Newark

2015 Result:
Conservative: 29834 (57%)
Labour: 11360 (21.7%)
Lib Dem: 2385 (4.6%)
Green: 1792 (3.4%)
UKIP: 6294 (12%)
Others: 637 (1.2%)
MAJORITY: 18474 (35.3%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: East Midlands, Nottinghamshire. Parts of Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, and Rushcliffe council areas.

Main population centres: Newark, Southwell, Loudham, Bingham, Aslockton, Collingham, Tuxford.

Profile: A long, mostly rural seat that stretches down the eastern side of Nottinghamshire, with the River Trent and the Great North Road both running through its middle and crossing just north of Newark. The main towns are the affluent Cathedral town of Southwell and the market town of Newark. Much of the area is now a base for commuters into Nottingham, though important local employers include Dixons national distribution centre in Newark, Laurens Patisseries and the antiques trade - Newark hosts the largest antiques fair in Europe at Newark Showground.

Politics: While it now looks like a safe Conservative seat Newark was won by Labour in their 1997 landslide. This was partially thanks to support in Newark`s council estates, partially due to more favourable boundaries before 2010. The former Labour MP Fiona Jones had only a short, and ultimately tragic, tenure in the Commons. In 1999 she was convicted of fraudulently failing to declare all her election expenses and expelled from the Commons, but she won an appeal against the conviction and was reinstated. Her return to the Commons was not a happy one, she unsuccessfully attempted to sue the police for malicious prosecution and became reliant upon alcohol. She lost her seat in 2001 and died six years later of alcoholic liver disease. Her Conservative successor Patrick Mercer represented the seat between 2001 and 2014, but had an acrimonious relationship with party leader David Cameron and eventually resigned from the Commons after a newspaper sting operation caught him agreeing to ask questions in exchange for payment. The Conservatives held the subsequent by -election.


Current MP
ROBERT JENRICK (Conservative) Born 1982. Educated at Wolverhampton Grammar School and Oxford University. Former solicitor and former director of Christies. First elected as MP for Newark in 2014 by-election. PPS to Michael Gove since 2015.
Past Results
2010
Con: 27590 (54%)
Lab: 11438 (22%)
LDem: 10246 (20%)
UKIP: 1954 (4%)
MAJ: 16152 (32%)
2005*
Con: 21946 (48%)
Lab: 15482 (34%)
LDem: 7276 (16%)
UKIP: 992 (2%)
MAJ: 6464 (14%)
2001
Con: 20983 (46%)
Lab: 16910 (37%)
LDem: 5970 (13%)
Oth: 1284 (3%)
MAJ: 4073 (9%)
1997
Con: 20480 (39%)
Lab: 23496 (45%)
LDem: 5960 (11%)
MAJ: 3016 (6%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
ROBERT JENRICK (Conservative) See above.
MICHAEL PAYNE (Labour)
DAVID DOBBIE (Liberal Democrat) Teacher. Contested Bassetlaw 2005, 2010.
BRIAN MAPLETOFT (UKIP)
ELAYNE FORSTER (Green)
HELEN TYRER (Locally Informed Health and Social Care)
Links
Comments - 361 Responses on “Newark”
  1. Thanks Andy – I think the Tories also managed to put their share up a bit here in 1983 aswell – as tended to happen in the E Midlands. (We actually went down 1.5% nationally – despite the landslide).

  2. The pre-1983 Newark included some mining territory which went into Sherwood upon its creation. I remember Richard Alexander saying when he was the MP here, during the swingeing pit closures, that there was only one pit village in his constituency post 1983. I don’t know if even that is still in the constituency (of course the pit would be long closed anyway). But it is certainly true that Labour has appreciably weakened in Newark town itself in recent years. A winning Labour campaign to take control of Notts county council in days gone by would have almost inevitably have involved at least one of the Newark town divisions being won, but Labour took control last year without doing so. The only way Labour can possibly win here, and I don’t think it can happen personally, is for UKIP to poll very strongly, but take votes far, far more from Mercer’s 2010 tally than from Labour’s, and Labour to win in a 3-way split. Mike Smithson seems to be suggesting Labour will win, but I don’t agree at all.

  3. I don’t think Labour have to win this in order to prove that they can do well nationally,
    but it does seem somewhat odd that this isn’t more of a Labour town than it is.
    The 1992 result for example – not bad.

  4. Mike Smithson’s argument seems to be that because Labour achieved a 12.7% swing in Corby they may be able to get a 15.8% swing in Newark. I don’t follow the logic of that myself. Corby is a very different seat to Newark.

  5. I haven’t been to Newark a lot, but have just Google mapped it and it does seem rather more prosperous looking than I remembered. Perhaps it’s become a more popular residential place.

  6. Estimate

    Con 34% – 20%
    Lab 28% +6%
    UKIP 26% +22%
    LD 8% -12%
    Oths 4%

  7. Newark’s always been a socially mixed town & isn’t all that different from Grantham down the railway line. It has working-class terraced streets but also pleasant inter-war suburban areas, and only in landslide Labour years has it normally given Labour much of a lead. It must have voted pretty conclusively Labour in 1997 of course.

  8. What about 79 though? Would labour still have led in the town?

  9. Hard to say – probably not on balance. Labour would have led in the coalfield section which was more substantial in those days, and it probably would have been pretty close in Newark itself. No doubt Pete could work it out & give us a good guesstimate.

  10. Ok thanks Barnaby. I think I am under-estimating the old coalfield. But what about 1992? Labour did quiye well then.

  11. I would have to say that I do think that Newark is a rather nicer town than Grantham – surely. Ive been to both within the last year. Grantham seemed fairly middle of the road, while Newark seemed pleasant and downright prosperous in parts.

  12. Barnaby- further to your point about Labour controlling Notts CC without Newark, it is worth noting that they did so in 2005 too. The Conservatives won both Newark divisions that year, by 100-200 votes.

  13. Joe your point about 1992 is a good one. I think the seat included Retford then. The 1992 election did see a quite large swing to Labour in this constituency, although the Tories still won it easily enough.

  14. Though most of the mining area went into Sherwood in 1983, there were some pits remaining in Newark constituency until the Heseltine closures of 1992-93. I think the last one was Bevercotes, located just south of Retford (though this area was moved to Bassetlaw constituency in the 2010 boundary change). Some miners in the Sherwood and Mansfield collieries would also have lived in Newark.

    The total disappearance of mining locally since the mid 1990s has therefore had some impact in Newark as well as in Sherwood, largely by sending the area more upmarket and damaging the Labour vote.

    In the 1980s and 1990s Newark was famous for having a large population of travellers and gypsies. It was known at the time as a pretty rough town, in parts. I do think it has improved a lot.

    I do not think there is any base whatsoever for Labour to win this seat now.

  15. Labour’s only chance is to poll about 30% of the vote and hope that the Conservatives and UKIP cancel each other out and both poll about 28% each. Just possible but highly unlikely.

  16. Very hard for Labour to reach 30% here, even in a low-turnout by-election, without a New Labour type appeal to middle class voters. That’s the difference between the mid 1990s by-elections and now.

  17. Indeed so, and given that the actual Labour vote in most general elections tends to fade a bit from the opinion poll predictions running up to the GE, one imagines that they could actually be in some trouble this time next year.

  18. I wonder how many seats currently are heavily defined politically by mining, and the long shadow it has cast – and how many still will be in another 20 years?

  19. Those seats which haven’t been able to move on from mining – Mansfield is a good example which I know well, there are others in areas like South Yorkshire and the Welsh Valleys.

    Newark & Sherwood has gentrified since the mines went rather than declined as Mansfield has. Its attractive rural location combined with excellent transport links a lot to do with it I think.

  20. I’m just wondering whether some of the seats in Notts, S Yorks etc, will go the way of the rural East Anglian seats that used to return Labour MPs – for reasons that might seem obscure to many of today’s voters

  21. I think it would be a bit embarrassing for Ed Miliband if the Labour share actually fell in the by-election. I think that is a possibility — it happened in last year’s county council elections. Certainly there’s more chance of that then Labour gaining the seat.

  22. Andy JS, I’m quite doubtful about that. Labour in Nottinghamshire are very strong and this isn’t like Eastleigh where they didn’t really try. They’ll bring in enough Notts canvassers and leaflets to at the very least maintain their vote share although I expect them to rise to the high twenties.

  23. Roger Helmer is rumoured to be lined up to fight this seat for UKIP (Sunday times)

  24. lol
    Certainly won’t be boring.
    Can imagine the Islington SPADS etc choking .

  25. Also
    I wonder if a SF candidate would do well – at the moment.

  26. On the basis of the present boundaries it would seem likely that Labour would have managed 28 – 29% here in 2005 – and perhaps 33 – 34% in 2001.

  27. Yeah I did wonder whether Helmer might fight it. He’s caused the Tories no end of trouble.

  28. AW, can we have a by-election page please? Now that we know some of the candidates it might be good.

  29. I agree we should have a by-election page, although I must confess I don’t see this by-election as likely to be a show stopper. Not least it will come after the Euroelections at a time when people are likely to be rather sated with elections.

    In relation to recent discussion, Newark is notable for its steady swing against Labour over the years. It is a seat that once had a considerable amount of light engineering, for instance to support agriculture. It has suffered badly from the collapse of English manufacturing and Labour appear to have suffered political damage as a result, in general through no great fault of their own although Taverne’s resignation from the Labour Party in the 1970s (1973?) and Fiona Jones’ behaviour in the Westminster bars hardly helped Labour in Newwark.

    I have just looked up and Labour hard a majority of 1772 in a stright fight with the Tories in 1959.

    At the coming by-election I would not bet, even if I did ever bet on political results, against the Tories winning fairly comfortably over UKIP in second place and Labour third. It will be interesting to see if the LibDems just do badly or have a total disaster. If the LibDems hold their 2010 vote it will be a minor triumph for them.

  30. So at last we have only the second true byelection contest from the start; the first was Eastleigh in my opinion but of course Bradford W proved surprising with the result which was not expected at the start.

    Then the second piece of misfortune for the Tories in that due to the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 they cannot hold the byelection on 22 May to coincide with locals and Euro Election.

    I was inclined to think Cons may have deferred byelection till 12 or 19 June to “bury bad news” as media will probably be more occupied by World Cup but I see they have called it for earlest date of 5 June.

    I will make my percentage prediction after seeing some polling but I think it will a 3 way fight between Labour, Con and UKIP.

    Strangely this will prove to be a disaster for the Tories but may prove to be blessing for them with hindsight as their supporters may subsequently realise they cannot afford to protest to such an extent as protesting may benefit Labour (whether either Labour take or come close to taking Newark).

  31. What is the impact of Roger Helmer (probably) being UKIP candidate likely to be?

    He’s well known but a very polarising figure. He would be good at attracting older traditionalist Tory votes, the kind of people who always turn out, but his stuffy poshness and Tory background will make it very hard for him to take many Labour voters.

    His high profile may well be the key to getting a bandwagon started however. On balance I think his standing makes a UKIP victory a bit more likely. IIRC Helmer is from leafy Leicestershire, very similar to this area culturally and not that far away, a contrast with a very young SPAD parachuted in from London.

  32. Does the Tory candidate have any links with the local area? I must say if I were running their campaign he would worry me, on first glance at least.

  33. Have the LDs selected yet? A decent local candidate may help save their deposit if they concentrate on Southwell.

  34. “Does the Tory candidate have any links with the local area?”

    Doesn’t look like it. He was the Tory candidate for Newcastle under Lyme in 2010. His bio suggests nothing about links with Newark let alone Nottinghamshire. Grew up in Shropshire and Herefordshire. Apparently he was a Director at Christie’s.

  35. Well the Tories got a decent result in Newcastle-under-Lyme so that is one positive; of course the extent to which this had anything to do with the candidate is open to question.

    I think this could be a re-run of Eastleigh, but perhaps this time with the Tories just hanging on by stint of the postal votes.

  36. I would actually think the postal votes might help UKIP. They’ll be issued around the time of the European elections, at the probably height of their popularity, and will mostly go to the elderly, who disproportionately vote UKIP.

  37. Just because he isn’t local, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a bad candidate.

  38. Of course it doesn’t, in fact many MPs who are not local to their seat have proven to be effective and popular representatives.

    Trouble is that for every good non-local MP, there are 2 really bad ones. With residents of certain towns angry about having the choice of a parachuted candidate in a time of growing political apathy, it doesn’t always help paint a favourable image of political parties.

  39. “Just because he isn’t local, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a bad candidate.”

    In a by-election, yes it does.

  40. Or rather, it provides a significant weakness which opponents can exploit, perhaps to the point of defeating you. In a General Election it doesn’t really matter.

    I have to say the Tories have recently proved absolutely useless at selecting the right candidate in seats where a by-election was very likely (here and Eastleigh). They should have had a potential by-election at the front of their minds when selecting in both cases, and been careful to choose someone who would best represent the party in those circumstances.

  41. Allegedly (according to Mike Smithson who has previously got things wrong) Roger Helmer has been selected as the UKIP candidate.

    If true, my snap response is that it’s a tactical error. While he’s from Leicester it’s not THAT local and less so than the Labour candidate’s. Moreover, he’s an ex-Tory and quite posh which might stop UKIP taking the Labour votes they need to win.

  42. Roger Helmer MEP confirmed as UKIP candidate.

  43. Labour’s candidate (I think) is from Nottinghamshire itself but I don’t know which town.

  44. He lives in Arnold (not sure where he was born) according to the Newark Advertiser: http://www.newarkadvertiser.co.uk/articles/news/Candidate-reveals-three-priorities

  45. I actually think Helmer’s selection is a big mistake. Helmer’s made some very controversial comments – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Helmer#Views – and whilst the vilification of some UKIP members has gone overboard the past few weeks, I have no doubt his comments will be effectively used against him. The parties will put out tons of leaflets quoting him.

    Helmer is another Godfrey Bloom. He excites the base, and probably appeals to some voters leaning UKIP (though I think some of his views are too much for some UKIP voters to swallow), but he’ll turn off far more voters who are moderate.

    Add to the fact that he’s an ex-Tory MEP – which won’t exactly help convince ex-Labour voters in Newark – and I think UKIP’s made a bad decision.

  46. “The parties will put out tons of leaflets quoting him.”

    It will be very difficult for the Tories to do that, given that they were happy for him to be a Tory MEP for more than a decade. In that respect it is a smart decision, because it blunts the Tory attack. And I’m not sure why Labour would want to attack UKIP here, surely they will want UKIP to do as well as possible, especially as you rightly say, a candidate like Helmer will probably shore up their own vote.

    Helmer will be very dangerous to the Tories in this kind of seat, no doubt about that. This is the kind of demographic where a Bloom might do quite well. What Helmer needs to do is to avoid making any stupid gaffes during the campaign.

  47. This will be too big an opportunity for the Tories to pass up. They’ll just avoid talking about his past as a Tory MEP and ,when questioned, expect talk about how his defection means ‘his views didn’t belong to the Conservative Party’ anyway.

    UKIP will avoid mentioning his Tory MEP past, if only because they’ll want to avoid talking about these issues. Labour and the Lib Dems will talk about his quotes, but they’d do that anyway regardless of what the Tories do.

    Considering Labour know they won’t win here, and because they’d like to come second, I’m sure they’d join in the attack on Helmer.

    By comparison, I don’t remember Bloom making such rancid comments as Helmer, and that’s saying something. I have no doubt even many voters leaning UKIP would look at those comments and be put off. Helmer’s selection actually is at risk of making the attacks against UKIP the past few weeks look right! I’ve said those attacks went overboard, but the parties will do everything to make Helmer a focus, and he’ll do his party no favours at all. I also highly doubt he’s the type to keep his mouth shut during this campaign!

    This is an absolutely horrendous decision. This is perhaps the worst by-election selection for a major party I’ve known in my lifetime. I just don’t understand their logic. Rather reminds me of the loony selections by the Republicans in the 2012 Senate elections.

  48. It’s funny how Tory MEPs went from being on the far Left of the Tory party to the far right from around the turn of the century

    Gone were the likes of John Stevens, James Moorehouse and Edward McMillan-Scott, and in came the likes of Dan Hannan and Roger Helmer

    Its actually quite an accurate reflection of how far the party’s attitudes of Europe have changed

  49. You’re right that it’s risky but it’s a risk that might pay off.

    The Republican analogy doesn’t work because the loonies only lost competitive states. Plenty were elected in safe states and districts, and that is what Newark is. Plenty of Godfrey Bloom types here.

  50. “Gone were the likes of John Stevens, James Moorehouse and Edward McMillan-Scott, and in came the likes of Dan Hannan and Roger Helmer

    Its actually quite an accurate reflection of how far the party’s attitudes of Europe have changed”

    It’s a reflection of how the Tories have become obsessed with Europe. Before 1989/90, most of those interested in being Tory MEPs were pro European and the party let them get on with it. Since the Bruges speech the membership have gradually purged the old guard and replaced them with Hannans and Helmers. A few moderates left, including Charles Tannock, but not many.

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