Hexham

2015 Result:
Conservative: 22834 (52.7%)
Labour: 10803 (24.9%)
Lib Dem: 2961 (6.8%)
Green: 2445 (5.6%)
UKIP: 4302 (9.9%)
MAJORITY: 12031 (27.8%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: North East, Northumberland. Part of the Northumberland council area.

Main population centres: Haltwhistle, Hexham, Prudhoe, Corbridge, Heddon-on-the-Wall, Stannington, Ponteland, Darras Hall.

Profile: A large rural seat in the North-East, covering the old council areas of Tynedale and part of Castle Morpeth. This is a sparsely populated area at the far north of the country, in the west the seat reaches up into desolate and isolated moorland and forests, stretching right up to the Scottish border. The border location defines much of the historical development of this area, the main towns like Haltwhistle and Hexham follow the line of the old Newcastle-Carlisle road and Hadrian`s Wall which runs through the seat, and Prudhoe, an industrial town producing paper tissues and paint is built around the medieval Prudhoe castle which once guarded the border. As well as the historic towns there are villages like Corbridge, Heddon-on-the-Wall (the centre of the 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease) and Stannington. To the East the constitutency takes in the affluent Newcastle suburbs of Ponteland and Darras Hall, where the Liberal Democrats have begun to make inroads.

Politics: This is one of only three Conservative seats in the Tory desert that is north-east England and the only one that is safe. In 1997 it almost fell - the Conservative majority over Labour was cut to only 222 votes, but Labour have since fallen back.


Current MP
GUY OPPERMAN (Conservative) Born 1965, Marlborough. Educated at Harrow School and University of Lille. Barrister. Kennet councillor 1995-1999. Contested Swindon North 1997, Caernarfon 2005. First elected as MP for Hexham in 2010. PPS to Mark Harper 2012-2014, to James Brokenshire 2014-2015. Government whip since 2015.
Past Results
2010
Con: 18795 (43%)
Lab: 8253 (19%)
LDem: 13007 (30%)
BNP: 1205 (3%)
Oth: 2223 (5%)
MAJ: 5788 (13%)
2005*
Con: 17605 (42%)
Lab: 12585 (30%)
LDem: 10673 (26%)
Oth: 650 (2%)
MAJ: 5020 (12%)
2001
Con: 18917 (45%)
Lab: 16388 (39%)
LDem: 6380 (15%)
UKIP: 728 (2%)
MAJ: 2529 (6%)
1997
Con: 17701 (39%)
Lab: 17479 (38%)
LDem: 7959 (17%)
Oth: 1170 (3%)
MAJ: 222 (0%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
GUY OPPERMAN (Conservative) See above.
LIAM CARR (Labour) College lecturer.
JEFF REID (Liberal Democrat) Contested Blyth Valley 2010.
DAVID NICHOLSON (UKIP)
LEE WILLISCROFT-FERRIS (Green)
Links
Comments - 141 Responses on “Hexham”
  1. If as Dan W says Labour are throwing everything at this seat then it is a tragic waste of resources in a seat which they have no hope of winning and the labour party would deserve to lose the general election for sheer stupidity. I however think it is doubtful labour is putting anything into this seat and I imagine labour party activists in this seat are being sent to seats like Carlisle, Redcar and Stockton South which the party can and needs to win. As alluded to by other contributors the local elections were very good for the conservatives here with Prudhoe being the only place to vote labour with the conservatives well ahead in the rest of the seat (even Hexham town and Haltwhistle). It would also be a mistake to assume that all of the sizeable lib dem vote is anti the tories, some will be without a doubt but there will be a significant chunk which is anti labour. If the tories ever do lose this seat it will be to the lib dems who could probably put together a winning coalition that would be impossible for labour outside a greater than 97 landslide. Mr Opperman is clearly a good political fit for this seat and I think that due to him appealing to the centre right portion of lib dem vote his vote share will increase.

  2. I would guess the 2015 result will be something like:

    Con: 46% (+3%)
    Lab: 22% (+3%)
    Lib Dem: 17% (-13%)
    Ukip: 13% (+13%)
    Green: 2% (+2%)

    Con hold: majority 24% (+11%)
    If the Greens don’t run I’ll add 1% to both the Lib dems and Labour.

  3. ‘Occasionally I muse upon which five defectors I would most like to have come our way…. (would be interesting to hear other parties’ views) and Guy Opperman comes first, followed by Rory Stewart (which would probably shock most LibDems), Bob Walter (unfortunately retiring), Zac Goldsmith and Dominic Raab…’

    Walter and Stewart certainly but putting his environmentalism to one side, Goldsmith is a pretty standard mainstream conservative, whereas raab is surely unequivocally on the tory right

  4. I struggle to find five who I would like to defect to Labour (or at least prefer them in Labour to their current parties). Charles Kennedy, Caroline Lucas and Andrew George are the only three. Vince Cable was of course Labour back in the day but I don’t know much about him.

  5. Tim Jones is absolutely right in his analysis of the Tories in question.
    I don’t think for a moment that Labour is devoting resources to this seat. As Tory correctly says, there is no evidence that Labour can win it or even get remotely near. The big target in these parts is Carlisle even though that is a bit of a distance away. There is a direct railway link between the 2 seats & I think there will be some Labour activists from this constituency who will help out there. No doubt they’ll do their bit in Hexham too, but it’s going to be a routine Tory hold.

  6. 2025 prediction

    Con: 40% (-3%)
    Lab: 28% (+10%)
    Lib Dem: 16% (-14%)
    Ukip: 14% (+13%)
    Green: 2% (+2%)

    Con maj: 12%

  7. Sorry, lab +10 is just silly.

    Swing will be about 0 here.

  8. Sorry If i mis-informed, I was told by a Labour cllr. from Tyneside who is quite involved in the target seat actions/operations and I must admit I was very much shocked myself and was just trying to explain any possible reasoning behind it on here without any real understanding myself as I presumed it to be legit coming from such an ‘inside’ source. I do understand it is highly unlikely.

  9. Con 16,500
    Lab 13,000
    Lib 5,500
    UKIP 3000
    Greens 2000

    CON Maj: 3,500

  10. My prediction here:

    Con 42
    Lab 30
    Lib 16
    UKIP 11
    Green 6

    Con Hold

  11. Conservative hold. 8,000 majority. Labour 2nd.

  12. Cons can’t count their chickens here. Only managed 43% in 2010. Could well become a seat where the winning candidate wins with less than 40% – usually a good indicator of becoming a marginal.

  13. Conservative incumbent Guy Opperman is perceived as independent minded and commands a hard-working image throughout the constituency. Also seems to be rising in the ranks down at Westminster. This all points to making the Hexham seat a very difficult nut for challengers to crack. No Greens or UKIP stood here in 2010 so they provide a fascinating addition to the mix.

    My Prediction: Increased Conservative Majority, Liberals here look to be the biggest 2015 casualties.
    Conservatives 44%
    Labour 27%
    Liberals 12%
    UKIP 11%
    Greens 6%

  14. Con hold, majority 9200. It is preposterous to suggest this seat is going to be a marginal.

  15. Not a marginal, maybe, but most of comments here miss the fact that the ‘left of centre’ vote since ’97 has always had a majority. Even in 2010 with a deeply unpopular PM, tired Labour government and deep recession following the global financial crash, the Labour and Lid Dem vote combined was 49% to the Tories’ 43%. We have to assume that the Lib Dem vote is going to collapse, leaving room for Labour and to a certain extent the Greens to scoop up the left leaning voters. I would expect Guy Opperman’s vote to at best stay about the same. His attempt to portray himself as an independant, ‘local’ MP is a bit of a sham as he has voted with his party on all key ares of policy, including Health and Social Care Act and Bedroom Tax.

  16. CON Hold

  17. Excellent Con result here- their best since 1992 (and very similar to 1992 in terms of Con and Lab vote shares in fact).

    Con 52.7 (+9.5)
    Lab 24.9 (+5.9)
    UKIP 9.9 (+9.9)
    LD 6.8 (-23.1)
    Gre 5.6 (5.6)

    Majority 12,031

  18. Only one word is appropriate here ….. “WOW!”

    A spectacular result for the Tories here – and as forecast, the Libs (as almost everywhere else in the UK in this Election) were the really big casualties.

    A spectacular increase in the CON majority here …..

    The “majority left of centre” viewpoint [MB0366], (already debatable in historic terms) – appears now to have completely lost any currency at all …..

    CON 52.7% (+9.5%) ….. 12,031 majority returned

  19. It looks like Guy Opperman has been a very good constituency MP during his first five years going off the result he achieved here, more than doubling his majority, and increasing his vote share by 9.5%.

  20. A few people predicted he might increase his vote by about 10%. I can’t remember who they were but well done to them.

  21. Highest Conservative vote share since 1959 when Rupert Speir defeated Labour in a straight fight 63% to 37%.

  22. Guy Opperman did very well here- it looks as though the large Lib Dem vote that had been rebuilt in 2005 and 2010 must have had a considerable centre-right leaning element to it. I think he must have done well also because of his being on the left of his party, which won’t do him too much harm here in this large rural seat, and might have helped to collapse the Lib Dems even more than may have been usual. All the same, Opperman has at last managed to see the Tories securely over 50% of the vote for the first time in this seat since 1992.

  23. Given the demographics of this constituency, 7% is a very poor result for the LibDems, even given their generally dire results in 2015.

  24. I would agree that the Lib Dems did do extremely bad here given their previously strong performances historically- especially given they had been in second place and 13% behind the Tories here in 2010, to collapse as far as they did at this election was extraordinary though they did at least rescue their deposit. I think this seat has a bit of a history of the opposition to the Tories swapping places and realigning quite a lot- in the 80s the Liberals were the clear challengers, then in the 90s and 2000s elections it was very much Labour. The Lib Dems posed the biggest threat in 2010, but as their chance had gone thereafter Labour have since been able to reassert themselves back into second, albeit now more distant a la 1992.

  25. Hexham normally, but not invariably, returned a Liberal MP before 1918. In 1918 it was gained by Douglas Clifton Brown, Coalition Conservative. Clifton Brown was re-elected in 1922 against both Liberal and Labour candidates, but lost to the Liberal in 1923 when there was no Labour candidate. There was again a Labour candidate in 1924, so Clifton Brown regained the seat. Clifton Brown remained as the MP, becoming Speaker in 1943. In 1945 he was re-elected , the Labour candidate being his only opponent. In 1950 he trounced an Independent Liberal, but he retired at the 1951 election.
    There was no Liberal candidate in 1955 or 1959.

    The Liberals/LibDems have fought the seat since 1964 and until recently have done respectably . As already indicated, they came second in 1983 and 1987. The Conservatives were typically returned on a minority vote.

    Labour came within a thousand votes of winning the seat in 1997 amd 2001 and were the main challenger until 2010 when the LibDems came second with 30% of the vote, before nosediving to 6.8% this time.

    It could perhaps be argued that the Liberals let their chances slip here firstly by not opposing Clifton Brown as Speaker and then not fighting the seat at all in the 1950s. The meant that the seat did not have the Liberal tradition they needed in the 1980s. More recently, Labour’s near misses in 1997 and 2001 probably meant that the LibDems suffered here from tactical voting.

    Whatever the history, the outcome is that the LibDems now find tjemselves in a bad place and would have to do a lot of work, and probably watch Labour implode, to become serious challengers here in anything like the near future.

    The Conservatives are helped here by increasing gentrification and commuting..

  26. There isnt any gentrification here. Its small town England effect combined with a very large personal vote.

  27. Guy Opperman must have a very large personal vote here indeed, because he did extremely well to increase his vote share by the large amount he did.

  28. Hexham W (Northumberland) result:
    IND (Kennedy): 36.6% (+36.6)
    CON: 33.2% (-15.2)
    LAB: 14.6% (-0.3)
    IND (Pickering): 9.1% (+9.1)
    GRN: 6.5%

  29. Technically the winner is not an independent as he left designation blank.. he’s a former LibDem councillor…

  30. Antiochian – ah, that makes sense.

    The LibDem share was 31% last time and I think this Cllr is also a town Cllr here (Hexham LDs say they were campaigning for him here).

  31. Conservatives just one seat of a majority in Northumberland.

  32. Some astonishingly bad Labour results here and Lib Dem chances in Berwick upon Tweed now look very slender.

  33. I think Berwick is well and truly gone for us now. Save for out councillors personal vote in Alnwick we would have lost to both Labour candidates and this is the sort of area we should be holding up in.

    And then Berwick… We may not even finish third in June.

  34. I would hope our candidate Julie Porksen would have a sufficient profile to see of Labour. Labour will poll direly outside of the towns in the Berwick Upon Tweed constituency.

    I think Theresa May has successfully turned these local elections into a vote of confidence in our Conservative government. This will be even more obvious in June.

  35. Hexham momentum very unhappy with the choice of Labour candidate here, so I suspect that they’ll be stomping the pavements elsewhere, trying to defend current labour seats. The very risky north-east ones look like they are mainly in the tees valley, but I’d expect a bit of fevered campaigning down there.

  36. CON Hold

    CON 54
    LAB 34
    LIB 7
    GREEN 3
    UKIP 2

    Majority 20% (down from 28%)

    The way this result went and the general feel of the seat make it a potential Labour target in the future – it’s certainly a seat that would swing more than average just like at this election. They’d need to win both the vast majority of working-class pro-Leave Prudhoe as well as a good chunk of middle-class commuters in the rest of the seat. But if they can win Kensington, they can win here – the two are actually suprisingly similar with both deprived areas and very rich areas. If Corbyn can appeal to both he could do what Blair failed to do here by the tightest of margins in 1997.

  37. I quite agree with that assessment. In fact, if anything, going forward, this is a seat that could get quite good for Labour demographically- it has as you say just about the right mix for them right now and it’s not as if it is overwhelmingly affluent. Also the fact it’s in the Labour hotbed of North East England of course means it’s their only real target for miles so they’ll probably put in a lot of work here over the next few years to make further inroads. This has as you say been ultra-marginal before.

  38. Some very premature hypothesising in the posts above. Lots of affluent Tory areas that plumped for Remain in the referendum swung to Labour- many by quite a bit more than 4%. The Tory position here is ok.

    And as for the likening of the seat to Kensington, I’ve no idea where to start…

  39. Yes. This is a safe seat where the Tory majority has often been modest, even in landslide years. So actually the opposite of “a seat that would swing more than average” as stated above. It’s just about within Labour’s grasp in a 1997 type landslide, but not a seat Corbyn has the vaguest hope of winning.

    The last two MPs here have both had very good reputations as constituency MPs and this probably saved the seat from being gained by Labour in 1997 and 2001. I doubt the infamous Alan Amos could have held it (though ironically he defected to Labour himself).

    Incidentally my former MP Jacqui Lait was runner up to Amos in the selection contest here prior to 1987 and she told me a funny story about the experience. Also that Amos was selected due to heavy pressure on the local executive from Party Chairman Tebbit.

  40. “And as for the likening of the seat to Kensington, I’ve no idea where to start…”

    Kensington: 37% White British
    Hexham: 96% White British

  41. I doubt the infamous Alan Amos could have held it (though ironically he defected to Labour himself).

    Amos actually currently sits as a Tory on Worcester council- having defected back from Labour

    Whilst his political career does indeed look like text book political opportunism, during his time in Parliament he always struck me as a left-leaning Tory due to his strong opposition to things like smoking, abortion and the poll tax

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