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”
  1. Irrelevant really, I just don’t see how the Lib Dems can regain this, the Lab vote is too small to squeeze as is the Green vote and I imagine the UKIP vote here definitely disproportionately hurt the Tories, probably overwhelmingly so and I just don’t see UKIP doing any better in a seat like this. Where would the extra Lib Dem votes thus come from?

  2. It may certainly be very difficult for them to regain but I don’t think the news of the party that held this seat until last year selecting their candidate can be described as irrelevant!

  3. I didn’t mean that in an offensive way, not irrelevant as in “pointless information” more irrelevant as in they could have nominated Hilary Clinton for this seat but said individual is still very unlikely to become an MP.

  4. “said individual is still very unlikely to become an MP” – I think a lot of people would have thought that before the 2010 election as well, although I agree it is unlikely she’ll be elected.

    Will this seat even exist at the next election? Pretty sure the boundary review had it as a notionally Tory seat even before the Lib Dem collapse, and surely their resources will be directed at the more winnable target up the road in Bath instead (although even there I suspect the most likely result is a Tory hold on split opposition)

  5. The Lib Dems according to the Times are selecting candidates within the next two weeks in every single seat just in case a snap election happens.

  6. Are the Lib Dems able to afford the cost of losing 300+ deposits twice in less than two years? I imagine their funding is also rather less now than last May as well.

  7. Does anyone know how many deposits the Lib Dems lost last time by the way?

  8. I wonder whether crowd-funding could be the way forward for the Lib Dems? It worked for the Green Party last year, and the memberships of the two parties are comparable in size.

    In any case the Lib Dems’ campaign needn’t be too expensive. They would be spending most of their money in a handful of areas where they are competitive – which is in many ways the Lib Dems’ default setting.

  9. Pepperminntea
    Can’t remember exactly but it was a lot, the cost of them all equated to tens of thousands of pounds, there was even a Twitter account dedicated to it I believe.

  10. It seems the Lib Dems lost £170,000 on lost deposits.

    http://www.electionpolling.co.uk/blog/2015/06/12/election-2015-lost-deposits

  11. Munt is standing again.

    I’d guess she’ll run it close, but I can’t see this falling to the Lib Dems. At a guess:

    CON 46
    LD 43
    LAB 4
    UKIP 4
    GRN 3

  12. Methinks John Rentoul is rather taken by Ms Munt and her brand of pavement politics.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/target-seats-wells-test-liberal-democrat-revival-in-the-west-country-general-election-tim-farron-a7707176.html

    I doubt if she will retrieve the seat – the Conservative vote has been consistently high in this seat for many elections , making it very difficult to assemble enough votes to overtake it – but that will not be due to lack of application.

  13. I like Tessa Munt too but the LDs have little chance in this seat

  14. Tory hold – I am at this moment in time doubtful the LD’s will pick up any seats in the SW – but there is long way to go yet.

  15. Moderately comfortable hold.

    I think the LibDems do have some SW options. Bath is quite likely in my view, and an outside chance of Cheltenham.

  16. Bath and Cheltenham stand out as the obvious realistic targets for the Lib Dems – and they are very different to rural South West seats like this one – so I’m quite surprised to see the likes of Munt and Nick Harvey in Devon North bid to regain their old seats after their heavy defeats at the ballot box a couple of years back

  17. National polls have:

    – Cons up about 5-10 pts on last time
    – LDs up about 3-4 pts on last time
    – Cons overwhelmingly winning the ex-UKIP vote, with virtually (or even absolutely) none of it going to the LDs
    – Cons sweeping up votes of LDs who voted for Brexit

    Given this, and unless polls change considerably or are very wrong now, I struggle to see how the LDs win in the rural South west.

  18. “I’m quite surprised to see the likes of Munt and Nick Harvey in Devon North bid to regain their old seats after their heavy defeats at the ballot box a couple of years back”

    I think it’s less a sincere belief in their ability to retake the seat, but firm knowledge with a quick contest especially a personal vote will help with putting the breaks on much more ground being lost. So It’s either a favour to the party, or potentially playing for 2022

  19. The Lib Dems seem much more confident than just the polls indicate they should be. I wonder if party HQ has some knowledge we don’t, or if it’s just a bit of optimism.

  20. I think local by-elections have convinced some LD supporters that there is a surge the polls haven’t picked up. But a/ people vote differently in local elections and b/ much of that success has come through impressive campaign operations in the context of very low turnout. I think there will therefore be some disappointment from LDs at how they ultimately do in their former heartlands, and also in the council elections on Thurs (though they can expect gains compared to 2013).

  21. I’m interested to see if the local elections has an impact

  22. I remember the positive vibe within the lib dem camp in the run up to the 92 election. They started the campaign on 6% and from then on everyting went perfectly – Ashdown was so popular the party saw their poll ratings go up after he admitted to having an affair and then in the last week the tabloid press ran their ‘Vote Ashdown Get Kinnock’ campaign and the party ended up losing seats to the astonishment of almost everyone who had campaigned with/for them

    You cant always go

  23. by the mood on the ground

  24. That is true. And Farron is no Ashdown.

    I do think that there is a chance of a dynamic in which Tory-LD switchers occur in the SW and other marginal areas between the two but the overall national trend remains Tory gains, though I’m not sure how plausible that is. It would also require the Tories to be doing even better against Labour or in Scotland than we think.

    There is also the chance that someone in, say, Barnstaple (that’s in North Devon, right?) says, “well, I want May to be PM, but that’s guaranteed at this point, and I liked Harvey as my MP all those years” so despite saying he supports the Tories in all polls, he ends up checking the box for Nick Harvey anyway. Probably not enough for Harvey to win again, but I think things like that could see the LDs to very strong seconds in some leave-voting, Tory-facing SW seats.

  25. I would also suspect that in some cases the former Lib Dem MPs feel somewhat sore about the manner of their defeat in 2015 (and of course the investigation into the electoral expenses, many of which are believed to relate to former Lib Dem seats, remains ongoing).

    IIRC Martin Horwood had some fairly strong words on this immediately after his defeat in Cheltenham.

    It might just be a motivating factor to stand again this time.

  26. Although i voted Lib Dem in 2015 – largely via default – I was a Cameron supporter who was willing to put my doubts about the Conservative Party to one side to back them in 2010 – but as things stand I could never vote for the Tories again and could only vote for the Lib Dems as an alternative

    There don’t seem to be a great many like me

  27. I do remember Lorely Burt being quite upset too

  28. Yes, Burt was the worst of them. Though you have to ask: did she think she’d win? She held their most vulnerable seat, as I remember. She had to be prepared for that.

    But yes, feeling cheated by Tory expenses is in my mind a relatively legitimate concern. I’m not surprised they were upset by it.

  29. “Yes, Burt was the worst of them. Though you have to ask: did she think she’d win?”

    Maybe, just maybe, she was upset for her colleagues.

  30. Munt has no chance here, which is a shame as she was a solid MP. Tory hold, majority 10%+

  31. Polltroll: quite true. Still, I seem to remember her coming across as quite aggressive. It makes sense to be upset, but she seemed a little unseemly.

    John Smith: I think this could be one of those where the LDs do a bit better than expected. Certainly, Munt’s loss was about the LDs’ national position. She’s one of those who it would be hard to accuse of having lost for individual reasons. I could see it being run closer than expected, but I do think that it will be a Con hold.

    Somewhat interestingly, I think this is one of the LDs’ better long-term prospects in Somerset. Their future seems brighter to me here and in Taunton than in Yeovil these days.

  32. Interesting read. The ending, where the reporter talked to two people who didn’t know who the current Prime Minister is, is deeply, deeply concerning for the democracy of this country.

  33. My favourite theory is the shy labour theory. People won’t adnit they like Lab/JC but they’ll vote red. Tbh if you’re in need of a miracle who better than JC? The man who could walk on water…

  34. Corbyn’s certainly had a better than expected campaign so far, I can only surmise that the Tories and the tabloids are keeping their powder dry for a massive blitzkrieg on him in the last 2 weeks.

  35. What else can they possibly throw at him? The suns last headline was beyond ridiculous. (Although hilarious)

  36. This isn’t like Saint Nicholas Clegg The Agreeable’s meteoric rise and equally meteoric reversion to his party’s previous performance in 2010.

    You can’t set someone up for a fall who has never held in anything but contempt by your paper and your readers in the first place.

  37. “What else can they possibly throw at him? The suns last headline was beyond ridiculous. (Although hilarious)”

    Plenty.

    Are you old enough to remember the front page of The Sun day in day out ahead of the 87 and 92 elections?

    My guess is they’ve barely started yet.

    “You can’t set someone up for a fall who has never held in anything but contempt by your paper and your readers in the first place.”

    Ditto my comment above. Your statement applies quite well to Neil Kinnock but it didn’t mean that the tabloids weren’t able to smash his chances even further.

  38. And as for this constituency, not a cat in hell’s chance the LDs can take it.

    The only seats where I actually expect specific LD gains from the Tories are in London.

    Outside of that, their best prospects for defying the general picture and gaining from the Tories, are in seats where they previously enjoyed strong margins over the Conservatives before collapsing in 2015.

  39. exiled voter,

    I agree the lib dems have been dramatically overhyped, as they were last time in 2015, when we all believed they would hold far more seats than the VI in the polls implied.

    the spread on a betting site i use is currently 15-18…it’s quite a wide margin… I’m still a seller at 15 and certainly not a buyer at 18. think they’ll gain twickenham, cambridge and hold richmond, perhaps. on the other hand, I think they’ll lose Norfolk North and Carshalton. they will be lucky to get much more than a dozen seats, in my opinion, but let’s see.

  40. I voted for the first time in ’14. At the locals hemmelig. I think St Ives could be a surprise gain. The good news for the LDs is that Farrons job is fairly safe

  41. I’ve just commented on St Ives on another thread. It’s a Brexit supporting seat, where UKIP aren’t standing and where the Tories outpolled the Lib Dems in the locals. Don’t see how the Lib Dems win that.

  42. Peter, I don’t think 15-18 is a particularly wide margin in the context of the two models being put forward for how they get on in this election. UNS, or UNS adjusted for data-driven regional variations, suggest they end up on 7-12, and the “LDs target well” and “Brexit will throw up a few shockers” predictions (nowhere near as prominent as the 20-30 seats in 2015 models, precisely because of what happened in 2015, though not entirely without merit) tend to place them on upwards of 20.

  43. The incumbent Heappey is in trouble for telling a sixth-former to “f*** off back to Scotland” after she expressed pro-independence views. A very poorly-judged remark that might give Munt a serious opening I wonder?

    Of course Andrew Turner in the Isle of Wight was sunk in similar circumstances. Perhaps politicians should stay away from teenagers (who after all, can’t even vote…)

  44. No, the two incidents are not remotely comparable. Heappey was just rude. Turner was much worse because he revealed some utterly prehistoric attitudes that I thought society had moved beyond.

    Well, apart from the vice-president of the United States…

  45. If you think an MP telling a scots nat to eff off back to Scotland is going to harm him in Somerset, you are nuts. Munt did the usual pious, holier than thou lib dem anti racism thing. I expect heappey will win this at a canter. This isn’t Islington!

  46. It might not hurt him down in Somerset, but it ain’t gonna help the Tories in Scotland.

    Heappey needs to mind his manners in future. Carelessness costs votes. . .

  47. “It might not hurt him down in Somerset, but it ain’t gonna help the Tories in Scotland.”

    Fair point, but my remark was made in reference to the idea that this statement would harm the candidate in Wells. I don’t think it will at all, as far as Wells is concerned..

  48. holier than thou…

    Munt said: “School is meant to be a safe place. We send our children to school in the expectation that they will be treated fairly and with respect by people in positions of power. [she should have left it at that…, bit pious but fair enough, but this?]

    “I am utterly shocked that the then MP has used bullying, racist and abusive language to dismiss a teenage schoolgirl engaging in political debate.”

    Racist? since when were the scots defined as a “race”. this is the kind of politically correct posturing that will damage the hopes of a lib dem revival in the west country.

    “chuck it smith” as G.K. Chesterton would say.

  49. I have been told on this very website by Plopwellian Tory to “bugger off back to Europe”

    Still waiting for Mrs Munt’s intervention on my behalf.

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