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”
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  1. Not only can you see the unwind from 1991 onwards, you can spot the boundary changes a mile off too…..

  2. Indeed. The new Ribble Valley reminds me a bit of the old Clitheroe seat. I know the areas covered differ somewhat but the politics seem familiar, i.e. pretty safely Tory in an even year but with Labour in a reasonable second.

  3. Of course Labour’s main source of support in this seat is Bamber Bridge, whereas in the Clitheroe seat it will have been places like Padiham and Altham, which were subsequently moved to Burnley and Hyndburn.

  4. In advance of the comments that are likely to be here later, can I remind commenters that people are innocent until proven guilty, and invite them to keep comments that may be libellous off my site…

  5. The Tories performed well in the area covered by the Ribble Valley constituency yesterday. I have them leading Labour by 5612. The Tories carried Ribble Valley NE, Ribble Valley SW and Longridge very comfortably. They carried South Ribble Rural North E by 672 over Labour. They also carried Clitheroe and Farington narrowly. Labour won Bamber Bridge and Walton le Dale, but only by 31 votes over the Conservatives.

  6. In Clitheroe, the Lib Dems came second, in Farington, it was Labour.

  7. This seat is considerably different to the Ribble Valley that existed in 1991 when the LDs won a by-election. It now includes a more urban area to the south of Preston including Bamber Bridge.

  8. That’s right- probably quite a good change for the Tories because it snuffs out the Lib Dem threat without giving Labour nearly enough to mount any kind of serious challenge. Labour barely even led in Bamber Bridge this year.

  9. Well Bamber Bridge is fairly strongly Labour – it’s Walton-le-Dale which is rather less so. The latter can vote Tory quite often & probably did on Thursday. I first heard of it since it was where the celebrated 20th century contralto, Kathleen Ferrier, came from. I wonder if anyone more famous than her has come from this constituency as it’s now drawn?

  10. David Waddington was quite famous for a short time when he was dealing with various miscarriages of justice in about 1990.

  11. If there is a by-election do people think Labour could squeak in by squeezing the Lib Dem vote and UKIP taking a chunk of Tory voters? The Labour vote has held up well from 1997 although there were boundary changes. I can see this happening if UKIP got a quarter of the vote!

  12. Big D- no I don’t. The Labour vote holding up is partly a result of post-1991 tactical unwind and partly a result of significant boundary changes. There is no long-term trend to Labour in this seat. And look at the local elections we’ve just had. I have Labour on 23% in this constituency, barely up at all on what they managed in 2010. They couldn’t even carry Farington (which they won by 11% in 2005) and only won Bamber Bridge and Walton le Dale by just 31 votes (having carried it by 11% in 2005). And they are miles behind in the rest of the seat.

  13. And note that the Lib Dem vote was already squeezed down to 8% yesterday (though to be fair, they did not stand in Bamber Bridge or South Ribble Rural E). So where are Labour’s votes coming from to get them to about 30% plus?

  14. No I don’t think thats likely at all actually, given that in the most recent by-elections in places as different as Eastleigh and South Shields Labour’s vote share has either stood still or declined slightly. I think if there were a by-election at the present time then actually UKIP would have a very good chance of winning it, but I have no reason to believe a by-election is likely

  15. Anthony, now that I’ve got your undivided attention I’ll repeat the request I made on the Stone thread…

    Anthony, can you please set up a simple “predictions” page on this part of the site?
    We could then each make a dated prediction of the national share of vote at the next General Election.
    [Then, after 2015, we could look back at how far out some of us were at predicting UKIP gains and a Labour overall majority].
    The obvious lesson from the results is that David Cameron is on course for victory in 2015. It might not be an outright victory, but who on earth would bet against him having a plurality of votes given that the Tories were only 4% behind Labour in the BBC’s ‘Projected National Share of the Vote’ in these local elections?
    I’m standing by the prediction I made several months ago:
    Tories 40%
    Labour 34%
    Lib Dems 16%
    Or perhaps I might tweak it a little to reflect the fruitcake surge (which I now think will fall back to 5%, rather than 3% by 2015)…
    Tories 39%
    Labour 33%
    Lib Dems 16%

  16. Robin – I think every now and again I used to do it as a thread on the main blog before the last election. Should probable get round to doing the same at some point this time.

  17. The biggest Tory nightmare is not UKIP picking up seats but them taking a chunk of Tory voters and letting Labour in through the back door. If UKIP pick up 15-20 seats at least the Tories could do a deal with them (without Cameron as leader). They can’t do a deal with Labour!

  18. @ Anthony Wells

    Thanks. I think it might be useful sooner rather than later – and as a permanent feature of this part of the site (rather than ‘every now and again’) so it can be easily referred back to – because perhaps then people will learn not to be carried away by mid-term trends. There’s really no point putting it on the front page where it will get quickly lost and forgotten.

    I remember reading this site four or five years ago and there were contributors who insisted that Labour couldn’t possibly rise higher than 26% in the General Election simply because the polls were only giving the party 25% at that particular time (they did, of course, manage 30% – which was an entirely predictable recovery given the lessons of historical precedent).

    @ BigD

    Sorry but you’re completely missing the lesson of last Thursday. Ukip DID pick up a big chunk of the vote but that didn’t stop the Tories from being only 4% behind Labour on the ‘Projected National Share’. That would only have given Ed Miliband a slender Commons majority, rather than the 90-seat margin implied by Anthony’s front page projection, and of course there is the traditional pro-government ‘bounce back’ yet to come. Why is everyone missing the lesson of last Thursday’s elections? Ukip, even on 25%, are not going to win a solitary parliamentary seat whereas the Tories are already closing strongly on Labour and with two years still to go! In which years of previous Tory governments did Labour register this sort of slender lead in mid-term local elections? 1980, 1981, 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1989 – all of which preceded Conservative general election victories.

    The lessons of precedent are out there for those who will listen.

  19. “Ukip, even on 25%, are not going to win a solitary parliamentary seat ”

    That is nonsense. NOt that I think it all that likely to happen, but for UKIP to be on 25% nationally, given how low their support is in Scotland, most of London and some of the other larger cities (and would be somewhat lower in Wales as well I should think) we would be looking at probably ine xcess of 30% in non-Metroplitan England. There is no way that would be spread so thinly as to deliver no seats as there are clearly areas of particular strength, notably in parts of Lincolnshire, Kent, East Anglia and Sussex and in the South West

  20. @ Robin Hood – last Thursday only 1/3 of registered voters voted not 2/3 you’d expect at a General Election. With a strong UKIP performance it is even less of a prediction of the next General Election. I don’t think UKIP will get 25% at the GE I’d expect them to get 10% and most of these to be ex-Tory voters. That could mean Labour winning a lot of seats by gaining former Lib Dem voters and the Tories losing about 7% of the electorate to UKIP. My GE prediction is: Labour 38, Conservative 30, Lib Dem 15 and UKIP 10.

  21. I think Robin Hood has a point re. Labour’s relatively poor performance last week. Something else that was notable was that the Lib Dem spin that UKIP’s rise would mean gains for the Lib Dems in the SW & elsewhere proved largely inaccurate.

  22. @ Pete Whitehead

    “…for UKIP to be on 25% nationally, given how low their support is in Scotland, most of London and some of the other larger cities (and would be somewhat lower in Wales as well I should think) we would be looking at probably in excess of 30% in non-Metroplitan England. There is no way that would be spread so thinly as to deliver no seats as there are clearly areas of particular strength, notably in parts of Lincolnshire, Kent, East Anglia and Sussex and in the South West”

    Fully agree with your analysis of UKIP’s areas of strength and weakness.

    Surely this is relevant too in interpreting last Thursday’s local election results? As I understand it, the BBC, in their national Equivalent Vote figures, have projected the movement seen in the English County Council Elections onto those parts of the UK which didn’t vote – i.e. Scotland, Wales, London, and Metropolitan England. This put UKIP quite close to 25% ‘Nationally’.

    The reality surely is that the English County Council elections includes all of UKIP’s most promising areas, and excluded all those where they would be likely to fare least well.

  23. Yes, Rallings & Thrasher clearly made a mistake in predicting UKIP on 11% and then just a few days later they get 22%.

    I think they’re making yet another mistake in projecting 22% and no seats for UKIP, as Pete says.

  24. “The reality surely is that the English County Council elections includes all of UKIP’s most promising areas, and excluded all those where they would be likely to fare least well.”

    Absolutely. I don’t know what the total UKIP share was in the areas that actually voted (and it wouldn’t be a full reflection of support in those areas, as they didn’t contest every seat) but 25% sounds more like what we would have won just in those areas than in the UK as a whole

  25. @ BigD

    Is it a coincidence that your prediction for Tory and Labour is almost exactly the same as that shown in this site’s current rolling average of polls? Surely the purpose of making a prediction is that you allow for the likely changes in party strength which you expect to emerge between now and 2015?

    Please remember the Projected National Share of vote last Thursday: Con 25%; Lab 29%: Lib Dem 14%: UKIP 23%. Your prediction assumes that Labour will be the main beneficiary of a fall in UKIP support. How on earth do you arrive at the conclusion?

    I repeat what I said earlier: David Cameron doesn’t need to change course at all. He is heading for re-election (unless some major unforeseen event is lurking around the corner).

    @ James E

    You are correct, it was UKIP’s most promising areas that voted on Thursday and their Projected National Share of vote was 23%. On the basis of the standard Percentage Change Hypothesis this is not going to net them a solitary parliamentary seat (because it means they will only increase their vote share by twenty percentage points in each constituency). Perhaps Pete can name us the parliamentary seat they would capture on the basis of a 23% – or even a 25% – share?

  26. I’m doing a spreadsheet for actual votes cast in the local elections so we can see what UKIP actually got. Because there’s no way they would only drop from 25% to 22% when you compare county councils with the country as a whole. To be on 22% nationally they’d have to be on at least 30% in the areas that voted on Thursday IMO.

  27. @ Andy JS

    I think you’ll find that the BBC statisticians are assuming that the Percentage Change Hypothesis applies. In other words, they have assessed how the areas which voted last Thursday voted in the 2010 general election and have established that the UKIP base in those areas was only 2% higher than nationally. (In other words, UKIP polled 3% nationally in 2010 but around 5% in the Shire Counties, meaning only a 2% differential – hence a 25% actual vote in the locals translates into a 23% PNS).

    Logically the BBC methodology makes sense, though whether it’s accurate is another matter.

  28. “On the basis of the standard Percentage Change Hypothesis this is not going to net them a solitary parliamentary seat (because it means they will only increase their vote share by twenty percentage points in each constituency). Perhaps Pete can name us the parliamentary seat they would capture on the basis of a 23% – or even a 25% – share?”

    But this doesn’t happen. They aren’t going to increase their share by 20% in Hornsey & Wood Green or East Ham, or Glasgow Central. You only have to look at European election results to see where UKIP strength lies when they get a substantial proportion of the vote and other areas where their support remains fairly derisory, including swatehs of inner-London. It isn;t going to go up by 20% in every seat – it will go up by less than 10% in some. Therefore to balance those areas it would have to go up by 30% or more in others which would bring some seats in range. I can name numerous seats which would be plausible UKIP gains in the (unlikely) event that the party were polling 20-25% nationally: Boston & Skegness, Great Yarmouth, Great Grimsby, Clacton, Castle Point, Thanet North, Folkestone & Hythe, Worthing East & Shoreham, Bognor Regis & Littlehampton, NW Cambridgeshire, Torbay. You talk alot of sense in the way you interpret mid-term opinion polls, but you won’t have much credibility if you seriously contenfd that a 20% increase in support for UKIP nationally would be reflected uniformly in every constituency in the country

  29. @ Pete

    I agree with you that the rise in UKIP support would not be uniform. Perhaps in some constituencies a proportional (rather than a percentage change) rise would be more accurate, though I’m not really convinced. I think it’s unlikely they would buck the trend to such an extent of actually adding “30% or more” (your words) in many seats if they’re only increasing by 20% nationwide.

    I continue to hold the view that they would not actually win any seats with a 25% overall share: their take-off point would, I think, be higher. Their problem is similar to that faced by the SDP in the 1980s, but if anything is worse because at least the Social Democrats actually had the advantage of having incumbent MPs in some seats, and in a few cases their personal vote (e.g. Dr Owen in Plymouth Devonport) was enough to hang on.

    Those seats where UKIP are likely to be at their strongest are often constituencies which have substantial Tory majorities: in such instances where the non-UKIP vote is concentrated in the hands of the Tories a huge UKIP vote will be required to win.

    Conversely you could argue that UKIP would therefore stand a better chance in those seats where the non-UKIP vote is split evenly between Tory and Labour, on the grounds that UKIP would necessarily require a smaller share of the vote to come through the middle and win. The problem with this scenario is that such seats tend to have a 2-party hegemony which result in third or forth parties being squeezed out of the race. (I know this from my own bitter experience in the SDP in the 1980s: I specifically targeted a Tory/Labour marginal ward in the north of the Croydon borough for a 3-year community politics campaign leading up to the 1986 locals. My theory was that we could win with as little as 34% of the vote (because the non-SDP vote would be split evenly) but what I didn’t allow for was the low SDP base and the historically strong Labour and particularly Tory organisation in the ward: they both used the ‘wasted vote’ argument relentlessly and whilst the SDP vote did rise from 16% to 25% we really didn’t get within spitting distance.

    Meanwhile, in the South of the borough (in both Coulsdon East and Croham) where the tactical vote squeeze was on Labour we polled appreciably better – around 40% – but this, too, was not enough, because over 80% of the non-SDP vote went to the Tories.

    It’s a cruel world trying to break through in a 2-party system when you’re a third or fourth force, Pete. But let’s take a look at each of the seats you highlight…

    Boston & Skegness – the Tories got around half the vote last time (and a 29% lead over their nearest challenger). True, UKIP polled 9% but I reckon they’d need to be pushing 40% to take this one. That’s a tough order on only 25% nationally.

    Great Yarmouth – this Tory-held seat’s marginality would probably mean UKIP could win here with as little as 30% of the vote but it’s because of that marginality that they would be unlikely to poll so well. After all, it has been Labour in the recent past (and is presumably a Labour target) so the kippers would be in a squeeze situation.

    Great Grimsby – UKIP polled 6% here in 2010 but it’s a tight Labour-held marginal would could conceivably go Tory if the Conservatives recover before 2015 and I doubt electors would risk wasting their vote here.

    Clacton – UKIP didn’t even stand here last time, and the Tories have an overall majority of the vote. Can’t see this being a UKIP gain with only 25% nationally.

    Castle Point – a pretty solid Tory majority in 2010, not sure how UKIP would challenge here from what is a standing start.

    Thanet North – a 6.5% UKIP share but with a solidly right wing incumbent Tory MP who commanded an overall majority of votes last time, I can’t see this one falling.

    Folkestone & Hythe – a 5% UKIP vote but with the Tories on nearly 50% I can’t see it happening for the kippers here either.

    Worthing East & Shoreham – a credible 6% UKIP vote but again the non-UKIP vote is concentrated fairly heavily in the Tory column meaning a pretty high threshold for a UKIP breakthrough.

    Bognor Regis & Littlehampton – UKIP on 6% and the Tories with an overall majority of votes cast last time. See above.

    NW Cambridgeshire – UKIP had 8% here but again the Tories had an overall majority at the last time of asking so they would be difficult to topple.

    Torbay – You’re kidding aren’t you? This is a classic Lib Dem/Tory marginal, and much of its electorate will be fully aware of that fact.

    I realise that regardless of previous voting figures there are some parts of the country which are more culturally conservative than others, but I can’t really see the skew happening enough in any of these seats – with the possible exception of Boston & Skegness – for UKIP to break through against the background of a national 25% vote share.

  30. Although on the other hand Torbay is a seat where you could get each of Con, LD and UKIP on about 28% with Labour on around 15%.

  31. “Logically the BBC methodology makes sense, though whether it’s accurate is another matter.”

    I’m not sure that it does actually. If UKIP have increased by say 19 percentage points in the shire counties it doesn’t follow that UKIP would also increase by 19 percentage points in London, Scotland and Wales IMO.

  32. I think Robin Hood is looking at this the wrong way around. How can UKIP realistically get to 25% of the vote nationaly? Given there are regions where we agree they are weak and will get much less than that (eg London and Scotland) it follows that they will have a higher share in other regions – say nearer 30% in somewhere like the East Midlands. Now if UKIP are getting 30% in the East Midlands again it is not going to be uniform. They are not goign to get much more than 10% in the Leicester seats for example. It therefore follows again that they must be getting more than 30% in some other seats, logically those in Lincolnshire where they performed strongly last week. All you say about the likelihood of UKIPw inning in the indivisual seats mentioned is true as far as it goes. BUt if UKIP were not achieveing well in excess of 30 or 35% in seats like that, then they would not be getting anywhere near 25% of the vote nationally

  33. @ Pete Whitehead

    Why not look at it another way: did UKIP actually win any parliamentary seats last Thursday (on the basis of adding up the aggregate votes cast in the wards which make up each parliamentary constituency?). Admittedly these figures would not reflect the likely tactical factors that would be operative had it been real parliamentary elections, but it might give us a guide nonetheless.

  34. “did UKIP actually win any parliamentary seats last Thursday (on the basis of adding up the aggregate votes cast in the wards which make up each parliamentary constituency?)”

    Yes they did. I posted the figures for Aylesbury on the relevant thread which is one that they did. Most of those which I mentioned and which ahd elections did. I haven’t aggregated the votes in all that many areas yet so I will return with a full list when I have. You can add Sittingbourne & Sheppey to the list. Thanet North is a cert as UKIP won all but a couple of seats within the constituency and Thanet South is probable too

  35. Boston & Skegness
    Forest of Dean
    Great Yarmouth

  36. And of course the Liberals have won seats with national vote shares well below 25%. The key to this is whether UKIP can build on their recent rise in support and entrench it sufficiently to win parliamentary seats.

    This isn’t a given – they ‘carried’ various seats in the euro elections in the past but this didn’t translate into a similar level of support at subsequent Westminster elections.

  37. @ Pete

    Thanks for that information – I genuinely wasn’t aware that UKIP had won the aggregate vote in any constituencies last Thursday and am slightly perplexed as to why I did not hear about this on any of the television news media.

    Even so, in a General Election situation, where there are tactical considerations (of the kind I specified in my list above) to be factored into the equation it might be a different situation. For example, I remember in the 1989 West London Euro parliamentary seat how well Labour’s Michael Elliott did in the then Richmond & Barnes area, only for Labour’s vote there to be squeezed right down when the usual 2-party hegemony reasserted itself at the subsequent (1992) general election.

    Nonetheless, if what you say is true then perhaps UKIP would make a few parliamentary gains on the basis of a 25% share, although I suspect we’ll never know.

  38. I am very suspicious about the projected 29% for labour in any case. I think it is very difficult to predict when such entirely different seats are being considered – and these turnouts make it even more difficult.

    Undoubtedly UKIP will take more votes from Tory than Labour and most of the seats in which they challenge most strongly are Tory-held.
    Thus, the idea that the Tories will just sail back into power is bizarre indeed.
    If the Greens can target one seat and win it, there is no reason why UKIP shouldn’t do the same in a few they challenge in.

    Whether Labour gain an outright majority or not is another matter, but frankly it doesn’t really matter if they fall behind in Lincolnshire, where there is only one seat they are likely to win.

    The unitaries and mets appear to be much better for Labour in any case: indeed, the South Shields result was fine – its a mega safe seat, the ConDem vote nearly disappeared, and the MP scarpered to earn a fast buck in the states rather than died.

    Labour did pretty well in terms of targetting their best seats and as we all know, local elections can only tell you so much. I certainly don’t think there is much to suggest from these results that Cameron will be raising his tally of seats whereas Labour certainly will. Remember – UKIP did not win a single seat FROM Labour.

  39. Also – Labour’s share of the poll isn’t evenly distributed either. So, Labour may do badly in Cambridgeshire, but they can win Cambridge. We may not have done as well in Great Yarmouth as we had hoped because of UKIP but we still got half the county council wards – and we are well ahead of the Tories, so to say we couldn’t win the seat in 2015 is overly pessimistic. And we will win the Norwich seats, I am sure. There aren’t any other seats in Norfolk we are either likely to win or need to win

  40. Mersey Mike- I agree with you that Labour is doing well in the unitaries and the mets. I also believe that Labour will be the largest party in 2015. Nevertheless, if Labour want to win a workable overall majority, they are going to have to win a fair amount of marginals in small town England. And on the basis of last week’s results, I don’t see that happening. Leads of just 3% in places like Crawley at this stage in the Parliament are really nothing to write home about.

  41. I think even on the share of votes suggested they would have a small majority of between 4 and 10, but certainly to get a majority of say, 30-40, they would need to win some smaller towns. The issue of where the LD vote goes and how much UKIP can hold on to the protest votes will be important. Its just too early to say. The usual rules don’t apply after the coalition, either.

    I don’t think a majority of more than 40 is at all likely – for anyone. That is a good thing. Large majorities often make for either unresponsive or timid government as there is the tendency to be come complacent or fearful of the loss of seats which should have never been won in the first place!

  42. @ Robin Hood – I don’t look at the averages on the front page as different polling companies have different methodology and are measuring different things. For example ICM by reallocating 50% of don’t knows to the party they voted for last time are trying to predict what would happen at a future election whereas YouGov are measuring how people would vote today if there was a general election by not reallocating don’t knows at all. My prediction is just a hunch based on previous election results. I’m not predicting Labour will be the main beneficiaries of a fall in UKIP support. I’m going on the General Election result. Polling shows 50% of UKIP support is former Tory voters with the other 50% made up of Labour, Lib Dem and non-voters so obviously they hurt the Tories the most. Also we have to calm down about a local election result in the shires. Firstly people vote differently in local to GE. Second only 1/3 of people in these areas voted. At least 2/3 will vote in GE (these areas have higher turnout than inner city areas that didn’t vote last Thursday). Thirdly people are voting on the basis of wild tabloid predictions about Romanian and Bulgarian immigration. When that doesn’t happen on the scale predicted the Europe issue will fall down the agenda (not completely but to a large extent). Indeed it still isn’t that high on people’s concerns when asked in polls. Of course UKIP is wise to link it to immigration given how high up voters concerns this is.

    So my prediction of Labour 38, Conservative 30, Lib Dem 15 and UKIP 10 is based on Tories losing votes to UKIP, Labour picking up former Lib Dem voters but not going up 10% on GE score as they lose some to UKIP and Lib Dems losing the vast majority of their former voters to Labour.

  43. Surprised this thread has gone so quiet.

    There is at least as high chance of a by-election here as in Newark.

    Despite all the public messages of support, nobody who knows Westminster from the inside is very surprised by the allegations against Nigel Evans.

    A fourth alleged victim has now made a complaint.

    Maybe this will be UKIP’s first seat. After all it has a history of kicking the Tories in by-elections.

  44. If a by-election did happen (for whatever reason) between now and 2015, it would be interesting. Some have suggested Labour could win but I personally don’t buy that. The areas which joined the seat before 2010 are not overwhelmingly Labour and the 2013 local elections saw barely any improvement in the Labour vote from 2010. So it would probably be a Tory-UKIP fight. In those circumstances, perhaps the Tories should do what the Lib Dems did in Eastleigh and field an unpretentious local councillor (if one was willing) to get out the core vote.

  45. Surely farrage won’t stand though as he’ll be on the doleat the general election. Maybe better if he shows comsistency on where he stands. The obvious choicwe is to get rid of that odious speaker unless tories decide to break convention and stand whichb I wpouldn’t blame them for. Sorry for yhe spely mistakes, I’m on my mobile after the dribks in the sun. I’m sutre farrage wouldnkt really be on the dole if he lost his seat.

  46. Not that the speaker is literally odious of course. Satire.

  47. Anthony, please remove these two illiterate posts above of mine. Apologoies. Joe

  48. Thats some pretty bad spelling for before 3 in the afternoon JJB.

  49. sun rises early over the yardarm for the Twickenham Conservative Association 🙂

  50. Many years ago a friend of mine who is still a Tory councillor told me a quite disturbing story about Nigel Evans (although I should say that the story did not allege anything illegal).

    At the time of the section 28 repeal debate in 2000, a group of gay rights activists posted several pages of very colourful allegations about Nigel Evans’ private life on a website which was swiftly taken down by legal threats after a couple of days.

    Therefore although we don’t know whether he is guilty of what is being alleged, things such as the above which have swirled around Westminster for years do leave him very vulnerable as they may well be dug up during any trial and could fatally damage his political career even if he is found innocent of these charges.

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