Taunton Deane

2015 Result:
Conservative: 27849 (50.3%)
Labour: 5347 (9.7%)
Lib Dem: 12358 (22.3%)
Green: 2630 (4.8%)
UKIP: 6921 (12.5%)
TUSC: 118 (0.2%)
Independent: 96 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 15491 (28%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Somerset. The whole of the Taunton Deane council area.

Main population centres: Taunton, Wellington, Bishops Lydeard, Wiveliscombe.

Profile: Set in the vale between the Quantocks and the Blackdown Hills Taunton is the county town and largest town in Somerset, the administrative centre for both Taunton Deane council and Somerset county council. The seat also includes the smaller, but more industrial town of Wellington to the west. To some extent Wellington is a home for Taunton`s commuters but it is also a manufucturing town in its own right, with textile, beds and aerosols all important local industries.

Politics: Taunton was traditionally a Conservative seat, its past MPs including most notably Edward du Cann, long time Chairman of the 1922 Committee and, as of 2015, one of the few surviving ministers from the MacMillan government. Since 1997 it has changed back and forth between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, initially won by Jackie Ballard for the Lib Dems in 1997, it was narrowly gained by the Conservatives Adrian Flook in 2001 (a victory put down to Jackie Ballard`s vociferious support for a hunting ban in an area known for its stag hunting). Flook in turn held the seat for only a single term before he was defeated by Jeremy Browne. Browne retired after a single term and the seat again moved back into the Conservative column.

Current MP
REBECCA POW (Conservative) Born Somerset. Educated at Imperial College London. Former broadcaster, journalist and gardener. First elected as MP for Taunton Deane in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 24538 (42%)
Lab: 2967 (5%)
LDem: 28531 (49%)
UKIP: 2114 (4%)
MAJ: 3993 (7%)
Con: 25191 (42%)
Lab: 7132 (12%)
LDem: 25764 (43%)
UKIP: 1441 (2%)
MAJ: 573 (1%)
Con: 23024 (42%)
Lab: 8254 (15%)
LDem: 22798 (41%)
UKIP: 1140 (2%)
MAJ: 226 (0%)
Con: 23621 (39%)
Lab: 8248 (14%)
LDem: 26064 (43%)
Oth: 318 (1%)
MAJ: 2443 (4%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Taunton

2015 Candidates
REBECCA POW (Conservative) Born Somerset. Educated at Imperial College London. Broadcaster, journalist and gardener.
NEIL GUILD (Labour) Educated at Kings College Taunton and Swansea University. Local government officer and former soldier.
RACHEL GILMOUR (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Cheltenham Ladies College and SOAS. Management consultant. Contested Nottingham North 1997, Totnes 2001.
LAURA BAILHACHE (UKIP) Educated at Heathfield Community School and Oxford University. Solicitor.
BRUCE GAULD (Independent) Former lab assistant and porter.
MIKE RIGBY (Independent) Somerset councillor.
Comments - 448 Responses on “Taunton Deane”
  1. I think it’s not unlikely. Some have been around for quite a while without achieving that much prominence, e.g. Tom Brake. Please let it be Simon Hughes…….please………… (apologies for hopelessly partisan comment)

  2. I think the party are in such depths that James Baillie’s views, which in normal times would be quite widely held, are probably not reflective of the overall party membership, for whom the next year is simply about getting as many MPs as possible, after which the wrangling on future policy direction can begin.

    Same with the Conservatives and Reckless – in normal times Cameron would have been jumping for joy to get shot of him, even if he did go on to win the by-election. The fact that for the first time UKIP look capable of winning seats other than those held by defectors changes everything (2015 could yet see another failure to get “one of their own” elected, but that’s looking less likely by the month).

  3. Jeremy Browne has beat the tories here twice. I think he’ll make it a hat trick

  4. How much would you like to bet Teddy. Ill give you 20/1 that Browne wins in 2015 :p

  5. Teddy, Teddy, Teddy. Are you not aware that Browne is retiring? You really need to read the previous posts before you go gallivanting off with your predictions.

  6. Perhaps Teddy thinks Paddy Ashdown will hold Yeovil as well, and Jeremy Thorpe North Devon.

  7. Didn’t know Jeremy Browne was standing down. I tipped him as a future Lib Dem leader! Very surprised!

    The Lib Dems could have held this with Browne as the candidate bu it now looks like the Tories wil win here next year.

  8. So who will now be the candidate of the right in the leadership election?

  9. ”So who will now be the candidate of the right in the leadership election?”

    Lorely Burt?

    Her impression of Nigel Farage at the Lib Dem conference was on par with Sarah Teather’s stint at comedy ; – )

  10. David Laws is still around, and is pretty much assured of still being in the House after 2015. But he would probably be a worse leader than Clegg.

  11. I’d guess Norman Lamb.

    The contest is likely to be between someone from the anti-coalition left (probably Farron), and a centrist who doesn’t frighten the horses and could work with either main party (Lamb).

    I doubt the hard right of the party will be represented in the leadership contest.

  12. ‘So who will now be the candidate of the right in the leadership election?”

    Ed Davey is the obvious remaining figurehead on the Lib Dem Right

    I would have though we’ll see a Faron v Davey contest, with Farron the favourite – especially with the grassroots – but with Davery able to attract the support of the remaining party heavyweights likes Cable, Laws and Lamb – making it asnyone’s guess who will win

  13. Oh sorry my bad. Hadn’t heard that Browne was calling it a day here. Still on balance I think the LDs should still be able to hold this

  14. Steve Webb was an orange booker was he not? And he’s managed to survive all the Lib Dem reshuffles. Methinks he’s biding his time.

  15. Steve Webb is the exception to the Orange Book rule (with Cable, perhaps). Both are associated with the party’s leftward wing, although Webb is generally seen as a sensible fellow throughout the party. Webb was also seriously considered as a candidate in 2007, but ultimately backed Clegg.

    I think this will remain close, but will be a Tory gain.

  16. Huhne wrote a chapter in the Orange Book and was somewhat regarded to be more on the party’s left when he was around.

    Isn’t Danny Alexander considered to be on the right of the party? His seat looks secure enough although post-referendum Scotland might deliver a few surprises in 2015. So if anyone from the party’s right is challenging for leadership (assuming Clegg stands aside) it would probably be Ed Davey.

  17. Anyone know the contenders for the Lib Dem candidate for this seat?

  18. No idea. I’ve just thought this seat probably had the highest vote share for right-wing candidates of any in the country. Of course a big chunk of Browne’s vote probably didn’t know that.

  19. Lib Dems have shortlisted the following people for to replace Jeremy Browne as the party’s candidate for this seat at the next General Election.

    Gideon Amos, Cllr. Justine Baker, Rachel Gilmour, Justine Guinness and Martin Turner.

  20. Whoever is selected has their work *really* cut out for them. Browne’s intention to stand down in May was a further blow to the party in Somerset where their prospects look really grim (except for Bath in the UA). Browne and Heath standing down and Munt defending an extremely vulnerable seat could see their presence in the county to wither away in one fell swoop. In 2020 they might be able to regain some support in the midst of a likely unpopular Labour government. The luxury of opposition could help them in the region as long as UKIP hasn’t eaten too much into their vote and the Tories only have small majorities.

  21. What about Yeovil, Neil? I should think Laws is still heavily favored.

    I think Taunton will do a 2001 then promptly do a 2005 next time around, but Wells and Somerton could well be gone for good. Yeovil should be held.

  22. The Lib Dem selection takes place on Saturday 6th December.

    Apparantly, Cllr. Justine Baker (Bishops Hull and Taunton West) has already been selected as the 2015 Lib Dem candidate for the Bridgewater and West Somerset seat! Really surprised she made it onto the shortlist considering this fact. Do Lib Dem rules allow PPC’s to jump ship to another seat?

  23. Will badly damage her campaign now, either in Taunton or Bridgwater. Especially given how Lib Dems go on so much about the importance of being local and fighting the same seat again and again.

  24. “What about Yeovil, Neil? I should think Laws is still heavily favored.”

    Thanks for reminding me, completely forgot about Yeovil. Clear hold for Laws of course.

  25. I think it’s possible to be local both to Bridgwater and Taunton. They’re only about 5 miles apart.

  26. Without wishing to be utterly pedantic, it is actually 11 miles Nick, so not so easy to be genuinely local to both.

  27. Local isn’t the issue. What kind of candidate drops one seat to move next door before even fighting the election. Who would like a person like that as their MP?

  28. Well she hasn’t got a hope in hell of winning anything in Bridgwater so I guess one that is prepared to take a fall for her party.

    And to out-pedant you John, it’s only 5 miles from Bishop’s hull to the constituency boundary 😉

  29. ”Local isn’t the issue. What kind of candidate drops one seat to move next door before even fighting the election. Who would like a person like that as their MP?”

    If she’s selected on Saturday, I’m sure Rebeca Pow / the Tories will use this against her during the Election campaign.

  30. I can’t seem to find anything about her occupational background although one local website indicates that Gilmour grew up in the area.

  31. Can’t help but notice that the first comment on LDV is by a fellow named Iain. Could it possibly be our own Lib Dem supporter from UKPR?

    Neil, Gilmour did indeed grow up in the area. I tend to think this seat will be a very narrow Tory gain, and wouldn’t be shocked to see Gilmour hold. She’s now one of the best hopes the Lib Dems have to have a woman in Parliament in 2015, after Lisa Smart and Julie Pörksen.

    With Gilmour, my new prediction (until Browne announced his standing down, I’d had this as LD hold):

    CON 42%
    LD 39%
    UKIP 12%
    LAB 6%
    GRN 2%

  32. I’ve just noticed since 2001, this seat has gone against the national grain to a certain extent. At first I was predicting a dead cert Tory gain when I heard Browne is stepping down but I now think this will be a very narrow Lib Dem hold with a majority of about 30 – 60.

  33. That’d mean a near-certain recount.

  34. P.T. Richards – That would certainly be recount. I honestly think this will be one of the most marginal seats in the country next year.

  35. I find Christian’s prediction of a majority of between 30 and 60 immensely entertaining, in the nicest possible way.

  36. I think the LibDems will get a bigger majority than 60 Christian

  37. I think it will be a very narrow Tory gain. Under 1,000, I’d say.

  38. Ashcroft had the tories up by 4%. Could well be a close one.

  39. I’ve always been very supportive of Browne’s stances, but in this I think he is wrong. While I would personally like the Lib Dems to follow a path closer to the one he suggests, I don’t think it would be electorally beneficial to the party.

  40. You are a Tory….why should what you think be of any relevance to the Lib Dems?

  41. “you are a Tory”….so is Jeremy Browne!

  42. Of course, I agree with Jeremy that Clegg is wallowing too much in the trap of the “centre ground” – I just totally disagree with him on which direction the Liberals should exit it from. The Lib Dems do need to be fighting on a much more distinctive platform than they are doing, but realistically Clegg does need to shore up his base and he’s failing to do so because he’s trying to appeal to a generic one-size-fits-all voter rather than identifying who he actually needs on his side and going out aggressively to win back their votes.

  43. Because, Hemmelig, I can still have meaningful input into other parties and opinion on their electoral fortunes whether or not I am a member. In fact, I am not a member of any party. As I have said before, I primarily vote Tory, but I am closest ideologically to the likes of Browne and Laws. If they represented the mainstream of the Lib Dems, I would vote Lib Dem.

  44. For myself, I would never deign to advise a rival political party what their policies & outlook should be – that’s only fair, since I get extremely annoyed when those who oppose Labour e.g. the Sun or the Daily Mail give unwanted “advice” to my party. I can, however, comment on whether I think a policy or outlook is electorally good or bad for another party, and I have sometimes done that. It is difficult to do that, nevertheless, if you are a very partisan supporter of a particular party as I am.

  45. I agree with PT Richards

    After 13 years of a Labour government I fully supported Clegg’s decision to go into a coalition government with the Tories – and still do – but amongst those people who voted Lib Dem in 2010 (and i didn’t) I’m clearly in a minority

    I think having the Lib Dems in the government has prevented the Tories from some of their more extreme measures designed to hit the poor the hardest – notwithstanding the unjust bedroom tax and the trebling of university fees

    However, one look at their quite frankly abysmal poll ratings show that they won’t get any credit whatsoever for it – and adopting Browne’s program of right-wing ecomomics combined with a left-wing social outlook (much like the VVD in Netherlands and the Free Denocrats in Germany) would make them even less popular.

    It shows Browne to be extremely out of touch with grassroots Lib Dem opinion and that despite his protestsations to the contrary he is a Tory not very well disguised as a Lib dem

  46. The Lib Dems don’t have any future until centre ground politics come back into fashion again. Centre parties are being decimated all over the world.

  47. I’m going to guess at a narrow Cameronite gain here at the general election. If Jeremy Browne had stood it wouldn’t have been much of a contest.

    Of course the attacks and denigration of Browne in Lib Dem circles only goes to disprove their nonsense about being the party of reaching out beyond their core base and agreeing where there is agreement to be made.
    For all the whinging from Lib Dems, that is exactly what Browne did!!!

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