2015 Result:
Conservative: 26093 (54.3%)
Labour: 5902 (12.3%)
Lib Dem: 6469 (13.5%)
Green: 2435 (5.1%)
UKIP: 7164 (14.9%)
MAJORITY: 18929 (39.4%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: West Midlands, Shropshire.

Main population centres: Ludlow, Bishops Castle, Much Wenlock, Bridgnorth, Church Stretton.

Profile: A large, rolling rural seat, dotted with small market towns and villages. The biggest settlement is Ludlow itself, a historic market town and an administrative centre for the south of Shropshire. The seat also includes Much Wenlock, famous for the nineteenth century Wenlock Olympian Games which were a forerunner of the modern Olympic movement.

Politics: Normally a safe Conservative seat, Ludlow was briefly held by the Liberal Democrats between 2001 and 2005 after the then Conservative MP Christopher Gill retired. Gill later joined UKIP and in 2010 contested his old seat for UKIP, narrowly losing his deposit.

Current MP
PHILIP DUNNE (Conservative) Born 1958, Ludlow. Educated at Eton and Oxford University. Former farmer. South Shropshire councillor 2001-2005. First elected as MP for Ludlow in 2005. Minister for Defence Procurement since 2012.
Past Results
Con: 25720 (53%)
Lab: 3272 (7%)
LDem: 15971 (33%)
UKIP: 2127 (4%)
Oth: 1642 (3%)
MAJ: 9749 (20%)
Con: 20979 (45%)
Lab: 4974 (11%)
LDem: 18952 (41%)
GRN: 852 (2%)
Oth: 783 (2%)
MAJ: 2027 (4%)
Con: 16990 (39%)
Lab: 5785 (13%)
LDem: 18620 (43%)
GRN: 871 (2%)
Oth: 858 (2%)
MAJ: 1630 (4%)
Con: 19633 (42%)
Lab: 11745 (25%)
LDem: 13724 (30%)
Oth: 1183 (3%)
MAJ: 5909 (13%)

2015 Candidates
PHILIP DUNNE (Conservative) See above.
SIMON SLATER (Labour) Solihull councillor 2006-2014, originally elected as a Liberal Democrat. Contested Meriden 2010 for the Liberal Democrats.
CHARLOTTE BARNES (Liberal Democrat)
Comments - 91 Responses on “Ludlow”
  1. I’m okay with The Results bringing it up. If someone doesn’t want to participate, he or she doesn’t have to.

    Personally, I’ve heard the Lib Dems are doing alright in locals in this area. I’ve always tended to think they could do well in the Welsh Marcher lands than they actually do (Ludlow, Herefordshire South, etc.), and it might be worth developing for them. While the Ludlow 2001 result was a fluke, it may not be a complete fluke.

  2. I would like to be able to have a discussion about this seat, so thanks a lot PT Richards.

    So do we think the 2001 result here was a fluke? To a certain extent I would say yes, actually, it was a bit quirky- It was a Solihull-type result before Solihull even happened (2005).

    What is clear to me about what happened here in 2001 is that Matthew Green was obviously a very good candidate to just win the seat at all. There could in truth have been any number of factors and I have only really speculated- I think we did hear from a few locals on the old site who were around at the time. It remains to me rather fascinating and intriguing quite why the Lib Dems lost this in 2005, almost as quickly as they had gained it out of virtually nowhere.

    I would guess (and I’m only guessing because I don’t know for certain) that the local election results from around 1998-2001 would have pointed to a Lib Dem gain. Also, Ludlow was always a safe Tory seat, but never extremely safe, and the Lib Dems had long been in a clear second place after Labour got as close as they ever would to beating the Conservatives in 1966.

    With all that in mind, I rather think that it does fit well into the solid Lib Dem tradition that has historically been embedded into the Welsh Marches- Montgomeryshire, Brecon and Radnorshire, Ceredigion, and then into England here, Shrewsbury and Atcham (where the Lib Dems have occasionally challenged the Conservatives), Hereford of course and once upon a time Leominster.

    So perhaps it was also a geographical thing and one day it was bound to happen given the non-conformist ways of much of the Welsh-English border towns.

    They’re just a few possible reasons why they ever won though. The fact they lost in 2005 so quickly is as equally bizarre, if not more so.

  3. Yeah, I pretty much agree with all of that. I am of the opinion that the Lib Dems would (if we discount the coalition, and just follow the track of Kennedy’s Lib Dems) have solidified very well in the marcher lands. Hereford, Ludlow, Montgomeryshire, Brecon & Radnorshire, and a few others. It could have become a bastion for them. Not so now. I think the Tories will hold Montgomeryshire in a close race this time around, probably to lose it again down the line, but the Lib Dems should hold Brecon & Radnorshire for a long time, especially as Kirsty Williams will probably be the candidate once Roger Williams stands down. I also think they’ll challenge here and in Hereford again in an election cycle or two.

    I’d suggest you take a look at the locals from 2013 here. The Lib Dems gained a seat, and they currently hold what seems to be a majority of the county council seats in the Ludlow constituency.

  4. Is it therefore possible that the Lib Dems could one day take this seat back, or at least get close to the Tories again? They did do very well here last year.

    I agree with the notion that if CK had still been leader through 2005-2010 that the Lib Dems could well have got a grip on their Welsh Marshes seats and more.

    Might the Lib Dem comeback here have been to do with Tory control of Shropshire Counicl?

  5. I’m with John D. Repetitious stuff doesn’t improve the quality of the discussion. In fact, I would go as far as to say that repetitious stuff doesn’t improve the (snips himself)

  6. Sorry Barnaby. This is clearly end of discussion then.

  7. prediction for 2015-

    con- 48%
    UKIP- 17%
    lab- 11%
    green- 3%
    BNP- 1%

  8. That would be a very good result for the Conservatives if that happened.

  9. Some insight into why Matthew Green lost in 2005.

    The Tory vote was demoralised in 2001 and didn’t come out for Taylor Smith. Green had worked the constituency hard and was strong in Much Wenlock, an otherwise Tory division. By 2005, the Tories were regrouping and it would be foolish to underestimate the extent to which the Countryside Alliance gave them a flag to rally round for the Tory cause. And of course Dunne was a much more local candidate.

    Green actually increased his vote marginally in 2005, squeezing Labour even further, but Dunne brought back some who had voted Lib Dem in 01 and more importantly perhaps a fair few who hadn’t voted. I did some canvassing in a strong LibDem ward, and it was perceptible that the Tories were less toxic in 05 than 01. If one place lost Green the election, however, it was Bridgnorth, a much swingier place than Ludlow town itself.

    I could see the LibDems challenging here again but perhaps it’s two elections away.

  10. Thanks very much for that. It always helps to get detailed knowledge from someone local to a particular seat. It always did surprise me how Green lost in 2005 despite having the incumbency factor- the same thing happened with Sue Doughty in Guildford as well.

  11. I think it’s fair to say that the LD win in 2001 was rather aberrant. This is a very rural seat by English standards, and while Ludlow itself perhaps has a smidgen of the rather arty demographic which is stereotypically Lib Dem Bridgnorth is a rather humdrum town with strong military connections, rarely (though not never) a recipe of Lib Dem success, and the other towns are small country towns which would also be natural Tory territory normally. The circumstances in which Chris Gill left the scene didn’t help the Tories, but their vote was naturally weak anyway at the time in many areas, and the LDs took advantage. In fact they did pretty well to remain competitive in 2005 when the Tories looked much less of a rabble, irrespective of Matthew Green’s first-time incumbency vote – that would have limited Dunne’s majority, but it was really asking a lot of the LDs to hold on to this seat, and indeed Guildford which was another rather surprising gain in 2001 since that had a first-time incumbent Tory MP with an apparently decent majority of about 4700 (clearly he wasn’t well-liked judging from the result).

  12. I drove a fair distance through this constituency today. Only one poster – UKIP on a farm hedge. I would not think this is being treated as a serious contest.

  13. Well this is a far cry from the exciting days of this seat between 2001 and 2005 when Ludlow was a real marginal seat between the Lib Dems and Tories under the hard-working and heavily active Lib Dem Matthew Green, who did very well to win here in 2001. Since his shock win on the retirement of Chris Gill and Green’s subsequent defeat in 2005, one would suspect the result last time merely marks a return to the natural political persuasion of this seat.

  14. My take is that the LibDems would be happy with a decent second place this election – nobody here really sees this as competitive this time; however it’s worth noting that some of the rather radical reforms being undertaken by the Tory administration on Shropshire Council aren’t endearing them to voters.

  15. Incidentally the description of ‘main population centres’ above miss out one of the largest settlements in the constituency. Broseley, which is substantially larger than Much Wenlock, Bishops Castle and quite possibly Stretton, and which is an enclave of labour/liberal support within the constituency.

  16. The Lib Dems showed some resilience in the 2013 county council elections, winning 3 wards adjacent to the Welsh border and 2 round Ludlow itself. Heather Kidd, the 2010 candidate, won her ward of Chirbury and Worthen against a Conservative candidate with a mere 81.3 % of the vote!

    Nevertheless given the national picture its hard to see anything other than another fall in the Lib Dem vote. If it falls below 26.1% that would be their worst result since they took 2nd place in the seat in Feb 1974 (though prior to 1997, the seat also included some areas which now fall into the Wrekin constituency.

  17. Oh and on the subject of the 2001 result, two observations :

    The Conservative candidate hailed from Kent and had no obvious links with either the seat or the area (West Midlands / Welsh Marches). Compare with say Jasper More, the previous by one Conservative MP, whose family had represented the area on and off for generations, or Christopher Gill who ran a business in Wolverhampton and I think lived in the constituency. Seats which are used to local candidates do not always respond warmly to outsiders. (See Cheltenham 1992).

    The south east of the seat is of course adjacent to Wyre Forest, and for some people in this area the fate of Kidderminster hospital was an issue. The Lib Dems decided not to put up a candidate against Richard Taylor and Matthew Green opposed the downgrading of facilities there.

  18. very small point – there was another MP between More and Gill. This was Eric Cockeram, previously (between 1970 & 1974) MP for Bebington, who represented the seat from More’s retirement in 1979 until his own retirement in 1987, when Gill succeeded him. The previous Tory MP for Bebington was none other than Sir Geoffrey Howe, who of course also managed to find a safe seat after he lost it to Labour in 1966.

  19. Yes Barnaby you are absolutely correct. You might recall that Mr Cockeram “retired” after he was discovered to have made multiple share applications during the privatisation of British Telecom.

  20. the same reason Keith Best retired in Ynys Mon, as I recall. Best was a Brighton Tory councillor before he was elected in 1979, for the ward where l voted in 1983.

  21. You recall correctly. Best went on to have a notable (and I’m tempted to say slightly unlikely given his political background) career in public service (shades of John Profumo). I have no idea at all what happened to Cockeram. Seems to have disappeared without trace.

  22. Yesterday drove through Much Wenlock, along the Corvedale and down to Ludlow. As ever the fields and livestock are strongly for Phillip Dunne but a few LD signs seen too and one or two fields of sheep are voting UKIP!

    This is my constituency and I expect something like

    Con 50
    LD 27
    UKIP 9
    Lab 10
    Green 4

  23. Potter,

    The Constituency where I first voted!

    I suspect you are being a little generous to the Lib Dems and parsimonious towards UKIP. I would be surprised, given the national trend, if the former broke 25%. The latter I expect to be in the mid teens probably at the expense of Philip Dunne who is not blatantly Europhobic.

  24. I went to the hustings in Ludlow last night. It was organised by Churches together and concentrated on social issues in the town. I’m probably biased towards the left but it seemed to be more positive towards Labour and the Green party, Conservatives and LibDem a bit negative, UKIP very negative b(he was laughed at by most of the room at one point).

    The main issues were the NHS, particularly the possible closing of the Royal Shrewsbury hospital, transport (bus services and trains mentioned, the renationalisation of trains being popular), food bank usage and youth services.

    I suspect the audience was mostly towards the left but I think they’ll be a move from Conservative to labour greens but it’ll still be a Conservative win.

    Con 42
    LD 23
    UKIP 12
    Lab 15
    Green 8

    Like I said, I lean to the left so I expect I’m a bit biased towards that. Be interesting to see the result.

  25. The Labour campaign here has been more active than any since 1997. Not that that will have much bearing on the result here, but it’s nice, you know?

  26. Oh and with regards to 2001, my memory is that every single LibDem leaflet included ‘The Conservative From Kent’ as if it were an old-fashioned advertising jingle. Of course the real problem with Taylor-Smith wasn’t that he wasn’t local or that he was spectacularly obnoxious, but that he was *both*.

  27. Sibboleth,

    The good news for Labour is that their vote will undoubtedly increase as the tactical voting of the last 3 contests starts to unwind.

    The bad news for Labour is this may still not be adequate to avoid demotion to 4th place behind UKIP.

  28. Conservative Hold. 14,000 majority.

  29. Phllip Dunne has been made a privy Councillor.

  30. Absolutely appalling comments from Dunne – who I always had down as on the saner wing of the party – who accused his Sikh rival of “talking through his turban” during an election debate, and then made it worst by giving one of the most insincere apologies in the history of British politics

    This might seem like small beer but the Sikh’s were interestingly the only ethnic minority group where a majority voted Tory in 2017, and it comes at a time when the Tories are trying to make hay from Labour’s problems with anti Semitism and more importantly the party’s lack of action when it comes to dealing with anti Semitic candidates

    As somebody who could NEVER vote for either Corbyn’s Labour or Johnson’s Conservatives, it seems quite clear to me that the Tories problems with Islamaphobia are every bit as bad as Labour’s deep-rooted issues with anti Semitism, if not worst, as whilst I doubt the average Labour Party member (although with the amount of Corbynistas in the party at the moment you can never be sure) dislikes a Jew for being Jewish, I would have thought that today’s average Conservative Party member does indeed dislike a Muslim for being Muslim and with them needing to win in wwc areas to get a majority and being led by Boris Johnson – a mam devoid of any sort of moral compass – I think many Tory candidates will be tempted to follow Dunne’s lead

  31. Enough of the ranty lectures without substance please Tim – one candidate’s comments don’t justify you playing that stuck record again about a whole party.

  32. Arguably sectarian – although probably just a poor turn of phrase – but not racist per se.

    Would you say “he’s talking out of his cassock” was racist or sectarian?

    A Labour MP said this to an RC Bishop of Irish heritage.

  33. Incidentally of groups who voted Tory more than any other Party it was: Jews, Evangelical Christians, Sikhs, Chinese, Hindus in that order.

    From memory something like 85%, 80%, 57%, 45%, 40%.

    Labour only maintained the majority of Muslims and Black UK voters.

    They lost most gay voters back in 2015.

  34. Of the stupid rather than racist variety, the all-time best has to be Diane Abbott (again) who said the Orthodox in her seat wear Jewish costumes!

  35. The Sikh communal bodies are still Labour backing – I thought they were more labour than Hindu’s
    Gay voters must have been close in 2017

  36. No, Sikhs have voted Tory more than Labour at the last 3 GEs. Wolvs voted Leave too so I’d expect a gain there.

    No, Hindus voted Labour more than Cons just esp in Leicester etc.

    It depends where. In Blackpool gay voters voted Cons and Leave. Whereas in Brighton I imagine they voted Labour or Green and Remain. But Cons have had poll leads since 2008. The Grayling B&B comments stopped it temporarily however.

  37. The Sikh vote must be close consider even in Graversham the most Sikh areas are good for Labour.

  38. I see Philip Dunne has become the victim of the usual humbug and nonsense.
    It seemed an entirely innocent phrase to me. I think its a case of a candidate who can’t believe his luck that he gets the opportunity of 5 minutes of fame by shedding some crocodile tears and going on about how offended he was.
    If he gets offended so easily, then he is going into the wrong job!

  39. The Tory Sikh group also condemned his comments.

  40. Doesn’t make them any more right.

  41. Not a good look for any party to be attacking it’s official minority group.

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