2015 Result:
Conservative: 28152 (57.4%)
Labour: 7645 (15.6%)
Lib Dem: 3330 (6.8%)
Green: 1732 (3.5%)
UKIP: 8173 (16.7%)
MAJORITY: 19979 (40.7%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

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

Main population centres: Orpington, Petts Wood, Farnborough, Chelsfield, Biggin Hill, St Mary Cray.

Profile: Geographically the largest seat in London, Orpington is the south-eastern corner of London and large parts of it are open Kent countryside between Farnborough and Biggin Hill aerodrome , though the electorate is mostly leafy suburbia. It covers Orpington itself, Petts Wood, Farnborough, Chelsfield, Biggin Hill and the more industrial St Mary Cray, dominated by retail parks and only area in the seat to consistently return non-Conservative councillors..

Politics: As an affluent area with a high owner occupier rate and little social housing this might be expected to be solidly Conservative territory, Orpington though holds a special place in the traditions of the third party. Eric Lubbock`s famous victory for the Liberal party in the 1962 by-election saved the Liberal party from what had seemed like an inevitable slow death. It returned to the Conservative party in 1970 (Lubbock inherited a peerage shortly afterwards as Lord Avebury), but remained a Liberal target for many years afterwards. In the 1990s and 2000s Chris Maines of the Liberal Democrats fought this seat four times on the trot, in 2001 narrowing the Conservative majority to only 269. In 2010 though Maines went to fight pastures new in Lewisham East and the Liberal Democrats appeared to turn their attention elsewhere, allowing new Conservative candidate Jo Johnson to acheive a towering majority.

Current MP
JO JOHNSON (Conservative) Born 1971, London, brother of Boris Johnson. Educated at Eton and Oxford University. Former Journalist. First elected as MP for Orpington in 2010. Government whip 2012-2014, Minister of State at the Cabinet office 2014-2015. Head of the Downing Street Policy Unit since 2013, Minister of State for Universities since 2015.
Past Results
Con: 29200 (60%)
Lab: 4400 (9%)
LDem: 12000 (25%)
UKIP: 1360 (3%)
Oth: 1951 (4%)
MAJ: 17200 (35%)
Con: 26718 (49%)
Lab: 4914 (9%)
LDem: 21771 (40%)
UKIP: 1331 (2%)
MAJ: 4947 (9%)
Con: 22334 (44%)
Lab: 5517 (11%)
LDem: 22065 (43%)
UKIP: 996 (2%)
MAJ: 269 (1%)
Con: 24417 (41%)
Lab: 10753 (18%)
LDem: 21465 (36%)
Oth: 1211 (2%)
MAJ: 2952 (5%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
JO JOHNSON (Conservative) See above.
NIGEL DE GRUCHY (Labour) Born 1943, Jersey. Educated at De La Salle College and Reading University. Former General Secretary of the NASUWT.
PETER BROOKS (Liberal Democrat)
IDHAM RAMADI (UKIP) Born 1978. Educated at St Marys CoE High School, Hendon. Local government officer.
TAMARA GALLOWAY (Green) Born 1967, Farnborough. Contested Orpington 2010.
Comments - 182 Responses on “Orpington”
  1. A closer look at the result here in 1964-
    Lubbock (Liberal)- 22, 637 (48.36%, +27.19%)
    McWhirter (Conservative)- 19, 565 (41.80%, -14.8%)
    Merriton (Labour)- 4, 609 (9.85%, -12.38%)

    Majority- 3, 072 (6.56%)
    Swing- +20.995% From Con to Lib.
    +5.82% From Lib to Con. (Against 1962 by-election)

  2. UKIP selection: Idham Ramadi.


  3. “Bromley conservative councillor Julian Grainger has confirmed he will stand for UKIP in the upcoming borough council elections.

    Councillor Grainger, of the Chelsfield and Pratts Bottom ward, told colleagues yesterday he would stand against Conservative candidates in the elections on May 22.”


  4. Grainger thinks he’s doing a Bloomberg..

  5. Could this be the safest tory seat in the country in 2015?

  6. UKIP doing exceptionally well here in the first 2 wards declared, missing winning a seat in Biggin Hill (where Farage lives) by just 100 votes.

  7. Seems UKIP are taking a lot of ex-Lib Dem votes in Bromley

  8. Highest vote method:

    Con 15,121 (42.8%)
    UKIP 8,360 (23.7%)
    Lab 4,086 (11.6%)
    LD 4,012 (11.4%)
    Green 3,344 (9.5%)
    BNP 284 (0.8%)
    TUSC 131 (0.4%)

  9. Going by the address given for Farage in the publicly available notice of candidates for the last European election (http://www.southampton.gov.uk/Images/Statement%20of%20Parties%20and%20Individual%20Canidates%20Nominated%20and%20Notice%20of%20Poll_tcm46-356525.pdf), he actually lives in Darwin ward. It’s a one-member ward where UKIP did well, scoring a strong second, but still a long way off the Conservatives.

  10. UKIP may do comparatively well here, but they have two problems. Firstly, the comparative weakness of UKIP in London generally. Secondly, the historical record of this seat as a former Liberal seat. Once the Conservatives (or Labour) have seen off one third-party challenge it seems to become much harder for another minor party to break through. This is particularly so by comparison with safe seats where the local party has become complacent.

    it is significant that nobody has seriously suggested that Nigel Farage should stand in this constituency even though he lives here.

  11. Given there are no Lib Dem councillors left in Bromley borough, not even in Orpington where they had some for so long, and the rising UKIP presence here, this might be a useful prediction for this seat for 2015:

    Con 55
    Lib Dem 20
    Lab 13
    UKIP 9
    Green 2
    Others 1

    It must be very disheartening to some how Eric Lubbock’s legacy has been squandered in this seat-I wonder what Eric/Lord Avebury is making of this situation (he is still alive).

  12. UKIP will be higher than that here & the LDs lower. The rest is more plausible perhaps.

  13. I have little doubt that UKIP will come second here, comfortably in double figures. I suspect the Tories might drop a bit lower than 55%.

  14. i think there will be quite a few seats in which the tories and ukip come first and second…the ultimate testament to DC’s bequest to the party.

    I know people said this about labour, but i can’t honestly see how the tories get a majority under 1st past the post for a very long time indeed.

    If ukip were serious, they could easily lock in an almost permanent 10% of the vote, in which case it’s difficult to see how the tories get near 40%. the last 6 weeks have shown ukip to be jokers. They have done and said absolutely nothing, other than Farage commenting on Juncker. NF clearly has no great desire to be in the commons, and missed a sitter in declaring for Thanet South before the tories had selected a candidate.

  15. UKIP coming second with 10-20% of the vote in this type of seat won’t make any difference to the Tories’ chances of getting a majority….it is how much the Tories can squeeze them down in the marginals that will be the critical factor.

  16. there’ll be seats where they get more than this and come 2nd… the split on the right is real.

    a friend of mine said in a pub, “of course the tories used to win hands down in the 80s and early 90s…all the bnp/ukip crazies all voted for them”…I was struck by this and if you look at the elections in ’83, ’87 and ’92, you’ll see he was right…the bnp/nf vote in ’87 was barely 1,000 because they could hardly field any candidates….even in 1992 the extreme right vote was only 12,000….UKIP of course didn’t exist until the mid/late 90s.

    Thatcher, love her or loathe her, practically killed off the far right vote.

    Dave has been UKIP’s best ally, by contrast.

  17. The MP here is Jo Johnson, brother of Boris.

    His wife is Amelia Gentleman, who is a very left wing features writer for the Guardian and is quite open about the fact that she would never even consider voting Tory no matter who the candidate was.

    Boris’ biographer is Andrew Gimson. he is a Tory, his wife Sally a Labour councillor in Camden, and a candidate at the last election (and perhaps at the next?)

  18. “I know people said this about labour, but i can’t honestly see how the tories get a majority under 1st past the post for a very long time indeed”

    I completely agree with this. I struggle to see where the extra Tory votes are going to come from regardless of whether Cameron moves more to the left or right.

    The party is stuck.

    The fact is that their core vote is shrinking fast whilst Labours must be going the other way. Professionals such as Teachers, Doctors, Lawyers, Public Servants etc do not vote for the Tories in large numbers anymore so the party has to rely on the uber rich, Country types, City types and the lower middle/working classes – many of whom are peeling off to UKIP

    Re Farage….outside of Kent I think he would be better looking at a seat in South Essex. Castle Point would be a viable target especially considering the MP is a dripping ‘wet’.

  19. When did teachers ever vote for the Conservatives in large numbers? Certainly not in my memory – I remember a teacher at my school back in around ’89 confiding in me quietly that he was a Thatcherite, but to please keep this to myself as he’d be lynched if word ever got out!

  20. Don’t underestimate the number of teachers who vote Tory. They are middle class after all.

  21. I have just checked on Wikipedia. I am glad to say that Lord Avebury is still alive and is one of the LibDem peers elected to remain in the House of Lords.

  22. “Don’t underestimate the number of teachers who vote Tory. They are middle class after all.”

    12% according to a poll at the start of the year.

  23. ‘Don’t underestimate the number of teachers who vote Tory. They are middle class after all.’

    It’s largely the middle classes who have desserted the Tories en masse

    L Bernard has this spot on – the UK electorate has evolved to such a point it’s unlikely the Tories will be ever ablke to win a majority under FPTP

    The Tories could almost counter balance their loss amongst middle class supporters by their increase from WWC voters – but this latter group have proved the most receptive to UKIP – and why would they go backto the Tories when Farage offers them the real thing

    Factor into this the steady but persistent increase in the BME vote – and it’s hard to see how the Tories will make up the shortfall

  24. “When did teachers ever vote for the Conservatives in large numbers? Certainly not in my memory – I remember a teacher at my school back in around ’89 confiding in me quietly that he was a Thatcherite, but to please keep this to myself as he’d be lynched if word ever got out!”

    I went to a bad comprehensive school in a coal mining area in the 1980s, yet a fair number of the teachers were obviously Tories. The proportion in the south would have been far higher.

    My guess is that a plurality of teachers probably voted Conservative in 1987, but that Labour has won the teachers vote since then. The teachers started to swing heavily against the Tories after the National Curriculum and the GCSE, ie. from 1988 onwards, following a significant amount of strike action.

  25. I think it was earlier than that.
    I haven’t got figures at hand but they were a pretty Conservative group in 1979 but I think the Tories may have actually already fallen to third place (behind the Alliance aswell) in 1987.
    There were quite a few run ins with the teacher unions in 1985-7.

  26. Yes I remember the latter point very well. Because of the Alliance, 1987 will have been a 3 way split certainly.

  27. Prediction for 2015-
    Johnson (Conservative)- 56%
    Liberal Democrat- 19%
    Labour- 14%
    UKIP- 8%
    Green- 2%
    Others- 1%

  28. LBernard is right, but I don’t see why the Tories should need to accept that the votes of doctors, headmasters, lecturers & other middle-class “intellectual” voters should be gone for good (far be it from me to try & help the Tories). These groups used to be far more pro-Tory than they are today, especially doctors, and it shouldn’t be completely beyond the wit of the present-day Conservative Party to devise policies & an MO which would at least give them a chance of regaining the trust of such voters – and they are very numerous in many constituencies.

  29. This seat has quickly returned to its natural ultra-safe Tory guise.

    The Lib Dems were helped here by a very good candidate from the elections between 1992 and 2005 in Chris Maines, who very nearly took this from John Horam in 2001. In 2005 he couldn’t take it, his vote share went down and Horam increased his majority. It now seems that between 2005 and 2010 the Lib Dems collapsed locally here and, with that, their challenge here faltered after failing to take it when the national and local circumstances were perfect for them. Now any hangover from the 1962 by-election would appear to have completely disappeared.

  30. I have often said that we will see a long period of Labour governments in the UK as the changes in attitudes/race/beliefs etc have been going against the Tories for the last two decades, and thats not even mentioning some of the stupid Tory party policies over that time. Until we see another determined Thatcher like leader I cannot see things changing especially with so many Eton boys at the top.

    Labour have three solid, and rather large, groups that will always vote for them Islington types, Ethnic Minorities and the non-working working class. I think there is zero to no chance of these groups shifting over to the Tories, except rich Asians in Southern seats – but I imagine many probably already back the Tories.

  31. It would be remarkable if the 1962 by-election still had any direct effects on politics in this constituency. It is over 50 years ago, after all.

  32. I think the result here last time has probably returned this seat to its natural state before the by-election happened.

    I think the Lib Dems still had a local base here for many years, and were also helped by the landslide conditions of 1997, which again made it a target seat for them. But after not being able to take the seat in 2005, they’ve gone backwards locally since, and the result last time wasn’t a big surprise.

  33. I read an article by Anne McElvoy who predicted the next Tory leadership contest will be between Johnson and Johnson a la Miliband and Miliband! Would be very interesting if this is the case!

  34. Utter horseshit.

    If Cameron stays as PM the next leadership election may well not even have one Johnson in it.

    If he loses in 2015 and resigns, is Anne McElvoy assuming that the ground will open up and swallow Osborne, Hammond, May and Gove? If B.Johnson makes the final two for members to choose from, the other one will certainly be from amongst those I named, not J.Johnson.

  35. I agree. Not a well-thought-out article at all.

  36. The quality of political journalism has declined enormously since I was a teenager in the late 80s/early 90s. Perhaps because of the collapse in newspaper circulation. Such an article wouldn’t have got past a broadsheet editor 20 years ago.

  37. Also, it is well known that Jo Johnson’s wife is not a Conservative, and I think in today’s world this would be difficult for a party leader

  38. Works OK for Samantha Cameron

  39. You are posting a lot for someone who had renounced the site, HH…

  40. Wanted to post something on Simmonds as it had made me so furious, then had a burst while I was here….I’ll disappear again till I’ve got something interesting to say. I stand by what I said about the problems of the site.

  41. Perhaps this ludicrous article was edited by Rachel Johnson

  42. Someone posted what I thought was a perceptive remark on a discussion forum recently, which was that quite often these days comments beneath online newspaper articles are more interesting and informative to read than the articles themselves. (Only a minority of course, most comments are not worth reading).

  43. Samantha Cameron not a Tory? I thought she had voted Green once?

  44. I generally find comments beneath articles can be amusing, if you are in the right frame of mind, but are rarely terribly informative.

  45. Here’s the article folks. McElvoy predicts that Jo would beat Boris in a leadership contest.


  46. It’s a stupid premise, because both Johnsons would attract similar supporters hence couldn’t both do well enough to knock out every one of Osborne, may, Hammond and Gove.

    But as you seem not to have listened to a word we’ve said it’s perhaps pointless trying to convince you any further.

  47. H Hemmelig is absolutely right in my view.

    We should also remember that Jo Johnson is pro-European and therefore completely unacceptable to the majority of the parliamentary party and to the membership.

  48. The Tory Party will never elect a pro-European leader, and while it’s Eurosceptic, Europe won’t trust it, therefore there’ll be tension between the UK and the EU which drives distrust of the EU in the UK which feeds the Eurosceptics.

    Some people probably read that and think “Good” but you have to admit it’s a strange quandary the Tories find themselves in.

  49. Rather an iconic seat to still not have a LibDem PPC

  50. “The Tory Party will never elect a pro-European leader, and while it’s Eurosceptic, Europe won’t trust it, therefore there’ll be tension between the UK and the EU which drives distrust of the EU in the UK which feeds the Eurosceptics.”

    An un-characteristically un-self-aware post from Mr Nameless, who seems to think that Europe only distrusts Tory governments. Except for a couple of years in Blair’s honeymoon period Europe distrusted Labour governments just as much, especially when they went around invading Iraq.

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