2015 Result:
Conservative: 19551 (40.7%)
Labour: 4166 (8.7%)
Lib Dem: 16265 (33.8%)
Green: 1557 (3.2%)
UKIP: 6540 (13.6%)
MAJORITY: 3286 (6.8%)

Category: Marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Devon. The northern part of the Torbay council area.

Main population centres: Torquay, Paignton.

Profile: Torbay is a natural bay on the south coast, sometimes called the English riviera. The constituency consists of two of the three towns that sit upon the bay, Torquay and Paignton (the third, Brixham, is in neighbouring Totnes). Both towns are popular seaside resorts and the constituency includes tourist attractions like Paignton Zoo, Kents Cavern and Babbacombe model village.

Politics: Politically Torbay is a marginal between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. Liberal Democrat Adrian Sanders held the seat between 1997 and 2015, but often by narrow margins. In 1997 his majority was only twelve, it increased in 2001, but fell back to just over 2000 in 2005. In 2015 the seat finally fell to the Tories. This has also been a comparatively good seat for UKIP, who held their deposit in 2005 and 2010. At a local level Torbay has an elected mayor, currently Conservative Gordon Oliver who defeated his predecessor, deselected Conservative incumbent Nick Bye running as an independent in 2011.

Current MP
KEVIN FOSTER (Conservative) Born 1978, Plymouth. Educated at Heles School and Warwick University. Barrister. Coventry councillor 2002-2014. Contested Coventry South 2010. First elected as MP for Torbay in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 19048 (39%)
Lab: 3231 (7%)
LDem: 23126 (47%)
UKIP: 2628 (5%)
Oth: 1177 (2%)
MAJ: 4078 (8%)
Con: 17288 (37%)
Lab: 6972 (15%)
LDem: 19317 (41%)
UKIP: 3726 (8%)
MAJ: 2029 (4%)
Con: 17307 (36%)
Lab: 4484 (9%)
LDem: 24015 (50%)
UKIP: 1512 (3%)
Oth: 251 (1%)
MAJ: 6708 (14%)
Con: 21082 (40%)
Lab: 7923 (15%)
LDem: 21094 (40%)
Oth: 3223 (6%)
MAJ: 12 (0%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
KEVIN FOSTER (Conservative) Born 1978, Plymouth. Educated at Heles School and Warwick University. Barrister. Coventry councillor 2002-2014. Contested Coventry South 2010.
SU MADDOCK (Labour) Educated at Leeds University. University fellow.
ADRIAN SANDERS (Liberal Democrat) Born 1959, Paignton. Educated at Torquay Boys' Grammar School. Policy officer. Torbay councillor 1984-1986. Contested Devon and East Plymouth 1994 European-elections. MP for Torbay 1997 to 2015.
ANTHONY MCINTYRE (UKIP) Retired teacher. Contested South West region 2014 European elections.
Comments - 269 Responses on “Torbay”
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  1. The Tories really need to crack this one in 2015.
    Results have been very eratic here as discussed on the old site – but I remain somewhat baffled by the shattering Lib Dem defeat at local level in 2000, followed by the same thing happening to the Tories just a year later in the General Election.

    Margins seem to have been closer since in all sets of elections but it looks like the Tories can win on low turnouts – like for local elections because they have a core vote higher than the LD vote.

    A Labour recovery will help the Tories here but UKIP is present, and if the Tories do not succeed, then the Council will be in danger aswell.

  2. I had my eyes closed during the declaration here in 2010 and I thought maybe we have done it – as it was quite soon after good results in Kingswood and Putney.
    Then it was s**** – we’ve not taken it.

  3. It partly seems to be down to the popularity of Adrian Sanders. Being only in his early 50s he’s quite likely to stand again.

    Barring a complete collapse of the Lib Dems I’d expect them to hold on here. Personally I think they’ll hold something like 38-42 seats in 2015 and if that is the case this will almost certainly be one of them.

  4. Sanders did very well to hold this in 2010 given the way things went in many other Tory-Lib Dem battlegrounds.

    I actually remember David Dimbleby saying on election night when Steve Webb’s Thornbury and Yate result came through, that the swing there could potentially have been a guide for what would happen in other similar South West seats, but in the event the swing in Torbay was to the Lib Dems.

    If Marcus Wood is reselected as candidate for the Tories in 2015, I think they’ve got every chance of taking Torbay. Otherwise, it will be a close-run thing IMHO.

  5. They’ve already selected and it isn’t Marcus Wood. He didn’t seem a very good candidate and don’t think he would do any better than a new face.

  6. Incidentally, the wild forecasts I was making regarding the Lib Dems’ death knell in seats etc. etc. with hindsight on my part was more than a little bit rash, shall we say.

    So here I am now going to say Sanders to hold on by a very narrow margin.

  7. Well if your previous “rash” forecasts come true and the Lib Dems only end up with 25 seats then almost certainly they will lose Torbay.

    But it’s the kind of seat they’ll hold if they end up with 40 seats.

  8. ‘Sanders did very well to hold this in 2010 given the way things went in many other Tory-Lib Dem battlegrounds.’

    I don’t think that’s true

    The southern seats where Lib Dems lost to the Tories in 2010 tended to be constituencies where they had either a sitting MP standing down (Cornwall South East, Truro, Winchester) or an MP standing for re-election who was involved in expense fiddling, with Julia Goldsworthy and Richard Younger Ross being the most high-profile casualties

    In many of the seats where they had incumbancy they bettered their 2005 performance – Cheltenham, Somerton & Frome, Devon North, Bath and of course, Eastleigh

    If Torbay fits any pattern, it’s this one here. Whether they will hold it in 2015 is anyone’s guess but I suspect they would be favourites were Sanders to stand again

  9. Yes I pretty much agree.

  10. Funny really in that Sanders owes his election here to Literal Democrat Richard Huggett whose candidature enabled the Tories to hang onto the Devon & East Plymouth seat by the skin of their teeth in the 1994 Euro election

  11. True. Sanders then only won by the skin of his teeth here in 1997.

    I’m thinking also that Torbay has gone a bit downhill over the past 20-30 years and that will not help the Tories to regain it.

  12. ‘I’m thinking also that Torbay has gone a bit downhill over the past 20-30 years and that will not help the Tories to regain it.’

    I agree, having spent some time there last year- Paington is really down-at-heel. But could this actually help the Tories if it causes an increase in the Labour vote?

  13. Perhaps the 2000 result – LDs 21% behind the Tories and down to 1 seat,
    was because the LDs hadn’t yet achieved a fundamental change in voting behaviour – it was still a bit of a spasm in 1997
    but by 2001 they had put down their roots.

    It is a bit of a mystery.
    My guess is there is a reliable Conservative vote here of the old kind there always was
    but in General Elections we get swamped with extra turnout.

  14. ‘I agree, having spent some time there last year- Paington is really down-at-heel.’

    I went there not too long ago and thought Torquay pleasant, although not as nice as when I went there in the 1980s

    Paignton was quite tacky – I think it’s always been a bit like that – although even here, the coast was still quite nice

    Like most seaside towns, this certainly used to be a lot more Tory than it is today – with the party constently polling five figure majorities until the 1980s

  15. When Sanders first won here in 1997, the candidature of Graham Booth for UKIP must have made something of a difference to the result- He polled 1, 962 votes, one of UKIP’s best results of their first general election (Their best of course came in Salisbury with Nigel Farage). Confusingly, the Liberal Party (post-1989 reconstructed bunch) also stood, polling 1, 161 votes. These two parties standing at the time may have contributed largely to the knife-edge closeness of the result.

  16. If that is so, it has helped the lib dems take the seat, and the rest is history, leading to compromises that ukip are now complaining about. But it falls to the tories to get it back on their own merits

  17. I think the Tories have got a chance of winning this back one day, in the right circumstances.

    Perhaps I was a bit too kind to Marcus Wood if what Hemmelig says is to be believed.

    But all the same I agree with the notion that Sanders could be the one person to keep this from falling from the Lib Dems’ grasp- For another couple of elections at least, provided he keeps on standing.

  18. Does anyone know what Sir Frederick Bennett was like as an MP? (Retired 1987)

  19. “Perhaps I was a bit too kind to Marcus Wood if what Hemmelig says is to be believed.”

    Marcus Wood posted regularly at PB.

    IIRC he continually claimed to be heading to certain victory with crowds cheering him in the streets and the LibDems having given up in despair.

    After the election he admitted to making up these anecdotes.

    He then tried to claim that CCHQ hadn’t wanted him to win as they were already planning on a coalition with the LibDems and had consequently denied him the campaign support he thought he deserved.

  20. Interesting to read all your comments.

    As the Conservative PPC for the next election I would concur that Adrian has done well to hold on, particularly given results of other elections. Whilst we disagree on issues I have a great deal of respect for him on a personal level.

    The Lib Dems have relied heavily on Labour supporters tactically voting and the polls say many will not do so again, but as Joe James rightly says: “But it falls to the tories to get it back on their own merits”

    Positive campaigning and community engagement are hard to poll, but will be key in this one.

  21. Well who knows what will happen here next time. Given this seat’s history I recent years with regards to going totally against local election performances that may add to the unpredictability of Torbay somewhat. All I know is that Sanders must be an effective MP because he increased his majority seemingly against the odds in 2001 though he had first time incumbency then and then after a slashed majority in 2005 he once again looked at risk of losing his seat. But in 2010 he repeated the trick and his majority went up again. So the pattern might well continue in 2015- that is to say his majority might decline again like in 2005, but as I said, who knows for certain?

  22. This is turning out to be a nasty dose of Sutton by the seaside
    but at least with the pleasure of red sandstone and usually favourable local elections – but not always.
    I think the Tories may be 5th time lucky though.

  23. I don’t think you can write Sanders off. And I’m no Liberal sycophant. The reason I say this is because I get the impression he might be a very good campaigner. And also remember that UKIP’s continued presence in seats like these might be the sort of thing that reduces Tory chances of a gain. But then again I would have to say any declines in vote share might be the decisive factor here in terms of whether Sanders gets back again…

  24. I don’t know how high UKIP are likely to be – perhaps 10% here.
    At a punt I’d say it’s a seat where UKIP may be hurting the Tories more
    but the 2013 results elsewhere showed a very patchy picture indeed in that regard.

    I for one would be completely comfortable with the Tories regaining votes from UKIP whilst UKIP remains relatively strong wrong footing the Lib Dems as a fringe party.

  25. … because UKIP are actually shoring up the Tory agenda really
    and that must make the Lib Dems very uncomfortable if they are losing support to them.

    I am sympathetic to the state of mind of UKIP
    but some of the specific things they demand are also a lot of tosh.
    (as are the Lib Dems but for different reasons).

    We could get rid of the deficit tomorrow morning but nobody is going to vote for a party that would do that.
    At least the Tories fit it together as a deliverable plan and for that reason I think we can win enough support to get a majority next time
    or to be so close to it to play pretty hard ball with anyone else.

  26. We must sort out the national debt. All parties ought to agree on that.

  27. The outcome of the next general election will also have a big impact on working to resolve said debt. If it is another hung parliament, we could be in for further uncertain times indeed. If either the Cnservatives or Labour manage some sort of overall majority, then they can work faster on finding ways to solve the debt crisis we currently face. But as I say another coalition will inevitably lead to more compromises, which in turn will surely lead to more uncertainties and greater concern about the future of our economy.

  28. Sanders’s good result in 2001 could also be influenced by the perception that Christian Sweeting wasn’t a very good Tory candidate – it’s pretty clear he didn’t go down well here.

  29. I think 2001 was an election where people wanted to go on giving the Tories a kicking. That had largely gone in 2005 but it had yet to make converts in anytgung more than marginal numbers bar the odd good result. To be fair to Kinnock, he added on votes at a faster rate.

  30. The LibDems have squeezed the Labour vote very hard here. Following the Coalition, one would anticipate that the number of voters tacticaly voting LibDem rather than Labour will decrease, and that the increased Labour vote is likely to cost the LibDems the seat.

    On the other hand, anti-coalition right-wingers are likely to move from the Conservatives to UKIP. unlike some other places (see my recent posts for South Thanet) I would guess most UKIP votes here will come from the Conservatives rather than Labour.

    At the next General Election, 39% of the vote is likely to be enough to win this seat.

  31. I think Frederic may be proved right and it’s good to see him posting again.

    I think Labour did revive a bit in 2011 here but not dramatically.

    My gut feel is also that in Torbay UKIP are hurting the Tories disproportionately more.

    That might well not be the case in Plymouth.
    In Somerset, it’s variable if the 2013 results are to be the barometer.

  32. Interesting to read some further responses. On UKIP they do have a Councillor in Torbay………..In a seat that has traditionally been fairly safe for the Lib Dems and has a Lib Dem as the other councillor. (Demographics of ward concerned would say strong leaning to Labour in a Lab v. Con fight).

  33. have you moved to torbay yet?

  34. 2015

    Pretty close – 78% to share between LD and Con

    Labour 12%
    UKIP 10%

  35. LD 20,118
    Con 20,062
    Lab 6,037
    UKIP 5,595

    LD maj 56

  36. Hi Orangina,


    Best wishes,


  37. Adrian Sanders has been reselected. The Tories would probably have preferred him to retire of course.

  38. Good luck to Kevin Foster

    With the LDs declining in a general sense,
    the Tories must have a decent chance.

  39. I thought the Tories were almost certain to win this seat back in 2001. That they failed by such a large margin must have something to do with barnaby’s comments with regards to christian sweeting, although subsequent election results have shown sanders to have a solid if not spectacular incumbancy vote

    With what seems like a good candidate, perhaps the Tories can make a better fight of it in 2015

  40. Could be interesting. As with many LD seats, the outcome could at least partly hinge on whether the LDs can prevent the Labour vote from rising sharply or not.

  41. Thanks for kind remarks Tim & Joe.

    Still a long way to go before polling day and many things could change before then. For me it is about offering a positive platform, promoting what I can offer and not getting dragged into some of the negativity that has played too much of a role in previous election fights in the bay.

    If commenting on this thread and living in the bay drop me a line via the website (Easy to find on google) and happy to meet up for a chat, regardless of your preferences as to the outcome overall.

  42. Enjoy the campaign Kevin.

    You are the third Conservative candidate since Rupert Allason lost the seat by 12 votes to Adrian Sanders in 1997. It will be an interesting contest to watch in the next year and a bit.

  43. Always interesting to have candidates posting here. Welcome to the site, Kevin! Have fun with the campaign.

  44. Dear Both,

    Thanks and always happy to share a thought or two.

    i might be the third since 1997, but the first time someone of my generation has been nominated and a fresh approach is needed.

    Best Wishes,


  45. Whilst you might get lucky and win in 2015, the odds are not in your favour.

    This seat will probably need a two or three election strategy, building up a good base so that you are in prime position to take the seat when Sanders retires.

    This is how the Lib Dems won most of their seats, and copying the tactic is the best chance the Tories have of winning the more difficult ones back. This kind of seat has too often been seen as a dry run for candidates who want a safe seat next time.

  46. This of course being a seat where UKIP already do well will no doubt make the result just that little bit more unpredictable I would have thought.

  47. This seat has a lot of similarity to Eastbourne. The Tories have suffered in both seats by a gradual drift of demographics against them, making it more difficult to dislodge the Lib Dems than their modest majorities might suggest.

    I certainly think that this is the Devon seat most likely to be held by the Lib Dems, ahead of North Devon.

  48. This seat as we know has had a real habit of going completely against the local election results for the respective years in recent times, hence why Sanders’ majority rose in 2001, was more than halved in 2005 and then increased again in 2010 to a more comfortable margin of victory. This time, I can see the pattern continuing, and I think that at the very worst for Sanders his majority will be below the level it was at in 2005, not to take anything away from Kevin Foster who may even defy all this hypothesis and shock us all by taking it. But I can see Sanders holding this.

  49. It’s probably never been a particularly affluent seat.

  50. I don’t know what happened here in 2005, but the result that year here for me at least was fascinating- I suspect there was tactical unwind back towards Labour after the big increase in Sanders’ vote share in 2001. The Conservative vote actually barely moved, but there was a marked swing back to them.

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