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 - 1,940 Responses on “Thanet South”
  1. At grassroots level, well away from the national campaign, there has sadly been plenty of moronic racism from people who support Leave. And it seems to be working. Reading through the Facebook feeds of family members up in the east midlands, mostly Leave voters, over the past few weeks has boggled my mind.

  2. Is it racist or bigoted to put one’s country first? That’s the impression you get sometimes from Remain supporters.

  3. Hopefully not from me.

    But some of the stuff out there definitely crosses the line, especially the comments underneath. For example voting Leave in the belief it will totally rid the country of muslims does I think qualify as both racist and moronic, as it will achieve no such thing. I’ve really tried hard to respect the views of Leavers that I know and with the majority I have succeeded in not arguing with them about it, but a minority reposting overt racist crap which then appeared on my Facebook wall I was far from happy with, as someone with many overseas customers.

  4. “Is it racist or bigoted to put one’s country first? That’s the impression you get sometimes from Remain supporters.”

    Surely that suggests that your own country is superior to or more important than other ones. Sounds pretty xenophobic at best

  5. It is equally silly to believe that you can only put your country first by voting Leave. Plenty believe that it is in the best interests of the country to Remain. Myself, I honestly find that one extremely hard to answer, so am happy to vote based on self-interest this time.

  6. Robberbutton – if you’re aiming to convince Leavers to vote Remain then calling them all racists is probably not going to help!!

    I’m still on the fence… Pretty liberal on immigration but I happen to think our laws should be made in Westminster. That would probably put me and another 25-30million people in your racist column…..

  7. Roberbutton – it’s self evident that the UK is “more important” than well over 20 of the other EU states on almost any measure.

    I fail to see how recognising facts such as GNP, population or a UN Security Council seat are xenophobic.

    That really is a sort of self-loathing epitomised by that NUS woman though.

  8. HH is also absolutely right re some supporters of Leave/UKIP being openly racist.

    Although I suppose ranting on social media may be one of the few places they feel they still can, with so many pubs closing etc.

    I think the London-based media just don’t realise how racist over a third of the Country are.

  9. Yes I think that’s very true.

    Leave have been very smart by sidelining Farage and putting Johnson and Gove centre stage.

    From that point of view the Cameron v Farage debate is a huge risk for Leave. The twitterati will be looking for the slightest semblance of a racist remark to hang on Farage. Though that didn’t stop him wiping the floor with Clegg in the EU election debate.

  10. True.

    Plus twitter isn’t a good gauge of the public (just the loud, largely young etc).

    It slated Nick Griffin on QT and the BNP support rose (as the London audience were seen as biased).

    Equally Farage’s comments on the cost of HIV+ immigrants to the NHS in the 2015 GE debates was lampooned on social media but popular in polls.

  11. Any further updates on the Tory election fraud in this constituency (or the other 32)? Last I heard was that they were given additional time to investigate, but LANCS OBSERVER seems to be saying the opposite is true-have the tories managed to wriggle out of it or not?

  12. “It slated Nick Griffin on QT and the BNP support rose (as the London audience were seen as biased).”

    Maybe in the short term, but seven years on and they barely exist, after getting ripped to shreds during the 2010-15 parliament. Whether Griffin on QT and the Twitter reaction actually DID that is unlikely, but if it galvanised bigger parties’ responses to the BNP and made them more effective at campaigning against them, the response is the same.

  13. While Ramsgate with its particular demographic may be 70% Leave, it also has a population of only about 40,000.

    Thanet has reached peak elderly, white, poor with low educational qualifications (ie Leaves core demographic). More and more younger, more ethnically diverse, more middle class people are moving into the area, part of an economic flight from places like London, Canterbury and Brighton, rather than a racial one.

  14. I wish the Lib Dems would come out for Brexit. It would be very plopular, and see huge swings to them in Kent.

  15. For what it’s worth one of the local Thanet papers has just done a poll which puts the respective Leave votes for North and South Thanet at 58% (NT) and 47% (ST).

    Only seen part of the front page which gives the broad figures stated above so can’t give any further details.

    Other than that from a comment someone has made on a Facebook page it appears to have been a telephone poll.

  16. Sounds a bit low to me, they probably haven’t split out the don’t knows.

    Totally agree with you on the demographics of Thanet by the way, the Tracey Emin crowd is moving into the area now, no doubt attracted by how cheap and “full of character” it is.

  17. MrNameless – I imagine them electing 2 MEPs in 2009 led to that.

    That was my point – no doubt the QT audience thought they’d stop that happening, but it backfired.

    If anything the BNP imploded in 2011 onwards due to internal rifts as always happens on the far Right and far Left. That vote hasn’t gone away either.

  18. OK some further information on the polled Thanet voting intentions, subsequent to my earlier post. The Thanet voter responses were part of a wider Kent wide survey of 1001 residents.

    South Thanet: (Base size 64).

    Leave: 47%.
    Remain: 32%
    Undecided: 21%.

    North Thanet: (Base size 63).

    Leave: 58%
    Remain: 32%
    Undecided: 10%.

    Thus the Thanet-wide Undecided vote was 16.5%, or 1 in 6.

    Excluding Don’t Knows the Kent wide split is given as 57% (L) v 43% (R). with a stated likelihood of voting of 91%.

    Ominously for Remain the polling was conducted during the week May 25 to June 1, since when national polls suggest a marked shift towards Leave..

  19. In a 50-50 referendum it’s quite possible that leave would carry all LAs in Kent, although Canterbury would certainly be closest.

  20. Yes. That and having the youngest population population profile, including the University, should make it comfortably remain’s best LA.

  21. However its important to remember that most of the students will have gone home so Canterbury probably will be more leave friendly than it would have been if the referendum was held during term time.

  22. Yes, this is true. Although some may stay over the summer or have already postal voted. Plus the lecturers and to a lesser extent the wider staff are likely to be more remain-leaning than the Kent average too.

  23. Of course, unlike in general elections, whether students vote at university or at home will make no difference to the actual result – only to the witterings of anoraks like us.

  24. Former MP for this seat Jonathan Aitkin has written an article about the popularity of Brexit in this constituency amongst voters. I’m no fan of Aitkin and I’m an undecided voter but it’s a brilliant article.

  25. That’s actually lower than expected being this is UKIP heartland.

  26. Nigel Farage has resigned as UKIP Leader

  27. I wonder if he means it, this time?

  28. I’d think he does. The right decision if he’d like UKIP to capitalise on the situation. Though the new leader will initially have a challenge in achieving name recognition/media profile.

  29. But Farage may be “achieving name recognition/media profile” for the wrong reasons. A new leader may be less toxic with the part of the electorate that don’t support UKIP.

  30. Yes, that was kind of what I was trying to say. They need a leader that can gain similar levels of name recognition, and retain popularity among the groups UKIP are already popular with, but who is less toxic.

  31. UKIP have long argued that they should get more peers and there is certainly a case for it. But I don’t see any PM sanctioning the ennoblement of Farage (which can’t happen whilst he’s still an MEP anyway) – even if it was just UKIP being asked to nominate to someone the PM would be tarred with the appearance of having given an honour to Farage.

  32. ‘Even if it was just UKIP being asked to nominate to someone the PM would be tarred with the appearance of having given an honour to Farage.’

    But Farage and Leadsom hold almost identical views on such a wide range of issues it makes perfect sense for her to reach out to UKIP to form some kind of grand right-wing coalition in the hope it will secure 50% of the vote that UKIP and the Tories combined almost have

  33. At a first glance, the 2016 Boundary Commission proposals make the new Thanet East seat more favoura\ble for both UKIP and Labour than the existing Thanet South seat. I think Nigel Farage would have won Thanet East in 2015; but much may depend on whether UKIP can build a presence for a new candidate of both national and local stature in good time for 2020.

    Personally, I do not like the idea of a Thanet East seat when there is no Thanet West. Why not simply call this seat Isle of Thanet?

    It is significant for local issues that the proposed seat does not include Manston airport.

    In terms of East Kent generally, this seat seems to sweep up anti-Tory areas, making it easier for the Conservatives to win other nearby seats, e.g. Canterbury and Dover. This seems rather hard on Craig Mackinlay, although he may well be hoping that with UKIP and Labour both in disarray he can hold on.

    Thanet East is going to be an interesting seat in 2020, assuming that the new boundaries go through this time.

  34. I hope they do change the name to Isle of Thanet if this makes the final proposals. Like Frederic its my main pet peeve when they create a North without a South or an East without a West.

  35. Thanet East:

    Con 18,603
    UKIP 17,703
    Lab 12,417
    Green 1,268
    LD 876
    Others 702

  36. Thanks for the projection, Andy. I am a bit surprised that the proposed boudary changes do not make more of a difference.

  37. The projection isn’t mine, it’s from Anthony Wells’ notionals that he’s just published on the blog section of this website.

  38. I’m actually a lil bit confused as to what data Anthony is using for his notionals. I’ve done my own calculations using EC’s data and they come out markedly more Lab friendly than Anthony’s..

  39. This MP’s Chief of Staff has been arrested on suspicion of rape within the MP’s Westminster office.

  40. One wonders whether Mr Farage may become a backroom staffer for Mr Trump. Plausible?

  41. Highly unlikely, surely.

  42. Some suggestions he’ll be our next ambassador in Washington, probably a joke, nevertheless from May’s perspective it would benefit the special relationship and damage UKIP.

  43. Farage saying in today’s Mail on Sunday that if alleged Tory expenses scandal in Thanet South leads to a rerun, he will stand again in the seat; it would be his eighth attempt to become an MP.

  44. Is there any likelihood that the seat will be rerun

  45. He’s got a way to go to match Screaming Lord Sutch’s 42 failed attempts.

  46. In fairness to Farage of his seven attempts to become an MP only one – 2015 – was a serious attempt that he might have expected to be successful.

    I do think he’d very much like to be an MP but if he couldn’t win in South Thanet in 2015 it is questionable whether he ever will be able to, at least as long as we have FPTP (which I don’t think is going anywhere any time soon). There is a strong case for UKIP being able to nominate peers but I don’t think the House of Lords would suit him at all so he’d be advised not to go down that route.

  47. He could win in the new Thanet East notionally ukip

  48. “Very unlikely I’d have thought.

    If South Thanet was re-run they other seats like Rochester & Strood would probably have to be re-run.”

    Whether a judge decides to re-run Thanet South has got absolutely nothing to do with what may or may not have gone on in other seats.

  49. “If there were financial irregularities here and they were proven then (I should imagine) it’s quite possible the same could happen with other seats – not an unreasonable assertion!”

    But that isn’t what you said. You said a re-run was unlikely because it might lead to a load more re-runs. That’s wrong. If there need to be a load of re-runs then there will be, and all cases will be judged on individual circumstances. If Farage runs again he’ll win, and he deserves to.

  50. “I think I’m going to start posting under a pseudonym here”

    I had assumed that’s what you’re already doing, if not do so pronto. Nothing stupider than posting Google searchable political views under your own name, especially for those such as yourself who have political ambitions.

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