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
Con: 18401 (37%)
Lab: 2508 (5%)
LDem: 26048 (52%)
UKIP: 1728 (3%)
Oth: 1403 (3%)
MAJ: 7647 (15%)
Con: 15902 (34%)
Lab: 4169 (9%)
LDem: 24376 (52%)
GRN: 1071 (2%)
Oth: 1034 (2%)
MAJ: 8474 (18%)
Con: 15878 (35%)
Lab: 3317 (7%)
LDem: 25588 (56%)
UKIP: 650 (1%)
MAJ: 9710 (21%)
Con: 19950 (41%)
Lab: 5232 (11%)
LDem: 21250 (43%)
Oth: 256 (1%)
MAJ: 1300 (3%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

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.
Comments - 340 Responses on “Lewes”
  1. A good deal of the people I know who support the legislation of drugs are Conservative libetarians

    That may be true, but i know lewes a bit…the tory voters there aren’t big into drugs legalisation.

  2. I don’t doubt that this has not been fun for Baker, given the Home Affairs Dpt’s tendency towards authoritarianism.
    My guess is that his aim was to publish the drugs thing, and, now that’s done, he’s decided he doesn’t want to stay out the rest of the government term.

  3. Baker is very well thought of here. He should have no trouble getting back in again

  4. What made me most furious about this is Baker’s complaint that Home Office policy isn’t “evidence led”. The typical pious Lib Dem attitude that only their reading of the evidence is valid. To suggest that there is no way evidence can be used to support keeping drugs illegal is quite frankly horseshit. It is a complicated issue with valid points on both sides. Regardless of the politics I’m very glad this weirdo has no more influence on government drug policy and it’s an added bonus that he may well be booted out of his seat.

  5. I really like Baker, as do most Lib Dems

    He won’t lose his seat

  6. As Andrew Pierce pointed out in the Sky Paper Review, he was meant to be the Crime Prevention Minister, so not sure why he mentioned animals. As Damian Green said, a Minister of State is by definition a subordinate role, whereas he viewed himself and the LibDems as equal to a Tory Home Secretary.

  7. While obviously subordinate to Teresa May, I don’t think it is unreasonable for him to want to be kept in the loop, as the Lib Dem representative in the home office – remember, the idea of the having a presence in every department, rather than claiming one or two, was that the junior partners would know what was going on.

    As for Lewes: it will be safe

    “UKIP and the Tories may well have a field day with his “soft on drugs” views ”

    Why would UKIP do that? UKIP is a libertarian party

  9. I think some on here are conflating their expressed liking for Norman Baker with him being assured of victory in Lewes at the next election. Not the same thing, I’m afraid.

    I remain convinced that the contest in Lewes will be very close next time, although Baker will probably still squeak it. A significant proportion of his vote will peel off to the Greens and Labour I think – perhaps as much as 10 or 15%. That may put him in difficulties here.

  10. ‘I think some on here are conflating their expressed liking for Norman Baker with him being assured of victory in Lewes at the next election. Not the same thing, I’m afraid.’

    I don’t think this is true. I think almost everyone on here was predicting a fairly clear Lib Dem hold even before we really knew anything about Baker (beyond the conspiracy theories). I also think that he is a Lib Dem who will not suffer badly from a tactical unwind.

  11. I have to disagree with that and I’ll tell you why. A good proportion of the Lewes electorate, especially in and around the town itself are ex-Brighton, ex-London radical middle class voters who would either vote Labour or Green if just over the border in the any of the three Brighton and Hove seats.

    For that reason, I think that there will be a significant tactical unwind because many of these voters will not vote Lib Dem again, at least not at the next GE. I think Baker will get a shock here, although a vote share of 38 – 40% (which I think is likely) will probably still see him home.

  12. Six months from now if Baker holds his seat we could all be reflecting on him making a smart move by leaving the coalition government so publicly.

  13. And I’m sure we will be

  14. ‘I have to disagree with that and I’ll tell you why. A good proportion of the Lewes electorate, especially in and around the town itself … etc’

    Lewes town is, I think, the most monolithically Lib Dem town in the country, bar Kendal.

  15. I’m not sure on what measure you mean. If you mean in recent general elections that may be the case but that is because Norman Baker has corralled all the substantial natural Labour and Green vote. In local elections it certainly isn’t monolithically LD as there are substantial votes for those parties and Independents. The town council has a small (10/8) LD majority whereas Kendal has a full house of LD councillors. I should think that other contenders for second most monolithic LD town would be Bodmin in Cornwall and Yate in Gloucestershire and North Walsham in Norfolk

  16. Eastleigh?

  17. I understand Holt in Norfolk and South Moulton in Devon are pretty staunchly Lib Dem towns too – with regards to general elections – although obvioiusly much smaller than Lewes or Kendal

  18. Main party candidates:

    Con: Maria Caulfield
    Lab: Lloyd Russell-Moyle
    LD: Norman Baker
    UKIP: Ray Finch
    Green: Alfie Stirling

  19. Don’t think the greens are likely to be a major party here. libDem hold

  20. Ashcroft poll:

    LD 37
    CON 29
    UKIP 15
    LAB 9
    OTH 9

  21. The Ashcroft poll above for the seat gives a 4% swing to the Conservatives. Of course on that basis the Tories would stand to lose about 8%, but considerably less than a projected 15% decrease for Norman Baker. If the Greens can do as well as 7% in May, that could actually happen to the Lib Dem vote, but as he has a base of over 50% of the vote, any suggestion that he will lose here is highly unlikely I would think.

  22. Norman Baker: it would be unwise for Prince Andrew to attend reception at Davos.

  23. LD – 44
    CON – 34
    UKIP – 13
    LAB – 6
    GREEN – 2
    OTHER – 1

  24. Lib Dem Hold. 3,000 maj

  25. Full results:

    Con 19,206 38.0%
    LDem 18,123 35.9%
    UKIP 5,427 10.7%
    Lab 5,000 9.9%
    Green 2,784 5.5%

    Majority 1083 : Swing 8.7%

    This result means the Lib Dems have lost all their seats on the South East coast.

  26. Runnymede… another Town council result to annoy you..

    Seaford TC – Seaford Central Ward 23rd July 2015

    LibDem 370 [35.7%]
    UKIP 210 [20.3%]
    Independents for Seaford 207 [20.0%]
    Conservative 193 [18.6%]
    Green 57 [5.5%]

    Turnout 26%
    Majority: 160
    Lib Dem gain from Con

  27. is this the one which the 18 who wasn’t eligable to vote in GE2015 won? Maybe I should stand haha

  28. This is set up to be a tough fight in 2020 with Maria Caulfield trying to use a first-time incumbency effect to see off Norman Baker for good. If Baker is not the LIbDem candidate, things may be more difficult for them.

  29. I’d be surprised if Baker stands again. The Tories will probably win easily next time.

  30. Frederic.. the result speaks for itself…

    if Baker stands again then Caulfield is toast.. buyer’s remorse is evident here…

  31. “if Baker stands again then Caulfield is toast.. buyer’s remorse is evident here…”

    I don’t see how you reach that conclusion.

  32. After the election, Baker announced that his political career was over. The Lib Dems will have a new candidate.

    I think it’s far too early to predict the outcome in individual seats, but think a Lib Dem gain will probably be more possible in nearby Eastbourne than here. That’s assuming the seats are not much changed by the boundary review.

  33. Andy JS- I certainly don’t see how that conclusion can be reached on the basis of a single town council election result even if I accept that on paper this is one of the Lib Dems’ better prospects in 2020.

  34. You can’t – it’s just more absurd ramping.

  35. How is this seat likel to be affected by redistribution before 2020?

    I see that the abandoned 2013 redistribution would have moved Newhaven and Seaford into a Brighton East seat. This raises the question as to whether voters in Newhaven and Seaford are more or less likely to vote LibDem than those in Lewes and Wealden. As the majority was only 1083 the altered boundaries might well have enabled Norman Baker to hold the seat.

    It is not so clear that bondaries changed on these lines would enable the LibDems to regain the seat as the Incumbency effect, and also here the loss of Baker’s considerable personal vote, may mean that LibDem support will fall away considerably.

  36. Lewes proper is the Lib Dems’ strongest area so they would probably be slightly stronger in the proposed new seat, though I couldn’t say if it would be by enough for Baker to have held on in 2015. I imagine Newhaven to have been quite strong for the Lib Dems in the past, with quite a lot of their vote moving to UKIP this year.

  37. I guess that Newhaven, which admittedly is not that large, might have a considerable number of Labour voters who plumped tactically for Norman Baker. It is a good question as to how they would vote in a new Brighton East seat – how far they will continue to support the LibDems, how far they will revert to Labour and indeed how far they will vote UKIP.

    Given that Baker onky lost by 1083 votes, it is in my view likely that the presence of voters from Newhaven and Seaford changed the result.

  38. That’s most likely true, however Baker had a massive personal vote on the basis of 30 years as a high profile local councillor and campaigning MP. Even on slightly more favourable boundaries I don’t think the Lib Dems will win Lewes back now.

  39. It’s difficult to envisage the LDs winning any seats back in 2020, with the possible exception of Thornbury & Yate if Steve Webb stands again.

  40. Frederic The boundary changes in E Sussex would have ripped lewes to pieces and merged it with a large part of Wealden. The notional Lewes and Uckfield would have likely been Tory even in 2010. Baker would have had no chance of surviving in 2015. A huge drawback with the failed LD 2015 strategy was by neglecting their non target seats and relying on MP’s personal votes they are now very vulnerable indeed to radical boundary changes.

  41. The huge loss of LibDem seats will put them in a worse position when it comes to the “non-political” horse-trading over redistribution, particularly if they fail to make a comeback at local elections in the near future.

  42. The proposed new Brighton East & Lewes seat would have been a difficult amalgamation of the Labour-voting council estates of East Brighton and Moulescombe, the Liberal Democrat-voting market town of Lewes, and some Tory-voting coastal settlements and countryside in between

    Such a seat was scrapped in favour of extending the current Kemp Town seat all the way to Newhaven and amalgamating what was left in Lewes with most of Wealden

    Neither scenario would have any benefit for the Lib Dems – not in 2015 and certainly not now

  43. I’d be surprised if the Lib Dems took this seat (assuming it still exists in some form) back in 2020 – surely they could concentrate on Eastbourne (smaller majority, run the council etc.)

    Of course five years is a long time – if 2016 and 2017 are just two more years of heavy losses I can see panic setting in and a lot of activists giving up. In that scenario they could have an uphill struggle to hold Westmorland let alone make any gains

  44. I assume you’re joking regarding the Lib Dems losing Westmorland Mikeindevon.

    I can’t see them losing a seat they held with an 18% maj when polling 8% nationally.

    Considering they also got kicking’s from the electorate both in 2012 & 2013 there are not a lot of seats for them to lose in either year.

  45. it is admittedly very unlikely – then again any suggestions of them losing Twickenham and Yeovil would’ve been laughed at a few months ago. It’s more scenario suggestion in the event that the heavy losses just keep coming

    “Considering they also got kicking’s from the electorate both in 2012 & 2013 there are not a lot of seats for them to lose in either year” – they got a kicking in 2011 and still managed to do a lot worse in 2015. In 2012 they actually didn’t do too badly in a lot of their supposed strongholds (Cheltenham, Colchester, Eastleigh, Portsmouth, Stockport) so I’d expect modest losses

  46. that should read “worst-case scenario suggestion”

  47. Yes I believe the Lib Dems polled comfortably over 10% in 2012 and they remain below that threshold at the moment. It does also depend which leader Labour elects.

  48. Up here in the North West the Libs were wiped out in 2012 apart from a few pockets mikeindevon so I can’t actually see them below the few seats they hold….

  49. But the whole country does not revolve around the North West. Much depends on what happens in strongholds where Lib Dems still dominate locally but lost the parliamentary seat – the Eastleighs, Eastbournes, Baths and Cheltenhams.

  50. HH nor does it revolve around the few areas where they have any strength left.

    They are going to be judged by what happens in the vast areas of the country where they were crushed over the past 5 years, which is most of it.

    If they are able to make gains over the next few years in those area’s then they have a future, if not they’ll be as relevant as the Natural law Party….

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