2015 Result:
Conservative: 18199 (52.3%)
Labour: 10838 (31.1%)
Lib Dem: 1962 (5.6%)
Green: 1765 (5.1%)
UKIP: 1557 (4.5%)
Others: 507 (1.5%)
MAJORITY: 7361 (21.1%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of Kensington and Chelsea council area.

Main population centres: Kensington, Earl`s Court, Brompton, Holland Park, Notting Hill.

Profile: A residential seat west of central London. Kensington is one of the most solidly Conservative parts of the country, the housing is largely expensive garden squares and Georgian terraces. Kensington High Street is an upmarket shopping hub, Kensington Palace is the residence of several members of the Royal Family and Kensington Palace Gardens the site of many embassies and a few private residences for the super-rich. South Kensington is the museum district, home to the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert and is somewhat more cosmopolitan, housing the halls of residence for Imperial College. As well as Kensington itself the seat covers Earls Court, Brompton, Holland Park and Notting Hill. Earls Court is far more run down and cheaper than it`s richer neighbour and while it it undergoing rapid gentrification and contains its own areas of the super-rich, there are still cheap areas of run down hotels and bedsits. Notting Hill today is an affluent and trendy area associated politically with David Cameron and the younger Conservative set surrounding him, and more widely with the Notting Hill carnival, led by the area`s Afro-Carribean community. It is a highly cosmopolitan area, and having fallen on hard times in the twentieth century and become associated with dingy flats and houses of multiple occupancy it has undergone rapid gentrification. These days while the old Victorian private houses are sought after, there is much social housing and there remains a large ethnic population and areas of social deprivation in North Kensington and Ladbroke Grove. Whereas the Kensington wards are safely Conservative, northern wards like Notting Barns and Colville reliably return Labour councillors.

Politics: Kensington and Chelsea has had a high turnover of high profile MPs. When originally created in 1997 it selected the Chelsea MP Sir Nicholas Scott, who was forced to stand down prior to the election over accusations of alcoholism after being found in a gutter in Bournemouth. The seat was instead fought and won by the former MP and famed diarist Alan Clark, making a return to Parliament having grown bored of retirement. He died two years later and the subsequent by-election returned Michael Portillo who spent a year as Shadow Chancellor before unsuccessfully contesting the Conservative leadership and then stepping down from politics. In 2005 the seat was won by another former minister defeated in 1997, this time the former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Like Michael Portillo he briefly served in the shadow cabinet, stood for the leadership of the party, lost, and returned to the backbenches before being forced into retirement after being caught in a newspaper sting.

Current MP
VICTORIA BORWICK (Conservative) Born 1956, London. Kensington and Chelsea councillor. Contested London Assembly list 1999, London Assembly member since 2008. First elected as MP for Kensington in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 17595 (50%)
Lab: 8979 (26%)
LDem: 6872 (20%)
UKIP: 754 (2%)
Oth: 950 (3%)
MAJ: 8616 (25%)
Con: 18144 (58%)
Lab: 5521 (18%)
LDem: 5726 (18%)
GRN: 1342 (4%)
Oth: 603 (2%)
MAJ: 12418 (40%)
Con: 15270 (54%)
Lab: 6499 (23%)
LDem: 4416 (16%)
GRN: 1158 (4%)
Oth: 695 (2%)
MAJ: 8771 (31%)
Con: 19887 (54%)
Lab: 10368 (28%)
LDem: 5668 (15%)
Oth: 1165 (3%)
MAJ: 9519 (26%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Kensington & Chelsea

2015 Candidates
VICTORIA BORWICK (Conservative) Born 1956, London. Kensington and Chelsea councillor. Contested London Assembly list 1999, London Assembly member since 2008.
ROB ABOUHARB (Labour) Born Cardiff. University lecturer.
ROBIN MCGHEE (Liberal Democrat) Born Lambeth. Educated at Oxford University.
TOBY ABSE (Alliance Green Socialism)
ROLAND COURTENAY (New Independent Centralist)
ANDREW KNIGHT (Animal Welfare)
Comments - 742 Responses on “Kensington”
  1. I’m not sure they do pay for themselves. There was a survey on tourism in the UK during the Jubilee and Olympic year. The amount of money coming in attributed to the Monarchy isn’t a great deal. For me though its not a matter of money. I just dont believe in the devine right to rule. I also don’t necessarily believe Patrotism means being a monarchist. I’m a patriot but not necessarily a monachist. But as I’ve said i dont see our reality changing

  2. Funny – I’d describe myself as a monarchist but not a patriot.

    I like the messiness and irrationality of the UK constitution, including our monarchy. For one thing, it helps prevent intelligent and dangerous people from taking the State too seriously.

  3. Bill
    “I like the messiness and irrationality of the UK constitution”

    That’s a very unusual take on things, the British (unwritten) constitution is indeed messy and irrational but that is nothing to celebrate, it results in very sloppy, inefficient government (don’t even get me started on the distribution of power in this country) and a worrying lack of oversight and protections that means the UK is unique amongst the Western world in our ability to descend into dictatorship should the gov of the day choose to go down that route, people often don’t realise how easy a majority government could create an authoritarian one party state in the UK, assuming they could persuade their own MP’s to vote for it they could legally ban all opposition parties and organisations, disband parliament, declare the then PM “President for life” ban all media except a new state propaganda organisation and give the police and military Orwellian powers to enforce this new order and their would be very few “official” channels to stop it. The two channels we do have are the EU which we are now of course leaving and the monarchy which could either be stripped of his/her power in advance or even worse could be part of the plot.

    You may think this is all a bit far fetched and yeah it probably is but the fact that’s its even possible let alone easy should be of concern when all it would take is a few pieces of basic legislation to enshrine our rights as citizens and protect our democracy. the idiotic quirkiness of the current system is not even remotely comparable to a proper constitution.

  4. There are benefits to a flexible constitution

  5. ‘Funny – I’d describe myself as a monarchist but not a patriot’

    Me too although I have to say that prior to last year’s referendum I was very patriotic believing the UK to be a forward-looking, liberal, welcoming society which was one of the best plsaces to live in the world, although now I;m more inclined to see it as a backwards-looking, ill-informed and bigoted country full of bitter and resentful people

    Obviously it’s somewhere between the two but I think liberals like myself have to stop kidding that we are in a majority – we’re not

  6. Rivers10,

    That’s a very articulate expression of xactly the kind of mindset that the British constitution (rightly) upsets.

  7. Tim Jones,

    Yes: I could actually support Brexit under some rationales (if only it represented a groundswell of support for unilateral free trade!) because they could lead to better policies in the future. However, the Leave campaign and the subsequent Brexit movement reflect a side of the UK public that I don’t like at all; the same side that gets all flustered about “health tourism”.


    By “that mindset”, I meant one that focuses on articulated reason and procedure, and possibilities rather than probabilities. For such a mindset, the fact that the UK has had a notably liberal political history is irrelevant: what matters is that there isn’t a formal reason in the constitution why authoritarianism is legally impossible. If there was, perhaps we could enjoy the wonderous free history of more procedural countries like Germany, France, the USSR, and other enshriners of democratic rights…

    The same mindset also has a very ideological, rather than evidence-based, gripe with the House of Lords.

  8. Rivers is clearly right here. If only we had some sort of document that read something like:

    Citizens “enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration”, then our rights would be as safe as citizens of China.

  9. Constitutions can also be used to tyrannise people. That’s more or less what happened in Spain yesterday – the unconstitutional nature of the referendum was used to justify the sort of state-sanctioned police brutality that hasn’t been seen in the developed Western world for years.

  10. Rivers10 – “the UK is unique amongst the Western world in our ability to descend into dictatorship”

    Unlike Spain, Italy, Germany was your line of thinking?

    In fact that has to be your most outlandish and bizarre clever ever on this site.

    I realise you attended an RC school, but surely they at least mentioned the Bill of Rights and Glorious Revolution Settlement – as well as the mere fact we haven’t descended into dictatorship UNLIKE most of Europe?

  11. PT – my particular favourite being some Catalan activist who said, “but rubber bullets are banned here.”

    Er not quite. The Catalans just banned themselves from using them – not the national police.

    It reminded me of the impotent far Left Councils who erected “Nuclear Free Zone” road signs (as if that had any impact on anything whatsoever, other than council expenditure)

    I see the SNP reps who were in Barca suddenly left very quietly. I recall Salmond saying they had the right in Scotland to call a Referendum (ie he refused to admit it was clearly only the UK Govt who can sanction such a thing). If he’d called one unilaterally, maybe we’d have seen Sturgeon being pulled by her hair across George Square, just like that lady in Spain 😉

  12. Dent Coad has apologised (again) – this time for her referring to Shaun Bailey as, “a token ghetto boy.”

    Although if Guido is anything to go by, there’s a lot more in this MP’s past to come out to haunt her yet.

  13. She seems a thoroughly unpleasant character based on what’s been coming out since her election

  14. She said that – & she was paraphrasin others – 8 yrs ago.

  15. Stephen Bush of the New Statesman summarises thus: neither Dent Coad, nor her critics, nor her defenders, come out of this looking very good.

    There’s no way that this is grounds for suspension, but I said that about both Jared O’Mara and Anne-Marie Morris. It seems in general that loose talk can get you into trouble too easily these days. It’s far too easy to incite mobs on Twitter, who honestly care more about a chance to damage a political opponent than whether that opponent’s actions actually warrant the response.

  16. Meanwhile the local council has distributed a leaflet asking people “On a scale of one to ten, how strongly do you feel about the Grenfell Tower disaster?”

    I think that’s a vastly more tactless comment, personally. It’s reminiscent of Aaron Banks’s poll question, “Does Jo Cox’s death affect how you will vote in the referendum?” I did say after the disaster that I thought the Tories would probably hang on in Kensignton & Chelsea just because of the huge majorities Labour would have to overturn. But it seems like the Conservatives are doing everything they can to lose.

  17. It’s a really strange question, what is their aim? To hope all say very strongly to show what a nice, united borough it is. But some people might say v strongly for quite different reasons, they could get some unpleasant responses. Then they get accused of covering these up…get into a real pickle.

  18. Sorry to be a pedant but it’s the local Conservatives not the local council who delivered that leaflet.

  19. Lancs
    Re other European countries and their constitutions I meant the constitutions they wrote AFTER they became democracies.

    As for Dent Coad has she actually apologised? As far as I’m aware she’s defending her statements claiming (rightly) that she is only paraphrasing the very words Shaun Bailey used to describe himself. Indeed if one actually reads her blog post she has a go at Bailey for calling North Kensington a ghetto and defends the area.

    Regardless of what one thinks about this I think its a silly stretch to claim (as Guido have done) that this is racist.

  20. Thanks for that Paul…still wonder what their motive is.

  21. It looks to me that Staines has been quoting out of context.

  22. Now there’s a surprise

  23. Rivers – I believe she was asked for proof that he (Bailey) said those things, then she changed her story to the words being that of a black constituent, again without offering proof when it was asked.

  24. One would presume she was quoting someone or making a rhetorical quote, because …er… she put the phrases in quotation marks.
    I think some people in the political “centre” need to get out more.

  25. Evening campers. Too much travelling recently to post here very much. In the spirit of bipartisanship I’ll admit to a grudging admiration of Dent Coad. Minus the stupid racism, nothing she has said about Shaun Bailey isn’t a widely shared view on the Tory side of the house. I posted this on in response to their chief Dent Coad bore this afternoon.

    “You seem to have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with Dent Coad. Why? Her “report” into social divisions in K&C used the figure of around 80 deaths from Grenfell, which was the official estimate at the time. Her report, though hyper-partisan and a bit hysterical, is nevertheless a sobering read and a useful contribution to the debate which needs to take place into these issues which have been eating away at London for a decade and more. Whatever her faults, she clearly knows her own patch assiduously and cares about it with a passion, we could do with more MPs like that.

    I think you will find a large number of senior Tories share her low opinion of Shaun Bailey though her race-baiting language was stupid and unnecessary.”

  26. I didn’t realise shaun bailey was so disliked by his own side

  27. CCHQ have tried to foist him on more safe seats than I’ve had hot dinners…including this one of course…and every single one has blown a raspberry. That Kensington Tories considered him so useless and inept that they selected the awful Victoria Borwick answers your point all by itself.

  28. One would assume that safe seats would be inundated with enough decent candidates that someone who is inept couldn’t get listed?

    Are CCHQ blind to his failings?

    Ultimately the short listing should be down to the association really in my view, with no interference from head office. After all they’ve approved someone to be a candidate… and thus ought to be happy with whoever any committee chooses, surely..?

  29. CCHQ usually presents the association with a shortlist of 6, often deliberately putting 5 weak candidates on there so that their preferred candidate gets the nod.

    There are encouraging signs that the party now has a broad enough base of really talented BME representatives to render the need to promote the likes of Bailey and Warsi obselete…I do hope so.

  30. Ah ok, thanks for that.

    Though it ought to raise alarm bells if a special kind of dud was selected over the blue eyed boy/girl…

    Warsi is terrible, unpleasant and stupid, if she’d got into the Commons and made a quick advance she’d have caused a great deal of embarrassment I believe.

    Losing to Shahid Malik was the pits…

  31. The Tories may have a reasonable proportion of BAME representation but their rhetoric under Theresa May couldn’t be better calibrated to put BAME voters off.

  32. “The Tories may have a reasonable proportion of BAME representation but their rhetoric under Theresa May couldn’t be better calibrated to put BAME voters off.”

    Yes, it’s hard not to argue that Cameron’s encouraging improvements with the BME vote haven’t been totally squandered by May. Though perhaps because BME voters are generally more urban than anything related to race per se. It is interesting that the Tories made no headway at all with the 30% or so of BME voters who voted Leave, in contrast to their WWC counterparts in Mansfield etc.

  33. ‘ Though perhaps because BME voters are generally more urban than anything related to race per se ‘

    I’d say they were also generally more public sector, younger and in rented housing.

    Corbyn was able to attract voters from these demographics far more than Miliband was.

  34. All mostly true.

    Hardly surprising working class C2DE Black and Asian British people are in public sector. They face massive discrimination in selection process and racism further down the line..

    You only have to look at sectors like hotels – where you’d think that you’d find a gd proportionof BaME working in reception & managment but their presence is viritually zero. It’s nearly all eastern Europeans who have these jobs (in other words, White ppl).

    Other sectors like this are: estate agents; restaurants (excl fast food); casinos; solicitors offices; beauty salons; theatres.

  35. Saying that I work for a private care provider and there are quite a few people from Zimbabwe, Nigeria and the odd Kenyan

  36. Why exactly do BAME people face discrimination in these roles where Eastern Europeans don’t? In my experience, people aren’t selectively bigoted.

  37. I’m not sure that racism against BAME people is any greater in London than in Texas, and yet when I was at a big hotel in Dallas, almost every member of staff (except management) was African-American or Hispanic. Ditto experiences in very racist places like South Africa or elsewhere in the US.

    (And almost every customer was white. It was deeply uncomfortable and saddening.)

  38. I was in South Africa 2 weeks ago, and have visited the country 2-3 times a year for the past 15-20 years. I can’t remember the last time black hotel guests didn’t outnumber whites where I have stayed. Maybe your hotel was primarily for western tourists. In the smart business hotels of Joburg these days, the richest guests tend to be black.

  39. Polltroll – East Europeans are in general ridiculously overqualified for these menial roles in hotels etc. Which is why they are very popular with employers. Who wouldn’t want a Polish university professor as their receptionist? They outcompete not just ethnic applicants but
    WWC as well.

  40. H. Hemmelig,

    It’s been a LONG time since I was in South Africa – Apartheid had only recently ended. I can’t imagine that South Africa was any less racist then!

  41. And in the case of South Africa, I meant more the tendency to hire black staff.

    Businesses tend to care more about green than any other colour, if they want to stay in business.

  42. ‘ East Europeans are in general ridiculously overqualified for these menial roles in hotels etc. Which is why they are very popular with employers. Who wouldn’t want a Polish university professor as their receptionist? They outcompete not just ethnic applicants but WWC as well. ‘

    Which shows the economic waste of having highly qualified immigrants working in low skilled employment in this country instead of improving the economy in their own countries.

    And also demolished the claims about how qualified economic migrants are.

    Having the highest qualified potato pickers and hotel chambermaids is not the sign of a healthy economy.

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