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
2010
Con: 22043 (48%)
Lab: 14426 (31%)
LDem: 6935 (15%)
UKIP: 2529 (6%)
MAJ: 7617 (17%)
2005*
Con: 15996 (39%)
Lab: 16660 (40%)
LDem: 5431 (13%)
UKIP: 2079 (5%)
Oth: 1076 (3%)
MAJ: 664 (2%)
2001
Con: 16210 (41%)
Lab: 18002 (46%)
LDem: 3706 (9%)
UKIP: 501 (1%)
Oth: 1012 (3%)
MAJ: 1792 (5%)
1997
Con: 17899 (40%)
Lab: 20777 (46%)
LDem: 5263 (12%)
Oth: 1049 (2%)
MAJ: 2878 (6%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
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.
Links
Comments - 1,953 Responses on “Thanet South”
  1. OK, with Farage-
    Conservative- 40%
    Labour- 30%
    UKIP- 23%
    Liberal Democrat- 6%
    Others- 1%

  2. HH – that’s a common misconception. Most of the 2010 intake are right wing Eurosceptics. A lot of the A list weren’t, but of course, a lot of those failed to win. Wets tend to be in safe seats: otherwise they would lose on past results. Heath being an exception. Rightwingers from Chorley to Batley, Hayes to Ayr tended to hold their marginal seats in the ’80s and ’90s. Soubry (ex SDP) is a typical example of a Cameroon. On Ch4’s Gogglebox, Labour voters praised her pro-immigration stance, but would still never vote Tory.

  3. ‘that’s a common misconception. Most of the 2010 intake are right wing Eurosceptics. A lot of the A list weren’t, but of course, a lot of those failed to win. Wets tend to be in safe seats’

    I’d say quite the opposite.

    Nearly all of the 2010 intake are certainly Euroskeptics but they are not all by any means right wing

    Hemelig is right. Whilst there aren’t a great many of them left, most of today’s wets/damps/moderates, whatever you want to call them, within the Parliamentary Party represent marginal seats

    Laura Sandys here, Doyle-Price in Thurrock, Soubry in Broxtowe; Buckland in Swindon South; Harrington in Watford; Lee in Erewash; Hopkins in Keighly; Kirby in Brighton Kemptown; Barwell in croydon east; Ellison in Battersea; evans in cardiff; Colville in plymouth sutton; gummer in ipswich; fuller in bedford; carmichael in stroud; leslie in bristol; mccartney in colne valley; morgan in loughborough; mcvey in wirral west; weatherley in hove

    Add to that at least half a dozen who won in tory v lib dem marginals – eustice in cambourne; wollaston in totnes; blackwood in oxford west; norman in hereford; murray in cornwall south east; brine in winchester; davies in montgomery; penrose in weston super mare

    That’s easily more than half of today’s centre-leftish faction of Tory MPs and they are all from marginal seats

  4. Just thinking of the town of Sandwich makes me imagine Victoria Sponge. Mmm…

  5. Looking at the general vibe in these constituencies that are commented on here if Thanet South is a 13% for UKIP (without NF) and the rest run the gamut from general disinterest in London/Scotland/ Wales in UKIP and weaker projections in the Midlands and North.. that broadly speaking doesn’t probably even give them 7-8% nationally.. and yet polls are showing 12 plus percentage points at the moment..so either commentators in here are wrong or justifiably there is scepticism that voters will come out for them on the day in the strength hitherto believed…

    Even a Farage-induced 23% here is rapidly averaged down by a swathe of disinterested seats giving them a 3-4%..

  6. McVey is certainly not from the centre-left – she’s right wing

  7. And if Farage does stand it could go one of three ways

  8. 13% for Ukip in S Thanet in 2015 seems slightly delusional to me, esp. since they got 6% last time, but let’s see.

    In 2010 they had 0 county councillors in Thanet. Today they have 7, I believe. They will be better funded, better organized. They will have more profile and they now have local councillors. They could easily get 20% here, come the general election.

  9. Tim J – Clearly all 2010 Tory seats aren’t as safe as the ’80s, as you’re comparing two landslides with a hung Parliament. My point was that rightwingers held their marginal seats throughout, whereas Wets such as Bottomley et al didn’t have to worry about the public’s view. If you’re saying your list of Wets will lose in their first test as incumbents, then that’s agreeing with my other point. Although McVey isn’t a Wet. She’s a Conservative Way Forward, RC who voted against gay marriage. She may lose because she’s annoying and a DWP Minister though.

  10. Wow three people posting at once, that has to be a rarity on here!

  11. Using the cross-breaks from YouGov’s most recent poll, and electoral calculus, Thanet South would look like this:

    Con 41.3% (-6.7%)
    Lab 34.6% (+3.2%)
    UKIP 16.1% (+10.5%)
    LD 6.6% (-8.5%)

  12. McVey will lose because she’s a Merseyside MP in a marginal seat and the local Labour party are very well organised – they’ve taken a seat there in arecent by-election. Good solid Labour candidate too, who is far less irritating

  13. ‘Clearly all 2010 Tory seats aren’t as safe as the ’80s, as you’re comparing two landslides with a hung Parliament. My point was that rightwingers held their marginal seats throughout, whereas Wets such as Bottomley et al didn’t have to worry about the public’s view.’

    I don’t buy that argument

    The Tories that hung onto marginal seats throughout the 1980s were from all wings of the party – for every Terry Dicks and Rhodes Boyson there was a William Powell or David Knox

    At a guess I would have thought that about half of the MPs I mentioned will survive at the 2015 election, but if the Tories do go down, David Cameron’s sucessor will be left with a party that will make the rable William Hague inherited in 97 look moderate and long-term I don’t see that to be in the Conservative Party’s interest

  14. Wasn’t Brent North a safe Tory seat throughout the Thatcher years, while Rhodes Boyson was the MP there? Labour defeated him on massive swing. I remember seeing the declaration on the BBC coverage of the 97 election.

  15. it was a safe seat even before Thatcher, ever since its creation in 1974. Labour did win Wembley N in 1945 however.

  16. The only boundary change in Brent to come into effect in 1997 was the transfer of the St Andrew’s ward from Brent North to Brent South.

  17. Sorry — I thought we were in a Brent thread.

  18. ‘it was a safe seat even before Thatcher, ever since its creation in 1974. Labour did win Wembley N in 1945 however.’

    That’s right

    The likes of Thatcher and Boyson could win votes in these types of seats, in a way that has proved totally beyond the out of touch Cameron and the upper class chums he surrounds himself with

  19. Tim, I’m sorry & I don’t mean to be rude, but at times your analysis is really superficial. Brent N isn’t voting Labour primarily because the people who live there have revulsion against public-school educated chaps – indeed, no doubt a fair proportion of its residents send their children to private schools – but because of, firstly, a very large influx of voters whose heritage or origins are Indian or Pakistani, and secondly their abandoning en masse of Rhodes Boyson, who had a lot of conditional support from such voters until his defeat in 1997. Once Boyson had departed the scene even more of his erstwhile supporters supported Barry Gardiner (himself, Tim, a public school chap) and have by & large continued to do so. This isn’t traditionally a socially mixed marginal with terraced houses & maisonettes aplenty; instead, it’s heavily dominated by interwar suburban semis & detached houses, very much the sort of territory where the Conservatives won routinely from the time when such houses were built until the last decade & a half. The reason that the Tories are heavily losing Brent N, as everyone else realises, is that the proportion of Asian (and to a much lesser extent black) voters is so large that, given that the Conservatives are still way behind amongst such voters, Labour are almost bound to win, and win by even more because a ) Gardiner is an exceptionally popular constituency MP and also b ) the local Tories are totally unable to unite & are riven by huge squabbles, some of which no doubt are influenced by divisions within the different parts of the Asian community. It’s nothing whatsoever to do with Cameron being posh; it’s a solidly middle class area with only a minority of working-class districts where the Tories won in the past, whether their leader was Eden, Heath, Thatcher or anyone else. You use the term “these types of seats” ; actually, there aren’t that many seats where the council estates are a small minority, the interwar suburbia is heavily dominant, but there’s something close a majority of Asian voters. Even Harrow E next door which clearly does have some similarities has 4 tradionally strong Labour wards which are dominated either by terraced housing, council estates, or both.

  20. That is an excellent post, Barnaby.

    I think that the longer posts on this site are more often than not the better ones, filled with real insightful analysis and make for very good, interesting reads.

  21. Neil – might be mistaken but I thought the LibDem PPC for Oxford West was Sarah Yong?

  22. No, it’s Layla Moran. Sarah Yong hasn’t been selected anywhere yet.

  23. Neil – thanks for clarification. I guess she might be in the hunt for Somerton and Frome now then

  24. TheResults, you are very kind considering that you may think I’m not always kind to you. I do however always give credit where it’s due, which is why I appreciate the detailed analysis others give of some constituencies where my knowledge isn’t great – there are plenty of those, but not many in London where I live.

  25. Layla Moran incidentally was selected quite a long time ago, which rather surprised many who thought that Evan Harris would want to run again.

  26. ‘Brent N isn’t voting Labour primarily because the people who live there have revulsion against public-school educated chaps’

    I wasn’t trying to say it was – I was saying people like Boyson and Thatcher could reach out to such ethnic minority voters (like those in Brent North – who as you say are relatively affluent) in a way Cameron and his cronies can only envy.

    The Tories have gone backwards amongst the demographic you speak of – more middle class Asian voters – and a look across the Atlantic shows what the political consequences can be. Romney lost the 2012 election for thinking he could ignore all non-whites as a voting group and whilst i would never accuse the Conservatives of acting this way, I think there are much more votes up for grabs by trying to make friends with these sections of society than trying to convince people you’re pro-gay and pro-green

  27. “people like Boyson and Thatcher could reach out to such ethnic minority voters (like those in Brent North – who as you say are relatively affluent) in a way Cameron and his cronies can only envy.”

    That is because she could say to them “vote Labour and the Russians will invade us”. And “look what the loony left have done to Brent council, do you want that in Downing Street?”. Such campaign themes are hardly going to fly against today’s far more moderate Labour party.

    Incidentally Brent North would have been about 70% white in the 1980s. It is about 30% white now. I’m doubtful Thatcher and Boyson could have won Brent North with today’s demographics, certainly not by the kind of majorities they enjoyed then.

  28. Tim, your point is a lot more valid if that’s what you meant. You didn’t explain it very well but in a sense you’re right. However, Boyson’s success amongst such voters – despite the fact that he was a very hardline right-winger with views about immigration that appeared to make such success improbable – wasn’t commonplace, in fact I am struggling to find a similar instance of a Tory MP who enjoyed widespread support amongst a very large Asian population. Terry Dicks did make a belated attempt to cultivate some Sikh groups within his constituency when it became clear that it was ceasing to be a white working class seat, but these attempts enjoyed at best mixed success & by 1997 he knew that he had no chance of being re-elected, even if only because the national swing was clearly too great.

  29. Thanks Barnaby for your own kind words further up the page. I like to think that everyone who contributes to this site has something interesting to offer.

  30. What would you say your weakest seats are in London knowledge wise Barnaby?

  31. ‘in fact I am struggling to find a similar instance of a Tory MP who enjoyed widespread support amongst a very large Asian population.’

    I remeber hearing that Jacques Arnold was highly regarded by the Sikh community in Gravesend but have no way of knowing whether that was borne out at the ballot box

  32. CON HOLD MAJ: 2.5%
    CON 39.3
    LAB 36.8
    LD 10.4
    UKIP 10.3
    GRN 3.2

  33. Con 42
    Lab 34
    Ukip 17
    Lib 7

  34. A 7 percent swing to labour in a seat where the demographics are definately not going that parties way.

    Not sure that we will do that badly! – Certainly not unless UKIP do much better than 10%.

    I don’t see why you constantly predict us doing that poorly with polls putting us at 33 ish – and with incumbentants typically recovering towards the end of terms.

  35. @ Joe

    I came up with very similar figures to JDA’s using national voting intentions with minimal Con>Lab movement. His figures (and mine) only show a 3% rise for Labour, which could come from a squeeze on the already low LD vote.

    Given that this is generally regarded as one of UKIP’s most promising seats, and that the cross-breaks continue to show UKIP attracting most suport from former Tory voters, a larger than average fall in the Con vote share here is surely a fair bet.

  36. Wouldn’t write off UKIP winning around a quarter of the vote in 2015. Sounds ambitious but they might just pull it off with the right candidate. That certain swing demographic in the south east and eastern regions are not trending towards Labour. The Tories probably have more support from them, but no where the levels of support during the Thatcher years. This is a becoming a natural demographic for UKIP.

    Virtually all of north Kent and south Essex will be an extremely intriguing testing ground to see how well UKIP does in 2015.

  37. A constituency poll here has UKIP ahead of the Tories

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/26/ukip-poll-boost-thanet

  38. UKIP are having a number of constituency polls conducted. The poll seems to be in line with what I am expecting at present, though I am surprised to see Labour 6% ahead of UKIP.

    I still think UKIP will win this seat in 2015.

  39. Joe – I wouldn’t say the demographics in S Thanet are necessarily going against Labour. There was a big swing to Laura Sandys but it has still left Labour much less far behind the Tories than in 1992; it merely compensated for a portion of the strongly above-average Labour results from 1997 to 2005 inclusive. Compare this position with neighbouring Dover, or Dartford & Gravesham further away, and you’ll see what I mean. In all of those seats, Labour did considerably worse in 2010 than in 1992. Local elections in 2011 showed Labour doing generally very well in Thanet, but of course the UKIP surge this year has made things very complicated. I still think that the Tories will hold the seat come 2015, but a narrow majority is by no means all that unlikely.
    In answer to your earlier question, I’d say that the seats in London with which I’m least familiar are those in Bexley, Croydon N (where I failed to help in the by-election, knowing it would be an easy Labour win), Orpington & Romford. I have however seen all London constituencies on the ground at some time or another during my adult lifetime, with the possible exception of Bexleyheath & Crayford. I was actually interviewed many years ago by a ward Labour Party in what was then Bexleyheath when I was on the parliamentary list, but I understand that that area is now in Old Bexley & Sidcup. Afterwards I went to a nice pub which perhaps still is in Bexleyheath & Crayford, I really don’t know. Having lived in East Ham for a time after my engagement, and in the earliest years of my marriage, I know inner East London very well & still frequently go to visit in-laws & friends. I guess I don’t know Croydon S very well either though I have visited it very occasionally.

  40. I should add that I worked very hard in the famous Croydon NW by-election of 1981, but have been very rarely ever since to the area though I did watch a game at Selhurst Park some years ago which was noteworthy for having a goal by Peter Schmeichel disallowed for offside!

  41. Barnaby – I agree. Tim tends to simply dismiss a post’s facts if he happens to disagree with it. I’ve checked and I repeat that rightwingers held onto marginal seats from Ayr to Essex and Chorley and Wirral S throughout. I counted roughly 40, whereas the notable (often Cabinet) Wets were in safe seats. Those rightwingers tended to be from more ordinary backgrounds, compared with the mainly wealthy Wets also. Re ethnic votes, the most obvious point is that there weren’t many ethnic voters back in the ’70s. Notable large Tory swings have been achieved in Bradford W; Bow in ’97, due to fielding Muslim local PPCs. I think a Wolverhampton seat had the largest Tory Asian vote in 2010. Tower Hamlets wards can produce it, but that is a v sectarian borough with votes and defections moving to and from Lab/Respect/Ind/Tory, as we all know. Asian candidates have backfired on the Tories in several seats however, including in Asian areas such as Blackburn in the ’90s.

  42. The constituency opinion poll results were as follows:

    Lab 35%
    UKIP 30%
    Con 28%
    LD 5%
    Others 2%

  43. The other part of the survey said though:

    Almost of 78% of Ukip voters in Thanet South said they would not vote Conservative even if their preferred party did not field a candidate. If Ukip did not stand in the constituency, 41% said they would not vote, 22% said they would vote Conservative, 19% Labour, 4% for other parties and 13% did not know.

    That might imply they are taking quite a few Labour voters away also.. and very few LibDems (not surprisingly).

  44. ‘Tim tends to simply dismiss a post’s facts if he happens to disagree with it. I’ve checked and I repeat that rightwingers held onto marginal seats from Ayr to Essex and Chorley and Wirral S throughout.’

    That’s you who is doing that

    I’m prersenting the facts and you are ignorring them

    In 1997 the following wets lost their seats:

    Raymond Robertson (Aberdeen South); Hugh Aspinall (Wansdyke); John Gorst (Hendon), Cyril Townsend (Bexleyheath); Robert Squire (Hornchurch), Andrew Bowden (Brighton Kemptown), Waldgrave (Brisol West), Alister Burt (Bury North), G Jones (Cardiff North), P Oppinheim (Amber Valley), Jim Lester (Broxtowe); Rifkind (Edinburgh Pentlands), Lait (Hastings & Rye), Tim Eggar (Enfield North), Jerry Hayes (Harolow) Tony Newton (Braintree), Tim Sackville (Bolton West), Hugh Dyke (Harrow East) Robert Hughes (Harrow West), Keith Hampson (Leeds North West), William Powell (Corby), Graham Bright (Luton South), David Hunt (Wirral West), John Alison (Selby), Patrick Thompson (Norwich North), Giles Shaw (Pudsey), Jonathan Evans (Brecon & Radnor), John Bowis (Battersea), Gary Waller (Keighly), Couchman (Gillingham), John Cope (Northavon), David Harris (St Ives), Tim Rathbone (Lewes), Colin Shepherd (Hereford), Hector Monroe (Dumfries), Mark Robinson (Somerton & Frome), David Knox (Staffs Moorlands), John Wheeler (Westminster North) Nigel Forman (Carshalton), Kenneth Carisle (Lincoln), Lord Hamilton (Edinburgh West)

    And a handful of Wets opted to chicken run rather than conrwst theoir old seats – Peter Bottomley who emigrated from Eltham to Worthing, Stephen Dorrell from industrial Loughborough to picturesque Charnwood, George Young from Acton to Andover, Soames from Crawley to Mid-Sussex, Peter Luff from Worcester toi Mid-Worcs

    That’s plenty of wets

  45. Some of those are stretching the description “wet” quite a bit but I agree that most of those were not Thatcherites. I would however point out that Phillip Oppenheim was regarded as on the Right when he was an MP, but has moved rather leftwards since. I also don’t recall either Mark Robinson or Graham Bright being on the left of the party, and surely Tim Eggar was a standard-issue Thatcherite is perhaps not as strident as some of them. Some of the first names are incorrectly remembered – it was Jack Aspinwall (a former Liberal turned Tory), Tom Sackville & Michael Alison – but of course that’s a very small point. People change and of course Michael Portillo who subsequently became an arch-moderniser was seen as the true heir of Maggie in 1997.

  46. Could add Edwina Currie to that list of wets possibly, as she lost South Derbyshire on a very large swing against her. More so for her pro-EU stance and that she was quite praiseworthy of Blair. Was also quite critical of the right of the party who were gunning for Major.

  47. Currie wasn’t really a wet, except on the EU, was she? I doubt many voters saw her in that light anyway.

  48. Runnymede is right. I sometimes hear her on radio phone-ins, and she does not come over as at all compassionate or “One Nation”. Her views on abortion & Europe are not of the Right but she cannot be described as a Tory wet, now or then.

  49. Going back to Tim’s list of allegedly or genuinely “wet” Tory losers in 1997, one of them is quite interesting. John Gorst was in the late 70s associated with the National Association for Freedom, later the Freedom Association (perhaps it still exists?), along with other arch-right-wingers Nick Ridley, Rhodes Boyson, the McWhirter twins, and the group’s then leader John Gouriet. He did however, as Tim says, later move a long way towards the left wing of the Conservative Party, and he was regarded as one of the party’s least right-wing MPs by the time he lost to Andrew Dismore in 1997.

  50. I’m a bit confused by Tim’s list, because some of those named didn’t stand in the 1997 election so they didn’t technically lose their seats.

    Patrick Thompson certainly didn’t stand, and I don’t think John Wheeler, Cyril Townsend, Michael Alison, Tim Eggar, David Harris or Hector Monro did either.

    If Tim meant to also include retiring MPs then he missed quite a few out – Tristan Garel Jones for example.

    I would certainly also have added Robert Atkins to his wet list.

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