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 - 1,986 Responses on “Thanet South”
  1. As an ex member of UKIP with some friends still in the party, I’m fairly confident that Waters will win the leadership election relatively comfortably.

    See Trump and the Republican primaries… the comparison is a bit of a stretch granted but there is one candidate distinct from most of the others.

    Her supporters are more passionate than the others and there has been some entryism. Whether they joined in time to vote I’m not sure, but the tin foil hat brigade are out on social media over the rules, thinking it’ll be a stitch up and that an establishment figure (haha) will win.

    I’d be most surprised if Whittle won, he’s reasonably inoffensive, can speak calmly in formed sentences (whether you agree with him or not is separate) but doesn’t fit the new ‘self proclaimed libertarian’ that many UKIP members now see themselves as.

    Basically retweeters of Infowars and Breitbart, and determined to needlessly offend as many people as possible.

    John Rees Evans might be the dark horse.

    Nuttall just looked like a clown with the tweed outfit and flat cap, with the scouse accent. Just looked the fakery that it was. Akin to seeing Jacob Rees Mogg in a onesie walking down the high street accosting people.

  2. Intetesting thanks luke

  3. Thanks LUKE SENIOR for some interesting insights.

    WATERS is now favourite with Betfair. She is 45% favourite. WHITTLE is now wnd favourite – 33%.

    One bookie is offering 3/1 that WATERS gets 40% or more of the vote share

  4. Common sense seems to suggest that Waters should be the favourite.

    UKIP has been shedding members since Brexit, disproportionately the more liberal ones like Luke Senior who mostly joined to help get us out of the EU, and have now drifted back to the Tories. This presumably leaves a rump membership which is much more hardline with dare I say more than a few genuine racists and BNP types.

    Post Brexit UKIP was always going to struggle to find a role and the only suitable gap in the market at the moment (however regrettably) is that of an out and out anti-Islamic party, for which there could be not inconsiderable support in the future. That of course would depend on a better campaign than Nuttall’s dreadful GE2017 effort.

    All this would appear to point to Waters winning, which may then cause Farage and others to cut their ties.

  5. The “UKIP was always going to struggle to define themselves post-Brexit” but I honestly don’t think that was the reason for their collapse. Because UKIP was never really about the EU – indeed, even leaving the EU was never really about leaving the EU. If leaving the EU was really the only thing that motivated UKIP voters, then they would raionally have voted Conservative in 2015, as the only party offering a referendum who were also in a position to deliver on their pledges. No, UKIP support (and to a certain extent wider leave support) was driven by something deeper, a certain kind of cultural resentment.

    I think Nigel Farage’s departure was what really killed UKIP. Think how shambolic they were as an outfit in the Kilroy days. I think Farage was the able person capable of keeping the motley crew together, and when he disppeared the party’s lifeblood disappeared with him.

  6. Is this the same Nigel Farage who attacked Brendan Cox and who was in Germany campaigning for the AfD?

    Although Anne Marie waters is a bigoted crackpot with links to pegida etc at least you know where you stand with her whereas I find Banks, Farage etc even more unpleasant and slippery.


    Yes, not totally sure about how socially conservative UKIP voters are/were as a whole in terms of the proportions and how much was simply a ragbag protest vote some of which went to Labour in certain coastal areas, South Wales etc.

  7. Agree. Also their 20 MEPS have threatened to quit UKIP if AMW wins.

    A few parallels here with the CORBYN 2015 leadership election. tbc

  8. Leaving the EU might not have been the prime motivator for UKIP voters, but it was the prime motivator of many people who joined the party, especially those of a Carswell bent. My point being that they have now largely gone, leaving a more xenophobic rump membership. A Brown makes a good point re Farage and Banks.

  9. In response to each post following mine – in sequences- might be a bit long but here goes…


    I was going to put a £100 bet (larger than my normal flutter) on her to win last week but I don’t get paid until tomorrow, it seems like the markets have moved in advance, which is a shame, 9/5 was available at the time.

    Not sure about 40% because of the size of the field, but 3/1 is a tempter, well worth a tenner I’d say. It’s only the price of a take out pizza and a couple of bottles of lager after all.


    Yes, there has been a decline in membership, among the Eurosceptic Tory wing (Nathan Garbutt who stood against Cooper in 2015 being one) and then the socially liberal, very right wing on economics, Dan Hannan listeners like myself have all gone, along with those of no particular stripe who were fans of localism and saw UKIP as the vehicle to get things done – for a while this looked to be the case… the only requirement was to be pro Brexit, the immigration and Islam party doesn’t interest them.

    The ban on ex BNP members is now pointless, given that few people have actually been members and are interested in politics now, and a leadership candidate has endorsements from people like Tommy Robinson.

    It is now a ‘sod the lot’, ‘Britain has gone to the dogs’ and ‘I hate Muslims’ party, lots of good people are still in there, goodness knows why. Lots of people on SM say ‘stay, we will get back to where we were’ etc, the brand is now damaged and more than a few members left because of concerns about how they’d be perceived by colleagues, or if they stayed too long and wanted to join some other party… some of that applies to me.


    Yes, I became a Farage detractor over time but one must recognise his remarkable achievement of keeping such a disparate range of groups relatively together, and pass infighting off as little more than a usual tiff.

    It is difficult to sum up a typical UKIP voter, I reckon a lot of them have voted Lib Dem, BNP and then Labour this year out of protest,

    The Carswell types are most unwelcome, not because he betrayed the hero Nigel, but because some of this views are a bit off the wall, and to get to grips with them you need to be willing to invest time… it isn’t the ‘blame him because he looks a bit foreign’ type of politics that they’re used to.

  10. Regarding Islam, there is a widespread perception (whether fair or not is debatable) that the left just will not discuss it, under any circumstances, and anything bad done in the name of Islam (according to the offender) is somehow nothing to do with the religion and people should be quiet and not upset the applecart etc.

    Then there’s the grooming…

    This pushes people into the path of far right cranks like Waters… especially ones with leftist economic views – as Griffin held.

    I’m not of the view that the perception is correct but Labour in particular do need to change their procedures to avoid this. All the areas the BNP did well in were staunch Labour, after all. Not so much Tory ones.

  11. “All the areas the BNP did well in were staunch Labour”

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true. In some places BNP strength seemed to have mostly sapped the Tory vote, especially in outer east London, also parts of West Yorkshire.

    Labour is hamstrung on Islamic issues by the nature of their membership and councillors in quite a few urban authorities now, certainly in Birmingham and London boroughs like Tower Hamlets and Newham.

  12. Personally I’m not very worried about UKIP, Waters on paper would seem to be a bigger threat to Labour than the Tories (she was after all an ex Labour member and even a shortlisted PPC) and her staunchly anti Islamist views will appeal to the same demographics were the BNP performed well which did primarily come at the expense of Labour.

    The thing is times have massively changed from the early noughties, the very voters the new UKIP might appeal to are the very voters Lab has already largely lost, initially to UKIP and then in this election to May’s hard Brexit Tories. I very much imagine that this very socially conservative, ultra nationalist WWC vote that Waters will resonate with primarily opted for the Tories this election, certainly cant have seen too many plumping for Corbyn’s Labour.

  13. Yup, agreed with Rivers. These sort of people may at one point have voted for Tony Blair but they are unlikely to be voting Labour any more. Voting since the Brexit referendum has shifted more along cultural lines than economic ones. June had a record number of middle-class Labour voters (perhaps excluding 1997), and also a record number of working-class Tory voters.

    That said, Corbyn’s appeal to these sort of extreme social conservatives is probably more than you might imagine. Whisper it, but he’s actually a pretty effective triangulator when he wants to be. When Gordon Brown talked about “British jobs for British workers”, when Ed Miliband slapped “controls on immigration” on he side of a mug, they got it in the neck from the internationalist left. But Jeremy Corbyn can abandon free movement completely and they don’t bat an eyelid, because in their eyes his reputation precedes him. He’s very good at being many things to many people – and I mean that as a compliment, because it’s a prerequisite for winning elections in this country.

  14. Polltroll
    Oh no doubt that’s true re Corbyn and indeed I have no doubt that a great many (possibly even half) of the 2015 UKIP vote went Lab in 2017. My point being I don’t see Waters achieving anything like the 12-15% Farage could, she’ll be lucky to break 5% me thinks, that level of outright xenophobia just doesn’t wash with the vast majority of people. What voters she does attract will be of the overtly racist variety and I’d hazard last election all of them stuck with UKIP or voted Tory to get a hard Brexit, few if any will have backed the supposed terrorist sympathiser Corbyn.

    What kippers Corbyn got on side will be the “sod the lot” “things need to change” variety, those people are not going to move in large numbers to a Waters UKIP otherwise they’d have voted BNP back in the day which they mostly didn’t. Evidence suggests they’ll back the most credible “change” candidate and out and out racists rarely if ever gain that credibility.

  15. Hemelig – you may be right about where the BNP did well, I suppose I’m looking at it from a Leeds perspective.

    They won Morley South – which is the more Labour of the two Labour wards, and nearly won Ardsley & Robin Hood, which is the most volatile ward in Leeds, somehow never won by the Tories… even the English Democrats nearly won.

    Then Middleton, nearly won a few times.

    Polltroll might be right about Corbyn actually, he doesn’t grab me as a politician but certainly on the doorstep he rarely came up as a negative in the GE, whereas John McDonnell and especially Diane Abbott.

    Agree with Rivers too. If someone had said to me even ten years ago that Mansfield would be a Tory seat I’d have called the police and demanded you be taken away.

  16. “The thing is times have massively changed from the early noughties, the very voters the new UKIP might appeal to are the very voters Lab has already largely lost, initially to UKIP and then in this election to May’s hard Brexit Tories. I very much imagine that this very socially conservative, ultra nationalist WWC vote that Waters will resonate with primarily opted for the Tories this election, certainly cant have seen too many plumping for Corbyn’s Labour.”

    I think that’s probably right.

    It’s easy to forget that the peak period for the BNP was probably 2008-2009, with their strong performance in the GLA and Euro elections, and quite a lot of that was due to traditional working class Tories getting disillusioned with Cameron’s husky hugging liberalism. Such people would have much fewer qualms supporting the Tories today, I would guess.

  17. Yes, the Tory vote was in flux for most of his leadership I reckon.

    Lost some, gained others, got the old ones back.

    He’ll be defined by the knee jerk reaction to UKIP giving them a bit of a rinse in the 2013, and then the 2014 Euros.

    Euros are always defined by the sceptics taking their chance to air their voice – Hague and Howard did OK in them I recall… as well as being a chance for the electorate to give the govt a kicking. In 2014 he was of course in coalition with an extremely EU enthusiast party… and sceptics weren’t going to vote for a referendum denying Labour at that time.

    By the time the GE came around Farage had blown what had made UKIP successful chasing BNP votes, and pushed Tory voters back… especially with the worry about Labour being the biggest party in a hung parliament and reliant on an authoritarian Sturgeon to get them into govt.

    Of course this is with the benefit of hindsight… his actions seemed reasonable at the time but now…

    Carswell made the point in his book that UKIP polling didn’t have any correlation with the leave/remain polls between 2012 & 2015/6.

  18. Rivers: “A great many (possibly even half) of the 2015 UKIP vote went Lab in 2017.”

    That is just categorically untrue. Numerous post-election studies show that around 60% of the 2015 UKIP vote went to the Conservatives, with the rest split roughly equally between swichting to Labour, sticking with UKIP and abstaining.

    The gap was closed by a small overall movement from the Con-Lab (although there was churn, and many voters went the other way), but chiefly a coalition of previous non-voters with defecting Greens and Scottish Nationalists.

  19. “The gap was closed by a small overall movement from the Con-Lab”

    This was dominated by the kind of people in the local mums’ Facebook groups that my wife engages in. They were very negative on the Tories in 2017 in comparison with Cameron 2 years earlier. Very motivated by education and NHS issues. Cameron made an effort to soothe these kind of concerns but May gave the impression she couldn’t care less.

  20. I do remember saying that the NHS would bite the Tories very hard at some point if things like GP waiting times continue to be ignored. I was ridiculed by KieranW and some others for that opinion but it appeared to come true much quicker than I expected.

  21. If the seat had a Tory leave MP I think the break will have been disproportionate to them, it was in Morley & Outwood.

    Yet Mary Creagh who voted against A50 in the seat next door, with a higher leave vote, had the same majority as last time (2000), despite the Tory being a Brexit supporter and 8000 UKIP votes up for grabs.

    Some UKIP voters just will not vote Tory. Maggie this, Maggie that.

  22. I think that, very oddly, UKIP called for a vote for Creagh in the constituency, because they didn’t want a Tory landslide.

  23. Yes, the UKIP 2015 candidate for Wakefield endorsed the Tories, whilst the 2017 candidate for Yvette Cooper’s seat wrote a piece in the local rag asking UKIP voters to back Creagh.

    It won’t surprise you to know that he’s since joined Labour.

    From what I can gather the Tory campaign there followed the national guidelines, and was pretty flat… so a ‘same as last time’ result probably isn’t surprising. She was 3/1 to win on polling day. Ouch.

  24. WATERS now 5/4 (45% probability) in the high Street as well as on BETFAIR.

    AMW Vote share

  25. 40-50% is a tempter, but John Rees Evans has a vocal following… Collins is backed by some senior figures… with Whittle as the common sense candidate.

    I sometimes wonder what might have happened if Suzanne Evans had taken over after the 2015 GE.

  26. Might not have been so much different. Nuttall also looked like quite a credible candidate till he actually tried to do the job. Personally I’ve always found Evans a bit shallow and full of platitudes, admittedly I’m not her target audience though.

  27. EVANS was stopped by Farage and wasn’t allowed to run in the September 2016 and then lost massively to Nuttall 9 wks later. V likely would have done a good job.

    LUKE S..over 49 % for AMW seems unlikely imo but I just can’t find out anything about the electorate in this election. How many voters? What’s the cut off date?

    15000 voted last time. ..sep16.

  28. By the time she actually stood, I think the chance had gone in terms of her being a successful leader. As opposed to a less worse one.

    Her target audience had gone to ground, and the cranks had taken over the show.

  29. WATERS now a 55% favourite across all bookies apart from Hills who have her as a 60% favourite (4/6).

    I for one, Can’t wait for HHs demolition of her looks.

  30. She isn’t going to win any beauty contests but IMO not out of the ordinary for an MP. When exactly will most members vote? Parsons Green fortuitous timing for her.

  31. Yes.

    Ballot papers have been going out since c.4/9/17. Results on 29/9.

  32. Electorate is thought to be anything from 24,000 to 30,000. the cut of date was the 23rd June, when you had to be a member then in order to qualify to vote.

    Sep 2016 was 33000 / 54.5% turnout
    Nov 2016 was 32500 / 47% turnout

  33. If that cut off date is correct we can discount massive far right infiltration / entryism with regard to this electorate as WATERS didnt declare nomination till 30 June.

  34. She’d been gaining a following for quite some time.

    The infiltration might have been quite low key, until she was barred from standing as a candidate. Would be strange for the new leader of a party to make their first act the reinstatement of themselves on the pismentaty candidates list.

  35. Fame and/or notoriety has yet to visit upon Ms Waters – William Hill on their website has her down as Anne Marie WALTERS…!

    Might be interesting. This is what she tweeted today:
    “I will not back down, I will not cower, I will not apologise for criticising Islam.”

  36. Well… Henry Bolton declared UKIP leader.

    Waters got 21%, Peter Whittle in 5th behind raging homophobe David Kurten and gay donkey man John Rees Evans.

    I’ve already seen posts on SM with people leaving in disgust because the last hope wasn’t elected, as if some BNP type head banger was going to get them anywhere.

    It seems that a half endorsement from Farage was enough to tip the balance, with his ex Lib Dem credentials he may know a bit about grass roots campaigning, which is what they appeared to do well at for a spell before binning it.

    Definitely a long hard road back.

  37. Well, as much as I would be perfectly happy for UKIP to fade into total irrelevance, I’m happy they didn’t pick that ghastly creature Waters. The last thing the UK need is a PVV-style party poisoning political discourse.

  38. The mainstream politicians and media could do a lot worse than listen to Maajid Nawaz, when it comes to critiquing Islam.

    There’s a huge gap between saying/doing nothing like Rotherham council and the AMW position of blaming Muslims for everything.

    Part of the problem is those idiots who say ‘we must not offend Muslims’ without asking what said Muslims would be offended by… or not. Some of what you see online and in the media just beggars belief, in its abject stupidity.

    It just helps to spread negative/divisive sentiments.

  39. I imagine he will be pretty invisible. I can’t see his stewardship being anything more than managed decline.

  40. UKIP lose control of Thanet Council, as their leader Chris Wells resigns and crucial independents withdraw their support as a consequence.

  41. Craig Mackinlay trial for electoral expenses starts today.

  42. It will be interesting to see how this one pans out.

  43. A by-election here on the eve of (betrayed) Brexit would be the mother of all nasty by-elections. I wouldn’t discount Farage or Banks standing and winning.

  44. Nigel Farage is leaving UKIP.

  45. The appointment of Tommy Robinson as an advisor was the final straw, apparently.

  46. One benefit of cancelling Brexit would be to re-focus UKIP (or whatever replaces it) on leaving the EU rather than on immigrant hating. In a Brexited Britain UKIP’s only really plausible USP is as an anti Islamic party, which perhaps 10% of the voters might consider voting for. Though I don’t at all support what Batten has been doing, his actions are sadly rational in that respect.

  47. According to the British GE of 2017, although UKIP did really badly, they did do slightly better where the BNP had previously got a higher share of the vote.

  48. ‘Though I don’t at all support what Batten has been doing, his actions are sadly rational in that respect.’

    As I’ve said before I have long suspected that that hard-right, anti Islam, immigrant-disliking demographic that liberals like me like to pretend doesn’t exist, is considerably larger in scale that most commentators presume, and on that basis =Batten’s strategy – utterly morally repugnant though it is – is a way of locking that vote in. so electorally it does make sense

    Thus Farage’s response – welcome though it is – has surprised me as he didn’t seem to have many scrupples about some of the stuff he used to say to win votes, although to be fair he did take actions against the hard Right who found their way into UKIP, who the implausible Batten has welcomed with open arms

  49. The thing is, while there are plenty of Islamophobes out there, there are few for whom their zealous bigotry crowds out the bread-and-butter issues. Most Islamophobes will still want either better public services or lower taxes more than they want to ethnically cleanse the country, and vote accordingly for either Labour or the Tories until UKIP offers something more substantial.

  50. That’s exactly correct. Farage doesn’t seem to accept that he himself was responsible for whipping up a lot of the spurious hate that Batten and Robinson are now able to run with.

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