Newbury

2015 Result:
Conservative: 34973 (61%)
Labour: 4837 (8.4%)
Lib Dem: 8605 (15%)
Green: 2324 (4.1%)
UKIP: 6195 (10.8%)
Independent: 85 (0.1%)
Others: 281 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 26368 (46%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Berkshire. The majority of West Berkshire council area.

Main population centres: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Lambourn.

Profile: Geographically the largest seat in Berkshire, a mostly rural seat made up of the towns along the River Kennett and the villages to the north, around the M4. Newbury is the biggest town and the administrative centre of West Berkshire. It is also home to the UK headquarters of Vodafone, the largest local employer and Bayer pharmaceuticals. Horse racing is also important to the economy, with Newbury racetrack and around the village of Lambourn in the north west of the constituency which is dominated by the horse racing industry. The other main towns are Thatcham and Hungerford, a dormitory town still associated with Michael Ryan`s gun rampage in the 1980s. The seat also contains the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston which maintains and develops the UK`s nuclear weapons.

Politics: The Newbury seat has an interesting history of political protest - located in the seat is Greenham Common, once the site of a US Air Force base and, for nineteen years, the Greenham Common Peace Camp. Another focus of political protest was the Newbury bypass, built in 1996 in the face of massive anti-road protests. The Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston was also the regular destination of CND marches. Despite all this, the seat itself used to be a predictable bastion of rural Conservatism. This changed in 1993 when David Rendel took the seat for the Liberal Democrats in a by-election on a huge 28 point swing. Rendel managed to hold the seat at the following two general elections, but it was reclaimed by the Conservatives in 2005. Rendel stood again in 2010 but was unsuccessful, seeing the Conservative majority grow to over 20%.


Current MP
RICHARD BENYON (Conservative) Born 1960, Reading, the son of former Conservative MP Bill Benyon. Educated at Bradfield College and Royal Agricultural College. Newbury councillor 1991-1995. Contested Newbury 1997, 2001. First elected as MP for Newbury in 2005. Parliamentary Under-secretary of State for the Environment 2010-2013.
Past Results
2010
Con: 33057 (56%)
Lab: 2505 (4%)
LDem: 20809 (36%)
UKIP: 1475 (3%)
Oth: 743 (1%)
MAJ: 12248 (21%)
2005*
Con: 26771 (49%)
Lab: 3239 (6%)
LDem: 23311 (43%)
UKIP: 857 (2%)
Oth: 495 (1%)
MAJ: 3460 (6%)
2001
Con: 22092 (43%)
Lab: 3523 (7%)
LDem: 24507 (48%)
UKIP: 685 (1%)
MAJ: 2415 (5%)
1997
Con: 21370 (38%)
Lab: 3107 (6%)
LDem: 29887 (53%)
Oth: 1120 (2%)
MAJ: 8517 (15%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
RICHARD BENYON (Conservative) See above.
JONNY ROBERTS (Labour)
JUDITH BUNTING (Liberal Democrat) Born Peterborough. Educated at Peterborough County Girls School and Cambridge University. Television producer.
CATHERINE ANDERSON (UKIP)
PAUL FIELD (Green) Headteacher.
ANDREW STOTT (Patriotic Socialist)
PETER NORMAN (Apolitical)
BARRIE SINGLETON (Independent) Contested Newbury 2005.
Links
Comments - 39 Responses on “Newbury”
  1. I actually think that Benyon might increase his majority again here.

    With the Lib Dems likely to decrease again here as the 1993 byelection effects continue to unwind, it is not altogether inconceivable…

  2. The Liberals have been strong here for a long while before the by-election, though – they nearly took the seat on a couple of occasions before.

  3. I know but I think to all intents and purposes it is a Consrvative seat.

  4. There are 127 seats within a 10% swing for the LDs and this is just outside that range. Huntingdon, for example, is an easier target.

  5. This seat has the highest % of daily mail readers in the country. Property developers have destroyed so much countryside for their development projects that Thatcham is no-longer a town but now a suburb of Newbury.

    I think they are trying to do this to various others market towns in the midlands that the conservatives have regained control. If you look at who is funding the mps campaigns in 2010 many were linked in the property sector.

  6. Rendel IMHO did well to hold this for 12 years, particularly as some other Lib Dem byelections had something of a habit of unwinding on them fairly quickly.

  7. No so sure Andy [email protected], the difference between Huntingdon and Newbury is that many voters have voted Lib Dem in the past in the latter, not as true in the former.

  8. “This seat has the highest % of daily mail readers in the country.”

    Interesting and surprising. I would have thought this seat was a bit more upmarket than to have the highest Daily Mail readership.

  9. Andy – I visit this seat quite a bit now for work, and I’d be surprised if it was a particular hotspot for Daily Mail readership.

    I’m not saying that RTH is wrong but I did a quick google search and couldn’t see any evidence supporting his statistic.

  10. ‘Interesting and surprising. I would have thought this seat was a bit more upmarket than to have the highest Daily Mail readership.’

    that’s exactly what i would have thought – i would have expected a seat in essex, kent or hertfordshire to enjoy that claim to fame

    ‘The Liberals have been strong here for a long while before the by-election, though – they nearly took the seat on a couple of occasions before.’

    they came close in the two 1974 elections – but it was strongly Conservative in the 1980s with the party enjoying five figure majorities

  11. A closer look at the result here in 1997-
    (Changes are against 1992, not the 1993 by-election)
    Rendel (Liberal Democrat)- 29, 887 (52.92%, +15.61%)
    Benyon (Conservative)- 21, 370 (37.84%, -18.07%)
    Hannon (Labour)- 3, 107 (5.50%, -0.47%)
    Snook (Referendum Party)- 992 (1.76%, N/A)
    Stark (Green)- 644 (1.14%, +0.33%)
    Tubb (UKIP)- 302 (0.54%, N/A)
    Howse (Socialist Labour)- 174 (0.31%, N/A)

    Majority- 8, 617 (15.08%)
    Swing- +16.84% From Con to Lib Dem.

  12. The pattern of the Liberal/Lib Dem vote in this seat since 1945-
    1. 1945- E.D.T. Vane, 6, 052, 13.0%, N/A
    2. 1950- E. Burrows, 4, 284, 12.0%, -0.5%
    3. 1964- Denis Egginton, 11, 124, 20.2%, N/A
    4. 1966- Stanley Clement Davies, 9, 571, 16.7%, -3.5%
    5. 1970- Dane Clouston, 13, 279, 21.3%, +4.6%
    6. February 1974- Dane Clouston, 23, 419, 40.3%, +19.0%
    7. October 1974- Dane Clouston, 22, 477, 40.6%, +0.3%
    8. 1979- Anthony Richards, 23, 388, 36.7%, -3.9%
    9. 1983- Anthony Richards, 18, 798, 35.0%, -1.0%
    10. 1987- David Rendel, 18, 608, 31.7%, -3.3%
    11. 1992- David Rendel, 24, 778, 37.3%, +5.2%
    12. 1993 by-election- David Rendel, 37, 590, 65.1%, +27.8%, 22, 055 (38.2% majority)
    13. 1997- David Rendel, 29, 887, 52.9%, +15.8%, 8, 517 (15.1%) majority)
    14. 2001- David Rendel, 24, 507, 48.2%, -4.7%, 2, 415 (4.8%) majority)
    15. 2005- David Rendel, 23, 311, 42.6%, -5.6%
    16. 2010- David Rendel, 20, 809, 35.5%, -7.1%

  13. Believe it or not this is now a LibDem target seat… with an organiser and the works…

  14. That’s pretty comedic. I would think that they will lose by between 25 and 30 percent here.

  15. It wouldn’t surprise me if the LD vote holds up a lot better here than elsewhere.

  16. A bit of discussion for this seat from the old site, starting with my prediction for Newbury in 2015-

    THE RESULTS
    Prediction for 2015-
    Benyon (Tory)- 33, 325 (57.2%, +0.78%)
    Rendel (Lib Dem)- 18, 322 (31.4%, -4.12%)
    Labour- 3, 145 (5.4%, +1.12%)
    UKIP- 2, 563 (4.4%, +1.88%)
    Others- 885 (1.5%, +0.23%)
    Con hold.
    Turnout- 58, 240.
    Majority- 15, 003 (25.7%)
    Swing- +2.45% From Lib Dem to Con.
    December 18th, 2012 at 11:03 pm
    JOE R
    I think the LD vote will go down a lot more than that. At least 10%, as much of it will be tactical. Cant see Labour getting as low as 5.4% anywhere in the country.
    At this early stage
    Tory 58
    LD 21
    Lab 11
    UKIP 6
    Green 3
    BNP 1
    December 18th, 2012 at 11:13 pm
    THE RESULTS
    A few things to point out-
    Firstly, there were a solid Liberal vote here in the 70′s and 80s that was 30%+. Therefore I would expect the Lib Dems to stay above 30% here, with or without Rendel.
    The Tory vote will remain pretty static- We both seem to agree on that front.
    But Labour getting 11% here would be a very good result for them indeed. I expect them to hold their deposit come 2015, but I don’t think they’ll quite manage 6% of the vote- Their vote began to disappear in 2005 and was nearly made extinct in 2010- Therefore it will be an increase, but not an impressive one on the scale you forecast I would suspect.
    December 18th, 2012 at 11:27 pm
    BARNABY MARDER
    Tend to agree with TheResults somewhat. Labour is very weak in this constituency, and has been for years, despite my frequent visits to it.
    December 19th, 2012 at 12:12 am
    EVERGREENADAM
    Judith Bunting selected as PPC for the Lib Dems.
    January 6th, 2013 at 1:31 pm
    THE RESULTS
    I get the feeling that now Rendel has seemingly gone for good that the Lib Dems may possibly end up finding themselves on the wrong end of a Tory majority near to their 1983-87 level- Which strictly speaking without the by-election, is where they could already have ended up.
    January 6th, 2013 at 3:50 pm
    GT
    In 1974, Newbury nearly went Liberal, so they do have a tradition here. Labour are unlikely to ever do much. The most likely places for Labour support in the West Berkshire district are already in Reading West constituency.
    As in much of the South, East and West of the country Labour ceases to have much relevance outside the largest urban centres.
    This seat will still have enough Lib Dem votes to keep the Conservatives campaigning
    January 6th, 2013 at 4:23 pm
    THE RESULTS
    All of what you say is indeed true.
    The last line sums up how crucial the increase in the Labour vote will be here for the Lib Dems- Provided the Labour vote doesn’t go up to or higher than their 2001 level, then the Lib Dems’ numerical vote might still hold up relatively well as I have forecast. It is perhaps as you correctly say that because of Labour’s seemingly eternally low vote here the only real way the Lib Dems could lose any more votes than they already have done would be for Benyon to pick up more, which is not impossible- I still believe this seat could yet get safer for the Tories but it will always be the Lib Dems second here- Distant or close.
    January 6th, 2013 at 4:53 pm

  17. well, Joe… I was surprised myself.. but.. the party is not known for being mistaken in its targeting of seats.. so maybe they know something neither of us do.. The Tories have been surprised here once before… many in that part of the woods in the party see it as somewhat similar to Oxford West & Abingdon.. its not all voters riding to hounds..

  18. I suspect it is more a matter of keeping their hand in for when circumstances come round again to them being able to challenge here, rather than having any expectation of winning in 2015. Who knows what the situation will be like in say 2025, but if it were nationally favourable for the LDs vis a vis the Conservatives they will have needed to maintain a strong ground organisation here to be able to capitalise on that locally

  19. I would have to disagree there… I can name a whole truckload of better targets at this point and with all parties having finite campaigning resources (particularly manpower) pursuing quixotic targets seems different from the past approach.. which makes me think they see something here that does not appear to mere mortals.

    I think it has only recently achieved this “target status” whereas the other official targets in the South Central region, Winchester and Oxford West have more science in their selection for special efforts. They all have hoards of activists which is what the party feels is the key thing in winning seats.. and on past performance that is true.. its hard to win something without boots on the ground.. apparently Newbury has the troops for the task..

  20. This seat is an example of how a byelection can change the political situation for over a decade. David Rendel managed to hold this in 1997 and 2001 because of his hard work as MP, having been candidate and local councillor beforehand for even longer. He lost this in 2005 because the byelection effect was unwinding even more, and he was up against Richard Benyon for the third time in succession. So when he stood here again in 2010, by that time this seat had gone near enough back to where it was in 1992.

  21. ‘I would have to disagree there… I can name a whole truckload of better targets at this point and with all parties having finite campaigning resources (particularly manpower) pursuing quixotic targets seems different from the past approach.. which makes me think they see something here that does not appear to mere mortals.’

    Or they could simply be mistaken. Whether the Lib Dems have troops on the ground is by the by in 2015- they are not going to get anywhere near winning this seat. As Pete says, their priority is surely to keep their hand in for when a future opportunity arises, which is fair enough.

  22. And I think the Results’ prediction is about right- the Lib Dem vote holding up fairly well in the circumstances but with the Tories emerging with a slightly larger majority.

  23. I do think an increased majority is highly likely for Richard Benyon because of that very likely outcome, yes. My prediction further up indicates that perhaps happening.

  24. UKIP selected Catherine Anderson as their Newbury prospective parliamentary candidate a few days ago. She doesn’t look like the average kipper, but its good to see young candidates.

  25. Barrie Singleton is running here under the banner ‘Spoil Party Games’. http://spoilpartygames.co.uk/ he had previously run in this seat as an independent back in 2005.

    Also, David Yates is running again as an ‘Apolitical Democrat’. https://yournextmp.com/person/860/david-yates

    and finally Andrew Stott the founder and leader of the Patritotic Socialist party is also standing here. http://www.patriotic-socialist.org/news-and-updates/news-and-updates-2015

  26. Conservative Hold. 18,000 maj

  27. David Rendel, MP here from 1993-2005 and who contested Somerton and Frome last year, has died from cancer aged 67

    http://www.newburytoday.co.uk/news/home/18142/Former-MP-for-Newbury-David-Rendel.html#.Vzrnw9mphrs.twitter

  28. RIP to him.

    It’s very jarring to read of public figures dying of cancer in their 60’s (thinking also of Victoria Wood) alongside almost daily newspaper stories saying things like ‘one in three will live to 116’ etc.

  29. You wonder if the 1993 by-election result will ever be repeated. Not only the result, but the amount of coverage given to this by-election in 1993 really was something from another country entirely.

  30. RIP Indeed

    It was Newbury and the result the Lib Dems achieved in the 93 by-election that led the way to the significant gains they made in 97

    I wonder when he was diagnosed, presumably after the 2015 election where he contested Somerton & Frome

  31. “It’s very jarring to read of public figures dying of cancer in their 60’s (thinking also of Victoria Wood) alongside almost daily newspaper stories saying things like ‘one in three will live to 116’ etc.”

    Those forecasts are a pile of horseshit, and well illustrate the decline of journalism. The “obesity crisis”, the collapse of antibiotic resistance, the huge increase in cancer and the eventual inability of the NHS to cope with all this will lead to declining rather than increasing life expectancy. We have had the easy gains from antibiotics, decline of smoking and postwar elimination of real poverty. I fully expect that my kids generation will have shorter lives than mine, and perhaps even that Tim and I won’t live quite as long as our parents generation.

    Back on topic, it really seems the thing now that many people get cancer at around 60, though many happily surviving. It has happened to a couple of my customers at exactly that age this past year.

  32. I’m not sure how the life expectancy figures are calculated for those currently young.

    We need to do a better job at catching it in time.
    (I have a funeral to go to this month – a friend – although she was a heavy smoker).

    Think you may be too pessimistic about the last sentence of your second paragraph HH.
    We just have to avoid obvious dangers and get things checked.

    RIP David Rendel.

  33. “Think you may be too pessimistic about the last sentence of your second paragraph HH.”

    Hopefully you’re correct, but I’m not convinced. I think the baby boomers will enjoy peak life length, and that it will start to go into reverse when they’ve died off.

    I didn’t pay tribute to Rendell as I’ve nothing to add to what others already said….it’s clear though that the Newbury is one of the select number of by-elections which will never be forgotten.

  34. RIP David Rendel. Bit of a shock to see how relatively young he was.

  35. This seat saw the lowest Labour vote share anywhere at the 1997 General Election, at just 5.5%.

  36. The share of the vote was also derisory in the 1993 by-election. Labour has not for many decades amounted to much in this constituency.

  37. yet this seat is described as merely ‘safe’ as opposed to ‘very safe’ or ‘ultra safe’. Interesting.

  38. Indeed…

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