Totnes

2015 Result:
Conservative: 24941 (53%)
Labour: 5988 (12.7%)
Lib Dem: 4667 (9.9%)
Green: 4845 (10.3%)
UKIP: 6656 (14.1%)
MAJORITY: 18285 (38.8%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Devon. Part of South Hams council area and four wards from the Torbay council area.

Main population centres: Kingsbridge, Salcombe, Dartmouth, Totnes, Brixham.

Profile: A picturesque seat on the South Devon coast, it takes in Brixham at the southern end of Torbay - the "English riveria", the small market and coastal towns of South Devon with their thriving tourist industry and up onto the edges of Dartmoor. Tourism is the main industry throughout the area. Like most south coast tourist towns a high proportion of people have come here to retire and the constituency has one of the highest proportions of over 60s in the country. In Salcombe in particular, which is also popular for sailing and yachting, this has pushed property prices up to some of highest outside London. Salcombe and Brixham also retain active fishing industies.

Politics: The seat and its predecessors have been represented by the Conservative party since 1924, thought at many recent elections it has been very tightly fought with the Liberal Democrats. The current MP, Sarah Wollaston, is unusual in having been selected in a true open primary with a postal ballot open to all electors.


Current MP
SARAH WOLLASTON (Conservative) Born 1962, Woking. Educated at Royal Naval School Tal Handaq and King`s College London. Former general practitioner. First elected as MP for Totnes in 2010. She was selected as the Conservative candidate in 2010 through an open postal ballot.
Past Results
2010
Con: 21940 (46%)
Lab: 3538 (7%)
LDem: 17013 (36%)
UKIP: 2890 (6%)
Oth: 2462 (5%)
MAJ: 4927 (10%)
2005*
Con: 21112 (42%)
Lab: 6185 (12%)
LDem: 19165 (38%)
UKIP: 3914 (8%)
Oth: 199 (0%)
MAJ: 1947 (4%)
2001
Con: 21914 (44%)
Lab: 6005 (12%)
LDem: 18317 (37%)
UKIP: 3010 (6%)
MAJ: 3597 (7%)
1997
Con: 19637 (37%)
Lab: 8796 (16%)
LDem: 18760 (35%)
Oth: 4024 (7%)
MAJ: 877 (2%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
SARAH WOLLASTON (Conservative) See above.
NICKY WILLIAMS (Labour)
JULIAN BRAZIL (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Bristol University. Teacher. Contested Brent South 2001, Falmouth and Camborne 2001, Totnes 2010.
JUSTIN HAQUE (UKIP) Born London. Educated at Wandsworth Comprehensive and Newcastle University. Stockbroker.
GILL COOMBS (Green)
Links
Comments - 321 Responses on “Totnes”
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  1. Dr Sarah Wollaston was re-adopted as Conservative candidate on 4th March:

    http://www.totnesconservatives.co.uk/news/totnes-conservatives-re-adopt-dr-sarah-wollaston-mp

  2. Dreadful woman – seems to want to set herself up as some kind of latter day Edwina Currie

  3. I think on a purely personal level she isn’t quite unpleasant as Currie, though she is rather full of herself.

  4. They don’t appear to be similar personalities. I know sarah w takes an independent line on health from her own job experience but fail to see anything objectionable. Looks like she is well placed against the lib dems here but never assume

  5. Sarah Wollaston is also pretty Eurosceptic, having rebelled against the government on the EU budget vote last November. Edwina Currie is rather pro-EU if my memory serves me well.

    She held off the Lib Dems pretty well in 2010. I think she can be quietly hopeful of being returned with an increased majority in 2015, though I heed Joe James B’s sage warning not to assume.

  6. “sarah w takes an independent line on health from her own job experience but fail to see anything objectionable”

    I’m surprised you don’t find government price fixing objectionable.
    I make the comparison with Edwina Currie of course because of this horrible nannying tendency which one expects to find in Socialistic parties like Labour and the LDs but hopes not to in a party which claims to champion the individual.
    I’ll certainly concede she is not personally obnoxious in a way that Edwina Currie is and I did not mean to imply that.

  7. She is definitely a patrician Tory, not a libertarian. Other than her Euroscepticism she appears to be on the left of the party, though

  8. I don’t think Wollaston is in Currie’s (hideous) league at all.

  9. One expects to endure lectures when one chooses to visit the GP, but God help us – we don’t want these people running the country. It would be like the Protectorate.
    The BMA have become one of the worst kind of lobbying groups, demanding all kinds of draconian legislation to inhibit the freedom of people to consume what they like.
    I realise that describing Sarah Woolaston as less obnoxious than Edwina Currie is very faint praise indeed.
    It was intended to be.

  10. that’s a fair point 🙂

  11. Seriously though, the description of this as a safe Conservative seat is a little surprising. However, having said that, it doesn’t look to be at genuine risk, so in a way it’s fair enough. At various times since WWII the Liberals have been said to be about to break through here, but it’s never actually happened (1997 was the closest they’ve come). Probably this is because rather alternative, new-age Totnes itself (and perhaps one might add Dartington next door) isn’t really typical of the constituency although there are other areas where the LDs can be competitive in a good year for them.

  12. Not my favourite tory either. Typical of medical doctors to think that they have the right to try to say whats we should and shouldn’t be doing. In my opinion they are often rather arrogant.

  13. Oh you mean the alcohol pricing.
    I’m totally opposed to that yes.

  14. Would have thought Sarah W was just the sort of MP that might attract swing voters between Con and LD.

    Would think she will comfortably hold this in 2015.

  15. This looks safe for the Conservatives on paper, but who knows maybe one day in the dim and distant future the Lib Dems will come back into play here.

    With a majority of 4, 927 (10.3%), this seat at this moment in time is technically speaking, not all that numerically safe. I personall would call it semi-marginal to be honest.

  16. I think the Tories should be ok here – we’ve held on in several difficult elections now.
    Labour does have a small base of support in the Townstal area of Dartmouth,
    and in parts of Totnes town, which is also a bit Green.

  17. Just spent some time around here- this has to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing constituencies in England. As to the politics, I think the Conservatives will hold on pretty comfortably next time. For instance, I can see the anti-Tory vote in Totnes itself becoming less concentrated around the Liberal Democrats. The Greens have some potential; Totnes is definitely a bohemian place and the bookshops are full of works on environmentalism and left-liberal politics.

  18. Sometimes a seat changes hands just when people least expect it: a good example is Wells at the last election. You get the impression that the LDs have what it takes to eventually win Totnes at some point but when that’ll be is anyone’s guess.

  19. Anthony Steen was just on BBC News. I’m amazed he got another job, let alone with a charity! Although it always amuses me when I see ex-MPs on tv now representing bankers etc. I suppose it’s slightly less annoying than Lembit, who in 2010 seemed to appear on Newsnight after losing his seat more often than when he was an MP!

  20. CON HOLD
    MAJ: 14.1%
    CON 39
    LD 25
    LAB 14
    UKIP 14
    GRN 6
    OTH 2

  21. I haven’t watched him on tv, so I am not sure which charity Lancs Observer is referring to. However, if it’s the Human Trafficking Foundations, it has been established by Steen himself in 2010.

  22. I’ve just come here from the Norm, Ponty and Cas thread where people are discussing the potential future Tory leaders and a point was made that the party needs to broaden its type of characters and candidates. Then they comment on this MP in particular as someone who shouldn’t be a Tory…

    People really want to have everything both ways.

  23. Andrea – I have no problem with Expenses’ offenders seeking to rehabilitate themselves. Indeed, Steen is actually still well regarded in Lpool for his charity work. But let’s not pretend that head’s of charities do not get paid. As long as his expenses are scrutinised, his words were laudable.

  24. Hi Paul – I think she’s quite good, and comes across well for the most part. I’m essentially a leftish Tory although I am probably quite right-wing on things such as crime (although I seriously question whether being tough on crime but can really be attributed to a wing).

    What I am certain of is that the Tories need more Sarah Woolaston’s and less Philip Davies’s.

  25. “But let’s not pretend that head’s of charities do not get paid.”

    I wasn’t suggesting it. Only that as the charity has been established by him (and others like Clare Short and Baroness Butler-Slos. Another trustee is David Heathcoat-Amory), it was easier to find a role there

  26. Chris K- I suspect the voters of Shipley (and other Pennine-style seats) would strongly disagree with you.

  27. @ Paul D

    I too am surprised by the hostility to Sarah Wollaston on this thread. While she may not be the most loyal of backbenchers, at least her pet issues are grounded in actual knowledge rather than ignorance of the facts, which I dare say drives some backbencher’s (on both sides) preoccupations.

    With regards to alcohol pricing, I think people are more likely to listen to a former GP who is qualified to talk about the issue, rather than someone who may or may not have been influenced by lobbyists.

  28. Being a GP does not qualify one (in itself) as understanding the subtleties of minimum pricing and their effect. Thats an economic argument not a medical one.

    We all know smoking and drinking is bad for you – it doesn’t take a GP to tell us that and it certainly doesn’t give her an authority to understand the complexities of this issue anymore than anyone else.

  29. Andrea – thanks. Wow, D H-A too?! It sounds like it’s run by failed MPs. Joe R – I agree. I think Cameron got a surprise with her biting back, when he probably expected a loyal Cameroon. Re pricing of alcohol, I don’t have a problem with public health GPs giving their view, however they should declare their politics eg in the NW Dr John Ashton was a Labour activist and another Dr wanted a hike in alcohol prices because he was Muslim.

  30. Labour activist, but hardly a Blairite loyalist – can’t think of anyone more likely to speak his mind!

  31. Just to put it out there, minimum alcohol pricing is not linked to being left or right, authoritarian or libertarian, it simply acknowledges one’s right to do what they want to their own body while accounting for the large negative externalities that alcohol causes. If we tax pollution and those with lower welfare standards for example, how exactly is the issue politically objectionable to any group?

  32. Prediction for 2015-
    Wollaston (Conservative)- 43%
    Liberal Democrats- 32%
    UKIP- 14%
    Labour- 9%
    Green- 2%

  33. I do suspect that the Greens will go up a bit at the expense of the LDs here. I also think that Labour will also do that to a slightly greater extent than shown above. Therefore I think the Tory majority will be slightly greater. The independent-mindedness of Wollaston will also help the Tories attract some centrist votes but there will be losses to UKIP in some parts. The Greens will do best in Totnes itself & Labour in Dartmouth.

  34. ‘The independent-mindedness of Wollaston will also help the Tories attract some centrist votes but there will be losses to UKIP in some parts. ‘

    UKIP did well in the Devon CC elections – but I doubt they will take that many votes of Wollaston – who seems well regarded locally and well capable of attracting support from Lib Dem and Labour voters

    I’d expect her to increase her majority

  35. Speaking as one of her constituents she will hold her seat easily.

    Whether she will still be a Conservative is a different matter…

  36. Where would she go?

  37. Julien Brazil selected as Lib Dem Candidate for Totnes:-
    (info from twitter)
    Daniel Tagg ‏@DevonDemocrat ·Mar 29
    Congrats to Julian Brazil who has been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Totnes at next year’s general election #libdem

    Was candidate in 2010.
    BR

  38. Sorry! Typo in first name: my text should read *Julian*
    BR

  39. Out of interest, how long has Totnes had this reputation of being a ‘trendy’ bohemian town? I read about how there’s a movement to keep business, etc as local as possible and there was some sort of backlash against a proposed Costa Coffee opening a few years ago.

    Brighton, Stroud, Hebden Bridge and some London districts have gained this reputation too.

  40. Neil, in part it gets the reputation you describe from the relatively recent (<25years) arrival of significant numbers who seem to espouse all 'alternative' practices from medicine to marriage and have a liking for 'waccy baccy'. Years ago I heard the the town's 'alternative females' described as 'wearing green sandals, floaty dresses and having a 400yard stare', a generalisation perhaps, but it will give you some idea. As for the menfolk they are less identifiable – possibly less numerous!

  41. Sarah Wollaston has called for increased spending on the NHS.

  42. I think the bohemian nature of Totnes stems from the location nearby of the Dartington Collge of Arts

  43. That’s probably right, although Dartington itself seems to be good for the Tories.

  44. Are the wards that fall within Totnes proper (i.e. not Salcombe, Darthmouth, Kingsbridge) mainly Tory?

    Last time I scanned the political composition of South Hams, the opposition parties are in low numbers. Lib Dems had about 4 councillors, Greens 3 and a single Labour representative in one of the Darthmouth wards.

  45. EDIT: Dartmouth!

  46. According to their website

    Totnes Town ward

    Gorman (Green)
    Vint (Green)

    Totnes Bridgetown

    Hannaford (Independent – formerly LibDem)
    Westacott (Independent)

    The county councillor for the Totnes Rural ward is also Green, though the previous Green county councillor defected to Labour

    Labour have held the Totnes Town ward before and given the LD collapse in the south-west at council level, are likely to be the main challengers in 2015

  47. “Labour have held the Totnes Town ward before and given the LD collapse in the south-west at council level, are likely to be the main challengers in 2015”

    In the Parliamentary seat?

  48. I’m sure Mike means in Totnes Town ward not the whole constituency.

  49. Yes, I did. I don’t think there will be a serious challenger in the parliamentary seat. The Tories should clear 50% here particularly as the MP is so independent -minded

  50. I bloody hope not.

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