Scarborough & Whitby

2015 Result:
Conservative: 20613 (43.2%)
Labour: 14413 (30.2%)
Lib Dem: 2159 (4.5%)
Green: 2185 (4.6%)
UKIP: 8162 (17.1%)
Others: 207 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 6200 (13%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: Yorkshire and Humberside, North Yorkshire. Covers most of the Scarborough council area.

Main population centres: Scarborough, Whitby, Scalby, Eastfield, Robin Hood`s Bay, Danby, Castleton, Ainthorpe, West Ayton, Brompton, Snainton.

Profile: Most of this seat is rural, made up of the North Yorkshire moors, scattered villages and the Esk valley. However, the majority of the electorate live in the two coastal towns that give the seat its name. Scarborough is the largest seaside resort on the North Yorkshire coast and tourism remains a major part of the local economy. Whitby was a nineteenth century whaling town, now reliant upon tourism and fishing. It also has a strong literary tradition, most notably as the inspiration and partial setting for Bram Stoker`s Dracula..

Politics: Scarborough had been a safe Conservative seat that had returned a Tory MP since 1918, however it was one of many surprising gains for the Labour party in the 1997 landslide, and remained Labour in 2001. It was narrowly regained by the Tories in 2005 and since then have increased their majority to over ten percent.

Current MP
ROBERT GOODWILL (Conservative) Born 1956, North Yorkshire. Educated at Quaker Bootham School and Newcastle University. Former farmer. Contested Redcar 1992, Cleveland and Richmond 1994 European election, North West Leicestershire 1997, South Yorkshire 1998 European election. MEP for Yorkshire and Humberside 1999-2004. First elected as MP for Scarborough & Whitby in 2005. Government whip 2012-2013. Junior transport minister since 2013.
Past Results
Con: 21108 (43%)
Lab: 12978 (26%)
LDem: 11093 (23%)
UKIP: 1484 (3%)
Oth: 2619 (5%)
MAJ: 8130 (16%)
Con: 19248 (41%)
Lab: 18003 (38%)
LDem: 7495 (16%)
GRN: 1214 (3%)
Oth: 952 (2%)
MAJ: 1245 (3%)
Con: 18841 (40%)
Lab: 22426 (47%)
LDem: 3977 (8%)
GRN: 1049 (2%)
Oth: 1230 (3%)
MAJ: 3585 (8%)
Con: 19667 (36%)
Lab: 24791 (46%)
LDem: 7672 (14%)
MAJ: 5124 (9%)

2015 Candidates
ROBERT GOODWILL (Conservative) See above.
IAN MCINNES (Labour) Educated at Whitby Community College. Development manager.
MICHAEL BECKETT (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Goldsmiths College. Business development contractor. Contested Dudley North 2010, Rotherham 2012 by-election.
SAM CROSS (UKIP) Chartered Insurer. Scarborough councillor and North Yorkshire councillor, originally elected as an Independent.
DAVID MALONE (Green) Documentary film maker.
JULIET BODDINGTON (Alliance Green Socialism)
Comments - 80 Responses on “Scarborough & Whitby”
  1. Mathematical sites are giving labour a real chance here…statistical modeling gone wrong?

  2. Realistically, I would be very surprised if there was anything other than a Conservative victory here. Goodwill’s majority will be get smaller, and Labour will creep up on him, perhaps enough to overturn the majority in 2020, but this time round it’s got to be Conservative.

  3. If the Lib Dem vote collapses to Labour and UKIP eats into the Tory vote, this could get interesting…..

  4. Conservative Hold. 5,000 majority.

  5. This is now a seat Labour need for an overall majority on uniform swing, having moved up the target list to no. 68.

  6. Surprisingly not a terrible result at all for Labour here. Suspected this would be the kind of seat where Miliband would cause a slip in support, but they’re now back up to 30%. They’re on the same vote share as 1992, but the Conservatives have a smaller majority. Good UKIP result too.

  7. ‘Surprisingly not a terrible result at all for Labour here. Suspected this would be the kind of seat where Miliband would cause a slip in support’

    That’s what I thought

    I saw this as one of those seats which after two unilkely Labour wins in theitr heydays of 1997 and 2001, would revert back to its old safe Conservative status but that doesn’t seemed to have happened, despite a healthy swing in 2010

  8. Labour also managed to more than double its representation on the council as well though perhaps at the expense of the independent group I’m not quite sure.

    I don’t know how they achieved a small swing their way in the circumstances. I doubt there’s a small pro-Labour trend in Scarborough & Whitby, perhaps they’re not weakening so much there. It’s weird to think that this is now comparatively more marginal than a number of seats they lost in 2010 and subsequently saw a swing to the Tories this time around (most of their former Staffordshire seats, Harlow, South Derbyshire, Gloucester to name a few).

    Still don’t think this is anywhere near winnable apart from big majority/landslide situations and Labour is a long long long way from ever achieving that again.

  9. Before 1997 this was the BBC’s view of how marginal this seat was. Amusing.

    “The most notable sight of all, perhaps, would be that of a Labour MP for the seat, but that eventuality is probably as fictional as Dracula’s landing at Whitby, claimed in Bram Stoker’s novel.”

    How big a victory for Labour did the experts predict before that election? I was in primary school so I’m afraid I had other priorities at the time.

  10. Labour’s result in 2010, while not great by any means, was also less disastrous than their average performance in seats which had been lost to the Tories in 2005.

  11. There is an article in today’s (February 2nd.) ‘Independent’ about the Blairite elite pricing out working-class members.

    The article relates to the Young Labour Conference to be held in Scarborough next month. There will be a £30 Registration fee for the Young Labour elections and a £10 fee for the Labour Students Conference. Delegates will expected to pay their own accomodation and travel costs, so the total will be about £130.

    The only part of this that I find possibly unreasonable is having to pay to take part in a Party vote. The other costs and fees seem reasonable by non-political conference standards.

    It would be interesting to know how these fees compare with those charged by other political parties for their conferences.

    Does Labour not still run a pooling system for travel costs so that delegates pay the same train fare wherever their constituency is located? Or was that only for the Annual Conference?

    Clearly the travel costs would on average be less if the Labour Party held its Conferences in major cities – Birmingham, Manchester, London – and more delegates there could sleep on people’s floors. But I imagine Scarborough will offer a dirt cheap rate to attract visitors in February (doubtless the Winter Gardens in Margate would do the same if asked!).

    Over the twentieth century the Blackpool and Brighton’s seats went from rock solid Tory until they were won by Labour in 1997. Bournemouth, where Labour stopped holding conferences, stayed Conservative. So repeatedly taking conference to the same town does have a political effect. Whether it is worth bringing conferences to Scarborough, an isolated marginal surrounded by ultra-safe Conservative seats, is debatable.

    Last year, Labour probably got a comparatively good result because of the collapse in the LibDem vote and a UKIP vote which was also on the low side by national standards. ‘Semi-marginal’ is a fair description for this seat.

  12. I seriously doubt Labour repeatedly holding conferences in Blackpool and Brighton made any shred of political difference at all. The reason why the constituencies shifted from safe Tory over several decades was because the demographics of both towns changed drastically. If anything I think a conference with politicians swarming all over town is more likely to irritate the local populous than anything.

    Labour could hold as many conferences as they like in Bournemouth and I can assure you they will still do as dreadfully there as they did before.

    As for Scarborough, yes it was a pretty good result for Labour given their dismal performance in the rest of the country, particularly in marginal/semi-marginal seats. However a 13% majority will be difficult to overturn unless Labour beats the Tories by a wide margin nationally, which doesn’t seem at all likely especially given who Labour have just elected leader…

  13. Yes, this is the sort of seat that only Blair was capable of winning. A 13% majority is pretty reasonable compared to other seats of a similar character – think North East Somerset or Brigg & Goole, rural, traditionally Conservative seats that fell to Labour in 1997. Those seats now have Tory majorities of around 25%.

    It seems that Labour hold all their conferences in seaside towns. Any particular reason for that?

  14. ‘I think North East Somerset or Brigg & Goole, rural, traditionally Conservative seats that fell to Labour in 1997. Those seats now have Tory majorities of around 25%.’

    And this seat was more of a shock win for Labour in 1997. Whereas they had at various times been competitive in places like Brigg & Goole and Somerset North East in the post war period, they never had any strength here since the seat’s creation in 1295.

    It is perhaps strange that this seat went against the national trend of Tory MPs increasing their majorities

  15. It was one where there was a significant LD vote to squeeze but nonetheless not a great result considering the Tories were on 40% here in 2001. In the current climate a 13% majority is more than safe though.

  16. I drove through Scarborough last year for the first time in 20 odd years, and was surprised at how much it looked to have gone downhill. Not at all surprising IMO that Labour have, in relative terms, strengthened here.

    Whitby still seemed a very nice place and of course there is plenty of strongly Tory countryside as well. I think this is perhaps becoming a low swing seat so the Tories are safer than they look.

  17. H.Hemmelig is correct.

    Scarborough’s (which dominates this seat in terms of population) has a high street which just looks like that of any other town in Britain.
    It’s got an impressive castle, and still has quite a good beach front (at least in summer), with fun rides, kiosks and donkeys; but it’s very easy to see where the substantial Labour vote comes from.

    Whitby, whilst much smaller and more attractive, also clearly has some potential for Labour. I remember seeing some very prominent Labour posters around the town in the run up to the election last year.

    Of course neither town is what you’d call well off. Scarborough may be the sort of place where support for UKIP harms Labour more than the Tories.

    However the surrounding countryside is indeed very Conservative, and It was disappointing not to see the vote share rise above 45%.
    Labour has a good chance of regaining this seat at some point, but it’s currently difficult to see it happening in 2020.

  18. I should mention the new potash mine which has been given planning permission.
    It’ll be near Whitby will apparently provide around 1,000 jobs.
    The company (Sirius) has I think agreed to fund extra rail services to Whitby as part of as a quid pro quo.
    It should give quite a significant boost to the local economy.

    There is also a bit of an ‘alternative’ side to Whitby, albeit only really showing itself twice a year, at the nationally renowned goth weekends.

  19. 7 of the 8 seats in North Yorkshire are within 5% of the electoral quota. for the new boundary review. Unfortunately Scarborough & Whitby is a few hundred votes below it so they’ll have to be some minor changes.

  20. As Scarborough and Whitby is surrounded by Conservative seats, if boundary changes, even if small ones, are needed to bring the consituency up to “quota” it is hard to see this doing anything other than make this seat slightly safer for the Tories.

    Whilst I am at it, I see from the press that the Conservatives are slighly embarrassed because they have taken over an ex-Thai massage parlour as Mr. Goodwill’s consitutency office and now find that the former owner has been convicted of prostitution. Not exactly the biggest political storm in the world, but how on earth can they have expected anything else?

  21. Yougov’s snapshot has Labour within 3 here – seems improbable that they will get that close, but does hint at UKIP unwinding to Lab as well as Con in this constituency.

  22. Labour vote share rose by just a little over 11%. UKIP’s share fell by nearly 14%. Conservatives up by 5.2%.

    So is this one of those instances where the UKIP vote went more heavily to Labour, or did Labour mobilise previous non-voters, in which case a lot of 2015 UKIPpers stayed home?

  23. I think there’s an element of all that underway here, combined with a perhaps slightly delayed demographic element that has up until now been rather masked for Labour in this seat the last few general elections. Of course just over a week ago the party did very well in seaside towns mainly in England- this seat is now back in play for Labour as a realistic target seat and has retuned to being marginal. They also made inroads throughout Bournemouth, Shoreham, Southend and Worthing. And of course Labour had spectacular results in Brighton and Hove!

  24. Let’s also not forget the surprisingly large Green vote here in 2015. That will have gone almost entirely across to Labour.

  25. The green vote here wasn’t that surprising, we must remember that the greens do have a councillor in Scarborough and as for Whitby it always struck me as the type of place that was ripe for gentrification in a Totnes, Deal, or Hebbden Bridge artsy bohemian small town kind of way. I have absolutely no evidence for this but it just struck me as the kind of place that would go that way.

  26. Robert Goodwill has been appointed the new farming minister replacing George Eustice.

  27. Just noticed Rivers’ comment above, which I think is correct. Whitby does have that kind of feel. By contrast, I’ve always found Scarborough tatty and grotty (even as someone with a soft spot for faded seaside towns).

  28. The North Yorkshire seaside towns are in rather better condition than those in Lincolnshire.

  29. Michael Shaw, Baron Shaw of Northstead, has died aged 100. He was the MP for Scarborough and Whitby from 1966 to 1974, then the successor Scarborough seat until 1992. He was also MP for Brighouse and Spenborough from 1960 to 1964, and an MEP from 1974 until 1979 (when MEPs were not directly elected, but chosen by the House of Commons and House of Lords as delegates). He appears to have been the oldest living former Conservative or National Liberal MP – he was elected as a “Conservative and National Liberal” in 1960, but subsequently just a Conservative. He was one of two surviving National Liberal MPs, and the earliest elected NL still living (John Nott is still alive, and was first elected in 1966).

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