Lewes

2015 Result:
Conservative: 19206 (38%)
Labour: 5000 (9.9%)
Lib Dem: 18123 (35.9%)
Green: 2784 (5.5%)
UKIP: 5427 (10.7%)
MAJORITY: 1083 (2.1%)

Category: Marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, East Sussex. Most of Lewes council area, part of Wealden council area.

Main population centres: Lewes, Newhaven, Seaford.

Profile: A large, sprawling rural seat covering much of the countryside to the North of Brighton, the South Downs and the valley of the river Ouse. Lewes itself is the small picturesque county town of East Sussex, best known for its extensive and sometimes controversial Guy Fawkes Night celebrations, where effigies of Pope Paul V and contemporary figures, such as Osama bin Laden, are burnt. The country house of Glyndebourne, the site of the annual opera festival, is situated just outside the town. At the southern end of the constituency is the more Labour inclined ferry port of Newhaven and the seaside resort turned dormitory town of Seaford.

Politics: The seat returned Conservative MPs for over a century until it was won by the Liberal Democrat Norman Baker in 1997. It was regained by the Conservatives in 2015.


Current MP
MARIA CAULFIELD (Conservative) Former nurse. Brighton and Hove councillor 2007-2011. Contested Caerphilly 2010. First elected as MP for Lewes in 2015.
Past Results
2010
Con: 18401 (37%)
Lab: 2508 (5%)
LDem: 26048 (52%)
UKIP: 1728 (3%)
Oth: 1403 (3%)
MAJ: 7647 (15%)
2005*
Con: 15902 (34%)
Lab: 4169 (9%)
LDem: 24376 (52%)
GRN: 1071 (2%)
Oth: 1034 (2%)
MAJ: 8474 (18%)
2001
Con: 15878 (35%)
Lab: 3317 (7%)
LDem: 25588 (56%)
UKIP: 650 (1%)
MAJ: 9710 (21%)
1997
Con: 19950 (41%)
Lab: 5232 (11%)
LDem: 21250 (43%)
Oth: 256 (1%)
MAJ: 1300 (3%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
MARIA CAULFIELD (Conservative) Nurse. Brighton and Hove councillor 2007-2011. Contested Caerphilly 2010.
LLOYD RUSSELL-MOYLE (Labour) Born 1986, Sussex. Educated at Priory School and Bradford University.
NORMAN BAKER (Liberal Democrat) Born 1957, Aberdeen. Educated at Royal Liberty School and Royal Holloway College. English teacher. Lewes councillor 1987-99, Leader of Lewes council 1991-97, East Sussex councillor 1989-97. Contested Lewes 1992. MP for Lewes 1997 to 2015. Under-Secretary of State for Transport 2010-2013. Minister of State at the Home Office since 2013. A trenchant backbench inquisitor and campaigning MP, Baker stood down as Lib Dem Environment Spokesman in 2006 to concentrate on campaigning for a full investigation into the death of Dr David Kelly. He returned as Lib Dem shadow transport secretary in 2007.
RAY FINCH (UKIP) Engineer. Contested Eastleigh 2010, MEP for South East since 2014.
ALFIE STIRLING (Green) Born 1990. Educated at Priory School and University College London.
Links
Comments - 312 Responses on “Lewes”
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  1. Norman Baker’s electoral record in Lewes-
    1992- 20, 867 (34.5%, +1.8%)
    1997- 21, 250 (43.2%, +4.1%, boundary changes)
    2001- 25, 588 (56.3%, +13.1%)
    2005- 24, 376 (52.4%, -3.9%)
    2010- 26, 048 (52.0%, +0.5%, boundary changes)

  2. Interesting result in the Lewes district council area in this year’s local elections:

    Con: 7,461
    UKIP: 7,423
    LD: 4,993
    Ind: 3,278
    Lab: 2,894
    Green: 1,876

    The distribution of seats didn’t fit too well with votes cast:

    LD: 3
    UKIP: 3
    Con: 1
    Ind: 1

  3. Note: those figures are using the highest vote method. Peacehaven is a two-member ward and UKIP won both so won 4 seats overall.

  4. A lot of Lib Dems voting UKIP here.

  5. Baker would appear to have name recognition in these parts. Certainly the tactical switching of Labour voters to him in 2001 built up his majority considerably.

    Also given his public profile he doesn’t look like the sort of Lib Dem who will ever easily lose his seat as he must have some degree of personal support in a once-safe Conservative seat.

  6. not surprising he has name recognition, he’s never out of the local papers or other media. I wouldn’t say never, but he should hold on in 2015.

  7. the tories should be winning seats like these

  8. If there is a LD-Lab coalition it would be interesting to see if seats like this desert the LDs

  9. The Tories should win here but I can see why they have struggled.
    The town is not quite their natural territory and there is a slight Brighton influence.

    All the same, they shouldn’t be this far behind and probably will pick it up one day, but I don’t think soon.

  10. that’s as maybe Joe, but in fact Lewes isn’t even the largest town in the constituency (which is Seaford), never mind having a dominant influence. Brighton only has any knock-on effect in the town & immediate environs of Lewes itself

  11. All this talk of the demise of the LibDems reminds one of Oscar Wilde’s comment ” reports of my death are much exaggerated”. It coming on for 100 years since these comments began…

    why should the Libdems go gently into that good night and why should this be a natural Tory seat? A majority of the seats in the country were once Liberal seats.. what does that mean.. nothing in reality. Political tides ebb and flow and the Libdems survive and reinvent…

    The “Recent Comments” of late seem to cycle through LD constituencies with commentators tossing their clod of earth onto the coffin… you have been proved wrong before, in fact for 96 years now…… a week is a long time in politics and it is more than 18 months til the next election… if all the evidence for reading the last rites is the May local council elections then Labour/Tory ambitions should indeed be made of sterner stuff..

  12. i thought that quote was by mark twain

  13. You are right…

  14. “The Tories should win here but I can see why they have struggled.
    The town is not quite their natural territory and there is a slight Brighton influence”

    …which is why the Tories have to be saying the right things and acting on their words. The party talks big but does little, which will not excite voters and make more people back them. It’s almost like the party is locked in a stupid mode where their priorities are back to front. An example of this is the HS2 rubbish that the government are still hoping to build. That sort of arrogance puts people off.

  15. “The Tories should win here but I can see why they have struggled.
    The town is not quite their natural territory and there is a slight Brighton influence”

    …which is why the Tories have to be saying the right things and acting on their words. The party talks big but does little, which will not excite voters and make more people back them. It’s almost like the party is locked in a stupid mode where their priorities are back to front. An example of this is the HS2 rubbish that the government are still hoping to build. That sort of arrogance puts people off.

  16. I quite agree with Antiochain, people are rubbing there hands hoping for a swift demise of the LibDems, I’m not one of there supporters but guys stop hovering like a flock of vultures circling on some stricken prey!

    People accuse the LibDems of campaigning dirty tricks, turning on there word etc etc, but how many times have the Conservatives and Labour done these types of things? I think the problem is that the LibDems/UKIP/Greens and to some extent the BNP have eaten away at the near monopoly of the British political system that the reds and blues have had for the past X number of years, and some people on here feel that the Cons/Lab still have a god given right to it.

    This sight is meant to be and I quote the comments policy

    “This means that it is not a place for spinning, not a place for saying how much you hate party X and wish they would lose, nor it is a place for saying what party should win, or what the public should support. We are interested in what will happen, what the public actually think, not what you think they should do.”

    So please can the usual suspects please just tone it down as its tiresome or perhaps there should be some stricter moderation of comments!

  17. The problem with HS2 is that it is overwhelmingly gesture politics – as the government’s own briefings essentially acknowledge.

    It’s a ‘big project’ aimed at catching headlines, whereas the money would be much better spent on a variety of more focused local schemes.

    The government apparently thinks gesture politics works – I doubt it.

  18. How is HS2 ‘rubbish’ and ‘gesture politics’. I think it’s an example of the government putting the national interest ahead of political expediency. Is Crossrail gesture politics as well?

  19. The strongest argument for it is capacity.
    What are your plans to increase capacity that will be full quite quickly?
    Buidling along the same corridoor is a non starter.

    But I do fear the costs and the destructive route.
    I fear it will mean the rest of the network doesn’t get the investment it needs.
    We need a quick but deep hard look at this.

  20. Using the largely abandoned GCML trackbed with spurs is the solution..

  21. Not really. Large parts of the trackbed have been built over and it goes nowhere near the West Midlands.

  22. Versus an GBP 80bn spend,….? whatever was built on the trackbed can be demolished… at an infinitesimal fraction of that amount

    If you see my original comment about spurs.. you use the existing easement for the spine of the system and then branch off with less damaging environmental effects..

  23. Your reference to spurs was noted, but a spur from the route of the GCML to Birmingham would be more of a line than a spur. Nor would demolishing everything in site be “infinitesimal”. Nor would following that route even be any cheaper as the vast majority of the cost is for the infrastructure itself not the preparatory work. Nor does following the GCML as far as Sheffield answer how the route would connect up with Manchester, Leeds and beyond. Another ‘spur’ across the Peak District perhaps?

  24. And the £80bn is an unfounded estimate from a think tank with an agenda so I’d be wary in quoting that.

  25. Or how about just dump the whole project altogether. Spend a fraction of that money upgrading a whole host of rail lines up and down the country…maybe even reopen lines and/or stations that were closed under Beeching if there is a viable case to do so.

    If HS2 is the Government putting ‘national interest ahead of political expediency’ then God help us.

    Crossrail is better planned, makes sense economically and will take the pressure off suburban services (if it is not too expensive that is), it will not be ploughing through areas of outstanding beauty and so far has not caused the same levels of destruction that HS2 will do if it goes ahead.

    Moving back to this seat another problem that hinders the Tories here is Mr Nick Boles, who every few months shows his arrogance by banging on about building on the countryside. Whereas in the past we had a solid message on housebuilding and where houses can and should go, now we seem to prefer Labours idea of houses anywhere and everywhere which plays into the hands of the Lib Dems both locally and nationally.

  26. Have you travelled on the WCML recently? There is simply not enough capacity. Your main argument in favour of Crossrail applies with HS2. Electrifying other routes and reopening branch lines in rural areas or even the GCML will not address this issue, I’m afraid.

  27. OK Dan.

  28. I think once we had a puerile slogan like ‘their lawns or our jobs’ being used to big up HS2, then it should already have been clear that something was very fishy.

    This project is being trailed as a way of ‘regenerating’ northern cities but it will do nothing of the kind (it may even do the reverse) – hence my description ‘gesture politics’.

  29. Well that was easy enough to win you over to the pro camp 😉

  30. I have not come to a definite decision – I should have done so before.

    But those who don’t want it have to come up with some serious proposals about how we could upgrade the existing corridoors.
    I am not sure that is even possible let alone cheap.

  31. Tim Montgomerie writes on Conhome

    “it is now very clear that HS2 has become too expensive. It risks being obsolete as a technology by the time it is delivered because of advances in telecommunications and even, possibly, the emergence of driverless cars. The danger for the Conservatives is that they plough on with this project for all the wrong reasons – fearing the short-term humiliation of making a U-turn on a flagship project. But the benefits of a U-turn would also be considerable. If the Chancellor and PM can admit that HS2’s budget projections are simply too risky they will free up cash for other desperately-needed infrastructure projects.

    If the Conservatives don’t change position the political danger is that Labour will”

    Very well put…

  32. Shame its largely nonsense.

    The past twenty to thirty years have witnessed huge advances in telecommunications, but also an accompanying huge rise in the number of rail passengers. There is no reason to suppose that any further advances will have the opposite effect.

    The advent of driverless cars will have no effect on congestion in urban areas. It is true that as driverless cars become more numerous more vehicles can safely be fitted onto the same amount of road space. But in big cities we have a situation where a lot of the time the roads are chock full anyway. As rail travel is all about going from city centre to city centre I don’t see how a driverless car would be any better able to compete with the train at making a journey into, say, central London at peak time than one driven by a person.

    Labour will never come out against HS2. Labour people in northern cities by and large want better, faster transport links to the capital. The main objection of many is that HS2 should be built starting in the north rather than being built from the south up.

  33. A GBP 80bn or 50bn or even 30bn project looms for the financial markets as a massive threat.. removing it would probably lower interest rates that govt pays on gilts and even strengthen the pound.. that is just how big a negative this is for financial markets…

  34. LD 38
    CON 34
    UKIP 16
    LAB 8
    GRN 4

  35. The UKIP figure is very high – I doubt they’ll get 10%.
    The cost may be too much but
    that article is rubbish.

    The argument about we’re all going to be able to work remotely is not as up to date as Tim seems to think it is.
    I work in a technical and programming team
    and I can tell you that you need to see people quite often to thrash issues out.

  36. Joe: what’s your view on HS2?

  37. This is a seat, like Truro on which I have commented, on which Labour, and UKIP, have been very heavily squeezed. It is difficult to believe that at least some “natural Labour” supporters will cease to vote tactically now that the LibDems have been in coalition with the Tories.

    It is also hard to envisage the Tories avoiding some loss of votes to UKIP. A major issue for the Tories will be to stop a loss of votes to UKIP counterbalancing a swing from LIbDem to Labour.

    Much will depend on how much personal vote Norman Baker will hold, which is difficult to assess without detailed local knowledge. But to me this seat does seem to be at risk from the LibDem perspective, specifically because the low Labour vote suggests that many of the LIbDem votes were soft tactical ones rather than ones from firmly committed supporters.

  38. Norman Baker hasn’t been formally reselected yet. There haven’t been any indications that he might stand down though so I assume he probably will continue as LD candidate. (In fact no candidates have been chosen yet for the constituency).

  39. If Norman Baker didn’t stand again I suspect the LibDems would be likely to lose the seat.

  40. I haven’t yet decided re HS2. The cost could be a danger to the rest of the network and other improvwmwnts we need. But capacity is a strong argument. I also think some of the people against would never build anything.

  41. HS2 (on which I have had a letter published in “The Independent”) runs nowhere near Lewes. But I think Joe James B is right (as is Alastair Darling). It all depends on the cost, and even £40 billion looks to high.

    The political issue is that people in the Southern commuter land are being asked to pay through the nose for rail investment when Scotland, particularly, has its fares pegged back. The situation is even worse in Canterbury and East Kent where HS1 is used as an excuse for even higher increases than the rest of the South even though there is little prospect further investment. The indications are that commuters and railway workers are getting to the stage whenre they will not put up with it. If they had been in areas of the UK more used to political protest they would have been doing this long ago.

    If the Coalition were politically savvy they would introduce an act now placing a fixed cap of £40 billion on HS2, making clear that any overruns would have to be met by cuts in functionality, either by cutting the number of tunnels or by cutting out the extension of the line from Birmingham to Yorkshire.

    By the way, my letter to the Independent argued that the line should run South from Birmingham by way of Peterborough, Cambridge, Stansted Airport and throught the Lee Valley to Stratford International. This would have the advantages of serving a major airport and of supporting the emergence of Cambridge (whether we like it or not, I don’t) as a world centre for science and technology.

    Perhaps more relevantly to us political geeks I have also argued – in the Times, I was pleasantly surprised that they published the letter – that, as the Palace of Westminster is unfit for purpose, economic pressure on London should be reduced by relocating the capital e.g. to Birmingham Airport, which HS2 would support. This would also reduce pressure on Heathrow.

  42. If UKIP’s vote holds up, they could sure be in with a chance.

    At present (I.e. election tomorrow) this looks like a three-way marginal, Eastleigh-style.

  43. UKIP aren’t in with a chance here IMO although they could take a better than average percentage.

  44. If Norman stood down tomorrow and a by election was called, I think they (UKIP) would win.

    But in 2015 it may not be the same. I can see why you don’t believe they are in with a chance though.

  45. I don’t see this seat as being very conducive to UKIP at all. They would do particularly poorly in Lewes itself and not all that brilliantly elsewhere either, though I can see them polling reasonably well in Seaford to some extent. The areas of Lewes district which are likely to be the most fertile ground for UKIP – the bungaloid areas between Rottingdean & Newhaven – aren’t in the constituency, being as most contributors will know in Brighton Kemptown. Of course, this is only my opinion – but I doubt if most knowledgeable people, whether or not they like UKIP, would disagree that strongly.

  46. UKIP should do alright in Lewes itself, and Lewes district as a whole is ideal or them.

    It is quite remarkable how the stereotype of the UKIP voting demographic has changed over a mere 2 years from middle-class golf club members (higher in socio-economic standing than your average Tory voter) to the white working class (a complete opposite in socio-economic status).

    The failure of the established commentators and political parties to truly understand and pinpoint the UKIP voting demographic is what will be remembered in history as the reason for their success.

    After all, why should the aformemtioned groups understand anyway? They are no different in their understanding of politics from any other person apart from the fact that they approach politics from a different perspective.

    Psephology is much like that. When one is predicting an election result, facts are never truly used in a literal sense. In fact, only opinions are used, opinions backed up by their owner with statistics that have been selected and manipulated to support a particular line of argument.

    This is how politics and the media have operated for years. Reality is after all simply artificial. The world is to use a cliche phrase, what we make of it.

  47. This could be wrong but I tend to think of UKIP voters as being more middle-class and wealthy the older they are and more working-class as far as their younger supporters are concerned: for example, stereotypes would be a 65 year old country club member and a 35 year old white van driver, to greatly oversimplify, but not doing so well with middle-class younger people or elderly working-class people.

  48. I think you are right there Andy, but I would say that they are popular with the elderly as a whole; including the working class.

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