2015 Result:
Conservative: 24400 (43.5%)
Labour: 14606 (26%)
Lib Dem: 10152 (18.1%)
Green: 1332 (2.4%)
UKIP: 5481 (9.8%)
TUSC: 178 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 9794 (17.4%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: Eastern, Hertfordshire. The whole of the Watford council area and part of the Three Rivers council area.

Main population centres: Watford, Abbots Langley.

Profile: Covers the borough of Watford and some of the commuter villages around it, including Abbots Langley and Langleybury. It is part of the London commuter belt, but is also an economic centre in its own right, housing the headquaters of several major companies such as JD Wetherspoon, Mothercare and Camelot.

Politics: Historically this was a classic Labour vs Conservative marginal, regularly swapping between the parties with the ebb and flow of party popularity. It was won by Labour in the 1997 landslide, with Claire Ward becoming the second youngest MP at the age of 24. Since then the Liberal Democrats have made strong advances in the seat, narrowly taking second place from the Conservatives in 2005 and making this a tight three way marginal by the time of the 2010 election. The Conservative victory here was in the face of a double handicap - not only did they start in third place behind the Liberal Democrats, but their original candidate for the election, Ian Oakley, was forced to stand down in 2008, and was later convicted of criminal damage and harrassing his Lib Dem opponent. Richard Harrington eventually won anyway, with a small majority over the Liberal Democrats in second. The collapse of the Liberal Democrats in 2015 left him with a far safer majority.

Current MP
RICHARD HARRINGTON (Conservative) Born 1957, Leeds. Educated at Leeds Grammar School and Oxford University. Former Managing Director then Chairman of a holiday resort development company. First elected as MP for Watford in 2010. Junior international development minister since 2015.
Past Results
Con: 19291 (35%)
Lab: 14750 (27%)
LDem: 17866 (32%)
BNP: 1217 (2%)
Oth: 2084 (4%)
MAJ: 1425 (3%)
Con: 14634 (30%)
Lab: 16575 (34%)
LDem: 15427 (31%)
GRN: 1466 (3%)
Oth: 1292 (3%)
MAJ: 1148 (2%)
Con: 15437 (33%)
Lab: 20992 (45%)
LDem: 8088 (17%)
GRN: 900 (2%)
Oth: 955 (2%)
MAJ: 5555 (12%)
Con: 19227 (35%)
Lab: 25019 (45%)
LDem: 9272 (17%)
Oth: 234 (0%)
MAJ: 5792 (10%)

2015 Candidates
RICHARD HARRINGTON (Conservative) See above.
MATT TURMAINE (Labour) Head of Client Services for BBC Worldwide. Watford councillor since 2012.
DOROTHY THORNHILL (Liberal Democrat) Born 1955, Tenby. Former teacher. Former Watford councillor. Elected mayor of Watford since 2002.
NICK LINCOLN (UKIP) Born 1969. Businessman.
AIDAN COTTRELL-BOYCE (Green) Born 1987, Liverpool. Educated at Bristol University.
Comments - 587 Responses on “Watford”
  1. our printer has packed up so we are using the printer at the labour party office in watford, but they haven’t given anything away

  2. Tories wiped out in the Council. LDs 25 and LAB 11 I think

  3. Yes, the Lib Dems have taken overall control of the council

  4. Great result for the Lib Dems and a decent result for a Corbyn-led Labour Party but the result for the Tories here is absolutely dreadful! This is a classic surburban bellweather seat whete they should be doing very well! What happened? Was the Tories disaster here down to local issues?

  5. There are clearly lots of people in Watford who simply vote LD in local/mayoral elections and Tory in GEs. But a rather odd situation to have zero council seats but a 10,000 majority in the parliamentary seat!

    Can the LDs convert their local form into a serious run at the parliamentary seat? I severely doubt it, barring major changes in voting patterns – that ship probably sailed in 2005 and 2010.

  6. There was some slightly hysterical (as it turned out) talk from the Lib Dems that they might gain Watford last May, and not just from those usually prone to Plopwellesque optimism.

    You’d have to say that, given the strength of the local candidate and of the party generally in the borough, if the Lib Dems couldn’t win it in 2015, they won’t manage it in the near future either. And that’s before factoring in whether there will be boundary changes.

  7. They might not in 2020, but a concerted effort amongst the healthy activist base here could make it so by 2030 perhaps. That’s often how the Lib Dems operate – see, for example the way their vote share crept up a few percentage points every election in Westmorland and Lonsdale, overturning what was a 16000-strong Conservative majority in 1983 until the seat finally changed hands in 2005.

    It won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick, but it isn’t impossible.

  8. A nice gain for the Lib Dems here, retaking the council from NOC. The Conservatives lost their remaining councillors.

    Not sure about what’ll become of them in Watford in GE 2020 (could overtake Labour for 2nd place again?), but the LDs show real staying power in this local authority.

  9. The Tories continue to perform abysmally in Watford local elections despite winning a big majority at the general election.

  10. The main concern for the Conservatives here is with losing their complete local government base is the effect it has on reducing the troops on the ground available at general elections.

    All in all, it doesn’t bode well for holding the seat in the long term.

  11. Perhaps a lot of residents in Watford split-ticket vote. Vote Lib Dem locally but Conservative nationally. Of course keep in mind that the constituency has a few Three Rivers wards (are they Tory strongholds?)

  12. @Neil

    Yes, nationally. Though Three Rivers, like Watford, has a lot of LD local strength that has never converted to GEs – four of the five Three Rivers wards in the Watford constituency voted LD on Thursday.

    (Thanks to Andy JS for his fine spreadsheet allowing me to look that up quickly!)

  13. Watford votes leave (albeit narrowly). I do think now that remain is finished…

  14. Christ…narrow but who knows what will happen in Hertsmere and St Albans.

  15. St Albans will probably still vote Remain.

  16. Watford was one of my ultimate bellwether local authorities along with Canterbury and Chelmsford!

    It’s getting very spicey now! Haha!

  17. Hertsmere went Leave 51-49.

  18. CHRISTIAN congratulations on your prediction. I think JACK SHELDON was another one of us who stuck with LEAVE notwithstanding the final day phone polls giving REMAIN 10% / 8% / 7% leads.

    To think LEAVE were 6/1 this morning and I placed my money on them back in March at 11/4 thinking I got a good price!

  19. @DeepThroat

    Thanks! My prediction was based on what my friends and work colleagues were telling me as well as the sheer amount of ‘Vote Leave’ posters I saw displayed around Kent and Essex! I always knew in my heart LEAVE would win despite the betting odds and polls. I think my suggestion of ‘shy leavers’ has come to light and looks like they’ve swung it for LEAVE!

  20. I also continued to predict leave and was never expected sadly a remain vote.

  21. Yes you too BM.

    I said 47/53% in Feb, 47.5/52.5 in April and my Last prediction was 48.5/51.5%.

    Did you bet?

    I have lost a bit of money on turnout but overall I’m well up overall.
    If Cameron resigns by 1st July I’ll be even better off!

  22. Is Thornhill running again?

  23. Didn’t she get a peerage?

  24. Jack S is right.

    Whilst unusual it’s not uncommon. I can think of at least half a dozen seats where Parties fell to zero cllrs and then won the Parliamentary seat with 10,000 majority eg Liverpool Wavertree in 2001 (all LD Cllrs ie 0 Lab Cllrs didn’t stop Jane Kennedy). Equally there’s a few Tory examples: Grayling’s Epsom had 0 or 1 Tory Cllr for years.

  25. Re: Epsom
    Epsom and Ewell borough council was a conservative wipeout from 1971 till 2003. This is a sort of falsehood in a way as the council has been run Independents since 1937 under Residents Association banter who are generally Conservative supporters.

    In the late 1940s Epsom and Ewell council compsition was Residents 34 Labour 5 Conservative 1.

    Today it’s Residents 31 Conservative 4 Labour 3.

    The seat has always contained areas outside the borough which are even more Conservative than Epsom itself.

  26. Perhaps the residents association should run a candidate for Parliament

  27. They wouldn’t because there would be a danger of possibly splitting the right vote and letting Labour in through the back door if it was a 1945 or 1997 election.

  28. Oxley Hall & Hayling Ward By-election, 12.10.17:

    LibDem 672 41% (-7%)
    Cons 461 28% (+3%)
    Labour 428 26% (+9%)
    UKIP 35 2% (-7%)
    Green 31% 2%

    Changes from 2016 & a LD gain.

  29. Just to note: it’s Oxhey Hall, not Oxley.

  30. A bizarre use of figures from Lancs quoting the changes from 2016 which no site or person ever does since that’s not what’s being contested in this particular by-election, this was a Tory defence so the changes should be quoted from when the Tory councillor in question won the seat (2015) thus the ACTUAL changes are as follows via Britain Elects

    Lib Dem 41.3% (+18.5)
    Con 28.3% (-8.4)
    Lab 26.3% (+4.4)
    UKIP 2.2% (-16.4)
    Green 1.9% (+ 1.9)

    Lib Dem GAIN from Con

  31. Untrue (“which no site or person ever does”), as is sadly becoming usual with Rivers10’s hyperbole v facts.

    Iain’s Vote 2007/2012 does precisely that.

    Although a poster helpfully gives changes from the last 3 years if you want to compare these.

  32. Iain Dale is a stupid person’s idea of a political analyst. Thick as shit and sees the world totally in black and white. I can see why you are a fan Lancs.

  33. I share your dislike of Iain Dale Tristan, but the Iain that Lancs is referring to is Iain Lindley, who runs the Vote 2007 etc sites.

    On the topic of Dale, I was in a taxi home from Gatwick the other evening and the driver had his LBC phone in show on the radio. It was dross from end to end and hard to decide whether he or his phone in members of the public were the biggest simpletons. Both myself and the Moroccan taxi driver were in complete agreement on the matter, an unexpected bit of bonding.

  34. I wouldn’t go as far as yourselves. I am politically very different from Iain Dale is almost every sense but he doesnt strike me as a stupid man. He’s not a great thinker of our time but I prefer him to maybe Nick Ferrari. I particularly like Iain Dale’s seat by seat predictions despite being wrong in 2015 and 2017. What did annoy me was his arrogance. He mocked YouGovs model for not herding ironically when he said one of us will look stupid it was him. In 2015 he changed his forecast as tge election went on but this time he didnt bother despite being the biggest swing in a campaign ever

  35. I think he forecast Norwich South to be a Conservative gain.

    Norwich South! That was a ridiculous notion even when the Tories were 15-20 points ahead in the polls.

  36. Three Rivers’ LibDem Cllr Alison Wall has defected to the Conservatives.

    Amusingly, she states that she has always voted Conservative in General Elections and told the LibDems this prior to her selection!

  37. Richard Harrington has told Nicholas Watt of the BBC that he will resign as a minster if that is needed to stop a no deal brexit.

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