Sittingbourne & Sheppey

2015 Result:
Conservative: 24425 (49.5%)
Labour: 9673 (19.6%)
Lib Dem: 1563 (3.2%)
Green: 1185 (2.4%)
UKIP: 12257 (24.8%)
Loony: 275 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 12168 (24.6%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Kent. The western part of the Swale council area.

Main population centres: Sheerness, Sittingbourne, Minster, Queensborough.

Profile: A north Kent seat, this covers Sittingbourne and the Isle of Sheppey. Sheppey is divided from the mainland by the Swale (after which the local authority is named) though it is accessible by bridge, a new four lane bridge linking it to the mainland was opened in 2006. Sheppey itself is largely marshland (there are three prisons in the isolation of the marshes) and nature reserves for birdlife. Along the northern coast are a string of villages like Minster, Warden and Leysdown-on-Sea with popular beaches. To the west the island is the more industrial Sheerness, a major commercial port and the main route for imported cars coming into the UK. The other, more populus, part of the seat consists of Sittingbourne.and surrounding villages like Newington, Borden, Bapchild, Teynham, Iwade and Milton Regis, an area of agriculture and commuters that tends to be more Conservative than Labour voting Sheerness.


Current MP
GORDON HENDERSON (Conservative) Born 1948, Gillingham. Former operations manager to a gift manufacturer. Swale councillor 1986-90, 1991-95, Kent councillor 1989-93. Contested Luton South 2001, Sittingbourne & Sheppey 2005. First elected as MP for Sittingbourne & Sheppey in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 24313 (50%)
Lab: 11930 (25%)
LDem: 7943 (16%)
UKIP: 2610 (5%)
Oth: 1782 (4%)
MAJ: 12383 (25%)
Con: 16972 (42%)
Lab: 17051 (42%)
LDem: 5183 (13%)
UKIP: 926 (2%)
Oth: 671 (2%)
MAJ: 79 (0%)
Con: 13831 (37%)
Lab: 17340 (46%)
LDem: 5353 (14%)
UKIP: 661 (2%)
Oth: 673 (2%)
MAJ: 3509 (9%)
Con: 16794 (36%)
Lab: 18723 (41%)
LDem: 8447 (18%)
Oth: 1116 (2%)
MAJ: 1929 (4%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
GORDON HENDERSON (Conservative) See above.
GUY NICHOLSON (Labour) Educated at Central School of Art & Design. Hackney councillor since 1998.
KEITH NEVOLS (Liberal Democrat) Contested Sittingbourne and Sheppey 2010.
RICHARD PALMER (UKIP) Former paramedic.
MAD MIKE YOUNG (Loony) Contested Sittingbourne and Sheppey 2001, 2005, 2010.
Comments - 102 Responses on “Sittingbourne & Sheppey”
  1. The results from the County Elections in Swale put UKIP in first place in the Divisions making up Sittingbourne and Sheppey – even if one assumes all the Tory votes in Swale East came from Teynham and Murston and none of the UKIP ones did! One of the 8 most likely seats to fall to UKIP according to a recent report.

    Both Gordon Henderson (Conservative) and Ian Davison (UKIP) have been reselected from the 2010 contest to fight again in 2015.

  2. Just googled Ian Davison.

    Unfortunate name for a UKIP candidate it would seem.

  3. I reckon that Gordon Henderson could defect to UKIP. He was Britain to leave the EU, anti-gay marriage, social conservative who always speaks of his admiration for Nigel Farage. Henderson was strong here because

  4. If this seat is one of the 8 most likely to fall to UKIP, then UKIP have no chance of reaching double digits in parliamentary representation. A 15% swing from Conservative to UKIP is possible I suppose, but that would still leave the Conservatives with a small majority over Labour. However, UKIP may well take 3rd place from the Lib Dems here.

    The European elections are another matter. UKIP should do very well. But as has been demonstrated in the past, people vote very differently in European elections than in parliamentary ones.

  5. Kent local election results by division:

    Votes cast (using highest vote in multi-member divisions):

    Con: 117,444 (36.23%)
    UKIP: 85,475 (26.37%)
    Lab: 65,018 (20.06%)
    LD: 31,710 (9.78%)
    Green: 12,714 (3.92%)
    Ind: 3,894 (1.20%)
    Others: 7,901 (2.44%)

    Total: 324,156
    Electorate: 1,091,972
    Turnout: 29.69%

  6. Labour select their candidate on Monday -shortlist is:

    Adam Tolhurst – Swale cllr
    Frances Rehal MBE – vice Chair of Faversham Labour party, has contested a number of selections.
    Guy Nicholson – Hackney cllr

  7. It seems Labour have selected already, and Guy Nicholson won the selection.

  8. Labour held onto this seat in 2001 and 2005 largely because of the personal vote an image of Bob Wyatt, a former rugby international. This helps explain why they had such a large swing against them in 2010.

    I do not see Guy Nicholson, of whom I know nothing, as likely to get the personal vote necessary to win this seat for Labour, particularly as he is an incomer.

    It should conversely be said that, as I observe it, Gordon Henderson has a weaker profile than other MPS who gained seats in Kent in 2010 such as Tracy Crouch, Laura Sandys and Charlie Elphicke.

    Bob Wyatt’s vote will have been particularly useful in a very working class seat by the standards of Kent, with work in the paper industry, shipping and for people working at the several prisons on Sheppey.

    It has recently been posted on the Folkestone thread that this seat would be a good target for UKIP. I wouldn’t disagree with that, particularly if they could pick up some of Bob Wyatt’s England orientated support. Whether or not the BNP stand again would be relevant to this point, I fear.

  9. Bob Wyatt was an England cricket captain pre-WWII who played for Warwickshire & died a few years ago. You are of course referring to Derek Wyatt whom you correctly identify as a former England rugby union player.
    As it happens I am, perhaps surprisingly, quite friendly with the 2001 Tory candidate for this constituency, Adrian Lee, who is a Hounslow (Turnham Green ward) Tory councillor & with his partner Cllr Samantha Lee uses the same pub I drink in. He told me that he knew he’d lost in 2001 a fortnight before election day, but nevertheless the rather substantial Labour majority was something of a surprise to many. Perhaps Adrian wasn’t the right sort of candidate for a N Kent seat. It has been remarked by Robert Waller that this seat has very few wards which are completely hopeless for either Labour or the Tories; but even in a brilliant Labour year the Tories tend to be slightly ahead in Sittingbourne, and only Sheerness is in any sense genuinely Labour-inclined. As a largely small-town & semi-rural seat, the constituency should remain Tory now unless there is a future Labour landslide of at least 1997 proportions.

  10. “Adrian Lee, who is a Hounslow (Turnham Green ward) Tory councillor & with his partner Cllr Samantha Lee uses the same pub I drink in.”

    Don’t tell me you subscribe to the uber-PC fashion of describing married couples as “partners”. How absurd is that? Or are they not married but coincidentally share the same surname.

    And call me old fashioned, but what is wrong with calling somebody a girlfriend or a boyfriend….partner sounds so much better when used to mean business partner.

  11. @H Hemmelig
    Surely if people are married then they should be referred to as ‘husband and wife’.

    But yes the last paragraph is very true- There is nothing wrong with referring to couples that way.

  12. I’d prefer to go back to the time when partner always meant business partner.

  13. They aren’t married as far as I know. They planned to do so but haven’t got round to it yet. That was a bit unnecessary.

  14. How coincidental….I don’t know any couples who aren’t married yet have the same surname

  15. Bob Wyatt – such a far cry from Ed Miliband.
    They need to get some substantial figures back
    then they’d be 25% ahead.

  16. My parents neighbours manage one better, they had the same first and surnames before marriage (Lesley smith) their daughter is also dating a smith (ex England football Alan)

  17. oh yeah he plays for mk dons

  18. Evelyn Waugh’s first wife was also called Evelyn Waugh after they had married.

  19. Apologies H.Hemmelig. I hadn’t realised that I’d given the 2 councillors the same surname. This was a brain fart. In fact she is Cllr Samantha Davies.

  20. Slightly different, but my aunt’s neighbour in Radlett some years ago was a Margaret Thatcher. She was the first wife of one Dennis Thatcher.

  21. I am afraid I am not in on this social network!

    Barnaby’s report about the experience of the 2001 Conservative candidate would tend to confirm my impression of this seat, that it is one in which local connections matter, particularly in the insular community of Sheppey. Given this, unless Guy Nicholson has local connections I do not know about Labour may have made a difficult selection in terms of campaigning.

    Grodon Henderson does have local connections. However, he does have the potential difficulty that sometimes when a candidate takes a long time nursing a seat, e.g. when fighting again after narrowly losing an election, it can be difficult to change direction into making an impact at Westminster.

  22. Pete – we had a very solid Labour voter in Heathfield ward some years ago called Margaret Thatcher. However, although she was married twice she didn’t marry a Den(n)is.
    This constituency is very much in the news today.

  23. Sheppey makes Margate look like Belgravia. Surely it must vote Labour?

    Is it possible that the Tories could have won such a big majority here in 2010 with Labour still winning the Sheppey wards?

  24. As I said earlier, only Sheerness is reliably Labour most of the time. Labour can win in other Sheppey areas, but usually only in a very good year.

  25. H Hemmelig- well, here is how the Sheppey ward voted in recent Kent CC elections:


    Adrian Crowther UKIP 1791

    Ken Pugh Conservative 1066
    Patrick Wiggins Labour 900
    David Kemp Liberal Democrats 100
    Michael Rolfe Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 97
    Mad Young Official Monster Raving Loony Party 88


    Adrian Crowther Conservative 1755 Y

    Patricia Sandle Independent 711
    David Sargent Labour 622
    Colin McCarthy Stewart British National Party 568
    David Spurling Liberal Democrats 358
    Mad Mike Young Official Monster Raving Loony Party 252


    Adrian Crowther Conservative 3286 Y

    Matthew Wheatcroft Labour 2965
    Chrstine Martin Liberal Democrats 1302

    Thus, even in 2005, the Conservatives narrowly carried Sheppey- at least at a Kent CC level.

  26. According to Electoral Calculus’ admittedly imperfect projections, the Conservatives will have carried Sheppey comfortably in 2010, leading Labour by over 2:1 in both Sheppey Central and Leysdown and Warden. These two wards correspond to the Kent CC ward of Sheppey.

  27. As for the rest of the Isle, I’d say-

    -Labour will have narrowly carried Sheerness in 2010

    -The Conservatives will have carried Queenborough by about 500 or so.

    -The Conservatives will have carried Minster Cliffs very comfortably.

  28. Sorry for the repeated posting but I should like to add for the sake of completeness that the Kent CC ward of Sheppey corresponds to the Swale wards of Sheppey Central, Leysdown and Warden, and Minster Cliffs. The Kent CC ward of Sheerness corresponds to the Swale wards of Sheerness E and W and the Queenborough and Halfway ward.

    Here are the recent Kent CC election results for the Sheerness ward:


    Angela Harrison Labour 3447 Y

    Martin Goodhew Conservative 2370
    David Kemp Liberal Democrats 934


    Ken Pugh Conservative 1275 Y

    Angela Harrison Labour 1114
    Graeme Sergeant British National Party 539
    David Cassidy Independent 533
    Colin Howe Liberal Democrats 330


    Angela Harrison Labour 3447 Y

    Martin Goodhew Conservative 2370
    David Kemp Liberal Democrats 934

  29. 2013* correction

    Angela Harrison Labour 1185 Y
    Maureen Morgan UKIP 1036
    Richard Darby Conservative 734

  30. i hope the people in the car crash are ok

  31. “According to Electoral Calculus’ admittedly imperfect projections…”

    I didn’t think these projections were still on the site now the boundary review has been shelved. As it happens I was looking for some the other day

  32. They are, Pete. Go on the site and you will find the projections under ‘analysis articles’.

  33. My forecast for 2015:

    Con 47
    Lab 26
    UKIP 15
    LD 9
    Others 3

  34. Other than Sittingbourne and Sheerness, Labour hasn’t got a a chance to win this one back for another generation at least.

  35. Most of this constituency was in the Faversham seat from 1983 to 1997 without either Sittingbourne or Sheppey being mentioned in the name.

  36. According to the local paper, Richard Palmer has been selected as UKIP’s candidate in this constituency following the resignation of Ian Davison. UKIP seem to be getting well organised in this area.

  37. The English Democrats will fight the seat in 2015,and have selected Graeme Sergeant.
    The English Democrats will fight on the NHS and Immigration.

  38. Just to remind people, Labour won this seat very much against the odds in both 2001 and 2005 and then collapsed when the MP retired in 2010. it would be a very long way back for them. That said, it is a little bizarre to describe a seat that change hands at the last general Election as safe.

  39. There’ll likely be a UKIP surge while a collapse in Lib Dem support IMO. Not enough to defeat the Tories though. Labour, if they’re lucky, could narrowly win about 30% of the vote. They should ensure that they can recover some lost ground in Sittingbourne and Sheerness at least.

    Given UKIP’s success in Swale in 2013, I think this might be a target in the future provided they remain prominent in British politics.

  40. I know the Tory candidate from 2001 (Adrian Lee) very well, and with the greatest respect I don’t think he was the right sort of candidate for this area. He’s a big, hearty & very upper-middle sort of bloke. He told me he knew well before polling day that he wasn’t going to win.

  41. “…with the greatest respect I don’t think he was the right sort of candidate for this area. He’s a big, hearty & very upper-middle sort of bloke.”

    You could just as easily be describing Nigel Farage there….yet he seems to be quite popular in these parts.

  42. Gordon Henderson is a good fit here – a likeable working class right-wing populist – and he achieved one hell of a swing in 2010

  43. Nigel Farage is nothing like the size of Adrian. And Adrian guffaws with laughter too.

  44. The big question is whether UKIP will overtake Labour for second place. Labour had to do very well to hod the seat both in 2001 and in 2005. In such circumstances Labour’s vote often falls away at the election after they have lost.

    Much of this seat, particularly in Sherness and Shepway, appears to be good territory demographically for UKIP. If they do come second here next time, this seat looks like a good medium- to long-term UKIP prospect.

  45. A postscript. I would agree that Gordon Henderson is a good fit here from the Tory point of view. But will he be fighting the election after next? Either a new or an aging Tory candidate could let UKIP in. Henderson has not been in parliament long enough to be an institution like Sir Roger Gale in Thanet North,

  46. Derek Wyatt didn’t exactly retire. He resigned because of his abuse of the expenses system – claiming his everyday shop at the taxpayers expense on several occasions and received full allowance without any ability to explain what he used the money for. The seat swung conservative because of the tide of national change and an old school Labour politician who had forgotten he serves the people, the people don’t serve him.

  47. Sheppey Central by-election: UKIP gain from Conservative.

  48. On an enormous swing:

    UKIP – 58.4% (+42.7)
    CON – 22.8% (-21.2)
    LAB – 16.9% (-15.2)
    OMRLP – 1.9% (-6.4)

    Anyone know of local issues involved?

  49. I have heard that the UKIP councillors who were elected here back in 2013 are very popular locally.

    Henderson might as well defect to UKIP to be honest. I have had this seat down as a UKIP gain for over a year now.

  50. Main party candidates:

    Con: Gordon Henderson
    Lab: Guy Nicholson
    LD: Keith Nevols
    UKIP: Richard Palmer
    Greens: Gary Miller

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