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 - 79 Responses on “Ludlow”
  1. I knew that Philip Dunne is descended from the great English poet John Donne, but I didn’t know until yesterday that he had a grandfather, also Philip Dunne, who had also been a Conservative MP. He represented Stalybridge & Hyde in the 30s but had to resign through ill-health. The seat passed to Labour in 1945 & has stayed with that party ever since

  2. I’m sure we discussed this on the old site but it is very strange for a fairly safe Conservative seat to go Lib Dem and then sink without much trace even when the Tories are not doing particularly well.

    The Labour vote is quite high here in normal circumstances and was squeezed but was there some local issue here in 2001-5?

  3. @JJB
    I believe the reasons behind the Conservative loss were explained in great detail on the old site.

    All I know is that Green must have been a highly effective campaigner who convinced Labour supporters to vote tactically for him to defeat the Conservatives- Plus the fact that Christopher Gill, the incumbent MP had stood down may also have made a difference.

  4. It is very difficult to say why the Lib Dems lost this so quickly- I at least think that if Green had carried on and contested the seat again in 2010, the result might have been a lot closer and this may not now be a safe Tory seat once again- I know it was a big swing, but I suppose in every election you get one seat that has a bit of a freak result but then after that when things have calmed down it reverts back to its natural home.

  5. Yes, but it’s almost as if it’s behaved like a by-election that’s quickly reverted to type.
    Some seats do see a Lib Dem collapse several elections further down the line
    like Cambs NE, hopefully SW Surrey
    but this one seems to be fairly unique.

  6. One interesting point about Green winning here was that in actual fact it was a target seat for the Lib Dems, made even more winnable by the retirement of the sitting MP.

    This, along with Guildford, Chesterfield and Romsey, was probably one of the Lib Dems’ best results in 2001.

  7. A closer look at the result here in 2001-
    Green (Liberal Democrat)- 18, 620 (43.2%, +13.5%)
    Taylor-Smith (Conservative)- 16, 990 (39.4%, -3.0%)
    Knowles (Labour)- 5, 785 (13.4%, -12.0%)
    Gaffney (Green)- 871 (2.0%, +0.3%)
    Gutteridge (UKIP)- 858 (2.0%, +1.2%)

    Swing- +8.25% From Con to Lib Dem.

  8. Whilst an obvious Conservative hold, it will be interesting to see whether the LD vote unravels and if Labour are able to rebuild their vote in this constituency.
    I can’t see the Liberal Democrats having much chance in this seat in 2015, even if they put in a strong campaign, due to unhappiness among those voters who would be more usually Labour-supporting and didn’t seek a Conservative-led government.
    The County Elections don’t really act as a guide due to the fact that there were few Labour candidates standing in the divisions in the constituency.
    If Labour has the team to campaign, I could see them moving comfortably back into the teens in percentage terms.

  9. I suppose one of the main after-effects of Green’s gain in 2001 here has been the fast decline in Labour’s vote to the extent that they are certain to stay in second place here in 2015 at least.

    I don’t know what the local election results show for the Tories and Lib Dems but I would say it’s not altogether inconceivable that Dunne might well increase his majority again in 2015.

  10. It’s strange to think that actually in 1997 here there was a swing of over 6% to the Lib Dems when Gill was still the MP, so I guess the potential for a gain was very much there going into 2001.

  11. A heavy squeeze on the Labour vote in 2001. But unlike Solihull, the allegancies seemed shallower.

  12. What went wrong with the Lib Dems here in 2010?

  13. I still think that if Green had fought this seat again, he could have kept this tight between himself and Dunne.

  14. I don’t know but they had already lost in 2005 which is the more significant point I think.

  15. The weirdest thing about Green losing in 2005 was that he didn’t get that first incmbuency boost that most Lib Dem MPs have traditionally benefited from.

  16. A first-time incumbency boost doesn’t always mean you win. It can merely mean that you lose by less than you otherwise would have done. A good example is Christine Butler in 2001 in Castle Point. She clearly won plaudits for her work as Labour MP for that seat, but only managed to restrict the swing back to Bob Spink & the Tories, rather than hold the seat. Green may well have had a first-time incumbency boost amongst some voters, but in the end the natural pro-Tory proclivities of the constituency prevented him from holding on.

  17. It looks like it but it is very weird that this happened atall then.

    Perhaps 2001 was a bit of a by-election in terms of some of these Tory/LD contests where there was a bit of a fashion for going on giving the “nasty party” a kicking.

  18. I think that Ludlow in 2001 was one of the most difficult results to explain ever. Some think that there could have been some sort of influence from the Kidderminster hospital issue, but I don’t see how personally.

  19. It might have also have had something to do with Christopher Gill retiring- even then the result is still difficult to explain. As has been said before the Lib Dems not standing in Wyre Forest as so to back Richard Taylor may well have given them added resources for this seat. I suspect that as the Tories selected the right candidate here in 2005, that was what allowed them to take this back almost as quickly as they had lost it.

  20. why did Matthew Green lose this in 2005? Any specific reason?

  21. I don’t think Ludlow 2001 is that hard to explain.

    Surely as the 1992 result was rather close for 2nd/3rd (LDs only 5 points infront) and as labour had done a lot better in the polls, it was not altogether clear who was the main challenger. You only have to look at Hastings to see that it wasn’t obvious how events would pan out.

    After the 1997 result is was clear that Labour were not able to take the seat even in a dominant year for them, so there supporter went for a mass tactical vote by or the Lib Dem. The tory vote didn’t change much.

  22. ‘I don’t think Ludlow 2001 is that hard to explain.’

    There’s many seats that your argument could be used for, yet none of them had a swing like that in Ludlow

    No one – not even the most optimistic Lib Dem tacticians – thought the Lib Dems would win Ludlow in 2001

    In 2005 it was outdone by Solihull, but the 2001 result is still curious – as is Green’s single term.

  23. Why did Matthew Green lose? Because the mood had changed, and anger at, and perhaps disdain of, the Tories had abated. The seat simply started to go back to its normal, default position as a Tory one. There is nothing in the demography of the constituency to suggest that it should be anything other than a standard-issue rural or semi-rural Tory seat.

  24. Except that Ludlow is dominated by the LibDems.. two out of three seats were won by the LDs at the 2013 Shropshire CC elections.. Much Wenlock is Tory though

  25. The 2013 results are here…

    Ludlow mainly Libdem, as is Bishop’s castle.. whereas Much Wenlock and Bridgenorth are Tory..

  26. Ludlow as a town I can understand – it’s faintly arty, and noted for its restaurants as well as its racecourse. However the rural areas as you suggest are much more Tory, and the constituency also includes Bridgnorth, which isn’t particularly fertile ground for the LDs either in the normal course of events I shouldn’t have thought.

  27. ‘Why did Matthew Green lose? Because the mood had changed, and anger at, and perhaps disdain of, the Tories had abated’

    In 97 there was much anger at the Tories but not in 2001 – they were just advocating the wrong policies

    Most Lib Dems typically get a fairly large incumbancy bonus on their sophomore run, yet in Green’s case there wasn’t one – his share of the vote went down

    And I find it hard to believe Philippe Dunn has much popular appeal – although being a local man would certainly work in his favour

    Certainly 2010 saw this seat return to form and you can’t see the Lib Dems being in the picture come 2015

  28. Tim you’re basically right & I should have explained myself better. I think that there was disdain, even a bit of anger, towards the LOCAL Tories who were in a terrible pickle after first the retirement, then the political defection, of the local MP Chris Gill (to UKIP). There was a bit of a couldn’t-organize-a-pissup-in-a-brewery atmosphere among many voters. However the victory of Green was still distinctly odd; it was helped, like Lorely Burt’s 4 years later, by a big squeeze on what was still quite a large Labour vote by the LDs. Once the local Tories had started to get their act together & select a credible candidate (and Dunne is certainly capable of stringing 2 words or more together) they were always bound to regain the seat given its characteristics. The more metropolitan liberal middle-class which dominates the Solihull constituency, unlike the Ludloe division, is a slightly harder nut for the Tories to crack, or has been so far, although I think they will retake that seat next year.

  29. Again perhaps didn’t fully explain myself. The retirement of Gill IIRC was very much at the last minute, & left the Tories unprepared; a retirement in normal circumstances wouldn’t necessarily lead to a party losing a usually safe seat.

  30. Who was the Tory PPC in 2001 then. Surely he or she must foot at least some of the blame for losing which youb right describe as a pretty reliable Tory seat

  31. “In 97 there was much anger at the Tories but not in 2001 – they were just advocating the wrong policies…”

    Not sure about that. There was an emphasis on the wrong policies (save the pound for example), but basically the brand was still too toxic back than. People would tell pollsters they supported a particular policy, until they were told it was a Tory policy in which event they would oppose it. That still happens now, but was much worse back then.

    It must be one of the few times in recent electoral history where people have shown a willingness to vote tactically against an opposition party.

  32. That’s true, and while Tory attacks on Labour hit home to some extent, the usual reaction from voters was “So what? The Tories would be even worse.”

  33. I couldn’t remember the answer to your question Tim & had to look it up. The answer is Martin Taylor-Smith, and in answer to your next question, no I have never heard of him before.

  34. Prediction for 2015-
    Dunne (Conservative)- 50%
    Liberal Democrat- 27%
    Labour- 11%
    UKIP- 10%
    Green- 1%
    Others- 1%

  35. The Results, given recent developments in Ludlow, the Lib Dem vote might increase (slightly) rather than decrease, and the Conservative vote will be lower than 50% if UKIP polls 10% or more here, which it probably will. Here is a better (approximate) prediction for 2015 in my honest opinion:

    Con 44
    Lib Dem 35
    UKIP 10
    Lab 10
    Green 1

    This one is not actually all that easy to call…

  36. Why would the LD vote increase here?

  37. It increased in 1979 from 29.9% to 31.6% against the national trend. So stuff happens.

  38. s*** happens.
    Don’t think it will here though next time.

  39. ”s*** happens.
    Don’t think it will here though next time.”

    LOL. You put it better Joe than I think I ever could! I appreciate Lotus’ prediction but if the Lib Dems do manage that here I suspect they’d be on for a better night than many thought.

  40. Perhaps with some relevance to comments above about an increase in the LD vote in Ludlow, here are the results of the Ludlow North by-election on Thursday 13th March:

    LD 579 (45.3%, +11.7)
    Con 382 (29.9%, -10.5)
    Ind 223 (17.4%, from zero)
    Lab 94 (7.4%, -1.3)

    Maj 197 (15.4%)

  41. so that’s an LD gain from Con?

  42. Not sure if its the reason in this ward.. but bus service cuts are a massive issue here apparently..

  43. Barnaby – yes.

    The outgoing councillor moved down south (Kent IIRC). Her husband was also a councillor in a neighbouring ward, but was defeated by the LDs in 2013.

  44. There was also a LD gain from the Tories on Canterbury city council. In general the by-election results were not very good for the Tories & there were some useful swings to Labour, some in areas where it does matter (Labour will be happy to have improved on their 2012 lead over the Tories in Heanor E ward, Amber Valley, for example) but some where it is less relevant (good increase in Labour’s share of the vote in the utterly hopeless town of Petersfield, Hampshire, for example). Even in Chertsey there was a swing of about 6% from Tory to Labour from the 2012 MAIN elections, but not the by-election that year.

  45. It is a considerable while since I lived in Shropshire, but I think it should be remembered that, beneath quite fierce political fighting, personal votes still count for quite a lot here at local government level.

  46. Ludlow North by-election was not a surprise to me, the Liberals had just missed out in May 2013, and had thrown everything at it for a long time in anticipation of the current councillor stepping down. While I (being the Labour candidate) managed to largely protect my vote, but living in another part of Shropshire counted against me, and the Liberal’s organisation and candidate’s profile in the town meant that they had already knocked on all the doors, and did so again after I had squeezing my vote. The interesting thing was that the Tories simply weren’t as organised as the Liberals, and that was reflected in how much their vote share dropped.

    Looking to 2015, it will be interesting to see what happens, but I suspect it will be a three horse race for second place. The one thing that the Liberals do have, however, are many councillors compared to our 1 in Broseley near Telford, and UKIP’s 0.
    However, the Liberals still haven’t selected their parliamentary candidate, and while they had that hard work in place in one ward, it will be much harder for them across an entire constituency.

  47. Tory dominated Shropshire Council has been pushing through some massive cuts. The resigning councillor in Ludlow N was the wife of 2001 parliamentary candidate Taylor Smith who has evidently returned to Kent. Ludlow and the west of the constituency is much stronger for LD than Bridgnorth and the east. This was a good win for the council seat but very much expected.

  48. It’s an interesting seat this.

    As has been discussed in great length on both here and the old site in the past, it is, to all intents and purposes a safe Conservative seat that they will probably never lose again, barring some extraordinary circumstances in the future, but what makes this interesting is the strong recovery the Tories have made here in getting back up above 50%+ since they unexpectedly lost here in 2001.

    The talking point here will always be why the Lib Dems won in 2001. I know we’ve all discussed why this perhaps was, but I’ve got my own list of combined reasons why it was lost in 2001 and then taken back quickly in 2005-

    1. The sitting Conservative MP Christopher Gill was standing down
    2. Matthew Green got tactical Labour votes
    3. There were extra Lib Dem resources to fight the seat because they hadn’t stood a candidate in Wyre Forest, over the border in Worcestershire
    4. The Lib Dems had positioned themselves in 1997 as the clear challenger to the Tories, retaining second place.

    Now here is a list of reasons why I think the Lib Dems lost it back to the Conservatives as quickly as they did in 2005-
    1. Matthew Green didn’t have any more tactical Labour support
    2. The Conservatives selected a very local candidate in Philip Dunne
    3. That year, in general, the Lib Dems didn’t fare at all well against the Tories in seats they either held or were targeting, perhaps as a result, although Matthew Green did get more votes than when he won in 2001, and despite dropping only 2.5%, he lost by 2, 027 votes.

    All of that suggests to me the following-
    1. The gain in 2001 was mainly down to the retiring MP and a good solid tactical campaign by the Lib Dems to get Labour support
    2. And then the loss in 2005 was because of a combination of all of what I mentioned beforehand, but perhaps also because of Matthew Green running out of new votes to find against the inevitable rise in Conservative vote share after the disappointing 3% drop in 2001.

  49. I genuinely don’t mean to be rude, but

    ‘As has been discussed in great length on both here and the old site in the past…’

    Why go over it again?
    I have nothing against you personally, The Results, but you seem to repeat discussions quite regularly. It clogs threads up and is, to be honest, a bit frustrating.

  50. I knew this would happen.

    I think you’re being a bit unfair actually, I was only offering a few thoughts of my own which is fair enough I think. Do you have any thoughts on this?

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