Maidstone & The Weald

2015 Result:
Conservative: 22745 (45.5%)
Labour: 5268 (10.5%)
Lib Dem: 12036 (24.1%)
Green: 1396 (2.8%)
UKIP: 7930 (15.9%)
NHA: 583 (1.2%)
Independent: 52 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 10709 (21.4%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Kent. Part of Maidstone council area and part of Tunbridge Wells council area.

Main population centres: Maidstone, Cranbrook, Staplehurst, Yalding.

Profile: Covers most of the county town of Maidstone before snaking south-eastwards to cover a chunk of Kentish countryside, including the small town of Cranbrook. The seat contains only a small portion of the Weald, a name which refers to a much larger area of historically wooded countryside between the North and South Downs in Sussex and Kent. Maidstone used to have an industrial base of papermaking, brewing and (more recently) confectionary, but more recently the economy has been dominated by retail, administration and London commuters. The seat also includes Maidstone Prison.

Politics: Maidstone has been held by the Conservative party since 1906, most famously by the former prisons minister turned celebrity Ann Widdecombe, who represented the seat until 2010. The Conservative majority has often been bolstered by the opposition being evenly split been Labour and the Liberal Democrats, though in 2010 a large swing from Labour to the Liberal Democrats cut the Tory majority to under ten thousand.


Current MP
HELEN GRANT (Conservative) Born 1961, London. Educated at Hull University. Former Solicitor and owner of a Croydon legal practice. First elected as MP for Maidstone and the Weald in 2010. Sports minister 2013-2015.
Past Results
2010
Con: 23491 (48%)
Lab: 4769 (10%)
LDem: 17602 (36%)
UKIP: 1637 (3%)
Oth: 1429 (3%)
MAJ: 5889 (12%)
2005*
Con: 25670 (53%)
Lab: 10814 (22%)
LDem: 10808 (22%)
UKIP: 1463 (3%)
MAJ: 14856 (30%)
2001
Con: 22621 (50%)
Lab: 12303 (27%)
LDem: 9064 (20%)
UKIP: 978 (2%)
Oth: 611 (1%)
MAJ: 10318 (23%)
1997
Con: 23657 (44%)
Lab: 14054 (26%)
LDem: 11986 (22%)
Oth: 1913 (4%)
MAJ: 9603 (18%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
HELEN GRANT (Conservative) See above.
ALLEN SIMPSON (Labour) Educated at Maidstone Grammar and York University. Bank executive.
JASPER GERARD (Liberal Democrat) Born 1968, Tenterden. Educated at Durham University. Former journalist and columnist.
EDDIE POWELL (UKIP) Maidstone councillor since 2013.
HANNAH PATTON (Green) Youth worker.
PAUL HOBDAY (NHA) Retired GP.
ROBIN KINRADE (Independent) Accountant.
Links
Comments - 462 Responses on “Maidstone & The Weald”
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  1. Maidstone is lovely place i hope it stays that way.

  2. that’s tragic

  3. It is sadly something that is going to get far worse, and it is not helped by politicians of all sides refusing to admit to the public that free movement of peoples means that large scale EU immigration is just something we will all have to live with in the long term.

    A big negative side of the economic recovery from the government’s perspective is that it will suck in a major new influx of EU migrants (and that’s on top of any impact from Bulgaria and Romania next year).

    Michael Portillo made this point last week and I completely agree.

    Cameron’s pledge to reduce net immigration to “the tens of thousands” will be shot to buggery and he will pay a big price for making such a stupid campaign pledge…ironically the economic recovery will be a major reason for this.

  4. What the parents, family and friends must be going through is barely imaginable.

    It’s not a great sign that we’re open for business is it.

    I hope it is dealt with severely by the Courts.

    Doesn’t seem to be any other information from that link – I did hear Lithuanians are often heavy drinkers but I couldn’t speculate more than that really.

    Yes a certain amount of movement of people is essential – this is an International country with links in the world.

  5. David Cameron apparently said, “I know Helen Grant didn’t work out at Justice, but I think she’ll be good as Sport.”

  6. Don’t like the size of this Lib Dem vote,
    but it’s likely to fall back next time.

  7. ‘It is sadly something that is going to get far worse, and it is not helped by politicians of all sides refusing to admit to the public that free movement of peoples means that large scale EU immigration is just something we will all have to live with in the long term.
    A big negative side of the economic recovery from the government’s perspective is that it will suck in a major new influx of EU migrants (and that’s on top of any impact from Bulgaria and Romania next year).
    Michael Portillo made this point last week and I completely agree.
    Cameron’s pledge to reduce net immigration to “the tens of thousands” will be shot to buggery and he will pay a big price for making such a stupid campaign pledge…ironically the economic recovery will be a major reason for this.’

    Will be interesting to see how the Conservatives plan to restrict free movement of people around the EU to claw back UKIP votes.

  8. Lets see what will happen in 2015:

    Con 33 (-15)
    LD 29 (-7)
    UKIP 18 (+15)
    Lab 15 (+5)
    Others 5

  9. ”David Cameron apparently said, “I know Helen Grant didn’t work out at Justice, but I think she’ll be good as Sport.”

    Well Cameron was clearly wrong in his judgement considering this car crash of an interview from Grant

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2513529/Sports-Minister-Helen-Grants-quiz-fail-FA-Cup-winners.html

  10. For a start, it’s a pretty damning inditement of Helen Grant, supposedly the owner of a legal practice, that her party leader considered her to be a useless justice minister. If I were one of her firm’s clients I would hardly be filled with confidence about her legal abilities.

    Sport has never been taken seriously as a portfolio, with a few notable exceptions like Tony Banks, and though it pains me to say it as I loathe him, David Mellor too. Minister for sport is more often than not used as a sop to stick failed ministers into on their way out of government, if for whatever reason the PM prefers not to sack them outright. Clearly in this case he feared the headlines associated with sacking the only black woman in his government.

    ConHome estimates that there will be numerous further female Tory MPs quitting after just one term, on top of the three or four who have already announced they are doing so. You would think that would make Cameron query the A-list approach, but judging from recent selection shortlists he doesn’t seem to have learned the lesson.

  11. ”ConHome estimates that there will be numerous further female Tory MPs quitting after just one term, on top of the three or four who have already announced they are doing so”

    The BBC’s Daily Politics discussed this the other day!! There definitely seems to be a sense of unhappiness about the party amongst a high number of the new intake of female Conservative MP’s

  12. “There definitely seems to be a sense of unhappiness about the party amongst a high number of the new intake of female Conservative MP’s”

    Women are usually more rounded people and naturally shoulder more family responsibilities than men.

    Parliament is not a kind place for anyone who is a well rounded or family-oriented person, and no amount of trying to make it “family friendly” will change that.

  13. I don’t know anything about this seat but I have a funny feeling the local Tory Association will ‘do a Tim Yeo’ on Grant and deselect her just before the 2020.

    I’m guessing this based on her dreadful media performances. Even though she seems like a nice person, I just can’t see her being an MP for much longer

  14. Prediction for 2015-
    Grant (Conservative)- 47%
    Liberal Democrats- 33%
    Labour- 13%
    UKIP- 5%
    Green- 2%

  15. No matter what you think of Ann Widdecombe’s political views, the general consensus in Maidstone was that she was a very good local MP. I just don’t see Helen Grant having that kind of mettle.

  16. UKIP will poll higher than 5% here for sure too. That is only a couple of percentage points above their 2010 percentage.

  17. ”No matter what you think of Ann Widdecombe’s political views, the general consensus in Maidstone was that she was a very good local MP. I just don’t see Helen Grant having that kind of mettle.”

    Neil – You’ve hit the nail on the head!! I said something very similar to a friend the other day!!

    In fact, I don’t know anything about this seat but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the local Tory Association. did a ‘Tim Yeo’ on her and deselect her just before the 2020 or 2025 General Election.

  18. …. just realised I’ve made this point a few posts above!! Haha!! ;-s

  19. Helen Grant was a member of the Labour Party and I am sure I read that she had never actually voted Conservative before becoming a Tory MP. That does make me question how much she really supports some of the policies she was defending in Justice as a former legal aid defence lawyer.
    She seems strong on equalities but that is hardly a Tory banker either.

  20. What does being “strong on equalities” actually entail?

  21. A few of the other Tory MPs elected in 2010 were with Labour (or at least switching between both parties) in the past. Louise Mensch, Stuart Andrew and Rehman Chishti.

    I’m assuming they were Blair converts for a little while.

  22. ”Helen Grant was a member of the Labour Party and I am sure I read that she had never actually voted Conservative before becoming a Tory MP. That does make me question how much she really supports some of the policies she was defending in Justice as a former legal aid defence lawyer. She seems strong on equalities but that is hardly a Tory banker either.”

    Mike Homfray – If that’s true, it seems she decided to join the Conservative party becuase the political wind was blowing in that direction.

    If that’s the case, I’m also surprised at how she managed to be selected in such a nice, cosy staunch Tory seat replacing a much-loved and well respected MP!!

  23. I would quite happily bar those with any labour past in a similar manner to UKIP do with the BNP.

  24. I agree with you there Joe.

  25. That’s a very odd analogy – although far be it from me to advise the Conservatives on their membership or candidacy policy. The BNP are regarded as infra dig by most of society, a party with its genesis in neo-Nazi ideology; Labour is a moderate European social democratic party. If you were to do that, you would have done without Cecil Parkinson, Reg Prentice, and a number of other well-known political figures who were hardly acting as Labour infiltrators within the Conservative Party.

  26. Agree with BM.

    Joe, say a 50-something person tries to join your party, but happened to be a Labour member back in his 20s. Views can change quite radically between then, yet you’re saying you would prevent that person from joining?

    I’ve got a feeling you weren’t meaning people like that, so perhaps it was wrong to make such a blanket statement.

  27. I would be deeply suspicious of anyone with a New Labour past who suddenly wanted to join the Conservatives. Much less problem with a traditional-type former Labour supporter.

  28. Runnymede – I don’t know exactly where you live, but I am working in Runnymede at the moment doing my TfL survey. Mostly in Chertsey but a few addresses in Addlestone.

  29. Yes, it probably was a bit silly. I would life ban BNP members though.

    It would still be raised and treated very seriously in candidate selection though – if in the last 5 years I would almost certainly not select that individual. Yes if it is 30 years ago I would be more forgiving.

  30. I would be more skeptical of a “traditional-type” labour supporter than new labour type like Dan Hodges.

  31. Dan Hodges is someone that none of the parties should go near. A total snake who’d probably find fault with the Conservatives if he joined the party.

    Anyone calling themselves a Blairite cuckoo in their Daily Telegraph blog tells you all need to know.

    His ilk are so unaware of how the voting public has changed. They think Tony could wave a magic wand in 2015 and help Labour win a majority. Only problem is that those same swing voters aren’t buying European integration and have turned to UKIP.

  32. Barnaby – my moniker is only tangentially connected to the place it describes. Happy to pass your details on to my local association if you are keen to come over though…:)

    A lot of my family are from traditionally Labour areas, but most of them are patriotic hard working people and I would far rather have them in the same camp as me politically than the kind of sneering snobby metropolitan types that made up the New Labour core.

    While in theory the latter might appear ‘closer’ in political terms, if judged in abstract political terms, in reality that isn’t the case.

  33. Does UKIP ban National Front members as well?

  34. I think so. It is a pity that the Tories now have many new-Labour types within the ranks. I would without a doubt ban anyone similar to Dan Hodges from joining us if I was in a position to do so!

  35. JDA – it bans many different far right organisations – e.g. EDL members. Im sure the NF is banned too.

  36. Runnymede & Joe – very true. A few New Labour types have joined the Tories since Blair went, including ‘blogger’ Luke Bozier and the tranny Tara Hewitt in Merseymike’s area. Incidentally, Helen Grants Solicitors closed down due to legal aid cuts last month. Oh the irony!

  37. I’m certainly suspicious of anyone who switches from Labour to Tory without any sign of genuine change. There are certainly people who wear their affiliation lightly or leave when disappointed by not being selected for a council seat.

    It does rather suggest the sort of unprincipled ambition which makes everyone sceptical about politics.

    I mean – does Helen Grant really support the legal aid cuts given that she worked as a legal aid lawyer for so many years?

    In terms of her beliefs on equalities, she seems to be committed to the equality and diversity agenda, but thats not necessarily a way of making friends in the Conservative party!

  38. Runnymede – that was quite amusing, the idea of me joining the Conservatives. Something tells me that I’m not quite the sort of member the party is after….

  39. You could do a reverse Alan Amos.

    Its funny, quite a few tory->labour movements have seemed to be an rapid ideological change, whereas the opposite doesn’t seem to happen much. Its more moderates deciding to make a little hop over the fence.

  40. ‘It is a pity that the Tories now have many new-Labour types within the ranks.’

    The majority of New Labour types that you refer to only supported Blair’s Labour in the first place because they knew that they would win and didn’t want to lose face by backing a loser

    Coupled with that, most have so few genuine principles that they don’t mind supporting a party whose essential aims they fundamentally disagree with

    Helen Grant is certainly one of those, as was the attention-seeking an exceptionally self-important Louise Mensch

    Liz Truss is another, although she was a left-wing card-carrying Lib Dem who wanted to abolish the monarchy and legalise all drugs

    Of course plenty of people do genuinely change their political convictions – but in the case in these three it’s totally obvious that their only aim is the accumulation of power and hence they are happy to go with whichever party they judge to have the past chance of offering it to them

    The main political parties should have absolutely to do with such shamelessly unprincipled characters

  41. I can only agree wholeheartedly with the last post.

    One way to reduce this problem would be to stop paying MPs.

  42. ‘One way to reduce this problem would be to stop paying MPs.’

    Sadly that would result in a Parliament full of rich people – who [] would put their interests and those of their equally priviledged friends, above all else

    I don’t see how the country as a whole would benefit from that type of arrangement – although it’s arguably no worst than what we currently have with the weak Kennedy who is clearly in the pocket of MPs and seems more than happy to do their bidding for them

  43. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/02/21/helen-grant-tory-women-sport_n_4829110.html?utm_hp_ref=uk

    This gaff is sure to have political opponents and some feminists calling Helen Grant’s abilities as sports minister into question again.

    I don’t think for a second that she intended to be sexist. Just a poor choice of words. But I think many cheerleaders, ballet dancers and gymnasts (the latter two have male competitors too btw) would tell you that there’s nothing elegant about the hours of training that goes into their work.

    Not sure how competitive Zumba is though.

  44. ‘the tranny Tara Hewitt’

    Ah, what nice, modern langugage

  45. ^ What Matthew said. Please avoid referring to transpeople as “trannies”, it’s extremely insulting and derogatory and I very much doubt you’d use the equivalent terms for, say, ethnic minorities or homosexuals (at least I really hope you wouldn’t)!

  46. Lib Dems lost Fant Ward, Maidstone and won Heath Ward, Maidstone. Tories lost 3 seats to UKIP and control of the Council.

  47. Interesting result in Maidstone in terms of popular votes:

    Con 10,384 (27.58%)
    UKIP 9,891 (26.27%)
    LD 9,271 (24.62%)
    Lab 4,029 (10.70%)
    Green 2,132 (5.66%)
    Ind 1,943 (5.16%)

    Changes since 2010 locals:

    Con -15.91%
    UKIP +25.10%
    LD -11.36%
    Lab +1.19%
    Green +1.75%
    Ind -0.55%

  48. What, if anything, has Helen Grant actually been doing as Sports Minister recently? And how will this affect her popularity in her constituency?

  49. Q1 – Not alot.
    Q2 – Not alot.

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