Truro & Falmouth

2015 Result:
Conservative: 22681 (44%)
Labour: 7814 (15.2%)
Lib Dem: 8681 (16.8%)
Green: 4483 (8.7%)
UKIP: 5967 (11.6%)
Mebyon Kernow: 563 (1.1%)
NHA: 526 (1%)
Independent: 792 (1.5%)
Others: 37 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 14000 (27.2%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Cornwall. Part of the Cornwall council area.

Main population centres:



Current MP
SARAH NEWTON (Conservative) Born 1961, Gloucestershire. Educated at Falmouth School and Kings College London. Former banker and Director of Age Concern. Former Merton councillor. First elected as MP for Truro & Falmouth in 2010. Government whip since 2015.
Past Results
Con: 20349 (42%)
Lab: 4697 (10%)
LDem: 19914 (41%)
UKIP: 1911 (4%)
Oth: 1897 (4%)
MAJ: 435 (1%)
Con: 16686 (32%)
Lab: 6991 (14%)
LDem: 24089 (47%)
UKIP: 2736 (5%)
Oth: 1062 (2%)
MAJ: 7403 (14%)
Con: 16231 (32%)
Lab: 6889 (14%)
LDem: 24296 (48%)
UKIP: 1664 (3%)
Oth: 1215 (2%)
MAJ: 8065 (16%)
Con: 15001 (26%)
Lab: 8697 (15%)
LDem: 27502 (48%)
Oth: 1865 (3%)
MAJ: 12501 (22%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Truro & St Austell

2015 Candidates
SARAH NEWTON (Conservative) See above.
STUART RODEN (Labour) Trade union officer.
SIMON RIX (Liberal Democrat) Educated at University College London. Marketing professional. Cornwall councillor.
JOHN HYSLOP (UKIP) Born 1953. Consultant radiologist.
KAREN WESTBROOK (Green) Driving instructor. Contested Cornwall and West Plymouth 1994 European election.
RIK EVANS (NHA) Born Canada. Businessman.
STANLEY GUFFOGG (Principles of Politics) Educated at Oxford University. Lecturer.
LOIC RICH (Independent) Self employed copywriter and journalist. Cornwall councillor since 2013. Contested Truro and Falmouth 2010 for Mebyon Kernow.
Comments - 256 Responses on “Truro & Falmouth”
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  1. If Matthew Taylor hadn’t retired, would he have stood here or St Austell and Newquay, but more vitally, would he have won?

  2. Here.

    And Yes.

  3. It’s pretty obvious IMO that the Tories were only able to win a seat containing Truro for the first time since 1974 because of the combination of boundary changes and the retirement of the sitting LD MP. Now that they’ve snatched the seat they need to take advantage of incumbency in a big way because if the LDs win it back the chances are they’ll hold it again for a long time as they did before.

  4. LD seats do sometimes seem to become vulnerable if an MP retires – they can be hard to shift otherwise unless they are dealt with quickly (like Guildford)

  5. David Penhaligon’s electoral record in Truro-
    1. February 1974- 20, 932 (35.95%, +18.28%)
    2. October 1974- 22, 549 (39.82%, +3.87%, 464 (0.82%) majority)
    3. 1979- 33, 571 (52.84%, +13.02%, 8, 708 (13.71%) majority)
    4. 1983- 31, 279 (57.33%, +4.49%, 10, 480 (19.21%) majority)

  6. Here is a lost of things that I think would have happened had Penhaligon not died in 1986-
    1. He would have challenged for the leadership and might have even beat Paddy Ashdown. I then think he would have led the party until 1997 by which time he would have been replaced by Ashdown. From that I deduce that Ashdown would still have gone in 1999, and that the next leader after that would still have been Kennedy.
    2. Penhaligon’s vote share and majority may well have increased again in 1987, particularly given his high profile and media appearances, especially on television. He then would have likely done this again in 1992, before retiring in 1997 and passing the seat onto a successor who may still have been Matthew Taylor.
    3. The party would have made more gains in South West England had Penhaligon been leader given he was Cornish, and that may have meant all of the Cornish seats bar South East Cornwall going their way IMHO.
    4. On his retirement he would have been made Lord Penhaligon of Truro or something along those lines I would have thought.

  7. A closer look at the result here at the October 1974 Election-
    Penhaligon (Liberal)- 22, 549 (39.82%, +3.87%)
    Dixon (Conservative)- 22, 085 (39.00%, -1.35%)
    Long (Labour)- 11, 606 (20.50%, -1.73%)
    Whetter (Mebyon Kernow)- 384 (0.68%, -0.78%)

    Majority- 464 (0.82%)
    Swing- +2.61% From Con to Lib.

  8. A closer look at the result here at the 1979 Election-
    Penhaligon (Liberal)- 33, 571 (52.84%, +13.02%)
    Brown (Conservative)- 24, 863 (39.13%, +0.13%)
    Tidy (Labour)- 4, 689 (7.38%, -13.12%)
    Whetter (Cornish Nationalist)- 227 (0.36%, -0.32%, compared to Mebyon Kernow)
    Hedger (National Front)- 182 (0.29%, N/A)

    Majority- 8, 708 (13.71%)
    Swing- +6.445% From Con to Lib.

  9. Thanks this is useful

  10. @Joe James B
    Cheers. Thought it would be interesting.

  11. It is difficult to decide what the influence of the UA election results will be on the GE (if any) given the large number of Independents.
    The Liberal Democrats will be generally unhappy, Labour pleased, Greens disappointed, UKIP chuffed and the Conservatives confident of holding the seat in 2015,.
    I am sure they are right to be confident as the Liberal Democrats, with the odd exception, had an uncomfortable night.
    I would guess that Labour, based on its strength in Falmouth, will aim to close the gap on the Liberal Democrats and, as has been shown in a couple of town council byelections, there is still a strong Labour vote in Truro if it is effectively targetted (not done during the UA elections).
    I don’t see this being the strongest place for UKIP though they will look to poll well. I would see a fairly comfortable hold for the Conservatives and, dependent on candidate and campaign, Labour could push the Liberal Democrats for second place, although I would think it should be beyond them in 2015. It would be surprising if the Lib Dems fall below a third of the vote and Labour be much above 20%.

  12. The Lib Dems will keep second here surely.

    It is technically one of their top targets, but as you rightly say CatholicLeft, Labour’s strength in Falmouth will give them a good increase here, and this seat of course is better for them arguably than the old Truro and St Austell, where they had little natural vote left.

  13. A closer look at the result in February 1974-
    Dixon (Conservative)- 23, 493 (40.35%, -8.94%)
    Penhaligon (Liberal)- 20, 932 (35.95%, +18.28%)
    White (Labour)- 12, 945 (22.23%, -10.81%)
    Whetter (Mebyon Kernow)- 850 (1.46%, N/A)

    Majority- 2, 561 (4.40%)
    Swing- +13.61% From Con to Lib.

  14. A closer look at the result in 1983-
    Penhaligon (Liberal)- 31, 279 (57.3%, +4.46%)
    Buddell (Conservative)- 20, 799 (38.1%, -1.03%)
    Beecroft (Labour)- 2, 479 (4.6%, -2.78%)

    Majority- 10, 480 (19.2%)
    Swing- +2.745% From Con to Lib.

  15. Thanks – the libs would not have had much more to get in 1983

  16. An insanely optimistic prediction from a labour point of view from Catholicleft.

    I would be surprised if labour reached half the lib dem vote here.

  17. ”Thanks – the libs would not have had much more to get in 1983”

    No problems JJB.

    What an electoral wizard Mr. Penhaligon was…

  18. Matthew Taylor’s electoral record in Truro and Truro and St Austell-
    1. 1987 by-election- 30, 599 (60.4%, +3.1%, 14, 617 (28.9%) majority)
    2. 1987- 28, 368 (49.0%, -8.3%, -11.4%, 4, 753 (8.2%) majority)
    3. 1992- 31, 230 (50.5%, +1.5%, 7, 570 (12.2%) majority)
    4. 1997- 27, 502 (48.5%, -2.0%, 12, 501 (22.0%) majority) (I don’t have the notionals to hand)
    5. 2001- 24, 296 (48.3%, -0.2%, 8, 065 (16.0%) majority)
    6. 2005- 24, 089 (46.7%, -1.6%, 7, 403 (14.4%) majority)

  19. What happened to the Conservative vote in Truro during the David Penhaligon era-
    1. Piers Dixon (February 1974, 23, 493, 40.35%, -8.94%)
    2. Piers Dixon (October 1974, 22, 085, 39.00%, -1.35%)
    3. R Brown (1979, 24, 863, 39.13%, +0.13%)
    4. Philip D. Buddell (1983, 20, 799, 38.1%, -1.03%)

    What happened to the Labour vote in Truro during the David Penhaligon era-
    1. MW White (February 1974, 12, 945, 22.23%, -10.81%)
    2. F Long (October 1974, 11, 606, 20.50%, -1.73%)
    3. BM Tidy (1979, 4, 689, 7.38%, -13.12%)
    4. Janet Mary Beecroft (1983, 2, 479, 4.6%, -2.78%)

  20. Looking at this seat, it seems (from afar) surprising that the Tories won in 2010. The previous 4 GE’s show a LD majority of between 12-22%, the Tory candidate it seems was imported in from London with no seeming connections with the area, yet took a somewhat surprising gain I would suggest. Were there issues with the incumbent Lib Dem MP? Were there other factors that led to this sizable swing here against the LDs in what was overall a decent GE for them? I am tentatively predicting this seat as my sole LD gain at the 2015 GE… unless there is a factor of which I am unaware!

  21. “Looking at this seat, it seems (from afar) surprising that the Tories won in 2010. The previous 4 GE’s show a LD majority of between 12-22%”

    But this seat did not exist before 2010.

    It’s always hard to know for sure in Cornwall because independents do so well in local elections, however I think it’s the case that Truro was the better half of the old Truro & St Austell seat for the Tories, whilst Falmouth was the best half of the Falmouth & Camborne seat. Putting the two good halves together gave the Tories a winnable seat. Also Matthew Taylor stood down and the Lib Dems always fall back when an incumbent retires.

  22. Thanks for the info HH. I must admit I know little about the demographics of Truro/St Austell/ Falmouth or Camborne but I had assumed that they weren’t radically different from each other, nevertheless I accept your points. Also I didn’t realise this was Matthew Taylors old seat, who was generally a popular MP as I recall. This may account for it but I still believe that this represents one of their best last hopes for an “against the tide” gain in 2015, no?

  23. I’m not an expert either.

    However for the reasons I gave, I believe Camborne & Redruth was a more surprising Tory gain than this seat, and in that seat the expenses scandal was a major issue.

  24. Was Taylor’s success here down to what Penhaligon had already achieved between 1974 and 1983, and did he merely sustain the Lib Dems’ strong position in Truro?

    It strikes me as odd in particular that at the by-election when he was first elected that his majority was bigger than the biggest Penhaligon got in 1983, as was his vote share, though then again given the traditional boost the Liberals/SDP tended to get in byelections, what with these being their specialty, perhaps it wasn’t altogether a surprise. Yet in 1987 Taylor’s majority was heavily cut even against 1983, almost as though the by-election had never happened…

  25. You’ve answered your own question really. Naturally the Tories underperformed in a by-election whilst in government (though you could hardly call it mid-term) plus there waould have beena considerable sympathy vote because of the circumstances of Penhaligon’s loss. But come the general election ‘normal’ voting patterns were reasserted to an extent and the Liberals had lost Penhaligon’s incumbency while Taylor had not yet had the opportunity to build up much of his own.

  26. “It strikes me as odd in particular that at the by-election when he was first elected that his majority was bigger than the biggest Penhaligon got in 1983, as was his vote share”

    Not sure why that would strike you as odd

    The Tories were in government, the Liberals the main opposition locally, and governments always underperform in by-elections. Also there may have been some sympathy vote due to the manner of Penhaligon’s death.

    It’s perhaps also natural that some of Penhaligon’s personal vote disappeared in the 1987 GE, after all Matthew Taylor was nothing like as charismatic and extremely young at the time. In 1987 the Tories in general did pretty well in Cornwall.

  27. Why did I bother to post exactly what Pete said

  28. Snap

  29. The Results is so easy to answer with an identikit post that we were almost the same word for word

  30. Yes that’s pretty much what I suspected. I assume that was Pete Whitehead?

    Of course when Taylor was indeed given the opportunity to build his own incumbency vote he got a 1.5% increase in 1992, which was still down 6.8% on Penhaligon’s best showing in 1983, and would remain for the rest of his career his best percentage share of the vote at a general election (though not his highest majority).

    But the results Taylor got in Truro in vote share terms certainly seemed to indicate that he didn’t enjoy a following anywhere near on the level of his predecessor- the biggest irony of all though is that he managed to get a higher majority in Truro and St Austell in a general election (1997) than Penhaligon ever did, albeit with a share of the vote dramatically smaller.

  31. Why is the biggest irony of all that the Tory vote collapsed in Truro in 1997. It collapsed everywhere.

  32. I have just read your reply Hemmelig which incredibly was almost exactly the same as Pete’s. Are you sure your’e not both the same person? 🙂

  33. Well it’s ironic in a way really given it was only landslide conditions that probably enabled Taylor to benefit from the uniform collapse in the Tory vote and to obtain a majority that is the biggest ever achieved by the Lib Dems in Truro in a general election, excluding the special circumstances of the 1987 by-election.

  34. As we would have been typing at the same time that’s impossible.

    Pete has a very different posting style to me – more precise and less shooting from the hip. I couldn’t hope nor really want to match his knowledge of elections.

  35. What I meant, The Results, is that a lot of the questions you ask are quite rhetorical, therefore it’s quite likely that people will answer them in a very similar way.

  36. I was only joking. It was quite bizarre though TBH.

    I just wanted clarification incidentally with regards to the circumstances that contributed to Taylor falling so heavily back after such a good result at the by-election. But clearly a combination of national circumstances being by far more relevant in the context of the general election later on in 1987 as well as the first effects of Penhaligon’s substantial personal vote being lost would go some way to explaining it.

  37. Not sure it matters that much now.

    To return to Manchesterman’s point, I would say Camborne & Redruth would be a more likely Lib Dem regain than Truro & Falmouth.

  38. I wonder if the loss of incumbency hit the Lib Dems in a pretty big way not only here but in South East Cornwall as well?

    But Matthew Taylor has benefited as far as I can see in a few ways since he retired from the Commons- being made a member of the House of Lords, for example.

  39. Matthew Taylor used to appear on programmes like Question Time in the 1990s as a young(ish) man and there seemed to be a feeling that he was destined for great things in the party in 10-15 years time. But it never quite happened.

  40. If I had a gun put to my head, and I were told to choose whether Truro/Falmouth or Camborne/Redruth was a better chance for an LD gain, I’d choose Truro & Falmouth because there’s less likelihood of a major rebound in the Labour vote than in the other seat. I know that Labour sometimes polls OK in Falmouth but it is rare that it happens anywhere else in that constituency.

  41. ‘I wonder if the loss of incumbency hit the Lib Dems in a pretty big way not only here but in South East Cornwall as well?’

    In South East Cornwall the Lib Dems did themselves little favours by picking a controversial candidate, whereas the Tories adopted the usual Lib Dem practice of picking a likeable local

    Cambourne & Redruth should be a three-way marginal, so Falmouth & Truro probably is a better prospect of a LIb Dem gain although personally I think their efforts will go on defending what they have, despite their perfornance in Cornwall in 2010, where the party did considerably worst than expected

  42. Colin Breed’s departure did I think hurt the Lib Dems’ chances in SE Cornwall. He was a fairly conservative Lib Dem, especially on social issues.

  43. ‘Colin Breed’s departure did I think hurt the Lib Dems’ chances in SE Cornwall.’

    That’s undeniably true – as did Taylor’s departure hear – but I still think a better candidate could have made a better fight of it

  44. Yes the new candidate was probably not the best choice for that constituency.

  45. It’s funny because if you look at Taylor’s result in Truro and St Austell in 2005, his vote share and majority both went down for the second election running, and I kind of get the feeling that pattern might well have continued for him here if he’d contested this new seat and that he would have won it easily.

  46. Given the Tory majority of only a few hundred it’s pretty certain Matthew Taylor would have held the seat, but I doubt my more than 1000 or so. Remember his personal vote would only have been present in half of this seat. He might even have decided to contest St Austell & Newquay which defied expectations and voted Lib Dem, whilst this seat did the opposite.

  47. If you look at the notionals for this seat had it existed in 2005, there would have been a comfortable Lib Dem majority. Next door in St Austell and Newquay, the notional majority on Rallings and Thrasher’s figures was safer, maybe partly explaining why they managed to hold that, even with a new candidate.

  48. So how many thousands of personal votes do you think a relative nobody like Matthew Taylor had in Truro?

    I can’t believe it was more than 1500-2000 given that half of his seat was split off. Most MPs that aren’t Lib Dems have no more than 500 personal votes (according to Robert Waller).

    There was a national swing from LD to Con between 2005 and 2010.

  49. Robert Waller is generally right about that, but I’d contend that in my own party Steve Pound, John McDonnell & Barry Gardiner for starters all have personal votes which are greater than that, with Pound’s particularly high. One only has to compare Pound’s personal result with the Ealing council elections held on the same day to see that. Indeed, some Labour Party people in Ealing think that Pound won every ward, even Cleveland.

  50. ……and you can see that my own personal preferences aren’t a factor in what I have just said, seeing that Gardiner is broadly fairly Blairite, Pound on the centre-left of the Party if anything, and McDonnell on the hard left.

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