St Austell & Newquay

2015 Result:
Conservative: 20250 (40.2%)
Labour: 5150 (10.2%)
Lib Dem: 12077 (24%)
Green: 2318 (4.6%)
UKIP: 8503 (16.9%)
Mebyon Kernow: 2063 (4.1%)
MAJORITY: 8173 (16.2%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Cornwall. Part of the Cornwall council area.

Main population centres:



Current MP
STEPHEN DOUBLE (Conservative) Born 1966, St Austell. Former company director. Former Cornwall councillor. First elected as MP for St Austell & Newquay in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 18877 (40%)
Lab: 3386 (7%)
LDem: 20189 (43%)
UKIP: 1757 (4%)
Oth: 3029 (6%)
MAJ: 1312 (3%)

2015 Candidates
STEPHEN DOUBLE (Conservative) Born 1966, St Austell. Company director. Former Cornwall councillor.
STEPHEN GILBERT (Liberal Democrat) Born 1976, Truro. Educated at Fowey Community School and University of Wales. Consultant to a public relations firm. Former Restormel councillor, Haringey councillor 2002-2006. MP for St Austell and Newquay 2010 to 2015.
STEVE SLADE (Green) Runs a renovations company.
DICK COLE (Mebyon Kernow) Born 1968. Educated at Treviglas School and University of Wales. Archaeologist. Restormel councillor 1999-2009, Cornwall councillor since 2009. Contested North Cornwall 2005, St Austell and Newquay 2010.
Comments - 183 Responses on “St Austell & Newquay”
  1. “I’d imagine that the majority of people don’t really care”

    That certainly wasn’t the case for Karen Gillard next door in SE Cornwall, nor for Ashley Crossley in Falmouth & Camborne. Cornwall is one of the areas of the UK where these things do seem to matter more than elsewhere.

    I’m not at all confident making predictions about Cornwall as it is so idiosyncratic. I had assumed the Lib Dems would hold all their seats here but I am starting to doubt that now. It basically boils down to whether UKIP lose a large part of their vote back to the LDs or not.

  2. By all accounts, Karen Gillard was defeated due to the fact she was a terrible candidate, rather than due to her sexuality.

  3. Well….Stephen Gilbert has always been openly gay. He is a local man, and I would suggest that both Ashley Crossley and Karen Gillard suffered because they weren’t local.

    Karen Gillard is now a barrister and is based in London, and apparently coming from Plymouth was a cardinal sin!

  4. I have had the misfortune to meet Karen Gillard, when she was a Tory. Perhaps indeed her sexuality was less of an issue than her general abrasiveness; at one time she was also a close friend of John Bercow, with whom she shares the same temperament. She was based in London for a long time prior to deciding to move to Plymouth to pursue her political ambitions there.

    You’re probably right about Gilbert. I’d hesitate to predict his defeat here, though partly because I don’t know Cornwall very well.

  5. Colin Breed was a very rightist Lib Dem, and rather socially conservative. He was a good match for SE Cornwall in a way most Lib Dems wouldn’t be. It’s probably the most naturally Tory, and least naturally liberal, seat in Cornwall.

    This is one of those seats where I’d be very reticent to trust the polling too much. I’d say Gilbert is looking like he’s headed for a loss right now, but that could very easily change. It ought to be quite close.

  6. I can understand libertarians like Jeremy Browne being part of the LDs and I can understand social democrats with religiously-based morality being in the LDs, but I’ve never fathomed why people who are ardent free-marketeers and also social conservatives are members of the LDs. Cyril Smith was one of these.

  7. Cyril Smith’s social conservatism derived from a love of spanking helpless little boys. I’m not sure he’s the best example to use.

    Much of his free-marketeering was related to constituency and or special-interests – with hindsight he was perhaps being blackmailed. Certainly his stance against banning the use of asbestos – brought in mostly by the Tories – was reprehensible and the delaying tactics undoubtedly led to deaths, not least in the vicinity of the factory in question in Rochdale.

  8. As it happens I’ve been leaning more & more towards the Con Gain camp with regard to this seat. This poll tends to reinforce that view, though I do tend to have reservations along with others of you about constituency polls.

  9. There are still china clay mines in the St Austell area, employing a fairly significant number of people, and aside from fishing this is really the only primary industry left in Cornwall now (the last tin mine closed some years back). As such I’m quite surprised Labour’s vote is so low here. I’m guessing china clay workers are unionised.

  10. The Lib Dems are a quite diverse party. In opposition, it helped them, as they could be all things to all people. In government, it’s hurting, because they actually have to do things. It’s very hard to keep social conservative/social democrat types (Breed), classical liberal types (Browne), old-school social liberals (Webb), moderate economic liberals (Orange Book crew), and religious lefty social democrats (Farron) all happy, plus their other factions. They could do that when they weren’t really responsible for anything, though.

    Say what you will about Browne, but he is right about one thing: for the Lib Dems to exist as a party of government, they need to unify a bit more and present a more cohesive set of ideas.

  11. But nationally, most of the people who would support Browne’s views are staunch Tory voters and have remained so even in the worst of times for the party (1997-2005). Being a more consistent party would by necessity mean that they obtain massively fewer votes. Perhaps it’s inevitable now anyway.

  12. I don’t know the area well enough and can see it being a 2,000 majority on either side.

  13. I’d imagine it’ll be within 1,000, whatever happens.

    I do still think the Lib Dems will be around 12-15% nationally on election day.

  14. With UKIP and some recent results i have moved from the upper to lower range of that. Their vote is collapsing to an extent outside their strongholds to make 15pc unlikely. I think they’ll do worse than 79 but alas more seats.

  15. I think under 10, personally. People have had plenty of “real elections” for their vote share to recover tactically and it hasn’t. I actually expect them to come fourth in vote share behind UKIP, but easily third in seats.

  16. I think that under 10 is very unlikely. I will make a bold prediction that they will either double UKIPs popular vote or get very close to it.

    14 ish vs 8 ish for UKIP

  17. I’d go for 13-14%.

  18. There was some discussion on this seat in the Camborne thread, and I’ve been giving it some thought. The Ashcroft polling was downright awful for the Lib Dems, but they’ve held out alright in the locals here.

    I think Gilbert could hold, but only on split opposition, and it will be very close. UKIP should hurt the Tories more than the Lib Dems here, but will cut into both. I’d also expect a small Labour revival, but not nearly as much as in some other Cornish seats. Labour hasn’t been recovering in St. Austell the way it has in Camborne, Penzance, or Falmouth.

    Personally, I think North Cornwall and St. Ives should stay Lib Dem, the Tories should hold SE Cornwall, Camborne, and Truro, and this seat should be about as hard to call as any could be.

    I’ll hazard this guess:

    LD 31
    Con 30
    UKIP 20
    Lab 13
    MK 2
    Oth 4

  19. Labour has done poorly in St Austell for even longer than it did in Penzance before its recent recovery there. Though therefore there will be only be a very modest Labour improvement here, I still narrowly favour a Tory gain here after seeing the Ashcroft poll.

  20. As people will know, after the Lib Dems won all 5 seats in Cornwall in 2005, Cornwall was then split into 6 seats for 2010. Worth remembering that while they all had notional Lib Dem majorities, this seat was the most vulnerable of the 6. But the Lib Dems won this in 2010 while losing 3 of the other 6 – Steve* certainly knows how to campaign.

    (*full disclosure: I know Steve & he used to be my ward colleague in Haringey many years back – I’m an ex-Lib Dem. I think the above comes under ‘relevant election info’ and not ‘biased plugging’… though I do think he’ll win!)

  21. I had doubts at the time that the notionals were correct, and I still harbour them to some extent.

  22. In what ways, Barnaby?

    And I think it’s about 50/50 that he holds. This is definitely the trickiest to predict in Cornwall. I think we have two likely LD holds, three likely Con holds, and this one, which is a head scratcher and no mistake.

  23. UKIP will probably harm the LDs to a comparable extent as the Tories, therefore rises in the Green/Mebyon Kernow vote will prove decisive in LD/Tory ultra-marginals.

  24. PTR – I have a feeling that the Tory position was notionally better in Truro & Falmouth, and the LD position better here. I agree with your conclusions as to the Cornish seats.

  25. WOC, I think there’s a good chance MK won’t stand against Andrew George.

    Barnaby, yes, that sounds about right. I think that would probably be true. A lot of Matthew Taylor’s support probably came from St. Austell.

  26. Cornwall as a whole is, as we know, very unpredictable.

    But there is a chance that Stephen Gilbert could well narrowly cling on to this, on a very low share of the vote, and that Andrew George too could hold on in St Ives. I think the Lib Dems might still lose at least one seat in Cornwall, but it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if they retained all three I don’t think.

  27. I think this is the most likely to go. North Cornwall––both in Ashcroft polling and in the locals, where the Lib Dems dominate it––looks pretty likely to be held. The Ashcroft polling convinced me that St. Ives will be held, as well. I also think MK will give AG a break there. This is the one I’m less certain of.

    There is also an outside chance of an LD gain in Camborne or Truro, but I’m less gung-ho about those seats than some “the Lib Dems will have at least one gain” people. If they make a gain somewhere (I think they probably will), it will not be in Cornwall, I think. (Maidstone, Oxford W, Montgomeryshire, Winchester, Watford, and Newton Abbot are the ones I’m watching, although obviously none are likely to go to the Lib Dems at all, I’d say they have a 10-25% chance of taking all of those, meaning that they might well get one by chance.)

  28. I don’t think the Lib Dems will gain any seats at all, but saying that I’ll probably turn out to be wrong.

  29. I’d hazard a guess at a con gain, I think that really people vote for the party over the MP however I don’t think people will be bothered about his sexuality. Certainly not anyone who would vote Liberal democrat.

  30. Yes. although the Lib Dems are likely to lose 15-20 seats net next year, their seat tally has traditionally been quirky and unpredictable – winning out of the blue in unexpected seats and sometimes losing those they are tipped to hold.

    There will no doubt be some surprises and it’s certainly well on the cards that they will pick up a couple of seats, e.g. Camborne and Redruth where Lab-Lib-Con vote churn may make the outcome even more unpredictable than usual.

  31. I’m in total agreement with Dr. John. Losing a net of 15 seats would be a pretty good result for them, I think, as it’d take them down (from their 57 seats won in 2010, not the 56 they now hold) to 42. I think they’d be thrilled. I think they could lose as many as 30 (down to 27), honestly, although it’s not likely.

    It’ll be very interesting to see who holds, largely because of how it’d set up a leadership fight. I think Alexander, Webb, Farron, Lamb, Davey, and Browne are the most likely to make a leadership bid. Laws and Carmichael have been pretty categorical in their disinterest in the job. Outside contenders would be Cable, Kennedy, Williams (Ceredigion), and George, and, of course, we can’t totally disregard the idea that a new MP (they will have some new MPs, whether or not they gain seats, assuming they hold seats like Fife NE, Hazel Grove, and Bath) could stand for leadership. Huhne first stood for the top job a year after becoming an MP, and a year after that, both he and Clegg had only been in Parliament for two years.

    Of those MPs:
    Alexander – likely hold
    Webb – likely hold
    Farron – dead cert hold
    Lamb – likely hold
    Davey – likely hold
    Browne – likely hold

    Cable – likely hold
    Kennedy – dead cert hold
    Williams – likely hold
    George – 50/50

    Meaning that pretty much all their leadership candidates are likely to be in Parliament next time around. It will be interesting to see if the various factions coalesce around a single candidate each, or if it’s very split. For instance, will Browne back Alexander, or will he insist on standing himself? Webb could back Farron. I’d think it’d be Alexander and Davey (Orange Bookers), Farron (social democrat types), Webb (middle ground), and perhaps George (far-lefties) and Browne (far-righters). I could see something like this, if I’m going to speculate wildly on an election with unknown candidates that may or may not happen (by round)

    Farron 34
    Davey 21
    Webb 17
    Alexander 15
    George 8
    Browne 5

    Farron 34, 0
    Davey 22, +1
    Alexander 18, +3
    Webb 18, +1
    George 8, 0
    Browne 0, -5

    Farron 40, +6
    Davey 23, +1
    Webb 19, +1
    Alexander 18, 0
    George 0, -8

    Farron 44, +4
    Davey 31, +8
    Webb, 25, +6
    Alexander 0, -18

    Farron 59, +15
    Davey 41, +10
    Webb, 0, -25

    Sorry for the massive post. I hope it’s more just line breaks than walls of text. I also didn’t take exhausted ballots into account.

  32. I think losing 15 seats is incredibly optimistic , having looked at the amount of marginals. I can see them going down to about 30 seats. I think that they could really lose as much as half of their seats however , depending on whether their vote picks up or not.

    Is it possible, and I know this is a little odd, but if UKIP , the tories and the liberal democrats had enough seats combined they’d be willing to form a umbrella government? Because I think that’d actually be really good.

  33. The LDs won’t lose any seats because all their MPs have monumental personal votes.

  34. They have about 5 dead cert losses, 5 which they will almost certainly lose but have a glimmer of hope in and another 20 which are at risk, of which I think they’ll lose about half.

  35. Robberbutton, you’re beating a dead horse. In fact, the horse has rotted away, its skeletal remains have been pulverized by time, and all that remains is dust, and you’re still beating it.

    The Lib Dems will win between 25 and 45 seats in 2015. I honestly think that the variation is that great. It’s incredibly hard to predict the exact number because of how schizophrenic their vote is across the country. My personal guess is about 35, though.

  36. I think Robberbutton was being satirical, making fun of those who are optimistic from an LD point of view. Like a more believable Gloy Plopwell.

  37. RE: H.Hemmelig asking why the Labour vote is not higher despite people being employed in pits… what has any of the other parties done for cornwall? The LibDem Vote is a protest vote.

  38. where has Gloy Plopwell even gone?

  39. As I said, he is around, but under another name, and makes serious posts in support of a party other than the Lib Dems.

  40. At least Barnaby gets it

  41. Oh, I knew he was being satirical. I understood Robberbutton’s point. My point was that people have satirized that more than enough at this point. We understand.

    Barnaby, so mysterious!

  42. Not really PTR. One of the regulars here was able to guess Mr Plopwell’s identity, and I met him in person not long ago. He is one of the posters noted for being particularly unsympathetic to the LDs in fact, and several regulars are now aware who he really is. Not me, although I too am extremely unsympathetic to that party.

  43. I would speculate that Andrew George might be one of the handful of Lib Dems who will still retain sympathy from Labour-inclined voters and, especially if MK-PC decide to give him a free run, this may be enough to see him through next year.
    This seat is much more difficult to predict and it may well come down to the strength of the Labour vote and that will depend on how bullish the campaign of their recently re-instated candidate, Deborah Hopkins, proves to be.
    On the whole, this stirkes me as being a Conservative gain, as I believe they are likely to suffer a similar drop in support to UKIP as the Lib Dems, but that Mr Gilbert is likely to be affected by a loss in support to Labour. In the overall churn (with some Labour support going to UKIP as well), I would see the Tories home here.

  44. MK have selected for St Ives

  45. Yes, Rob Simmons.

  46. The LibDem vote has been stuck below 10% for so long, and seem to be flatlining at best. The opinion polls have over estimated their vote share. I therefore now think it is very likely they will get less than 10% nationally.

    FPP is a cruel system to parties that fall badly out of favour with the public, and personal loyalty to a candidate can be swept aside if the electorate want to give a party a good kicking.

    I think the LibDems will be very unlikely to hold this seat. I think v few will retain their seats. I’m genuinely sad to think that a generation of building the LibDems will be swept away in may next year. I think it will be the big story of the night.

    Don’t forget they are down to 2/3 of their 2010 vote share. I’m not sure they will get their traditional uplift during the campaign. It is different this time, they are in government.

  47. Governments are more rather than less likely to get an uplift during the campaign itself.

  48. “Don’t forget they are down to 2/3 of their 2010 vote share.”

    Down to 1/3rd. They’ve lost 2/3rds.

  49. Jamie, I’m a tad more optimistic than you, but that could well be right. While I’m not a supporter of the Lib Dems, I think they are a valuable factor in the political culture, and I would think it a horrible loss if they were wiped out. I doubt they will be anywhere close to completely gone, though.

  50. Maybe we can encourage you into the blue column PT Richards.

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