North Shropshire

2015 Result:
Conservative: 27041 (51.4%)
Labour: 10547 (20.1%)
Lib Dem: 3148 (6%)
Green: 2575 (4.9%)
UKIP: 9262 (17.6%)
MAJORITY: 16494 (31.4%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: West Midlands, Shropshire. The northern part of the Shropshire council area.

Main population centres: Wem, Whitchurch, Ellesmere, Oswestry, Market Drayton, Shawbury, Baschurch.

Profile: A mainly rural seat on the English border with Wales. North Shropshire consists of the former district councils of North Shropshire and Oswestry, now both subsumed into Shropshire unitary council. The biggest town here is Oswestry, but most of the seat is made up of small rural towns and villages.

Politics: A solid rural Conservative seat. Taking into account its predecessor seats it has been held by the Conservatives almost continually since 1835, the only gap being a Liberal by-election win in 1904, regained by the Tories at the next general election.

Current MP
OWEN PATERSON (Conservative) Born 1956, Whitchurch. Educated at Radley College and Cambridge University. Former director of a leather company. Contested Wrexham 1992. First elected as MP for North Shropshire in 1997. Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary 2007-2010. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 2010-2012, Secretary of State for the Environment 2012-2014.
Past Results
Con: 26692 (51%)
Lab: 9406 (18%)
LDem: 10864 (21%)
UKIP: 2432 (5%)
Oth: 2475 (5%)
MAJ: 15828 (31%)
Con: 23061 (50%)
Lab: 12041 (26%)
LDem: 9175 (20%)
UKIP: 2233 (5%)
MAJ: 11020 (24%)
Con: 22631 (49%)
Lab: 16390 (35%)
LDem: 5945 (13%)
UKIP: 1165 (3%)
Oth: 389 (1%)
MAJ: 6241 (13%)
Con: 20730 (40%)
Lab: 18535 (36%)
LDem: 10489 (20%)
MAJ: 2195 (4%)

2015 Candidates
OWEN PATERSON (Conservative) See above.
TOM THORNHILL (Liberal Democrat)
Comments - 79 Responses on “Shropshire North”
  1. Notable that in the recent Shropshire Council Elections a number of Conservatives were elected uncontested (7 in 6 wards), mostly if not all in this constituency. You get the impression that the other parties (even UKIP) see little opportunity of changing a status quo that has been in place for over a century….

  2. Prediction for 2015-
    Paterson (Conservative)- 50%
    Labour- 24%
    Liberal Democrats- 13%
    UKIP- 9%
    Green- 1%
    Others- 3%

  3. CON HOLD MAJ : 20%
    CON 44
    LAB 24
    LD 14
    UKIP 11
    GRN 5
    OTH 2

  4. How much damage will Paterson take as a result of his recent actions as Secretary of State for the Environment in relation to flooding? And who will benefit. In particular, one may suspect that UKIP will get above average swings at the General Election in seats like this where the Conservatives have done something seriously stupid. But it is unlikely to be enough of a swing for UKIP to win a very safe Tory seat.

    Incidentally, why doesn’t the Prime Minister – his recent predecessors have been no different- get rid of the minister immediately in the case of such monumental mistakes? One suspects that Paterson will just get moved sideways in the next reshuffle.

    I don’t have anything particular against Paterson. It is mainly that there are not enough MPs of sufficent ability to be successful Cabinet Ministers – Labour were no different (and possibly worse). The LibDems are struggling even to fill the few posts they have.

    One answer would be to cut the size of the bloated cabinet, say to 16.

    For two many ministers it is a case of “But for the grace of God there go I.” Paterson appears to have been unlucky.

  5. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good…. while Paterson’s detached retina could have been serious for him health wise, it did get him out of the firing line and leave the likes of Eric Pickles to look foolish and cop some of the flack. I suspect the Environment Agency currently feel rather more positive about Paterson having seen Pickles in action….

    While I would expect Paterson’s vote to drop somewhat, and UKIP be the likely destination, I don’t think there has been a lot of damage from recent events. He remains popular with the farmers and rural workers who see him, in government, doing what they would want him to for the most part – things like the Badger Cull are non-issues with the dairy farmers and the many who rely on them, who are concerned with preventing the spread of Bovine TB and less in how it’s done….

  6. Owen Paterson had a very good result here in 2001- he got an increase of 8.4%, as opposed to the Tories’ national increase of 1%, with a swing from Labour of 4.6%. Perhaps as a result of this, his rises have been more modest in both 2005 (+1.0%) and 2010 (+1.9%)

  7. That’s true – the result stood out. It’s really quite remarkable that Paterson was the only Conservative winner out of the 5 Shropshire seats in that election. Labour came quite close in 1997 as a result of their support in Oswestry, Market Drayton & the very small number of ex-mining villages close to the Welsh border, but these areas, and any Labour lead accruing in them, would never normally be enough to make the seat competitive.

  8. I’m not at all a fan of Paterson, but he seems a much better fit for this seat than the urbane John Biffen.

  9. ‘I’m not at all a fan of Paterson, but he seems a much better fit for this seat than the urbane John Biffen.’

    Shropshire North is a very rural seat – and as Agricutural Secretary under any measure Owen Patterson’s performance has been somewhat wanting – suggresting he’s not as in touch with the rural community as he aspires

    Having said that, his electoral record here has been very good, although he has yet to better the 16,211 majority Biffen achieved in 1992 – which I think is the largest ever majority the Tories have ever had here

  10. I do wonder though what it was that caused that big rise for Paterson here in 2001. Was this part of Shropshire heavily effected by Foot And Mouth, which may have played an impact. Certainly if this seat had behaved like others in Shropshire this seat would have remained marginal with a majority of about 3-4,000 going into 2005, but it did not.

  11. Incidentally, elsewhere in Shropshire, the Tories fell by 3.0% in Ludlow, 1.8% in The Wrekin, stood absolutely still in Telford, and so the only other seat in the county where they in fact increased was Shrewsbury and Atcham (3.4%).

  12. Owen Paterson’s result here in 2010 was lower than the national average, though as I said recently was probably because he had risen so early in 2001, compared to neighbouring seats.

  13. George Monbiot in the Guardian:

    “So who is this voice of the workers? Paterson is a millionaire, educated at Radley College and Cambridge, who owns a large country estate on which he lets buildings and agricultural land. While in office, he doubled the public subsidy for grouse moors. He also defeated an attempt to limit the amount of public money rich landowners can receive. As a result, the dukes and sheikhs and oligarchs who own England’s biggest estates each receive millions of pounds in subsidies.”

  14. I’ve already mentioned on here about Owen Paterson’s very good result in 2001, but what else is interesting about it is that the Lib Dems actually fell back quite a bit- by 7.6%. Labour actually only decreased by 0.8%, so it looks like OP was a big beneficiary of that fall.

    The Lib Dem vote recovered here a bit in 2005, a 6.9% increase for them, that was mainly at Labour’s expense, they fell 9.3%.

  15. Apparently UKIP have two Tory defections to be announced in the next few days. Maybe one of them is the MP for this constituency.

  16. Hmm I doubt it. But we’ll see.

  17. I think that’s a good shout from Andy

    Patterson has been quite willing to go public with his many criticisms of the Tory leadership following his sacking as Environment Secretary

    Politically he’s arguably to the Right of Douglas Carswell and i think he could well be one of the two names, although it’s believed one of the two is standing down as a Tory MP in 2015

  18. Were Patterson to defect I think he might struggle to hold on here

    I think UKIP topped the poll in the Euro elections and whilst the incumbant has enjoyed some significant swings in his favour in subsequent elections since 97, its a pattern replicated in many rural English seats – for example nearby Eddisbury and Stone – so his personal vote might not be as large as some might suspect

    And I’m not sure if the rural middle-England types who live in these kind of seats are best desposed to UKIP. You’d expect them to stick with the Tories

  19. Thanks for the reply Tim. I’d be interested to hear the views of other visitors to the site, for example Barnaby, Robin, Joe, Pete, on how likely they think Paterson is to defect.

  20. prediction for 2015-

    con- 49%
    Lab- 21%
    UKIP- 14%
    Lib- 12%
    Green- 4%

  21. Duncan Kerr is the Green Party candidate for North Shropshire

  22. Hi as mentioned I am the Green Party candidate for North Shropshire, any chance of being included in your list of runners?


  23. The Lib Dem candidate is Birmingham University student Tom Thornhill.

  24. The days when the Lib Dems really had any great deal of strength here are now pretty much long gone. With John Stevens as their candidate in the 90s they were still able to poll a respectable number of votes, but since then they’ve fallen way back in a big way. It therefore comes as no surprise to me that they’ve chosen such a young candidate here in a seat where they may even come fourth, having been second last time.

  25. I know the seat somewhat. Think the Class War candidate might struggle somewhat here!

    But I’d agree I think the LD’s are likely to come 4th. The close contest might be (assuming for the moment that Paterson doesn’t defect and whilst I suspect that ship has sailed it would never entirely surprise me) between UKIP and Labour for a distant 2nd place.

  26. Quite what happened to the Lib Dem vote here in 2001 appears to be something of a mystery. In fact, in a good deal of Shropshire they seem to have done very badly that year. Their only excellent performance came in gaining Ludlow, which was their only clear target in the county that year and was no doubt the seat they chose to concentrate on winning in Shropshire. The Lib Dems for whatever reason fell right away both here and in Shrewsbury and Atcham- the fall there for them was much worse, at 12.6%.

  27. And yet all three main towns of Drayton, Whitchurch and Oswestry have a slightly faded air that makes you wonder why this is such a rock solid seat, compared with the somewhat trendier and more affluent Ludlow.

    Oswestry in particular should return Labour councillors, but currently doesn’t, although an interesting BE is pending. The 3 seats in Whitchurch rather incredibly returned Tories unopposed last time. Wem has a decent LD vote still but that’s about it.

    Re Shr & Atch you need to understand the circumstances. This had always been a 3 way seat with Conway winning against a split opposition. In 1997, Marsden won for Labour from 3rd and in 2001, the stop the Tories vote coalesced around him. His subsequent defection over Iraq followed by a rerat in 05 further clouded matters and probably ensured the loss in 2005.

    Shrewsbury is by no means a solid Tory seat, but one where there is a hardcore LD vote that ensures a divided opposition vote.

  28. Thanks for all that. It does explain quite a lot.

  29. Delighted to confirm I am the Liberal Democrat candidate. If you could add me to your list above, that would be great. Cheers.

  30. From the BBC’s live Politics blog:

    Meanwhile, in Shropshire…
    Posted at 14:42
    Some of the national polls put the Conservatives behind Labour, but they will take heart from their victory in one of the local council by-elections held yesterday. The Oswestry East ward in Shropshire was previously marginal – but saw a 17% boost in the Tory vote. Labour’s vote share slipped by over ten points.

  31. That is a good result for the Tories (I know Oswestry albeit from 20 odd years ago; it’s an area of some Labour strength, though a somewhat insular rural/border town perhaps which always oddly felt to me more Welsh than English).

    The one thing that did surprise me though is that UKIP did not put up a candidate in that by election, a poor result for Labour certainly but hard to say what impact that may have had on the result.

  32. Naturally, Labour Party activists & supporters would take a very good result in a key marginal (Harlow) against a very poor one in a hopelessly safe Tory seat (N Shropshire). There are some who think that the Tories are liable to waste valuable votes by piling them up in a large number of safe Tory seats but failing to do so in many of the crucial marginals; of course, we won’t know that for a few months yet.

  33. ‘And yet all three main towns of Drayton, Whitchurch and Oswestry have a slightly faded air that makes you wonder why this is such a rock solid seat, compared with the somewhat trendier and more affluent Ludlow’

    But such places have become increasingly Coservative over the past 20 years or so – not often talked about today and these are the sorts of places UKIP are doing well in

    Look at Staffordshire for example.

    Whereas places like Ludlow – which are trendier and more affluent – seem to be becoming less Tory

    It’s worth remembeeing the Tories had a considerably bigger majoritry in Ludlow in 97 than they did hgere, where Labor ran the Tories close

  34. “And yet all three main towns of Drayton, Whitchurch and Oswestry have a slightly faded air that makes you wonder why this is such a rock solid seat, compared with the somewhat trendier and more affluent Ludlow.”

    It doesn’t make you wonder IMO: It’s precisely the trendy nature of Ludlow which gives a higher anti-Tory vote. Non-trendy areas are more reliably Conservative.

  35. Andy’s points are well made… same goes for Frome and Devizes… so the battle is between the trendy town and more stolid Tory villages for who wins the prize..

  36. Interesting result.. not good for Labour…

    Shropshire UA, Oswestry East- 12th February 2015

    Conservative 629 [47.5%; +17%]
    Labour 247 [18.6%; -10.1%]
    Green 231 [17.4%; +17.4%]
    LD Amanda Woof 218 [16.5%; +16.5%]
    [BNP [0.0%; -8.8%]
    [Independent [0.0%[ -31.9%]

    Majority: 411
    Conservative Hold
    Percentage change since 2013

  37. Hmm Antochian I would agree about Frome but Devizes town is a rather Tory town, at least how it votes locally with the Tories winning all the county council seats…

  38. The by-election in Oswestry East was called quite quickly, so there wasn’t much time for parties to get organised, which might explain UKIPs absence and Labour’s weak showing. The Tories had a well-known and popular candidate, as did the Green’s – Duncan Kerr also being the party’s General Election candidate.

    Whether the presence of a UKIP candidate in the General Election will splinter the Tory vote sufficiently to render the seat competitive is the only real question.

  39. Peppermint… I would refer you to Barnaby’s comments on Devizes thread of last September re Labour support in Devizes itself…

  40. The UKIP Candidate seems to be being quite vocal in the local press (Whitchurch Herald) with letters most weeks, but Paterson is making noises that indicate he’s trying to shoot their fox – some highly Euro-Sceptic comments over the last few months…. UKIP aren’t maybe giving this the full push that they might in some other areas, but they are trying here – seen them in Whitchurch Town Centre trying to drum up support whenever there’s anything going on (like the last Farmer’s Market for example). To be honest though, if this goes on local as opposed to national issues the main damage to Paterson will be from Shropshire Council, who are cutting everything in sight from Youth Centres to withholding the grant they normally make to town and parish councils – leaving them to either cut their own services or increase the precept. At least one town council (Wem) has gone so far as to pass a vote of no confidence in the County Council…. I still don’t think it will be nearly enough for UKIP to challenge seriously, but agree that they may well be challenging Labour for second place with Paterson’s share of the vote dropping somewhat.

  41. It’s seats like this where the real interest is in who will come 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Paterson’s views on issues like Europe will probably neutralise any major threat to the Conservative vote from UKIP. However in the towns like Oswestry, Market Drayton and Whitchurch, I can well imagine a rise in the UKIP vote at the expense of Labour.

    Incidentally, I found it very interesting that in the 2013 local election, none of the Shropshire wards returned UKIP candidates. Despite the fact that 6 or 7 of the seats returned Conservatives by default, one might have expected the ‘protest’ vote to have allowed one or two UKIP successes. It just goes to show that there are large swathes of the country that are stony ground for them.

  42. The latest from the constituency is along the lines of “what election?” So far I have received precisely one leaflet (from UKIP), and there seems to be very little in terms of signs supporting one party or another – contrast with some other places nearby where there are quite a few more. There’s a question time type thing in Whitchurch next week and there’s been more adverts up for that in the town than any of the candidates! It really does seem to say this is a low priority for all the parties who are putting their resources instead into constituencies that are more marginal. All Paterson had to do to be reelected is stay alive until polling day. ….

  43. I have always felt that my vote (voice) never counts in the General elections because Shropshire North is always a safe seats for the Conservatives. However, I still vote, hoping one day for change.

    I know because of the rural area it is that that makes the Conservatives safe. Bit what do the Tories do for farmers that other parties don’t do? Also, what about the towns, have the farmers seen all the empty shops, the houses and businesses for sale?

    And how can anyone vote for a man, Paterson, who denies climate change is as bad at it is.. it beggars all belief.

    As for UKIP.. they’re not worth our time, I feel shame when I think about them.

  44. Conservative Hold. 13,000 majority. Labour 2nd.

  45. Any last minute predictions from anyone on how the smaller parties vote share is likely to hold up here? How much UKIP will split Patersons vote – how the Lib Dems and Greens will fare etc.

  46. Oswestry South (Shropshire) result:
    GRN: 48.8% (+17.1)
    CON: 34.6% (-11.4)
    LAB: 9.0% (+9.0)
    LDEM: 7.6% (+1.8)
    12:17am – 5 Feb 16

  47. Wow a Green gain is a rare thing these days.

    The Tory vote share fell in all By-elections held this week.

  48. OK… call me stark raving mad, but I just have this feeling that one day in the dim and distant future this could become a Labour seat. Am I mad?

  49. Mad would be too strong, but as a seat which swung strongly against Labour in 2001 it seems pretty unlikely. It’s too rural & middle-class for the most part to fit the bill. There is some potential in Oswestry & Market Drayton, and in the tiny ex-mining section, but surely Labour has always been far too weak in the rest of the seat.

  50. I agree. Although Labour got within 2200 votes in 1997 it’s difficult to see why TR would speculate on a Labour win here.

    Patersons vote share was up 9% – his maj stayed virtually identical to last time.

    Of course, we don’t know what policies will be in place and which leaders will be in place in the”distant future” but the demographic would have to change markedly for any progressive party to triumph here.

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