Ribble Valley

2015 Result:
Conservative: 25404 (50.1%)
Labour: 11798 (23.2%)
Lib Dem: 2756 (5.4%)
Green: 2193 (4.3%)
UKIP: 8250 (16.3%)
Independent: 288 (0.6%)
Others: 56 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 13606 (26.8%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: North West, Lancashire. The whole of the Ribble Valley council area and part of South Ribble.

Main population centres: Clitheroe, Bamber Bridge, Longridge, Samlesbury, Ribchester, Waddington, Chatburn, Mellor, Farington.

Profile: A large rural seat in Lancashire, centered on the town of Clitheroe and covering the valley of the Ribble river from the border with Yorkshire down to Bamber Bridge, south of Preston. It also includes an expanse of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (despite the name, this is mostly barren fens and moorland). This is a wealthy seat with low unemployment, little social housing and aside from the town of Clitheroe and the suburbanised village of Bamber Bridge is most pleasant scenic villages for Lancashire's affluent commuters. The area around Bamber Bridge is more socially mixed and more industrial, and includes the large Leyland Truck assembly plant, British Aerospace's Salmesbury facility and the modern InBev brewery at Salmesbury.

Politics: Generally speaking Ribble Valley is a safe Conservative seat, but was famously won by the Liberal Democrats on a huge swing in a 1991 by-election following the elevation of David Waddington to the Lords. The Conservatives regained the seat in 1992 and since then the level of Liberal Democrat support has gradually unwound, with the party falling back into third place in 2010, helped along by unhelpful boundary changes.

Current MP
NIGEL EVANS (Conservative) Born 1957, Swansea. Educated at Dynevor School and Swansea University. Former newsagent. West Glamorgan County councillor 1985-1991. Contested Swansea West 1987, Pontypridd by-election 1989, Ribble Valley by-election 1991. First elected as MP for Ribble Valley in 1992. PPS to David Hunt 1993-1995, PPS to Tony Baldry 1995-1996, PPS to William Hague 1996-1997. Shadow Welsh Secretary 2001-2002. Deputy Speaker 2010-2013. Resigned the Conservative whip and as deputy speaker in 2013 after being charged with rape and sexual assault, he was later acquitted of all charges and had the Tory whip restored.
Past Results
Con: 26298 (50%)
Lab: 11529 (22%)
LDem: 10732 (21%)
UKIP: 3496 (7%)
Oth: 232 (0%)
MAJ: 14769 (28%)
Con: 25834 (52%)
Lab: 10924 (22%)
LDem: 11663 (23%)
UKIP: 1345 (3%)
MAJ: 14171 (28%)
Con: 25308 (51%)
Lab: 9793 (20%)
LDem: 14070 (29%)
MAJ: 11238 (23%)
Con: 26702 (47%)
Lab: 9013 (16%)
LDem: 20062 (35%)
Oth: 147 (0%)
MAJ: 6640 (12%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
NIGEL EVANS (Conservative) See above.
DAVID HINDER (Labour) Born 1954, St Asaph. Educated at Blessed Edward Jones RC High School and Leeds University. Consultant. Contested Altrincham and Sale 1987.
JACKIE PEARCEY (Liberal Democrat) Born 1963. Educated at Leeds Girls High School and Bristol University. Former Manchester councillor. Contested Davyhulme 1992, Manchester Gorton 1997, 2001, Bolton West 2010.
SHIRLEY PARKINSON (UKIP) Born 1966, Chorley.
GRAHAM SOWTER (Green) Ribble Valley councillor 1994-2008 for the Liberal Democrats.
DAVID BRASS (Independent)
GRACE ASTLEY (Independent) Educated at Darwen Vale High School and Royal Holloway. Teacher. Contested Haltemprice and Howden 2008 by-election, Blackburn 2010.
TONY JOHNSON (Independent Political Alliance) Contested Ribble Valley 2010.
Comments - 286 Responses on “Ribble Valley”
  1. “Of course, and I don’t want to take us down this cul-de-sac, if we had Right to Recall in this country….”

    Then Mike Hancock would be out on his ear for a start. Yes I perhaps can understand why Lib Dems don’t want to take us down this cul de sac.

  2. Heh, I meant in regards of taking this thread off-topic, but I would welcome Right to Recall to be introduced knowing full well that it might (and perhaps should) take Mike Hancock with it.

  3. Was only pulling your leg Doktorb

    Providing it was used in a sparing and apolitical way, I’d most likely support your idea.

  4. I heard this seat is very conservative with a big ‘c’ and a small ‘c’! Even though Evans has been aquitted apparantly, several members of the local Tory association and constituents are unhappy with his conduct. Could he be in danger?

  5. He will most likely survive the deselection vote. In terms of the General Election, I think UKIP will be too concerned not to worsen their homophobic image nationally by running a “straight choice” campaign against Evans, so he will be re-elected easily.

    Evans is lucky he was exposed now rather than 10 or 15 years ago, when he would certainly have been toast.

  6. Yes, I think he is fortunate in having such a safe seat with the opposition vote almost equally split. I cannot see Labour picking up enough votes to become really competitive here. I do think however had he been in a more marginal seat with a majority of 7,000 or less, he could have been in serious trouble.

    He has not exactly covered himself in glory and Ribble Valley voters will certainly make a significant dent in his majority.

  7. Any news about the attempted coup of Evans? When is the vote taking place? Thought it would have taken place by now.

  8. Christian – the re-deselection meeting is due to take place next month.

    I see Nigel has been defending Cliff. I agree that the police shouldn’t be paid for info by the media, but Cliff’s statement that it was, “a search without notice” struck me as a bit odd. Funnily enough they tend to be the best searches! Unlike MPs and Cllrs who are given notices before searches take place, which I think is wrong.

    Iain Dale & Stephen Fry seem to go even further than Merseymike and argue that gay men their age should not be prosecuted for historical crimes!

  9. That is not what they are saying at all. I think they are saying there were blurred lines simply because of the age of consent at 21. This means that many men who were not paedophiles may have rubbed shoulders with others who were because so much gay life was effectively in a twilight zone

  10. I thought the police only needed to give MPs prior notice if their offices are being searched on House of Commons premises, in which case they need permission from the Speaker? That’s what triggered the Damian Green affair in 2008.

  11. Adam – you’re right, that’s the legal position; but, sadly they often give MPs and Cllrs – or their leaders – notice on the eve of a raid.

    Merseymike – I take your point re offences being offences because it was same sex offence, as with a lot of Cllrs who have spent convictions for public toilets etc. But Stephen Fry went much further and attacked the DPP & CPS for even bringing cases to Court. Surely it’s for juries to decide.

    Iain Dale yesterday called for the Home Secretary and Keith Vaz to, “do your stuff” and give the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police his P45 re the Cliff raid publicity. No apology from him yet, even though it’s been shown that it was the fault of the BBC, it’s reporters and helicopter that they were present and they threatened to report the matter anyway.

    Fortunately, it has resulted in more potential victims coming forward, but I know we’ll agree to differ on the merits of that sysyem, as also espoused by the CPS NW.

  12. Nigel Evans reselected.

  13. Should think so too.

  14. Of course Ribble Valley was the scene of a Lib Dem by-election “sensation” in 1991, but they promptly lost it again in 1992.

    The ‘swing back’ was 11%.

    (Douglas Carswell please note).

  15. Good news- I’m glad.

  16. yes

  17. Not sure why so many people think this is a good thing.
    I would have thought it was time to offer the voters of this seat the chance to vote for a new Conservative MP,
    but let’s leave it at that.

  18. Labour have selected David Hinder as their candidate.

    A former Parliamentary Candidate and Ribble Valley General Election Agent in 2010.

    Background in industry, banking and finance may give Labour more credibility than usual in this seat, where last time they moved into second place.

  19. Didn’t comment at the time because while I didn’t want to kick a topical debate.

    But with the caveat that the Scots Law option of a “not proven” verdict would be highly useful in such cases (as it would clearly distinguish the innocent from those who on balance of probability are fortunate) the day he was acquitted was the day there was no prospect of his being deselected.

    From a polling POV if he were deselected and had continued to stand anyway, he might well have won – for all the criticism I have of people in safe seats voting blindly, we have seen in places like Tatton and Blaenau Gwent that when pressed with a high profile issue of direct relevance to their constituency, voters in seats that don’t change hands are perfectly capable of saying no [pun unintended, though having realised it was there I see no reason to change my words – parties of all colours with safe seats consider themselves to have a licence to act as they see fit, and more often than not they do].

    From a traditionalist point of view would you rather have a socially liberal Conservative MP who will quietly vote in a socially liberal way against traditionalists’ wishes only when explicitly empowered to do so by the Conservative leadership, or a socially liberal, fiscally conservative Independent with a licence to openly attack and at times split your party rank and file by vociferously arguing that some in your party are out of touch on that issue and others?

  20. Not proven is essentially what we have when juries fail to reach a verdict (as happened twice with Lpool Cllr Ben Williams and with Frank McKenna’s fraud trials). Chris – I assume traditional Cons would want their MP to vote according to their conviction/conscience ie neither of your options. As for Nigel, one of his accusers may be bringing civil proceedings, so it may not be over yet ie the burden is 50% ie probability not the high criminal threshold of guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

  21. I do quite like a “not proven” option. It’s ideal for many cases where the proper finding is “not guilty, but don’t do it again”.

  22. ‘Labour have selected David Hinder as their candidate.

    A former Parliamentary Candidate and Ribble Valley General Election Agent in 2010.

    Background in industry, banking and finance may give Labour more credibility than usual in this seat, where last time they moved into second place.’

    Sorry to be a pedant, Imtrvi01, but Labour was already in second place in 2010 in this new version of the seat. The notional 2005 result on these boundaries was: Con 45; Lab 30; LD 23.

  23. The premise of my question was on the assumption that he would have a good chance of winning whether as a Conservative or Independent, and that he can be assumed to vote in an extremely similar way in either outcome.

    The circumstances are poles apart, but to several intents and purposes Douglas Carswell is a good case study: he is the one ex-Conservative MP who seems a nailed-on certainty to remain a UKIP MP in the next parliament (he won’t be the only UKIP MP, but his new colleague’s seat is far from safe). On many issues he will vote in the same way as Conservatives, but where he disagrees with them he will hurt the party far more than he ever would have as a backbench rebel.

  24. Nigel wouldn’t win as an Ind. He’s no Douglas Carswell. He wouldn’t even come close like Bob Spink. Much of the disquiet in the Assoc wasn’t just his sexual behaviour. It was that he partied every night in 2012-13 and posted pics with a different 18-21 year-old males each night. Whereas he’d been very active politically, almost rent-a-quote prior to that. He has promised to cut that drinking culture out and being a backbencher again should enable him to be politically active again.

  25. Besides Nigel Evans brush with the law, there is significant disgruntlment about major housing developments significantly expanding many of the various villages that make up the constituency.
    The Tories almost lost the normally rock-solid Clitheroe ward to a UKIP-linked independent in the 2013 county-council elections over the issue & UKIP are making planning a central issue of their campaign here.
    A significant chunk of the population are ‘white-flight’ from neighbouring Preston, Blackburn, Accrington & Burnley, with whom UKIP’s back to the ’50s message might chime.

  26. As usual, no mention of the 32000 mostly urban voters in the South Ribble Borough part of the constituency, for whom housing developments in village 20+ miles away in the Ribble Valley Borough don’t register at all.

    The Tories actually GAINED the Clitheroe County Council Division in 2013, taking the seat from the LibDems, although the former local UKIP chairman stood as an Independent.

    I won’t comment on the credibility of the “white flight” assertion.

  27. I talked out of my rear – sorry.
    Based on info supplied by mother (a Rib Valley resident) – if that counts as an excuse.

  28. con hold 10.000 10.500

  29. Conservative Hold. 10,000 majority.

  30. UKIP are in third place and require a swing of 17% from the Conservatives to win the seat, which places Ribble Valley outside their top 150 target seats. All the same, this may be the best chance of ousting the Tories in a constituency where many non-Conservatives would like to see the Tory candidate defeated even more than most.

  31. Doesn’t seem like anyone has noticed that UKIP’s by-elections have been a litany of disasters since May.. The Barnsley MB, Dearne North ward result last Thursday was a halving from over 23% to 12%..

    In the admitrtedly small Nelson TC poll even the BNP got nearly four times the UKIP result.. first time that has happened in a long while..

  32. The proposed successor to this seat, Clitheroe and Colne, is a strange-looking beast that wends its way all the way from Preston to Earby.

  33. Nigel Evans really going for it in a TV interview on the Tory manifesto and campaign, some choice quotes…

    “We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot we shot ourselves in the head”

    “The manifesto was mean spirited in wanting to take school lunches from youngsters, irrelevant in wanting to bring back fox hunting and totally bonkers in going after our core supporters the elderly”

    Topped off with “the only thing missing from the manifesto was compulsory euthanasia for over 70’s”


  34. Unfortunately, I think he is right. The business of winning elections is about focusing on issues where you have common ground with voters. It is for that reason that committing to a free vote on fox hunting was such a terrible idea- the electorate is massively against it.

  35. Nigel Evans has taken the vacant Deputy Speaker position.

    When was the last time the Speaker and one of his deputies represented neighbouring constituencies?

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