South Thanet

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

Category: Marginal Conservative seat

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

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

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

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

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

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
CRAIG MACKINLAY (Conservative) Born Chatham. Educated at Rainham Mark Grammar and Birmingham University. Chartered accountant and tax advisor. Medway councillor since 2007. Contested Gillingham 1992 as Independent, 1997 as UKIP, Totnes 2001 for UKIP, Gillingham 2005 for UKIP, Kent Police Commissioner election 2012 for the Conservatives. Acting leader of UKIP 1997, Deputy leader of UKIP 1997-2000. Defected to the Conservatives in 2005.
WILL SCOBIE (Labour) Educated at Dane Court Grammar and York University. Thanet councillor since 2011, Kent county councillor since 2013.
RUSS TIMPSON (Liberal Democrat) Educated at South Bank University. Businessman, fire engineer and former Royal Navy submariner.
NIGEL FARAGE (UKIP) Born 1964, Farnborough. Educated at Dulwich College. Former commodities broker. Contested Itchen, Test and Avon in 1994 European election. Member of the European Parliament for South-East England since 1999. Contested Eastleigh by-election 1994, Salisbury 1997, Bexhill and Battle 2001, South Thanet 2005, Bromley and Chistlehurst 2006 by-election, Buckingham 2010. Leader of UKIP 2006-2009 and since 2010.
IAN DRIVER (Green) Thanet councillor since 2011, originally elected for Labour.
GRAHAME BIRCHALL (United Thanet) Born 1952. Businessman and former serviceman. Former Canterbury councillor for the Labour party.
DEAN MCCASTREE (Independent) Born St Lucia. Financial Trader. Former Thanet councillor, former Lambeth councillor. Contested Brent Central 2010.
ZEBADIAH ABU-OBADIAH (Al-Zebabist) Musician.
NIGEL ASKEW (Reality) Publican.
RUTH BAILEY (Manston Airport Independent) Teacher.
AL MURRAY (No description) Born 1968, Stewkley. Educated at Bedford School and Oxford University. Comedian.
Comments - 1,985 Responses on “Thanet South”
  1. Frederic with respect Thanet District Council to my knowledge has never owned Manston Airport. Mrs Gloag was sold the airport by the previous owners Infratil a New Zealand company who I think once owned or still own Prestwick Airport. The Council is presently a Labour minority administration supported by some Independants. I have lived in Ramsgate for only 8 years but I have to say this Council is an improvement on the previous lacklustre Conservative run Council who seemed to ignore Ramsgate completely.

  2. Laurence, thanks for the correction. about the ownership of Manston.

    Joe R, it takes something like two hours from Ramsgate to Gatwick by train, either via London (expensive) or changing at Tonbridge and Redhill. That excludes time to get to the airport gates and to check-in.

    Or, like many people, you give up on the train and hire a taxi at huge cost.

    Despite the High Speed trains, lack of transport infrastructure is still a big problem for economic regeneration here and in East Kent generally. It is not being tackled adequately by any of the major parties.

  3. There isn’t a big enough population near to Thanet to make an airport viable without attracting passengers from London.

    I wonder why they haven’t turned it into a Ryanair or Easyjet low-cost airport for London, as they have done with Southend. Journey time by rail from Thanet to London isn’t bad using HS1.

  4. Re Gatwick.

    Even though I only live 20 mins away I usually find it most cost-effective and certainly most convenient to drive and leave my car at the airport. The parking is much cheaper and more convenient than either Heathrow or City.

    The taxi companies operating from Gatwick and in the Mid Sussex area generally are uniformly appalling. They all seem to be controlled by a couple of Indian families based in Crawley.

    I think you would be quite lucky to make it by train from Ramsgate to Gatwick in 2 hours, even using HS1.

  5. To anyone used to Heathrow, Gatwick is a God-send, especially for incoming passengers

    Personally I would hate anything that threatened to change Gatwick as it is now

  6. Tim

    Which Brighton constituency do you live in – Kemptown, Pavilion or Hove?

    (just interested in your 2010 vote for Labour, which I’m guessing was tactical)

    Completely agree with your remarks about Nigel Evans by the way, I think they were on the Fylde thread.

  7. I’m in Pavilion at the moment – although last election I was in Hove

    Have to admit that despite not particularly liking the current administration it’s preferable to what I voted for – five more years of Gordon Brown – although at the time i was very fearful of the implications of a Tory majority on the most vulnerable – which i still think would have absolutely dire had there not been participation from the Lib Dems – something they have got absolutely no recognition for

    I won’t be voting for them in 2015 though

  8. By them, I mean Labour

  9. So I guess you could go Green, or back to the Lib Dems.

  10. I don’t disagree with you that the Lib Dems have stopped the Tories from doing some stupid things, in my personal view this is especially the case in education and childcare. I’m glad they stopped the proposed bonfire of safeguards on childminders and nurseries, and I hope they’ll prevent Gove’s 10 hour school days.

    By forcing Cameron to remain engaged in the EU they have also helped the recovery. We wouldn’t have today’s growth rate if the government were being forced into a war with the EU by its backbanchers.

  11. I’d never vote Green although I do think Lucas is a better representative than people give her credit for

    I’m almost unique in that I’m one of the very few people that will actually be switching my vote to the Lib Dems rather than away from them and whilst Pavilion is one of their weakest seats in southern England, unlike Jeremy Browne I buy the line that the Lib Dems will be a good counter balance against the more core-vote instincts of the other two parties

  12. H Hemmelig- I find it amusing that you and I notionally support the same party.

  13. Well a party can’t win without appealing to a broad church of opinions. I’m sure we pretty much agree on matters of economic competence, which IMO is more important than Europe and other matters.

  14. H Hemmelig- I dare say we do- at least on fiscal matters. However, economic questions are not of primary importance to me, which perhaps explains some of our differences.

  15. Nigel Farage’s (wise) refusal to stand in Newark, plus hist early to visit this area for his European election campaign, would appear to make it increasingly likely that he will stand here in the 2015 General Election. I would hope he has to be selected by the grassroots UKIP membership here first though. Can anybody remind me what form their selection process takes?

  16. “Can anybody remind me what form their selection process takes?”

    Judging by some of the people they’ve got as elected representatives, it would seem to be “Eeny meeny miney mo” with a dash of single transferable bigot.

  17. I was in Ramsgate on Saturday. The local UKIP County Councillor was in the Town Centre glad-handing the shoppers before the Euroelections. They seemed pleased to see him. Would Labour or the Tories still be able to this old-fashioned campaigning?

  18. We regularly do exactly that up in our target ward of Crookes. At the very least Labour are capable of it, not seen any Tory campaigning in action!

  19. Mr Nameless – I went to Sheffield University around 20 years ago, and lived in Broomhill and then Walkley.

    Crookes always seemed a relatively average area with some nice streets, Walkley was more down at heel. What are the areas like nowadays?

  20. I’ve seen a little of Walkley and it’s still a little run down – It’s pleasant enough though. Crookes I’d place towards the lower end of average, which is why I like canvassing and campaigning there – it’s the area of Hallam most like where I’m originally from and I feel like I kind of get the area more.

    Broomhill is fairly posh-looking but a lot of the houses are shared student houses so appearances are deceiving. Corresponding to this demographic it’s flipped on its head politically in recent years, and is now a Labour-Green marginal seat.

  21. Thanks for that – interesting stuff.

    I remember, in my extreme political naivety, getting duped by a Labour activist outside the polling station in the 1997 election (the polling station was either in or next to the South Sea pub). I wanted to vote against the Tories and with no knowledge of the constituency I took the word of the Labour activist who came up to me and assured my they could win…………!

  22. Likely Conservative hold. Perhaps:-

    Conservative: 42%
    Labour: 35%
    UKIP: 9%
    Liberal Democrat: 9%
    Others: 5%

    Unless UKIP manage to stand a high profile candidate, in which case Labour could sneak in.

  23. UKIP only level with the LDs? Surely not, not in this seat. They are most unlikely to win here, but they are bound to have a much greater presence than that. I’d be surprised if they failed to get at least double that. Certainly the Tories are favourites. Some odd forecasts here. I couldn’t be bothered to look closely at the one for Beaconsfield & I suspect the Labour Party leadership will take a similar attitude.

  24. I lived in Walkley in 1992 when I was studying at University of Sheffield. It was a Labour/LibDem battleground then (I think it may still be). I was certainly canvassed by Labour. I am not sure about the LibDems.

    That was the election Kinnock went over the top in his rally in Sheffield!

  25. FS,

    Walkley is one of many wards which on paper appeared to be Lib/Lab marginals until the 2011 and 2012 local elections. In 2012 Labour took it with a majority of 27%. In reality it (and many places which had LD councillors thrashed in those years) was voting LD because they were “left of Labour” and appealed to students.

    The coalition has swept their legs out from under them and they don’t seem to even be trying this time and have withdrawn their troops to the Hallam wards. The vacuum left has given the Greens a rising chance in many of these wards.

  26. Barnaby – perhaps with Farage as candidate, we may see something along these lines:-

    Conservative: 38%
    Labour: 33%
    UKIP: 16%
    Liberal Democrat: 8%
    Others: 5%

  27. It’s now Evens that Farage chooses this seat to stand in at the general election.

  28. Yes, it certainly won’t be Eastleigh now after the LDs’ impressive performance there in the locals.

  29. Shadsy, your betting site seems to suggest that Farage is now 4/6 odds on to be the candidate here. As a non-betting man when it comes to politics I can express n opinion that you are still being generaous to the punters in this instance!

  30. David Goodhart:

    “How modern liberals created Nigel Farage
    Contemporary liberalism has disdained the loyalties that work as society‚Äôs glue. Its failure has allowed populism to dominate politics, and Nigel Farage is the big winner”

  31. Hmm…have had a read.

    Far too abstract and theoretical for most of us, including me, and I have got one foot in academia. I think Goodhart seriously overcomplicates things. There is no mention of the Lib Dems in government and how the removal of their previous role as an non-ideological all-things-to-all-people protest vote repository has contributed to the rise of UKIP. That to me is the big gap here.

  32. More to the point, this is way over the head of most Thanet South voters, remembering that this iis in no way a university seat.

    UKIP is taking on a Poujardist role, particularly now that it has a substantial base of Councillors in places like this. There is life in UKIP well beyond Farage, even though it would be sensible for Farage to fight this seat if local UKIP members select him.

  33. What a bunch of anti-intellectuals you all are on here.

  34. I’m not anti-intellectual, though I have just left the “Pretentious Classical Music Elitists” group on Facebook. Too pretentious even for me.

  35. I am posting this from Ramsgate Library. Four out of the ten downstairs computers are being used. I guess that upstairs it is about the same. There are about a dozen people in the library.

    In Canterbury just about all the computers, and the library has about the same number (20) are full and I suspect there will be people queuing for service at the main desk, And there will be perhaps fifty people in the library.

    I am not anti-intellectual. I am just keeping my feet on the ground.

  36. There are increasing signs that Thanet is being targetted for massive house building, notably on the site of Manston airport. This is likely to be used to dump voters on benefits from London, not to support industrial and commercial investment in Thanet. Such a cynical short-term policy is likely to be a demographic disaster for this area. The likely political beneficiaries are UKIP, although how they would address the problem is at best problematic.

  37. Not anti-intellectual at all. Just anti over-complicating, making-it-more-difficult-than-it-needs-to-be, over processed speculation. Goodhart ticks all the above boxes.

  38. The Ashcroft poll was Con 32%, Lab 31%, UKIP 27%. That was without naming Farage as candidate. So it seems likely this will be the seat he contests and he probably has a fair chance of winning.

  39. Yes, Farage certainly has a better chance than in Buckingham. I still nonetheless think that victory will elude him if he stands here. He will be open to charges of carpetbagging and that is a fairly lethal accusation if it starts to stick. Also, in what promises at present to be a closely contested general election, how many people will in the end actually vote for him? He will probably need over 15,000 votes to win here.

    Labour are still competitive in this seat, as the Ashcroft poll shows and UKIP scored 5.5% of the vote in 2010.

  40. I think this will be a Tory hold – unless perhaps UKIP really go for this one.

  41. I agree a Con hold is most likely, with Lab and UKIP being pretty much tied in second place.

  42. I commented (rather confusingly!) on the Worthing West page on 10th June that all depends on who Labour put up as a candidate in Thanet South.

    Stephen Ladyman, the former MP, was well-liked and respected here. When I made that post I felt that if he stood again he would win, against Farage and the tories.

    I have since googled, and found out that there is a new Labour candidate. I don’t give him much of a chance, and see it as a close Tory/Kipper fight if Farage stands, and a straight Tory win otherwise.

  43. Yes the Labour candidate is Will Scobie. He looks about 19, although he’s probably considerably older than that:

  44. Goes without saying that UKIP’s share will rise substantially, and given the effort they and the big two will put into this seat, the Lib Dems could face an even larger squeeze than elsewhere in the country.

    I don’t know enough about the “typical” Liberal voter in this seat to speculate on how that might influence the result.

  45. Ladbrokes actually have the kippers as favourites at 6/4, with the tories at 7/4…presumably ukip will shorten a teeny bit if farage announces his candidature here.

    I think the political outlook is really bifurcating. The top down, air war, outlook is that miliband simply isn’t credible as a PM in waiting. He has appalling ratings.

    The ground-up view, looking at constituencies and councils, is much more favourable to labour…so, for instance, paddy power have labour 4/5 to win most seats, and tories 10/11, which is exactly the same odd they have for Elmet & Rothwell, Labour’s 60th target. The odds for both these eventualities cannot be the same.

  46. I agree with you, and one reason is that the news media is now dominated by youngish people who were hired because they look sexy on TV rather than for their analytical abilities, especially on topics like psephology where the interest of the general public is very low. Furthermore, the few remaining greybeards like Dimbleby and Neil are perhaps using past experience too much to predict the kind of election that not even they have ever seen before. I do think 2015 will be a kind of 1992 in reverse for the media, who will spend a lot of time post-election wondering how they read it all so wrong.

  47. I’m persuaded by the polling evidence that Miliband probably won’t win a majority. He may still become PM through a deal with the LDs.

  48. Or indeed a deal with the SNP, SDLP, DUP, Greens or as a minority government. Like you I don’t expect a Labour majority but the key point is that in a hung parliament Labour are far more likely to be able to cobble a deal together than the Tories.

  49. not sure i’d rule out a labour majority completely, though i don’t think it’s more than 40% likely….

    all the pricing, betting odds, polls seem to indicate that labour could get very close to one. I look at seats like Rossendale & Darwen, Dudley South, Cambridge, Hornsey & Wood Green, Redcar, Cardiff Central and i certainly am not left with the impression that it’s barmy to think labour could get majority…

    I think they’ll get 35 of their top 40 targets, and then will remain quite competitive in the next 40, let’s say they get half of these…that leaves 13 more seats- a number of these I think can be nicked off the lib dems- hornsey, redcar, cardiff central…and you can envisage a world where the reds are not far off an absolute majority. I have never voted in labour in my life, but the metropolitan, south east based lobby is in danger of really not seeing what’s going on.

    The meme that Miliband is a geek/freak/weirdo who can’t tie his own shoe laces doesn’t really reflect the reality on the ground.

    If you look at the most recent Ashcroft polling of tory held marginals and read the commentary and polling on Miliband you’d think these were two different worlds.

  50. Of course most current polls suggest a labour majority, but most betting websites and pundits are, perhaps rightly, anticipating some kind of swing back and a result where tories and labour are roughly neck and neck in the popular vote.

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