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”
  1. The main problem with my spreadsheet was with the result in places like Newham, Slough, Hounslow, Leicester, Birmingham, Barking&Dagenham. The formula should have taken educational level into account even more than it did and reduced the influence of the EM percentage. I’d already moved things in that direction beforehand but I should have gone even further.

  2. I imagine she’s feeling fine. She’s a very independent minded MP who wouldn’t be suited to a Cabinet or ministerial job anyway. And as Tim said, she at least carried her constituency (in the sense that it voted Remain).

    Any actual examples of careerist Tory MP’s who backed Remain, Maxim? Other than the awful Javid who has always been a sneaky character anyway.

  3. Tim Jones
    Well said I couldn’t agree more. Though for the record I always suspected South Hams would vote Remain, Totnes is a very bohemian place, while the rural parts will have voted leave Totnes proper probably voted Remain by a Londonesque margin.

  4. Totnes is lovely, I agree. I love the South West generally. Even if they had voted 90% to Leave, I would have forgiven them instantly 🙂

  5. “Wollaston effect here?. South Hams votes remain. 53-47. Surprising judging by the night.”

    South Hams isn’t just the constituency of Totnes. Approximately half of Devon South West, where ex SDPer Gary Streeter has been the Tory MP since 1992, or the boundary changes in 1997, is also in South Hams, which actually reaches the River Tamar north of Plymouth.

    The South Hams bits in Devon South West are generally up market commuter settlements for Plymouth such as Ivybridge, and places stuffed full of high ranking ex-officers etc such as Yealmpton and Noss Mayo, as well as many of the sort of agricultural communities referred to above, all of which I would expect to have been quite good for Remain, plus a huge housing development just north of Plymouth called Woolwell, next to Roborough village, which was probably good for Leave.

    Many Plymouthians who move into Woolwell, don’t realise they no longer live in Plymouth until their council tax bill arrives, when they realise that they no longer officially live in Plymouth.

  6. I wonder if the MP for this seat is still hoping for a government job?

  7. “South Hams isn’t just the constituency of Totnes” – not forgetting of course that a huge chunk of Totnes constituency is in Torbay council area.

    Don’t know about ward breakdowns but it wouldn’t surprise me if Totnes constituency actually voted LEAVE thanks to Brixham and Paignton’s western estates.

  8. If Sarah Wollaston is as desperate for a govt. job as Runnymede thinks then it is a bit strange that she’s built her whole career on criticising the government and rejected being a PPS (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/feb/10/creeping-patronage-house-commons-mps-whips).

  9. Would imagine she’s quite happy chairing the health select committee

  10. Another council byelection result, after coming so close last time the Lib Dems gained a seat in Totnes (this time Labour defence):

    Lib Dem: 44.2 (+ 22.6)
    Green: 27.1 (- 14.4)
    Ind: 21.3 (+ 21.3)
    Con: 7.4 (- 9.9)

    Labour didn’t defend; they picked a Corbynista who hasn’t been in the party long enough so ended up running as an independent. I think that was the only Labour council seat in south Devon (obviously not including Plymouth in that definition though)

  11. The figures don’t stack up, working out the differences from last time and your comments implies that Green were previously on 41.5%; Labour more than this as they were defending, let’s say 42%; and Lib Dem 21.5% – that’s already 105% plus 17.3% Tories makes 122% – plus UKIP or anyone else if they stood last time.

    Perhaps Green should read +14.4%?

  12. Labour were below the Greens, their vote share (compared to the Indy) hasn’t changed much – it’s multi member

  13. It’s a multi-member ward, I assume the changes are using the highest candidate from each party. Was in a bit of a rush when I found it earlier

  14. Also seems one of the Green councillors (also the county councillor) has defected back to the Lib Dems

  15. Apologies for three comments in such quick succession but found other figures from ALDC! Maybe these ones’ll make more sense

    Lib Dem: 44.2 % (+ 14.6)
    Green: 27.1 % (- 3.0)
    Indy: 21.3 % (+ 21.3)
    Con: 7.4 % (- 6.7)
    Lab: DNC (- 22.8)
    Ind: DNC (- 3.3)

  16. So the indy vote share was only down 1.5% on Labour’s highest vote share before, the councillor having got in from third place, with the Lib Dems taking first and Greens second last time, and again this time? All sounds a bit of a mess but not the disaster for Labour some people elsewhere have made it out to be.

  17. The first set of figures refers to the 2015 local elections, the second to the late 2015 by-election.
    Greens won the ordinary elections by just under 1k, but only stood 2 candidates for 3 seats, hence the Labour cllr being elected

  18. Just to confuse things even more I’m not sure whether ALDC are comparing to elections last May or to the last by-election which I think was about October! By-elections in multi-member wards are so confusing. Personally I think that either all wards should be single-seat or local elections should switch to a proportional system.

    Agreed it’s not a complete disaster but Labour have still lost their only councillor in the area without putting up a fight.

  19. It is fairly shambolic. But I doubt it changed the result much.

  20. Especially ive heard it was raised at the meeting that the candidate could not stand for Labour. But this was ignored. And apparently general discussion about Jeremy Corbyn took longer than the selection part of the meeting

  21. If you mean districts/unitaries in Dorset we currently have

    Poole: 0 Labour
    Bournemouth: 0 Labour
    East Dorset: 0 Labour
    Purbeck: 0 Labour
    North Dorset: 0 Labour
    West Dorset: 0 Labour

    There are a dozen in Weymouth & Portland, which bucks the trend.

    There’s a good rundown on this site:

    http://www.gwydir.demon.co.uk/uklocalgov/makeup.htm

    I count around 60 Districts with zero Labour councillors.

  22. I count 76 councils with no Labour councillors (73 in England)
    Also 36 councils with no Tory councillors (21 in England)

    *my counting may be one or two off.

  23. 36 with no Conservatives, though a lot more with only one or two. Oxford, Watford and Norwich are perhaps most surprising, given they hold parliamentary seats in all of them without a single councillor.

    I can’t find any Labour seats without Labour councillors, though Labour seats, being more urban, are less often coterminous with council areas so I may have missed one.

  24. I think all the seats you cite there are mostly or partly composed of areas outside the ‘core’ area (Oxford, Norwich, Watford) in the name – so less mysterious than it seems.

  25. @Maxim

    Norwich North doesn’t contain very much of Norwich at all only 4 wards of which the Tories could only win one, Catton Grove, in a very good year. The Tories vote in the seat comes from suburbs outside the city boundaries like Hellesdon, Sprowston and Thorpe St Andrews.

    Oxford West and Abingdon should be really Abingdon and Oxford North seen as the parts of Oxford it contains are mostly in the North of the city (North, St Margaret’s, Summertown, Wolvercote. Even Jerico and Osney is North West). It also contains Kidlington which is directly north of the city. It also isn’t a Tory gerrymander as by far the most logical thing to do for the 2010 boundary changes was to add more Oxford wards to the undersized Oxford East.

    The Tories also do have councillors in the Watford constituency from the Three Rivers wards of Carpenders Park (3 councillors), Oxhey Hall and hayling (1 councillor), Gade Valley (1 councillor). Though due to ward boundary changes some of the are now only part in the Watford constituency.

  26. I sometimes wonder whether some people really understand what Gerrymander means.

  27. You don’t understand what gerrymander means, do you?

  28. That’s a wonderful fact. You wanna see a bad gerrymandering check out the county division St Albans Rural. They’ve taken Rebourne and Wheathamstead which are either side of Harpenden and combined them, it looks like a pair of headphones.

  29. “the benefit of his own party”. The Tories weren’t in government at the time so surely it doesn’t count as a gerrymander?

    And speaking of bad gerrymanders (and this constituency of course) check out the Dartmouth and East Dart ward. The “East Dart” bit is practically two detached parts

  30. This actually raises a good question that I’m unsure about, who draws the boundaries for local authority wards? Does the Boundary commission do that as well? I’ve never heard of a nationwide ward review so how does it all work?

  31. None of those are gerrymanders. A gerrymander is a DELIBERATE attempt to make a constituency better for you. We have a non-partisan boundary commission so no seats are gerrymanders.

    People spouting on about this in Britain are truly irritating.

  32. Iain
    Its a well known fact that the consultation period of the boundary review is basically just an opportunity for local parties to try and pressure the BC into making changes that are more beneficial for their own party (aka gerrymandering) the most famous example of this being the review in the run up to the 97 election where the Tories (fearful of a near total wipe-out) actually did the opposite of what you normally do (spreading your vote out into many reliable seats) and instead tried to pack it into a few totally and utterly safe seats, Lab was obviously very happy to go along with this since it basically guarantied their victory. Can’t remember the entire list of seats but had the 97 election been fought on the 92 boundaries Lab would have also won the old Northwich, Norfolk SW, Aldridge-Brownhills and Billericay seats while the Lib Dems would have won Folkestone.

    This isn’t gerrymandering in the US sense of the politicians actually drawing the boundaries but it leads to similar results.

  33. Has anyone seen the changes to boundaries in Mansfield which heavily favour the Independent run council led by their Mayor

  34. Thank you Iain. Someone has half a brain on this.

    Conflating boundary changes by an independent body that have partisan effects, with deliberate manipulation by a party of boundaries for its own benefit is simply idiotic.

  35. Rivers10 – the boundary commission is under no obligation to accept these submissions. It may do so, but that’s because the commission thinks these are the best boundaries, not because they’ve suddenly become Tories (or whatever).

    I don’t know where you got this list from but, to take one, the Lib Dems would still have been nowhere near winning Folkestone & Hythe in 1997.

    Boundary reviews have their winners and losers (often different in different areas), but this is not gerrymandering.

  36. ‘Its a well known fact that the consultation period of the boundary review is basically just an opportunity for local parties to try and pressure the BC into making changes that are more beneficial for their own party’

    This is essentially true. Pretty much the only people interested enough to respond to the consultation are local parties. They might make fancy arguments about how the boundaries split apart a local community, are inappropriate due to some local geography etc. but really most of the time this is cover for a political argument, or at the very least motivated by partisan disadvantage on the proposed boundaries.

    However, this does not constitute a gerrymander unless the BC just accept everything the local parties say. There is little evidence that this is the case. Sometimes they may accept an argument as valid but, as Iain says, not because they support one side rather than the other. All parties will contribute to the consultation and in the final analysis the alterations from the first draft are unlikely to favour one side. If they do it is either because the arguments are stronger from one side, or because one side has failed to make the necessary submissions (given what is going on in the Labour Party at the moment I wouldn’t rule out this happening).

    Overall the review is certain to favour the Tories. But this is because of the legislation and population changes since the last review rather than the BC favouring them.

  37. @rivers10 I don’t think that is right. South West Norfolk, Aldridge-Brownhills and Folkestone and Hythe did not have any boundary changes in the 1997 review (so Labour and the Lib Dems would never have won them). Billericay was changed but as far as I can see the changes were helpful to Labour by removing some of the Tories best Thurrock wards and adding Labour voting Pitsea (probably heavily so at that time). At least for those seats the claim of a Tory ‘gerrymander’ is false

  38. All boundary reviews (at least post-war) have favoured the Tories. That is because there is a long-term trend, on average across the country, of declining populations in urban, working class areas typically represented by Labour and increasing populations in affluent areas typically represented by the Conservatives. That doesn’t mean that reviews won’t be unfavourable to the Tories in particular areas of the country, but overall they will be favourable. That is also why historically Labour have tried to avoid boundary reviews and the Tories have been keen to push them through.

  39. Stupendous LD momentum here, given that Wolly is practically a Cleggdem anyway it won’t be as satisfying but certainly Farron will see to it that the Liberals have at least a 30% majority here come 2020

  40. @Maxim that might be true but it wasn’t true for the examples he gave.

  41. @Maxim also a gerrymander is something drawn deliberately for partisan intent not something that just happens to benefit the party. Take OWAB for example, before 2010 Oxford East was too small so had to gain something thus the commission moved in Carfax and Holywell (the most logical geographically and demographically) to top it up. This happened to help the Tories a lot in OWAB but it wasn’t a gerrymander as the reasons for the boundary changes were constituency size not partisan reasons.

    @Matt. While the St Albans Rural ward is pretty strange its existence is actually harmful to the Tories as it pack 2 of their very strong district wards into one county ward. What would be far more helpful for them would be if Wheathampstead was paired with Sandridge creating a very safe division there and Redbourn was paired with Batchwood creating a county ward they would almost always win due to them being extremely strong in Redbourn and Labour doing abysmally there.

  42. Truth be told I cant really remember the exact seats that were effected in the 97 review, I know for a fact Lab would have won the old Northwich, the others I’m less sure about.

  43. That probably would help them and to an extent I can see combining Wheathamstead and Sandridge making sense but I don’t think combining Redbourne and Batchwood could be more justifiable than it currently is. It probably makes far more sense to combine Redbourne with one of the Harpenden wards.

  44. @Matt yes you could do that but then the Tories would still end up with three county council seats up there (one confined to Harpenden, one Harpenden ward linked to Redbourn, one Harpenden ward linked to Wheathampstead). But I think you are missing the point slightly, you said St Albans Rural ward was a gerrymander and while it is strange/ugly it is hardly a gerrymander (boundaries drawn for partisan intent) because the Tories are going to get at least three county council seats in the north of St Albans borough which ever way you cut it. My point was a Tory gerrymander would involve pairing Redbourn to Batchwood thus increasing their county council seat total from North St Albans to four.

  45. I wasn’t missing the point but merely making an observation. I take your point. However, I’m interested to know how the 3,000 new homes SADC are building in Redbourne will impact on the seat in the future. I know the parish council are claiming they will become a corner of Hemel Hempstead. The Napsbury estate turned London Colney from a safe Labour seat into a marginal. The old Oaklands site hasn’t really affected Clarence though and the new Verulam estate hasn’t affected Verulam.

  46. @Matt I don’t know much about it. What type of homes are they?

  47. ‘The Napsbury estate turned London Colney from a safe Labour seat into a marginal’

    Not at all surprised by that. Most of the properties there fall well into the luxury category.

  48. According to the local press the Greens are apparently trying to get Labour and the Lib dems not to stand here in return for not opposing them elsewhere.

    While Wollaston is all but guaranteed to get back in this seems a little optimistic. Totnes itself might be full of fairy folk but as the rest of the constituency is full of farmers and small business owners I’m not sure they’re actually likely to make much impact.

    I can’t see them abandoning a seat that they were so close in for so long, but that said they are yet to select a candidate and up until a few days ago their local website didn’t even work so they don’t appear to treating this it as a priority.

  49. uh, the “them” in the last paragraph is the Lib Dems

  50. Hilariously the Yougov model is forecasting a 20-32% vote share for Labour here.

    If that happens hell will be looking icy on June 9th.

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