2015 Result:
Conservative: 29696 (59.3%)
Labour: 11235 (22.4%)
Lib Dem: 2777 (5.5%)
UKIP: 6383 (12.7%)
MAJORITY: 18461 (36.9%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: Eastern, Hertfordshire. The whole of the Hertsmere council area.

Main population centres: Borehamwood, Radlett, Bushey, Potters Bar, Elstree.

Profile: A collection of middle class commuter towns just outside the boundary of Greater London. Potters Bar and Radlett are affluent Conservative voting towns, in contrast to the more working-class overspill development of Borehamwood, with along with neighbouring Elstree is mostly associated with the film and television industry. For many years there were major film studios here for MGM and Associated British Films and major productions like 2001 A Space Odyssey, The Shining and Where Eagles Dare were filmed here. The MGM studios and much of the ABF studios have now been demolished and redeveloped, but the Elstree studios where Big Brother is filmed and BBC Elstree, home of the Eastenders set, both remain. Hertsmere has the third highest Jewish population of any seat in the country.

Politics: A safe Conservative seat, held relatively easily by the party since its creation in 1983, most famously by Cecil Parkinson.

Current MP
OLIVER DOWDEN (Conservative) First elected as MP for Hertsmere in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 26476 (56%)
Lab: 8871 (19%)
LDem: 8210 (17%)
UKIP: 1712 (4%)
Oth: 2001 (4%)
MAJ: 17605 (37%)
Con: 22665 (53%)
Lab: 11572 (27%)
LDem: 7817 (18%)
Oth: 518 (1%)
MAJ: 11093 (26%)
Con: 19855 (48%)
Lab: 14953 (36%)
LDem: 6300 (15%)
Oth: 397 (1%)
MAJ: 4902 (12%)
Con: 22305 (44%)
Lab: 19230 (38%)
LDem: 6466 (13%)
Oth: 644 (1%)
MAJ: 3075 (6%)

2015 Candidates
OLIVER DOWDEN (Conservative)
RICHARD BUTLER (Labour) Born Edgware. AV engineer. Hertsmere councillor since 2011.
SOPHIE BOWLER (Liberal Democrat)
Comments - 146 Responses on “Hertsmere”
  1. Witham MP Priti Patel’s father Sushil is standing as the UKIP candidate in Bushey South in the Herts CC elections.

  2. The result in 2009 was as follows, (I don’t know whether there have been any boundary changes):

    Con 2,690 (65.1%)
    LD 779 (18.8%)
    Lab 323 (7.8%)
    Green 320 (7.7%)

    Looking at these figures, Sushi Patel might have a decent chance of second place.


  3. Yes, I think you’re right (although being Indian probably won’t help him too much, given the type who are attracted to Ukip).

  4. I don’t think this is necessarily the most fruitful area for UKIP in Herts (or in Hertsmere for that matter) – largely because for various reasons the Jewish vote does not appear to be particularly attracted to UKIP. In a way they should be, both because UKIP is generally very pro-Israel and of course the EU itself is notoriously biased in favour of the Palestinians.
    The absence of a Green candidate this time will probably help keep the LDs in second place as I suspect most of their vote last time came from voters who would otherwise have voted for them

  5. “being Indian probably won’t help him too much, given the type who are attracted to Ukip”

    Sorry – what ‘type’ are attracted to UKIP? Its clear from the very fact that he is a candidate that the ‘type’ who are attracted to UKIP includes people of Indian origin

  6. He was attracted to them but I doubt many Indian people are.

  7. why do you call yourself robin hood?

  8. It was a rush decision, plus my first name is Robin. If I could change it to ‘Multiculturalist’ then that would be more suitable! After all, my views on race relations are quite leftish but I don’t have strong views at all on fiscal issues. That’s probably why I don’t dislike David Cameron.

  9. At another place Sean Fear reported that the local Conservatives are more than a little disgruntled with their national leadership.

    I wonder if Pete is picking up any vibes ?

  10. My father is one of the local Conservatives who is more than a little disgruntled. In fact I saw him today and he told me he has stopped donating to the party over gay marriage. Of course the recent comments about party activists being ‘swivel-eyed loons’ made by a Cameron adviser won;t help and will send many more formerly loyal Tory members our way. Ironically the remarks have been attributed to Andrew Feldman who is also known as Baron Feldman of Elstree, though as far as I can tell his only connection to Elstree is that he went to Haberdashers (and the only reason he has such a prominent position and a peerage is that he is an old Oxford chum of David Cameron, which says it all really).

    Incidentally, I can;t post on this thread without commenting on the laughably poor performance of the LDs in Bushey this May. I did suggest in reply to Andy that they would hold second place in Bushey South although I did think they might drop to third behind Labour in Bushey North. In fact they dropped to fourth place in both seats with UKIP coming second and Labour third. Bushey North was for a long time the safest LD county council seat in Hertfordshire. This May they won 14% there. I think the Hertsmere borough ward of Bushey North could actually be quite fruitful territory for UKIP now with the vacuum left by the disappearance of the LDs.

  11. Pete

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the Conservatives would be best having a general election as soon as possible.

    Previously I had thought that allowing the Eds to take over in 2015 would be best for the Conservatives as the 2015-2020 period would be roosting chicken time.

    But now I don’t think the Conservatives can accept another two years of the current shambles with UKIP growing ever stronger.

  12. Its very clear that the Conservative party is very profoundly split – more so than the Labour party, I think.

    I suppose its inevitable. We still have these big catch all parties which have to try and hold together people with entirely incompatible views.

    In, say, the Netherlands, the Christian Democrats offer moderate economics and social conservatism. The right wing VVD Liberals are essentially Cameroons. Then there is the Freedom Party which is a bit like a Dutch version of UKIP or the right wing of the Tory party, only they are liberal on gays (though definitely not on race). Then there is a religious Christian conservative party which allies itself with the Tories in the European parliament.

  13. labours getting there mike (lot of fed up working class and left wing people) but i agree the cons are looking more spilt.

  14. Pete – is it possible he’s a member of Elstree Synagogue? It’s a very large one as I understand it, and Grant Shapps I think worships there too. My cousin was once (I think an assistant or deputy) Rabbi there.

  15. People are often using the SDP-Labour analogy when discussing UKIP and its effect on the Tory party….I’m starting to think whether a more apt comparison might be the UUP and the DUP.

    There seems a growing risk that the considerable working class / lower middle class section of Tory support – the famous C2s – simply breaks away for good, leaving a much smaller and much more elitist rump of Tory voters concentrated in the upmarket stockbroker belts of the home counties. Just as happened when the UUP permanently lost its working class support to the DUP en masse shortly after the Good Friday Agreement.

  16. I think that might be a good equivalent.

    I’d say that the northern and midlands marginals the Conservatives would need to gain in 2020 to get an overall majority could now be more likely to won by UKIP instead.

    If so then the best the Conservatives can ever hope for is another coalition, either with the LibDems or with UKIP.

    What we’re seeing is fundamental damage being done to the Conservatives and its all self-inflicted.

    Cameron is doing more damage to them than Blair ever managed.

  17. Your scenario opens up the possibility of continued Labour government after 2020 even if there has been a massive economic disaster.

    Or if the disaster was big enough, UKIP might even win outright.

  18. Myth11: ah, but many of them are no longer party members.
    There certainly isn’t the sort of angst I have known in the past. Some of us may have our complaints but its nothing in comparison to past events

  19. Richard I think you’re going increasingly OTT.
    The UKIP affect was quite complex.
    It’s damaged the Tories for obvious reasons, but it’s also shifted the debate rightwards
    and left the alternatives looking rather irrelevant to the nations problems.

    It’s very complex in the affect on the results.
    The loss of part of the core vote – particularly in Eastern areas is extremely serious

    but it’s also done extra damage to the Liberal Democrats who must feel very uncomfortable that the “protest” party is challenging the establishment from a diametrically opposed view point.

    Perhaps I’m too optimistic, but if we play our cards right we can recover from this.

  20. Yes. I would tend to the more sober views of Joe on this. (Not that I’m accusing you of drunkenness Richard!). There is no serious evidence yet that habitual Tory voters have PERMANENTLY got pissed off with the Conservatives in the sort of numbers some are talking about. I rather suspect that, between now and the general election – even if it takes quite some time – many voters will be thinking about that general election, rather than being in protest mode. They will tend to fall in line with one of the 2 major battalions, either Labour or Conservative, even if for partly negative reasons – those who cannot stomach the idea of another Conservative or Tory-led government will vote Labour, those who think that Labour would be even worse than the Tories will fall back in line with the Conservatives. There will in my view undoubtedly be a large increase in UKIP’s vote since 2010, but I think it unlikely that it will remain at its present level by 2015. The Tories can’t be certain that this will happen, but I very much suspect it’s the most likely scenario. They are behaving in a very panicky way for the most part, but all is far from lost at the moment. It’s way too early to say that UKIP are doing more damage to the Tories than Tony Blair; at the moment it’s quite likely that UKIP won’t actually win a seat anywhere in the general election. This could change however, especially if they do finally break through in a by-election, which would partly be a matter of luck.

  21. We live in OTT times in which the Conservative leadership seems intent on driving away its own supporters.

  22. Thanks to Barnaby, and apologies for again using the site to discuss the political aspects/position of the Tories and UKIP etc.

    I should state clearly that Labour may win the General Eleciton,
    although I believe it is open.

  23. This thread is quite fascinating as a number of theories seem to swirling around as to the current state of the Conservative Party.

    There has been the simple narrative put out here that the Cameroons have alienated the grass roots to the point that UKIP are now a serious threat from the right. That maybe true, but I do not think that explains the whole story.

    The reason why the UKIP surge has been such a threat to the Tories is due to the role our electoral system is playing in all this. As stated upthread, PR creates space for a UKIP to emerge without harming the Tories much because a coalition between the two (something which many on the right here would not be averse to) would be possible in a good year, allowing for the kind of policies that Kippers and Thatcherites would like most.

    FPTP however is a straightjacket which punishes splits in votes as much as it over-exaggerates the winner’s popularity (1983 is a good example of both phenomena at play). As such the Conservatives would lose a lot of seats to Labour if UKIP keep up this momentum. All of which further underlines how illogical the Conservative leadership’s opposition to AV was.

    Never mind the fact that FPTP is unfair to the Conservatives as it is, if you believe in Majoritarianism, the AV was the best option as UKIP voters could let off steam at the polling booth before giving the Conservatives their second preference, ensuring the Labour does not benefit from a right-wing split. But because the leadership didn’t countenance a time when UKIP would be an SDP/Lib Dem style threat to their vote, they went against it, killing off a sensible measure and instead going for the voodoo of boundary ‘reform’ that didn’t materialise, leaving them in a mess.

    However, the major reason why the Conservatives are in a mess short term is because they are in serious danger long term. Whether they like it or not, the legacy of Thatcherism is still incredibly toxic in large parts of the country where the Tories need to win to form a majority after 2015 and as such are more likely to be victims of tactical voting than any other party.

    Apparently as much as 4 in 10 voters would NEVER vote Conservative in any case, a statistic that should have all those connected to the party breaking out in a cold sweat. There IS a market out there for right/centre-right ideas in the North or England (see UKIPs by-election perfomances) but the fact is, voters there (and elsewhere) are more hesitant about the Conservative brand than all the others, making a majority difficult at the best of times and justifying attempts by the leadership to try and ‘modernise’ the party. However, the fact that the dwindling (and ageing) party base are picking fights with the leadership over issues that are seen as small beer by the wider electorate is further damaging the party’s wider image and its claims to govern in the national rather than sectional interest..

    This isn’t 1993 or 2002 just yet, but if the Conservative Party doesn’t snap out of this quickly, it will be and then some.

  24. Apologies for the typos, it was written very quickly.

    Here is a New Statesman article that alludes to all this:


  25. The 4 in 10 thing sounds alarming but that’s pretty much what you would expect.
    The Tories are a party you tend to be for or against.
    AV may have dealt with the Con/UKIP swing voters but
    it would be a serious threat to the Tories should a Labour – Lib Dem dual revival come back into play.
    (Although I oppose PR etc on principle).
    Interesting thoughts from Rosa – many thanks.

  26. Yes, I’d like to echo Joe’s thanks. It is good to read people’s detailed analysis if it is made in a non-partisan fashion, like this.

  27. ” There IS a market out there for right/centre-right ideas in the North or England (see UKIPs by-election perfomances) but the fact is, voters there (and elsewhere) are more hesitant about the Conservative brand than all the others, making a majority difficult at the best of times and justifying attempts by the leadership to try and ‘modernise’ the party. ”

    A lot of truth there but the hostility towards the Conservative party goes back much earlier than Thatcher.

    To many working class voters the Conservatives are the party of the ‘rich’, the ‘posh’, the ‘bosses’, bankers, landowners, military officers.

    Not an image helped by Cameron and his circle.

    The working class votes the Conservatives do get tend to be because they are social conservatives or anti-Labour.

    The result being that the present situation of a ‘posh’ Conservative leadership being socially liberal and insufficiently anti-Labour drives their supporters to UKIP.

  28. I’d also say that the people most likely to vote tactical anti-Conservative are middle class leftists.

    The underlying basis of the ‘Cameron Project’ that such anti-Conservative tactical voting could be ended by an emphasis on social liberalism and environmental issues has been exposed as a fallacy.

    I do not criticize those anti-Conservative tactical voters for voting in that manner but I do criticize the Conservative leadership for wishfully thinking that they could end this even at the cost of damaging Conservative working class support.

  29. And finally while I would agree that some Conservatives are using the gay marriage issue to pick fights with the party leadership I also think the party leadership were hoping for that to happen. Their mistake was to underestimate how it would become a focal point for all the hostility this leadership has caused.

    On a wider level the maintenace of a broad political party requires giving each subgroup support on its key issues while equally important not imposing on each subgroup things they find intolerable.

    The Cameroons show no sign though that they view other party subgroups as having any rights to independent thought or interests.

  30. The government taking a strong view on contentious issues of moral conscience is asking for trouble.

    Gay marriage should have been treated like abortion or capital punishment – a free vote with the government keeping a low profile and remaining strictly neutral on the matter.

    I have no problem with the idea of same-sex marriage but the way it has been hijacked as a battering ram to pick a fight with the Tory grassroots is extremely misguided and the Tory party will be paying for that for many years to come.

  31. I’ve repeated asked people NOT to have this debate here, as on the old seat guide it used to end up infesting and destroying every discussion.

    Ironically, it is entirely ON topic and most welcome for the main blog part of the site, so by all means do go and discuss it over there… but please do keep it off individual seat pages.

  32. The problem Cameron faces – and the gay marriage and Europe controversies show it perfectly – is one faced by every Tory leader since Thatcher – an inability to appeal to both the Right and Centre, which means he has to chose one over the other

    When he was first elected he tried to appeal to the centre, and with a faltering and tired Labour leadership, it looked to be paying dividends with the Tories enjoying leads in the opinion polls for the first time in 15 years

    Now, with UKIP actively eating into Tory votes, and with his Etonian chums no doubt miss-informing him that they are taking votes exclusively from the Tories, he’s veered off to the Right in a weak and pitiful attempt to appease what his friends would call the ‘swivel eyed loons’ who are doing a first-class job of re-contaminating the Tory brand than he spent so long trying to detoxfy.

  33. Cecil Parkinson’s acceptance speech was shown during the BBC’s coverage of the 1983 General Election, I would have thought this would have been because of his prominence as Tory party chairman.

  34. Hertsmere Cllr Susan Maughan defected from Labour to the Tories on both the borough and town councils, last month.

  35. Tim – I think that’s why Theresa May is such a strong leadership candidate – she gets on well with both moderates and drys.

  36. Since it says in the seat profile that Hertsmere has the third-highest Jewish population of UK seats, is there any list of the seats with the largest Jewish populations? It’d be interesting to have a gander. I know there’s a substantial Jewish population in Leeds North East, but probably not so great that it’d be very high up said list. Perhaps some north London seats would be?

  37. ‘Since it says in the seat profile that Hertsmere has the third-highest Jewish population of UK seats, is there any list of the seats with the largest Jewish populations? ‘

    I would have suspected Hendon and Golders Green and Finchley to be up there

  38. Hendon is first, I think Bury S is second. Finchley/Golders Green is I think next after Hertsmere, but with their somewhat rapid breeding & very large families the ultra-Orthodox community is pushing Hackney N & Stoke Newington right up the list too, as it always used to be (for example in the 1955 general election there were 5 candidates for that seat, of whom 4 were Jewish). In fact it may soon become the most Jewish constituency in Britain again.

  39. “rapid breeding” – sounds like you are talking about dogs!

    But seriously, I visit north Hackney fairly often and have noticed the orthodox community spreading out a lot wider than they seemed to when I lived there as a student in 1997-98. Conversely Stamford Hill seems perhaps a bit more diverse than it used to be, perhaps because of gentrification spreading out of Stoke Newington. The Jewish community in Hackney seems much poorer than the ones in Barnet/Herts and must be vulnerable to being priced out when areas gentrify. I notice that the Jews seem to be spreading more towards the less fashionable bits of north Hackney, bordering Green Lanes and Finsbury Park.

  40. James Clappison, before he became the MP here, stood in the two byelections in Bootle in 1990.

  41. So says at the top of the page. What’s the point in repeating it?

  42. Thanks for the pointer, guys. Finchley and Golder’s Green is the highest, I think followed by Hendon.

  43. James Clappison is retiring.

  44. and Mike Weatherley as stated on the Hove thread.

  45. Boris may be interested in this seat, although I guess he’d prefer somewhere like Kensington.

  46. whoops thought I was in the Retirements thread not Hertsmere. This wouldn’t be as bad a fit for Boris Johnson as some which have been mentioned.

  47. Close enough to London to still have a significant personal vote based on the mayoral tenure, with many commuters working in the city but far enough out to be safe for the foreseeable future and with no adverse demographic change taking place.

    Would have thought it ideal for Boris really…

  48. I don’t think Boris standing outside of London whilst Mayor of London would be particularly well received if his intention was to challenge for high office. Would have thought it more likely that he would stand in a by-election shortly after his term as Mayor ended.

    I expected a reduced (but still huge) Con majority on the basis of the Lib-Lab swing more than offsetting the Lab-UKIP swing. Not particularly fertile territory for UKIP here but they will unquestionably do better than 4%. Clappison’s departure should have a negligible impact on the result, he was seen as a decent MP but the constituency would have voted Tory almost regardless.

  49. Clappison enetered the House in 92 as a robust right-wing Thatcherite – which would have no doubt earned him Cecil Parkinson’s approval – and then spent the next decade and a half moving further and further leftwards, until this Parliament at least where he voted againdst the government on Europe and gay marriage

    He’s one of the MP’s who survived despite being embroiled in the expenses scandal

  50. Cameron isn’t really veering off the to right.

    anyone who thinks that a pale blue version of the SDP can win a majority in the UK is smoking something very powerful. this was the ‘roons mistake.

    There’s endless debate about UKIP and where it’s votes come from. If you look at their prominent activists and councillors, they’re nearly all former tories. In fact I can’t think of a prominent UKIPper be it Roger Helmer, Diane James or Farage himself who wasn’t a Tory in a former incarnation. Farage himself said he voted for Thatcher…
    Paul Nuttall may have been a Labour man, but I doubt it.

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