Tunbridge Wells

2015 Result:
Conservative: 30181 (58.7%)
Labour: 7307 (14.2%)
Lib Dem: 4342 (8.4%)
Green: 2659 (5.2%)
UKIP: 6481 (12.6%)
Independent: 458 (0.9%)
MAJORITY: 22874 (44.5%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Kent. Most of the Tunbridge Wells council area.

Main population centres: Royal Tunbridge Wells, Paddock Wood, Pembury, Goudhurst, Hawkhurst,.

Profile: A semi-rural seat in West Kent. Royal Tunbridge Wells is a spa town (and, along with Leamington Spa and Wootton Bassett, one of only three towns in the UK granted the Royal prefix) associated in popular culture with the comfortable, curtain-twitching Middle classes and the mythical letters to the editor signed "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells". As well as the towns and villages surrounding Tunbridge Wells itself, such as Southborough, Pembury and Langton Green (birthplace of Subbuteo) the constituency stretches west across the Weald, taking in a swathe of rural villages like Goudhurst, Lamberhurst, Horsmonden, Hawkhurst and Sandhurst.

Politics: The seat has been Conservative since its creation in 1974, never having faced any serious challenge to their dominance at Parliamentary level (though the council was briefly controlled by the Liberal Democrats in the mid-90s). The seat was represented by Archie Norman between 1997 and 2005, the former Asda boss and sometime Chief Executive of the Conservative party who was expected to be a Tory highflier upon his election, but never really settled into the world of politics. He stood down in 2005 to be replaced by Greg Clark, the Conservative`s former head of policy.

Current MP
GREG CLARK (Conservative) Born 1967, Middlesborough. Educated at South Bank Comprehensive and Cambridge University. Former Director of policy for the Conservative party. First elected as MP for Tunbridge Wells in 2005. Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change 2008-2010. Minister of State for planning 2010-2012, Financial Secretary to the Treasury 2012-2013, Minister of State for Cities and the Constitution 2013-2015, Minister for Universities 2014-2015. Secretary of State for Communities since 2015. Former member of the SDP.
Past Results
Con: 28302 (56%)
Lab: 5448 (11%)
LDem: 12726 (25%)
UKIP: 2054 (4%)
Oth: 1790 (4%)
MAJ: 15576 (31%)
Con: 21083 (50%)
Lab: 8736 (21%)
LDem: 11095 (26%)
UKIP: 1568 (4%)
MAJ: 9988 (24%)
Con: 19643 (49%)
Lab: 9332 (23%)
LDem: 9913 (25%)
UKIP: 1313 (3%)
MAJ: 9730 (24%)
Con: 21853 (45%)
Lab: 9879 (20%)
LDem: 14347 (30%)
Oth: 417 (1%)
MAJ: 7506 (16%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
GREG CLARK (Conservative) See above.
JAMES MACCLEARY (Liberal Democrat)
Comments - 58 Responses on “Tunbridge Wells”
  1. ‘Tunbridge Wells was also the only council area in Kent to vote remain, and the only seat in Kent where the Tory vote went down last month (even in Canterbury, it increased slightly).’

    If I were a Tory my fear would be that those Leave voters, many of whom voted Tory for the first time in 2017, are far less likely to stick with them than those ex-Tories who voted for somebody else because they disagreed with Brexit, are to go back

    If Jeremy Corbyn can get them on-side, other less anti-business Labour leaders should have few difficulties

  2. Slightly late to this one but having seen Clark up close so to speak, he’s very capable and knows his brief.

    I wonder if he has the charisma to lead a party and suspect he might be one of those – generally much more useful – characters who would prefer to be an able Cabinet Minister where he can make a palpable difference to those issues that especially concern him and where he feels he can do the most good.

  3. ‘Anyone else find the Tory performance here a bit underwhelming? Actually lost around 2% since 2015.’

    Underwhelming certainly, but not surprising if you know Tunbridge Wells at all. It’s much more metropolitan in character nowadays. Pretty strongly Remain. I imagine Labour performed even better in the town itself.

  4. You are getting the words metropolitan and cosmopolitan mixed up. TW certainly isn’t metropolitan. I’m not sure cosmopolitan adequately explains what’s happened to the town either. From my observation of living in a neighbouring district it seems to have gone in a similar direction to towns like Lewes and Totnes. ie it has become arty, exclusive and snooty, containing more and more people who are wealthy, creative and allegedly liberal/progressive though in a somewhat disdainful way. As in the other towns I mentioned, it’ the kind of place where the locals tut tut if a McDonalds opens.

    TW constituency contains a sizeable hinterland outside the town, both suburban and rural. Some suburbs of the town, especially to the north like High Brooms, remain quite rough and WWC in character. This and the rural areas gave UKIP a respectable 13% of the vote in 2015 despite the trends in the town and the district voting Remain. In short I don’t think Labour are about to become competitive here though the Tory majority will be reduced a bit over time.

  5. Not really. By metropolitan I meant socially liberal, pro-EU, lots of young professionals, which is definitely the case with Tunbridge Wells today. It’s not much like the rest of Kent except Canterbury. Nearby Sevenoaks is very affluent but obviously more provincial in character.

  6. Dictionary definition of ‘metropolitan’: of, noting, or characteristic of a metropolis or its inhabitants, **especially in culture, sophistication, or in accepting and combining a wide variety of people, ideas, etc**

    The bit in asterisks is the pertinent part. Metropolitan is mostly a state of mind.

  7. Sounds like a nice place to move to.

  8. Indeed!

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