North Thanet

2015 Result:
Conservative: 23045 (49%)
Labour: 8411 (17.9%)
Lib Dem: 1645 (3.5%)
Green: 1719 (3.7%)
UKIP: 12097 (25.7%)
Others: 136 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 10948 (23.3%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Kent. The western part of Thanet council area and the north-eastern part of the Canterbury council area.

Main population centres: Margate, Herne Bay, Westgate-on-Sea, Minster.

Profile: The seat consists of the north-eastern coast of Kent, made up of the seaside towns of Margate, Westgate-on-Sea, Birchington and Herne Bay and their rural hinterlands. The towns all suffer the common problems of traditional seaside towns that have seen their economies decline since the growth of international tourism. Margate in particular has some of the most deprived areas in the whole of the South East region and has become the focus of redevelopment efforts including the building of the Turner Contemporary galley and the redeveloping of the traditional Dreamland amusement park. The seat also includes Manston airport.

Politics: Despite the comparative poverty in Thanet, this is a solid, safe Conservative seat. Thanet North has been held by Conservative MP Roger Gate since its creation in 1983. In 2015 UKIP took second place from Labour and won the local council, the first council under majority UKIP control.

Current MP
ROGER GALE (Conservative) Born 1943, Poole. Educated at Hardye`s School, Dorchester and Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Former radio and television producer. Contested Birmingam Northfield 1982 by-election. First elected as MP for Thanet North in 1983. PPS to Archie Hamilton 1992-1993, PPS to Jeremy Hanley 1993-1994. Producer of the Today Programme 1973-1976, Director of BBC childrens television 1976-1979. President of Conservative Animal Welfare. Knighted for public and political service in 2012.
Past Results
Con: 22826 (53%)
Lab: 9298 (21%)
LDem: 8400 (19%)
UKIP: 2819 (7%)
MAJ: 13528 (31%)
Con: 21699 (50%)
Lab: 14065 (32%)
LDem: 6279 (14%)
UKIP: 1689 (4%)
MAJ: 7634 (17%)
Con: 21050 (50%)
Lab: 14400 (34%)
LDem: 4603 (11%)
UKIP: 980 (2%)
Oth: 835 (2%)
MAJ: 6650 (16%)
Con: 21586 (44%)
Lab: 18820 (38%)
LDem: 5576 (11%)
Oth: 438 (1%)
MAJ: 2766 (6%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
ROGER GALE (Conservative) See above.
FRANCES REHAL (Labour) Born Ireland. Educated at St Raphaels Convent of Mercy, Loughrea and Kings College Hospital. Childrens Centre co-ordinator and former nurse. Awarded an MBE for services to children and families in 2009.
GEORGE CUNNINGHAM (Liberal Democrat) Born 1956. Educated at Oxford University. Diplomat and former army officer.
PIERS WAUCHOPE (UKIP) Barrister. Former Camden councillor for the Conservatives. Tunbridge Wells councillor since 2012. Contested Hampstead and Highgate 2005 for the Conservatives, Kent Police Commissioner election 2012 for UKIP.
ED TARGETT (Green) Educated at SOAS. Journalist.
CEMANTHE MCKENZIE (United Thanet) Managing director.
Comments - 196 Responses on “Thanet North”
  1. Very interesting by-election today in Cliftonville E ward (why wasn’t it held last week?). It’s a Tory seat but it’s hard to see them holding on as things stand. UKIP are naturally standing along with the 3 main parties & an independent, and I’d be surprised if they fail to win. Labour now shares the much larger county division with UKIP with the Tories quite a way back, but the Tories are clearly stronger in Cliftonville than in Margate, which would have been won by Labour last week (though we can’t tell for sure). Labour is already the largest party on the council, but it would take a mighty swing for them to win & it doesn’t look at all likely.

  2. Labour is stronger in Margate than the rest of the seat, which is why it is not really marginal.

  3. It is striking that the Conservatives haven’t really declined here- in contrast to their fortunes in other seaside seats facing similar challenges. Any theories as to why this is?

  4. Perhaps it’s important to differentiate white working class
    and seaside resort.

    It’s where they intermingle it gets complicated.

  5. This ward is actually in the Thanet South Constituency. The byelection is caused by the disqualification of the former leader of Thanet Council after his conviction for misconduct in a public office and his sentence of 18 months imprisonment. passed at Maidstone Crown Court. The byelection could not take place on 2nd May as the former Councillor did not tender resignation after sentencing and disqualification could not take place until expiry of the appeal period against the sentence. Trust this helps.

  6. Yes UKIP won with 699, with the Tories not far behind & Labour on 326. Not a surprise as things stand at present.

  7. I agree that seaside resort and white working class coastal town aren’t necessarily the same thing. That said, it’s not as simple as Labour winning one category and not the other – another good example of a mixture of the two is the old Harwich seat, but the removal of (WWC) Harwich pushed that one much more securely into the Tory column.

    You also have to consider the ethos of the resort (to the extent that nebulous term has any meaning) and the degree to which it dominates the constituency.

  8. Edward: yes, good points. I guess your point about ethos helps to explain declining Tory fortunes on the East Sussex coast- especially Brighton!

  9. This seat is of course only “very safe” in terms of the old three party politics. It is one of UKIPs better prospects and indeed would be a sensible choice for Nigel Farage to choose for his challenge at the next General Election.

    Do people have suggestions as to which seat would be Farage’s best choice?

    Roger Gale is a shrewd and experienced campaigner, though, if it comes to a major challenge,which is largely why this seat is safer for the Conservatives than its profile would suggest, and also by comparison with South Thanet. Parts of Margate in particular are hardly natural Conservative territory.

  10. Perhaps he’d do a fraction better in S Thanet – the Conservative & Labour votes are slightly closer together, and the MP isn’t a known Eurosceptic like Gale.
    Nice to see you back Frederic.

  11. ‘Edward: yes, good points. I guess your point about ethos helps to explain declining Tory fortunes on the East Sussex coast- especially Brighton!’

    Brighton is different but Tory fortunes in such coastal seats have largely gone hand-in-hand with the fortunes of the towns themselves

    As the towns have declined, so too the Tory vote

    There’s no evidence of that here and this does seem the type of seat where an aggressive, robust no-nonsense right-winger like Roger Gale would do well

    Farage could make a stronger challenge in thanet south – where he would be up against a liberal Tory

  12. Welcome back Frederic.

    UKIP would have a good chance here if Roger Gale stands down I think.

  13. I can’t help wondering whether the UKIP challenge, and the danger, from a Tory point of view, of a Farage candidacy, is part of the reason why Roger Gale appears to be staying on.

  14. Bad news for UKIP – Roger Gale was indeed reselected for North Thanet in March. UKIP would have had a good chance if he’d retired IMO:

  15. One would have to say that South Thanet now looks a better shot for UKIP given Laura Sandys’ rather vocal Europhilia.

  16. Yes I think Farage is most likely to stand there now.

  17. I think that Farage is more likely to stand here than Thanet South. He was born in Herne, just outside the constituency after all. I think that wherever he chooses to stand, he will win simply due to the fact that he has the name recognition (and personal popularity that comes with it) that an MP like Gale (regardless of credentials) unfortunately doesn’t have. After all, only around 20% of people can name their local MP therefore the candidate effect is generally overstated significantly.

    We need to treat Farage like a maverick independent. In electoral terms he is more of a Galloway or Taylor in regard to personal following, but wherever he stands (within reason of course!).

    Essentially Farage can just choose a seat and win it through his personal following. A Libertarian Conservative member like myself would consider voting for him on his own merits, but not UKIP as a whole (unless Diane James came up against Ken Clarke for example!)

  18. As Buckingham in 2010 proved, Farage is no match for a well dug-in incumbent in a safe Tory seat. He came 3rd and looked like an opportunistic carpetbagger. Gale would beat him hands down.

    His only chance is in a marginal seat where the incumbent is highly vulnerable, Thanet South would fit the bill as would Eastleigh.

  19. I wouldn’t underestimate Farage this time though. There were strong results for UKIP here in May of course. Look at Galloway in 2010, but in 2012…

    Do you see my thinking?

  20. No.

  21. Why not? Both were in an amateurish third in 2010. I appreciate that 2012 was a by-election but Galloway picked the right seat, heavily Muslim demographics and the like. Thanet North is perfect Farage demographics: traditional Conservatives and working class/lower middle class middle England.

  22. Why go Farage when they already have a longstanding eurosceptic right wing MP who actually has real links with the community?

  23. Because 3 in 4 people don’t even know who their MP is. This with regret makes the credentials of the incumbent redundant. Farage on the other hand is well-known, therefore his credentials can be of greater use in attracting voters.

  24. ‘Why go Farage when they already have a longstanding eurosceptic right wing MP who actually has real links with the community?’

    Exactly – Thanet South, where Farage would be up against a one-nation, pro-European Tory opponent, seems a far better bet, although Farage did take on that type of Tory in 2010 and got deservedly trounced

  25. Im guessing 111 is having a laugh…or at least I hope so…

    Farage would be wasted in this seat. The Tory vote is fair too high and Gale too well known.

    Farage would be best looking for an Estuary seat with a high Tory and Labour vote, somewhere like Thanet South, South Basildon and East Thurrock, Thurrock, Dartford, maybe Gravesham (at a push) or Castle Point (a much bigger push).

    I say Castle Point as although the Tories are extremely strong there I do think there is much UKIP potential in places like Canvey Island and Thundersley. There is also a host of green belt issues I’m sure they will jump on.

    Eastleigh could be another option for Farage but bearing in mind Diane James failed to win it not that long ago (although she did do extremely well) I doubt UKIP will do as well in 2015 as they did in the recent by election.

    Farage standing in Thanet North would be like him standing in Clacton against Carswell. Pointless.

  26. The only chance Nigal Fareage has got of being elected to parliament is if a by-election comes up in just the right seat at just the right time. Even if UKIP getting 15-20% in the polls I doubt even Farage could win a seat at a general election.

    And I thought Farage has said that he won’t be contesting anymore Westminster seats for the foreseeable future so that he can concentrate on his work in the European Parliament. I thought that was the reason why he didn’t stand in Eastleigh.

  27. You’re absolutely right.

    Farage’s problem is that he is not willing to do the years of hard slog necessary to get MPs elected in a general election. You need to pick a constituency, work it for several elections, get councillors elected and build up a base of activists tramping around in all weathers campaigning about dogshit. Basically, the Lib Dem model.

    Farage, like Nick Griffin, just swoops down on a constituency a few months before the election, transparently for its electoral mathematics more than for any local connection. That will almost always fail at a general election.

  28. Which is why, if anything, he should go for Buckingham again.

    It might not be the best seat for UKIP, but standing in the same seat twice in a row would look less opportunistic.

  29. Actually, LBernard, Castle Point is probably the best of the lot as a UKIP prospect. They won Thundersley and South Benfleet this year and were second in every other division bar Canvey Island West. Labour vote shows little sign of climbing back out of the gutter and UKIP would be well placed to get Dave Blackwell’s local support. Nascent Labour support would likely to be willing to tactically vote UKIP, whilst the Tory vote wouldn’t fear a Labour victory and could go UKIP without fear.

    Most of the other seats are significantly more difficult. UKIP can win the outer bits of Basildon, but they’ll bomb in places like Vange and both Labour and the Tories can out organise them. In Thurrock UKIP only seem to have drawn from the Tories thus far and the non-white percentage of the electorate is climbing reasonably rapidly. A similar calculation applies in Gravesham and the Tories will be working hard to squeeze UKIP supporters, whilst Dartford just doesn’t look like it’ll be competitive.

    That said, I don’t think Farage wants to be an MP and even if he does I think he’d want somewhere more sedate than any of those seats. He doesn’t want to be a hard-working constituency MP traipsing around gloomy council estates, he wants to make bombastic speeches and charm lobby journalists.

  30. Again, I absolutely agree.

    And furthermore, Farage should for once accept that it’s not all about him and his massive ego.

    He needs to get high quality local candidates in place in the 10 or so most promising seats and have them work those seats hard over several elections if necessary.

    There is no reason why the first UKIP MP needs to be him. Far better the party gets its first MPs from years of genuine hard work on the ground. That way they will become far more resistant to the electoral tide turning against them, as is the case with many Lib Dems.

  31. Was replying to Joe

  32. “That said, I don’t think Farage wants to be an MP and even if he does I think he’d want somewhere more sedate than any of those seats. He doesn’t want to be a hard-working constituency MP traipsing around gloomy council estates, he wants to make bombastic speeches and charm lobby journalists.”

    I think that’s very true.

    Unfortunately for Farage, he is not going to be able to win in the kind of posh Tory seat that will appeal to him.

  33. All excellent points.

    Edward is spot on.

    I really do like Farage but he has a tendancy to turn UKIP into one big circus sometimes and I don’t think he seriously wants to become an MP just yet.

    UKIPs best hope is listening to HH and picking ten or so seats and really work at them over a long period of time. I forgot to add Boston to my list.

  34. Boston is a very good bet with the right candidate, who must absolutely not be either a southern stockbroker or a Godfrey Bloom type.

    I’m not a UKIP supporter in any way, but it will be very good for our democracy if they win 20 or 30 seats over the next couple of elections.

  35. “I’m not a UKIP supporter in any way, but it will be very good for our democracy if they win 20 or 30 seats over the next couple of elections”

    I often think that. Parties like UKIP, the Greens and the nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales all help to challenge the big three – something which is very much needed.

  36. I could see him doing well in Folkestone and Hythe. It’s almost caricature right wing yet has a large LD vote that appears to be essentially a ‘sod you’ vote. He is so well known now that it would be a personality thing and the Tory .MP is a colourless loyalist

  37. Yes that’s all true.

    It’s generally a poorer and more working class seat than many people think, but he could maybe live around Sandling as Alan Clark did and pretend to be an aristocrat.

    I still think Farage’s ideal seat would be somewhere like Sevenoaks or Tunbridge Wells, where the wealthier upper middle class predominate. The problem is those kind of seats are the most loyal to the Tories because they contain large numbers of business Tory voters who do not like UKIP or what they stand for.

  38. I think Farage suits the tattier seats more

  39. But, as Edward says, could you see him living in Tilbury and tramping around grim council estates day in day out.

    I think not.

    He would feel much more at home holding forth at the Tunbridge Wells golf club or the Sevenoaks WI bridge evening.

  40. I was thinking somewhere in the middle of the two examples you quote – slightly down at heel/faded seaside areas for example.

  41. Most faded seaside areas are extremely down at heel these days – look at places like Hastings or Clacton. Their local economies have dissolved under them, they’re not attracting new middle-class residents and as their elderly population goes the way of all flesh, their replacements are likely to be rather poorer.

    What do you mean by a Godfrey Bloom type, H. Hemmelig? I think Boston would not be the sort of seat where a candidate would need to watch what they say, but on the other hand UKIP clearly need candidates who are much more energetic and better strategic thinkers than Bloom is.

  42. I would have thought Hemelig is referring to the fact that Bloom is relatively posh, affluent and southern – and gets most excited by issues that have an effect on the size of his pockets, rather than that of other people

    I don’t think a candidate like that would go down well in a less well-off area like this one

  43. @EDC

    What you say may well be the case for Clacton but I’m not so sure that it applies to Hastings. It has experienced some gentrification in recent years by arty, bohemian types who have been priced out of Brighton and they may well help to turn the town around. I certainly think Hastings has a brighter future than Clacton does at present.

  44. Hastings is a much more attractive town. Clacton for the most part is very average. I think both towns suffer due to their distance from London. It takes too long to commute from these places into the City and costs too much so newer residents who have money are less likely to move there. Southend and the North Kent coastal towns have faired better.

  45. I agree with Edward re Castle Point. A lot of the people who voted for Bob Spink in 2010 are likely to be at least a bit sympathetic to UKIP & the seat has just the right sort of demography for them. If I were a UKIP party manager (a long shot I realise 🙂 ) I’d seriously consider that seat rather than one like Thanet S or Great Yarmouth where the party’s support is likely to get caught in a tactical squeeze.

  46. I would have thought Ukips best chance of winning a seat would be a Lib Dem held seat where a sizeable proportion of Labour supporters previously voted tactically but will now return to Labour and where a Lib Dem council is unpopular. Eastleigh would have fitted this except the Lib Dem council is popular.

    I’m not sure which seats best fits these criteria. Perhaps could make a suggestion? but I have feeling it would be in the South West where Ukip are popular and Lib Dems have lot of seats.

  47. My guess is that UKIP’s chances here depend on Gale’s retirement plans. If he steps down, they may have a shot, if he remains I think it is doubtful.

    This is my analysis of UKIP’s county council performance and general election chances for this seat and South Thanet:

  48. Roger Gale isn’t standing down AFAIK.

  49. I see from the Ribble Valley thread that there is a suggestion that Sir Roger Gale might become Deputy Speaker.

    The problem with such a promotion is that it might well make it harder for Sir Roger to hold off the UKIP challenge in 2015, as it could inhibit his party political camaigning against that party.

  50. Some of your Kent hobby horses are a bit bizarre Frederic.

    The Conservatives won 53% of the vote here in 2010. It is an ultra safe seat. UKIP do not have the remotest chance of winning it, whether Gale is or is not deputy speaker, or indeed whether or not he even stands.

    UKIP’s best hope of winning a seat is not a safe Tory seat with a huge majority, it is in a marginal seat where other parties can help them drag the Tory vote low enough for them to squeak through the middle.

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