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. Not unlikely, JJB. I’ve almost always voted either Lib Dem or Tory, and I’m unlikely to do the former this year, partly because the Lib Dems are not a factor where I live, and partly because, although I want them to survive, I’m also not thrilled with all their work in coalition.

  2. You are a most civilised poster PTR. I hope you will be convinced. In the meantime, interesting points.

  3. Thank you; I would reciprocate your compliment.

  4. Andy JS of course, my typing error.

    Joe. That’s what I though for some time, but we’re in unchartered waters here, a junior coalition partner. What has happened in reality is the Tory/lab gap has narrowed but the LibDem support has if anything fallen. This suggests to me that their poll rating may be stuck below 10% through to May, we’ll see.

  5. PTR

    I don’t think the LibDems will be wiped out. But it strikes me the Tories have not yet fully recovered from 1997. In that election their representation went down by a half, if we are left with 15-20 LibDems it might take them even longer to rebuild their party; which as you suggest would be a loss to our politics. A radical centre party can be a real force for good.

  6. Yes, I’d agree. To the Tories, 1997 was worse than ’83 was to Labour. They were utterly ruined. Perhaps 2015 will be the Lib Dems’ ’97 experience.

  7. Our vote share in 1997 wasn’t as bad as Labour’s in 1983 but one does feel the structural damage was worse.

  8. Yes, very much so. Partly that’s just because Labour can win more seats on a lower percentage. The Tories need to stretch further out of their heartland to win a majority than Labour does, as well. Also, Labour gained back so much in ’97 that it really didn’t matter how bad it’d been before then.

  9. Yes but it is only since about 1990-91 that Labour has got much better at targeting.
    A problem that the Tories very much still face today.
    I think it’s actually more than targeting – it is social geography and just where the votes are.

    They just do seem to be able in a given sub region to be able to win 3 or 4 seats on small majorities to one safe Tory seat.

  10. The rise of the Lib Dems is often said to have hurt Labour more than the Tories, but I’ve never been sure that’s true. Most Lib Dem seats are Tory-facing, and it’s the Tories who have never hit the levels of the ’80s again. Labour has had a pretty good few years, by contrast.

  11. To flip that around, the Lib Dem collapse does not appear to be benefitting Labour as much as the conventional thinking that stronger LDs hurting Labour would seem to suggest, either in terms of vote share or projected seats.

  12. Yes. Part of that is UKIP hurting everyone, but a lot of that is that Labour wouldn’t win all that many more seats if the Lib Dems completely ceased to exist. You know who would? The Tories.

  13. Ashcroft (In Your Constituency):

    Conservative 26%
    Liberal Democrat 26%
    UKIP 25%
    Labour 13%
    Green 6%
    Other 3%

    Each of the top three are separated by two poll respondents. With the relatively high Labour and Green votes, I expect a Lib Dem hold.

  14. Straight four way marginal. Wow.

  15. according to UK Election Forecast this will be one of the seats where UKIP will get the best turn out. Baring in mind how UKIP voters consist of people that haven’t voted before and increase the turnout – Its quite possible that UKIP could put the Tories to the post here.

  16. This will be a bizarre seat to watch. I’ll make a very tentative prediction:

    CON 29
    LD 29
    UKIP 23
    LAB 11
    GRN 4
    OTH 4

  17. Main party candidates:

    Con: Stephen Double
    Lab: Deborah Hopkins
    LD: Stephen Gilbert
    UKIP: David Mathews
    Greens: Steve Slade

  18. Think Greens have a good chance of sweeping up votes, as will UKIP which will result in a Tory Gain.

  19. Dick Cole has announced he’ll be standing again for MK. He’s the ‘others’ in your 2010 results above

  20. I think UKIP could do really well here. The candidate David Mathews is well known around St.Austell for his charity work

  21. If you extrapolate the current state of the polls to Cornwall (a questionable method I realise) and relate it back to the constituency polling here last year then at present this looks like Ukip’s best bet for a win in Cornwall.

  22. I think it’s going to be very very close here, but that Stephen Gilbert COULD just hold on. My prediction-
    Gilbert (Lib Dem)- 35%
    Double (Conservative)- 34%
    Mathews (UKIP)- 15%
    Hopkins (Labour)- 8%
    Cole (Mebyon Kernow)- 5%
    Slade (Green)- 3%

  23. I agree it will be very tight but I think the Conservatives will narrowly win.

  24. I’m with Tory, but neither result would shock me. I wonder if Gilbert’s illness will garner any sympathy votes.

  25. I note that the Labour candidate still hasn’t been added to the candidates list on the page.

  26. Interestingly the Mirror, not known as UKIP friendly had them as a win for St Austell & Newquay in the 26.Jan paper, I think this is going to be a close one

  27. I don’t think UKIP will be close here. Their vote is going to be squeezed by the Cons & LDs.

  28. The number of wild predictions on seats in national newspapers, not just the Mirror, is just a sign of how little most journalists know (or care) about politics.

  29. “Liberal party officials have confirmed that they will be withdrawing their three parliamentary candidates in Cornwall and instead encouraging their supporters to vote for UKIP.”

  30. I take it that means “Liberal” and not Lib Dem.

  31. Now that’s a fascinating turn up. From H. Hemmelig’s description the Liberals sounded like moderate Tories – why UKIP?

  32. I don’t think they stood in this constituency last time.. If they did it was a small share of “others” with MK as well.

  33. @mrnameless

    From reading the West Briton article, it sounds like the Liberal Party favour Brexit.

  34. The Liberals are anti-EU. That pretty much explains their decision I think. Also they’re libertarian.

  35. Andy JS basically has it. I wouldn’t say quite “libertarian,” but more Gladstonian liberal. Not too far from the likes of Jeremy Browne in some ways.

  36. The Liberals seem to be losing ground here.

    Ashcroft CVI:
    CON 32
    LD 26
    UKIP 20
    LAB 10
    GRN 6
    OTH 4

    Well, more accurately, the Liberals are holding firm and the Tories are recapturing votes from UKIP in decent numbers and thus pulling ahead. I can’t see the Lib Dems holding here – to do so they’d really have to start making headway against both the Tory and Green votes I suspect.

  37. Interesting to compare and contrast the Ashcroft polls for the 3 Lib Dem Seats in Cornwall:

    Change since last election:

    North Cornwall: LD -10 , Con -6
    St Ives: LD -7 Con -6
    St Austell: LD -17 Con -8

    The Conservative decline is fairly constant / consistent.

    Can anyone hazard a guess why Stephen Gilbert is underperforming so badly compared to his colleagues?

  38. It is quite odd, especially considering he has first time incumbency – maybe just not as well dug in?

  39. It seems to be more that UKIP are doing significantly better here – possibly because their local organisation is better or something?

  40. I don’t think this was the best area for the LDs to begin with. Gilbert is suffering from demographics, I’d think.

  41. PT Richards

    Being as it is predominantly carved out of the old Truro seat, which was more than happy to vote for Penhaligon and Taylor, I not sure I can agree with you.

  42. Well, Penhaligon’s work has been fading for all three of them ever since, though. North Cornwall has been in and out of LD hands for decade after decade. They barely made a scratch in Truro before Penhaligon.

  43. Of all the SW marginals conducted by Ashcroft, it’s amazing how this is the only one where the UKIP vote remains impressive. Either they’re losing momentum this close to the election or are being genuinely squeezed by the Tories.

    I do wonder how they’ll fare in seats like Boston & Segness. Or even South Thanet.

  44. @stephenpt

    Camborne & Redruth is also in Cornwall. The LD decline there is also massive. Circa 36% and a very close second in 2010 down to circa 15% now.

    I think the discrepancy between the two sets of seats (LD doing much worse in St Austell / Newquay and Camborne / Redruth) is because of the nature of the LD vote in 2010.

    St Austell, Camborne and Redruth are the relatively poorer / more “Laboury” areas of Cornwall. I think the high LD votes in 2010 there was more of an anti-Tory vote than a pro-LD vote. Those people would have been more hacked off by them going into coalition with the Tories.

  45. James

    I am not at all surprised by the decline in Lib Dem support in Camborne & Redruth : see my posting on its page.

    But I am slightly surprised at the fall in this seat. St Austell has since Penhaligon’s breakthrough in 1974 been a Liberal / Lib Dem fortress. Its collapse would be an electoral sea change.

  46. Camborne & Redruth has long been a worse seat for the Lib Dems than this, and the post-coalition decline has been far worse (look at Cornwall UA elections). Labours best areas in Cornwall fall under the three western seats, not this one. UKIP are clearly far stronger here (organisationally if not demographically) than the other seats surveyed, just look at the contact rates.

  47. Penhaligon (then Matthew Taylor) was MP for Truro, then Truro & St Austell. The boundaries were changed a lot before 2010, with the number of seats increased from 5 to 6.

    The LD are still pushing hard in the Truro & Falmouth seat, even though they lost it in 2010. For example, I have received two different leaflets from the LD (only one from the Tories). Can’t see how they’re going to win it, though.

  48. IIRC St Austell was always in the Truro seat. It just wasn’t included in the title until 1997.

    Be grateful if anyone could clarify what was added to this seat in 2010 which had not previously been in Truro & St Austell. I thought it was just Newquay and environs but happy to be corrected,

  49. To those of you watching this constituency from afar, the answer to the Con surge is quite simple. The LD encumbent has spent 5 years with a fence panel firmly lodged between his butt-cheeks, whilst the Con candidate has been, in that time, county councillor, town councillor and Mayor of St. Austell. He is popular and will win the seat because of people like me – voting for the man not the party.

  50. The seat was created for 2010 with bits from the old North Cornwall, SE Cornwall and Truro and St Austell seats. The notional results suggested for the seat varied; Thrasher & Rawlings had it safe LD but UKPolling had it as a tight marginal and was proved correct.

    The seat has an interest mix as it includes the Clay Country, which has similarity to former mining areas in the North of England, St Austell which is general bet off, the very different area of Newquay and the old fishing port of Mevagissey.

    UKIP support here is probably as much blue collar as better off older voters. It is also the heartland of Cornish nationalist leader Dick Cole.

    In 2013 the Lib Dems contested surprisingly few of the seats but still came out top with the independents second. Labour won one seat, Mevagissey but lost it to the Conservatives in a subsequent by-election.

    The Conservative candidate, has indeed been a Cornwall councillor but failed to defend his St Austell seat. It was won for the Lib Dems by Stephen Gilbert’s mother, so I don’t think anyone should go over-board about Mr Double’s (the Tory) popularity.

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