Penrith & The Border

2015 Result:
Conservative: 26202 (59.7%)
Labour: 6308 (14.4%)
Lib Dem: 3745 (8.5%)
Green: 2313 (5.3%)
UKIP: 5353 (12.2%)
MAJORITY: 19894 (45.3%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: North West, Cumbria. The whole of Eden council area, part of the Carlisle council area and part of Allerdale.

Main population centres: Penrith, Brampton, Longtown, Wigtown, Appleby, Kirkby Stephen.

Profile: A geographically huge constituency at the extreme north-west of England. The seat comprises the whole of Eden District council, most of the rural parts of Carlisle Council (Carlisle constituency is almost entirely surrounded by Penrith & the Border) and part of Allerdale. The largest population centre is the town of Penrith itself, along with smaller market towns. The seat is sparsely populated and largely dependent on agriculture and the tourism industry in the Lake District.

Politics: A safe Conservative seat, held by the party since the 1920s. Former MPs include Thatcher`s deputy Prime Minister Willie Whitelaw and former Conservative Chief Whip David Maclean.

Current MP
RORY STEWART (Conservative) Born 1973, Hong Kong. Educated at Eton and Oxford University. Former army officer, diplomat, Harvard professor, deputy governor of Maysan province, Iraq and Chief executive of an Afghanistan regeneration NGO.. First elected as MP for Penrith and the Border in 2010. Junior Minister for Environment and Rural Affairs since 2015. Awarded the OBE 2004 for service in Iraq.
Past Results
Con: 24071 (53%)
Lab: 5834 (13%)
LDem: 12830 (28%)
UKIP: 1259 (3%)
Oth: 1093 (2%)
MAJ: 11241 (25%)
Con: 24046 (51%)
Lab: 8958 (19%)
LDem: 12142 (26%)
UKIP: 1187 (3%)
Oth: 549 (1%)
MAJ: 11904 (25%)
Con: 24302 (55%)
Lab: 8177 (18%)
LDem: 9625 (22%)
UKIP: 938 (2%)
Oth: 1207 (3%)
MAJ: 14677 (33%)
Con: 23300 (48%)
Lab: 10576 (22%)
LDem: 13067 (27%)
MAJ: 10233 (21%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
RORY STEWART (Conservative) See above.
LEE RUSHWORTH (Labour) Educated at Wirral Metropolitan College. Civil servant.
NEIL HUGHES (Liberal Democrat)
JOHN STANYER (UKIP) Born Chester. Hotelier and farmer. Contested Penrith and the Border 2010.
Comments - 73 Responses on “Penrith & The Border”
  1. Although this is a safe seat for the Conservatives, I will be keeping an eye on Penrith and The Border in 2015 to see whether Rory Stewart manages to increase his vote share or majority.

  2. I think the second is more likely than the first, as I suspect the Lib Dems will go backwards here.

  3. If the Tories are having a reasonable night nationally, I can envisage a very similar result to 2001.

  4. My prediction for this seat in 2015 is-
    Stewart (Tory)- 24, 216 (54.1%, +0.6%)
    Lib Dem- 11, 449 (24.9%, -3.6%)
    Lab- 6, 826 (15.2%, +2.3%)
    Others- 2, 236 (4.8%, -0.4%)
    Turnout- 44, 727.
    Majority- 12, 767(28.5%)
    Swing- +2.1% From Lib Dem to Con.

  5. ”If the Tories are having a reasonable night nationally, I can envisage a very similar result to 2001.”

    Indeed. It is perhaps bizarre to many an outsider that Maclean got a 6.1% swing in his favour the year the Tories went down to a second successive Labour landslide, but as many will know local factors were at play- In fact, as with the rest of Cumbria, the whole Foot And Mouth crisis had felt its effects on the biggest and most sprawling constituency in the county- Even Maclean himself did not campaign out of respect for his constituents and still upped his vote share by 7.3%.

  6. This seat is safe as houses for Rory Stewart and I believe the prediction I made back in April is not all that bad- He should really be looking to increase his majority here.

  7. It’d odd that the LDs haven’t made a similar breakthough here as they have in neighbouring Westmorland & Lonsdale, although maybe the demographics are slightly more favourable to the Conservatives.

  8. @AndyJS
    I agree. If the Liberals had won the byelection back in 1983, I kind of get the feeling that that would have put them in contention here. As things are, Rory Stewart, who is one of the few Conservaive MPs I would actually really like to meet, comes across a nice man and an unpretentious, downtoearth character. I like people like that.

  9. I’m surprised I haven’t heard more of Stewart since he was elected. I did expect he’d gain a good profile and be on his way to becoming a prominent MP. After all, he’s got the backstory for it – army officer, deputy governor in Iraq, his books, and his treks. Maybe he’s just working his way up quietly. Maybe he’s just happy being a lowly MP, but with his credentials I hardly believe that.

  10. As I said in my previous post, he’s an an unassuming bloke. I don’t care to be quite frank if he went to Oxford or Eton, I really don’t mind any of that at all- he’s an honest MP, which is welcome, and he has no ulterior motives. Good on you Rory. For I believe it’s not about where you came from it is who you are that really counts.

  11. He does come over very well in many ways. However, if the likes of me can think that, it’s pretty likely that some other contributors would have a more unfavourable view of him.
    Andy’s point is interesting. Certainly this seat was traditionally safe for the Tories, as was Westmorland next door. But the areas aren’t quite the same. A lot of people in Westmorland & Lonsdale (as it of course now is) live in towns rather in genuinely rural settings. Largest of these is Kendal, but Windermere, Bowness, Grange & Kirkby Lonsdale are all towns rather than villages & there are quite a few smaller towns too such as Milnthorpe. In contrast, Penrith & the Border is a vast & largely rural seat in which Penrith really is the only town of any size – the others are very small. The odd thing is that in 1945 the then N Cumberland seat – all of which is now in Penrith & the Border – was won by the Liberals, and Westmorland easily by the Tories. Contributors may be rather amused that the Labour candidate for this seat in 1955 was a man my father knew slightly, who went by the name of Ivor Million.

  12. “it’s pretty likely that some other contributors would have a more unfavourable view of him.”

    Myself being one such person. I can’t stand him.

    “comes across a nice man and an unpretentious, downtoearth character.”

    You’ve got an interesting definition of down to earth, the Results. To me he always comes across as so self-important and up himself that he’s in danger of getting his head permanently stuck up his arse.

    “I did expect he’d gain a good profile and be on his way to becoming a prominent MP. After all, he’s got the backstory for it – army officer, deputy governor in Iraq, his books, and his treks.”

    And therein lies the explanation…parliament notoriously dislikes and distrusts people who come steaming in expecting that their superiority will zoom them up to the top. A less naïve ambitious new member would have played down Stewart’s kind of “back story”, not ensured it was blared all over the press to make his lesser endowed colleagues jealous. Much as I dislike him also, Chukka Umunna has played that game much more intelligently than Stewart has.

  13. I don’t think any of that is true Hemmelig. Imagine if you said that to Mr. Stewart. I think he says some very interesting things and I honestly believe he is in Parliament to make a difference, not for himself- also he seems to be quite an active constituency member, a very good thing to be even when you’re in a safe seat!

  14. Stewart is certainly one of the few Tory MPs I’d be happy to vote for – and that is partly because he’s a very atypical Tory MP, whereas Umunna strikes me as very typical of the new Labour intake – young, middle class and very politically correct

    I think both of them are very plausible candidates

  15. Yes Tim I agree Stewart is quite atypical of a Tory, which makes him endearing to non-Conservatives.

  16. The Conservative increase in vote share here in February 1974 might suggest that Willie Whitelaw had something of a personal vote I think- could it have been possible?

  17. Declaration of Penrith And The Border in October 1974-

  18. Liberal/Liberal Democrat results in Penrith And The Border since the seat’s creation in 1950-
    1. 1950- Wilfred Hugh Wace Roberts, 12, 333 (28.04%)
    2. 1951- Stafford V.S. Howard, 8, 857 (20.57%, -7.47%)
    3. 1955- F.J. Sleath, 7, 342 (18.53%, -2.04%)
    4. 1959- Brian G. Ashmore, 7, 602 (18.77%, +0.24%)
    5. 1964- W. Jackson, 9, 279 (22.63%, +3.86%)
    6. 1966- J.R. Howe, 6, 757 (16.97%, -5.66%)
    7. 1970- W. Jackson, 6, 316 (15.64%, -1.33%)
    8. February 1974- P. Alexander, 8, 202 (18.66%, +3.02%)
    9. October 1974- J.G. Pease, 7, 215 (17.79%, -0.87%)
    10. 1979- B. Wates, 7, 257 (16.5%, -1.29%)
    11. 1983- Michael Alan Young, 13, 883 (27.9%, +11.4%)
    12. 1983 byelection- Michael Alan Young, 16, 978 (44.6%, +16.7%)
    13. 1987- D.J. Ivison, 15, 782 (28.7%, +0.8%)
    14. 1992- Geyve Walker, 15, 359 (26.1%, -2.6%)
    15. 1997- Geyve Walker, 13, 067 (26.7%, -2.3%)
    16. 2001- Geyve Walker, 9, 625 (21.8%, -4.9%)
    17. 2005- Geyve Walker, 12, 142 (25.9%, +4.1%)
    18. 2010- Peter Thornton, 12, 830 (28.5%, +2.6%)

  19. Have you made a note of my email address? Then if you change your mind in the future I might be able to send you some election tapes. I’ll take the email address off the document in about an hour’s time.

  20. TheResults – Roberts in 1950 was outgoing Liberal MP for North Cumberland, which was the principal linear predecessor of this seat. Since his defeat, only in the 1983 by-election has his party ever come close again.

  21. Oh right thanks for that Barnaby I forgot he was the sitting Liberal member for the predecessor seat.

  22. There are some interesting references to the 1945 election in Cumbria in George Macdonald Fraser’s war memoirs ‘Quartered Safe Out Here’.

  23. I can’t understand why the Liberals sank so fast here in the postwar period- the Liberals at least managed to get semi competitive in Westmorland to the Tories in the 70s…

  24. If Tim Farron wants to hone his reputation as a winner maybe he should be trying to create a hub of neighbouring seats to bring into the LibDem fold.. that is not to say that this seat is easy by any means but the strategy of making seats which were nearly won in 2010 into targets merely on percentage swing criteria is not as effective long-term as a strategy that cultivates area where a Libdem affinity exists… I would rather have five Penrith’s than one Brent Central..

  25. an insight into Rory….

    wasted on the Tory backbenches…..

  26. European election results for Eden District Council area in 2014-
    Conservative- 4, 826 (35.98%)
    UKIP- 3, 362 (25.07%)
    Liberal Democrats- 2, 013 (15.01%)
    Labour- 1, 378 (10.27%)
    Green Party- 1, 244 (9.27%)
    BNP- 183 (1.36%)
    An Independence From Europe- 172 (1.28%)
    English Democrats- 138 (1.02%)
    Pirate Party UK- 44 (0.32%)
    NO2EU- 28 (0.20%)
    Socialist Equality Party- 22 (0.16%)

    Turnout- 13, 410.

  27. prediction for 2015-

    con- 44%
    Lib- 18%
    UKIP- 17%
    Lab- 16%
    others- 5%

    ‘others’ will be mostly made up of green and BNP votes.

  28. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. What do you want me to say to that?

    I hate to tell you this, but the Tories aren’t going to fall that far back. At worst it will probably be about 3%, not 9%. The Lib Dems will hold up a little better than that as well, they have a core vote here of about 21-22% I would guess.

    UKIP will NOT do that well here, European Election results are one thing, but sadly they don’t really tell the whole story when it comes to what might happen in the context of a general election. UKIP might get about 9-10% here, but 17% I think for a very very rural and traditional Tory constituency like this is a bit too high.

    I will give you one thing, though, and that is that the Labour vote looks reasonable.

    Please understand I’m only being friendly and I’m just offering some thoughts of my own.

  29. Rory Stewart made strenuous efforts to maintain the union during the referendum campaign including the creation of a friendship cairn at the border. This will have upped his local profile quite considerably and will have been very well-received. I expect his vote share to increase quite significantly next year. Nearer 60 than 50%.

  30. He already had a strong local profile. But why would his vote shoot up that far if there is a national swing the other way? (Unless you think that won’t happen at all – even arch-pessimist Robin Hood thinks there will be a small one.)

  31. How about this in 2015?
    Stewart (Conservative)- 56%
    Liberal Democrat- 21%
    Labour- 15%
    UKIP- 8%

  32. Or perhaps more realistically, this could happen-
    Stewart (Conservative)- 51%
    Liberal Democrat- 23%
    Labour- 16%
    UKIP- 10%

  33. @H Hemmelig

    If Chukka were a footballer would he be Danny Welbeck?

  34. Barnaby – I think there will be quite a bit of regional variation. Rory Stewart will receive a first-term bounce as well as the factor I have mentioned. Lib Dem vote will fall for sure and he will benefit.

  35. I believe UKIP will get a surprisingly higher percentage here in May than the current stated predictions. Although a lot of the Tories are satisfied with Rory thus meaning i’d usually predict most will remain faithful to him, But this election will be much more national orientated than those gone by.

  36. About a week ago John Stanyer resigned “with great sadness” as UKIP candidate for Carlisle, which makes it slightly odd that he was adopted as UKIP candidate for Penrith & The Border a few days later.

  37. Conservative Hold. 14,000 majority.

  38. Rory Stewart did very well here in the end- His majority went up by well over 8,000 to 19, 894, and his vote share went up by 6.3% to 59.7%.

  39. I thought the LDs might cling on to a really distant second by retaining strength in the south of the seat but Rory Stewart comes across as pretty moderate etc I suppose and mopped up their support in the end.

    This also has to count as the most unusual seat where the Greens held their deposit.

  40. First Labour second place here since 1979 l think.

  41. The same is also true of Harborough and Tunbridge Wells. The latter being a bit surprising.

    At least in this constituency there should be pockets of Labour support in Penrith and near Carlisle such as around Longtown and Rockcliffe.

  42. The north side of Tunbridge Wells, around High Brooms, is pretty grotty and has elected Labour councillors even when the Lib Dems were doing well.

    Labour’s second place here in Mid Sussex was more surprising IMO. They really have no voter base here.

  43. funnily enough l’ll be driving through High Brooms on Saturday, visiting a friend who lives in the less grotty Rusthall nearby. There are also a few relatively working-class pockets in Tunbridge Wells itself, though not many. Mid Sussex did have one ward with a Labour councillor (Haywards Heath Bentwood) until last month, but the seat was lost. Harborough hasn’t elected a Labour councillor for years. l do however have longstanding octogenarian friends, veteran Labour activists (one has won the party’s Merit Award, and was a candidate in the 1955 general election) who have moved to Harborough constituency. Clearly this is entirely down to them 🙂

  44. Thoughts to those trapped in their homes by the floods. Maybe the huge impact that the natural world has on citizens in remote seats like this (iirc the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak also started here) goes some way to explaining how the Greens held their deposit in rock-solid Tory territory.

  45. Alston Moor Ward By Election Result:

    CON – 251
    LIB DEM – 302

    LIB DEM Gain from CON

  46. Now that’s interesting- A Lib Dem gain in this part of the world suggests to me a slight Farron effect emerging from neighbouring South Lakeland. Could that be the case?

  47. Any chance of Rory Stewart getting a cabinet job? I know when he was first elected he was touted as a future leader by some

  48. Would be nice, though I fear May would consider him too ‘wet’ for a major cabinet job.

    My guess is that, given her weakness at the moment, she won’t want to be sacking people and so the reshuffle will be quite minor – mainly filling gaps left by the defeated (only Gummer among those attending cabinet) and anyone choosing to step down from the front bench. I guess she might symbolically bring back Gove, or more likely his protege Dominic Raab.

  49. Even though I’ve been saying for a while that the Tories should probably pick a moderate as their next leader (I would say that wouldn’t I) does anybody really feel that Rory Stewart has “it”

    Maybe its just me but he reminds me a lot of Tim Farron (ironic considering their constituency neighbours) he gives off the same “village vicar do goodery” vibes and we all saw how that panned out. Maybe it would be different for a Tory leader but I don’t know, as a Lab voter Stewart just doesn’t worry me nearly as much as someone like Heidi Allen.

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