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. Appears that the points I made were largely taken on board by the jury.
    I think the right decision has bern reached and I hope this will be the last of this sort of poorly evidenced and probably malicious case.
    I am glad that juries aren’t easily taken in.

  2. There’s a lot in what you say. It will be really interesting to see what the verdict is on Max Clifford.

  3. NOC

  4. Totally agree with Merseymike.

  5. I find it astonishing that some MPs are stating that a prosecution should not be brought simply because a jury acquits. That is the point of juries. One third are acquitted at Crown Court daily. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t evidence – merely that all (or in some cases 10 of the 12) jury members were not convinced beyond reasonable doubt. I suggest people have a look at the front page of The Independent in case people doubt what goes on at Westminster (and Conference as HH mentioned). It may be that civil action should be the recourse for sexual harrassment, but employment law appears not to exist within the Palace of Westminster. In this specific case, I very much doubt that the ‘victim’ who appeared in last night’s Newsnight in silhouette, will want to, as he was a timid student who hated being ridiculed and smirked at by the defence QC. I feel sorry for Nigel Evans not least because he faces legal bills of £120k and his problems with alcohol. But I don’t believe the actions admitted and reported are what we would want if selecting a Candidate or MP. But given that he is a sitting MP, the Whip may well be restored after Easter and in time for him to be a PPC again. Apparently it goes before a panel. My sympathies are with the researchers in their 20s rather than MPs in their 50s who hold all the power and patronage contrary to what some have said. However I won’t name/out gay married MPs, although several are widely known. The culture has to change, from expenses to this. Mini rant over!

  6. I don’t think that these researchers in their 20s are quite as powerless as you suggest Lancs.

  7. They’re not suggesting a prosecution shouldn’t be brought simply because a jury acquits. What they are instead suggesting is that there appears to be a rampant culture towards chasing prosecutions currently (see Yewtree), including the bulking up of cases with extra “offences” based on the flimsiest of evidence.

    This is dangerous on two counts – firstly that the credibility of the CPS is being damaged by all these “famous” cases ending with acquittal, and secondly that cases are possibly failing due to these extra charges causing the main thrust of the case to lose credibility, which could in turn cause guilty people to go free due to jurors seeing the dafter charges go before them and acquitting on all counts.

    In my opinion the CPS has been like a dog with a bone since the Savile accusations emerged and needs to rein itself in somewhat. Innocent lives can be ruined by this.

  8. Jason – I recognise that could be a danger. But quite apart from separation of powers, I’m amazed at MPs questioning the CPS when 8 Parliamentarians have been jailed in recent years. Remember, we would never have known but for the Telegraph. Plus, remember that eg the NW CPS has secured 47 convictions of mulitiple sex offenders of high profile paedophile priests, Asian grooming gangs and a NW newsreader. Savile and Sir Cyril were never convicted but that doesn’t mean they were innocent. The scandal is that prosecutions were not brought IMHO, but the inquiries are ongoing.

  9. You are now conflating two different issues though. The jailed MPs have mostly been caught out on corruption issues, and rightly so.

    As mentioned by other posters what is concerning about the Evans case is the flimsy nature of the evidence.

    In particular, the attempt to add/fabricate additional charges to the main complaint was clearly an attempt to sway the jury by making Evans look like a ‘serial offender’ – a Westminster Saville if you like. And these extra charges were laid despite the supposed victims not seeing themselves as such and telling the police & authorities precisely that.

    These kind of tactics are a danger to justice and certainly damage the credibility of the CPS. I have no problem with MPs saying that – the CPS is not above criticism.

  10. I agree that the main reason the prosecution failed is that 3 did not see themselves as victims. The police and CPS is used to this and it was also the case with victims of Asian grooming gangs (and a recent domestic violence case of boiling water being poured on the victim). I concede the difference is that minors ie 15 and under cannot consent to sex whereas the youngest was 19 in the Nigel Evans’ trial. Runnymede – the principle is the same. MPs don’t want their misdemeanours opened up to scrutiny. I think the only MP who can criticise the CPS in the House is the Attorney General, who can intervene, although does so rarely.

  11. There’s an enormous difference between a child who doesn’t think they’re a victim and an adult. An adult who doesn’t think they’re a victim is, by definition, right 99% of the time. You do very occasionally have cases where adults have been brainwashed but it’s extremely rare.

  12. Andy JS – yes I tend to agree. I meant to say that I was stating the legal position above rather than my thoughts. The law states that a minor cannot consent to sexual acts. That age is now under 16 for all. Exceptions are pupils aged 16-19 in schools or care homes where the teacher/caretaker abuses them or adults who lack mental capacity. In reality here prosecutions only usually occur where the offender isn’t a youth (25+) and the victim is a minor, to avoid prosecuting eg a 17yo with a 15yo boy/girfriend unlike in the USA where statutory rape is common in some States.

  13. As Andy says, extending the principle used for children to grown men is a real stretch. And the authorities know this perfectly well but went ahead anyway, which was foolish and reckless both from the perspectives of justice and their own reputation.

    And the idea that the CPS should somehow be above criticism by politicians makes no sense. Like all public bodies it must be open to scrutiny – that is not the same thing as politicians actually interfering in its decisions which certainly would be wrong.

  14. “I don’t think that these researchers in their 20s are quite as powerless as you suggest Lancs.”

    What objective power do they have that equals or exceeds that of an MP. Having to put up with the dubious attentions of someone twice your age in order to get by is not evidence of power, rather the absence of it.

    Regarding whether they saw themselves as victims in the criminal sense or not: they admitted to being offended upset or angered by the behaviour at the time, they just didn’t want to take it further. There’s still a stigma attached to characterising yourself as a victim, especially of sexual assault, perhaps more so for a man, as evidenced here. It can be seen as a sign of weakness, and hence there can be a pressure to minimise things. That doesn’t change the objective nature of the acts, as consent isn’t a function of the degree to which the target is distressed after the fact.

    What it really shows, and what, I suspect the CPS was trying to demonstrate, was that he had a propensity for this kind of conduct, although some of the targets were able to shake it off more easily than others.

  15. ah yes..suggesting drunken fumbles or clumsy passes imply a predilection for rape. Fortunately the jury wasn’t convinced by rubbish like that.

  16. I suspect Evans will find it very hard to stay on as an MP after all this. “Things will never be the same again” seems to imply that he’ll stand down, if nothing else to force himself away from such a self-destructive lifestyle.

    Douglas Murray, whom I generally dislike when he’s being a paranoid neo-con, wrote a really good article the other day about how society might start to get much more intolerant of sleazy/promiscuous homosexual lifestyles now that gay people are free to marry. A very interesting thought.

  17. HH – that’s a good point. Andrew Pierce also noted this and that Outrage! had never supported gay marriage until 2 years ago. Runnymede – R v Brown (see eg wiki) is the leading infamous case on consent and adults, when gay sadomasochists were convicted of assault even though they consented and lost their Appeals. I’m not, of course. suggesting Nigel Evans partakes in this. Re the CPS, I think it’s just a rule of the House that Parliamentarians cannot criticise the Crown and all prosecutions occur as such: Regina v. That doesn’t mean the MoJ can’t be criticised for the administration it’s also a convention that members of the Govt can’t criticise a Judge’s sentencing. Although many backbenchers do. But I’m sure pressure occurs behind the scenes between the Executive v the Judiciary and MI5 and not just in episodes of Judge John Deed or Spooks.

  18. To a large extent, though, Nigel Evans represents the old school of long-closeted old-school gays who tend to behave in ways which aren’t ideal – but. frankly, hardly ‘criminal’. I agree with runnymede – some people, particularly those who cannot accept that so-called victims are often entirely compliant and consenting when it suits them to be so, really need to get out a bit more and recognise that you cannot apply simplistic feminist dogmas to every situation, particularly when the participants are not women….

  19. Quite right Mike

  20. “…particularly those who cannot accept that so-called victims are often entirely compliant and consenting when it suits them to be so.”

    To parse this, compliance and consent aren’t necessarily the same thing, and what does “when it suits them” really mean in this context? Often that they’ve been put in the situation where “compliance” is required to protect their positions. Having just watched the Newsnight interview, the complainant interviewed certainly didn’t come across that he’d benefited front this in any way.

    “…suggesting drunken fumbles or clumsy passes imply a predilection for rape. ”

    Well, besides from potentially amounting to sexual assault in and of itself, it could suggest a predilection for crossing boundaries, which can sometimes escalate to rape if they feel they can get away with it.

    From the Guardian article:

    “”It was like we were out one night and the shadow secretary of state for Wales put his hand down my trousers. Crazy, crazy Westminster. It seemed so funny,”

    I don’t think that’s the sort of thing that should be simply shrugged off as a “clumsy pass.”

  21. It’s interesting how gay people seem to be heavily over-represented in the political arena. Reliable figures show the percentage in the population is 1-2% (as against 10% posited by various pressure groups). Therefore the number of gay MPs ought to be between 6 and 13, but I get the sense it’s a lot higher.

  22. The number is about 60, according to Matthew Parris. As the number of female MPs has substantially increased, the number of gay MPs has perhaps fallen a bit since the 80s and 90s

  23. It’s a sign of the culture of parties that I know a lot of things were in place for a by election here if Evans was convicted or resigned on the steps of Preston Crown Court. I didn’t take ‘things will never be the same’ to mean he will stand down after Easter etc., but I do wonder if he’ll ‘be resigned’ on the quiet after the election.

  24. H. Hemmelig. I agree with you about the number of homosexual MPs. However, I would point out that an increased number of female MPs does not necessarily mean that the number of homosexual MPs will decrease.

  25. I agree Hannah. HH – I think the 60 figure is about right, maybe upto 80 MPs. FS – that’s true, I can think of 3 lesbian MPs who aren’t out but widely known amongst Party members and journalists.

  26. The Independent front page leads with the gay sex party at Tory Conference that was apparently paid for on expenses. It also name checks a couple of married MPs who run/ran the PRU.

  27. “Former Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans has demanded that the law chiefs who prosecuted him for rape and sex assaults be forced to pay his £130,000 legal expenses after he was found not guilty.
    And he has called for a review of anonymity rules that allowed his seven male accusers to keep their identities secret while he has been reduced to personal and financial ruin.”


  28. I don’t think the ‘complainant’ found out to be a liar and then given free publicity to further promote his lies on Newsnight should be given any time or attention, apart from perhaps a conviction for perjury and wasting police time.

    Ambitious and on the make, then regretted what he did and acts the ‘victim’.

  29. The 1-2% figure really isn’t very reliable – it assumes that people will tell researchers their sexual orientation and for all sorts of reasons, that doesn’t happen.

    Gay men are less likely to have children and I’m sure that makes a difference with regard to political ambition and the ability to carry it through

    But are we talking openly gay MP’s or closeted and married ones?

  30. Of course the complainant wasn’t found to be lying or to have perjured, Mike. Simply that after 8 hours the jury had reasonable doubts as to the guilt and therefore had to acquit. That’s why the criminal burden in our system is so much higher than the 51% civil burden. I think HH meant all gay MPs as did Matthew Parris. Out MPs is only half that number. It’s a bit rich for Nigel Evans to moan about his legal bills when he voted for cuts and fixed costs in the MoJ and instructed a QC.

  31. I am not entirely unsympathetic to the last point but he had no choice but to defend himself with a decent lawyer. After all that is what can sometimes make the difference.
    Otherwise I disagree. I am fed up with all these so calked victims on the make. He must be so upset by the lack of compensation. …
    Its impossible to say the number if we are talking about closeted MPs. But I would suggest the number in society is much larger than many imagine

  32. Going back to some of your previous comment Lancs Observer, I agree that all MP’s (including Nigel Evans) have to be very careful what they say when it comes to commenting upon the conduct of the CPS. I’ve believed for a long time now that MP’s in general don’t have enough regard for the importance of the independence of the judiciary.

    I used to be in favour of ending the right to automatic anonymity for victims in rape and sexual abuse cases unless they can prove that making their identity public will significantly increase their likelihood of being a future victim of crime. But this case has highlighted important issues relating to burdens of proof that have made me change my mind. Just because I jury has reasonable doubts about a persons allegations, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re telling a pack of lies, and removing anonymity would have the effect of moving trials from courts of law to the court of public opinion, which knowing the media in this country can’t be a good thing.

    It might be a good idea to develop a system whereby a judge can request to that a persons right to anonymity be removed after trail if they believe they’re allegations were frivolous to the point where they should be held publicly accountable for them. But that would require the development of a new burden of proof.

    With regard to the age of consent, that’s another area where I feel the law needs bringing into line with the modern age. Children aged 13 -16 should be able to consent to sexual activity with another child/young person so long as the age gap is less than 3 years. That would give legal protection to children who are victims of sexual abuse at the hands of other children, since they would be legally able to state whether they consented to sexual activity of not. This compares to the current situation where they law doesn’t distinguish between a 15 year old innocently having sex with their partner of the same age, and raping another child.

  33. I agree with your last sentence, or rather quite a number seem to be bisexual. I – and HH probably meant – the number of MPs who it is widely known are gay in Westminster, but are not out. I can easily think of a dozen. If Nigel wants to, he can pay his silk even more to make an application for Costs from central funds and see how far that gets him, given that the Trial judge stated he had been evasive and less than helpful in stating he couldn’t remember eight times. Even if you believe they were all only drunken passes, the reason for the length of the trial, was because there were so many of them. Although given Nigel’s expenses’ record of overseas trips at our expense, I am not surprised by his sense of entitlement.

  34. Just to be clear I was replying to Merseymike. Adam – I agree, except with your final paragraph. Some European countries – interestingly mainly RC ones such as Spain – have very low ages of consent such as 12. Sadly, that didn’t lessen the extent of child abuse, it simply enables them to say they have less underage sex or paedophile priests than other countries.

  35. I’ve just got around to reading Nigel Evans’ interview/response in the Mail. He states that he is now “penniless” after legal bills. I assume he still has assets ie the house, as bankruptcy would cause a by-election. His anger seems to be directed at Dr Sarah Woolaston as she was the only MP to get the police involved (even though other MPs had heard the allegations). He states he will “drink less and be much more careful.” Interestingly he doesn’t deny the allegations when put to him again. ‘He smiled and said, “I did not admit putting my hand down anyone’s trousers.” ‘ I doubt he’ll be sueing for defamation now that the allegations have been repeated on air and in print. He states that he hopes to have the Whip restored and seek reselection in Ribble Valley.

  36. “Some European countries – interestingly mainly RC ones such as Spain – have very low ages of consent such as 12.”

    Spain has raised it to 16:


    Many of the European countries with lower ages actually have quite sound laws that safeguard the younger party (often up to age 18) against predatory older people while not criminalising two young kids for a fumble behind the bike sheds.

  37. Nigel Evans is now facing civil action, according to Order Order and tomorrow’s edition of two papers. The complainant/claimant is quoted as being appalled by Evans’ comments in yesterday’s Mail and in interviews today. The Tory Party declined to comment on when the Party Whip decision would be made, simply stating that, “Parliament is in Recess.”

  38. Re the Evans Case, I am sympathetic to those accused of sexual crimes being granted anonymity.

    I understand this was the case between 1977 and 1988 when a Conservative Government removed it (probably to be “tough on crime”). Ironic that a Conservative MP should suddenly be in favour of such anonymity…

    However, accusers MUST have their anonymity preserved.

  39. Thanks RR – I didn’t know that re Spain. Glad to hear it.

  40. The trouble is that, here in the UK, the whole debate about sexual offences has become thoroughly overheated and volatile for various reasons. It’s good to read the generally measured and thoughtful contributions on this site – truly puts others to shame. Part ‘Daily Mail’ simultaneous prurience and censoriousness, part post-Savile over-reaction, part British double standards, part all-sorts-of-other-things. Keeping a balanced and sensible view about these things when extremists on both the ‘believe’ and the ‘disbelieve’ sides shout their ideologies from the housetops is fiendishly difficult.

  41. Nigel Evans faces a deselection vote by his Association Executive in 10 days’ time. The Telegraph states that a third of members in Ribble Valley think he should go. They’re also unhappy that the Whips failed to inform the Exec of their warning to the MP about his behaviour.

  42. Very interesting that at least some of the complaints (in the Telegraph article) are that he said in an interview that “he might marry a man one day”, rather than being bothered about him sleeping with men young enough to be his grandsons. My initial thought was that he should have settled down with a nice guy around his own age, but maybe that would have been even more problematic for his local party.

    It is notable in the article that women in his association were mostly supportive whilst most of the complainers were men. In such a case you can normally expect the MP to survive deselection. It is much harder if you have got the women members against you, as my previous MP previously found.

    Based on that hunch I think Evans will survive, however he is going to have to change his lifestyle so much that he might not like being an MP any more.

  43. HH – that’s a fair assessment I agree with. A colleague of mine who is ‘friends’ with this MP on social media says that last year he posted pics of himself on Facebook with a different teenage lad almost daily in some months. [I should point out I assume he meant aged 18-19 researchers and not underage]

  44. I should add that my previous MP was the now deceased Piers Merchant.

    The blue rinse ladies of Beckenham Conservative Association in angry deselection mode was not a pretty sight. The men are easier to deal with.

  45. I don’t imagine the Conservatives of Ribble Valley are any more liberal or tolerant of sexual ‘peccadilloes’ on the part of their MP, although I suppose we are 17 years on from Merchant and his antics now.

  46. One third will not see him de-selected

  47. But he should be – a man in a powerful position propositioning junior figures in his place of work would be sacked. Why is it different for MPs?

  48. Speaking as someone at the young end on this site, I feel uncomfortable about people putting “accusers” in inverted commas like so, and discussion of being “fed up with all these so calked victims on the make”. I’m quite sympathetic to the idea that those accused of sexual offences should be given some level of anonymity until the verdict has been delivered, but at the same time given the general statistics on reporting rates and convictions for rape and how awful they are any such allegations should be taken very seriously. Even where a jury decides not to convict, that doesn’t mean that there were no legitimate grievances in the sexual misdemeanours underlying the case, only that the balance of evidence meant that those grievances could not be proven to be a crime.

    None of that means we shouldn’t let the justice system take its course or be our arbiter on these matters, only that it’s important to be sensitive to complainants even when juries do not find in their favour (with the exception of cases where they are found to have definitely committed perjury or obstructed the course of justice or something, but that’s not the case here).

  49. Duly seconded.

  50. “Why should it be different for MPs?”

    It’s not, he’s going through a reselection meeting. If he falls, he falls.

    Of course, and I don’t want to take us down this cul-de-sac, if we had Right to Recall in this country….

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