Reading East

2015 Result:
Conservative: 23217 (46%)
Labour: 16697 (33.1%)
Lib Dem: 3719 (7.4%)
Green: 3214 (6.4%)
UKIP: 3647 (7.2%)
MAJORITY: 6520 (12.9%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Berkshire. The eastern part of Reading and three wards from the Wokingham council area, covering the town of Woodley.

Main population centres: Reading, Woodley.

Profile: Reading is a commercial centre and commuter town in the Thames Valley in Berkshire. It is an affluent town, home to light, hi tech and service industry and houses many corporate headquarters including Microsoft, Oracle, British Gas and Prudential. Reading East is the more urban of the two Reading seats, taking in the town centre and the eastern and northern suburbs. The seat contains the majority of the University of Reading, which straddles the constituency border, but more importantly the majority of the students.

Politics: Reading East was a Conservative seat lost to Labour in the 1997 landslide. The Labour MP, Jane Griffiths, was acrimoniously deselected prior to the 2005 election following a long standing disagreement with the neighbouring MP, Martin Salter, and infighting within the local Labour party. The new Labour candidate Tony Page was defeated by Conservative Rob Wilson, who has held the seat since then.

Current MP
ROB WILSON (Conservative) Born 1965, Oxfordshire. Educated at Reading University. Reading councillor 1992-96, 2003-06. First elected as MP for Reading East in 2005. Opposition Whip 2009-10, PPS to Jeremy Hunt 2010-2013, PPS to George Osborne 2013-2014. Minister for Civil Society since 2014. Former member of the SDP. Was successfully sued for libel by his Labour opponent, sitting MP Martin Salter, in 2005.
Past Results
Con: 21269 (43%)
Lab: 12729 (25%)
LDem: 13664 (27%)
UKIP: 1086 (2%)
Oth: 1237 (2%)
MAJ: 7605 (15%)
Con: 15557 (35%)
Lab: 15082 (34%)
LDem: 10619 (24%)
GRN: 1548 (4%)
Oth: 1106 (3%)
MAJ: 475 (1%)
Con: 13943 (32%)
Lab: 19531 (45%)
LDem: 8078 (19%)
GRN: 1053 (2%)
Oth: 1013 (2%)
MAJ: 5588 (13%)
Con: 17666 (35%)
Lab: 21461 (43%)
LDem: 9307 (19%)
Oth: 744 (1%)
MAJ: 3795 (8%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
ROB WILSON (Conservative) See above.
MATT RODDA (Labour) Project manager and former journalist. Reading councillor since 2011. Contested East Surrey 2010.
JENNY WOODS (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Oxford University. University programme leader.
ROB WHITE (Green) Born 1979. Reading councillor since 2010.
Comments - 191 Responses on “Reading East”
  1. My forecast for 2015

    Con 40
    Lab 33
    LD 15
    others 12

    Rob Wilson is an ‘interesting populist’.

  2. There was quite a swing to Labour in both Reading seats in 2001 as Jane Griffiths and Martin Salter saw increased majorities at that election. Especially the latter who went up to like 8000 or so. Seems to have come to a screeching halt once Griffiths got deselected for 2005 and Salter stood down in 2010.

    Although they control the council at the moment, it’s hard to imagine Labour taking back even Reading West by 2015. Eventual demographic changes might win it for them in the next decade or so.

  3. I think A Brown’s prediction is quite likely, though there is perhaps a slim chance of a Labour gain if the Lib Dem vote collapses completely. In that respect this is one of a select few Tory seats which Labour could possibly win in 2015 despite not having won it in 2005….and except for Peterborough I expect all other such seats are in London.

  4. Im not sure Reading is the type of place where the LDs will totally collapse though. I dont think this seat is seriously at risk.

  5. As it happens I’m pretty sure you’re right…..I’m guessing the LD strength is on the Wokingham side of the seat and does look to have been quite robust historically. The Lib Dems have not gone lower than 18% here since 1992.

  6. Are there any clues about what will happen to this large LD vote here?
    Has it collapsed after 2010 or is there still a presence.
    I guess this seat could be close – Tories should hold though

  7. Largely collapsed. At its high point in 2010, the Liberal Democrats in Reading held three wards in their entirety. Two of them here in Reading East (Katesgrove and Redlands). Now they’re on the verge of losing their last councillors in those two. Only Tilehurst in West will remain.

    The trouble the Liberal Democrats have in Reading East is alot of their boom in support in 2010 was down to winning over ex-Labour voters and students, and that support has dwindled since. Only in Woodley, where the Liberal Democrats largely monopolised the anti-Tory vote for many years, are they really holding their own still, and in the 2012 local elections the three wards in Woodley represented the lion’s share of their votes across all of the constituency.

    The irony is that whilst the Liberal Democrats did better in Reading East than Reading West in 2010, their support has had more staying power in West than East – largely because the Lib Dem voters there tend to be the middle-class liberal who’s tended to stay more with the party than did the ex-Labour voters and students who reside in East. West doesn’t have much of a student vote.

  8. So a swing of around 10% from LD to Lab is quite likely in Reading East. That would put Labour about 8% behind the Tories before you take into account any Con-Lab swing.

  9. This has got to be a Tory hold, surely. The Tories will have been annihiliated if they were to lose this to Labour at the next GE.

  10. The polls are showing precious little Con to Lab swing

  11. I think the swing will be somewhat above average here but I foresee a Conservative hold without excessive difficulty.

  12. Thanks – interesting stuff.

  13. ‘This has got to be a Tory hold, surely. The Tories will have been annihiliated if they were to lose this to Labour at the next GE.’

    It’s funny that Reading is safely Conservative given its high student population, proximity to London and general ugliness

  14. As you surely know Tim, both Reading seats have substantial non-Reading elements to them. Otherwise they would far more frequently see Labour MPs elected, as indeed they did when the seats before 1983 were more tightly drawn around the town itself. I tend to think that, given his hyperactivity in the constituency, Rob Wilson might be somewhat disappointed by his 2010 result; even though Labour lost second place to the LDs, the swing from Labour to Conservative was only very slightly above the national average, which is unusual for a seat gained by the Tories in 2005. A lot will depend on where the very large LD vote goes, because surely they have no hope of staying second here; with the loss of his first-time incumbency factor, Wilson isn’t as safe as many of the 2005 intake but he should hold on since Labour are weak in Woodley & not doing that well in the Reading wards north of the Thames either.

  15. It does require a 9% swing. That is almost impossible to imagine. I would labour as long as 15/1 here.

    Was Cannock the only seat to fall in the last election which required a swing as large as that?

  16. Do you mean Con gains from Lab? If so, yes. Erewash, North Warwickshire and Sherwood were slightly below 9% swing required.

  17. Bit of a Midlands theme there…

  18. and, indeed, a small town & a mining theme. Many of Labour’s worst performances in 2010 were in ex-mining, small-town Midlands constituencies. However, Kent was even direr if anything.

  19. Because the swings needed were so big, these seats are still very much there to take back to Labour next year, and TBH I would be extremely surprised if they didn’t retake all three.

  20. I would agree in all cases. Perhaps Sherwood poses the most questions.

  21. Incumbency for Mark Spencer in Sherwood? He’s got a bigger majority than poor Dan Byles in North Warwickshire (54), and the Tories don’t even have that incumbency on their side in Erewash seeing as Jessica Lee is standing down.

  22. In North Warwickshire I think it’ll be a nerve-biting count for all concerned despite the very small majority. Not a nailed-on Labour gain at all IMO.

  23. If Labour can’t take NW, then on that basis they wouldn’t take Sherwood. Personally I think the Tories will lose more than enough votes to UKIP in 2015 in all three of the mentioned seats and that Labour will therefore take them back with support from disillusioned Lib Dems.

  24. The CC results in N Warwickshire suggest it’ll be extremely unlikely to be a Con Hold. They were only level with Labour in Coleshill, which is usually quite reliably Tory, and way behind in Atherstone & Bedworth.

  25. The CC elections were a bad C year (although it could have been worse).
    Very marginal last time though

  26. Well Labour didn’t have a whopping lead nationally by any means, but led in N Warwickshire by no less than 19%. That’s a lot for the Conservatives to recover from.

  27. ‘Well Labour didn’t have a whopping lead nationally by any means, but led in N Warwickshire by no less than 19%. That’s a lot for the Conservatives to recover from.’

    But how many people voted in the CC election

    I agree with you that North Warwickshire looks an almost certain Labour gain in 2015 – but I’m not sure that much weight can be given to a council election which about a quarter of the electorate voted in

  28. It’s not totally authoritative, I agree. But when it’s that clear-cut, it will tend to have some clues as to the political mood in an area.

  29. Both Reading seats contain large areas of newer suburban modern private housing estates. Prices are high and they are areas of Labour weakness and generally Conservative strength. Reading West contains some rural commuter villages, whilst Reading East has the more affluent area of Reading north of the river.

    On different boundaries there could be a solid Labour seat of Reading central. However, it is hard to see how the boundaries could be drawn without sending Caversham into a cross-boarder South Oxfordshire seat. The Conservatives would gain an extra safe seat this way too.

    Both Reading MP’s are relatively new and energetic.
    The Thames Valley economy is doing very well now and the economic feel good effect will help the Conservatives in 2015.

  30. As it happens, Caversham used to be in Oxfordshire, but a long time ago.

  31. I’ll ignore Barnaby’s inviting offer to mount my hobby horse.

    To answer Tim’s question, Readings East and West are very white collar constituencies. In Reading East 27% of employed residents work in professional occupations (the 27th largest proportion in England and Wales) and Reading West isn’t exactly short of managers and professionals either. When you then factor in the strength of the private sector there and the fact that both constituencies include affluent commuter areas outside the town, it’s not hard to see why the Conservatives win these seats more often that not. Nevertheless, it remains the case, that this seat has trended Labour since 1992. The Conservatives’ problems in urban areas are not solely confined to the north.

  32. “As it happens, Caversham used to be in Oxfordshire, but a long time ago.”

    That’s interesting because much of present Oxfordshire was once in Berkshire.

    Berkshire was rather mangled by the 1970s boundary changes.

    I’ve read it described as having its head cut off and given to Oxfordshire and the town of Slough taken from Buckinghamshire and rammed up Berkshire’s arse.

    Was there any controversy about these changes at the time.

    Of course neither Oxfordshire, Berkshire or Buckinghamshire have ‘proper’ cricket teams.

  33. You’d be amazed at how folk in Caversham still have their own identity even 103 years after amalgamation with Reading. Rather nice to see a community retain that. And it works well considering there’s a common Reading identity that runs alongside that. And they work together…most of the time.

  34. Is there any such thing as a Reading accent?

  35. On a separate note, I’ll be looking out for the results in Caversham ward come May. Caversham itself has three wards: Caversham, Thames, and Peppard. Thames and Peppard will never be won by us (thought interestingly Peppard was held by the Lib Dems for some years in the last decade), but Caversham was a rather unexpected gain in 2012. I didn’t expect it, and frankly very few of us did. Only people more shocked were the Tories!

    In the long-run, what will matter more is how Labour polls in the other Caversham wards and Woodley – unless they can up their vote there, any chance of a surprise is lost. Nevertheless, it will be very telling what happens in Caversham ward. 2012 was the lowest point for the Tories, and the Tories round here were not concentrating on that ward. They won’t make that mistake again. But, from the campaign it looks like we’re holding our own still.

    My guess is a few weeks off, that we’ll win the same wards in East that we did in 2012. A possible gain is in Park ward, where a resignation means there’ll be two seats up for grabs, and I would think we may gain one off the Greens. We should still win Church ward, a gain from 2012 from the Tories. The Tories best chance of a gain is in Caversham, and they do have a chance.

  36. ‘Is there any such thing as a Reading accent?’

    Meh, not particularly.

  37. This is what happened to the Labour targets in Reading in 2012:

  38. Thanks Andy. Like I said, Caversham was a surprise gain.

  39. The accent is very different to London.

  40. I’d agree, but I think Andy was asking if Reading has a distinct accent. I don’t notice much difference between Reading and the surrounding region.

  41. Yes sorry, I see. I think Labour will do pretty well here because of the size of the LD vote.

  42. 2014 local election results:

    Labour: 9,029 (31.8%)
    Conservatives: 7,810 (27.5%)
    Greens: 4,137 (14.6%)
    UKIP: 3,155 (11.1%)
    Liberal Democrats: 3,057 (10.8%)
    Independent: 1,218 (4.3%)
    TUSC: 23 (0.1%)

    Total votes: 28,429

    Compared to the 2010 local election results:

    Conservatives: -9.1%
    Liberal Democrats: -21%
    Labour: +9%
    Greens: +7.1%
    UKIP: +10%
    Independent: +4.2%
    TUSC: +0.1%

  43. All to play for in both the Reading seats then. I now render the Tories the favourites in both seats though. Their strength in the surrounding rural areas should see them through, though if a lot of that Green vote goes to Labour the results in both seats could be very tight.

  44. I can’t speak for Reading West, as only the Reading bit held local elections, but I would agree the Conservatives are favourites here right now. Our lead of 4.5% isn’t enough on its own. I await to work out the full ward-by-ward results, but I expect the Tories would most benefit from a decline of the UKIP vote come the general. I would also expect some Lib Dem recovery, though the fact the Lib Dems have hit yet a new low here will bring comfort to my party that the bounce won’t be much at all. The Independent vote is hard to judge, but in Peppard the independent won votes mainly from the Tories – votes that will return at the general.

    However, all that said, if Labour can squeeze the Green vote here, as most probably we will be able to, that’s a big bounce. Rob Wilson is still the favourite, but this is a seat that certainly still has the potential for something interesting.

  45. Reading will be hotly contested for sure.

    It looks to me like only 3 gains (and Brighton Kemptown will be tight) for Labour in the whole of the South East next year now. That just isn’t good enough if Labour wants much more than 300 seats.

  46. Forgot to mention that one ward didn’t have an election: Mapledurham. A one-member ward, it’s a Conservative stronghold, giving them an extra 695 votes in 2012, and LabLibGreens around 100-135 each.

  47. Yeah, our progress across the South East will be pretty anaemic.

  48. You will do better in the north and really well in London I imagine but you will probably fall short of the 326 mark overall, especially if the SNP gain a couple of seats from you and UKIP get their act together in Rotherham and Penistone.

  49. The South East really is to Labour, what Scotland has become to the Conservatives.
    This is as close as Labour gets to a decent prospect in the region and they were third with 25% of the vote last time.

    In many areas, Labour could be fourth or fifth now, which does not fit with the “One Nation” agenda.

    Nationally we are seeing more and more one party dominated councils, where the winner has more than 80% of the seats and cannot conceivably be defeated. This is particularly so when councils elect by thirds. It cannot be good for governance of such complex and large organisations.

  50. The local eclection resulots suggest that Labour may have a better chance here than in many seats with a smaller Tory majority. Reading is now commuterland that suits Labour comparatively well now that they have deserted their working class grassroots, or seem to have done so to many voters who are now UKIP inclined….

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