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
Con: 30054 (56%)
Lab: 5835 (11%)
LDem: 13466 (25%)
UKIP: 1817 (3%)
Oth: 2348 (4%)
MAJ: 16588 (31%)
Con: 24894 (53%)
Lab: 6862 (15%)
LDem: 12101 (26%)
GRN: 1518 (3%)
Oth: 1162 (2%)
MAJ: 12793 (27%)
Con: 20466 (46%)
Lab: 9367 (21%)
LDem: 12008 (27%)
UKIP: 1413 (3%)
Oth: 1147 (3%)
MAJ: 8458 (19%)
Con: 23908 (46%)
Lab: 11700 (23%)
LDem: 12741 (25%)
Oth: 895 (2%)
MAJ: 11167 (22%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
JOHN HOWELL (Conservative) See above.
SAM JUTHANI (Labour) Educated at Queen Elizabeths Boys School and Oxford University. Economist.
SUSAN COOPER (Liberal Democrat)
MARK STEVENSON (Green) Educated at Oxford University. Market gardener and former teacher. Contested Witney 2001, Henley 2005, 2008 by-election, 2010.
Comments - 114 Responses on “Henley”
  1. “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”

    I think you’ve proved my point.

    Where is the debate within Labour now about the nature of the economy and public services.

    Making reference to a few ancient leftists not being in agreement with Tony Blair 15 years ago merely highlights the lack of discussion now.

  2. “You certainly are making your own contributions to those disagreements as well Richard, many of which are very pertinent IMO.”

    My new area of discussion is the ‘executive oligarchy’.

    It has received backing from some surprising people at another place.

  3. I’m normally a critic of Boris, though I voted for him last year through gritted teeth.

    However credit where credit is due – his idea that travel costs for commuters should be tax deductible is superb, if it could be made to work.

  4. I visited Henley a couple of years ago

    Remarkably I am complete agreement with Richard about Boris Johnson.

    He is a competent populist mayor but what he said about Starbucks was ludicrous! (i.e. don’t sneer at Starbucks tax avoidance)

  5. My political views are probably a bit stereotypical liberal urban middle class in some respects but they are consistent and I am not a hypocrite!

    Ironically the Tories now appear to have replaced New Labour as the party advocating more reckless consumerism.

  6. I’m not a conspiracy theorist but it now makes sense why Boris Johnson attended the World economic forum this year as well.

  7. I would describe myself as young urban liberal middle class too – in the Wandsworth tory sort of mould. Maybe a little drier economically.

    Sadly in the urban north-east i’m somewhat of a loner on that front where tories are usually elderly church going social conservatives.

    There aren’t many Geordies with RP accents either really. Pretty much in a minority of one there.

  8. Additionally for some reason despie people from the NE and general RP pronuncing plaster or master as plarster or marster, for some unfathomable reason I do not.

  9. Well, the north east prospered much better under Church-going social conservatism than it has under the past 35 years of unfettered economic and social liberalism. I’m amazed you cannot see why your own views are so unpopular in your home region even within your own party.

    Probably the reverse is true in Wandsworth, where I’m sure you would fit in much better. Why don’t you move there?

  10. it’s a tad expensive HH……..

  11. I may well do. We will see, looking for a job in intellectual property law atm.

    Had an interview today and was offered two more today. One of the two was in Nottingham, one in London.

  12. List of seats that Boris Johnson might go for in the future in my opinion-
    1. Bromley and Chislehurst
    2. Beckenham
    3. Orpington
    4. East Surrey
    5. North Thanet
    6. Guildford
    7. Wokingham
    8. North West Hampshire
    9. Sevenoaks
    10. Banbury
    11. Mole Valley
    12. Tonbridge and Malling
    13. Croydon South
    14. Henley
    15. Chelsea and Fulham
    16. Kensington
    17. Old Bexley and Sidcup
    18. Chingford and Woodford Green
    19. Wimbledon
    20. Chipping Barnet
    21. Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner
    22. Uxbridge and South Ruislip
    23. Cities of London and Westminster

  13. Without going through each one, are any of those likely to become vacant anytime soon?

    Obviously it depends when and indeed if Boris wants to return to parliament of course, but I suspect that some are held by relatively young MPs who were only elected there in 2010. For example, I can’t see Old Bexley and Sidcup or East Surrey becoming available for a long time yet.

  14. Well I am being rather hypothetical so you can take the list as being what I view to be ones that would suit him the best perhaps, but I’m thinking long-term really with that list.

  15. Let him stand in the next by-election that comes up.. sure to one over the next year of some colour… then lets see what his popular appeal is…

    I find him amusing but nothing else.. I wonder what non-Londoners would make of him…

  16. I just get the feeling that were he to stand anywhere, it would be a safe Tory seat in Greater London, or one of the Home Counties surrounding it or maybe further away- Surrey, Kent, Oxfordshire etc.

  17. ‘I would describe myself as young urban liberal middle class too – in the Wandsworth tory sort of mould. Maybe a little drier economically.’

    Wandsworth Tories (presumably you mean the council) are rekmnown for bei g on the dry, tax-cutting wing of the party

    You would have to be very dry indeed – abolition of welfare state, immediate introduction of flat tax, etc – to be drier ecomically than they are, and you’ve never struck me as being that far to the Right Joe!

  18. I’m as dry as dust on economics – just that being on the far left of the party socially sometimes makes that not so obvious to people.

    Also the fact I oppose obviously poorly thought out legislation like the bedroom tax – not from ideological grounds but just because I’m not that tribal and its not coherent as it stands makes people think im on the left.

    On the other place we put everyone’s results on the political compass – I was the 2nd most right wing economically, joint with a certain P Whitehead, well to the right of Swanarcadian who perhaps is drier at first glance.

  19. These lists are quite tiresome actually & I find them difficult to read. Croydon S is clearly not going to happen since they have just within the last few days selected a new candidate (Chris Philp). E Surrey’s Sam Gyimah was elected the first time only in 2010 and as an up-and-coming figure in the Conservative Party isn’t going to sacrifice himself for Boris Johnson. Some of the others are more plausible but as I say I do get rather tired of these endless lists which are if you’ll forgive me for saying so somewhat puerile in their presentation.

  20. Quite a lot seem to have incumbents firmly in place, e.g. Chelsea and Fulham.

    I think the whole him needing a SE seat isn’t really true anyway. He could take anywhere that was safe.

  21. “List of seats that Boris Johnson might go for in the future in my opinion”

    Couldn’t you whittle it down any more than that ‘Results’? 😉

    Tonbridge/Malling & Croydon South have just selected new candidates for the next election, so they probably won’t become vacant again for a while.

  22. Sorry you don’t like my lists Barnaby, I thought others might enjoy them…

    Incidentally John D, when you refer to me in speech marks, are you thinking I’m someone in the know so to speak, because I was merely observing.

  23. ‘on the other place we put everyone’s results on the political compass – I was the 2nd most right wing economically, joint with a certain P Whitehead’

    That does surprise me.

    I’ve always considered Pete Whitehead to be waaay to the Right of even pretty hardline right wingers like Shaun Bennett, Runnymead and Richard – who I always assumed were waaay to the Right of yourself

    I stand corrected

  24. And when I did compile that list, they were my own hunches that he might go after in the next 10-20 years, so if anything I was thinking longterm, but also about similar seats that may attract a notable name such as Boris Johnson.

  25. In fact, thinking about it, I suppose that if Johnson were to step into any safe seat, he could still base himself in London as he would likely never be at any threat of losing- his very solid result in Henley in 2005 which saw a 7%+ increase was IMHO all down to name recognition and a high media profile, so I think on that basis the scope will always be there for him to go to any Tory stronghold he wishes in the future, should he ever want to return to Westminster.

    So Johnson could end up as MP anywhere he chose, because of his influence and reputation. When you are well known and influential enough to be able to walk back into the Commons whenever you choose, it says a lot about how well thought of said figure is with a good number of the party and the public at large.

    But in conclusion, I just get this niggling feeling that Kensington might be his calling, given when it was Kensington and Chelsea it had a string of famous Tories- Alan Clark, Michael Portillo and Malcolm Rifkind.

  26. I think he will be wanting to get into parliament on a shorter time scale than 20 years!

  27. “when you refer to me in speech marks, are you thinking I’m someone in the know so to speak, because I was merely observing”

    No, I just put quotation marks around your name because it’s obviously not your real one… But I’ve no idea who you are.

  28. “Croydon S is clearly not going to happen since they have just within the last few days selected a new candidate”

    Same is true of Tonbridge & Malling as well.

    I agree with Barnaby. Your lists are mostly pants…why don’t you give them a rest.

  29. I was merely trying to paint a picture- clearly you and Barnaby don’t agree with my ilustration however…

  30. good pictures tend not to be too crowded…….

  31. And a detailed one tells the whole story…

  32. Prediction for 2015-
    Howell (Conservative)- 53%
    Liberal Democrats- 22%
    Labour- 12%
    UKIP- 9%
    Green- 3%
    Others- 1%

  33. LDs too high.

  34. BoJo is in fighting form today… his insults fired at Clegg have Cameron as collateral damage. He had better hope a by-election comes his way pretty soon or else he might find himself credited with killing his party’s leader and yet someone else will take DC’s place and with enough time to cement themselves in position leaving Boris to do what? Something in the City? No-one there would want him.. particularly if he brings the onset of five years of Milliband…


    You would not see BoJo standing in Dumfriesshire Clydesdale & Tweeddale were David Mundell to stand down 🙂

  36. nor would the Tories be able to risk a by-election in that constituency.

  37. Can anyone name an advanced-in-years Tory MP in the south who might be willing to throw himself on his sword for BoJo?

    I think outside the south, BoJo would have only a fraction of his “appeal” that he has in the orbit of London… I suspect that north of Watford the “appeal” would be deducting percentage points rather than adding them..

    And then what would Cameron do with him if he was elected? Minister for Sports? Anything else would be like giving a monkey a razor blade…

  38. Party Chairman?

  39. By-election for County Council last week. Conservative Harrod held the Chalgrove & Watlington seat with 871 votes.

    Lib Dem’s Susan Cooper came second with 629 votes, while UKIPs candidate – Gavin Craig – beat Labour’s Paul Collins with 311 votes to 159 and the Green Party candidate Colin Tudge received 116 votes.

    12.4% swing to the LibDems.

  40. Before the last GE this was a liberal ward.

  41. Conservative hold. 18,000 maj

  42. Even though the Tory majority was huge here in May 2015 (25375), Labour did well to come second place considering their dire peformance overall during the General Election.

  43. They did indeed. UKIP didn’t do that well in very rural seats like this in the South, so that might explain why Labour were able to narrowly snatch a distant second place away from the Lib Dems.

  44. This seat is too upper-class to be a realistic UKIP target. Nor does UKIP do well this near LOndon.

  45. Exactly. I think the further you get from London actually the less chance UKIP have of doing well, but I’m not entirely sure.

  46. UKIPs best prospects are clearly in a string of white working-class seats on the East Coast, all the way from Hartlepool (Target Number 3) via places like Grimsby (Target 9), Boston and Skegness (Target 4), Clacton (already held), Castle Point (Target 19), Basildon South and Thurrock East (Target 13),. Thurrock (Target 1), Dagenham and Rainham (Target 6), Rochester and Strood (Target 7) and North Thanet (Target 33) to South Thanet (Target Seat Number 2).

    TThe above list includes seven of UKIPs top ten targets, the others being Heywood and Middleton (Targe 5), Mansfield (Target 8) and Stoke-on-Trent North (Target 10).

    UKIP need to go all-out for those seats and forget no-hope places like Henley.

  47. “This seat is too upper-class to be a realistic UKIP target. Nor does UKIP do well this near LOndon.”

    A fair comment but there are some exceptions to it….East Surrey being quite a good one.

  48. Individual results can sometimes be to do with the personal popularity of the candidate in question I think.

  49. East Surrey is an example of a very posh seat on the London boundary where UKIP are quite strong, in terms of local elections as well as the general election (I believe they have councillors in Tandridge). Though there aren’t all that many other examples and Frederic’s stereotype generally holds.

  50. Interesting that. Sometimes you do also get places where on demographics you would expect a party to fare badly, but for some reason the opposite effect happens. Look at the Home Counties outside most of Essex and Kent and it really is telling how relatively poorly UKIP polled in the commuter belt places much more inclined to stay resolutely Tory come what may.

Leave a Reply

NB: Before commenting please make sure you are familiar with the Comments Policy. UKPollingReport is a site for non-partisan discussion of polls.

You are not currently logged into UKPollingReport. Registration is not compulsory, but is strongly encouraged. Either login here, or register here (commenters who have previously registered on the Constituency Guide section of the site *should* be able to use their existing login)