North Norfolk

2015 Result:
Conservative: 15256 (30.9%)
Labour: 5043 (10.2%)
Lib Dem: 19299 (39.1%)
Green: 1488 (3%)
UKIP: 8328 (16.9%)
MAJORITY: 4043 (8.2%)

Category: Marginal Liberal Democrat seat

Geography: Eastern, Norfolk. Most of North Norfolk council area.

Main population centres: Cromer, Wells-next-the-Sea, North Walsham, Holt, Sheringham.

Profile: A long, thin rural seat, stretching along the northern coast of Norfolk from Wells-next-the-Sea to the Norfolk broads and taking in much of the Norfolk Coast area of natural beauty. The area is made up of small villages and towns, Victorian beach resorts from a time before the Beeching cuts, fishing villages and market towns. Quiet, sleepy and remote - even the largest towns like Cromer have populations under 10,000 - and, like many coastal seats, it has one of the highest proportions of elderly people of any constituency in the UK.

Politics: North Norfolk had been a Labour seat in the 1950s and 1960s but the Labour rural vote has declined and Labour`s support has largely vanished. It was a very safe Conservative seat for Ralph Howell for 27 years until 1997. He was briefly replaced by David Prior, the son of former cabinet minster Jim Prior, who managed to hold on with only a 2.2% majority in 1997 before losing the seat to the Liberal Democrats in 2001 by a wafer thin majority of 483. The marginality of the seat and the high profile Conservative candidate - the blogger, commentator and Politicos bookshop founder Iain Dale - meant the seat received much attention in 2005, but in the end Norman Lamb easily retained his seat with a majority of over 10,000.

Current MP
NORMAN LAMB (Liberal Democrat) Born 1957, Watford. Educated at Wymondham College and Leicester University. Former employment lawyer. Norwich councillor 1987-1991. Contested Norfolk North 1992, 1997. First elected as MP for Norfolk North in 2001. PPS to Charles Kennedy 2003-2005, Lib Dem shadow secretary for the DTI 2004-2006, Chief of Staff to Menzies Campbell 2006, Lib Dem shadow health secretary 2006-2010. PPS to Nick Clegg 2010-2012, government whip 2010-2012, Under-secretary of state for employment relations 2012, Minister of State for care services 2012-2015. Unsuccessfully contested Lib Dem leadership election in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 15928 (32%)
Lab: 2896 (6%)
LDem: 27554 (55%)
UKIP: 2680 (5%)
Oth: 603 (1%)
MAJ: 11626 (23%)
Con: 20909 (35%)
Lab: 5447 (9%)
LDem: 31515 (53%)
UKIP: 978 (2%)
Oth: 116 (0%)
MAJ: 10606 (18%)
Con: 23495 (42%)
Lab: 7490 (13%)
LDem: 23978 (43%)
GRN: 649 (1%)
Oth: 608 (1%)
MAJ: 483 (1%)
Con: 21456 (36%)
Lab: 14736 (25%)
LDem: 20163 (34%)
MAJ: 1293 (2%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
ANN STEWARD (Conservative) Breckland councillor since 2003, former Norfolk councillor.
DENISE BURKE (Labour) Educated at Cass Business School. Former local government officer and tax inspector.
NORMAN LAMB (Liberal Democrat) See above.
MICHAEL BAKER (UKIP) Born North Norfolk. Educated at Greshams School and Surrey University. Chemical engineer and businessman. North Norfolk councillor 1981-1987 and since 1999, previously an Independent. Norfolk councillor.Contested North Norfolk 2010.
MIKE MACARTNEY-FILGATE (Green) Retired social worker. Contested North Norfolk 1987.
Comments - 335 Responses on “Norfolk North”
  1. Don’t worry, the Lib Dems are masters at changing their messages wildly, according to who they’re speaking to, it comes with the territory it seems . . .

    Works fine until they get into government and actually have to implement anything!

  2. Very true – so they will be the party of Brexit in N Norfolk then. 🙂

  3. “Yes but the Lib Dems current attempts to be the party of Remain voters will be a hard sell in Norfolk.”

    Some Lib Dems have already started to row back somewhat on their ultra-Remain stance – see Vince Cable’s comments yesterday on freedom of movement for example.

    The risk for them in trying to be a bit more realistic is that they end up in a bit of a muddle on the issue like Labour, alienating their new constituency of diehard Remainers.

  4. To be honest a combination of the pro-EU vote plus Lamb’s personal vote will probably see the Lib Dems over the winning line. If the Lib Dems have held a seat in 2015 it is going to very, very difficult to shift them there.

  5. Much of Lamb’s support comes from tactical Labour voters. This fell back in 2015 , but from looking at results here from the 1990s it would seem that the underlying LibDem and Labour votes are not very far apart numerically. After a struggle Lamb won the battle to emerge as the main anti – Tory candidate here. When he retires I would expect to see a jump in the Labour vote – which of course will be helpful to the Tories.

  6. ”It’s hard to see why Brake held on in 2015 but wouldn’t in 2020.”

    The Tories largely ignored him I believe. They threw everything at defeating Cable and Davey.

  7. II suspect they might well actually target Carshalton and Wallington next time.

  8. ”Much of Lamb’s support comes from tactical Labour voters.”

    No more than 10% or so I wouldn’t have thought, this isn’t the kind of seat Labour has much of a natural base in at all. If the Lib Dems had never gained a foothold it would probably vote similarly to it’s neighbour North West Norfolk (though slightly more Tory and slightly less Labour as North Norfolk lacks a Kings Lynn sized town).

    If Lamb stands down in 2020 (no personal vote) and everyone voted for their first preference (to tactical vote) you’d get a result something like:

    Tory: 48%
    Labour: 18%
    Lib Dem: 18%
    UKIP: 11%
    Other: 5%

  9. It’s interesting to recall that Lamb managed to retain second place here in 1992 for the Lib Dems by increasing the vote share by 2.3%, despite Labour in third place going up by 3.3% at the same time. This retention of second place had to have proved crucial, because in 1997 Lamb got into real contention with the landslide conditions to put himself in a position to win the seat from David Prior four years later with tactical voting.

  10. ‘No more than 10% or so I wouldn’t have thought, this isn’t the kind of seat Labour has much of a natural base in at all. ‘

    I believe Labour polled circa 23% here in 1992 , and ,of course, further back it was a Labour-held seat until 1970 – though the demographics have moved massively against them since then.

  11. Where this seat is heading after Norman Lamb is dependent on the candidates. If someone like the young mayor of Cromer, was a Lib Dem, and continued to build a high local profile in the press and online, it is possible that he could succeed Lamb in 2025. Lamb spent ten years getting his picture in the local weekly before he won the seat.

    Local candidates are preferred here, and part of the Conservative’s decline here was the decision to parachute in Iain Dale, and David Prior, after years of Ralph Howell (local farmer). There was also an expectation locally that Howell would be succeeded by his son Paul.

  12. On January 6th, I mentioned that someone like the young mayor of Cromer who had then just left the Labour party, might consider joining the Lib Dems to run for them in 2025.

    It seems that the grooming process has begun, as just a few weeks later he appears with Norman Lamb in a photo in the local press, in a story about a district council by election. The by election is twenty miles away from Cromer, so he has no official standing to appear there.

    This guy already has a good name recognition locally and this will stand him in good stead, maybe as early as 2020.

    This by election was a Conservative who was disqualified for non attendance, so Lib Dem gain is on the cards.

  13. By election result for Waterside in Norman Lamb’s backyard –

    Marion Millership (LibDem), 649 votes;
    Tony Lumbard (Conservative), 410 votes;
    Barry Whitehouse (UKIP), 77 votes;
    David Russell (Labour), 41 votes.

    A total of 1177 ballot papers were cast and none were rejected. However, only a third of those registered bothered to vote, with the turnout recorded at 33.18 per cent.

    Nothing significant here, even though it’s a Lib Dem gain from Con. The LD candidate is already a parish councillor.

  14. The UKIP vote isn’t going Lib Dem so this could be tight, though Lamb may be able to draw on the majority of the residual Lab vote.

  15. I am betting that in close contests between LD – CON especially where there’s a 8% + UKIP share, Lib Dems will not win most. For this reason I would expect their seat totals to be around 16 -18.

    This seat I would say will be a CON GAIN. It is quite a LEAVE area 59% / 41%. Many Lab – LD will switch to CON enough for them to pip Mr Lamb.

  16. I am pretty certain this is a Con gain, something I’ve thought for a while before these 2X% leads

  17. Iain Dale, who of course stood here himself in 2005 and thus ought to know the seat pretty well, is predicting a Lib Dem hold.

  18. Con gain – near perfect profile for a Theresa May-led Conservative party.

  19. Can’t imagine any way the Tories will take this.

  20. As long as they don’t make an idiotic choice for candidate like in 2005, was a complete mismatch.

  21. Either result is possible, and of course Norman Lamb can point out that he didn’t follow the Lid Dem whip to vote against article 50 trigger, although I’m not sure that abstaining will suffice with many leave voters.

  22. I think the Lib Dems will hold it. They’ve been mopping up in by-elections locally.

    The county council vote in May will be a good indicator, though.

  23. Yeah Lambs popular too. LDs should hold this one. Lamb is 59. Lib Dems will have to look at a contingency plan if this is his last one

  24. Is James Wild? 🙂

  25. I don’t know James (Wild or otherwise 🙂 :), but assuming he’s a reasonable campaigner at least, this is still the LD seat I am more sure of than any, which will fall to the Conservatives on June 8th.

  26. Yes, the general UKIP collapse from which the Tories have gained looks like giving the blues an edge here, but lamb is well liked . Personal votes are never more than about 500 but it might, just, save him.

  27. Narrow CON gain. LDs brain-dead Brexit strategy will sink them in this seat.

  28. I’m not so sure it will be narrow either . . .

  29. I still believe Lamb will hang on here. He is well thought of locally (Brexit aside) and Norfolk people are still suspicious of outsiders like Wild.

    It all depends on the Labour supporters, who have voted tactically for Lamb over many years. If Labour vote rises, then Lamb falls.

    Mind you, I’ve often been wrong in the past.

  30. Fun one to predict this, and I see there are plenty of confident opinions! My bet is Lamb holds on by a couple of percent, with the Labour squeeze being decisive.

  31. He would have lost anyway, but that’s the icing on the cake.

    I read something earlier today somewhere which suggested to me James Wild is a strong candidate (as well as a staunch Leave campaigner – which won’t hurt him in a seat that went 68% Leave).

    Con gain, something like 52-39% Con-LD I should think. As I’ve said before, this seat is made in Theresa May’s image so to speak. Lamb’s personal vote such as it is, will only help him in this strong Leave seat to the extent that he may (may) maintain his 2015 vote share.

    Conversely, some of the other more affluent Norfolk seats, which are rural but not coastal, will not see anything like this kind of increase in the Tory vote. Firstly their Leave majorities were more modest, secondly the natural Conservative vote is not suppressed like it is here.

    In short, expect this seat to revert to what its demographics suggest it should be.

  32. Iain Dale would be pleased… I think he predicted this to be a Lib Dem hold purely out of sour grapes.

  33. I think the Lib Dems will be hard to shift here so long as Norman Lamb stands.
    Once he stands down, it’ll probably be Conservative (unless it’s an election where they are thrown out on a landslide after a very long period in office).

  34. Tory gain.

  35. Just three candidates here which may help Lamb hold on

    Stephen Burke (Labour);
    Norman Lamb (Liberal Democrat);
    James Wild (Conservative)

  36. Girlfriend lives near Cromer (I know, I know it’s really serious) and we can’t see Lamb hanging out with UKIP not standing. Not as though there’s much Labour or Green support for him to squeeze and the seat voted Leave (not as heavily as might be expected, admittedly).

  37. Don’t see how UKIP not standing makes it easier for lamb… Most bizarre conclusion … Doesn’t mean lamb can’t win but don’t see how ukips withdrawal makes it easier for the lib dems to hold.

  38. Even as UKIP collapsed, there was a swing to the Lib Dems in North Norfolk in the council elections – the Lib Dems gained two UKIP seats.

    Results from the county council elections for North Norfolk, with changes from 2013. Split wards allocated proportionately.

    LD – 12,224 (42.77%) +17.17%
    Con – 11,102 (38.85%) +12.64%
    Lab – 2,771 (9.70%) -5.23%
    UKIP – 1,483 (5.19%) -21.84%
    Grn – 890 (3.11%) -1.26%
    Ind – 109 (0.38%) -1.47%

    In 2013:
    2 Independents in Mundesley

    In 2017:
    UKIP missed Hoveton & Stalham
    Green missed Mundesley
    Independent in Mundesley

  39. It’s not the absence of a UKIP candidate that makes it easier for Lamb to hold on – it’s the absence of Green / others, who polled 3% in 2015. This is looking likely to be more than the margin of victory here.

    UKIP vote was always going to collapse after the referendum “win”, and will mostly move to Conservative.

    I have said before that how Labour do is crucial for Lamb. Since he first won the seat, the Labour vote has decreased considerably, suggesting anti Tory tactical voting. If Labour do well, then Lamb falls.

  40. I could see this being one of those seats where the Conservatives poll 45% of the vote and still lose….

    I think Norman Lamb’s personal vote will see him comfortably home.

  41. Paz must be a lib dem ramper. There is nothing ‘comfortable’ about lambs position in this seat.

  42. In parts of the West Country, there is a fair group of 2010 LD/2015 UKIP voters, where the Lib Dem vote was something of a contrarian, non-conformist statement. Obviously when the Lib Dems went into government that collapsed somewhat, and it remains to be seen whether they’ll ever get those voters back.

  43. “I think Norman Lamb’s personal vote will see him comfortably home.”

    There are a lot fewer seats where such comments can endlessly be made at this election.

  44. I don’t know why but my gut tells me Lamb will hold this and quite easily at that, I don’t have anything else to go on but I’ve learned to trust my gut since Brexit and Trump.

  45. Lib dems are narrow favourites acc. To bookies. Squeaky bum time for Norman!

  46. Michael Fallon’s been in Holt today – make what you will of it.

  47. I went in thinking this was a clear hold, then that they’d edge it. I think I’d now say it’s absolutely on a knife edge. If Lamb can hoover up a combined 5% from Labour and the Greens, get a few of his 2010 voters back, and not lose many to the Tories, he should win — just. But he’ll have to run it pretty much perfectly.

    That said, I would not be absolutely shocked if this was an easier hold than we think. Remember, this seat has been seen as incredibly vulnerable before (many thought the Tories could win it in ’05 and ’15, even a few in ’10) without a whole lot of cause.

  48. According to Guido, Dr Hanretty, UEA’s respected psephologist, has said it is 100% likely Tory gain.
    It surprises me, as the Tories are on a low base and even with the UKIP vote did not get 50% of the vote last time.
    But it is a very strong Brexit constituency and Farron’s strong Remain campaign may backfire here. There may even be some Brexit Labour votes going to the Tories. I know Lamb is locally popular but it’s the only tide in his favour.

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