Wells

2015 Result:
Conservative: 26247 (46.2%)
Labour: 3780 (6.7%)
Lib Dem: 18662 (32.8%)
Green: 2331 (4.1%)
UKIP: 5644 (9.9%)
Independent: 76 (0.1%)
Others: 81 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 7585 (13.3%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Somerset. Part of Mendip council area and part of Sedgemoor council area.

Main population centres: Wells, Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet, Burnham on Sea.

Profile: A largely rural Somerset seat that includes the mendip hills and part of the Somerset levels to the South. Wells is England`s smallest city - a pleasant cathedral city at the foot of the mendip hills with a population of only around 10,000. The seat also includes the town of Glastonbury with its famous festival and its links with mysticism and Arthurian legend; Shepton Mallet, associated with the cider industry and the production of Babycham; the village of Cheddar, famous for giving its name to the cheese and for the Cheddar Gorge.

Politics: The seat has traditionally been Conservative, but was briefly held by the Liberal Democrats between 2010 and 2015. Arguably the seat would have fallen to the Liberal Democrats in 1997 were it not for a strong performance by the then Labour candidate Michael Eavis, the dairy farmer who has organised the Glastonbury festival since 1970.


Current MP
JAMES HEAPPEY (Conservative) Educated at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, Bristol and Birmingham University. Former project manager and army officer. First elected as MP for Wells in 2015.
Past Results
2010
Con: 23760 (43%)
Lab: 4198 (8%)
LDem: 24560 (44%)
UKIP: 1711 (3%)
Oth: 1635 (3%)
MAJ: 800 (1%)
2005
Con: 23071 (44%)
Lab: 8288 (16%)
LDem: 20031 (38%)
UKIP: 1575 (3%)
MAJ: 3040 (6%)
2001
Con: 22462 (44%)
Lab: 7915 (15%)
LDem: 19666 (38%)
UKIP: 1104 (2%)
Oth: 167 (0%)
MAJ: 2796 (5%)
1997
Con: 22208 (39%)
Lab: 10204 (18%)
LDem: 21680 (38%)
Oth: 92 (0%)
MAJ: 528 (1%)

Demographics
2015 Candidates
JAMES HEAPPEY (Conservative) Educated at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, Bristol and Birmingham University. Project manager and former army officer.
CHRIS INCHLEY (Labour) Born Somerset. Educated at Radstock College. Gardener. Mendip councollor.
TESSA MUNT (Liberal Democrat) Born 1959, Surrey. Legal Executive specializing in landlord and tenant issues. Contested Suffolk South 2001, Ipswich 2001 by-election, Wells 2005. MP for Wells 2010 to 2015.
HELEN HIMS (UKIP)
JON COUSINS (Green) Born Somerset. Business Development worker.
PAUL ARNOLD (No description) Private investigator.
GYPSY WATKINS (Independent) Singer.
DAVE DOBBS (Birthday Party) Born Lewes. Educated at Longhill High School. Puppeteer. Contested Bristol mayoralty 2012.
Links
Comments - 225 Responses on “Wells”
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  1. Votes cast in local elections in Wells constituency, (one division is divided between this seat and Bridgwater):

    Con: 11,138 (40.42%)
    LD: 6,720 (24.39%)
    UKIP: 4,206 (15.27%)
    Lab: 3,326 (12.07%)
    Green: 1,868 (6.78%)
    Ind: 297 (1.08%)

  2. These figures look bad for the Lib Dems, but I wouldn’t rule out Munt’s incumbency though. Fascinating figures Andy – I’m sure we’re all extremely grateful.

  3. Hope I’m not boring people with all the data…

  4. Not at all

  5. Not remotely. We needed lots of new information and you are providing it very well Andy.

  6. you doing a great job andy

  7. Andy: good grief, no. I think your work is doing the site a lot of good.

  8. Absolutely, it’s exactly the sort of thing the site is for.

  9. More data, less Tory navel gazing please

  10. These are truly grim figures for the LDs & although there will be some first-time incumbency factor a Tory gain seems by far the likeliest result.

  11. I agree. This is a very likely Tory gain. I can’t see the Lib Dems surviving here. In fact, I can see the LDs losing all their seats in the Somerset county except for Yeovil.

  12. I think Munt may have a chance due to first incumbency but on balance I suspect a Con gain.

    Secondly just a point of the election in general (pardon the pun):
    What a BITTER result it would be for Tories if Labour were the largest party but having less than 20 more seats than Tories meaning that Tories MAY have had more seats then Labour had Boundary Changes and Seat Equalisation passed.

  13. Conservative gain here IMO. Even after the expenses row involving David Heathcoat-Amory, the Lib Dems could only win this by a tiny margin. Other than her views on Trident, not sure if Tessa Munt has really managed to create a unique personality for herself as an MP.

  14. CON GAIN
    CON 35
    LD 30
    LAB 16
    UKIP 12
    GRN 7

  15. Windsofchange, I believe this may be a Conservative gain, given that Tessa sides with the Conservatives almost all the time, but the figures for 2015 will look different in my opinion:

    Con 40
    LD 33
    Lab 14
    UKIP 9
    Green 3
    Others 1

    In the Southwest, UKIP has shown to be able to damage the Lib Dem vote the same way it normally damages the Conservative vote. Thus, Southwest marginals like this one will be particularly interesting to watch in 2015,I think!

  16. You have the UKIP damaging the Conservatives for 3% and the LibDems for 11%… that is not “the same way”…

  17. I was factoring in Labour damage to the Lib Dem vote as well…Labour will have a harder time damaging the Conservative vote in a constituency like this, and places like Wells do not have a strong Labour-voting base anyway. UKIP will take Conservative votes, but conversely the Conservatives may take a few votes from the Lib Dems. This explanation just for this seat,which I believe is reasonable, tells you why you should not rely on uniform swings or sites like electoral calculus to make predictions for the 2015 general election.

  18. Windsofchange- I find it extremely hard to believe that the Green Party will get 7% of the vote here- I don’t believe they have any local base and the greens will be dented by UKIP as some of their protest vote goes… So you know anything I don’t which makes 7% more likely?

    I think the greens will get 2-3% nationally and will save their deposits in a few seats- probably 8-10 but wells will not be one of them

  19. yes I think the above contribution is correct. WOC very rarely fails to be grossly over-optimistic about the Green vote.

  20. Might be wrong here, but hasn’t WOC said some stuff on the lines of Lib Dem voters defecting to the Greens or something? My mind’s a little fuzzy and I can’t be bothered to look back at his old posts right now.

    I wouldn’t rule it out in certain cases (e.g. a a portion of them in Norwich, Brighton and maybe parts of London) but even so the ex-Lib Dem vote is coming over predominantly to Labour.

    As for Wells, it’s in the South West. A region where the Greens haven’t really built up much of a following, save for a few pockets in Bristol and the odd seat in Devon and Cornwall. Not to mention that Labour was never in contention in Somerset anyway. It’s traditionally one of the strongest LD regions and not the case of Labour’s vote being split in vast rural seats.

    As I wrote a few months ago, I predict a Tory gain. The UKIP vote might sap Tessa Munt’s vote here from the natural protest element of the electorate. And look at how narrowly she gained it, despite David Heathcoat-Amory’s expenses. With a scandal like that one might have expected at least a 3000 majority or so.

  21. Should be an easy Conservative gain. Incumbency isn’t powerful enough to protect a majority of 800 and UKIP don’t look spectacular here.

  22. If the Lib Dems won Wells as early as 1997 and built up good majorities and held it in 2010, next year would have been much easier. It took them several attempts to win here and with only a majority of 800 coming off the last MP’s expenses, doesn’t look like a good outlook.

  23. Sarah Yong selected for LDs.

  24. No Andy wrong seat.

  25. I think the Tories could well take this back, possibly by a margin between 500-1,000 votes.

  26. The Results- I foresee a 2005election- majority personally.

  27. Agree with you there, Tory.

    One could say that if UKIP didn’t field a candidate in 2010 in Wells, Heathcoat-Amory might have held here, albeit narrowly. Assuming they took those 1000+ votes from Conservative leaning voters.

  28. This is the south-west, though – where LibDem voters do seem quite capable of switching to UKIP

  29. “No Andy wrong seat.”

    Thanks Barnaby, I thought I was on the Somerton & Frome page.

  30. Flooding is doing Tory hopes here no good…

  31. Farage is at Burrowbridge with a Sikh in tow

  32. Well it’s not exactly helping the Lib Dems either!

  33. Was he pulling him along by a rope around his neck? To be hung, drawn and quartered?

  34. Farage looked like he was dressed for a grouse shoot. Barbour jacket and gentleman’s tweed cap.

    Beyond immediate assistance, the government needs to focus its long term resources away from patching up failing flood defences and towards adaptation, especially in the more sparsely populated areas. It might in some cases be cheaper to compensate people to live somewhere else rather than keep having to clean up after the multiple floods which are coming our way in the years ahead. It astounds me that politicians and the media ignore the reality which any GCSE Geography student could tell you – that sea defences make flooding and erosion worse elsewhere, that dredging a river creates potentially worse flooding downstream, and that deforesting hills and degrading soils with too much fertiliser is asking for trouble.

    If we do have to suffer a Miliband government from 2015 then maybe at least he will be able to stand up to big agribusiness on the latter points by forcing a big re-forestation effort, and controls on fertiliser use. The Tories could never stand up to their base in that way.

  35. Neil.

    The only reason the Liberals didn’t win here in 1997 was the mighty figure of Michael Eavis, who was the Labour candidate. As a celebrity who has brought a lot of income to the Shepton Mallet/Glastonbury/Street area he boosted the Labour vote in a generally weak area and prevented the otherwise inevitable Liberal victory (this was the most marginal Conservative seat retained in 1997).

    Subsequently the seat has slowly reverted to expectations. On paper I would expect Wells to be better for the Liberals than Somerton & Frome. Now that the Liberals have finally gained it, they surely have a better chance of retaining it next time than Somerton/Frome.

  36. John- I am not sure I agree. If the Lib Dems could gain Wells by only 800 votes and in the context of an expenses scandal, I wouldn’t give them much hope in 2015- the CC results last year were pretty dismal for the Lib Dems. I don’t give the Liberals much chance in either Wells or Somerton and Frome to be honest though I think they’ll be alright in the rest of the County.

  37. John- I am not sure I agree. If the Lib Dems could gain Wells by only 800 votes and in the context of an expenses scandal, I wouldn’t give them much hope in 2015- the CC results last year were pretty dismal for the Lib Dems. I don’t give the Liberals much chance in either Wells or Somerton and Frome to be honest though I think they’ll be alright in the rest of the County.

  38. It’s hard to know what the effects of the expenses scandal were, because much of the negative publicity was local rather than national, so we didn’t hear about it outside the areas we lived in, and a few more egregious cases that did run nationally. It would be very interesting to identify those MPs with negative publicity and see just how much it was worth. Some cases (St Ives, Grimsby) we know about because the MPs there previously had positive personal votes.

    I certainly wasn’t aware that Heathcoat-Amery had negative publicity from expenses.

  39. He had to pay back nearly £30,000, John and one of his claims was infamously for garden manure.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/8499455.stm

  40. Unsure about Somerton and Frome myself. David Heath’s retirement means a loss of incumbency, although they have picked a local candidate.

    Yeovil is a clear hold and Taunton should be alright for them (might be a close one but I am leaning towards a hold). Bath’s part of a unitary authority so not within the Somerset County Council, but Don Foster’s retirement shouldn’t affect their vote that much, given how solidly Lib Dem it has become.

  41. Ladbrokes:

    Con 1/3
    LD 2/1
    UKIP 50/1
    Lab 100/

  42. Slightly more unknown than Solihull in my view – Somerset has been notoriously unpredictable between C and LD.
    I think C should gain this though.

  43. The Lib Dems have had some terrible local elections since 2010 in Solihull. In 2012 they only held three seats. They had dominated the councillors in the seat beforehand, with Conservative control of Solihull Borough reliant upon the Meriden area.
    It will be very difficult for Burt to hold this. Labour leaning voters will have little reason to vote tactically for her next time.

  44. Sorry please clarify if that is all about solihull after i mentioned it, or partly about wells?

  45. clearly Solihull, since Burt was mentioned.

  46. ‘I think C should gain this though.’

    The Lib Dems won this in 2010 because David Heathcoat-Amory used taxpayer’s money to pay for manure for his farm under the Additional Costs Allowance scheme

    And I would have thought Tessa Munt would be waaay too PC for most of the voters of this seat, although a lot depends on the candidate the Tories go with.

  47. That’s right and the Tories hung on in 97 against the Libdems because of the higher than usual Labour vote for Eavis of Glasto fame.

  48. i had this down as a lib dem gain in 97,

  49. No, that’s why the 2010 result was rather surprising. I have a theory that Glastonbury is the pivotal town in the constituency – it’s not the safe LD town one might think it to be given its rather new-age connotations & connexions. The Tories have in the past won surprisingly often in the town & if they can outpoll Munt there it’s quite likely to signify that they will have won.

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