Henley

2015 Result:
Conservative: 32292 (58.5%)
Labour: 6917 (12.5%)
Lib Dem: 6205 (11.2%)
Green: 3815 (6.9%)
UKIP: 6007 (10.9%)
MAJORITY: 25375 (45.9%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Oxfordshire. Part of South Oxfordshire council area and part of Cherwell council area.

Main population centres: Henley, Thame, Goring, Sonning, Wheatley, Watlington.

Profile: A largely rural seat in south-east Oxfordshire, stretching from the hinterland of Reading in the south, to skirt around the eastern outskirts of Oxford in the north. Henley-on-Thames itself is best known for the Henley Royal Regatta, the prestigious annual rowing event. The constituency also covers Thame, Goring, Sonning, Wheatley, Watlington and many other small villages dotted through the Oxfordshire countryside.

Politics: Like the other rural seats in Oxfordshire, such as Wantage and Witney, it is a wealthy, affluent middle class area and strongly Conservative, although at a local level the Liberal Democrats have some support, particularly as you move away from the solidly Tory south of the seat and closer to Oxford itself. John Howell is a largely unremarkable MP after two who were anything but - the flamboyant Boris Johnson, who stood down upon becoming Mayor of London, and former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine, Mrs Thatcher`s nemesis.


Current MP
JOHN HOWELL (Conservative) Born 1957, London. Former partner at Ernst & Young and BBC World presenter. Oxfordshire councillor 2004-09. First elected as MP for Henley in 2008 by-election. Awarded the OBE in 2000 for services to export in central and eastern Europe.
Past Results
2010
Con: 30054 (56%)
Lab: 5835 (11%)
LDem: 13466 (25%)
UKIP: 1817 (3%)
Oth: 2348 (4%)
MAJ: 16588 (31%)
2005*
Con: 24894 (53%)
Lab: 6862 (15%)
LDem: 12101 (26%)
GRN: 1518 (3%)
Oth: 1162 (2%)
MAJ: 12793 (27%)
2001
Con: 20466 (46%)
Lab: 9367 (21%)
LDem: 12008 (27%)
UKIP: 1413 (3%)
Oth: 1147 (3%)
MAJ: 8458 (19%)
1997
Con: 23908 (46%)
Lab: 11700 (23%)
LDem: 12741 (25%)
Oth: 895 (2%)
MAJ: 11167 (22%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
JOHN HOWELL (Conservative) See above.
SAM JUTHANI (Labour) Educated at Queen Elizabeths Boys School and Oxford University. Economist.
SUSAN COOPER (Liberal Democrat)
CHRISTOPHER JONES (UKIP)
MARK STEVENSON (Green) Educated at Oxford University. Market gardener and former teacher. Contested Witney 2001, Henley 2005, 2008 by-election, 2010.
Links
Comments - 114 Responses on “Henley”
  1. Boris just failed Maggie’s the price of a pint of milk test on Newsnight, courtesy of Paxman.

  2. Its a stupid question. Who buys a pint of milk? I don’t know what a pint of milk costs which doesn’t mean I don’t live in the real world and that I don’t buy milk. It just means that like m ost people I buy big bottles in the supermarket which hold 4 or 6 pints. I generally don’t take much notice of the price, because I’m hardly going to think ‘oh that’s a bit dear, I won’t bother with milk then’ – its just something you have to get, like petrol. You might as well ask what a pint of petrol costs

  3. Agreed. I know what my bread costs but then that’s because there’s a choice – but the vast majority but red/green/blue top milk and pay whatever the price is (certainly when shopping in the main supermarkets – I might take a look at the price if in a petrol station late at night and work out whether it’s worth going to the 24-hour Tesco).

    It is certainly “rubbish” journalism and, whilst I won’t for the sake of not boring people, I could quote multiple other examples.

  4. We are not the most appropriate people to judge whether it is a stupid question.

    We on this site are, in the main, comfortably off middle class professionals, mostly men, who are the opposite of floating voters.

    Elections are decided by people who are indeed more likely to know the price of milk – the less well off, floating voters, disproportionately women.

    I do happen to think that Boris’s bumbling answer to that question emphasises a big problem with the Tories’ image, which I believe Nadine Dorries mentioned some months ago. With all due respect to Pete, I can’t see Boris doing the weekly shop in Sainsburys buying those big 4 pint bottles as you or I do. You would have thought he could have made a rough guess at around about 50p, he would not have been far wrong.

  5. It’s the idea that Boris may never have bought a pint of milk in his entire life that I find a bit disquieting.

  6. Its 49p unless you find some in the ‘quick sale’ shelves.

    If you still get it from a milkman you’ll probably pay over 60p now.

  7. “It’s the idea that Boris may never have bought a pint of milk in his entire life that I find a bit disquieting.”

    Together with saying that after being Mayor he plans to go to the City to make some money.

    I believe he gets paid £350k at present.

  8. I saw the interview last night and Borris Johnson increasingly seems to me Britain’s answer to Sarah Palin – an implausible political figure, adored by his own party and with a toxic combination of madness and badness

  9. As a politician I think it is hugely important to know the price of everyday items including milk, bread and petrol. I think it would be good to know how much an average weekly shop costs as well. I fail to understand how you can pretend to be ‘normal’ without knowing how expensive things have become for many people.

    As much as I like Boris, he is cut from the same cloth as Cameron and Osbourne, although he is far more exposed to people from all different backgrounds in his role as Mayor and it shows.

  10. I don’t think politicians necessarily need to know details of everyday life – it would be impossible to do so in every aspect of it for one thing – but what they need, if they are to be successful, is the ability to have empathy towards (or at least look like they have) the average person.

    Boris has this whereas Cameron and Osborne struggle.

  11. Nobody asks a lib dem or north london labour politician or public sector manager whether the milk test question but that’s politics. I also buy milk with other items – I don’t think I know the price.

  12. Ask the mid staffs managers that question and destroy them.

  13. The fact is Boris won in London in a year where there was a swing towards Labour, and the Lib dems were trashed in south west londonb aswell. I canuinderstand they find it toxic.

  14. Joe James Broughton

    It doesn’t matter whether you know the price of milk. As a committed party activist, you are not the kind of person David Cameron needs to win over to win the election.

    As LBernard says, the kind of people he does need to win over will regard being in touch with the price of everyday items as important. It is important for them as they need to watch what they spend to a greater degree than I suspect you or I do. I fully understand that the Islington liberal types don’t get asked this question, but it’s no excuse for Tories not being able to answer it. It is a mistake Mrs Thatcher made sure she didn’t make.

    I think Tim’s comment about Boris = Sarah Palin is very astute. I think Boris would have that kind of impact if he was party leader in a general election.

  15. “I don’t think politicians necessarily need to know details of everyday life – it would be impossible to do so in every aspect of it for one thing – but what they need, if they are to be successful, is the ability to have empathy towards (or at least look like they have) the average person”

    Much better put than my comment, but I

  16. meant the same thing.

    JJB has a point. I think it is just assumed that those ont he left have more of a connection with normal everyday things even if they are fairly well off themselves. This may be because those on the left tend to interact with the poorer members of society more and are therefore more likely to understand their concerns.

  17. ‘Nobody asks a lib dem or north london labour politician or public sector manager whether the milk test question but that’s politics.’

    That’s because Labour and lib Dem politicians aren’t very often from rich and priviliedged backgrounds – whereas nearly all Tories in today’s high command are

    Borris’ persona as a loikeable bafoon enderars him to voters from both sides of the political spectrum, in contrast to Cameron who struggles to understand anybody outside his social group, and Osbourne who, as Nadine Dorres ponted out, doesn’t even seek to and can barely disguise his comtempt for those he sees as beneath him

  18. I would have thought the smug liberal elite who thought they represented the country on AV
    and
    the type who think mixing with a few slebs
    means understanding business
    are the most out of touch of all on anything.
    Not to mention the overpaid utter disgrace of Mid Staffs.

    We are too polite to point that out
    but maybe there is limited mileage in this kind of whining.

  19. Btw – I never suggested Boris should be leader – he is doing a fantastic job where he is
    and I hope he wins elections for the next 28 years like Wandsworth council.

  20. ‘I would have thought the smug liberal elite who thought they represented the country on AV’

    Who are this smug liberal elite?

    With regards to AV, nearly every Tory oppossed it (whether thewy be cabinet monisters or backbench MPs), most Labour MPs opposed.

    It was only the minority parties and the Lib Dems who supported it – are I’d hardly describe them as the liberal elite

  21. The idea encouraged that mixing with a few foul slebs
    was a proper skill – or represented business
    or
    the good working people of this country – public or private –
    was damaging
    and hopefully now on the way out.

  22. Don’t be such a twat. How can it only have been “the smug liberal elite” who supported AV. More than 30% of those voting in the referendum voted for it including, by the way, the leaders of UKIP.

    Your comments are going to look idiotic in 5 or 10 years’ time when the Tories embrace PR as the only way of being able to form a right of centre government in the future.

  23. “We are too polite to point that out”

    I don’t really think being too polite is a big problem for you Joe.

  24. “Your comments are going to look idiotic in 5 or 10 years’ time when the Tories embrace PR”

    Why? What has AV got to do with PR?

  25. I see your point, but Joe is equally scathing of both and indeed lumps them together in his rants.

    I suspect you don’t mind list based PR but don’t really like AV, which is actually my view as well. I do think AV would have been a useful step down the road to achieving a proper PR system though, which is why I voted for it.

  26. “We are too polite to point that out”

    Polite.

    Its the Tories who of the main political parties are the rudest, the most opportunistic and the most willing to play whatever card it is to get them elected, which has rather been hammered home by their hiring of the dastardly Lynton Crosby to head their election campaign

    He makes Andy Coulson look like a saint

  27. Well – I think you’re the two people who write the unpleasant stuff over much of the site – gossipy remarks about candidates, even people’s appearance etc.

    I’ve made my points and I they are strong ones
    that are very rarely pointed out.

    You are correct on the original one that Mrs Thatcher hardly ever forgot what mattered to the ordinary voter.

  28. JJB & LBernard are right. Arguably it mattered more in ’79, as Maggie famously chimed with the housewife managing the weekly family budget in a PPB. Although I’d say it still matters on the doorstep. MPs don’t know the price of food as a lot claimed £350pcm for it on expenses!

  29. Joe James Broughton

    You are far more smug than the “smug liberal elite” you are always moaning about.

    And you can’t complain about people being unpleasant to you when you dish it out day after day, especially to people like Tim who happen to be Lib Dems.

    I notice you fail to answer my point that many people supported AV, including some on the right including UKIP, rendering your comment about PR being supported only by the “smug liberal elite” to be partisan horseshit.

  30. I guess the point Joe was making was that one sometimes heard people on the centre-left claiming that there is a progressive majority in the country, favouring progressive initiatives like electoral reform etc. As he says, the AV referendum didn’t exactly do wonders for that theory.
    Nor do the current Lib Dem poll ratings.

    Of course, H Hemmelig is right that those who voted for AV form a broad church. Nevertheless, let us not forget that the AV did best in Oxford, Cambridge, ‘intellectual’ London and Edinburgh. That doesn’t mean that all AV supporters were left-liberals but it probably does mean that a significant number of left-liberals were AV supporters.

    Nevertheless, before anyone puts words into my mouth, I don’t think there is a conservative majority either. If anything, I think British politics is quite finely balanced.

  31. Its interesting how much vitreole there is between people on the political right.

    Those on the left don’t seem to discuss issues but merely follow the party line.

  32. *the AV campaign.

    Coincidentally, I agree with those who have been critical of Boris regarding the price of milk. I don’t expect him to make appearances in Sainsbury or Tesco to show that he is a man of the people- that would be false and nauseating. But I do expect him to have a basic appreciation of the sorts of decisions that the averagely off are making when in the shops. It doesn’t take that much research.

  33. Fair point. The opposite to the 1980s. You certainly are making your own contributions to those disagreements as well Richard, many of which are very pertinent IMO.

    Tory’s comment is also very fair and hard to disagree with. I was merely saying that the right is not so universally against PR as Joe seems to think, and will increasingly come to see it as a way of solving the bias against them in the electoral system plus it may help them to govern in coalition with UKIP rather than the Lib Dems.

  34. Richard- I had a dinner with a Tory friend on Saturday and we agreed that there is now a bitter divide within the Conservative party- between those who embody small town, non-metropolitan England and those who (to put it moderately) don’t.

  35. H Hemmelig- interesting thoughts with regards to PR. And if 2015 turns out how we both think it will, it may cause some mumblings. For now, I’m not sure how many within the Tory party quite get how weak the party’s electoral position is.

  36. “we agreed that there is now a bitter divide within the Conservative party- between those who embody small town, non-metropolitan England and those who (to put it moderately) don’t.”

    There is an even bigger divide between those who recognise that the pre-2008 economic system based on rising debts and consumerism is dead, and those who think there is nothing wrong with trying to keep it going. Despite what it often says, the government is in the latter camp and Richard and I are both in the former, despite having some different views about how to change the model and perhaps being on different sides of the city vs small town divide.

  37. H Hemmelig- yes, I am also in the former camp with you and Richard when it comes to economic matters. I dare say you share my scepticism about Osborne’s policies on mortgages.

  38. Certainly I do yes, and having moved house in recent weeks I have seen at first hand the emerging housing bubble and its chaotic impact on the workload of estate agents, mortgage lenders and solicitors as we speak. It will all end in tears. I think this divide is becoming much more important than the traditional European divide, on which you and Richard are probably a long way to the right of myself. We can agree that Europe will be decided eventually by events and perhaps a referendum, but a much bigger argument now is accepting that we have a problem with our economic model.

  39. “There is an even bigger divide between those who recognise that the pre-2008 economic system based on rising debts and consumerism is dead, and those who think there is nothing wrong with trying to keep it going. ”

    The biggest problem is with your view is ultimately democracy. People voted and continue to vote for a discredited model because who’s going to turn down a big load of free stuff the government will give you (even though it doesn’t have the cash to pay for it.).

  40. Help to buy could be rather an ironic name

  41. ‘Those on the left don’t seem to discuss issues but merely follow the party line.’

    I don’t think that’s true at all – as Tony Blair found out despite his landslide wins in 97 and 2001

    I see a massive differece between hard, principled Leftists like Tony Benn and Dennis Skinner and metropolitan middle class liberals like Milliband, Harman and Umunna

    Just as I see a massive difference to modernbosing, elitist Tories like Bowles, Gove and Cameron to hard-right reactionaries lke Peter Bome and Andrew Rosindell

    All mainstream poltocal parties ought to be broiad vchurches with a wide range of differing opinions

    Paretoies are at their worst when they narrow dissenting opinionbs and start tyo talk to themselves – see Labour in the 1980s or the Republicans in the US now

  42. On the economic discussion, whilst I’ve only got very limited knowledge of economics, there will surely at some point have to be a recognition that endless printing of currency can only support the illusory perception of wealth for so long – e.g as long as the general populous remain unaware of how little the tenner in their pocket is actually worth.

    It will be terribly painful but I can’t see any way past basing the amount of money in circulation broadly on the value assets that a given country possesses……however that would highlight the actual wealth that exists, which is substantially less than suggested by the amount of cash in circulation.

    I increasingly find that listening to economic debates, whether between economists or politicians, to be just a semantic debate about how best to distribute a load of essentially meaningless printed currency.

  43. I appreciate btw that we had the gold standard in the past etc. – I’m not suggesting that it’s a new idea, rather that for there to be a more permanent solution to our economic problems we need to least base our estimate of our wealth in reality rather than fantasy.

  44. sorry Tim, who do you mean by “Bowles”?

  45. I think he means Peter Bowles, from To The Manor Born….he makes Cameron look like a commoner.

  46. Perhaps he means Nick Boles

  47. ‘sorry Tim, who do you mean by “Bowles”?’

    Rubberbotton is right – I meant Nick Boles, who could plausibly be a Tory, Lib Dem or erven New Labour MP – my point being he has far more in common with Lib Dem frontbenchers than Tory backbenchers

  48. “That’s because Labour and lib Dem politicians aren’t very often from rich and priviliedged backgrounds – whereas nearly all Tories in today’s high command are”

    Ed Miliband, horny handed son of toil?

  49. ‘Ed Miliband, horny handed son of toil?’

    A better example would be aristocrat Tony Benn – but the Labour high command tend to be from a far more wide-ranging cross section of society than the Tory High Command who are almost exclusiuvely upper middle class with stacks of cash on the hip

    Is it any wonder they are perceived to be the party of the rich?

  50. The irony is that the Cameroons believed that people like themselves would be politically attractive to people like Tim Jones.

    But as Tim Jones says they are instead now perceived as the party of the rich.

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