Thornbury & Yate

2015 Result:
Conservative: 19924 (41%)
Labour: 3775 (7.8%)
Lib Dem: 18429 (37.9%)
Green: 1316 (2.7%)
UKIP: 5126 (10.6%)
MAJORITY: 1495 (3.1%)

Category: Marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Avon. Part of the South Gloucestershire council area.

Main population centres: Thornbury, Yate, Winterbourne, Dodington, Chipping Sodbury.

Profile: A swathe of market towns and villages to the north of Bristol, mostly affluent commuter towns and villages.

Politics: The seat`s predecessor, Northavon, was narrowly won from the Conservatives by Steve Webb in 1997. Webb built it into one of the Liberal Democrats` most solid seats, but was unable to withstand the swing against them in 2015.

Current MP
LUKE HALL (Conservative) Born South Gloucestershire. Educated at Bristol University. Former supermarket area manager. First elected as MP for Thornbury & Yate in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 17916 (37%)
Lab: 3385 (7%)
LDem: 25032 (52%)
UKIP: 1709 (4%)
Oth: 184 (0%)
MAJ: 7116 (15%)
Con: 19839 (34%)
Lab: 6277 (11%)
LDem: 30872 (52%)
UKIP: 1032 (2%)
Oth: 1036 (2%)
MAJ: 11033 (19%)
Con: 19340 (35%)
Lab: 6450 (12%)
LDem: 29217 (52%)
UKIP: 751 (1%)
MAJ: 9877 (18%)
Con: 24363 (39%)
Lab: 9767 (16%)
LDem: 26500 (42%)
MAJ: 2137 (3%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Northavon

2015 Candidates
LUKE HALL (Conservative) Born South Gloucestershire. Educated at Bristol University. Supermarket area manager.
HADLEIGH ROBERTS (Labour) Educated at Bath University. Translator and editor.
STEVE WEBB (Liberal Democrat) Born 1965, Birmingham. Educated at Dartmouth High School and Oxford University. Professor. MP for Northavon 1997 to 2015. Lib Dem shadow health secretary 2001-2006, Lib Dem shadow work and pensions secretary 2006-2010. Minister of State for Pensions since 2010.
Comments - 98 Responses on “Thornbury & Yate”
  1. This is looking much more certain to be a hold after the by-election result.

  2. I have always thought this seat is winnable, the LD majorities being a reflection of Tory shell shock after 1997.
    Their substantial increase in 2010 shows those majorities were not it’s natural state.
    I get the impression this seat is a little more affluent than Eastleigh, and
    the Tories do have some local Government base as of 2007 and 2011.

    The national state of the parties will be important though.

    I said on the old site that Yate used to be a Labour division on the old Avon County Council – but that is a long time ago – and it’s very much the LD stronghold.
    Although even Chipping Sodbury has LD tendencies.

  3. I think there’s an Old Sodbury’s End aswell.

  4. Steve Webb, (in the introduction to a new book of essays by LD peers and MPs):

    “The most fundamental reason why Christians should feel at home in the Liberal Democrats is that the character of God, as revealed in the Christian Gospel, would suggest that God must be a liberal. This assertion will shock or offend some, but… there is no other conclusion that can be drawn from… the New Testament”.

    Quoted from today’s Sunday Times, page 3.

  5. That is absolutely ridiculous.

    Religion is the most instructive, authoritarian regime going. Even if god were a liberal, he would be advised not to vote liberal democrat.

  6. The percentages are almost identical to Lewes. Without knowing the constituency all that well (although I do go to Bristol a lot) I think this seat is more winnable for the Tories in a kind of unravelling way.
    Whether that’s the most likely outcome though is a somewhat different matter.
    Lewes is a very different seat – very similar results though.

  7. When Steve Webb gained Northavon in 1997, how might it have been down to his effectiveness as a candidate personally?

  8. He probably did make the difference between the LDs winning and losing in 1997.

  9. I wonder why he has done so well here though. The reason I say that is that before Webb won Northavon back in 1997 the Lib Dems had never come remotely close before then.

  10. It’s undeniable that he has a certain charisma despite the Brummie accent which you might think would work in the other direction. (I’m allowed to say this, being from the West Midlands myself).

  11. I wonder if the Tories locally expected to lose in Northavon in 1997.

    Was Webb actually selected as candidate early, and that may have allowed him to get stuck in around the area a few years in advance?

  12. Good question, it must be online somewhere.

  13. It’s on his website, he was selected in ’95. He didn’t expect to win at that election!

  14. Ah right thanks very much for that Khunanup.

  15. Alex Carlile took an interest in his win in 1997. He was in the Sky election studio at the time: that footage will be on YouTube soon.

  16. Thanks Andy. I look forward to seeing it.

  17. If the Tories did no work before 1997 it probably means they didn’t expect to lose – even after our poll rating slumped after we were booted out of the ERM.

  18. Frankly anyone who does no work in that kind of situation and just looks around like a fumbling complaining passenger looking for the fare 15 minutes after boarding, deserves to be annhilated.

    But I think that’s all in the past, and the Tories could actually win here if they are in a strong position next time.

  19. ‘But I think that’s all in the past, and the Tories could actually win here if they are in a strong position next time.’

    This seat had the best LD results in the country in May 2011 so can’t see the tories winning here anytime soon.

  20. Webb is popular here, so I don’t think he is in danger of losing his seat as long as he stands. Maybe things will get interesting here between the Lib Dems and Tories when he retires.

  21. I thought they were down a bit in 2011
    although Yate remains a stronghold for them.
    Were their results as good as in Eastleigh or Portsmouth S?

  22. The LDs did lose a few seats in 2010 where everyone thought a well-known incumbent would mean they would hold fairly easily, such as Oxford West and Montgomeryshire, and there’ll probably be one or two at the next election as well.

  23. What Andy says could happen, but not I think in this seat. In Oxford West and Montgomeryshire the incumbents the incumbents were both very distinctive characters who had liabilities that offended some voters who might have voted Lib Dem. Webb doesn’t have that profile, though I would expect him to have a somewhat smaller majority because he’ll lose some votes to Labour. Looking to 2015, in Portsmouth South it might be that the Lib Dems would do better with a new candidate.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in Oxford West and Montgomeryshire next time (i.e., if the Lib Dems can get votes back by turning to more generic candidates).

  24. 2015 IMHO

    LD 38
    Con 29
    UKIP 17
    Lab 12
    Others 4

  25. If UKIP can only get 18% on a miniscule turnout in the Wythenshawe by-election, they are not going to be at 17% here on a General Election turnout.

    In North Cornwall you predicted the Tories down by 14% compared with 2010, here you are expecting a decline of 8%. It’s the same in pretty much every seat you predict. Can I ask what polling evidence there is for this? On average the polls suggest the Tories are down 3-4% from their 2010 level at most.

  26. I’ve already said on here how popular Steve Webb is, and I can certainly see him holding this fairly comfortably in 2015, and maybe even in 2020 if he decides to stand then as well.

    Ever since he got that very good result in Northavon in 2001 after his surprise gain in 1997, he has been very well entrenched in these parts.

  27. Possible forecast
    A range on either side.
    I think the C vote may rise.

    *LD 43% -9%
    Con 36% -1
    Lab 13% +6%
    UKIP 8% +4%

  28. I see the Labour vote rising noticeably and the Tories declining. UKIP will come close to 10%.
    A by-election in Dodington (S.Gloucs) two years ago saw the Lib Dems hold the seat with a slightly reduced majority 5/6% (56% of the vote). Tories fell to fourth, having once come close to snatching the seat. Labour are now the challengers in the ward,…but still way behind.
    Steve Webb’s reputation is sound locally and many vote as much for the man as the Party.

  29. Possible surprise Tory gain.
    I think it’s quite credible the LDs could unravel enough here to lose or be very close to it.

  30. Surely not. It couldn’t happen while Steve Webb is still the MP. Without him, like in a lot of seats the Lib Dems hold because of their incumbents, it’s an entirely different matter- I can still see this seat being a perpetual Lib-Con marginal all the same in years to come though.

  31. The Lib Dems were still well ahead on the 2011 locals.

  32. 2011 Council Election:
    Liberal Democrats – 15,558 – 50.4%
    Conservative – 10,134 – 32.8%
    Labour – 3,959 – 12.8%
    Independents – 844 – 2.7%
    UK Independence Party – 391 – 1.3%

  33. It’s testament to Steve Webb’s abilities as a constituency MP that the Lib Dems have remained as strong as they have locally.

    I think Labour could increase a little here, but I don’t know if they have any real areas of strength that could see them get a good rise in 2015.

  34. I don’t know the constituency but have to confess to being impressed with Steve Webb. I work in the pensions industry and he is extremely highly regarded as a intelligent, sensible guy who actually has a good understanding of his brief.

    Clearly this won’t make any difference psephologically, but he seems hard working and decent and, for all the LDs may struggle, he seems like the kind of guy who would attract a significant personal vote. And 17% is quite a comfortable majority.

  35. Steve Webb should hold on to this, but it’ll be people voting for him, not the Lib Dems.

  36. Good to see you’re back on here Chris.

    TBH I don’t know the constituency either, but based on what evidence there is it seems highly likely that a lot of the voters here do vote for Steve Webb as an individual.

    I think the Tories had a decent enough result here last time given what happened to them in the three previous elections but I think they’ll fall back a little again next time. Whether or not there might be a small swing in their favour or not I don’t know- might this be a candidate for an increased Lib Dem majority?

  37. My prediction:

    LD 45%
    CON 38%
    LAB 10%
    UKIP 7%

    Don’t know enough about the profile of the seat to be confident about whether I have over- or underestimated the UKIP potential, and due to boundary changes I don’t know how squeezed the Labour-leaning vote is either. But based on tactical considerations and Webb’s good standing in the area I doubt either of those parties will make the sort of inroads that might otherwise be expected in a semi-marginal Lib-Con contest.

  38. Looks close, although I’m not sure the Tories will go up. I’d expect they’d drop a point or two instead, but the Lib Dems would be down into the low forties.

  39. I think you’d expect this seat to be Conservative territory so it must be a personal vote and the sheer meltdown they went into here when they lost in 1997 which lasted about 10 years.

    Yate, the Lib Dem stronghold, used to be a Labour division on the Avon County Council – probably in a year like 1985 and 1989.

    I don’t think Labour will get more than about 15% and probably less.

  40. Cheers The Results, I’ll be back a little more as we approach the election:)

    But I am going to strike a contrarian note to almost everyone on the site, I still think the LD’s will poll 14-15%, and I think UKIP will poll under 10% (prob 6-7%). I will come on here and “fess up” if I’m wrong come polling day.

  41. Chris K and I agree completely! I have an ally!

  42. I’m a little perplexed by the “main population centres” section at the head of this page. My understanding was that Winterbourne was in FaBS and I’m not sure that Dodington constitutes a major population centre.

  43. There are some reports emerging that Arron Banks will be the UKIP candidate in Thornbury & Yate although I haven’t been able to find 100% confirmation yet.

    For example this article:

  44. Tremendous LD result in Ashcroft poll here:

    LD 47
    CON 24
    UKIP 17
    LAB 9
    OTH 4

  45. My first post here. While the Ashcroft poll and local election results clearly indicate that the Lib Dems will hold here comfortably I suspect that this seat would be very vulnerable if the Lib Dems ever did go into coalition with Labour.
    For example when Ashcroft asked voters here about preferred outcome in 2015 the results were:
    Conservative gov: 31%
    Con-Lib coalition: 23%
    Don’t Know: 18%
    Labour gov: 15%
    Lib-Lab coaltion: 14%
    This seat clearly remains a seat of the centre right despite Lib Dem representation.

  46. Think perhaps the Tories might take a surprise gain here.

  47. Then you’re ignorant of the evidence.

  48. Ashcroft poll for this seat, Connor:

    Sorry to so thoroughly burst your bubble, but a 23% lead is not easily overturned.

  49. This is the safest Lib Dem seat in the country. Webb is greatly loved and admired and will never lose as long as he stands. Even Tories, labour and UKIp supporters concede this is one of the best MPs in the country.I live in the seat and I know

  50. This is very clearly not the safest Lib Dem seat in the country – that’s Tim Farron’s seat. Many of the Ashcroft constituency polls give very unusual results and taking them as gospel amounts to getting a bit carried away.

    The Lib Dems aren’t in real danger of losing here, they have a 15 point lead (note to PT Richards, not 23 points) which, even on current national polling would not quite fall, as the implied LD – Con swing is around 6.5%. Adding on the evident local popularity of Webb (meaning he’ll probably outperform his national party) you have a relatively safe Lib Dem seat. However, I’ll believe the Conservatives will be reduced to 24% here when I see it.

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