Sutton & Cheam

2015 Result:
Conservative: 20732 (41.5%)
Labour: 5546 (11.1%)
Lib Dem: 16811 (33.7%)
Green: 1051 (2.1%)
UKIP: 5341 (10.7%)
NHA: 345 (0.7%)
TUSC: 79 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 3921 (7.9%)

Category: Marginal Conservative seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of the Sutton council area.

Main population centres: Sutton, Cheam.

Profile: A solidly middle-class suburban seat on the south-western fringe of London.

Politics: Sutton and Cheam was won by the Liberal Democrats in 1997 when a swathe of affluent south-west London swung heavily towards the party, although this was not the first time they had been successful here - the Liberals briefly held the seat between 1972 and 1974 after winning a by-election on a huge swing. It was narrowly retained by the Liberal Democrats in 2010, probably helped by the Observer running a prominent story a couple of days before the election making (strongly denied!) claims that the Conservative candidate, Philippa Stroud, had once founded a church that offered to cure homosexuals. In 2015 it was regained by the Conservatives.

Current MP
PAUL SCULLY (Conservative) Former public affairs consultant. Sutton councillor 2006-2010. First elected as MP for Sutton & Cheam in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 20548 (42%)
Lab: 3376 (7%)
LDem: 22156 (46%)
BNP: 1014 (2%)
Oth: 1414 (3%)
MAJ: 1608 (3%)
Con: 16922 (40%)
Lab: 4954 (12%)
LDem: 19768 (47%)
Oth: 288 (1%)
MAJ: 2846 (7%)
Con: 15078 (38%)
Lab: 5263 (13%)
LDem: 19382 (49%)
MAJ: 4304 (11%)
Con: 17822 (38%)
Lab: 7280 (15%)
LDem: 19919 (42%)
Oth: 287 (1%)
MAJ: 2097 (4%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
PAUL SCULLY (Conservative) Public affairs consultant. Sutton councillor 2006-2010.
EMILY BROTHERS (Labour) Head of policy for equalities and human rights commisson.
PAUL BURSTOW (Liberal Democrat) Born 1962, Carshalton. Educated at Carshalton College and South Bank Polytechnic. Campaigns officer of the Association of Lib Dem Councillors. Sutton councillor 1986-2002. Contested Sutton and Cheam 1992. MP for Sutton and Cheam 1997 to 2015. Lib Dem Chief Whip 2006-2010. Minister of State for Care Services 2010-2012.
ANGUS DALGLEISH (UKIP) Born 1950, Harrow. Educated at Harrow County School for Boys and University College London. Consultant oncologist.
MAEVE TOMLINSON (Green) Educated at University of Arts London. Cycle instructor.
DAVE ASH (NHA) Technical manager.
Comments - 302 Responses on “Sutton & Cheam”
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  1. I still cannot decide whether the Tories have a chance of winning this seat in 2015. Although there is only a small majority the fact that this seat didn’t fall in 2010 makes me think it is going to be a struggle to oust Burstow here.

    As a party we need to be winning seats in South West London like this, Carshalton and Kingston. Twickenham is another kettle of fish however.

  2. I just wonder how different things would have turned out here had that by-election in 1972 never happened.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that the Liberals/Lib Dems would never have been in contention here, and that this would now be a safe Conservative seat with Labour and the Lib Dems battling it out for second place.

    Even worse for the Conservatives was that only three months after Richard Sharples was appointed Governor of Bermuda, he was assassinated at

  3. I also happen to think that had Sharples not left Parliament for the position, he may well have been alive for a lot longer.

  4. @LBernard

    Personally I think Paul Burstow may lose this seat and so it may be a Tory gain. I would love to see his duplicity exposed. On his website, he had a Save St Helier hospital campaign and publicity of his involvement in the campaign….at the time, he was a Health Minister so essentially campaigning against himself.

    The only snag to this is that Lib Dem have squeezed the Labour vote so much that it has become a Lib Dem-Tory marginal and so many may still vote Lib Dem to keep the Tory out (the council has become one of the Lib Dems’ flagship council). Secondly not sure how UKIP will change things here and affect the Tory vote.

  5. The Labour vote could not surely get any lower and I think in as things are things aren’t looking good for Burstow.

    I’m not saying he will lose but he does have a pretty marginal majority.

  6. @LBernard

    Also it should not be forgotten that in GE2010, the Tory candidate was in the news, after controversial things were supposedly said and done by her and her partner.

    Phillipa Stroud (I think was head or certainly someone senior at the Centre for Social Justice – set up by Ian Duncan Smith and now his SpAd) had made disparaging remarks about gay people and I think she or her husband conducted “curing” sessions for people who were gay. It certainly revived the “nasty party” image, I think. I seem to remember she was criticised and came under attack because of this.

    If the candidate was someone else and there had not been any controversy, I think this seat would probably be taken by the Tories.

  7. LBernard, this seat is quite a difficult one to predict – it has defied predictions before – and it probably causes Joe (the Twickenham one) more anguish than any other. If I were forced to make a prediction at this stage, I’d plump for the LDs holding it once more. It’s true that they’ve squeezed the Labour vote dry, but I don’t see the Labour vote rebounding as strongly as in some seats, except perhaps to some extent in Sutton Central ward. The LDs are formidable locally & after all Burstow was an effective local council leader too. The omens to my mind don’t look all that great for a Tory gain. If that’s true, they will fail to win any LD London seats.

  8. Personally I can’t see why Carshalton and Wallington be taken by Labour – if it wasn’t for Lib Dems squeezing the vote there. Especially as a relatively small constituency, and receiving the odd one or two wards from the oversized Croydon North. Sure there is affluence in Wallington South and parts of Carshalton but in some of the other places, it is fairly industrial and not particular affluent.
    With the Lib Dem MP for Carshalton and Wallington Tom Brake (who had a decent local following) now part of the Government as the Deputy Leader of the House, and with the now abandoned Boundary Review coupling Croydon with Sutton, as per the GLAs meaning that Croydon wards could come over into the seat at some stage in the future, the next GE may be the best chance for Labour to get a foothold of sort into Carshalton and Wallington. The sole Sutton Labour Councillor (Lib Dem defection) is in Carshalton and Wallington and in a ward perhaps more friendlier to Labour on paper, I hope Labour can capitalise.

  9. The CC elections outside London still showed some sticky LD areas –
    and others where they fell away like nationally.
    It does seem that if the latter happens the Tories can pick up seats by default but
    this may be the former category

  10. As a matter of fact Carshalton & Wallington – then called Sutton Carshalton – was won by Labour once, but only in a GLC election, in 1973. I can imagine it electing a Labour MP one day in the distant future, but not any time that soon.

  11. “The only snag to this is that Lib Dem have squeezed the Labour vote so much that it has become a Lib Dem-Tory marginal and so many may still vote Lib Dem to keep the Tory out (the council has become one of the Lib Dems’ flagship council).”

    It is indeed and is one of three councils that have been under continuous Lib Dem control for over 20 years now (South Somerset and Oadby & Wigston are the other two). Eastleigh, Three Rivers, Kingston-upon-Thames and Watford have all been in Lib Dem hands for at least a decade.

    As for this constituency, I can see the Lib Dems holding this as narrowly as they do now. There’s never been much of a Labour vote so there is unlikely to be much in the way of tactical unwind. Carshalton and Wallington is a different matter but I’d expect the Lib Dems to hold on there too.

  12. @Barnaby Marder

    I agree that it is very unlikely Labour would win Carshalton and Wallington in 2015 but it got high teens and early twenties between 1997-2005 – do you not think Labour could achieve near that in 2015 iif there were efforts made?

  13. Kokopops you are genuinely mad if you think that the Labour Party can win Carshalton and Wallington. It will not happen in 2015 and probably not in 2020. It is virtually impossible until we have a massive landslide greater than 1997 which would be brilliant. If Labour increases its share of the vote in Carshalton and Wallington, the seat would fall to the Tories. Sutton and Cheam may be a Tory seat in 2015.

  14. Yes quite conceivably. However I suspect that many local Labour Party activists will be tempted to work in nearby Croydon Central when it comes down to it. I’d substitute the word “impossible” for your phrase “very unlikely”.

  15. It’s not completely impossible if the Lib Dems lose the seat (the less likely) and in some future electoral cycle voting patterns reconfigure. I’d have thought there would be a base for Labour support – it’s not Pelsall,
    but as it is this is LD-Con
    and the LDs will be hard to shift.

  16. I’m talking about C&W

  17. 6 weeks ago if anyone suggested to me the LDs could hold a seat with a 3.3% majority I’d have hought they were having a giraffe. Now there’s UKIP potential to split the right leaning vote I’m not so sure.

  18. Thanks Barnaby/Kokopops

    It’s an interesting part of the city in that it remains a very strong area for the Lib Dems with the Tories struggling to break through.
    Kokopops might have a point about the candidate. It looks like there was a case of ‘Joanne Cash’ in this seat as well. One has to wonder where do the Tories get these bizarre people from.

  19. I remember Stroud being talked about as a strong candidate. But the Tories have chosen very unwisely before. Lady Olga Maitland was a very bad fit with this particular constituency. Once they select a candidate who can connect with the sort of people who live in this seat, they can at least start to fight back.

  20. I thought richard willis did okish in 2005 but I undderstand he moved to the west country or started a family. He may have had a better chance in 2010. The tories nearly won the coiuncil in 2006 as many of the lib majorities were tiny

  21. “I undderstand he moved to the west country or started a family.”

    LOL – unlikely as he’s openly gay.

    He’s a councillor in Reading I think.

  22. Indeed, he was re-elected to Reading council in 2011

  23. 2015

    McGuinness (LD) 16,234
    Taylor (C) 16,168
    Helmer (UKIP) 13,349
    McGuinness (SF) 122
    Pell (Lab) 4,865

    LD maj 56

  24. Is the McGuiness candidature on of this site’s in jokes?

  25. I think it’s Joe who’s been on the Guinness.

    This seat will most likely be an Eastleigh.

  26. re – Carshalton & Wallington I remember that in the Feb 1974 election Robert Carr moved to this new constituency following boundary changes rather than fight Mitcham & Morden.. At the time, it was viewed as a Con- Lab marginal with Carr winning by 5,000 in Feb 74 – though his majority dropped to 3,500 in October that year.. Strange that Labour fell away so much there, given that not so many years back it was clearly seen as a target seat.

  27. “This seat will most likely be an Eastleigh.”

    Why do you think that H.Hemmelig (& JJB)?

  28. Because it has local LD domination (though not quite to the same extent as Eastleigh) in terms of council seats, and it has the sort of electorate where its Conservative section is of the type which could be tempted by UKIP, which could split the right-wing vote & allow the LDs back in. It’s a more than plausible comparison.

  29. Yes I think in rural areas like Somerset UKIP would tend to damage both Tories and LDs equally but in urban areas they’d hit the Tories disproportionately which is good news for the LDs in seats like this.

  30. “Because it has local LD domination (though not quite to the same extent as Eastleigh) in terms of council seats, and it has the sort of electorate where its Conservative section is of the type which could be tempted by UKIP, which could split the right-wing vote & allow the LDs back in. It’s a more than plausible comparison.”

    All true. And also, as in Eastleigh, the local Tory party is moribund to the point of being a corpse, which will give the Lib Dems a massive advantage in terms of the “ground game”. This was decisive in Eastleigh – had the Lib Dems not signed up postal votes weeks ahead of the election they would have lost.

  31. What about the chances of UKIP in this seat. Any Chance?

  32. The demographic is of a sort which ought to suit UKIP, but the Tories have failed here time & time again. I think that if there were a by-election here NOW, it would be a similar result to Eastleigh – though Labour starts from an even lower base in this constituency – but that by the time of the general election politics will have returned to relative normality sufficiently for it to be unlikely in the extreme that UKIP could actually win.

  33. Did anyone like my prediction above?

  34. We ALWAYS like your predictions Joe, though I’m wondering why McGuinness is the LD candidate. And who are Taylor & Pell? I used to know a Simon Pell in Arts for Labour but I haven’t heard of him in years.

  35. Thank you Barnaby

    Here is a short bit about the 1986 local elections.
    I thought of putting it on Dulwich and West Norwood where we had the 1981 link.

    Not sure a whole program or any other year is available

    h ttp://

  36. Taylor is the ex Solihull MP

  37. actually it’s not much of a local by-election program – I should have put it on Thirsk and Malton (For Ryedale).
    Would be great if Andy could use his excellent skills – after the fantastic County Council election service – to
    see if 1977/1982 or any others available

  38. Joe – I think I may be able to get hold of 1982 next. Nothing on 1977 yet though.

  39. Andy. Where on earth can you dig up this stuff from? Do you work in TV?

  40. When I first started putting election shows on YouTube (which I recorded myself at the time or from the BBC Parliament replays) I was hoping that eventually people with obscure videos lying around would offer to send them to me so I could put them on YouTube. Happily, that has eventually happened with the 1981 footage. And there could be more footage from the same sort of period.

  41. Oh OK. And here was me thinking you were poking through some dusty old TV station vaults. I really admire your dedication.

  42. I have a video of the 1990 Thames tv election coverage sitting around somewhere – possibly at my parents house. We were discussing this in another place with Robert Waller who was the guest psephologist (and I must say did a much better job than the tired old hacks like Anthony King that we usually get). If I can track it down I will send it to you Andy – I don’t even have the means to play videos now but if you can get it digitised that would be fantastic. I’m slightly concerned that I may have taped over part of it. Probably a bit of Prisoner Cell block H or something – hopefully nothing more seedy than that!

  43. Thanks Pete. The person who sent me the 1981 video said he no longer had a VHS player so there was no point in me sending it back to him. I actually trust VHS more than DVD when recording important programmes because sometimes a scratch mysteriously appears on a disc, even when you’ve just taken it out of the packet, which can bugger up the whole recording. When VHS goes wrong slightly it doesn’t mess the whole thing up.

  44. I remember that program – it rather focused on the London results bucking the trend.
    To be fair to Tony King, he got a bit “excrited” about the relatively good Con results in London in 2005, and got them a little bit out of proportion.

    I remember 1992 – don’t think I want to see the horrible 1993-96 ever again though,.

  45. Boundary change

    Sutton & Surbiton
    Notional LD Hold

    *LD 31,739
    Con 30,443
    Lab 11,454
    UKIP 1,980
    Green 1,967

    LD maj 1,296

  46. That would be an interesting seat.

  47. I’m assuming Margot would have got part of it and be ok. – this being what’s left over.

    There may need to be a Wallington and Streatham seat.

  48. I think there are quite a few areas between Wallington & Streatham….

  49. This a good article in Economist on widening economic & wealth gap between Inner London & Outer London.

    I think one of the reasons Sutton hasn’t suffered same kind of decay as Croydon might be to do with its excellent state schools. Sutton is the top performing LEA in England with % getting 5 GCSE A*-C or more of 83.9%.

  50. I think in the 1970s and 1980s outer London was much more prosperous than inner London with a few notable exceptions like Kensington and Westminster. Interesting how that isn’t so much the case today.

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