Old Bexley & Sidcup

2015 Result:
Conservative: 24682 (52.8%)
Labour: 8879 (19%)
Lib Dem: 1644 (3.5%)
BNP: 218 (0.5%)
Green: 1336 (2.9%)
UKIP: 8528 (18.2%)
Christian: 245 (0.5%)
NHA: 1216 (2.6%)
MAJORITY: 15803 (33.8%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of the Bexley council area.

Main population centres: Sidcup, Bexley village, Blackfen, Falconwood.

Profile: Conservative voting suburbia in south-east London, largely made up of owner-occupied 1930s built private housing. The titular "Old Bexley" refers to the smaller village-like part of Bexley (normally known as Bexley village to residents - Old Bexley is one of those place names that only appears on maps), close to the border with Dartford, as opposed to the more built up and suburban Bexleyheath..

Politics: The constituency was once widely known for returning Sir Edward Heath to Parliament, he represented the seat and its predecessors for 50 years before his retirement in 2001. In 1997 Labour cut Heath`s majority to only 6.9% with the help of the Referendum party, but since then the Conservatives have again built up a towering majority. The MP until 2010 was Derek Conway who was removed from the Parliamentary Conservative party after it was revealed he had been paying his son a wage as a Parliamentary researcher while he was actually away at university.

Current MP
JAMES BROKENSHIRE (Conservative) Born 1968, Southend. Educated at Davenant Foundation School and Exeter University. Former corporate lawyer. MP for Hornchurch 2005-2010. First elected as MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup in 2010. Under-secretary of state at the Home Office 2010-2014. Minister of State for immigration since 2014. Brokenshire`s Hornchurch seat was abolished at the 2010 election and he lost out in the selection for the successor seat to his neighbour Angela Watkinson, he was eventually successful in finding an alternative seat in Bexley.
Past Results
Con: 24625 (54%)
Lab: 8768 (19%)
LDem: 6996 (15%)
BNP: 2132 (5%)
Oth: 2971 (7%)
MAJ: 15857 (35%)
Con: 22191 (50%)
Lab: 12271 (28%)
LDem: 6564 (15%)
UKIP: 2015 (5%)
Oth: 1531 (3%)
MAJ: 9920 (22%)
Con: 19130 (45%)
Lab: 15785 (37%)
LDem: 5792 (14%)
UKIP: 1426 (3%)
MAJ: 3345 (8%)
Con: 21608 (42%)
Lab: 18039 (35%)
LDem: 8284 (16%)
Oth: 1003 (2%)
MAJ: 3569 (7%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
JAMES BROKENSHIRE (Conservative) See above.
IBBY MEHMET (Labour) Born Sidcup. Educated at Essex University. Political advisor.
JENNIFER KEEN (Liberal Democrat)
DEREK MORAN (Green) Educated at Bristol University. Veterinarian.
LAURENCE WILLIAMS (Christian) Born 1963. Engineering contractor. Contested Erith and Thamesmead 2010 for English Democrats.
Comments - 125 Responses on “Old Bexley & Sidcup”
  1. I wonder whether Derek Conway would have pushed his share up to nearly 60% had he stood in 2010.

    After the David Davis leadership wake in 2005, they went to a pole dancing club, or so he joked.

  2. Don’t know whether it’s just me but something seems to have gone wrong with the formatting of this page: I can only see the right-hand side of Joe’s comment. I’ve tried two browsers.

  3. its the page and not my eyes lol

  4. The Liberal Democrat candidate here in 1992 David Nicolle, was previously a newsreader for BSB during 1990- http://www2.tv-ark.org.uk/skytv/bsb_news.html

  5. The result in Bexley in 1950 is quite interesting-
    Heath (Conservative)- 25, 854 (45.97%, +16.17%)
    Bramall (Labour)- 25, 721 (45.73%, -11.2%)
    Hart (Liberal)- 4, 186 (7.44%, -5.82%)
    Job (Communist)- 481 (0.86%, N/A)

    Majority- 133 (0.24%)
    Swing- +13.685% From Lab to Con.

    Was this because of Heath’s personality, the effect of the byelection in 1946, or both or for other reasons I.e. boundaries?

  6. “Was this because of Heath’s personality”

    LOL. If Ted Heath’s personality was an important factor, he would have lost the seat by 20,000. Haven’t you ever read about how grumpy he was? (I realise you are too young to remember him when he was alive)

  7. But what I don’t understand is why the swing was so big in Bexley in 1950?

  8. Maybe your great great grandad might be able to tell you. Nobody here is old enough to know.

  9. There’s no need to be sarcastic you know. I only asked the question as there was a large Labour majority in Bexley in 1945.

  10. Why would you ask a question that it is completely obvious nobody is able to answer – unless it is rhetorical that is.

  11. So nobody knows. OK well I did try.

  12. Actually I can answer it. There were 2 quite simple reasons. Firstly, Labour had had a quite incredible, whopping majority of over 12,000 in Bexley in 1945 – way above what one would have expected for the area, given its social composition, even in that landslide year. Second, the member elected in 1945, Jennie Adamson, resigned after only a short time, causing a by-election the next year. In this, Labour’s Ashley Bramall (still active in politics decades later as the Leader of the ILEA) held on, but with a greatly reduced, and one might really say more realistic majority. The swing between the by-election and Heath’s victory in 1950 was quite modest – the swing in the by-election was really just a reversion to some kind of normality after the sensational result, even in an election with some pretty sensational results.

  13. Thanks, Barnaby.

    I note Heath never won a majority greater than 15.8%- and that was the last time he fought the seat in the general election victory of 1970.

  14. While we are on the point, I’ve a further question for Barnaby, Pete or anyone else who knows. How much of Bexley went into the 1974-1983 Sidcup? And of how much of Sidcup consisted of wards from Bexley (two slightly different questions there). Heath’s healthy majority in 1974 suggest only a limited link between the two seats but I was just wondering.

  15. that’s one for Pete I fear 🙂 there are limits to my knowledge on this one. I was under the impression that the Bexleyheath & Sidcup constituencies were pretty much a 50% split of the former Bexley seat, but I could well be wrong.

  16. Thanks very much for that Barnaby. That is all very interesting.

  17. Pete will know the specifics much better than me. My hunch is nevertheless that a bit more of Bexley probably went into Bexleyheath than into Sidcup. Sidcup and the surrounding area was in Chislehurst prior to 1974. Heath’s new Sidcup seat was so safe because the most Labour parts of the old Chislehurst (the Cray estates) mostly stayed in the new Chislehurst, whilst the most Labour parts of Bexley went to Bexleyheath. This united the most Tory bits of Bexley (Bexley Village) with Sidcup proper, which is and remains very Conservative.

  18. Bexley Village is a nice area.
    Park Hill Road is quite scenic – there is a wooded area.

    I wonder what Transport links are like there – not sure how frequent the rail links are through Bexley itself.

    Murchison Ave and Elmwood Drive used to have a bus route (229)
    but those roads were taken off the route
    as the larger driver only buses had to run
    via Park Hill Rd before turning right into Townley Road – which leads into Bexleyheath.

    Of course Bexleyheath is the main centre in the Borough, not Bexley itself.

    Some of the housing gets a tad drab
    the further north you head in this Borough
    but the area is well off for green space.

    I’d expect the Tories to have few problems round this area.

  19. All of what Hemmelig says is very insightful, cheers. I wonder what made Heath choose Sidcup over Bexleyheath?

  20. The result of the elections followed make that perfectly clear. The Tories only narrowly held Bexleyheath in October 1974, with a majority of little more than 1,000, whereas Sidcup remained a safe Tory seat. In 1997 Heath would almost certainly have actually lost Bexleyheath & Crayford to Labour, but as we know he had little serious difficulty in holding on to Old Bexley & Sidcup – when that seat was first so named in 1983, there was no boundary change from the previous Sidcup, though there was subsequently. So, he would have known he faced a fight to hold Bexleyheath, but not Sidcup.

  21. In terms of the current wards, Blendon & Penhill and St Marys were the only wards which were detached from the old Bexley seat to form part of the new Sidcup with all the rest forming the ‘new’ Bexleyheath seat so Bexley was split roughly 75% to Bexleyheat 25% to Sidcup. Four of the current wards (Blackfen & Lamorbey, Cray Meadows, Longlands and Sidcup) came from Chislehurst, so the new Sidcup seat in 1974 was about two thirds from Chislehurst and a third from Bexley. Of course the seat now also includes East Wickham and Falconwood & Welling which would have originated in the old Bexley seat making the current seat about 50/50 Bexley/Chislehurst, but of course these wards were not added until much later.
    What I have always found strange is that while this area (Bexley & Bromley) benefited from gaining a seat overall and the old Chislehurst had effectively two succesor seats, the incumbent MP Dame Patricia Hornsby Smith found herself having to fight and lose the Feb 1974 election in Aldridge Brownhills

  22. Old Bexley and Sidcup saw his two best results of his career in 1983 and 1987. Would I be right in assuming Barnaby that seat was better for the Tories in terms of boundaries than Sidcup was?

  23. I meant 1987 and 1992.

    Incidentally, Pete, thanks for that detailed analysis.

  24. So following the delayed revised boundaries which came into force in Feb 1974 were there four seats in LB Bromley: Beckenham , Bromley, Chislehurst and Orpington? So yes, why did n’t she stay with Chislehurst?

  25. “Old Bexley and Sidcup saw his two best results of his career in 1983 and 1987. Would I be right in assuming Barnaby that seat was better for the Tories in terms of boundaries than Sidcup was?”

    No. Pete has already answered that. There were no boundary changes here in 1983.

    However in 1997 the boundary changes shifted slightly against the Tories when the Welling area was included in this seat. Thus the boundaries today are slightly worse for the Tories than the 1974-97 ones.

  26. “So following the delayed revised boundaries which came into force in Feb 1974 were there four seats in LB Bromley: Beckenham , Bromley, Chislehurst and Orpington? So yes, why didn’t she stay with Chislehurst?”

    Almost right, though the Bromley seat was called Ravensbourne.

    I think slightly more of Hornsby-Smith’s seat ended up in Sidcup than in Chislehurst so if it weren’t for Heath being PM she would have certainly have gone into this seat.

    Maybe she wasn’t successful in being selected for Chislehurst. Remember also that the new Chislehurst was considered a Con-Lab marginal in those days. It included the Mottingham and St Pauls Cray estates, and I think Labour won (or almost won) the GLC seat in 1973. She could well have thought Aldridge Brownhills was a better seat.

  27. Thanks to Hemmelig for clearing that up and others as well.

    I wonder if James Brokenshire will now be the MP here for as long as Edward Heath was- He does have a very safe seat.

  28. In the very long term the demographics will weaken the Conservatives a bit. In a 1997 result they would probably still hold on, though it’s hard to know how important Heath’s personal vote was (probably not decisive in my view).

    Heath was an MP for 51 years so if James Brokenshire reaches half of that he’ll be doing well. These days people aren’t likely to hang around on the back benches like they used to, still less so when MPs pensions are finally weakened in line with everyone else’s.

  29. The Guardian is reporting that John Cole has died.

  30. ”The Guardian is reporting that John Cole has died.”

    Very sad to hear that RIP. He was an excellent political journalist and a fantastic long-serving Political Editor of the BBC. He will be hugely missed.

  31. Cole was a Labour supporter and also a staunch unionist as far as his native Ulster was concerned. Quite an uncomfortable combination in the 1980s.

    He did a very good job of keeping his views to himself and doing his job impartially, much better than most of his successors have.

  32. “Maybe she wasn’t successful in being selected for Chislehurst. Remember also that the new Chislehurst was considered a Con-Lab marginal in those days. It included the Mottingham and St Pauls Cray estates, and I think Labour won (or almost won) the GLC seat in 1973. She could well have thought Aldridge Brownhills was a better seat.”

    I hadn’t previously noted the 1973 resulkt but yes Labour were only 39 votes from winning there then (these were a very bad set of results for the Tories though). I’m not sure if the new Chislehurst was more marginal than the old one. Certainly it lost a good Tory area in Sidcup (though this included Foots Cray which would have been strongly for Labour then) but it also gained a good Tory area from Bromley including the extremely Tory Bickley. My hunch is that the changes were broadly neutral, though the Tory majority in 1974 was considerably higher than it had been in the old seat in 1970. I do have notional ward results from the period so I must check to see what the notional result for the new Chislehurst seat would have been in 1970

  33. Thanks Pete. Yes you are surely right. Not only Bickley, but Plaistow, Sundridge Park and of course Chislehurst itself would all have been very Conservative. Even in a bad year, Mottingham and St Pauls Cray surely couldn’t outvote them. So how do we explain a result like 1973? Maybe it was differential turnout with Tory voters staying at home (similar to the 2006 by-election in Bromley & Chislehurst in fact).

  34. Re Dame Pat, what seems to have happened (according to Wikipedia) is that she thought that the new Chislehurst was less winnable (although it clearly and demonstratively was winnable) so let Roger Sims have a go and herself tried for the new Sidcup where she then had to cede to Heath!

  35. The 1970 notional result for the 1974-97 version of Chislehurst:

    Con 20354 52.3%
    Lab 15076 38.7%
    Lib 3516 9.0%

    The actual result in the old Chislehurst:

    Con 24650 49.1%
    Lab 21287 42.4%
    Lib 4268 8.5%

    So actually the boundary changes did significantly help the Conservatives. The area coming in from Bromley, though smaller in electorate was considerably more Tory (about 64/26) than the area departing in Sidcup (53/38). There was a considerable Labour vote not only in the then North Cray ward which they would have carried easily but also in the then Lamorbey West (Blackfen & Lamorbey in todays money) and Sidcup East.
    It is notable that even in 1970 Labour were outpolling the Tories by more than 2 to 1 in Mottingham and St pauls Cray. Its not a particularly novel observation, but the long term trend to the Tories in these areas is as striking as anywhere in London. It has occurred mostly since the 1990s as these wards were still quite strongly Labour in local elections in the 1980s. I do wonder if we may start to see some swing back to Labour in Mottingham in the near future as that area being so close to Lewisham must be undergoing some of the demographic change which has afflicted nearby (and similar) areas like Grove Park and Downham

  36. Yes you are right about Mottingham, Labour will surely win it back sooner or later.

    The Crays, being further out, are a different kettle of fish.

  37. Heath had a good result in Sidcup in 1979, as did a lot of his colleagues around the UK-
    Heath (Conservative)- 23, 692 (59.81%, +9.3%)
    Keohane (Labour)- 10, 236 (25.84%, -4.5%)
    Vickers (Liberal)- 4, 908 (12.39%, -6.09%)
    Webb (National Front)- 774 (1.95%, N/A)

    Majority- 13, 456 (33.97%)
    Swing- +6.9% From Lab to Con.

  38. Thanks very much to Pete and others for their contributions. Excellent stuff.

    Heath certainly made a wise choice in 1974 to go for Sidcup.

  39. The 1970 notional results for Bexleyheath

    Con 20282 52.2%
    Lab 16204 41.7%
    Lib 2351 6.1%

    and for Sidcup

    Con 20646 56.3%
    Lab 12856 35.1%
    Lib 3163 8.6%

    Bexleyheath would have gone Labour in 1966

  40. Strange to think of this area ever being safe Labour as its rather 1930s suburban semi detached in character rather similar to New Malden and Sutton. Though it does have grim patches in Belvedere and Erith (if these were ever in the Bexley seat).

  41. No it never included those areas but this area has never been part of a safe Labour seat. Bexley may have appeared as a safe Labour seat based on the 1945 result, but the result of the subsequent by-election and general election made clear that it wasn;t, as Barnaby has discussed already above

  42. Interestingly. the only declaration of Heath’s seat from an election when he led the Conservative Party not available on YouTube is from 1966. I’m surprised that as yet no one on there has yet uploaded it.

  43. HH – without wishing to be vain, it’s only fair to point out that it was I, not Pete, who said that there were no boundary changes in this seat in 1983 despite the change of name. (This was also true of Whitehaven/Copeland.) But Pete’s other information is sterling stuff indeed & many thanks are due to him. I did read once that Pat Hornsby-Smith was once thought to be a suitable match for Ted Heath, but I don’t think that there was ever anything in it. Heath was also at one point romantically linked with the concert pianist (later Dame) Moura Lympany.
    Re Mottingham – I’ve noticed that this once safe Labour ward (Labour won it easily even in 1978 & I think 1982) is now called Mottingham & Chislehurst North. Would it be the case (again Pete is bound to know) that as well as Labour’s vote going down for demographic reasons, the ward is now drawn more to the advantage of the Tories than it used to be? Chislehurst itself is indeed a very nice area, and if a substantial amount of it is now in the same ward as Mottingham, it does make it a lot harder for Labour to win.

  44. Yes, I noticed that too, Barnaby.

    IIRC, I don’t think the Chiselhurst North bit is all that well-heeled. It’s the part near Bromley Allotments- nice enough but by not as leafy as nearby Elmstead which is in the Chislehurst ward.

    We should also remember that the Mottingham and Chislehurst ward still has a high proportion of socially rented housing- 31.92%.

  45. Another reason why these areas have shifted to the right now is that Bexley and Bromley overall have not declined in the way that the likes of Morden and Greenford have.

  46. 31.92% must still be a lot less than it used to be though. I should have thought the old Mottingham ward would have had an overwhelming majority of council housing.

  47. In 2012, Boris carried Mottingham and Chislehurst north 55-28 over Labour. The Conservatives carried the ward 43-30 on the GLA Member vote and 40-28 on the GLA List vote. That is pretty good going in 2012 conditions. I dare say the Conservatives have a lot of C1/C2 support here (almost 15% of residents aged between 16 and 74 work in intermediate occupations).

  48. In answer to Barnaby, the “Chislehurst North” polling district has always been extremely strong for the Conservatives. So he is correct that the new ward is much better drawn for the Tories than the old Mottingham. The new ward would have been won by the Tories in 1998 despite Labour winning the old Mottingham by a few hundred that year.

  49. H Hemmelig- how would you characterise Chislehurst North demographically?

  50. A closer look at the result here in 1983-
    Heath (Conservative)- 22, 442 (60.23%, +0.53%)
    Vickers (Liberal)- 9, 704 (26.04%, +13.5%)
    Kiff (Labour)- 5, 116 (13.73%, -12.06%)

    Edward Heath was interviewed at his count by the BBC in 1983, and again in 1987, though on the latter occasion he wasn’t in the Hall.

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