Sevenoaks

2015 Result:
Conservative: 28531 (56.9%)
Labour: 6448 (12.9%)
Lib Dem: 3937 (7.9%)
Green: 2238 (4.5%)
UKIP: 8970 (17.9%)
MAJORITY: 19561 (39%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Kent. Most of the Sevenoaks council area.

Main population centres: Sevenoaks, Swanley, Westerham.

Profile: A large rural seat covering the westernmost part of Kent alongside London, with the M25 motorway running through it. The main towns are Sevenoaks itself, Swanley at the far north of the constituency and Westerham, but this is mostly highly affluent and desirable villages in the Kent Downs and the Darent Valley, including Farningham, Eynsford, Otford. Notable landmarks within the seat include Chevening, the grace-and-favour country home of the foreign secretary, Chartwell, once the home of Sir Winston Churchill and Brands Hatch motorsport track.

Politics: This is a solidly Conservative seat, other than 1 year under the Liberals in the 1920s it has been Tory since its creation in 1885. Swanley, which has more in common with the towns of North-West Kent than mainly rural Sevenoaks, remains a strong Labour area, but elsewhere this is a battle between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.


Current MP
MICHAEL FALLON (Conservative) Born 1952, Perth. Educated at Epsom college and St Andrews University. Former political researcher. Contested Darlington 1983 by-election. MP for Darlington 1983-1992. First elected as MP for Sevenoaks in 1997. PPS to Cecil Parkinson 1987-1988, government whip 1988-1990, junior education minister 1990-1992. Deputy chairman of the Conservative party 2010-2012. Minister of State for Business and Enterprise 2012-2014, Minister of State for Energy 2013-2014. Secretary of State for Defence since 2014. A junior minister in the previous Tory government, in opposition Fallon instead carved out a role on the Treasury select committee. On the Tory party`s return to office he became a Mr Fixit for David Cameron as deputy Chairman of the party, eventually returning to a Ministerial role and entering the cabinet for the first fime 31 years after first being elected to Parliament.
Past Results
2010
Con: 28076 (57%)
Lab: 6541 (13%)
LDem: 10561 (21%)
UKIP: 1782 (4%)
Oth: 2448 (5%)
MAJ: 17515 (35%)
2005*
Con: 22437 (52%)
Lab: 9101 (21%)
LDem: 9467 (22%)
UKIP: 1309 (3%)
Oth: 984 (2%)
MAJ: 12970 (30%)
2001
Con: 21052 (49%)
Lab: 10898 (26%)
LDem: 9214 (22%)
UKIP: 1155 (3%)
Oth: 295 (1%)
MAJ: 10154 (24%)
1997
Con: 22776 (45%)
Lab: 12315 (25%)
LDem: 12086 (24%)
Oth: 834 (2%)
MAJ: 10461 (21%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
MICHAEL FALLON (Conservative) See above.
CHRIS CLARK (Labour)
ALAN BULLION (Liberal Democrat) Born Pembury. Educated at Open University. Agricultural policy analyst. Contested Hammersmith and Fulham 2005, Sevenoaks 2010, South East region 2014 European elections.
STEVE LINDSAY (UKIP)
AMELIE BOLEYN (Green)
Links
Comments - 112 Responses on “Sevenoaks”
  1. Michael Fallon reselected as Conservative candidate:

    http://www.michaelfallon.org.uk/?p=180

  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/11/immigration-grant-shapps_n_4941827.html

    Only the Huffington Post is reporting this, so nothing has been set in stone. Michael Fallon as chairman would be far more tolerable than Grant Shapps, to be honest.

    If the report that there’s grumblings about his performance as chairman is true, it is rather odd that they appointed him in the first place. Labour have their own problems, but Shapps has hardly improved his own party’s standings since starting in the role.

    The feeling was that Baroness Warsi was a lightweight, so they thought Shapps would be a better attack dog. Has it backfired already?

  3. Margaret Thatcher always preferred to appoint a “night watchman” (ie lightweight) as party chairman in the early half of the parliament, to be replaced by a heavyweight in time for the next election.

    Cameron should heed her advice. Shapps is not the man for the job in a general election campaign. They also ideally need someone more high profile and less posh than Fallon. Pickles (again) would be good.

  4. Are there any women in the Tories who are regarded as political heavyweights at the moment? Aside from Theresa May who is very tough talking.

  5. Can’t think of any. May has leadership ambitions so wouldn’t want to be tied too closely to Cameron’s fortunes as party chairman.

  6. ‘Shapps is not the man for the job in a general election campaign. They also ideally need someone more high profile and less posh than Fallon. Pickles (again) would be good.’

    Certainly agree about Shapps – but not sure Pickles is the answer, who has a complete inability to think on his feet and is, perhaps u nfairly, viewed negatoively by thge oublic laegely by account of his weight

    Fallon is a little posh – not to mention extremely right wing – but unlike most right wingers in today’s Tory Party he comes across well, is a good debater and doesn’t get raffled – unlike his boss Cameron, whose true colits nhave a tendency to come to the surface when he’s asked a question he doesn’t like

    Again though, would not David Dabis be a good choice – popular with the grassroots, a humble background, a steady if unspecacular performer in the Commons and pretty near the centre of today’s party

    But so near to an election there first move surely has to be to axe Shapps.

    If they kicked Osboure out with him I’m sure the next election would be in the bag – only joking of course

  7. I can’t imagine anyone raffling Michael Fallon. He would make a most unsuitable raffle prize on a number of levels.

  8. Out of interest, who is Labour’s chairman? I can’t remember if it’s either Jon Ashworth (Leicester South) or Michael Dugher (one of the Barnsley MPs). Both seem to do the equivalent of Shapps and Warsi (when she was chair), by speaking/tweeting negatively about the opposing side when something mildly contentious happens.

  9. Shapps being replaced this year would be no great surprise. It’s rare for someone to serve in the post for more than two years.

    Tim, the Party Chairman needs to be someone who can work with the party leader. As head of CCHQ the Chairman can, if they have the ability and so desire, build up a rival powerbase to the leader. Therefore Cameron needs someone in the post who will be loyal. David Davis is not, therefore, a good choice.

  10. Exactly right. There isn’t a long list of loyal heavyweights who could do the chairman’s job. Pickles might be the best of a bad bunch. Heseltine would have been good if he were 10-15 years younger with a healthy heart. Maybe even Clarke, though he’s probably too old also.

  11. Patrick McLoughlin wouldn’t be a bad choice. Maybe not a colossal figure in the party at present, but he’s loyal, a moderate and from a modest background.

  12. H Hemmelig- agreed on Pickles. Clarke and Heseltine would be totally unacceptable on account of their Europhilia.

  13. ‘Maybe even Clarke, though he’s probably too old also.’

    Tory Chairman are typically centrist figures able to appeal to both Left and Right and Clarke is loathed by large sections of the party

    I think Neil’s suggestion of Mcloughlin has merit

  14. Maybe, though he is obscure and quite bad tempered. The Evans affair may end up doing him no favours either.

  15. Anna Soubry would be a good choice IMO, though she would very likely be in a Chris Patten situation after the election.

  16. It’s not going to be our decision.
    As the excellent Nick Ridley said in his fantastic book – My Style of Government,
    Margaret sensibly moved reshuffles forward from start of term to end of term to avoid the press doing their own reshuffles, amusing for everyone else although unpleasant for the victims.

  17. Given that Cameron owes him a favour, Andrew Mitchell is probably a name worth mentioning.

  18. Too unpopular with the troops.

  19. That’s a high vote for the BNP in Swanley considering almost all of it probably came from there.
    I can see UKIP getting about 8% here – I’m not sure Labour can overhaul the Lib Dems – probably.

  20. Labour should be able to beat the LDs here if they’ve got any kind of structure which it looks as though they do.

    There is a tendency to presume the Lib Dems will do better than the polls suggest and in their own seats that may be true, but that also requires them to do as badly or worse in other seats. Expect a great number of LD lost deposits!

  21. In the 2014 European elctions, UIKIP got most votes in Sevenoaks: –
    UKIP 11873
    Cons 11182
    Lab 3349
    Green 2220
    LibDem 1993.

    UKIP also have a Councillor on the District Council from 2011.

    There has been speculation as to where Nigel Farage might stand, assuming the local UKIP members select him, if not Thanet South. He could do much worse than stand in this seat, which is after all where he actually lives. If Farage were the candidate, UKIP would stand a good chance. Otherwise, UKIP are likely to do well here, but not I think to the extent of winning.

  22. I’m not too sure I agree that this would be a good choice for Farage.

    I imagine Swanley and Hextable to be good ground for UKIP but I think the rest of the seat maybe that bit too upmarket to attract enough UKIP votes in a GE.

    Having said that it is not surprising that UKIP topped the EU poll here in May as they did exactly the same thing in much of Kent.

    I always thought Farage lived in one of the villages which came under Bromley.

  23. I stand open to correction about where Nigel Farage lives. Bromley definitely wouldn’t be a good choice for him though.

    There is a general issue as to whether Nigel Farage’s image really matches the lower-middle and working class candidates UKIP are increasingly targetting. His image does match superficially, but it will be examined in detail over the next year.

  24. Trivia time. The Labour candidate here in 2005 was Tim Stanley, who is now an up-and-coming conservative commentator. Evidently his political views have shifted.

  25. I’ve seen variously in the press that Farage lives in Westerham (Sevenoaks, though it would n’t be the right seat for him) or Biggin Hill (Bromley LB), although the post town for BH is Westerham, which may explain the alternative.

  26. As per the notice of nominations for his candidacy in the last European elections, which is publicly viewable (http://www.southampton.gov.uk/Images/Statement%20of%20Parties%20and%20Individual%20Canidates%20Nominated%20and%20Notice%20of%20Poll_tcm46-356525.pdf), he lives in Orpington constituency. At least that’s what his postcode comes up with.

  27. The pub he uses is certainly in the Orpington constituency. I have been to that pub many decades ago, when both he & I were young men. I don’t think I spoke to him though!

  28. LBernard – There’s no way on earth Farage would win here.

    He’d be lucky to come third behind the Lib Dems here. It’s too middle class for UKIP! I know this seat and it is as true blue as you can get.

    Despite UKIP’s support for the local residents’ campaign for a new grammar school in the town, the Tories will win here with huge majorities for years to come even if Labour win by a landslide nationally (the Tories won this seat with a 10,000 majority during Labour’s / Blair’s peak of the May 1997 General Election).

  29. Accoriding to my copy of this week’s “Kentish Gazette,” Nigel Farage has said he is going to announce where he will be standing within two weeks of the European Parliament’s recess on July 24. So we’ll soon know.

    The announcement will come right in the middle of the holiday season. How stupid can one get?

  30. Leaving Nigel Farage aside, UKIP’s realistic hope in this seat is to come a reasonably good second. This could position them for the following election, particularly if the Tories go into opposition and then factionalise.

  31. We ought to congratualte Michael Fallon on becoming secretary of State for Defence.

  32. Steve Lindsay, the UKIP councillor for Crockenhill & Well Hill, has been named the UKIP candidate for Sevenoaks at the 2015 general election: http://www.sevenoakschronicle.co.uk/Ukip-s-Sevenoaks-district-councillor-battle/story-23619587-detail/story.html

    It should be noted that UKIP came top in Sevenoaks at the May 2014 european elections – the first time the Conservatives have been beaten into second place in Sevenoaks since 1923.

    Swanley will be a fertile ground for UKIP support.

  33. Main party candidates:

    Con: Michael Fallon
    Lab: Chris Clark
    LD: Alan Bullion
    UKIP: Steve Lindsay
    Greens: Amelie Boleyn

  34. Looks like Michael Fallon has overdone things today with his personal attack on Ed Miliband.

  35. @Andy JS it was rather crass, his comments, and somewhat hypocritical considering the Tories went into coalition with a partner advocating scrapping trident, Fallon himself looked unsure when he spoke

  36. Current polls are rather discouraging for the Tories other than YouGov. ComRes does also put the Tories 1% ahead of Labour, but with the Lib Dem figure looking rather suspiciously high at 12% l tend to doubt its accuracy. On average, today’s polls have Labour over 2% if we include ComRes. l wonder if the Tories will be forced to change tack – or is it too late to do that now?

  37. Thier barren, negative, personal and unpleasant campaign so far is a disgrace and if they cannot find anything constructive to say they will deserve to lose. At the moment, it is an insult to everyone’s intelligence, including their own core vote.

  38. “At the moment, it is an insult to everyone’s intelligence”

    Exactly. The public is intelligent enough to know that even if Labour wanted to scrap Trident, the Americans simply wouldn’t let them do so. If the SNP had to be placated then the nuclear subs would have to be moved south of the border.

  39. I’ve always thought Lynton Crosby was a rubbish election strategist and tactician and nothing I’ve seen so far this time has changed my mind. Quite the reverse in fact.

  40. Conservative Hold. 19,000 maj

  41. The first new grammar school in the UK for 50 years will open in Sevenoaks in September 2017. It’ll be an expansion of the Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge – ten miles away!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-34535778

    I’m expecting a flurry of new grammar school expansions in nearby boroughs e.g. Bexley and Bromley as there’s huge demand for grammar school places in these areas (this year, in Bexley, 5000 children sat the 11-plus, yet only 800 places are available between the four grammar schools in that borough!

    There’s been a vehement campaign run by local parents to open a grammar school in Sevenoaks for many years as it’s the only major town in Kent without a grammar school.

    I’m also expecting the Tory majority to go through the roof in this seat at the next General Election. I won’t be surprised if the majority is at least 28,000 as a result of the approval a new grammar school in the town.

  42. I think you are rather overstating the appeal of grammar schools. By their very nature, they are selective- aimed at educating the top 20-25% most able students at age 11. By default, that means 75-80% of parents aren’t going to care about grammar schools or are going to be hostile to them.

    To predict an even huger Tory majority in an already ultra safe Tory seat due to the opening of a grammar school is spurious at best.

    Also, it’s a little hard to take your argument seriously when you have neglected to spell your ‘Christian’ name correctly.

  43. ”I think you are rather overstating the appeal of grammar schools. By their very nature, they are selective- aimed at educating the top 20-25% most able students at age 11. By default, that means 75-80% of parents aren’t going to care about grammar schools or are going to be hostile to them.

    To predict an even huger Tory majority in an already ultra safe Tory seat due to the opening of a grammar school is spurious at best.

    Also, it’s a little hard to take your argument seriously when you have neglected to spell your ‘Christian’ name correctly.”

    Tristan – If you think this decision by the government will go unnoticed by the middle class parents of Sevenoaks then you are seriously mistaken! I know this area fairly well. It’s very affluent, and middle class. All parents talk about once their child is in Year 5 onwards is getting little Johnny or little Imogan into a grammar school! The one-upmanship and competition amongst these parents is ferocious to say the least! These parents love to ‘keep up appearances’! A new grammar school in Sevenoaks is the equivalent of manna from heaven in the eyes of most parents in the town and Fallon and the Tories will be rewarded for this decision at the next General Election despite the seat already being solidly Tory.

    The parents here have been demanding a grammar school in the town for several years! The nearest grammar schools to Sevenoaks are in Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone. Many children from Sevenoaks commute over two hours each day to attend the grammar schools in the aforementioned towns. A grammar school in the town will be hugely welcomed by the vast majority of parents in Sevenoaks.

    In answer to your other point, yes, grammar schools are aimed at educating the top 20-25% most able students at age 11 but that doesn’t mean by default 75-80% of parents aren’t going to care about grammar schools or are going to be hostile to them.
    Many parents strive to send their child to grammar schools regardless of their academic ability. I’m from south-east London where there are no grammar schools. The nearest grammar schools are in Bexley, Bromley and in the county of Kent in Dartford and Gravesend. Many parents in south-east London send their children to grammar schools in the aforementioned LEA’s. At a primary school near me, out of 30 children in Year 6, approximately, 22 children sit the 11-plus exam and not all these children are in the top 20 – 25% of academic ability hence some of them fail the 11-plus exam.

    Finally, please forgive me for spelling my name incorrectly in my last post. I’m using my mobile and it’s my my lunch break so I’m in a hurry and not concentrating when typing these messages.

  44. Tristan – Further evidence to support my arguments can be seen from the reaction from Fallon and Sevenoaks parents here:

    Available until 7pm tonight (Friday 16th October)

    From the beginning to 10 mins, 10 secs

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06gy5cb/south-east-today-15102015

  45. Don’t the middle class parents of Sevenoaks largely vote Tory in any case? Especially those middle class parents that like grammar schools?

  46. Most people waffling away on here about what parents supposedly want are not parents themselves…at a guess I’d say Christian is no exception.

  47. That’s a bit harsh. I didn’t agree with Christian’s comment, but he’s allowed to have an opinion even if he isn’t a parent. I’d expect most male posters on here have a view on FGM or abortion, and that doesn’t make them completely invalid views. And if that was aimed at me, my comment was hardly ‘waffling on’. In fact I purposely didn’t reply to Christian as I can’t be bothered to get into a slanging match.

    From an ex Grammar school pupil.

  48. It wasn’t aimed at you and in fact I pretty much agree with what you said. Parents are in favour of grammar schools until their kids fail to get in, and given the numbers involved that will be most of them. Anyone thinking this is going to be some huge vote winner just isn’t thinking it through.

  49. Interesting thoughts on all sides above…..I do accept that grammar schools could be seen as elitest (albeit no more elitest than the widely recognised best universities one could argue) and the segregation at a relatively age (11) is a problem.

    Thus said, I attended comprehensive schools in Bedfordshire throughout my schooling (1981-1994). One of the things that I noticed is that there was little or no transfer between the ‘sets’ established for each subject, and indeed that in certain subjects (science for example) the pupils in the bottom set actually completed a different curriculum, spending more time in the school’s small farm doing practical activities.

    The point being that I rather think the segregation point is over-egged – I saw little evidence that keeping pupils of very varied abilities in the same school a) benefited either type of pupil or b) contributed actively to allowing late developers to transfer over. Redborne Upper School was actually quite a decent comprehensive with good results, but the lower sets were known for being a little rowdy and not much work getting done. Logically, it’s going to be rather difficult for anyone to graduate out of that environment.

    It’s certainly not simple and the fact the comprehensive system doesn’t work that well isn’t an automatic argument for saying that grammar schools are the answer. I do find though that the romantic way in which Labour politicians talk about the benefits of the comprehensive system doesn’t remotely match my memory of actually going through it.

  50. Well so few of them went through it themselves. And those that did tend to embroider their experiences to stay on message.

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