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. By the prosecution – not the defence??!

  2. I thought the same… surely they are character witnesses not witnesses to the “events”..

  3. According to other media Bercow IS a prosecution witness. Not clear about the others.

  4. This morning it has been reported that they are all prosecution witness.

    Michael Crick wrote: “Nine MPs, inc John Bercow & Patrick McLoughlin, & two ex-MPs, incl Lembit Opik are possible prosecution witnesses in Nigel Evans trial”

    The jury heard alleged victims today and it’s emerging why some of these MPs will be called.

    From Helen Pidd’s twitter feeds:

    “The 4th complainant reported alleged sex assault to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin and John Randall, then chief & deputy Tory whips.”

    “Nigel Evans’s 4th alleged victim reported the alleged sexual assault to Michael Fabricant MP, a Tory whip, in the summer of 2009.”

    “Evans’ 2nd alleged victim reported the groping to Nirj Deva MEP who told Evans:” Nigel, you’re pissed. Time for you to go to bed.”

    “The man allegedly raped by Nigel Evans in March ’13 spoke to Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, who reported it to John Bercow, parliamentary speaker.”

    “After Bercow and Wollaston intervened, the police became involved.”

  5. Evans’ drunken and sleazy behaviour has been well known at Westminster for decades. The question is whether the behaviour crossed the line between sleazy/creepy and being illegal. It’s not at all easy to prove that.

  6. “Evans’ drunken and sleazy behaviour has been well known at Westminster for decades”

    Bit odd how he managed to be elected deputy speaker in that case.

  7. Why? You don’t think that drink and debauchery aren’t extremely common – and tolerated – at Westminster? Evans’ private life is certainly most likely the reason why he has never achieved ministerial office nor been a high-ranking shadow spokesman. Deputy speaker isn’t thought of as a very important job.

  8. Even so he has been thought worthy enough to be elected to a position by his fellow MP’s. The accusations against him look very strong, and if a cover up emerges it could do serious damage to westminster.

    My gut feeling is this story could be a much bigger than anyone predicted.

  9. I really think we should wait for a verdict.

  10. I’m not passing any view on what he’s being tried for…..as I said, they are extremely difficult allegations to prove, in terms of being beyond all reasonable doubt that illegality occurred.

    That is a different issue from stating that Evans’ behaviour is often drink-fuelled and sleazy, which it looks as if is being admitted by his own colleagues and even himself.

  11. My comments were speculating on what damage could be done to Westminster by evidence from the Trial. Nevertheless i’m in danger of overstepping the mark.

    I will wait for the verdict before commenting on this page again.

  12. Not sure much damage would stick to either Westminster or the government. Public respect for politicians can’t go much lower, and sex scandals are rarely blamed on anyone but the individuals concerned, unless in the middle of a back to basics morality crusade.

    I firmly believe that, regardless of the verdict, Evans will not be a candidate for re-election in 2015. In the event of a conviction, of course, he may well have to stand down earlier.

  13. The Independent and Telegraph are running tomorrow with the alleged cover up of the allegations by the Conservative Party and that he was allowed to stand in 2010. The list of witnesses (upto half are gay/bi) is interesting and not the impression given of homophobic MPs attending police stations in support of Parliamentary staff.

  14. Yes I noticed that as well. It’s almost as if the prosecution deliberately picked gay colleagues as witnesses.

    Nobody who has been in the conference hotel bar at 1am during a Tory party conference will be in the least surprised to hear such allegations. Pretty young researchers, female and male alike, have always had to run this kind of gauntlet with a significant minority of self-important, sleazy MPs, with their colleagues tending to turn a blind eye.

  15. It sounds like you have had to evade Evans’ wandering hand yourself Hemmelig!

    This case seems not to be about whether he has engaged in such behaviour, but whether it crossed the line.

  16. No I haven’t, though I have heard many stories about Evans over the years, and observed a few Tory MPs operating in a similar manner (fortunately not on me). Perhaps because I have never been interested in a political career.

  17. Joe R – and whether victims report the assaults to police. When two did, then others came forward. Yes, HH. A cultural/generational change has occurred. Newly elected gay Tory MPs clearly don’t believe this is acceptable behaviour, unlike older closeted MPs on the backbenches.

  18. HH – he was Shadow Secretary of State for Wales at the time of some of the alleged offences. But I agree it may be why he wasn’t high ranking again afterwards.

  19. Drunken and sleazy behaviour – well if we locked up everyone who had done that, then we would have very full prisons indeed

    I do think, though, that we need to bear in mind that the older bloke, who came out later in life, often behaves like an oversexed adolescent and if a drink problem is also involved, this sort of behaviour can continue. It doesn’t sound as if many of those involved took action at the time – and in these sort of circumstances, the power is often with the younger, good looking man, who ensures they get as much as they can from the older man desperate for their company and approval

    I hope as people feel able to come out earlier that there will be less of these sort of situations in the future

  20. Yes, they are all very good points.

    As I said upthread, I don’t think these things are at all easy to prove in terms of illegality definitely having taken place, especially not 10+ years after the event.

    Your first point is a pertinent one as well, and such behaviour is certainly more common in parliament than outside it, especially these days. That may explain the degree of support Evans has had from colleagues, and all the covering up they have done and blind eyes they have turned. People in glass houses, etc.

  21. ” It doesn’t sound as if many of those involved took action at the time – and in these sort of circumstances, the power is often with the younger, good looking man, who ensures they get as much as they can from the older man desperate for their company and approval.”

    That’s apologistic nonsense and let’s bare in mind, while this particular case is male-male, more commonly translates into a misogynistic one.

  22. This reminded me of Tom Driberg… so I looked him up and stumbled on Lord Boothby… apparently the Queen Mother said of him that he was a “bounder but not a cad”… not sure how anyone these days could parse that difference..

  23. “let’s bare in mind”

    Boom boom!

  24. No, Hannah – its very specifically applied in my comments to some aspects of the gay scene, which I do have some knowledge of.

    If you don’t recognise this I would suggest you don;t have that knowledge

    I’m not necessarily saying its ‘good’ or healthy, but those situations still exist, and to portray confident young men on the make as victims is naive.

  25. Merseymike – Except the evidence is that they weren’t all confident young men and he first met one when he was aged 15. Grooming wasn’t an offence at the time, hence the charges the CPS brought. Alcohol may have prompted the acts, but doesn’t excuse the cover up. HH is correct that similar instances have occurred at Party Conferences [Charles Hendry MP’s aide’s drink was spiked at a Conf as reported at the time]. A journalist brushed Evans’ hand away on one occasion.

  26. Let’s hear what he has to say in response first. Excuse me for being sceptical, but I’ve seen people try and take advantage of people in this sort of situation before.

    I wasn’t aware that some of this stuff, as HH points out, was illegal – it may not be very sensible but being a drunken letch isn’t worthy of a court case in itself.

  27. Can I share with you my favourite anecdote about sleazy Tory MPs at conference.

    A beautiful young (female) researcher was getting fed up with drunk MPs propositioning her. She told one letchy MP to give her his spare hotel room key and to wait for her naked on his bed at 3am, when she would come in and have sex with him.

    She took the spare key to his room, and later gave it to another MP who was propositioning her, telling him to let himself into the room at 3am where she would be waiting on the bed.

    There were apparently two very red faces on the conference podium the next morning!

  28. If there is a by-election here it would be interesting.
    I guess the Tories would stand a good chance with a new candidate and a weakened LD party – I think Labour would come a clear second and UKIP and the LDs fighting out for third.

  29. It would be an embarrassing by-election for the Tories and 6 months ago UKIP could well have run them very close.

    Today I think they would perhaps hold on more comfortably, though I’m not sure Labour’s second place would be all that certain.

  30. Oh I think so – the point I think you made that UKIP are stronger on the eastern side of the country except the SW is very perceptive.

    I am not 100% sure we’d hold the by-election but think we would be ok with the LDs low and a new candidate.

  31. I don’t know this area well but I think there would be a ceiling on Labour’s vote of under 30%.
    I think UKIP and the LDs would compete with each other on about 15-17%
    so would probably hold on with about 38%

  32. If he is found guilty then he may be incarcerated and banged up in the slammer.

  33. Prediction for 2015- (If Nigel Evans is still Conservative candidate)-
    Evans (Conservative)- 42%
    Labour- 26%
    UKIP- 15%
    Liberal Democrat- 11%
    Assorted variety of others- 6%, which could include-
    Green Party- 2%
    Several Independents combined- 2%
    Minor parties- 2% (i.e. Pirate Party, Monster Raving Loony etc. etc.)

  34. The jury have retired to consider the evidence. Verdicts expected next week before the Easter break.

  35. “If he is found guilty then he may be incarcerated and banged up in the slammer.”

    Thanks for that useful piece of information.

  36. Williams (Con) 12,145
    Helmer (UKIP) 10,841
    Anderson (Lab) 9,195
    Watkins (LD) 6,641
    Pell (Green) 1,011

  37. Does anyone like my prediction?

  38. I agree with the LDs in fourth place which would be a bit depressing for them in comparison to the 1991 by-election spectacular.

  39. ‘I agree with the LDs in fourth place which would be a bit depressing for them in comparison to the 1991 by-election spectacular.’

    That’s certainly true but boundary changes prior to 2010 make this seat quite different from the Ribble Valley the Lib Dems won in 1991

  40. My prediction is a joke – I think the Labour will be 2nd – probably

  41. I think the results since 1992 without the 1991 by-election here would have been- (Including on the old boundaries in 2010)
    Conservative- 60.6%
    Labour- 21.3%
    Liberal Democrat- 16.6%
    Others- 1.5%
    Majority- 39.3%

    Conservative- 49.4%
    Labour- 30.1%
    Liberal Democrat- 15.6%
    Others- 4.9%
    Majority- 19.3%

    Conservative- 50.4%
    Labour- 27.6%
    Liberal Democrat- 17.1%
    Others- 4.9%
    Majority- 22.8%

    Conservative- 51.1%
    Labour- 22.1%
    Liberal Democrat- 20.8%
    Others- 6.0%
    Majority- 29.0%

    Conservative- 54.8%
    Liberal Democrat- 21.8%
    Labour- 15.9%
    Others- 7.5%
    Majority- 33.0%

  42. Not guilty of all charges.

  43. Not surprised

  44. And that’s that.

  45. Not quite though because it shows that some in this forum are very quick to throw the first stone … and it keeps happening over and over…

    Thank goodness lynching is out these days or they would be donning their KKK hoods and dispensing rough justice..

  46. I’m not sure that is that, though, with regards to the behaviour. Regardless of whether there’s provable criminal culpability, I don’t think this is the sort of behaviour we should accept from an MP:


  47. I wonder if H Hemmelig will now feel able to share some of his “stories.”

  48. The police & CPS look to have misjudged this – another high profile failure. Faint whiff of the Popish Plot…

  49. Agree with Hannah. Evans does not come out of this very well, and I don’t imagine for a minute that he will ever find preferment again.

  50. “I wonder if H Hemmelig will now feel able to share some of his “stories.””

    Fair enough I will share one of them.

    A Tory MP and a Tory councillor of my acquaintance were invited by Evans to attend an election night party at Evans’ London flat for the 1996 US Presidential Election. The MP and my friend arrived and were astonished to find the room full of very young men, none older than about 21, with Evans flirting and cavorting around all of them. Needless to say the MP and my friend made embarrassed excuses and left after a few minutes. The MP in question is still in the commons, by the way.

    The story fits in very well with much of the stuff which came out in the trial and which Evans indeed admitted to. However, as Merseymike also said, the fact is that being sleazy generally isn’t illegal and it’s exceptionally difficult to prove otherwise. That was obviously the weakness in the case and it probably should never have been brought.

    Dr John’s point is also a good one. The revelations of the trial will perhaps not help Evans with his constituency party or his electorate. We’ll have to see.

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