Orpington

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
2010
Con: 29200 (60%)
Lab: 4400 (9%)
LDem: 12000 (25%)
UKIP: 1360 (3%)
Oth: 1951 (4%)
MAJ: 17200 (35%)
2005*
Con: 26718 (49%)
Lab: 4914 (9%)
LDem: 21771 (40%)
UKIP: 1331 (2%)
MAJ: 4947 (9%)
2001
Con: 22334 (44%)
Lab: 5517 (11%)
LDem: 22065 (43%)
UKIP: 996 (2%)
MAJ: 269 (1%)
1997
Con: 24417 (41%)
Lab: 10753 (18%)
LDem: 21465 (36%)
Oth: 1211 (2%)
MAJ: 2952 (5%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
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.
Links
Comments - 163 Responses on “Orpington”
  1. “In not for those areas the majority would be very much smaller in 1997 probably similar to Spelthorne or Hertsmere (it could possibly be even smaller as there was more Lib Dem vote for Labour to squeeze or viceversa).”

    Orpington became much safer for the Tories following the 1997 boundary changes, and safer again in the 2010 boundary changes. On the pre-1997 boundaries the Lib Dems would definitely have won the seat in 2001 and got very close in 1997.

  2. Labour voters tactically voting Lib Dem also helped them in the SW London seats in 1997. If there was no Lib Dems in 1997/2001 I think 3 of those 5 seats would have been won by Labour marginally, Sutton and Cheam and Richmond Park would have been probably been safe Conservative, though Richmond Park may even slightly debatable as there would have been a left leaning middle class (like in Putney and Wimbledon) still living there which in the 2004 mayoral election Livingstone had the most votes in that seat, but Carshalton the least upscale of the five Lib Dem seats was Norris territory and comfortably as well.

  3. ‘If there was no Lib Dems in 1997/2001 I think 3 of those 5 seats would have been won by Labour marginally’

    I could see Labour winning Carshalton & Wallington in 97 – but not Sutton or Kingston and certainly not Richmond and Twickenham, which are (or perhaps that should be were) more uniformly wealthy than Putney or Wimbledon, both of which had some scruffy areas with them, particularly Wimbledon which away from the village was very urban

  4. Sutton would have been close in 1994 and 1998 but I think the Cons would have held it just, it’s too much like Bromley to ever go Labour, They would have had St Helier N, St Helier S and Wandle Valley for definite so that’s 7 seats plus likely Beddington N, Beddington S and Wrythe Green maybe a split 2 Con 1 Lab in Wallington N. Very little on the Sutton and Cheam side most of the ordinary wards in that seat would have been too Thatcherite to go Labour I only see Sutton East and maybe a split in Sutton Central but not won by a great marginal so that makes a total of 18/19 seats. I think Kingston would be a more likely council gain they had 10 seats in 1998. If you add the Chessington and Hook wards that gives them 17 seats, Grove because of the student population would have been to. Surbiton Hill, Malden Manoe and Burlington (which was rather scruffy back then) could have had Labour councillors elected in 1994 and 1998. Twickenham also contains a university and wards like West Twickenham, Heathfield and Hampton Nursery and Ham and Petersham and Mortlake weren’t particularly upscale back then.

  5. Tim – Neither Kingston nor Sutton is even close to the wealth of Putney (or Battersea). Twickenham is also somewhat less wealthy

  6. The interesting thing is that if I remember correctly – left-winger Livingstone carried all five of the former South West London Lib Dem seats in his first and second election as mayor

  7. Except Sutton in 2004

  8. “Tim – Neither Kingston nor Sutton is even close to the wealth of Putney (or Battersea). Twickenham is also somewhat less wealthy”

    That is true. There are plenty of tatty places in Kingston & Surbiton – Norbiton, Tolworth, Chessington, and a fair bit of Surbiton itself isn’t that nice any more. Remember the most exclusive bits of Kingston are in Richmond Park. I think Labour would have comfortably gained K&S in 1997 had there been no Lib Dem candidate.

  9. Tolworth and Chessington are pretty much like Epsom West.

    Despite it’s affluence I think Richmond Park would have been better for Labour than Sutton and Cheam, With the exception of the central area it’s very much like Surrey. Richmond has Mortlake, Ham and Canbury which back then would be good for Labour plus wards like Kew and Richmond Town would have had the guardian reading left leaning intellicual middle class that you don’t get in places like Cheam, Worcester Park, Belmont and most of Sutton itself which and areas do not have. Of course East Sheen, Coombe and probably Barnes would have been ultra blue but the rest of the seat back in the 1990s. As with back then Wimbledon even affluent wards like Hillside were okay for Labour far better than areas like Sutton West and Rosehill (which is now Sutton North)

  10. ‘Neither Kingston nor Sutton is even close to the wealth of Putney (or Battersea). Twickenham is also somewhat less wealthy’

    They are not now

    I was talking about 20 years when people who weren’t millionaires could still afford to buy homes in places like Putney.

    Back in those days Richmond and Twickenham were much more classically middle class and thus considered safer Tory seats, whereas David Mellor had only narrowly held on to to Putney in 1992

    ‘I think Labour would have comfortably gained K&S in 1997 had there been no Lib Dem candidate.’

    But Labour had never been remotely competitive in the old seats of Kingston-Upon-Thames and Surbiton, not even in their landslide years of 1945 and 1966

  11. Carshalton is the sort of seat Labour could win in a landslide year like 1997. Though they won the GLC seat in 73, in both 1974 elections they came nowhere near winning it.

  12. The Tories did better in 81 than 73 across the board. Read David Boothroyd’s excellent history of the GLC on his website, or Andrew Hosken’s biography of Ken Livingstone. The Labour GLC administration was already hugely unpopular by 1974 and almost certainly helped the Tories in the general election in London.

  13. The May 1974 local elections I think still had a slight Tory lead – better than the two General Elections either side of it.
    They got around 40pc. Perhaps this was because the Liberals hadn’t got round to standing in all the divisions.
    (I suspect this was the case in 1978 aswell).

    I think Margaret Thatcher claimed to have limited the damage a bit in the October election with her promise to set a low mortgage rate as housing minister.
    But there could have been other factors as you say.

    It would be interesting to identify exactly when Labour started to under-perform in London relative to the national trend – we know it ceased around 1992.

  14. Feb 1974 did have a national c lead but the London result was better in May I think.

  15. Going back a bit further, Tony Benn wrote something funny in his 1967 diaries – after the GLC elections.
    “Labour has been absolutely [crushed]……mentioned it to Gerald Kaufman…[he implied it was a good thing because it would get rid of the worst Labour local government and bring in new leadership.
    A very cynical view.”

  16. The sort of comment which makes reading Benn’s diaries so entertaining.

  17. In contrast to Carshalton, Sutton and Cheam had a shockingly low Labour share of 11%, in Richmond they still got 21% it then dropped to 12% in 1977. Sutton and Cheam dropped a very low 7% when it was won very comfortably by the Conservatives that year. The next worst divisions for Labour were Croydon South (which didn’t have Waddon) and Orpington.

  18. ‘It would be interesting to identify exactly when Labour started to under-perform in London relative to the national trend – we know it ceased around 1992’

    I”m not so sure about that

    There were many London seats the Tories held in 1992 which they are likely to never win again – Mitcham & Morden, Croydon North East, Hayes & Harlington, Brent North.

    Bear in mind staunchly Labour seats like Walthamstow and Streatham were Labour gains from the Tories in that election

    I’d say it wasn’t until the mid 90s where like everywhere else in the UK, Labour overtook the Tories as the dominant party in London. Unlike the rest of the country, however, that seems to have remained the case for the last 20 or so years

  19. Perhaps 1992 was cross-over point.
    There was actually a lingering lack lustre Labour performance in some Boroughs in 1994 but I think by then it was strictly we don’t want them anywhere near the council only.

    sometimes a bill through your letter box is more immediate than a Labour government – particularly if you work in the public sector or think someone else will pay.

  20. I think in 1987 we did see a general London wide swing except in particular places which were already on a Labour trend.
    By 1992 it split more clearly into two or more Londons.
    The overall balance was very similar to 1979 but had a different geography.
    There are two Londons in 2015.
    unfortunately for the Tories, about two thirds of it is on a Labour trend.

  21. The Tories are advancing in some safe Labour seats aswell, and the City/business aspect will keep the Tories competitive but they’ll need a lot more ethnic voters to challenge Labour/avoid falling further behind.

  22. If it didn’t have the business aspect the Tory results would have completely gone down the pan.
    But that’s hypothetical.
    The capital is the business centre.

    The Tories do have a pretty solid third of the vote that’s unlikely to change much.
    The trouble is it’s well below 1979 or 1992.

  23. Unexpected things happen sometimes but correct that the seats Maxim listed that were Tory held until 1997 but have since become very safe Labour are unlikely to go back any time soon. Whether the trend towards Labour will continue for much longer is more debatable – there comes a point when the change is complete, and in some places it may even go into reverse. We have seen a slowing of the trend, or even a reversal, in fairly middle class seats where LAB surged in 1997 like Finchley & GG, the Harrows, Hendon and Hampstead and Kilburn. London’s political complexion has changed many times before and it may well do again at some point.

  24. It could, and as a Tory supporter, there were some encouraging signs in places (NW London a bit).
    But the collapsed LD vote (good news for them nationally) gave Labour lots of extra votes

  25. The Tory performance in London in 2005 was quite strong relative to their results in most other places. I’d strongly argue that it wasn’t till 2010 that we noticed that the Tories were seriously underperforming their national vote share in London, and of course that worsened in 2015.

  26. In some places the trend towards LAB has clearly been driven by very significant changes in demographics – the continuing movement of middle class and wealthy Londoners to the surrounding counties, the movement in of the 20-something renter demographic, working class and lower middle class people being priced out of the central boroughs, the spread of large BME populations beyond the parts of London where they settled in the 1960s.

    In others I would argue the change in 1997 was more to do with Tony Blair and New Labour going down very well with people in the suburbs. In Barnet, which I use as an example because it is the borough I know best, most of the housing still has a very suburban character and with house prices as they are it is hard to imagine there has been much inward movement of less well off groups. There has also been less ethnic change than in some other boroughs. There may have been a small swing towards LAB compared to 1992 but that is probably mostly explained by generational factors and the decline of the LDs rather than any great transformation in the type of people who live here.

  27. Labour are on about 30% at the moment, which means they must be on about 25% with white British voters and that latter percentage is probably in decline.

  28. ‘I would agree with that. 2001 was quite average (the Tories took Romford and Upminster but went backwards in several seats (Enfield, Southgate; Brent North; Mitcham and Morden; Kingston and Surbiton and many others)’

    In 2001 many of the seats the Tories went backwards in was due to a first-time incumbency bonus for the Labour or Lib Dem MP who won the seat in 1997 – although some have gone in contrasting directions since with Mitcham & Morden and Brent North moving further in Labour’s direction, with Kingston and Enfield Southgate going the other way

    There’s also independent factors too. The 16% swing achieved by Ed Davey in Kingston & Surbiton had just as much to do with the candidate the Tories picked to fight him – as has been discussed on here many a time

    London is changing at such a rapid rate that politically it’s a completely separate entity to the rest of the country

  29. That’s right. I expect Remain will get at least 60% in London and possibly 65% but the overall outcome could still be relatively close.

  30. Hampstead didn’t fall way short of expectations in 2010, it exceeded expectations – short by 42 votes. And in the context of the Tories doing rather poorly in London in 2010 and 15, they had one of their best increases in H&K at both elections.

  31. The Lib Dems should target wards in Farnborough and cray valley then build on that.
    Labour and UKIP can’t win so it falls to the lib dems to get up a few gears and the stupendous momentum under way.
    I hadn’t been able to get started straight away becos
    I was calling out desperately for paper but people just laughed and left me there.
    But there is still just enough time to gain this next time.

  32. SBJME19-the Conservatives in fact had their second best increase in vote share terms in the entire United Kingdom in Hampstead and Kilburn, +9.6%. However, the interesting thing about it is that it was still not enough to win the seat in question, despite it being Conservative target #1 in 2015!

  33. The Tory H&K result in 2015 was very good… with a 31% LD vote to distribute in a part of London where I might have expected LDs to be left-leaning artsy and public sector types I expected Tulip Siddiq to get a big majority.

  34. I expect the mansion tax idea went down very badly in Hampstead. The problem was that whilst it was only going to apply to people with £2 million houses (and perhaps in practice only people who bought their houses for £2m, to avoid an expensive valuation exercise) lots of middle class people with moderate sized houses in London feared that they were the target, or might be dragged in by house price inflation. ‘Labour want to tax your family home’ was a central theme of Tory leaflets here in Barnet, and I expect will have been even more effective in Hampstead, where house prices are even higher.

  35. I think you’re right. The problem for the Tories though is that their campaigning on this has boxed them into a tight corner on taxation of housing. The council tax banding is already ridiculous to the verge of being obscene – if the Tories are unwilling to touch it for the next decade it will just be a totally discredited and broken system by 2025.

    Personal interest here – I have a new build house which is 3 years old so wasn’t physically built in 1991 when all properties were allocated into bands. And in the south of England, in this situation you get totally and utterly shafted, with the local authority putting you almost in the top band and there is very little you can do to prove the 1991 value one way or the other.

  36. The point is that the Tories did surprisingly very well in H&K when the boundaries were extended to include Kilburn which it was generally assumed would make it much worse for them.

  37. “The point is that the Tories did surprisingly very well in H&K when the boundaries were extended to include Kilburn which it was generally assumed would make it much worse for them.”

    “much worse” – no. When the new boundaries were first published in the early 2000s it was assumed they would be slightly in Labour’s favour, but no more than that. Labour would lose some quite strong territory around Highgate/Gospel Oak to Holborn & St Pancras and gain a modestly larger strong area from Brent.

    In the intervening years it’s probably true to say that Highgate and Gospel Oak have gentrified more than Kilburn has, so the benefit to Labour of the new boundaries has increased somewhat over time. Nevetheless, Kilburn isn’t quite the shithole it used to be.

  38. I was somewhat surprised to read comments to the effect that the demographics of Outer London haven’t changed that much when they palpably have. Dave Hill’s Guardian blog is excellent on the sheer scale of change in the suburbs: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/davehillblog/2014/jan/19/are-london-suburbs-swinging.

  39. How did Kilburn end up in Orpington? Strange times indeed…

  40. Electoral Calculus has this as the most economically right-wing seat in the UK

    Quite a surprise given the strong Liberal tradition here – which does indeed now seem consigned to the past

  41. Knowing this area well, I would doubt that finding. Though it depends what is meant by “economically right wing”. I personally do not consider Leavers to be very economically right wing if they are motivated by ending free movement and there are very many such people here.

  42. Have a look Hemelig – interesting reading if not particularly enlightening

    Of the 600 newly proposed seats, Orpington was down as:
    the 164th most Eurosceptic
    the 463rd most Nationalistic and
    The most economically right wing seat in the UK

    Somewhere like Romford or Upminster was next and the two Croydon seats – South and Central – were in the top 30

    Places with huge numerical Tory majorities like Maidenhead, Surrey South West and North East Hampshire barely made the top 100

    South West Surrey wasn’t even in the top 200, so like mich oin electoral calculus its accuracy is questionable

  43. There’s no way this is the most economically right-wing seat in the country. Places like Cities of London and Westminster and Chelsea & Fulham would be more likely, along with seats like Surrey Heath and Esher&Walton.

  44. You’re not even close Andy

    Cities of London was 18th, Chelsea & Kensington (the new seat) was 11th, whereas Surrey Heath was 115th and Esher & Walton was 169th

    Casts further doubt onto the validity of the study

  45. I’m struggling to find the most left wing seat Brighton Pavillion is closest being #645 on the list of right wing seats.

  46. I have no idea how they came to that conclusion. The most economically right-wing places are going to be in the home counties – Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire – plus the swankiest bits of London (Chelsea & Fulham etc).

    I recall a study about a year ago that named Ceredigion and St Albans the most pro-EU parts of the country. That was a similarly daft conclusion.

  47. I could only go a bit better seeing Rhondda at #646. Plenty of Scottish and Welsh seats in the 600s but a quick look didn’t find any of the final four.

  48. Electoral calculus’s rankings on this are junk. They have Romford as 1 degree international for example which is blatantly ridiculous. Basically they seem to have decided that all parts of London are extremely international (even the bits on the outskirts which are not) and extremely right wing, they even have the likes of Islington South and Finsbury and Vauxhall as right of centre which is ridiculous.

  49. I remember that study

  50. The study probably is rubbish, but also let’s not confuse ‘most economically rightwing’ with ‘wealthiest’, which I’m guessing some on here are by their suggestions where should be top of that list.

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