North East Somerset

2015 Result:
Conservative: 25439 (49.8%)
Labour: 12690 (24.8%)
Lib Dem: 4029 (7.9%)
Green: 2802 (5.5%)
UKIP: 6150 (12%)
MAJORITY: 12749 (24.9%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Avon. Part of the Bath and North East Somerset council area.

Main population centres: Keynsham, Radstock, Midsomer Norton.

Profile: An unusually shaped seat that takes in all the western part of the Bath and North East Somerset council area, and the rural outskirts of Bath (known as Bathavon) in the east, meaning the Bath constituency is entirely surrounded by a thin belt of North East Somerset. The seat contains some contrasting areas. The northern parts of the seat, especially the town of Keynsham, are very much affluent commuter areas for Bath and Bristol. To the east the seat is more rural, covering the patchwork of farmland and rural villages that make up the Chew Valley. The southern part around Midsomer Norton and Radstock is part of the old Somerset coalfield. The last of the coal mines closed in the 1960s, to be replaced by light industry, but the close knit industrial heritage of the area remains.

Politics: Called Wansdyke (after the old local authority) until 2010, this was a Conservative seat through the 80s, fell to Labour in the 1997 landslide and was regained by the Tories in 2010. As might be expected, the rural and suburban parts of the seat tend to the Conservatives, with Labour`s support strongest in the former mining areas and parts of southern Keynsham.

Current MP
JACOB REES-MOGG (Conservative) Born 1969, Somerset, son of Times editor Lord Rees-Mogg. Educated at Eton and Oxford University. Former fund manager. Contested Central Fife 1997, The Wrekin 2001. First elected as MP for North East Somerset in 2010. Jacob Rees-Mogg cuts an other-worldly and young-fogeyish figure, often revelling in speeches litt ered withhistorical and classical references. In his first Parliamentary contest in 1997 he famously went canvassing accompanied by his former nanny.
Past Results
Con: 21130 (41%)
Lab: 16216 (32%)
LDem: 11433 (22%)
UKIP: 1754 (3%)
Oth: 670 (1%)
MAJ: 4914 (10%)
Con: 18847 (37%)
Lab: 20686 (41%)
LDem: 10050 (20%)
UKIP: 1129 (2%)
Oth: 221 (0%)
MAJ: 1839 (4%)
Con: 17593 (36%)
Lab: 22706 (46%)
LDem: 7135 (15%)
GRN: 958 (2%)
Oth: 655 (1%)
MAJ: 5113 (10%)
Con: 19318 (35%)
Lab: 24117 (44%)
LDem: 9205 (17%)
Oth: 755 (1%)
MAJ: 4799 (9%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Wansdyke

2015 Candidates
JACOB REES-MOGG (Conservative) See above.
TODD FOREMAN (Labour) Born Kansas. Educated at Grinnell College. Solicitor. Kensington and Chelsea councillor since 2010. Contested West Central 2012 London Assembly elections.
WERA HOBHOUSE (Liberal Democrat) Born Germany. Rochdale councillor 2004-2014, originally elected as a Conservative.. Contested Heywood and Middleton 2010. Defected to the Liberal Democrats in 2005.
ERNIE BLABER (UKIP) Former manager and royal marine.
Comments - 539 Responses on “Somerset North East”
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  1. Southstoke, Freshford, and Bathampton (all now in this seat) were in Bath from 1997 to 2010 but I don’t know which seats they were in before then (however I do know Bathampton was in Frome until 1950)

  2. Home to one of the most surreal MPs I’ve ever observed. Ress-Mogg would look more at place if he’d been elected in the 19th century. As someone who doesn’t have to be a constituent of his, his presence in the Commons is quaint. But, one wonders how many of his constituents are put off by his personna.

    Tbh, I don’t know a thing about this constituency, but I did hear there were significant boundary changes come the last election, and the profile of the seat is now much more favourable to the Tories than that marginal status might suggest. Methinks Labour may have abit of a glass ceiling in this constituency – they’ll get close in future, but no further. At least that’s my understanding.

  3. I just wrote out an interesting reply
    with some local knowledge then this bloody code
    rejected it.

    I will respond again when I have time.

  4. Apparently in the Rees-Mogg household the ladies do still actually leave when the port is served. He still dons evening dress for dinner, but not always (he thinks that this gives him a little bit more street cred apparently – not that the phrase “street cred” would ever leave his lips of course).
    Labour did do rather well here in 2010 given the circumstances (and the boundaries), partly perhaps because of the decent popularity of Dan Norris. The result however also might suggest that Rees-Mogg might have certain popularity issues himself, perhaps not that surprisingly. I think it’s rather unlikely that the 2010 result is some kind of fluke, as the previous contribution implies. It is a seat quite a bit of which has a coalfield past, and gentrification has been rather slow for the most part. Labour will need a rather larger swing if Dan Norris isn’t the candidate, but it’s quite a leap to suggest it can’t be won.

  5. In a way Jacob Rees-Mogg is the Tory version of Dennis Skinner.

    If I may presume to generalise massively about these things…

    They’re both:

    Independent, whilst still very steadfastly a Party man
    Eccentric in their own ways
    Admired by some of their opponents as being quite principled in their beliefs
    But disliked by other opponents for almost stereotypically embodying what’s ‘bad’ about their respective parties
    And both can crack a joke in Parliament (which not every MP is good at doing, despite what they think)

  6. Good to see John D back.
    Agree with most, perhaps all of that.

  7. I can’t help but think of Gussie Fink Nottle from Jeeves and Wooster whenever I see him on TV.

  8. BM – which is why I added the qualifier that I don’t know a thing about this constituency, and just relaying what I had heard. Well, since this seat is winnable for Labour, Rees-Mogg best be aware that, whilst we find his persona oddly charming, a fair few of his constituents might tire of it. An old-fashioned charm is one thing, but spending your days looking like you’d be more suited to arguing with the Whig Party on the points of the Corn Laws is going to make him too detached for some of his voters to stomach.

  9. I don’t know: I think the vast majority of people who find his persona annoying wouldn’t have voted for him in 2010.

  10. Andy, I imagine a fair few voters really didn’t have an idea of what he’d be like. I’m sure some would have heard a little about him before the election, but alot of voters of course tend to vote by party label, without knowing anything of the candidate. Since then, no doubt some of those voters have now learnt what Rees-Mogg is like. And no doubt some of those have been abit put off.

  11. Radstock, and the adjoining larger town of Midsomer Norton look rather less picturesque than much of this large constituency (but are still pleasant enough),

    Keynsham, and the smaller Saltford, (both between Bristol and Bath), and the largeish villages south of Bath, such as Freshford, and South Stoke all look very nice – I don’t know whether there is any mining history in the last 2 – there could be.

  12. Damn
    That CAPTCHA code came up again
    when I had entered it right.
    I mistakenly only copied and pasted part of my post – that isn’t all of it.
    I give up.

    Can’t something be done about it so it doesn’t wipe the comments away?

  13. Keynsham isn’t in fact ex-mining, as far as I know, but it does have a working-class southern half. In fact I do believe Labour recently gained a town council seat there. The town is the home town of former England opener Marcus Trescothick.

  14. Surely the type of seat where any trends are in the tory’s favour. I imagine if JRM loses he could stand again and hopefully not be in trouble again. Rather like Norfolk North West or Castle Point (ignoring the Spink Saga)

  15. Well, you’d have thought so, but I don’t think this seat is very different at all from Wansdyke pre-1997, and yet Labour is in a much better position now than it was then. Labour made enormous political gains in this area between 1987 and 2001, and has held on to quite a lot of it.

  16. JJB – I thought I’d turned the Captcha thing off! Certainly I hadn’t meant to include it on the new site. I’ve had another go at deactiving it, so it should be gone now.

  17. ‘Surely the type of seat where any trends are in the tory’s favour.’

    The electoral stats suggest the opposite. In 1992 the Tories had a majority of almost 15,000 here. Now that’s down to 5,000 – which suggests ther exact opposite of what you’re saying

    I would have thought the incumbancy vote that Norris would have benefited from 2010 will be more than made up by the ampount of Lib Dem to Labour defectors if he doesn’t stand for Labour

  18. Very glad to see the back of the Captcha thing. I had actually come to terms with it on the old place but on this one it seemed to work less well and like Joe I have had occasions when I’ve entered it correctly but it has rejected. Furthermore whereas in the past, if this happened, it would have retained my text when I go back, on this site it happened that it had not (and typically this was the one occasion when I had written a long post and not copied it to my clipboard)

  19. It will be interesting to see how big the Norris factor turns out to be if he doesn’t stand again.

  20. Pete – not sure it won’t be back. 20 odd spam comments in the hour it was off, real pain clearing out the moderation queues when they are full of crap.

    Not sure why you were seeing it when you were registered anyway – it should only have shown up for anonymous users, so it clearly wasn’t working as it should have been.

  21. The old wansdyke seat included a large rural valley area with a lake. I think this seat almost certainly still does, south of bristol. Chew I think. There is a rather gaunt village called pensford with a listed railway viaduct like a ghost. This would probably be fsairly tory as I don’t think the mines were this far west. I guess a tory hold but labour is competitive and that yellow bar is likely to halve

  22. I think midsomer norton would be the largest and most sttrongly labour component. I must go through the 2011 results also to see whethere the lib dem vote collapsed and if so who to

  23. Labour does have reasonable support in Midsomer Norton and there are also Labour-leaning areas around Midsomer Norton eg Radstock and Paulton. I think they have some support in parts of Keynsham also.

  24. As well as Marcus Trescothick Keynsham was also the home of Horace Batchelor. Many years ago he used to advertise on Radio Luxembourg a method he had developed supposedly enabling people to win money on the football pools. Apparently he used to spell out each letter of the name Keynsham when reading out the address people should write to were they interested in using his method.

    I only became aware of him because his name is mentioned in the lyrics of “The Intro and the Outro” by the Bonzo Dog Band from their album “Gorrilla”.

  25. Pensford is one of a number of Somerset villages where Richmond folk owned land. That’s why there’s a Pensford Avenue in Kew.
    There are several villages, including quite small ones such as Farmborough, where there were mines. Although Labour’s performance in these areas is inconsistent, the party does sometimes win in such areas. The Chew Valley & the villages further towards the border with Liam Fox’s constituency are the most Tory areas. Re Keynsham, indeed yes, Labour did win the South ward from the Tories in a town council by-election last week. Runnymede’s analysis is pretty good. As it happens, I’m off to Runnymede shortly.

  26. Actually Midsomer Norton was Conservative in 2011, and also 2007.
    In 2003 it was mostly so too, with 1 LD on the split votes.

    In 1999, Labour were way ahead in both divisions.

    Labour’s stronger areas are actually the smaller area os Paulton and Radstock
    and these look like Labour held up in 2007 aswell.

    There are a few LD votes still in some of the rural areas but it seems Labour has a reasonable showing there too and could catch up by squeezing the LDs out
    but 2011 shows this seat pretty Conservatives, although the Tories were still quite popular then,

  27. Jacob Rees-Mogg canvassing and being interviewed as candidate in the 2010 election,
    Dan Norris also featured.

    Near the Pensford Viaduct it seems.

    h ttp://

  28. I don’t know whether Mr Whitehead could – for a fee – come along and reconstruct the results in Somerset NE back to 1992
    (or alternatively the old Wansdyke of 1992 through to 2010)
    whichever is easier.

  29. Kieran I thought I was the only person left who remembered Horace Batchelor. I was thinking of posting to the same effect – it’s the only thing those of us in our 60s know about Keynsham.

    Yes the ads spelled it out letter by letter. And the modus operandi was that everyone was given part of a full perm, so that someone was bound to win….

  30. Certainly I would never have heard of Keynsham were it not for the Horace Batchelor connection. As I say it was my liking for the music of the Bonzos that made me aware of him, me being nowhere near old enough to remember Radio Luxembourg.

    As well as the name checking of Batchelor I referred to above, the Bonzo Dog Band also produced an album entitled “Keynsham”.

  31. JRM looks rather like Peter Mandelson in that photo.

  32. And it seems that JRM has managed to climb the social ladder through marriage.

    His children are the ancestoral heirs to this place:

    I wonder if we’ll see a Rees-Mogg as Conservative candiate for Wentworth in 2030s?

  33. Possibly communications aren’t brilliant here if you are a commuter.
    Beeching was quite active in this segment south of Bristol as far as Taunton /Castle Carey and Frome where the mainline is (although I think the North Somerset Line across Pensford was closed before).

    The Wells Road is quite good but other roads are not particularly fast.

    This may have slowed down demographic change in the Labour competitive mini urban component of Midsomer N/Radstock/Paulton

    Keynsham I think can rather go either way.

    It’s quite an impressive showing for Labour though in a heavily rural/semi rural seat in England, even in 2010.

  34. I was in this constituency today,

    when visiting the adjacent seat to the south of it –
    someone’s birthday party who lives in Glastonbury (Wells constituency).

    Got a good view of the vast Pensford Viaduct here, south of Bristol.

    It is a very beautiful landscape.

  35. What are folks opinions on banning our National flag by our so called elected council ,I for one won’t be voting for any of them again,shame on them

  36. That is a stupid idea.

    I’m in favour of our flag flying from all town halls and some other public buildings as well such as schools, courts and hospitals.

  37. That sounds very unlikely. I don’t believe that councils have the power to ban the flying of flags. Obviously, they can choose whether or not to fly them over public buildings and would make decisions on planning permission for flagpoles, but these would be nothing to do with banning a flag.

  38. WoD – I googled it. Daft story. Council got a nice new flagpole, had to decide what flags to buy, ended up buying the Union Flag but not a flag of St George. Yawn. Local press got excited because some councillor in the meeting said that St George’s Flag would offend Muslims, but no apparent sign that any other councillors agreed with her, they just decided to get the Union Flag.

  39. That councillor obviously never travelled through the Muslim parts of Newham and Tower Hamlets during the world cup or the Olympics. There were St George flags draped out of houses and cars all over the place. I sometimes think we invent reasons to be offended that don’t exist.

  40. ‘I sometimes think we invent reasons to be offended that don’t exist.’

    That’s the liberal PC Left for you

    Most muslims in the UK think that banning the St Georges flag because it might cause offence is as loopy as we do – and fathom to understand such lop-sidded thinking

  41. The problem is of course that the powers that be have a tendency to listen to self-appointed ‘community leaders’ or other troublemakers on these issues.

  42. Lets give the benefit of the doubt here
    but there are plenty of councils which do fail to display the flags.

    I went through Dalston on a bus the day after the Jubilee
    and there was almost nothing up apart from on a few council flats.

    But agree that Muslims probably think we should fly the flag too,
    and am heartened by HH’s observations.

  43. Dalston’s quite gentrified these days. That’s probably more a reflection of white champagne socialists not flying the flag.

  44. A flag is a very very silly thing to get worked up about one way or the other. There is any number of other ways to show you love your country, its people etc.

  45. Have to agree. You just have to live in Norway for a few years on their annual independence day (tomorrow – 17th May) to rapidly lose your love of waving flags. I just got off the phone with an Icelander who was an old colleague when I worked there and she is looking forward to tomorrow with the usual dread.

    I do however believe that people shouldn’t get worked up about it from the other side. To waste time moaning that flying an English flag is offensive is pretty ridiculous.

  46. I personally find people claiming that my flag is offensive to be offensive to me. What do I do about it?

  47. Haha. Yes that is a point.

  48. Sadly in Northern Ireland, flags are still very contentious as we have seen over the past few months.

  49. The sensitivities there are perfectly understandable.

    I don’t understand why it’s so controversial in Somerset though.

  50. It isn’t, except in the minds of a few left-wing academics.

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