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”
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  1. Most of the tories on here seem pretty dry. Hemmelig is probably the only real exception.

    JJB, Tory, Shaun, Runneymede Richard (if he if is a tory at all) and especially LBernard are all on the dry side.

  2. On John Gorst, to use The Result’s phraseology, “it is ironic” that a man who was on the extreme libertarian right of the party in the 1970s, as Barnaby says, ended up in big trouble in his constituency in the 1990s for being one of the wettest Tory MPs in parliament. After the 1997 election the Hendon Conservative association split into a pro-Gorst wet faction and an anti-Gorst Thatchrite faction, which resulted in the association being placed under CCHQ control for a long time and greatly assisted Andrew Dismore.

    Gorst was one of the most liberal Tory MPs in the 1980s when it came to things such as gay rights.

  3. There are some wet Tory posters besides me – I would mention Kieran W and IIRC a Chris and an Adam.

    Though the terms wet and dry are not always so useful as people are a mix of different views. I’m broadly a wet on Europe, immigration and to some extent on economic matters but on crime and the family I am to a modest extent a social conservative.

  4. ‘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’

    Atkins yes

    As for Garel Jones, if you take his fanatical support for the EU out of the equation, he was cut and dry Thatcherite who supported the poll tax so syrongly that acted as a teller for those who voted against Michael Mates attempted ammemdement to the poll tax

    Peter Viggers was the other only pro European Thatcherite I can think of

  5. “As for Garel Jones, if you take his fanatical support for the EU out of the equation, he was cut and dry Thatcherite who supported the poll tax so syrongly that acted as a teller for those who voted against Michael Mates attempted ammemdement to the poll tax”

    You could say exactly the same about Waldegrave, who basically invented the poll tax as local government minister and bulldozed it through cabinet past the very sensible objections of Nigel Lawson and Peter Rees (with a lot of help from Mrs T as well).

  6. “Peter Viggers was the other only pro European Thatcherite I can think of”

    We have mentioned Sir James Spicer on this site a few times, he was certainly in that small category as well, also IIRC Merseymike said Ray Whitney was a member too.

  7. Weren’t Walgrave and Garrel Jones close friends?

    I remember seeing them together numerous times at Saltwood – Alan Clark’s castle – in the photos printed in his diary

    Both of course were also liberal on social issues although Garrel Honbes always strucj as considerably dryer than Walgrave economically

  8. Yes they were, and both were of course part of the Blue Chip group of wets who were first elected in 1979.

    Incidentally you might also include Ian Lang on your list.

  9. RE Tim’s list, I would by and large agree with a lot of the names on that list, except to say two things- weren’t Matthew Banks and Charles Hendry both wets as well?

  10. Garel-Jones gained the seat from Labour after the MP Raphael Tuck retired. His Labour opponent was none other than Tony Banks, still GLC member for Tooting at the time. Oddly the seat had a previous postwar Tory MP with a surname only 2 letters different from his – Frederick Farey-Jones, who gained it from Labour in 1955 but lost to Tuck in 1964.

  11. One would have to presume that Matthew Banks wasn’t on the right, though he didn’t trouble the scorers much in his 5 years in the House. After all, he has since publicly supported the LDs. To be fair to Tim, he had already mentioned Charles Hendry previously.

  12. Harold Elletson (Blackpool North) lost his seat in 1997 and was such a wet that he defected to the Lib Dems not long afterwards….he should certainly be on Tim’s list.

    It might be worth mentioning Tony Nelson though he stood down in a safe seat….he was dripping wet and defected to Labour.

  13. I think a lot of Tory associations in the 70s and 80s made some odd parliamentary selections, choosing candidates that probably didn’t reflect the views of the membership. For example I would guess that most members in Chichester were pretty socially Conservative and not particularly pro-European even in the 70s. They may have chosen people like Tony Nelson more on background and education than policies, but were too polite to deselect them later on.

  14. Its not only ideology which makes people choose a candidate – in either main party.

    Its quite possible for a party to move from a loyalist to a rebel and vice versa. Sometimes a candidate is chosen because they are a strong local candidate – Alice Mahon in Halifax was a local councillor in the seat and was supported because of who she was as much as her left wing politics

    Some think that after a local worthy the local party may opt for a putative high-flyer

  15. Garel Jones was socially very liberal – but of course so is George Osborne

  16. Andy – Tony Nelson’s predecessor was Chris Chataway, and he was succeeded by Andrew Tyrie. All these people are (or in Nelson’s case were) moderate figures within the Conservative Party, so perhaps the Chichester Conservative Association is less right-wing than average.

  17. ‘Harold Elletson (Blackpool North) lost his seat in 1997 and was such a wet that he defected to the Lib Dems not long afterwards….he should certainly be on Tim’s list.’

    He joined Peter Thurnham and John Lee, two other former Tory MPs from the North West

    I actually thought he stood down in 97

    ‘so perhaps the Chichester Conservative Association is less right-wing than average.’

    I would have thought that is almost certainly the case given that Chataway, Nelson and Tyrie are all very much on the Left of the Tory Party

  18. “I actually thought he stood down in 97”

    Nope, he stood and lost in Blackpool North & Fleetwood

  19. ‘Incidentally you might also include Ian Lang on your list.’

    I quite liked Ian Land but always saw him as in the centre of the party rather than the Left

    He was a keen advocate of the reintroduction of the death penalty – although he wouldn’t be the only wet to support that

  20. Harold Elletson I think had a pretty good media profile locally during his five years in the Commons- certainly an appearance on Granada’s political programme on Sunday in c.1995 on ITN Source might indicate he made a few other similar appearances elsewhere. Similarly I think with Peter Thurnham, who also sat for a marginal Lancastrian seat. Certainly when he defected I imagine his exposure shot up dramatically.

  21. I’m not sure the term ‘wet’ is a very meaningful one now. It is of its time, and referred quite explicitly to an economic policy divide which no longer really exists.

    Some of the people who are in the dwindling band of pro-EU Tories now would have been economic ‘wets’ in the 1980s, but the overlap is by no means absolute. And some of the ‘drys’ from the 1980s e.g. Geoffrey Howe – author of the 1981 budget which caused such angst amongst the wets – are very pro-EU.

  22. Ian Lang was always basically something of a moderate. I will never forget that at the Scottish Conservative Party conference in 1994 he had to announce the death of John Smith, and declared the conference closed. He was almost in tears & it was actually quite moving even for a hard-bitten left-winger like me. It was always quite hard to dislike him & he took his defeat in 1997 with great dignity too. Elletson did indeed lose in 1997; I was quite surprised to find he’s an Old Etonian. His predecessor Norman Miscampbell was also very much on the left of the Conservative Party.

  23. ….of course, the least dignified exit in 1997 was David Mellor, who ranted & raved at Jimmy Goldsmith at the count. This was totally pathetic, since quite apart from anything else Goldsmith polled fewer than 2,000 votes, but Mellor lost by a considerably greater amount than that, meaning of course that his defeat was in no way down to Goldsmith’s candidacy.

  24. ‘If Tim meant to also include retiring MPs then he missed quite a few out.’

    I didn’t actually. I thought the MPs you mentioned did actually stand

    But I’d say that more than half of the MPs who called it a day in 97 were from the Left of the party (to add to the seven I already incorrectrly mentioned

    Kenneth Baker (lifelong member of Tory Reform Group)
    John Biffen (Oswestry)
    Paul Channon (Southend)
    Julian Citichley (Aldershot)
    Anthony Grant (Cambs South)
    Bob Hicks (Cornwall South East)
    Dougie Hurd (Witney)
    Michael Marshall (Arundel)
    Patrick Mayhew (Tunbridge Wells)
    Richard Needham (North Wiltshire)
    Anthony Nelson (Chichester)
    Steve Norris (Epping)
    Tim Renton (Mid Sussex)
    Tim Sainsbury (Hove)
    Keith Speed (Ashford)
    George Walden (Buckingham)
    Mark Wolfson (Sevenoaks)

    Again, a fair few

  25. David Mellor is a man who oozes odiousness. I recognised him walking outside Victoria station a year or two ago and his physical presence just makes your skin crawl. God knows how Antonia da Sancha could face having sex with him, he must have worn a paper bag over his head as well as a Chelsea strip.

    Judith Chegwidden who stood against him in 1992 is one of my customers and a very nice lady, if a bit eccentric. She would have made a good MP and it’s a shame she wasn’t the candidate when Labour beat Mellor in 97.

  26. A good few of those went on to become members of the House of Lords, and Richard Needham was already an Earl.

    Striking that almost all of those sat for seats in the South East, or at least in the loosest sense.

  27. It is concerning that so many MPs, and particularly women MPs, are deciding to stand down after one term. There is surely a lot to consider in relation to this both in regard to the “job specification” for MPs and in regard to the Westminster environment.

    I think this issue needs to be considered in particular before any refurbishment of the House of Commons. My view is that the layout of the House of Commons chamber, which few if any legislatures outside the Commons, is unfit for purpose. The House of Commons needs to be redesigned and rebuilt.

    I am in print as being of the view that Parliament could be relocated in conjunction with the HS2 rail development, for instance to a site near Birmingham or Manchester stations. Another possibility would be the marshalling yard at Toton, which is near enough East Midlands Airport (and would enable MPs to live in nice cottages in the Derby Dales). Such relocation would be a major benefit to the UK economy by releaving the overheating of London.

    Moving parliament North would move it further from Thanet South, but I doubt whether many people in this constituency frequent Westminster anyway and I would expect through trains via HS1 and HS2 from East Kent to the new capital.

    In addition, devolution of powers from Westminster to regional English elected bodies, including one specifically for the former Kingdom of Kent, not the South Est gerrymander, is desperately needed, along with a reduction in the number of MPs. Experience in Scotland and Wales suggests that many elected politicans are actually much more comfortable in regional assemblies, particularly if their interests focus on services like Education and Health which are much more manageably run at this level. And membership of regional assemblies is much more manageable in terms of living at home than living away during the week to be at Westminster, with all the problems that involves.

    I may post again when and if I have seen this week’s local press in relation to Thanet.

  28. I like how Tim refers to “Dougie Hurd”

    I doubt Douglas Hurd was ever referred to as Dougie

  29. The two divides today in the tory party are surely:

    EU: Out / Reform
    Social: Authoritarian / Libertarian

    There is probably some but weakish correlation between out and authoritarian.

  30. I don’t think The Results’ predictions adequately take into account the strength of UKIP at local government level in Thanet.

    In relation to Nigel Farage, we need to take into account how actively he may be able to campaign following his 2010 plane accident, although I gather that his expectation is that this will not affect him in future.

    In relation to the Conservative/UKIP split, it will obviously depend in part on who is selected as the Conservative candidate for the next General Election. I think it is a bit early to see how the effects of Laura Sandys’ decision to stand down shake out.

  31. Frederic – I don’t mean this in a nasty way, but despite being written very earnestly, your posts are often the funniest on this entire site.

    Are you seriously trying to tell us that the seat of government for Her Majesty’s United Kingdom should be moved to the middle of Toton marshalling yard. Where are you going to move Buckingham Palace to – the derelict old miners holiday camp in Skegness?

    It would make for some very interesting political news coverage, Nick Robinson reporting from outside the new parliament building with a 5,000 ton freight train blasting past every few minutes.

  32. John Biffen became a critic of certain aspects of Margaret Thatcher’s rule but he was very much on the Right of the party until some years after she came to power. I was just going to say re “Dougie” Hurd……lol…….I have heard him described as Doug before though. Actually, though, Tim’s knowledge of where different MPs stand or stood on the political spectrum within their parties is quite impressive, and he clearly knows more about certain MPs than I do. Perhaps you’re more in your element as a modern-day Andrew Roth (he is no longer with us, so there’s a vacancy….I used to know him, since he was friendly with my then girlfriend’s family) than as a commentator on the constituencies themselves? Not that all your posts on that topic are bad, either.

  33. I agree, and it’s maybe no bad thing….after all, elections are as much about people as they are about constituencies.

    Tim would be a good Andrew Roth, his tabloidy style would make his book quite enjoyable.

  34. John Biffen was one of the earliest ‘eurosceptics’; he was one of the first to understand the risks associated with the Single European Act, which most Tories at the time (including the PM) naively assumed was ‘good for business’.

    There was also some dissent from the right over Northern Ireland, notably from Ian Gow and Lord Cranborne.

  35. John Biffen was interviewed on election night in 1987 by the BBC after he had heard his result in North Shropshire.

  36. Thanlks for the comments Barnaby and Hemelig

    I remember the 92-97 Parliament better than any before and since. It seemed a lot, lot longer than the five years it went on for – but maybe that’s because I took my A-levels, did my three years at University and graduated between those years

    John Biffen moved steadily leftwards throughout Thatcher’s Premietship (describing himself as a socoal democrat) – the reverse of a Michael Spicer who moved fromn the extreme left to the extreme right

    He also voted for the Mates amendement on the poll tax – as did Jonathan Aitken, who certainly wasn’t a wet

    The two I missed off were Nick Scott – he was actually kicked out by his local association after going out on a drunken rampage – and Jon Pattern – who had a reputation as a hardline Christian byt wqas very wettish on economic issues

  37. Tim J – thanks for the list of Wets who lost their seats. Again, that is not disagreeing with my point that rightwingers (Thatcherites) held their marginal seats throughout ’79-’97, whereas most wealthy Wets were in safe seats. Though as your list shows many lost even these in ’97, although many of the Wets of the ’70s had retired or died by then. I note you do not dispute the fact that Batley, Ayr, Wirral S, Chorley plus 30 odd others were held by rightwingers who tended to be from ordinary backgrounds. Runnymede – a Wet as described by Thatcher (in quotes, books or The Iron Lady) was also about background. Most had inherited wealth or privileged titles/land and were ashamed, whereas Thatcher fought and worked her way up.

  38. In relation to TimJ’s post – in 1966, Michael Spicer was the tory candidate in Easington.

    He was born in 1943, while the labour incumbent, Manny Shinwell was born in 1884 (and lived to the age of 101).

    Is there a greater age gap between major party candidates ever?

  39. Joe R – that probably is a record. I recall the Tories fielding an 88-year-old in Liverpool and Labour’s was around 20, although that was in council elections and the age had been lowered to 18+ (not that that makes a huge difference!) There was an 88-year-old sitting in Sefton IIRC til 2012.

  40. “There is probably some but weakish correlation between out and authoritarian.”

    Probably but as you say weakish when you consider the position of David Davis for example on civil liberties.

  41. ‘note you do not dispute the fact that Batley, Ayr, Wirral S, Chorley plus 30 odd others were held by rightwingers who tended to be from ordinary backgrounds’

    All four came freom humble backgrounds certainly

    Den Dover who sat for Chorley was certainly a right winger but i don’t know whjether the other three can be so easily categorised

    Barry Porter was certainly right wing on social and moral issues but actually quite centrist economically, whereas Elixabeth Peacock was even more so. She was a member of the 92 group but I always saw her as on the Left of the party – particularly given her fervent opposition to the poll tax

    Ayr was held in the 92-97 Parliament by Phil Gallie – and the most noteworthy thing about his brief career was his opposition to Scottish water privatisation – hardly a right wing position

  42. Arthur Latham (later MP for Paddington and subsequently Labour leader of Havering council) was 29 when he stood in Woodford in 1959 against an 85 year old Winston Churchill. Not quite as large a gap but not far off

  43. Tim- you’re quite right about Barry Porter being economically centrist. As he put it himself in a debate on the Economy in 1985: ‘like my noble Friend the Earl of Stockton, I am not an 1860s Manchester Liberal.’

    Then again, I think you can probably say the same of other populist right-wingers actually. I suspect your real issue is with arid neo-liberals like Dominic Raab and Kwasi Kwarteng- the types who came up with ‘Britannia Unchained’ or something to that effect.

  44. Barry Porter was v patriotic and strong on the Union, at a time it wasn’t safe to be on Merseyside. Indeed he received death threats and a letter bomb from Irish Republicans. Elizabeth Peacock was a supporter of hanging and flogging. The Mark Thomas Comedy Product referred to her as the most right wing MP, but I doubt that at the time. She opposed pit closures and was well regarded locally even upto ’97. Anyway, Tim J thanks for at last conceding/agreeing. If I have time or can post from a PC at some point, I’ll list the other right wingers who held marginals throughout the 18 years, just for you 😉

  45. Lancs Observer

    I agree that there were many right-wingers who held marginbal seats in the 1980s from Terry Dicks to John Watts\

    My point was that there was also many wets

    And Tory is right – it’s the out-and-out libertarians within the Tory Party that I dislike the most – those who wear their lack of compassion as a badge of pride

  46. Tim Jones

    They may be vile but their is an element of the population whom need their ideas reflecting. Personally i find extreme on both the left and right in terms of economics a real put off. Things are never so simple that the ideology of the left or right can be implemented without human cost.

  47. ‘a Wet as described by Thatcher (in quotes, books or The Iron Lady) was also about background.’,,,,perhaps that particular sort of wet irritated her most, but the wettest wet of all was surely Ted Heath who despite his assumed accent wasn’t from such a background at all.

  48. I thought of Terry Dicks today since I interviewed someone called Dicks who is resident in his former constituency, but she denies being related (even by marriage) to him.
    More to the point, see Anthony’s post about the poll within this constituency. Since only 3% more respondents recalled voting Conservative in 2010 than Labour, it may well be that the sample polled isn’t representative. I would therefore be wary of reading too much into the poll.

  49. “the wettest wet of all was surely Ted Heath who despite his assumed accent wasn’t from such a background at all.”

    Ted Heath did not assume an upper class accent. He plainly had what I call an old fashioned London suburbs accent. You do still hear it amongst older people in the likes of Bexley and Bromley though it is dying out through demographic change and more cockney types moving out of London. Watch the 1981 GLC programme which Andy uploaded to youtube and you will see Horace Cutler spoke with this accent as well.

  50. Going back once again to S Thanet, do we have a reason for Laura Sandys’ retirement? She is only 49, very young to quit – of the other first-term retirees, Jonathan Evans had already sat in Parliament previously from 1992 to 1997, and is over 60, and Lorraine Fullbrook too is quite a bit older than Sandys. I haven’t heard a reason for her retirement – could it be friction with her local association on the grounds of her rather Europhile politics? I have no idea, purely speculating.

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