Oxford West & Abingdon

2015 Result:
Conservative: 26153 (45.7%)
Labour: 7274 (12.7%)
Lib Dem: 16571 (28.9%)
Green: 2497 (4.4%)
UKIP: 3963 (6.9%)
NHA: 723 (1.3%)
Others: 66 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 9582 (16.7%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Oxfordshire. Part of the Oxford council area, part of the Cherwell council area and part of the Vale of White Horse.

Main population centres: Oxford, Abingdon, Kidlington.

Profile: The larger and much more rural of the two Oxford seats. Oxford West contains some of the northern suburbs of Oxford and a few colleges on the outskirts of the city centre but not much else of it - the vast majority of the city`s residential population sits in Oxford East. Instead this seat contains the rural hinterland to the west of the city, the large village of Kidlington and the town of Abington. Oxford airport lies in the north of the seat.

Politics: A marginal contest between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, up until 1997 it was held by the Conservatives, though on only modest majorities. In the historic Tory defeat of 1997 it fell to Liberal Democrat Dr Evan Harris, who was a high profile voice in favour of abortion rights, euthanasia and secularism within Parliament and, after his defeat in 2010, has been a high-profile supporter of press regulation from outside Parliament.

Current MP
NICOLA BLACKWOOD (Conservative) Born 1979, Johannesburg. Educated at home and Oxford University. Former researcher for Andrew Mitchell MP. First elected as MP for Oxford West and Abingdon in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 23906 (42%)
Lab: 5999 (11%)
LDem: 23730 (42%)
UKIP: 1518 (3%)
Oth: 1327 (2%)
MAJ: 176 (0%)
Con: 16653 (32%)
Lab: 8725 (17%)
LDem: 24336 (46%)
GRN: 2091 (4%)
Oth: 795 (2%)
MAJ: 7683 (15%)
Con: 15485 (30%)
Lab: 9114 (18%)
LDem: 24670 (48%)
GRN: 1423 (3%)
Oth: 876 (2%)
MAJ: 9185 (18%)
Con: 19983 (33%)
Lab: 12361 (20%)
LDem: 26268 (43%)
Oth: 1326 (2%)
MAJ: 6285 (10%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
NICOLA BLACKWOOD (Conservative) See above.
SALLY COPLEY (Labour) Head of UK Campaigns at Oxfam.
LAYLA MORAN (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Imperial College. Maths and physics teacher. Contested Battersea 2010, West Central 2012 London election.
LARRY SANDERS (Green) Born New York, brother of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Retired social worker, lecturer and lawyer. Oxfordshire councillor 2005-2014.
MIKE FOSTER (Socialist Party GB)
Comments - 371 Responses on “Oxford West & Abingdon”
  1. Francis- that’s all very well and good. May I gently suggest that you were always going to vote Tory anyway, and that your rather partisan rant is therefore redundant. Also, please remember to actually try to make reference to current opinion polling at some point (the clue is in the title of the website). And no, your aside about benefits doesn’t count as comment on polling.

    Many thanks.

  2. @Wellytab – that site is clearly not to be trusted. Take a look at the figures for Gloucester, then think about the fact that the Conservatives are ahead there in every poll conducted by professional pollsters, and that there is no Green vote at all in the constituency (their voters all live to the south in Hardwicke, part of Stroud).

    If you are still not convinced, look at Cannock Chase. This is a straight fight between the Conservatives and Labour, with Labour clearly ahead. UKIP have given up and are concentrating their efforts in Walsall. Again, there is no Green vote here.

    If even that doesn’t convince you, please remember that in no election in my lifetime in the Forest of Dean has the Green party saved its deposit. It usually comes fifth behind the Independent Forester candidates. That site has it on 50% of the vote.

    I would be surprised if the Liberal Democrats retook OWA, but from what I’ve read above about the Tory campaign, which mirrors my experience in Cannock, I suppose it can’t be ruled out.

  3. You may suggest it by all means Tristan, but with respect you are wrong. I was hesitating about whom to vote for. Indeed, in most previous elections I have voted Plaid Cymru. That is of course not an option where I live now.

    I agree about the second part, but I felt Hounslow’s comment deserved a smackdown.

  4. In the interests of balance, may l respectfully point out that the Conservatives voted for the military action taken by Blair’s government. Indeed, more than 100 Labour MPs voted against, and only one Tory (Ken Clarke). l don’t believe for one minute that any voter would change their vote in a national election based on one layperson’s opinions with which they happen to disagree. lt’s clear that this gentleman despite his protestations has a visceral dislike of Labour. Why not just be honest about it?

  5. Apparently Boris was in Abingdon yesterday.

    The Tories must be worried!

  6. @Kevin

    the Lib Dems had their duck mascot out, Tories should be scared

  7. Francis, there’s a reason that I clarified TWICE in my post that that website was nonsense. I reasoned that if I only clarified once then some moron might skim read my post and assume that I was stupid enough to take that website seriously. Evidently I overrated you and should have mentioned it 5 or 6 times to make certain. If you had spent a tenth as long reading my comment as you did compiling your painfully patronising reply, you would have realised you were wasting both our time.

    Anyway, the reason I still wrote that post is that the total unreliability of the website doesn’t mean it is totally useless. Whilst it is totally wrong, it is also HIGHLY predictable in its results across the South – Green top except in UKIP-friendly seats, Con and LD taking a kicking. Even on the tiny sample sizes involved, the high Lib Dem vote here is well beyond normal variation. Of course it’s possible this is a result of dodgy activity, but it could also be genuine. If so, it suggests the young, politically engaged vote is gathering around the Lib Dems here in a way that it just isn’t in other constituencies. And this wouldn’t be entirely inexplicable – many people, not just LDs, were angered at the manner of Harris’s ejection, and stuff like Blackwood’s opposition to gay marriage will only add to the resentment of here amongst progressives.

    I think Con have to be favourites for this seat, if nothing else because Ashcroft showed them ahead a few months back. But the situation looks unusual enough that a LD gain is plausible, and certainly I’d give them a better chance here than anywhere else except Watford and Montgomeryshire.

  8. Conservative Hold. 2,000 maj

  9. God I miss P.T.Richards!

    Look, Peter, Iain’s probably going to be wrong about LOTS of this, but it’s extremely likely that the LDs will make a gain or two. Maybe more. That’s how politics works. It’s local. And that means that seats buck the national trend all the time, and so his predictions, while many are likely to be wrong, are not entirely without merit. Focused campaigning in seats like Oxford West, Newton Abbot, Montgomeryshire, and the Cornish seats could actually produce a few gains. In fact, it’d be strange if it didn’t.
    Barnaby, your party made gains in 2010 in a generally dismal year. The same will probably be true of the Lib Dems this year. Many, many losses, but one or two gains, often down to local issues.
    May 31st, 2014 at 7:13 pm”

  10. And in the end Blackwood had no difficulty here- she increased her own vote share by 3.4% and her majority went up to 9, 582.

  11. Newton Abbot was a great call, wasn’t it?

    Lib Dem vote share almost halved, Conservative majority over 11,000.

    To be fair though, quite a few people were taken in by a combination of Lib Dem ramping and the woeful Ashcroft polls.

    It’s easy to play the pundit on the net, isn’t it? And convince yourself that you are really well-informed while doing so.

  12. I’m afraid that’s true. I’ve certainly learned quite a few valuable lessons in how to be a good psephologist after my first general election while contributing to this site.

  13. If you don’t want to wait until 2020, there’s a Canadian general election coming up in October. They use the same voting system as we do. This is probably the best website for election data:


  14. Montgomeryshire: Defeated by 6000
    OxW&Ab defeated by 9500
    Newton Abbot defeated by 11000

    As he said it was really strange the LDs didn’t pick any of these up.
    Considering how national vote share has absolutely no effect on LibDems’ results in individual seats I really am flabbergasted.

    Come back PT. I miss you

  15. I worked in 4 seats in this General Election.
    My own Twickenham, and Richmond Park.
    Brentford and Isleworth
    Oxford West and Abingdon.

    I felt the response here was good but I still felt tactical voting by Labour for the Lib Dems in the Oxford section and some other areas in the Vale of White Horse section could still keep this one relatively tight.

    It is actually the reason I didn’t post very much – I decided to keep my head down and get on with the huge amount to do to remain in Government.

  16. I was normally in Abingdon, but also in Yarnton in the Cherwell section.

  17. In hindsight the Tories probably wish they’d spent more time and resources on Brentford & Isleworth. Like most people I thought Labour would win fairly easily there, not by 465 votes.

  18. Gutted by that.
    Mary Macleod had done so much for the area as an MP.
    I was encouraged by the number of pledges in Hounslow South and by the determination of people to vote, but as she said herself afterwards, we always knew the size of the LD vote would be a challenge if more of it went Labour.

    Very nearly pulled it off though.

  19. l spoke to Cllr Paul Lynch (Chiswick Riverside, Con) in the pub 2 nights ago about Brentford & Isleworth. He told me that Mary McLeod did much better than expected in the rock-solid Labour wards of Hounslow Central & Hounslow Heath, but was in the end beaten by Ruth Cadbury’s huge lead in her own ward of Brentford. He also told me that the Tories won the seat on the day, but Labour had a big postal vote lead.

  20. Andy JS – I’m not sure the Conservatives could have done much more in terms of resources in Brentford & Isleworth, they fought their corner very hard with literature galore and a very visible campaign, I’ve never known so much literature through my door from both main parties at any previous election!

  21. Which again suggests the Tories knew the front line wasn’t where the national polling suggested it was.

  22. Or just that they, like all the main parties, have the resources to fight a range of seats?

  23. Joe James B if you come to Nicola’s victory party i’ll buy you a drink. Any work you did in Yarnton helped to lessen my load. I don’t think many people came to help from London-2 of us from my Ward Committee in Kensington and Chelsea-not sure of many others.

    Its difficult to try to work out where to go to help and what impact any individual or group can make. I don’t know if the there’s a mathematical formula to calculate the impact that volunteers can have on any campaign.

    Very upset about Mary and Angie. I don’t believe either had Road Trips. Perhaps they were in locations that were just too close to Central London to warrant one-i think Croydon Central, Enfield North and Kingston and Surbiton had one each-last year.

  24. You mean both the main parties? Only Labour and the Tories can really fight a range of seats, and the Tories can usually comfortably outgun Labour as well.

  25. Interesting to hear about the strength of the Tory vote in Hounslow itself keeping this seat a close run contest, previously there was speculation that it would be the gentrification of Chiswick by the upper middle classes and the expensive new apartments being constructed along the Thames and the Grand Union Canal in Brentford that would boost the Tory vote.

  26. According to her bio, Nicola Blackwood was home-schooled. Anyone know if there are any other home-schooled MPs?

  27. Conservative Estimate: very interesting comparison, actually.

    Interesting to see if the LDs make a play for this again next time. It’s where they started their 2015 campaign, but I’d imagine they’ll want to focus more on seats they lost in 2015 rather than those lost in 2010.

    That said, it depends a lot on boundaries, I guess. If this seat ends up favorable whereas one like, say, Lewes doesn’t, they’ll try to push resources into the most winnable, regardless of when they were last held. For instance (and I hate to be the one to say this), the new boundaries for Maidstone — basically just the town itself — are more favorable, whereas boundaries for, for instance, Chippenham, Cheadle/Hazel Grove’s successor seats, and Portsmouth South will move further away from them.

  28. Watch the County Council election results next year and it may become apparent if there is any serious targeting by the Lib Dems going on…

  29. Andrew, the Lib Dems actually gained two county council seats in Oxfordshire in 2013, so they might fall back this time. Still, they hold almost all the county council seats in OWaB, so I don’t know how that would be predictive in any meaningful way, to be perfectly honest.

    It’s also worth looking at the proposed boundaries. The new seat would loop around to the south of Oxford proper, lose a bit of the city itself, and generally take on a very strange shape. Roughly, the county council seats in the new seats would be 6 LD, 2 Con, 1 Lab.

    It’s also worth noting that the remaining areas of Oxford proper in the new seat — just three wards at the city’s northern edge — are relatively strong for the Lib Dems (at least, two are).

    That said, the new southern rural areas are incredibly strong Tory regions, so I’d say Nicola Blackwood would be safe-ish on the new boundaries.

  30. I think the LIb Dems will take this back but it will be a bit of a tight one.
    A bit like when I got stuck in the floomes at the waterslides and popped out.

    It will be a nail biter at the count as Lib Dems will only get it by 5-8,000.
    I think places like Newbury and Windsor will fall more easily.

  31. ‘whereas boundaries for, for instance, Chippenham, Cheadle/Hazel Grove’s successor seats, and Portsmouth South will move further away from them.’

    Same is true here – notional Tory majority is 16,000+, and based on current polling, that outs it waaay out of the Lib Dems reach

    The lack of exposure and thus influence they are now getting – fewer members on select committees, even things like fewer appearances on Question Time – is a much bigger problem for them that seems to be recognized, and given the current political climate – Brexit and all it entails – they can’t be happy by remaining to flatline on 7% at the polls

    One does wonder what it will take to spark any kind of recovery

  32. It sort of depends on the political climate. Corbynite Labour hasn’t helped them as many as most thought it would, truth be told.

  33. There are many things counting against the Lib Dems at the moment – lack of exposure as Tim points out, Tim Farron’s seemingly ineffectual leadership, the appearance of being Brexit “sore losers.” Even their legendary ground game seems not to be reaping the electoral rewards it once did, probably due to a loss of enthusiasm among activists.

    I’m hesitant to write off a political party completely, but I do think it will be very hard for the Lib Dems to convincingly present themselves as a credible potential party of government in future if they fail to win the Richmond Park by-election, which on paper should be an easy gain for them. If you can’t win a contest like that, with everything in your favour, it does not bode well for the future.

  34. Conservative Estimate
    Genuine question are you Maxim Parr Reid? If so why did you change your name?

  35. Yeah, I don’t think this is an “easy gain” for them by any estimation. It’s similar to when Davis stood down. If the Lib Dems had stood against him, even though they’d done well in the seat before, they wouldn’t have won or even come close.

    I’d bet on Goldsmith, although it should be close. I’d actually say it’d be a shockingly good turn for the LDs if they won here.

    As to their position currently: it’s a weird mix. Membership way up (all time high I think), exposure down, ground game/local election results mixed, really poor polls… I’m honestly not sure what to make of it. I’d tend to think they’ll hold about steady at the next general, boundary changes notwithstanding. Maybe lose a seat here, gain one there (e.g., lose Southport, gain Cambridge or lose Carshalton, gain Eastbourne, just as examples), but generally not move more than 2-3 seats either way.

    Of course, just a few months is an eternity in politics, so we’ll see.

  36. ‘If you can’t win a contest like that, with everything in your favour, it does not bode well for the future.’

    The big thing though is the sitting MP resigning over an issue on which he has over 90% of the support of his constituents on

    On your other points I agree – the British public don’t like sore losers and even though I think the Lib Dems will ultimately be proved right over Brexit (as will Cameron and co) that’s years away yet

  37. Yes, it sounds like an ideal sear for a Lib Dem revival, with the high remain vote and University constituency. But most pundits seem to think this will stay safely Tory.

  38. Not sure the LDs can win (too much of the seat isn’t properly in Oxford), but certainly a more realistic prospect than many 2010 LD seats.

  39. ‘Not sure the LDs can win (too much of the seat isn’t properly in Oxford),’

    The Lib Dems used to win here when they won the popular vote in Abingdon

    They haven’t done that since 2005

  40. Not even close, this seat is thought to have been 62% remain. Even Abingdon itself must have been pretty pro-remain, if not quite 62%. I guess a lot of folk who live there are professionals who commute to Oxford?

  41. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-39794410/man-tackles-farron-over-leave-voters

    Is it bad that when I heard that a leave voter in Oxfordshire had confronted Tim Farron I immediately thought it might be a certain poster on this forum?

  42. Lol!

  43. So, Oxfordshire stayed in no overall control as Labour kept its hold in the city of Oxford and the Lib Dems held their own in the surrounding countryside. Of course the fact that there is no longer a local Prime Minister probably doesn’t help the Conservatives here.

    Looking relatively promising for the Lib Dems’ chances in this particular seat. The Tories are probably still favourites here just because of the size of their majority, but it’s no foregone conclusion.

  44. Surely this must have been the Libs’ best result in 2015 in a seat that didn’t vote for them in 2015.

    Followed by Montgomeryshire and Maidstone IIRC? Probably a few others with similar scores to Maidstone that I can’t think of right now.

    The reason that was mildly interesting (Maidstone) was because that was a seat they hadn’t even held before.

    This seat, though, is the one full of passionate Remainers that might give the LDs a glimmer of hope.

  45. Sorry, first sentence meant to say “. . . that didn’t vote for them in 2010”.

  46. Be interesting to know that with the County Council election being fought on the Local Government Register to find out how many EU citizens actually voted. With the University and some High Tech industries, there must be a good number If they did vote, its more likely for the LDs who want to stop Brexit. As it is it may have slightly skewed the result to the Lib Dems but the problem for them is that they can’t vote in the General Election

  47. Theresa May confronted here by a voter who has had her disability benefits cut. Same seat as Tim Farron got heckled, coincidentally.

    Makes you wonder why the Tories even bother with stage-managed members-only events.

  48. It’ll definitely be closer. The question is how much closer.

  49. From what I can see TM handled it well enough- unlike Gordon Brown in Rochdale.

  50. Had thought that the Lib Dem’s chances of taking this seat yet alone making a fight of it had disappeared at the last general election.
    Yet at 6.15 am this morning I witnessed three Lib Dem canvassers out leafleting..

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