position in cabinet though

  38. I had to Google that Mercer ‘fact’ Matt as I couldn’t quite believe it, and you are quite right. Apparently he was ‘totally disillusioned with the entire political class’. I find it quite odd that he then decided to join one of the two mainstream political parties in the UK, but there we are. Surely you run as an independent if you want to challenge such a thing. Still, at least he’s quite good looking by British MP standards.

    Lancs- Rudd has been rude to journalists? Blimey, that almost hints at a personality on her part.

  39. Johnny Mercer is a totally different kettle of fish. The A-listers mentioned above were effectively head-hunted by the Conservative Party (kind of unusual, but Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche has been built in the largely the same way). Johnny Mercer, on the other hand, was someone who really cared about one particular issue – the welfare of army veterans – realised that it was fundamentally a political problem, and reasoned he’d have to become an MP to do something about it. He then chose the Conservative Party almost at random.

    It’s not a traditional route into politics, but that’s very much a good thing. There should be more diversity in the House of Commons, and that’s as true for its members’ political origins as it is for gender, race or class.

  40. Tbf many military personnel fail to vote – but it’s usually because he system fails them.

    Permanent proxies are the only real way of ensuring they’re not disenfranchised.

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