South Thanet

2015 Result:
Conservative: 18838 (38.1%)
Labour: 11740 (23.8%)
Lib Dem: 932 (1.9%)
Green: 1076 (2.2%)
UKIP: 16026 (32.4%)
Independent: 61 (0.1%)
Others: 728 (1.5%)
MAJORITY: 2812 (5.7%)

Category: Marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Kent. The eastern part of the Thanet council area and two wards from the Dover council area.

Main population centres: Ramsgate, Sandwich, Broadstairs, St Peters.

Profile: A coastal seat, snaking around the eastern coast of the Isle of Thanet and then south into Dover to include the historic Cinque port of Sandwich and the rural villages inland from it, including Ash and Wingham. The main centres of population is the ferry port, fishing town and coastal resort of Ramsgate, the more genteel seaside town of Broadstairs and Cliftonville, a residential part of Margate. Thanet suffers from the economic problems often associated with declining seaside towns, and has some of the most deprived wards in the otherwise generally affluent Kent.

Politics: Historically this was a safely Conservative area, the Isle of Thanet seat that existed until 1974 was solidly Conservative throughout its history, as was this seat`s immediate predecessor Thanet East. In 1992 Jonathan Aitken enjoyed an apparently safe 23% majority here, but in 1997 he lost his seat to Labour`s Stephen Ladyman and subsequently his liberty after being found guilty and jailed for perjury. The seat was regained by the Conservatives in 2010 under Laura Sandys, a Tory moderate and pro-European. The 2015 election was one of the most high profile constituency battles, fought between the UKIP leader Nigel Farage, Craig Mackinlay, a UKIP to Conservative defector chosen to replace Sandys, and the Labour candidate Will Scobie. Ultimately Mackinlay won, prompting Nigel Farage to briefly honour a promise to resign as UKIP leader.

Current MP
CRAIG MACKINLAY (Conservative) Born Chatham. Educated at Rainham Mark Grammar and Birmingham University. Former chartered accountant and tax advisor. Medway councillor since 2007. Contested Gillingham 1992 as Independent, 1997 as UKIP, Totnes 2001 for UKIP, Gillingham 2005 for UKIP, Kent Police Commissioner election 2012 for the Conservatives. First elected as MP for Thanet South in 2015. Acting leader of UKIP 1997, Deputy leader of UKIP 1997-2000. Defected to the Conservatives in 2005.
Past Results
Con: 22043 (48%)
Lab: 14426 (31%)
LDem: 6935 (15%)
UKIP: 2529 (6%)
MAJ: 7617 (17%)
Con: 15996 (39%)
Lab: 16660 (40%)
LDem: 5431 (13%)
UKIP: 2079 (5%)
Oth: 1076 (3%)
MAJ: 664 (2%)
Con: 16210 (41%)
Lab: 18002 (46%)
LDem: 3706 (9%)
UKIP: 501 (1%)
Oth: 1012 (3%)
MAJ: 1792 (5%)
Con: 17899 (40%)
Lab: 20777 (46%)
LDem: 5263 (12%)
Oth: 1049 (2%)
MAJ: 2878 (6%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
CRAIG MACKINLAY (Conservative) Born Chatham. Educated at Rainham Mark Grammar and Birmingham University. Chartered accountant and tax advisor. Medway councillor since 2007. Contested Gillingham 1992 as Independent, 1997 as UKIP, Totnes 2001 for UKIP, Gillingham 2005 for UKIP, Kent Police Commissioner election 2012 for the Conservatives. Acting leader of UKIP 1997, Deputy leader of UKIP 1997-2000. Defected to the Conservatives in 2005.
WILL SCOBIE (Labour) Educated at Dane Court Grammar and York University. Thanet councillor since 2011, Kent county councillor since 2013.
RUSS TIMPSON (Liberal Democrat) Educated at South Bank University. Businessman, fire engineer and former Royal Navy submariner.
NIGEL FARAGE (UKIP) Born 1964, Farnborough. Educated at Dulwich College. Former commodities broker. Contested Itchen, Test and Avon in 1994 European election. Member of the European Parliament for South-East England since 1999. Contested Eastleigh by-election 1994, Salisbury 1997, Bexhill and Battle 2001, South Thanet 2005, Bromley and Chistlehurst 2006 by-election, Buckingham 2010. Leader of UKIP 2006-2009 and since 2010.
IAN DRIVER (Green) Thanet councillor since 2011, originally elected for Labour.
GRAHAME BIRCHALL (United Thanet) Born 1952. Businessman and former serviceman. Former Canterbury councillor for the Labour party.
DEAN MCCASTREE (Independent) Born St Lucia. Financial Trader. Former Thanet councillor, former Lambeth councillor. Contested Brent Central 2010.
ZEBADIAH ABU-OBADIAH (Al-Zebabist) Musician.
NIGEL ASKEW (Reality) Publican.
RUTH BAILEY (Manston Airport Independent) Teacher.
AL MURRAY (No description) Born 1968, Stewkley. Educated at Bedford School and Oxford University. Comedian.
Comments - 1,985 Responses on “Thanet South”
  1. Did Brownhills still have any mines in 1984?

    Melton did have a mine opened but was that after 1984?

    Did any of the Warwickshire coalfield reach into Meridian?

  2. ‘Did any of the Warwickshire coalfield reach into Meridian?’

    I thought old seat of Meridan contained nearly all odf the Warwickshire coalfield, which since 1983 has been in Warwickshire North, although I think some it would have been in Nuneaton too

  3. There is a colliery pretty much slap on the Hexhamshire / Cumbria border.

  4. There is still a fair amount of opencast coal mining in the UK, some of which is in Tory seats, for example Amber Valley.

    There is a large amount of opencast coal mining in south west Scotland, it might possibly stretch far enough to reach David Mundell’s constituency.

  5. So is anyone going to have a look in Aitken’s book to see if he actually wrote that bollox about coalmines?

  6. I recall this seat being one of the screens behind David Dimbleby during the BBC’s 2005 General Election coverage, and it showed Stephen Ladyman and Mark MacGregor on the stage, so the declaration was obviously about to be made.

  7. I think the Stafford one was Hem Heath which really belonged to the Potteries but it might just have been in Stafford, anomalously close to the better residential areas of Stoke.
    Moorgreen rings a bell in the context of DH Lawrence. Mentioned in novels/father worked there??

  8. “Moorgreen rings a bell in the context of DH Lawrence. Mentioned in novels/father worked there??”

    Yes that is correct. Moorgreen is within walking/cycling distance of Eastwood, which is DH Lawrence’s home town and the setting for much of his work. It’s highly possible that it was the pit his father worked in. My uncle also worked there until the late 80s (British Coal maintained workshops there for a few years after mining ended in 1985).

    Eastwood is in Broxtowe borough but Ashfield constituency. I’m pretty sure Moorgreen is in Broxtowe constituency as well as the borough.

  9. Thanks HH – interesting.

  10. I don’t think the truncated Meriden (i.e. not the huge seat of 1979) would have had mines after 1983 but I dk.

    Richard sounds correct on Nuneaton – unless they are all from War N

  11. Seems surprising now but Doncaster was a Tory seat until 1964, held by Anthony Barber.

  12. SBJME19 is correct about his recollection of the mine in the Stafford constituency – that’s exactly where it was. Perhaps now it would be in Stone. The present-day Meriden seat has as far as I know had no pits within living memory, if ever. As it happens, today I’ve been reading the memoirs of my late friend David Watkins, MP for Consett from 1966 to 1983, who died recently – I knew him very well from his home in Richmond which he got when he was elected to Parliament. He was a Bristolian despite being a Geordie MP & he wrote about how there were coal mines on the very outskirts of Bristol – nearer than the Somerset coalfield which closed more recently – when he was born in the 20s, which however were worked out by the time WWII broke out. I had no idea that Bristol had ever had coal mines.

  13. As I remember the Somerset coalfield shut during the 1960s.

    When did the Forest of Dean mines close?

    Did Staffordshire Moorlands have any mines in 1984?

    And might there have been a mine in Stirling, Edinburgh W or Fife NE in 1984?

  14. “Seems surprising now but Doncaster was a Tory seat until 1964, held by Anthony Barber.”

    And would have been Conservative in 1984 on those same boundaries,

    But it wouldn’t have been a mining constituency.

  15. Forest of Dean mines closed in the 1960s – in Dr Robert Waller’s books.

    Labour did rather well to stay competitive in the area for so long.

  16. There was/is mining of some sort in Wirksworth in Derbyshire West/Dales.

  17. There isn’t any coal in Wirksworth. Some old lead mines, and limestone quarrying.

  18. I’m not sure there have ever been mines in what is currently, or was in 1984, Staffordshire Moorlands. Leek was a textile town, and Biddulph is essentially an extension of the Potteries. Maybe there was once a mine on the very edge of that area. The present-day Doncaster Central does have a coalfield area, but the seat held by Barber wouldn’t have done as Richard correctly says. Barber in fact gained the seat from Ray Gunter, later to become a London MP & cabinet minister under Harold Wilson in the 60s. I don’t think any of the Scottish seats mentioned would have had a mine in 1984, indeed again I’m not sure any of them ever have although Stirling as it’s drawn nowadays could possibly have had at one point. It’s just possible that Edinburgh W extends far enough outside the traditional boundaries of the city to include a former mine.

  19. There was definitely a mine at Biddulph which would have been situated in Staffs Moorlands but not sure when it closed.
    The mines near Bristol were in the Kingswood area.
    I remember a story from a colleague who as a child was in a doctor’s surgery or A&E in Bath and was astonished to see, given that it was Bath, a miner walk in, in his gear and covered in coaldust.

  20. The Spectator had an article today on Nigel Farage’s less than felicitous appearance on QT. It included this comment:

    “Just a few months ago, Farage announced he was taking a step back from the television microphones to ‘get a grip’ on Ukip. Instead, he’s just undertaken a mini-tour of UK theatres for ‘An Evening with Nigel Farage’ — some of which I understand drew the sort of audiences Ukip had five years ago (i.e. rather small ones).”

    Has anyone seen this show? Sounds like he is trying to pick up the slack where Dame Edna left off… minus the gladioli…

  21. Two polls tonight with similar findings:

    ComRes / Opinium:

    Lab: 35% / 37%
    Con: 29% / 28%
    UKIP: 17% / 16%
    LD: 10% / 9%
    Others: 9% / 10%

  22. Maybe Nigel F. should grab the preselection for his party here while the going is good… though this poll might suggest the eclipse has begun..

  23. In relation to Kent, Dover used to have coal mines. In addition, Canterbury, which has been Conservative since the nineteenth century, had Chislett Colliery, although this was closed by 1984. Thanet South never had a coal mine, not surprisingly as it is mainly an urban seat, although it wouldn’t surprise me if some East Kent miners lived in Ramsgate. I lived in Cardiff at the time of the miners’ strike and one thing we found out was that some South Wales miners lived in Cardiff and commuted.

  24. I’ve never heard of Chislett colliery, and would guess it’s been closed quite a lot longer than the 29 years since 1984.

  25. I used to go on holiday to this area every summer when I was a child, and I’d never heard of a colliery in this area.

    I took a look on the internet and Chislet closed in 1969.

  26. Laura Sandys is retiring after 1 term.

  27. The number of female MPs, who are still a long way from retirement age, that are bailing raises questions in this day and age of AWS lists whether there is a battle being fought for more female MPs and then those that win the battle are undermining the cause by bailing rather swiftly… Teather, Mensch, Sandys et al..

  28. Maybe thats because AWS is not fixing the real problem and that is a working environment that is not conducive for the recruitment and retention of females.

  29. Furthermore Antiochian – Individual women do not owe any more to other women than men do to other men.

  30. Does this make it more or less likely that Farage will contest the seat in 2015? I suppose it gives the Tories another chance to select the sort of arch-Eurosceptic who would better suit this constituency.

  31. I agree Joe… its everyone for themselves.. but it would be pretty reprehensible for someone to argue for such lists on the grounds of equality and then bail…

    quotas work best with proportional representation… Argentina has quotas for female representation surprisingly enough… they were introduced in the 1990s

  32. Good outcome for the Tories I suspect. Europhiles like Sandys risk being sitting ducks in the current environment

  33. After Sandys, who is the most Europhile Tory MP in Kent?

  34. Damien Green surely

  35. Maybe today’s news means Farage is more likely to consider standing in Boston & Skegness.

  36. That seat already has a candidate. He would have to depose them – can see that being rather divisive.

    If I were him I would stand in Buckingham again. It was a poor result last time around – but at least he would give the impression of having some commitment to the area. If the LD doesn’t stand again, then he might have an outside chance there.

  37. Antiochian – and one-term women too (South Ribble). There may be more if Esther McVey et al goes, although that will be for the electors to decide.

  38. Esther McVey may well lose her seat. Labour don’t need a very big swing to take it and if they can’t win on the Wirral where demographics have been kinder to them in recent years then that will be extremely disappointing for them.

  39. You can add Anna Soubry to the list as well, and Mary Macleod, and a fairly significant number of seats such as Norwich North, Oxford West and Ealing Central. If the Tories do not win most seats in 2015, they stand to lose a lot of women and moderate MPs, leaving behind a very right-wing parliamentary party in safer seats which would set the course for a lurch to the right in terms of the next leader and the direction of the party.

  40. Shame about that. Laura seemed to be quite committed to party modernisation and came across as a really nice person. Her voice might have been drowned out ever since the Tories got tough again on Europe.

    This is surely a UKIP target though. A Labour gain is a faded prospect. They’re pretty well represented on Thanet council but didn’t do well in these divisions in the CC elections, this year. This was the kind of swing seat from 1997 and 2010 which UKIP could thrive in.

  41. H.Hemmelig, I think Oxford West could be a Lib Dem gain in 2015. It was a shame that Evan Harris got defeated in 2010. Layla Moran is their PPC and seems pretty impressive.

    Add Thurrock to that list too. Jackie Doyle-Price’s majority is so wafer thin and although the borough’s main demographics could be trending towards UKIP, the African community there has increased rapidly.

    Possibly Margot James in Stourbridge too due to Labour selecting what looks like an extremely good local candidate.

  42. Yes you’re right. Bristol North West as well.

  43. Bristol North West???

    I doubt that would be lost. Who to? Thats a clear tory hold in my book.

  44. Haven’t the boundary changes to Bristol NW pretty much screwed Labour’s chances of winning that back? Before 2010 it was a clear bellweather seat.

  45. Bristol NW in 2013:

    Avonmouth – Tory, labour in a decent 2nd place about 10 points behind

    Kingsweston: Independent – probably votes Lab / LD in a general with the tories a respectable 3rd

    Henbury – Tory, labour in a decent 2nd place about 10 points behind.

    Stoke Bishop – Incredibly tory – majority over 50 points

    Westbury-on-Trym, Very tory – majority 30 points over an indep.

    Henleaze – Lib Dem, tory a decent 2nd place about 10 points behind. Labour nowhere

    Lockleaze – Labour, LD a decent 2nd place about 10 points behind, torys nowhere

    Horfield. Tory held, v. marginally over labour, LDs not far back.

    Southmead – Very safe labour – 40 points over tories.

  46. Labour held 2 wards, with a further ward having a large lead over the tories.

    Tories held 5 wards, with a further ward having a large lead over labour.

  47. I am not saying Labour will win Bristol North West. I am saying that marginal Tory seats contain a disproportionate number of women and moderate MPs. It is not just true of hyper-marginals like Broxtowe and Wirral West, it is true of semi marginal like Ealing Central and Bristol NW as well. If Cameron did badly and his losses included the semi-marginal, he would be left with an extremely right wing parliamentary party.

  48. Prediction for 2015-
    Conservative- 45%
    Labour- 34%
    UKIP- 13%
    Liberal Democrat- 7%
    Others- 1%

  49. No wonder Farage is not standing here if all they can muster is 13%!

    After all the discussion about how it might be winnable then this low-ball… or do you have a with-Farage or without-Farage UKIP result? I presume this is without!

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