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 - 279 Responses on “Sutton & Cheam”
  1. And 2006. Apparently Central office were on the phone thinking the council had been gained and it quite nearly was looking at the small majorities.

  2. TheResults – not a million miles away from my thoughts. I reckon though the Labour vote will be about 2% higher, and both the LD & Tory votes 1% lower.

  3. Ashcroft polling:

    LD 42%
    Con 29%
    UKIP 14%
    Lab 11%

  4. This could be one of the seats where the LD vote holds up better than anywhere else in the country at the general election. Another possibility is Birmingham Yardley.

  5. Has anyone in London ever come across a character called Dick Hazell? Apparently he’s been in 4 Parties upto now. I only caught 1 minute of him on The Daily Politics just now and he seemed particularly pompous.

  6. Ashcroft’s polling here really was a great result for the Lib Dems. Lots of people have been talking about them losing this, but if, at the nadir of their polling, they’re up by 13 here, it’s hard to see them losing it. Who’d’ve thought the Lib Dems would ever be polling better in Sutton & Cheam than in Twickenham!

  7. Paul Burstow and Tom Brake have been working Sutton/Carshalton for over 22 years now having both stood (and lost) in 1992.

    Since winning in 1997 they have really been dedicated constituency MPs who have handled thousands of items of casework and as both were relatively young when they originally stood – are still not seen as too old or out of touch.

    The strength of the Lib Dems on Sutton Council has also helped in as much as that the sheer number of Lib Dem councillors actually contributes to a more vigorous, active and campaigning local party.

    While Sutton Council does come in for criticism in some quarters it is still acknowledged as a well run Council that ‘generally’ respects local opinion and many people continue to move to the area due to its reputation for good schools.

    Both Tom and Paul are considered local now. Tom did move here from elsewhere originally – but has now lived in the Borough for longer than a large proportion of its residents as well as having children in local schools) and both enjoy strong name recognition and incumbency benefits.

    All of these factors mean that the Tories would literally have to thrown money at these seats (and select some celebrity candidates) to have any chance of breaking the Lib Dem stranglehold.

    I think the latest Ashcroft polling probably exaggerates the Lib Dem lead here – and there will be some unwinding of the tactical vote in favour of Labour – but nonetheless I think Tom and Paul would probably be re-elected even if the Lib Dems nationally simply disintegrate.

  8. I think it’s clear that the Lib Dems will remain strong here short-term and possibly long-term because they’ve led the council for so long and embedded themsleves into the area, as well as perhaps continued tactical voting and a desire to keep the Conservatives out.

    I think that Paul Burstow and Tom Brake have done very very well as MPs, and have achieved a lot for Sutton and Cheam and Carshalton and Wallington respectively. Whether or not the Lib Dems would be able to hold both seats for long with successor candidates when both one day stand down is another matter however.

    In many ways, in fact, the Lib Dems’ strength in Sutton and Cheam could be traced back to the grassroots work of Graham Tope, now Lord Tope, who of course won a byelection here for the Liberals back in the early 70s. Perhaps as a consequence, there was a longterm effect on Carshalton and Wallington next door, as the Liberals began to gain strength locally they must have put resources into both seats.

  9. See seconds 28 to 60.
    (This is not new though).

    Perhaps this solves the mystery of why the LDs have been here this long.

  10. Thanks, JJB. That’s interesting.

    This was easily the best result for the Lib Dems in the Ashcroft poll. There’s a mild chance that this could develop into the safest of the South London seats for the Lib Dems down the line.

    To predict:

    LD 45
    Con 34
    Lab 9
    UKIP 8
    Oth 4

    This, I think, should be one of the Lib Dems’ lowest decreases on the night.

  11. The Lib Dems have held up remarkably well here, and I think actually this seat could even be a rare candidate for an increased Lib Dem vote share in 2015- call me Gloy Plopwell!

  12. I don’t think I’d go that far, but they could be roughly level.

    Also, I think I started posting around here the same time that Gloy Plopwell stopped, so I rarely get the jokes––Results, would you mind clarifying?

  13. Gloy Plopwell was an extremely over optimistic Lib Dem who’d make funny predictions on no hope seats for his party saying they’d win. The name is now firmly a part of the UKPR glossary as a result.

  14. Yes, I’ve seen it around. Ah well. Did he perhaps realize how unrealistic his predictions were? That is to say, was he having a lark?

  15. Gloy is still around but nowadays mostly makes more sensible posts under a different name, and supports a different party. I think I have convinced him that the joke has worn a bit thin.

  16. I see a Lib Dem hold for 2015, however 2020 may be a different kettle of fish, the town area is becoming a bit upmarket like Richmond, Kingston and we know what happened to those once safe Lib areas? Plus if Boris (who would appeal to Sutton voters) is the next leader of the tories in an opposition government in a possible Lab/Lib coaltion. You could see a very different borough politically. Despite a 45 to 9 seat thrashing in the last elections a lot of the wards are very marginal and where prehaps won by UKIP taking votes from the tories helping the Libs in key wards. I am not saying the Libs will lose this area in years to come but the Conservatives are now more likely to win this council in the future than demographically changing boroughs like Enfield and Merton.

  17. I always thougt the source of the Lib Dems here was due to the good schools in the borough and the efficient running of the council under their leadership.

  18. LBernard is right basically. It’s an example of an apparently efficient LD council having a knock-on effect on a parliamentary seat.
    Surrey Politics – last time I went to Sutton town centre it didn’t seem that upmarket to me though it does have some good shops. The pubs look dowdy, there’s an eel & pie shop, there are some rather sad-looking shopping parades. Maybe things have changed but it wasn’t all that long ago.

  19. Last time I was in Sutton was about a month ago and I have to agree with Barnaby. I live in Streatham and had never been and fancied a mooch round some shops, so thought I would make the short rail trip to Sutton just out of interest.

    I was quite surprised how unattractive it was. It wasn’t that it felt run down as such, it was just that it didn’t have any really nice shops (big Marks though) and it looked like it had been pedestrianised and redeveloped in the 80s, but that not much had happened since. I suppose it was a lot more ‘workaday’ than I had supposed it would be. There is also some monstrous new apartment tower looking over it on the hill up to the railway station, that looks really awful and seems incongruous to me in what, apart from being in Greater London, has the appearance of a provincial, mid-sized, light industrial & market town.

  20. those flats are private & quite nice actually. They have a concierge & plenty of facilities. I have been inside the building in the course of my work.

  21. The North End of the town is still run down a bi due to its proximity to mitcham and morden. However a lot of the nightclubs have shut down and area by the station is looking a lot more well healed. Sutton Central is a bit of mixed ward from run down streets and social housing (a lot of which has been bought) to large detached 600,000 maybe even more now houses in the south west and south east of the ward. Of course when you got to Belmont you start to hit the millionaires row.

  22. “There is also some monstrous new apartment tower looking over it on the hill up to the railway station, that looks really awful and seems incongruous to me in what, apart from being in Greater London, has the appearance of a provincial, mid-sized, light industrial & market town.”

    “those flats are private & quite nice actually. They have a concierge & plenty of facilities. I have been inside the building in the course of my work.”

    Is this the old DHSS London South Regional Office, refurbished to look as if it is new? It looked dowdy in the 80s when I visited it occasionally with work.

  23. I’ve always found both Sutton and Carshalton surprisingly nice. In particular, the contrast when crossing the border between the borderline shit hole that is now Waddon (Croydon) and Carshalton is immediate and substantial.

  24. Sutton and Carshalton is how you imagine much the Mitcham & Morden consituency may have looked over 30 years ago before it became part of the mass of the expanding inner South London.

    It is interesting that Mitcham & Morden, Streatham, Dulwich & West Norwood, Lewisham West & Penge, Lewisham East and Croydon North were all of massively different character in 1983 and 1987.

    Why has this part of London changed so much?

  25. Because it’s changed. The serious answer is demographic change I would imagine.

  26. “Sutton and Carshalton is how you imagine much the Mitcham & Morden consituency may have looked over 30 years ago before it became part of the mass of the expanding inner South London.”

    No, it is nicer than that. It’s very Terry and June, like South Croydon 30 years ago.

  27. It’s interesting that longterm this seat might be very good for the Lib Dems, while in the safer Kingston and Surbiton and Twickenham the Tories will probably make a comeback and one day take those seats.

  28. “those flats are private & quite nice actually. They have a concierge & plenty of facilities. I have been inside the building in the course of my work.”

    I am sure they are nice (as these developments often are – God knows I would probably love to live there if I could), but architecturally I thought the block looks quite bad and out of place. As Ian Mallet says, perhaps it’s a refurbed building, as otherwise I cannot think why it would have been given permission. It just looms over the whole area and is exaggerated due to it being on the hill and surrounded by quite built up 2/3 story buildings in the High Street.

  29. I agree, the Results. They’re trending best here. I’d actually be more surprised by a loss here than in Twickenham.

    Additionally, I think Carshalton should be good for the Lib Dems for a few elections. Twickenham I’d expect to go Tory literally the second Cable retires/dies in office.

  30. Sutton may have a fair share of ugly buildings but in no shape or form will it ever end up like Croydon or Morden. For a start it has good schools, Sutton and Cheam must have one of the lowest perctanges of social housing of any parlimentary constituency (might be lowest in London) and is far and away not going downhill in the way that even some similar nearby areas are going.

  31. Matt I take your point. PTR, Twickenham will obviously be far more competitive when Cable goes, but it is far from being a given that the Tories will take it. There are still 3 entirely LD wards in the constituency even now, and no fewer than 4 others with LD councillors – a majority of the wards. They still have a strong base here.

  32. Agreed about Twickenham. Vince Cable has such a big personal vote that although it won’t be anywhere near as easier for the Lib Dems when he does go, they will probably hold the seat regardless without him. In the future, it could get a bit interesting, especially if the Tories manage to recover longterm when the Cable factor has disappeared locally.

  33. Barnaby, you’re right, I was exaggerating. I’d tend to think Cable will retire after 2015 (might even retire halfway through), and I think the Tories could gain it off him, then lose it next time, or the Lib Dems could narrowly hold and lose down the line.

  34. While Sutton and Cheam is clearly a very good longterm prospect for the Lib Dems to hold, is next door Carshalton and Wallington not as secure i.e. will that gradually change because of the increasing Labour vote coming in, turning the seat into something of a three way marginal perhaps?

  35. I think Carshalton will be fairly good.

  36. Well it should be for the next few years at least under Tom Brake, who is clearly a very popular MP locally with quite a personal vote, particularly if his recovery in 2010 is anything to go by. Here, incidentally, has seen the larger Lib Dem increases out of the two, but given that this seat was originally the stronger of the two maybe that’s not a big surprise.

  37. True. Still, I think both Carshalton and Sutton will develop into the better Lib Dem seats of the four. Kingston and Twickenham should stay winnable for awhile, but I think they’ll drift Tory. I doubt Richmond Park will ever be in the Lib Dems’ grasp again.

  38. I think Kingston and Twickenham will be Conservative suburbs again.

  39. Yes, I agree. Not for a few years yet, but down the line.

  40. I agree, Richmond will be dead in the water for the Liberals there like in Orpington in years to come. I believe seats like Twickenham, Kingston and Carshalton are the seats Labour could have won in 1997 if it wasn’t for Lib Dems. Richmond Park may have had some left leaning middle class at that time to make it close. Sutton and Cheam is too much Bromley to ever go Labour.

  41. If the LDs really did get 9% in the general election, which is the current UKPR polling average, they would probably lose Sutton & Cheam and Carshalton & Wallington. Most people are expecting the party to rise to 13-14% by next May but maybe it won’t happen.

  42. Surrey Politics – I think Carshalton and Wallington and possibly Kingston might just have gone Labour in 1997 (or been very close) without a already strong Lib Dem presence.

    I doubt very much whether Twickenham would though – Labour polled the princely figure of 9% there in 1992.

  43. Andy, I don’t think they’d lose Sutton. Remember the Ashcroft polling? They’re ahead by 12 or something like that. I think he Lib Dems would drop very inconsistently, and this could be a seat they’d hold.

    I also think that there is a very slight but noticeable uptick in the Lib Dems’ polling average in the last week or two. There aren’t a whole lot of sixes or sevens in there, as there were in the two months after the Euros, and there are a few tens and quite a lot of nines. I’d be interested to see if it continues.

  44. That’s very interesting and perhaps, on reflection, not too surprising. The Lib Dems are an established party and have considerable ‘strength in depth’ on the ground in many places – networks of activists, local politicians and so on. UKIP (for example) are not yet that established and protest support for such parties (c.f. the Green in 1989) does tend to flare up and die down quite quickly.

    I would tend to believe that the Lib Dems will probably nudge ahead of UKIP and will win something like 12 to 14% next May compared to 9 or 10% for UKIP.

  45. I agree. The ICM polls (which, let’s remember, nailed the Lib Dem percentage for the Euros and have done well in the past) have the Lib Dems generally slightly above UKIP. I think that will bear out.

  46. Wait the ashcroft poll was serious?

    It looks like the liberal democrats will be thanking UKIP , after it saves them this seat.

  47. The LDs do generally do better in local elections here but the failure to crack this one despite favourable conditions (2010) or unfavourable LD ones (2014) is certainly disappointing and needs to be addressed quickly.

  48. Joe obviously dislikes the LDs more than Labour, but I wonder whether this is simply because he lives in a LD/Con marginal? if he resided in the Midlands, for example, maybe he would regard Labour as his main party foe…

  49. Do you like Labour Andy? I know the Lib Dems aren’t extremely strong in Lichfield for example so I can understand why you say what you say, but taken in the Midlands as a whole, would Tories naturally dislike Labour more than the Lib Dems do you think?

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