Norwich North

2015 Result:
Conservative: 19052 (43.7%)
Labour: 14589 (33.5%)
Lib Dem: 1894 (4.3%)
Green: 1939 (4.4%)
UKIP: 5986 (13.7%)
Independent: 132 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 4463 (10.2%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: Eastern, Norfolk. Part of the Norwich council area and part of the Broadland council area.

Main population centres: Norwch, Thorpe St Andrew.

Profile: This is the northern part of Norwich, but is actually mostly outside the boundaries of the Norwich local authority - the outer suburbs of the city like Thorpe St Andrew, Sprowston and Hellesdon all come under Broadland district council. While the Norwich part of the seat has a substantial amount of social housing, the seat is largely made up of private housing developments, though not always affluent ones, and also includes Norwich airport. The 2011 census found Norwich had the highest proportion of people without a religion of any local authority, something that appeared to go hand-in-hand with areas of high support for the Green party.

Politics: Norwich North had been a Labour seat for most of its history until boundary changes in the 1980s expanded the seat to include the suburbs beyond the city limits and made it more of a Conservative-Labour marginal. It was represented by Labour`s Ian Gibson from 1997 until 2009 when Gibson resigned, having faced criticism during the MPs expenses scandal. The subsequent by-election was won by the Conservatives on a 16.5% swing.

Current MP
CHLOE SMITH (Conservative) Born 1982, Ashford. Educated at York University. Former aide to Gillian Shephard and Bernard Jenkin, prior to her election worked in professional services. First elected as MP for Norwich North in 2009 by-election. Economic Secretary to the Treasury 2011-2012, Parliamentary secretary to the Cabinet Office 2012-2013.
Past Results
Con: 17280 (41%)
Lab: 13379 (31%)
LDem: 7783 (18%)
UKIP: 1878 (4%)
Oth: 2253 (5%)
MAJ: 3901 (9%)
Con: 15638 (33%)
Lab: 21097 (45%)
LDem: 7616 (16%)
GRN: 1252 (3%)
Oth: 1430 (3%)
MAJ: 5459 (12%)
Con: 15761 (35%)
Lab: 21624 (47%)
LDem: 6750 (15%)
GRN: 797 (2%)
Oth: 682 (1%)
MAJ: 5863 (13%)
Con: 17876 (32%)
Lab: 27346 (50%)
LDem: 6951 (13%)
Oth: 1107 (2%)
MAJ: 9470 (17%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
CHLOE SMITH (Conservative) See above.
JESSICA ASATO (Labour) Educated at Flegg High School. Advisor to Tessa Jowell. Islington councillor 2011-2013.
JAMES WRIGHT (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Anglia Ruskin University. IT strategist. Norwich councillor.
GLENN TINGLE (UKIP) Contested Norwich North 2009 by-election, 2010.
ADRIAN HOLMES (Green) Educated at Leeds University. Software developer. Norwich councillor 2004-2012. Contested Norwich South 1992, 2001, Norwich North 2005.
MICK HARDY (Independent)
Comments - 184 Responses on “Norwich North”
  1. HS2 could be diverted the quick route via Norwich.
    I was in Great Missenden in beautiful sunshine today

  2. Did you visit the Roald Dahl museum? I’ve always wanted to go there sometime.

  3. Not this time unfortunately

  4. Does the fact that there are more Broadland wards than Norwich wards in this seat make it a far less clear-cut result in 2015?

    Seeing as how Bob on the previous page is singing praises for Jess Asato as the Labour PPC makes me wonder what wing of the party she’s on. Adding to the fact that she’s an adviser to Tessa Jowell makes me wonder what the party members were looking for when they made such a selection.

  5. I don’t think it will matter much which wing of the party Jess Asato is on, it’s usually only party members that pay attention to left/right factions.

    I think Chloe Smith will hold on fairly comfortably here.

  6. I don’t think it does, Neil. The Norwich wards are still nearly half the electorate, and it’s previously been Labour when it had a much greater proportion of Broadland in the seat. A 50%-50% split simply means that it’ll come down to whether Labour’s lead in Norwich is bigger than the Conservative lead in Sprowston etc.

  7. I think KingTut’s prediction is unlikely to be borne out personally. I wouldn’t rule out a Conservative hold here, but if the seat is held it would surely only be by a very small majority. You have to remember that by & large the Conservatives are very weak in the Norwich city wards, and although they are bound to enjoy some lead in the Broadland ones it is unlikely to be all that overwhelming. But the main thing is by-election unwind. After a very unbalanced result in a by-election – a very good example is Newbury in 1993 – it usually takes a couple of elections for the effect to unwind fully. There was no way that Labour were going to come back from such a pasting in this constituency in 2010 to win in what, after all, was a not-very-good year anyway. The national swing is almost certain to be exceeded here & in Crewe & Nantwich, but the swing needed for Labour to win here is quite a bit less than there. If Labour are level with the Tories in terms of national vote, then we’re talking a swing of about 3.5% ; if there’s a national swing of that size, one of more like 5% is likely here. That’s enough to win.

  8. In this year’s local elections the Tories were weaker in the Norwich portion of this seat than they were in Norwich South, 15% vs about 17%.

  9. I would edge slightly to a labour gain, but without much confidence.

  10. Me too. Chloe Smith hasn’t made much secret of the fact that she’s polishing up her CV and that won’t help her. Quite a big Lib Dem vote to squeeze here as well.

  11. (Probable by election unwind effect here in 2015)

    Lab 38.5 (+7.1)
    Con 28.5 (-11.1)
    UKIP 12.4 (+8)
    LD 9.5 (-8.8)
    Green 8.5 (+5.6)
    Others 2.6

    Turnout 60.1 (-5.1)

    Another ‘excellent Islington candidate’ here

  12. I’d be surprised if Labour won by that much, or the Tory vote fell that far. Smith hadn’t been there too long before the last election so some of the by-election unwind will be balanced by first-time incumbency and name recognition.

  13. A Brown’s predictions started off sensible and have become increasingly idiotic. He is predicting double digit drops in the Tory vote all over the place. That would imply a national vote share of 25-26%; the polls show the Tories averaging 32-33% at worst, and they will probably recover at least a bit by 2015.

  14. Today’s opinion polls, from MORI, YouGov and Populus, give Labour leads of 4%, 4% and 5% respectively.

  15. I think Labour posters are all thinking that they will win epically like in 1997 or 2001 and some of these predictions are reflected in huge swings.

    Opinion polls show only slight Labour leads with very thin support that could well evaporate as soon as the campaign starts. Just as it did with the Tories in 2010. Labour have still got to gain a lot of seats which they are not seeming to understand is a big mountain to climb either. The ground war is different to the air war and this is why hung parliament is most likely outcome.

  16. “I think Labour posters are all thinking that they will win epically like in 1997 or 2001 and some of these predictions are reflected in huge swings.”

    No one thinks that. Even now a hung Parliament is being predicted by most people.

  17. Rum & Coke has a habit of misrepresenting others’ views.
    The truth is that arithmetical numbers of gains are not necessarily improbable. They can be in many circumstances, but there is at present a particularly large number of seats which the Conservatives hold with small majorities, requiring a swing to Labour of up to 2.5% to be lost. Remember, a swing to Labour of that size nationally would still leave the Tories polling 2% more votes than Labour, but it would net a large number of gains. There will be other occasions in the future where a swing of that size would NOT result in as large a number of gains. I don’t think anyone here (except perhaps Bob whose visits are now very occasional) thinks there will be a Labour landslide; the most optimistic poster seems to be foreseeing a Labour majority of about 30. I myself don’t think that optimistically. Also Rum & Coke airily dismisses the Labour vote as thin; there is no certainty that that is true, and indeed it is potentially dangerous for the Conservatives to be thinking that way.

  18. I’m probably more optimistic than most, because I think there will be big regional differences.
    The Tories are holding on where they canot gain any more seats, and UKIP are affecting them more than us.

    I’m thinking a Labour majority of 50

  19. You seriously think Labour can make 92 net gains? That’s more than the 91 net losses they made in 2010.

  20. I think a narrow Labour majority is the likeliest outcome, but a lot can change between now and polling day. However, it can change for the better or for the worse – I’d argue that the Tory lead shrank in 2010 because too much of their policy wasn’t popular or didn’t stand up to scrutiny, not because the lead was bound to shrink. If Labour run a good short campaign, it’s as likely the numbers will move towards us as against us. Nothing is predetermined.

  21. In 2005 Labour would have won 349 seats and a majority of 48 according to the notional figures.

    If Labour are to win a small majority in 2015 I assume that means around 335 seats. That would mean they’d be recovering around 95% of the seats lost in 2010.

  22. ‘f Labour are to win a small majority in 2015 I assume that means around 335 seats. That would mean they’d be recovering around 95% of the seats lost in 2010.’

    Not quite! 335 seats would imply 77 net gains from 2010 – just short of reversing 80% of their 2010 losses.

  23. LAB GAIN MAJ : 3%
    LAB 37
    CON 33
    LD 13
    UKIP 10
    GRN 6
    OTH 1

  24. This is the kind of seat where UKIP could pose an almost equal threat to both the Tories and Labour depending on the extent of their breakthrough.

    The Lib Dems are also more locally active than most straight CON / LAB marginals..

    CON – 38
    LAB – 35
    LD – 12
    UKIP – 9

    Majority ~ 1,200.

  25. Remember the Lib Dems will reroute everything they’ve got in Norfolk plus the dog, the tin can, and the bathtub to North Norfolk and Norwich South (and possibly only the former depending on how bad the polling it). With them circling the wagons, it seems likely Labour can hack a big chunk off the LDs here and if they can muster the boots on the ground I’d expect them to take the seat. I think in Norfolk UKIP seem to be very weak in the city of Norwich itself so I’d expect the Tories to be hit harder by them than Labour if anything.

  26. North Norfolk should be an easy Lib Dem hold.

    I think Labour holds all the Norwich wards that fall within the boundaries of this seat so they’re the ones who the party will have to rely on for support next year. I’m guessing some of that 18% Lib Dem vote from 2010 came from there which Labour should be able to claw back.

    It’s the Broadland wards that they need to keep an eye on as they won’t be winning much votes from that part of the constituency.

  27. any update on feeling about this seat? If the labour party win it in 2015, they’ll be close to getting a majority, i expect.

    does anyone know whether chloe smith’s resignation from the government is improving her chances of retaining the seat.

  28. No local knowledge, but I’ve a hunch Labour might spring a surprise and win this one. Except for Helen Grant there can hardly be a bigger example of an out of her depth, over promoted Cameron Cutie than Chloe Smith. I expect she’s been using her time out of government to dust off her CV.

  29. It wouldn´t completely shock me if she turns out to be another last minute retirement.

  30. If she jumps ship, the tories will struggle to hold this. I think she’ll go down with the sinking ship than scuttle off in a life boat, so to speak.

    I’ve been looking at Norwich council. Again it’s dominated by labour and the greens. The tories had 5 seats in 2008. they have none now.

    UKIP could also damage Ms Smith’s hopes of trying to get the country vote to outweigh the norwich vote in her seat. I also think given her high profile in the by-election in 2009 that the unwind could be severe, should it happen.

    I think this seat is evens…but ladbrokes have con 4/6 lab 11/10…think labour is good value at this price.

  31. I think quite a few of the 2010 intake might go for that option, especially those in marginal seats.

    It’s a bit embarrassing for the Tories that so many of their MP’s are dropping out after a relatively short time in parliament.

    By comparison only 2 of Labour’s 1997 intake chose not to contest the 2001 election.

  32. The problem for the Tories is that the one-term retirements could become a snowball rolling down the mountain.

    Most would probably have “gone down with the sinking ship” if all the others in the same position were doing the same thing. Now they are likely to think “if Byles, Lee, Mensch, Weatherley and Burley are going to bugger off to make mega bucks and not bother about leaving the party in the lurch, why the hell shouldn’t I?”

    It really wouldn’t surprise me if the Tories end up with 20 or 30 first time retirements, as rats scuttle off HMS Cameron in the face of polls which stubbornly fail to “swing back”. In addition to all the other difficulties the Tories face in 2015, the loss of 20 or 30 first time incumbencies in marginal seats could be the final, decisive straw.

  33. By-elections can have long-lasting effects. The main effect of the by-election here in 2009 was to prevent Labour from holding on in 2010, such was their monumental collapse at the time.

    But I agree there will be unwind here and that this seat looks a lot more marginal than it does on paper. In fact I think that without the by-election in the first place Labour might still hold this now.

  34. Peter – you’re right about the Tories on Norwich council, but they can of course still win this seat even if they poll appallingly in the Norwich city part of it, since a slight but definite majority of electors are outside the city boundaries, in the Broadland district. Labour have to poll respectably in that section to win but can still afford to be quite a reasonable distance behind in Thorpe St Andrew etc & still win if they outpoll them strongly in the Norwich city wards (which I think they will).

  35. Current prediction for 2015-
    Labour- 42%
    Smith (Conservative)- 35%
    Liberal Democrat- 9%
    UKIP- 8%
    Green- 4%
    Others- 2%

  36. The contrast between the likes of Ken Clarke, Alan Haselhurst and Richard Shepherd probably staying on despite being first elected in the 1970s and these new MPs retiring after one term is quite striking.

  37. The point about the tories having no councillors at all in Norwich itself is that they will have very little capacity to distribute literature and maintain a presence. Out of sight, out of mind, is a good expression in politics. this is what happened to them in liverpool, manchester etc.

    In 2009 and 2010, the blues had a small presence in Norwich itself. To win here in 2015, with no councillors in the town, Smith has to overwhelmingly win the broadlands vote which, i am just saying, will be a harder job in 2015 than it was in 2010. there may be a slight UKIP issue, as they have a significant presence in parts of rural Norfolk. I haven’t done enough research really to get a handle on this, but my sense is that she’s in a real fight.

    I bang on about councillors because national parties are so diminished in terms of personnel. Some councillors may be lazy, but they get an allowance, have friends and family (usually) and have a direct interest in making sure people turn out to vote for their party.

  38. On this point, Peter, I wonder how far the Lib Dem vote will fall in 2015 in seats like Manchester Withington/Central/Gorton, Streatham, Islington South & Finsbury, Lewisham East, Hampstead & Kilburn, Brent Central, and Rochdale, which are all areas where the Liberal Democrats once had significant strength but now have either no councillors or only one councillor left in those areas.

  39. exactly… the yellows will be killed in a lot of these areas. As smithson says, this is why the labour party stand a good chance of getting back into power next year.

  40. The Conservatives have more councillors in this constituency than Labour

  41. Even if Chloe Smith does stand down (as considered earlier in light of various other 1 term MPs) it will still be a not so easy task for Labour. Unless UKIP considerably divides the vote in Sprowston and Thorpe St Andrew it could remain a narrow Tory hold. The Kippers polled 4% here in 2010 so by all means should increase their share of the vote here. Question is to what extent.

    Of course the loss of incumbency would help out Labour, but not sure it compensates for their weakness in the Broadland towns/villages which effectively comprise the Norwich suburbs.

  42. That’s true. But that doesn’t necessarily always prove decisive. The Tories have more councillors in Hampstead & Kilburn for example, but 1,400 fewer votes in this year’s elections. They are very weak in all the Norwich wards in this constituency, and Labour must surely fancy its chances of squeezing the large Green vote in those wards (the Greens were not far behind Labour in Mile Cross ward, and were well ahead of the Tories in the 3 wards in question).

  43. was in answer to Pete. Labour are competitive in some of the non-Norwich wards, especially in Sprowston but also to a lesser extent in Thorpe St Andrew, though they are quite weak in at least a couple of them too. It’s a complex seat in some ways taken as a whole. If Labour can get amongst the Norwich Green voters in a biggish way it could well prove decisive.

  44. I didn’t argue that it was decisive but it was in response to Peter Crawford’s comments about the lack of ground troops within the constituency. This can be a serious problem for parties in some places – look at the Tories in Eastleigh for example (though it did not prevent them winning Watford nor prevent Labour from winning Sefton Central in 2010 before which they had no councillors at all in that constituency.) Quite clearly this is not an issue for the Tories in this constituency.

    I will add that talk of UKIP ‘splitting the Tory vote’ misses the point yet again that UKIP take vote from all parties and none. It was observed during the by-election that UKIP polled most strongly in the safe Labour wards in Norwich itself. To be sure the political climate was different then with a deeply unpopular Labour government and that pattern wouldn’t necessarily apply now, nevertheless a strong UKIP performance would involve taking some votes directly from Labour and taking more of the kind of swing voters who voted Tory in 2009-10 but who Labour need to win over in large numbers in order to win

  45. A few things need to be clarified:

    re. council seats…of course, absolute numbers are not everything. A party with 16 seats, say, on a council can win a seat, where their opponents have 21 seats. That’s possible.

    What’s very difficult is when there is a massive preponderance on the side of one party. For example Ipswich council in 2010 was composed of something like 21 Labour councillors, 18 Tories and 9 Liberal Democrats. The tories won the parliamentary seat which is made up entirely of ipswich borough, though the borough boundaries extend into the Central Suffolk and Ipswich seat.

    Today this distribution is 35 labour, 10 tory and 3 liberal democrat. This I would describe as a preponderant labour presence which will be extremely difficult for the tories next year. As a rule of thumb I’d say a 2:1 ratio (against) of councillors is a tricky proposition in a general election. It’s not an iron rule, but it’s a tendency.

    On ground game and local campaigning….the effects of lack of presence are more cumulative than something to be seen at a particular election. The lib dems wipe out in manchester will have an impact for many years, ditto liverpool.

    The tories lack of a ground presence in certain areas has been a feature of the last 20 years…all the evidence suggests that membership of the party is probably about a quarter of what it was in the mid 90s and about 10-15% of what it was in 1979.

    This has a massive impact, over time, on the party’s ability to get its message out. As a consequence of this shrinkage, whole areas are simply abandoned, and have been for 20 years….The 1995 local elections destroyed the tory council base in many areas. With shrinking membership, the tories have arguably never really fully recovered from that hammer blow.

    My point about UKIP is that in the county elections in Norfolk in 2013, they definitely harmed the Conservatives more than anyone else. The tories lost about 20 seats in that election. If the argument runs that Chloe Smith will be saved by her Broadlands Tory voters, the propensity of rural norfolk tories to vote UKIP may be a decisive factor, either way, in next year’s outcome.

  46. You have to remember how few seats Labour won in the 2009 county council elections. It is a common refrain that UKIP gained few seats from Labour in 2013 (in fact they gained just one, in Ramsgate) but you have to remember there were hardly any Labour seats left for them to gain (and by definition seats that Labour did hold in 2009 must count as their bedrock). So sure – UKIP gained seats entirely from the Conservatives in Norfolk in 2013 but a significant number of these were seats where Labour should have themselves entertained hopes. A better year for comparison is 2005. In that year Labour won 13 seats in Norfolk outside of Norwich.
    In 2009 Labour retained only one of these with UKIP and the LDs gaining one each and the Conservatives gaining the remainder.
    In 2013 Labour won five of these seats while UKIP won seven with one being won by the Tories.
    UKIP can therefore be seen to be directly hindering Labour’s progress in areas where they were previously strong.

    Incidentally the one seat which was Labour in 2005 but Conservative in 2013 was Sprowston where the Conservative share increased in both 2009 and 2013 despite UKIP also gaining massively in both years. UKIP’s advance there came at the expense of Labour and especially the Lib Dems

  47. The UKIP result in Norwich was fairly unimpressive this year, given their national results. Rob Ford has talked up Norwich North as a strong seat for them, so if there’s anything to that then they’re going to need to make up for it in Broadland. That said, most of his prognostications have the distinct stench of bullshit to them.

  48. “This has a massive impact, over time, on the party’s ability to get its message out. As a consequence of this shrinkage, whole areas are simply abandoned, and have been for 20 years….The 1995 local elections destroyed the tory council base in many areas. With shrinking membership, the tories have arguably never really fully recovered from that hammer blow.”

    This is very true. I moved to Batley & Spen in 1993, when Elizabeth Peacock was the MP. Although I live in the posh end of what then was a very safe Labour ward, I still expected to receive election leaflet from the Tories if nothing else, as I has in my Labour ward in Lambeth. I received nothing between 1993-97 and even in the general election, no tories canvassed the owner occupied streets around where I live, and in that and all general elections and european elections since, I’ve only ever received the post office delivered election address, not one hand delivered tory leaflet.

    After a hiatus with the ward council seats all falling to the Lib Dems, based on stealing almost all the tory vote, following effective regular distribution of “Focus”, all the Labour older stagers standing down as counicllors or dropping out of politics due to age, Labour regained the seats from 2006, a couple f years after the Lib Dems ran out of Focus deliverers, and the BNP actively delivered leaflets at elections and other times, and the tories found an active candidate who delivered “In Touch” leaflets and election leaflets for a couple of elections and regained some of the traditional tory vote.

    Now we are back to Labour, and this year for the first time the Greens, hand delivering election material and maybe one other leaflet outside the election cycle. In the non tory wards in Batley & Spen, most voters wouldn’t know the tories have council candidates, until they were given their ballot paper, and it’s now the same outside of Cleckheatiomn ward for the Lib Dems.

    Having posh southern voices canvassing West Yorkshire voters by phone just doesn’t go down well. Yes Labour does telephone canvas, but the people doing it are local and it makes a difference.

  49. Ian Mallett,

    I think your experience is widespread across areas, where the tories used to have a presence and no longer do…

    I know people on this site have different experiences of political activism. but no one who has knocked on doors or delivered leaflets can deny that the human contact is very important. this is how the lib dems built up their local govt. footprint in the 80s and 90s…this is how the greens get in.

  50. Full lineup of major party candidates:

    Con: Chloe Smith
    Lab: Jessica Asato
    LD: James Wright
    UKIP: Glenn Tingle
    Greens: Adrian Holmes

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