Newton Abbot

2015 Result:
Conservative: 22794 (47.3%)
Labour: 4736 (9.8%)
Lib Dem: 11506 (23.9%)
Green: 2216 (4.6%)
UKIP: 6726 (14%)
TUSC: 221 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 11288 (23.4%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Devon. Part of the Teignbridge council area.

Main population centres: Newton Abbot, Kingsteignton, Dawlish, Teignmouth.

Profile: Covers the town of Newton Abbot and the strip of coast between the estuaries of the Teign and the Exe. Newton Abbot is a historic market town that boomed as a Victorian railway town, it was the home of the south Devon Railway works and British Rail had workshops here until 1981. To the east of the town is the wide estuary of the River Teign and the collection of villages around it. On the coast Dawlish and Teignmouth are both former fishing villages that became popular seaside resorts with the coming of the railway and have remained popular with tourists and people retiring to the coast.

Politics: There has been a seat centred on this area since 1983, called Teignbridge until boundary changes in 2010. It was originally a solid Conservative seat but in some previous elections has been a close marginal between the Tories and Liberal Democrats.

Current MP
ANNE-MARIE MORRIS (Conservative) Born 1957, London. Educated at Bryanston School and Oxford University. Former lawyer and owner of a marketing company. West Sussex County councillor 2005. First elected as MP for Newton Abbot in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 20774 (43%)
Lab: 3387 (7%)
LDem: 20251 (42%)
UKIP: 3088 (6%)
Oth: 783 (2%)
MAJ: 523 (1%)
Con: 21593 (35%)
Lab: 6931 (11%)
LDem: 27808 (46%)
UKIP: 3881 (6%)
Oth: 685 (1%)
MAJ: 6215 (10%)
Con: 23332 (39%)
Lab: 7366 (12%)
LDem: 26343 (44%)
UKIP: 2269 (4%)
MAJ: 3011 (5%)
Con: 24679 (39%)
Lab: 11311 (18%)
LDem: 24398 (39%)
Oth: 2557 (4%)
MAJ: 281 (0%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Teignbridge

2015 Candidates
ANNE-MARIE MORRIS (Conservative) See above.
ROY FREER (Labour) Publican.
RICHARD YOUNGER-ROSS (Liberal Democrat) Born 1953, Surrey. Educated at Walton County Secondary School for Boys and Oxford Polytechnic. Contested Teignbridge 1992, 1997. MP for Teignbridge 2001-2010.
Comments - 239 Responses on “Newton Abbot”
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  1. Thanks Andy. I hadn’t realised what a truly appalling set of results these are for the LDs, except in Bideford. Losing all but one division in N Devon is a dreadful performance & the Tories must be thinking that the constituency could be winnable. Labour will be pleased that Exeter isn’t unitary based on these results!

  2. UKIP won both seats in Bideford — (probably my fault for putting the LDs as the fourth party along rather than third which isn’t the usual practice, but I decided on it after UKIP got a higher projected share than the LDs). It was in Teignbridge that the LDs did a bit better, winning four seats. I’d be interested to see the Newton Abbot aggregates.

  3. whoops sorry. Nevertheless it’s still a strikingly bad performance in N Devon.

  4. Strong Labour results in Exeter. Looks like a big lib dem to lab swing there next time. The only slight concern for the tories is teignbridge in this constituency against the lib dems, but the dawlish area and newton abbot itself have swung away from the libs so it should be ok.

  5. Teignmouth

  6. Richard Younger-Ross selected again for the LDs.

  7. Slightly surprising

  8. Conservative hold I’m guessing.

  9. it’s only a guess, but yes that is the most likely result I should have thought.

  10. What a dire set of results for the Lib Dems- 19% points behind the Conservatives in Devon. I wonder how concerned they are about it? Obviously one would have thought that the Lib Dems will recover some ground between now and 2015 and that the personal votes of individual MPs will come into play but there must be some alarm bells ringing.

  11. Mind you, thinking about it, the Lib Dems have only got one MP here to begin with- in Devon North. Even so, they won’t be wanting heavy swings away from them in seats like this one as it will make the job of rebuilding tougher. Furthermore, they seemed to have similar problems in Somerset, where they do have MPs. The results in Wells and Somerton and Frome didn’t look at all promising though I would naturally expect a closer contest in the general election.

  12. CON 39
    LD 32
    LAB 12
    UKIP 11
    GRN 4
    OTH 2

  13. I wonder if UKIP could edge Labour into fourth here? They wouldn’t have to do all that brilliantly to pull it off. Maybe:

    Con 41
    LD 33
    UKIP 11
    Lab 10
    Oth 5

  14. That could be about right.

  15. The Labour vote must be squeezed hard here so if that unwinds they’d poll at least 15%. It depends whether Labour voters in this area continue to vote for the LDs.

  16. ‘Mind you, thinking about it, the Lib Dems have only got one MP here to begin with- in Devon North.’

    They have an MP in Torbay too last time I checked, but the Lib Dems certainly looked to have peaked in Devon about a decade ago.

    In 2001 they had four MPs representing Devon seats, compared to two in Somerset

    I think tactical votinmg has become so ingrained amongst labour supoporters in this part of the world tht the the threat of electing another Patrick Nichols – the closest thing the house ever had to Alan B’srtard himself – ought to be enough to keep many voting Liberal

    I think the Tories will hold here

  17. I meant in the Devon CC area, Tim- Torbay is a unitary.

  18. This is a very lovely part of the UK to take a few days’ holiday in. Just the right distance from London.

    I’ve never thought that Teignbridge felt like a natural Lib Dem area in the same way that these days Torbay does. I think this will revert to being a semi-safe seat for the Tories, despite a potentially strong UKIP presence.

    Anne Marie Morris does seem to have quite a high profile presence on the ground in the constituency.

  19. I just wonder if Younger-Ross’ reselection as Lib Dem candidate here may have an effect on the result next time?

    That is not to say the Lib Dems will win this back, but with the ex-MP standing again I think the swing to Morris will be lower than what it may otherwise have been.

    The reason why I think this is because RYR was IMHO something of a maverick MP who had a bit of a following in the old Teignbridge constituency I suspect- Even when he did lose in 2010 his vote share decrease wasn’t catastrophic, but all the same his defeat was somewhat surprising.

    I would be intrigued to discover what the impact is of former MPs standing again- Rendel and Doughty are recent examples, but in those cases unwind was at play anyway I think.

  20. I was quite surprised he lost in 2010, although was implicated by the expenses scandal which may have played a part. He is now a Devon county cllr.

  21. The LDs’ erstwhile success here isn’t that surprising. Newton Abbot itself is mainly relatively humble (though there is a very good residential area in the west of the town), and the party also has some support in both Teignmouth & Dawlish. Even some of the plainer villages such as Ipplepen can be won by the LDs too. However the majority of the rural & semi-rural areas are pretty good for the Tories, and they aren’t negligible in any part of the constituency.

  22. There was a time when the Lib Dems had a good number of seats in Devon- Teignbridge, Torridge and West Devon, North Devon and Torbay.

    But now they only hold half that number- Was the losing of Torridge and West Devon because it didn’t include enough areas of Lib Dem strength for them to hold it over a long-term period?

  23. Basically yes – losing that seat to the Tories was a lot less surprising than, say, the Tory gain in Camborne & Redruth in 2010. Of the main towns, Great Torrington, Bideford, and Okehampton which was included at the time were generally regarded as LD centres, but Tavistock has usually tended to be rather evenly-divided between the Conservatives & the LDs rather than being a strongly LD town. The countryside of course has always been Tory for the most part, but it’s likely that as a local farmer himself John Burnett will have attracted a goodly local agricultural vote for the LDs. The formation of Central Devon has not really helped them in this seat, while not providing them with a genuinely winnable new seat either it seems.

  24. Richard Younger-Ross has been reselected as the Lib Dem candidate.

  25. Probably an increased Tory majority here in 2015 for Morris, but not a huge one I would guess.

  26. “Richard Younger-Ross has been reselected as the Lib Dem candidate.”

    Its like looking in a mirror.

    He’ll be hoping for better luck in the drawers next time.

  27. Good strategy to rewarm an MP from the past (except seemingly if that MP is Dawn Butler.. LoL)..

    Thought struck me that most parties seem to be rather slow with the PPC process… Usually with a coalition/minority govt all parties would have all their candidates lined up in case crisis takes down the government… clearly all parties concerned are sanguine that outside factors wont precipitate an electoral spill

  28. “Good strategy to rewarm an MP from the past”

    That depends on why they became an ex-MP.

    Are you aware of the circumstances in this case?

  29. I would guess that RYR is recontesting here because he is trying to make something of a point- that although he’s no longer in Parliament, he clearly still cares about the constituency and its voters.

  30. The Results – the Libs/LDs have had some success at MPs becoming PPCs again.

    Although Ronnie Fearn in Southport and David Alton in Liverpool were special cases and VERY well known locally (and still are). Plus, the latter simply recontested the new seat twice, as the BC kept abolishing his seat!

    Have any MPs tried as many times as Ronnie Fearn did?

    I realise some unsuccessful PPCs have stood 7 or 8 times; but I mean of those who became MPs.

  31. This seat is surely near impossible to call until we can see where UKIP is in 2015. Their vote share here is the big unknown and could easily tip the outcome.

  32. This is the sort of seat where I wouldn’t be worried about a UKIP surge from a tory point of view.

  33. I tend to admire politicians who live to fight another day. Though the electorate seem somewhat less fussed.

  34. “This is the sort of seat where I wouldn’t be worried about a UKIP surge from a tory point of view”

    I would as even a small surge in UKIP would help the Lib Dems take the seat.

  35. Depends on your interpretation of the 2010 election.. I get a distinct impression the Libdems sat on their laurels when Cleggmania set in and thought about all the seats they would gain without seeing the danger that a swing from Labour to the Tories held for seats like this.

    Complacency left some of these” safe” seats out on a limb which was then sawn off….

    RYR was the MP for nigh on 10 years and presumably has good voter recognition. His 2005 performance was stellar…

    does anyone know how the performance on the job of Ms Morris has been?

  36. ‘Depends on your interpretation of the 2010 election.. I get a distinct impression the Libdems sat on their laurels when Cleggmania set in and thought about all the seats they would gain without seeing the danger that a swing from Labour to the Tories held for seats like this.’

    i don’t think that’s the case – neither here or anywhere else

    RYR lost here because he claimed £1200 for 5 mirrors and £1475 for a single chest of drawers to furnish his London flat – which was also rented at the taxpayer’s expense

    Similar to his colleague Julia Goldsworthy in Cornwall.

    If not for these claims. I think he almost certainly would have held on – especially so after favourable boundary changes in 2010

  37. I agree.. I was talking more generally though.. Triumphalism and over-weaning confidence seemed to have mugged the party.

    One might also mention Sandra Gidley in Romsey & Southampton North in respect to expenses backwash victims..

  38. We have had a lot of holidays here over the years, so I can claim to know the area quite well at least on a superficial level.

    To answer Antiochian – Anne Marie Morris does have quite a high profile, seeming to be mentioned all over the place.

    I’m sure Tim is right about 2010, but my hunch is that in 2015 the Tories will increase their majority to something like 3000 or 4000 with the Lib Dems falling back, but still putting in a respectable performance. As others have said, this is the kind of seat where UKIP can pull in votes from the Lib Dems as well as the Tories so I don’t see that as such a big threat here compared with many other seats.

    I am relatively confident about my prediction of the Tories holding here, conversely I firmly believe that the Lib Dems will hold on next door in Torbay by a couple of thousand.

  39. ‘but my hunch is that in 2015 the Tories will increase their majority to something like 3000 or 4000 with the Lib Dems falling back, but still putting in a respectable performance.’

    i think that will almost certainly be the case, although I think over the long-term the lib dems will be able to keep themselves in the picture and this will remain a tory/liub dem marginal

    ‘One might also mention Sandra Gidley in Romsey & Southampton North in respect to expenses backwash victims..’

    Gidley’s claims re: expenses was one of the worst cases, certainly with regards to the Lib Dems

    She was claiming £1,638 a month for a luxury flat with indoor swimming pool in London, as well as £420 a month for food, and over £1,000 for Council Tax

    The tax payer was paying money to her party’s constituency office, including business rates, water rates, telephones, cleaning and refreshments

    She also accepted a £18,700 cash ‘windfall’ from her landlord, in return for agreeing to an increase in their rent, which was funded by the taxpayer

    However I suspect she would have had a difficult enough time holding on to her seat anyway

  40. Tim

    I wonder whether Ed Miliband’s screech to the left in the daft policies he announced yesterday might not breathe some life back into the Lib Dems.

    It might make it easier for the Lib Dem membership to contemplate working with the Tories again in a hung parliament if the only alternative is supporting failed 1970s policies such as arbitrary energy price caps, expropriating privately owned land and generally being hated by business to an extent not elicited by Labour since the 1980s.

  41. As shamelessly populist as Ed Milliband’s announcement was yesterday re: energy caps, I suspect it’s a policy that will attract a good deal of support from the traditional working classes, even those who vote UKIP or Tory

    The perception, and it’s a fair one, is that the energy companies are simply ripping their customers off left, right and centre, and however true their predictions of possible future blackouts might be, people simply won’t believe them and just see is as a blatant falsehood they are peddling to protect their profits

    Of course the flip side is that this could put a nail in the coffin of Labour’s need to be at least accepted by the business community at large

    the real danger for Labour is if they do get in, introduce the policy and blackouts do then take place – bringing back memories of the state Britain was in in the 1970s

  42. Capping energy prices and completely decarbonising energy production by 2030 are two completely contradictory policies, given that a push for renewables will require massive price increases even compared with today’s very high levels to pay for the necessary investment and inefficiencies.

    I’m starting to believe, like Richard, that there’s no way we can avoid serious regular power cuts in a few years time, with little way of alleviating them at peak times for many years (as has been happening in South Africa since 2007). We are not facing happy times.

  43. ‘Capping energy prices and completely decarbonising energy production by 2030 are two completely contradictory policies’

    Of course they are – and the stark warnings from the energy companies with regards to what might happen if Labour’s policy were to be introduced might well turn out correct – but they have been literally taking the p*ss out of their consumers for so long that they can’t really compain that so few believe them

  44. I’d be surprised if there isn’t at least some positive effect on Labour’s vote after yesterday’s announcements. I’ve long believed that it’s far more important to achieve a high share of vote amongst working-class people, black, white & everyone else, than to get a small number of positive comments from some in big business. But it’s important to note that a price freeze would apply to business as well as residential customers. I can tell you that in business at times electricity charges were at times extortionate, and they’ve got a lot higher since I ceased trading 4 years ago. Labour courted big business to a ludicrous degree under Blair, and though obviously the election results for most of this period ranged from satisfactory to brilliant, I still contend that by 2005 Labour would have been better off, and remained in power by a wider margin, had they had policies which were more directly appealing to the less well-off in society – some of whom are of course small businesspeople. If Labour is seen to be taking on an enormously powerful interest in favour of the ordinary consumer of energy, I find it hard to believe that it will not at least derive some political benefit from so doing. Hardly anyone has a positive view of energy companies nowadays. Personally, as you’d expect, I’d go a very great deal further than Ed Miliband, but it will be tough for the Tories (or indeed their friends in the energy companies) to argue that, if there’s a spike in prices before 2015, somehow Labour is to blame. Everyone knows that Labour is in no position to do anything about prices before then.

  45. Barnaby

    I always have the greatest of respect for what you say, but it seems to me that your argument assumes that small businesspeople (of whom I am one myself) are idiots.

    Business people large and small understand that the way to sustainably bring down the price of electricity is to bring down the cost of producing it. This is so challenging in the current environment as to be almost impossible, although shale gas might have an impact in a few years’ time. But plans to eliminate all carbon from electricity production will massively increase the cost of producing electricity. You don’t have to be Einstein to work out that fixed prices and substantially increasing generation costs are going to result in bankruptcies and blackouts. And, as someone who extensively works with South African industry, I can tell you that once the blackouts come, it takes years and years to get rid of them. I do not think that businesses large and small will be at all welcoming of these proposals. Their hope will be that it is a worthless gimmick – for all our sakes I certainly hope that is the case.

  46. What screech to the left? see you have bought into the daft headlines. That policy is clear sellable policy and is and election winner. Are you seriously suggesting that the utility companies known as the big six are wonderful responsible companies? they has been no meaningful investment in energy infrastructure in 20 years, they operate in closed markets full of monopolistic practices as they are both generate and sell their electricity and then they only invest with substantial taxpayer subsidies.

    A lot of them are now owned by European state companies. They could never get away with their fleecing of consumers in their own countries. EDF hikes up UK prices as it is subject to price controls in France.

    What free market? Centrica has refused to build two new gas powered stations without taxpayer subsidy and the energy companies will only invest now with long term fixed energy prices. They have sweated their assets for 20 years and our infrastructure has crumbled while they profiteer.

    The big six supply 98% of the energy but provide only 47% of the new investment.

    The commentariat live in comfortable London homes. This policy will be a winner of the doorstep. It is simple and will chime with hard pressed consumers tired of rip off Britain.

    Where there blackouts when Blair had a £5.5 billion windfall on the privatised utilities in 1997? and energy price controls existed during the 1990s under the Tories and were ended by Labour in 2002.

    This is great for Labour they should frame this as the Tories on the side of the rip off profiteers against the consumer.

  47. The comparison with SA really is misplaced. Everyone in UK has electricity that is not the case in SA.

    Why not compare the corporatist oiligrachy of the big six in the UK with EDF in France or Enercon in Germany?

  48. Most working journalists are stuck in a time warp and their prejudices reflect their age. There will be voters in 2015 who were not even born when Blair won in 1997. Their experience of the privatised utilities is not a happy one.

    Land expropriation the papers are desperate. Ever heard of compulsory purchase orders? and Nick Boles himself in 2011 was proposing a land value tax on land banks being built up by developers and not being utilised and effectively blocking others from making use of it. The newspapers are dying Ed should ignore the headlines public opinion is shaped by the reality of ever rising prices and this can be framed as the Tories having no policy but to protect the big guys. In fact such policies are much more likely to keep 2010 LD defectors on Labour’s side.

  49. “The comparison with SA really is misplaced.”

    And you are in a position to know that I suppose….when were you last in SA by the way? I was in Joburg just last week, and attended a conference presentation by the head of their state power utility Eskom. The two situations sound eerily similar unfortunately.

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