Mid Sussex

2015 Result:
Conservative: 32268 (56.1%)
Labour: 7982 (13.9%)
Lib Dem: 6604 (11.5%)
Green: 2453 (4.3%)
UKIP: 6898 (12%)
Loony: 329 (0.6%)
Independent: 958 (1.7%)
MAJORITY: 24286 (42.2%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, West Sussex. Part of the Mid Sussex council area.

Main population centres: East Grinstead, Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill, Cuckfield.

Profile: A long, twisty seat along the eastern side of West Sussex. The seat consists of three towns, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill, and a rural area to the west around the village of Cuckfield. The area is on the rail line from Brighton to London, and is mainly an affluent middle class commuter area, though is also home to company headquarters and businesses in its own right. The village of Hickstead is situated in the seat, but its famous showjumping course is actually just over the boundary in Arundel and South Downs.

Politics: The seat has been represented by the Conservatives since its creation in 1974. Though the 70s and 80s it was a rock solid Conservative fortress, but during the years of Liberal Democrat strength the majority here was cut to four figures. With the Lib Dem collapse the Conservatives once again enjoy an overwhelming majority.

Current MP
NICHOLAS SOAMES (Conservative) Born 1948, Croydon, the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill. Educated at Eton. Former Equerry to Prince Charles and stockbroker. MP for Crawley 1983-1997. First elected as MP for Mid Sussex in 1997. junior agriculture minister 1992-1994, Minister of State for the armed forces 1994-1997. Shadow Defence secretary 2003-2005.
Past Results
Con: 28329 (51%)
Lab: 3689 (7%)
LDem: 20927 (37%)
UKIP: 1423 (3%)
Oth: 1487 (3%)
MAJ: 7402 (13%)
Con: 23765 (48%)
Lab: 6280 (13%)
LDem: 17875 (36%)
UKIP: 1574 (3%)
MAJ: 5890 (12%)
Con: 21150 (46%)
Lab: 8693 (19%)
LDem: 14252 (31%)
UKIP: 1126 (2%)
Oth: 601 (1%)
MAJ: 6898 (15%)
Con: 23231 (43%)
Lab: 9969 (19%)
LDem: 16377 (31%)
Oth: 740 (1%)
MAJ: 6854 (13%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
NICHOLAS SOAMES (Conservative) See above.
DAISY COOPER (Liberal Democrat) Born Suffolk. Educated at Nottingham University. Strategic planner. Contested Suffolk Coastal 2010.
BEKI ADAM (Independent) Born Cuckfield. Runs a farm business.
Comments - 300 Responses on “Sussex Mid”
  1. Probably not Richard no.

  2. Absolutely not.
    I accept that when your Grandfather is Churchill it might be difficult to be your own man but there’s nothing sadder than living off someone else’s reputation.

  3. Had he not had the advantages of his birth the member for this seat would likely have risen no further than obscure middle management. The same goes for the late member for Davyhulme from the same family.

    Also you can bet your life that if Soames had been a right winger Tim would, following the incident referred to above, have gone off on a rant about how unpleasant people who occupy that space on the political spectrum are.

  4. ‘Also you can bet your life that if Soames had been a right winger Tim would, following the incident referred to above, have gone off on a rant about how unpleasant people who occupy that space on the political spectrum are.’

    No, instead we’ve had right-wing Tories queuing up to have a pop just because Soames identifies with the paternalist/one nation wing of the party

    Had it been the likes of Bone or Davies their response would no doubt be markedly different

  5. Soames is quite well-liked locally as a bit of a “character”, though he is universally regarded here as a very poor constituency MP in a pavement politics sense. He does to some degree make up for it with a lot of interventions in parliament on bigger picture local issues such as Gatwick expansion and Southern rail, and the government does tend to listen to what he has to say. Some of these very prosperous home counties seats do seem to prefer an old fashioned lazy aristocrat who is able to put an influential word in the right minister’s ear and don’t seem to mind their total invisibility on the doorstep, given the almost total lack of poverty and social problems in such seats.

    In writing this post I have calculated that I have lived in seven UK parliamentary constituencies in my lifetime – Ashfield, Cities of London & Westminster, Hackney North & Stoke Newington, Croydon Central, Lewisham West, Beckenham and Mid Sussex. Six of the seven were “safe seats” but despite this it is only in Mid Sussex where the local MP has been totally and utterly invisible during the entire 4 years we’ve been here (as have all the other parties, to be fair).

  6. I can only answer for myself, but I have said in the past on this very site, and still maintain, that Bone is an idiot. He believes in homeopathy for heaven’s sake.

    And I am not having a pop at Soames because he’s a wet, rather because he’s never demonstrated any great level of ability. Thirty years as an MP and he’s never risen higher than spending a couple of years as a minister of state in the dying days of the Major government. Had he not had the advantages of his background he wouldn’t even have got that far.

    Unless that is you’re able to cite any examples of his outstanding contribution to public life. I noticed yesterday that you didn’t feel able to back up your claim that Euro enthusiast Tory MEPs such as Messrs McMillan-Scott and Newton-Dunn had “served with distinction”. I fully expect similar to happen here.

  7. Hemmelig’s account of Soames conduct as a constituency member is entirely as I would have expected.

  8. “I noticed yesterday that you didn’t feel able to back up your claim that Euro enthusiast Tory MEPs such as Messrs McMillan-Scott and Newton-Dunn had “served with distinction”.”

    I’m struggling think of any UK MEP of any persuasion who has done anything remotely noteworthy in the role (excluding disruptive antics of UKIP and BNP). Perhaps Daniel Hannan and Barbara Castle were rare exceptions to that, but MEPs are simply too obscure even to political anoraks for their work to achieve the slightest recognition, no matter how diligent they may have been.

  9. ‘I am not having a pop at Soames because he’s a wet, rather because he’s never demonstrated any great level of ability’

    Soames is a dim, stuck-up oaf, who luckily for him has a famous name. It’s amusing he has attracted a minor leftie fan club due to his also being an EU-enthusiast.

    He’s the sort of person lefties (and indeed most of the population) would normally find thoroughly objectionable.

  10. I must have missed the leftie fan club for Soames. Fatty is universally regarded as an oaf, surely.

    Incidentally, I’m pretty certain that other female MP’s have complained about this things behaviour before, so this is no surprise at all.

  11. i remember one female who had a relationship with Soames said it was ‘like being crushed under a wardrobe with the key stuck in’ or words to that effect

    ‘I am not having a pop at Soames because he’s a wet, rather because he’s never demonstrated any great level of ability’

    You could that about many MPs on all sides of the House

    Chris Grayling for example is utterly useless, yet to show a smidgen of competence in any of the political jobs he’s been given and yet his loyalty to May ensures that he will be in the top level of the government as long as she is

    what ability has he demonstrated ?

  12. Helen Lewis of the New Statesman described reading Nicholas Soames’ Twitter feed as her guilty pleasure. Apparently he has “mad bantz”.

    My guilty pleasure is the New Statesman podcast 😉

  13. Tim, if you’re expecting me to mount a defence of Chris Grayling’s tenure at the home office that isn’t going to happen.

    Overall there is a bit more to Grayling’s CV than there is to Soames’s. The latter has clearly coasted through life with family connections making up for his lack of ability.

  14. ‘The latter has clearly coasted through life with family connections making up for his lack of ability.’

    It’s the notion of lack of ability that I question

    Yes, Soames is an arrogant old toff who, thanks to his family connections, has had a relatively priviledged upbringing and hassle free life, by why should that mean he lacks ability

    He’s never been given a chance on the ministerial ladder – not without good reason given his perceived laziness – but it seems unfair to describe someone like him of lacking ability whereas someone, like Chris Grayling gets a free pass to muck up office of state after office of state

  15. Soames is amusing and has a social conscience despite his wealth, and one of the advantages of being lazy is that you aren’t tempted to constantly meddle with things which you end up making a total mess of due to your lack of ability. I’m afraid none of these apply to the hapless Grayling. I’d take Soames over him any day and he’d make a better minister.

  16. https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/05/nicholas-soames-races-finish-line/

    Love the fact that the horse is wearing a Conservative rosette too. Clearly voting for a strong and stable future.

  17. One for HH to comment on that.

    At least it’s an improvement from his apparent mutual aid to Robert Generic in that By-election, when he appeared aloft a Land Rover loudhailering like the Queen of Tonga.

    His weight loss has to be a good thing, although such rapid loss is never usually a good sign.

  18. Soames in an interview is hinting at retirement in 2022.

  19. My local district councillor Bob Mainstone has died, meaning a by-election in East Grinstead Imberhorne ward sometime soon.

    Maybe I shall stand myself as Independent Conservative Anti-Brexit candidate 🙂

    Mainstone was a Lib Dem until defecting to the Tories in 2014.

    Result of last election (2015)

    Con 1706 elected
    Con 1589 elected
    Lab 581
    UKIP 531

    would be an earthquake if the Tories don’t hold

  20. Indeed it would. Very odd that there wasn’t an LD candidate – I thought that E Grinstead was their strongest area in your constituency? I wonder if Labour has ever won a council seat in the town.

  21. Probably in deference to Mainstone who only defected a year before the election…or they couldn’t find a candidate in time.

    That said the Lib Dems seem to have totally vanished in East Grinstead. I don’t think they are any stronger here than elsewhere in Mid Sussex now. There is 1 Lib Dem left on MSDC and, I stand to be corrected, I don’t think they represent an East Grinstead ward. East Grinstead has I think 4 DC wards at least one of which has a fair bit of social housing so it’s highly likely Labour have won something here at some time in the past.

  22. Imberhorne is however the posh side of town and I consequently don’t see the Labour surge getting them very far here

  23. Which way will the ukip vote fall

  24. It largely went to Labour in the GE

    Soames’ vote share was pretty identical to 2015

  25. The UKIP fall of 10% in Mid Sussex just about matched the Lab rise of 11%, but it’s highly unlikely that this reflects how the 2015 UKIP vote broke.

    Nationally, the 2015 UKIP vote went something like 50% to Con, 15%-20% to Lab, with a lot not voting this time round. I suspect that Soames lost a fair number of Remain voters to the Lib Dems, which offset those who switched from UKIP to Con. Labour in turn picked up votes from a wide variety of sources – first time voters, 2015 non voters, and a large proportion of 2015 Greens and LibDems.

  26. Ipsos Mori’s churn figures for where 2015 voters went…

    UKIP 2015 voters
    60% Con
    18% UKIP
    16% Lab

    LibDem 2015 voters
    50% LibDem
    30% Lab
    15% Con

    2015 Non voters (excluding too young)
    60% Lab
    27% Con
    5% LibDem

    Lab and Con both held a very high proportion of their 2015 voters (high 80s%), and lost roughly equal numbers (8%) to one another, and 3% to LDs.


  27. I come to East Grinstead for a green bus event once a year.
    Replicating Green LT area routes.

    Good to see the Lib Dems doing so badly here (as in about 610 seats).

    Gloy thought the Lib Dems would win here in 2010.

  28. I know Byron Criddle who lives in Richmond & rather liked his take on the Con-LD battle in this constituency in the Almanac of British Politics a few years ago (Hopefully I have it more or less verbatim) : “If the Liberal Democrats were able to reproduce their showing in local elections in the constituency in a general election, they would be breathing down the neck of Nicholas Soames (if that is not a rather unpleasant image)”.

  29. I certainly think ukip offset the Tories losses to the lib dems but i suspect it varied in the country

  30. The LD vote increased in some heavily Remain voting seats (either those they had held before or some in London such as Wandsworth)
    but generally fell elsewhere. At national level, I don’t think there is much between C>LD and LD>C although the Libs paid off in targeting some seats in a select demographic.

    Natioanlly, it looks like it was a problem for them though as their constant line that the public are idiots and have to vote twice etc etc didn’t go down well.

    As I’ve said, I am a borderline case on the EU.

    Looks like the party which came out better facing both ways on it was Labour.

    I haven’t studied the local elections much in this seat but I did see the Lib Dems lost seats pretty heavily in 2011 and I think 2015 including Haywards Heath.
    I suspect Labour did quite well there in 2017.

  31. In terms of EU institutions, lack of democracy, and a suspicion that we could actually do the job a lot more efficiently without being signed up to all that,
    I’m an outer

    In terms of wanting close links with the countries near us and for it to be easy to move around and work, with minimum disruption, I drift back towards remain.

    I did make a decision though.

  32. Lack of democracy bothers me too not sure im convinced we are any more efficient

  33. When Gloy made his prediction here in 2010 it was suggested that Mark Senior had hacked into Gloy Plopwell’s account.

  34. Electoral Calculus (which has so often been extremely inaccurate, but has been doing very well with some recent council by-elections) thinks Labour were fractionally ahead in Haywards Heath Bentswood and did fairly well in some other wards in Haywards Heath and also Burgess Hill.

  35. Electoral Calculus may work in seats which are not particularly nuanced in swing within them.
    It may be a useful guide, but the aggregates often don’t add up to the known totals (estimates of how seats voted), so something is up, unless the ratio is about right.

  36. ”thinks Labour were fractionally ahead in Haywards Heath Bentswood”

    No they don’t they think Labour were narrowly behind. The figure your looking at is the ‘predicted’ figure which is applying a uniform swing from their ‘2017 estimates’ based on current national polling. If you click on the ‘show workings’ button you can get the ward estimates and information on how they calculated them.

    To Joe’s point the ‘estimated general election results’ table does add up to the known total but you have to click on the ‘show workings’ button and scroll down in order to see it.

    To be honest I think they’re estimates are (mostly) in the right ball park (their methodology does seem to have improved lately with significantly fewer numbers that are blatantly wrong). The only time they seem to be miles off what you would expect is when a ward is dominated by independents at a local level. For example if a random rural ward voted something like 75% independent, 15% Tory, 10% Labour locally is likely that electoral calculus would put Labour close or even ahead (given the gap between the two is ‘only’ 5%) when in reality they’d have been miles behind.

  37. That’s a fair point. I’ve been told that their estimates for Welsh rural wards (where often Independents are dominant locally) are particularly way out in some cases.

  38. I should add that I’ve seen their estimates for the wards in Brentford & Isleworth in the general election. It was possible to obtain official figures from the Returning Officer for each ward in the constituency, and EC was completely wrong. Labour actually outpolled the Tories in every ward in the constituency, even Chiswick Riverside, which is completely contrary to EC’s estimate. It’s rather silly to publish the estimate, perhaps, when the official figures are readily available.

  39. The postal votes from Hounslow Council appear to be estimates and could have been more in ratio but I’m pretty convinced Labour led in every ward.

  40. obviously estimates but I think they could have done more.

  41. yes exactly.

  42. HH

    You asked at another place about Ruth Davidson’s ideas about new towns:

    ‘ Ruth Davidson will today outline plans to tackle Scotland’s chronic housing shortage by building up to eight new towns as part of a Tory drive to switch the political debate away from independence and back to “bread-and-butter” issues. ‘


    Now if Davidson wants eight new towns to be built in Scotland (which is not noted for housing problems) can you imagine how many she would want to build in south-east England ?

  43. Thanks for that. Like you I’ve never been a Davidson fan. She would be out of her depth.

  44. Not gonna lie but if I was a swing voter i would find this very appealing

  45. Lancs Observer didn’t get round to posting the by election result here for East Grinstead Imberhorne ward, it was a very comfortable Tory hold, perhaps aided by the fact that it was pissing with rail all day.

    Does kind of debunk Rivers’ theory that Lancs only posts good results for the Tories.

  46. “Does kind of debunk Rivers’ theory that Lancs only posts good results for the Tories”

    Don’t be silly. All it means is that rivers has followed the rules that Rivers has laid down this one time.

  47. A superb and quite moving speech by Soames in the debate on May’s deal. Do watch it if you have a spare 10 mins.


    During the speech he hints that he will be standing down next time, which is a real shame as he is one of the very last of those decent old fashioned Tories left in the commons (it also significantly reduces the chance of my voting for the Tories next time. If an ERG type candidate replaces him they will not get my vote).

  48. ‘If an ERG type candidate replaces him they will not get my vote.’

    is that really likely though – in a remain-voting area with a history of sending one nation Tories to Parliament – Renton, Johnson Smith etc

    i sincerely hope not

  49. I’m not sure the post-Brexit Tory party will be very palatable towards selecting moderate / Remain candidates even in areas like this. There will be a betrayal narrative taking hold.

  50. What’s the local party like these days, HH? As I said on another thread, I haven’t been a member here since about 2005 (I joined the Battersea party in 2010 and haven’t left, even though I’m hardly ever there now). When I was a member, it leant heavily towards the One Nation model. Oddly enough, though, despite this being commuter territory (East Grinstead is where I go from), most of the members seemed to be local, with relatively few City workers, and a fair number of self-employed, many of whom suffered quite badly in the 1991-1992 recession. The membership was quite a decent size, including in my village branch. This has now totally ceased to function as far as I know.

    Also, do you know how the constituency split in the referendum? My guess would be Haywards Heath and Cuckfield strongly Remain, Burgess Hill equally strongly Leave, with East Grinstead somewhere in between, though I did hear that East Grinstead had a Leave majority.

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