Westmorland & Lonsdale

2015 Result:
Conservative: 16245 (33.2%)
Labour: 2661 (5.4%)
Lib Dem: 25194 (51.5%)
Green: 1798 (3.7%)
UKIP: 3031 (6.2%)
MAJORITY: 8949 (18.3%)

Category: Semi-marginal Liberal Democrat seat

Geography: North West, Cumbria. Most of the South Lakeland council area.

Main population centres: Kendal, Windermere, Sedbergh, Kirkby Lonsdale, Ambleside.

Profile: A large rural seat in Cumbria. The seat includes Kendal, Windermere, Sedbergh, Kirkby Lonsdale and Ambleside, but not the historic county town of Appleby-in-Westmorland. It also includes Lake Windermere, Coniston Water and much of the Lake District. The local economy is largely based on agriculture and tourism.

Politics: In 2005 the Conservative shadow minister Tim Collins was defeated in this seat by a tiny majority, the lone victim of what had been described as a Liberal Democrat decapitation strategy against Conservative frontbenchers in marginal seats. In 2010 the new Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron managed a further huge swing in favour, making this into a solid enough Liberal Democrat seat to withstanding even their 2015 drubbing.

Current MP
TIM FARRON (Liberal Democrat) Born 1970, Preston. Educated at Lostock Hall School and Newcastle University. Former manager in higher education. Lancashire councillor 1993-2000, South Ribble councillor 1995-1999, South Lakeland councillor 2004-2008. Contested North West Durham 1992, South Ribble 1997, Westmorland & Lonsdale 2001. First elected as MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale in 2005. PPS to Menzies Campbell 2006-2007, President of the Liberal Democrats 2010-2015. Leader of the Liberal Democrats since 2015.
Past Results
Con: 18632 (36%)
Lab: 1158 (2%)
LDem: 30896 (60%)
UKIP: 801 (2%)
MAJ: 12264 (24%)
Con: 22302 (45%)
Lab: 3796 (8%)
LDem: 22569 (45%)
UKIP: 660 (1%)
Oth: 309 (1%)
MAJ: 267 (1%)
Con: 22486 (47%)
Lab: 5234 (11%)
LDem: 19339 (40%)
UKIP: 552 (1%)
Oth: 292 (1%)
MAJ: 3147 (7%)
Con: 21470 (42%)
Lab: 10459 (21%)
LDem: 16949 (33%)
MAJ: 4521 (9%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
ANN MYATT (Conservative) Educated at Bookwell School and Leeds University. Consultant dermatologist. Contested Hemsworth 2010.
JOHN BATESON (Labour) Educated at Kendal Grammar School. Semi retired examiner and teacher. Contested Westmorland and Lonsdale 2001.
TIM FARRON (Liberal Democrat) See above.
CHRIS LOYNES (Green) University lecturer.
Comments - 1,107 Responses on “Westmorland & Lonsdale”
  1. Incidentally that policy of abolishing fees appears unpopular with the 25-34s in a poll NW News carried out.

    I haven’t seen how big the sample was (they tend to only manage 250), but saw 3 interviewed who all opposed it as they thought their student loan repayments would increase to pay for 18-year-olds’ fees. I see in the sub tables above that the Tories are still 1% ahead amongst this age group so the supposed JC youth surge really must mean 18-24s.

  2. Mr P – when asked earlier by Andrew Neil, Farron said they had to make a choice and they’ve chosen restoring maintenance grants rather than abolishing fees.

  3. Oh interesting. Didn’t catch that. Thanks for the info!

  4. James E,

    Well, apparently Farron kept not giving the answer Brillo wanted (this is pretty typical, I would think). For example:
    Neil: So you will campaign to stay in the EU in this new referendum, whatever the deal
    Farron: I cannot imagine Theresa May negotiating a deal better than the one we already have
    Neil repeats question, Farron repeats answer, Neil repeats question, Farron says I already answered that, they start talking at the same time. To be honest I think Farron had been briefed to do exactly that, after the harassment over gay sex etc at the start of the campaign

  5. I think Lib Dem conference policy is still to abolish tuition fees.

    Working at a University, I took some interest in the Labour party manifesto, and their Higher Education policy does not seem to get as far as how to actually fund universities in this new fee-less world. The reality is that before the £9000 fees came in Arts courses were receiving a good deal less than £9000 per student. But universities have got used to the new regime and are of course spending the extra money..

  6. Lancs
    Re this 40% issue I know I’m being somewhat pedantic but I just feel its important to point this out. Your point still doesn’t mathematically make sense.

    Firstly I accept that if you achieve 40% plus in a seat your more likely than not to win it but achieving 40% nationally doesn’t mean you’ll achieve 40% in all or even most constituencies. The Tories got 37% nationally in 2015 and on a constituency level that encapsulated everything from near 70% in their safest seats to lost deposits in their worst. If the Tories achieve 40% in the election (up three points) on UNS that means their vote in a seat where they previously got 25% would increase to 28% their not suddenly going to shoot up to the magic 40% required to be in with very good chance of winning. Basically the main determinant of how many seats you will win on X swing is little more than how the seats voted last time, its the reason why Lab would need a swing greater than Blair got in 97 to win a majority, its not because they need to win 145 seats (in reality they need 97) but because many of the seats Lab would need to win have very substantial majorities thus the swing required to take them is greater.

    Second factor comes back to the original point about swing, at the end of the day a gap is a gap, assuming none of the smaller parties seats changed hands a party would have the exact same majority if the gap was 30-35, 40-45 or 20-25, a 5 point gap is a 5 point gap and if a lead is maintained that means there has been no swig nationally and on UNS that means no seats would change hands.

    On a completely different issue the average across the last dozen polls has Lab 8-11 points (depending on which polls you include) ahead of the Cons amongst 25-49 year olds so I wouldn’t put too much scope in a sub sample of one very small poll saying the Tories lead by 1 point amongst 25-34 year olds.

  7. Rivers10 – this “a gap is a gap…a Party would have the exact same majority if the gap was 30-35, 40-45”

    is simply untrue.

    I’m sure you’ll realise this when you re-read what you said.

    Just think of Peter Snow and his swingometer and you’ll realise why. A 1% swing can produce no gains but a 2% swing can produce 20 if there were a couple of dozen seats with 1,000 majorities at the previous GE. Therefore it entirely depends on the current state of play and the Parties standing.

    As I said Tories need to gain no extra Tory votes in many seats – they just need to add on half of the UKIP vote from 2015.

    Plus it wasn’t my point – Curtice mentioned the tipping point once you get above 42% you begin to win a lot more and maybe he or Thrasher will mention it again this time next week on the BBC coverage.

  8. We have mathematically challenged people here. A gap of 7% which UKIP enjoyed over the lib dems in 2015 (15% v 8%) is clearly different from one at a higher level of vote share, say 27% against 20%, etc. this is not difficult to grasp intuitively… The absolute vote share has an effect on seats won, as well as the relative “gap” between parties.

  9. Michael Thrasher is always on the Sky coverage- I think he’s done every election since 1992 which was obviously the first in their existence. Also, after the polling embarrassment in 2015 I wonder if we’ll see Peter Kellner return on the BBC’s coverage?

  10. PC – precisely.

    The Results – I think Dimbleby said it’ll be the last for him and Kellner. DD had said 2015 was his last, but of course so did a few MPs.

  11. Yougov’s nowcast is calling this seat a “toss-up”. Incidentally four out of six seats in Cumbria fall into this category.

  12. Blimey days. This seat could fall to the Tories?!

  13. Lancs
    “A 1% swing can produce no gains but a 2% swing can produce 20 if there were a couple of dozen seats with 1,000 majorities at the previous GE”

    I made that exact point in my last post, that the biggest determinant as to what X swing delivers in terms of seats is how the seats voted last time. A 1% swing could deliver 50 seats one election and 0 seats the next, nothing magic happens by default when a party achieves 40% or more of the national vote.

    I addressed this earlier, Lancs gave two scenarios of vote shares each with a Tory lead of 7 points
    1) Tory 43% v Labour 36%
    2) Tory 38% v Labour 31%”

    On a UNS the former gives a Con majority of 20 the latter a Con majority of 14, that extra six seats added to the majority of the former is down to an additional 3 gains from the Libs/SNP which naturally the higher Con vote share facilitates. If (as I stipulated) we assume no seats change hands regarding the smaller parties and just focus on the Con vs Lab contest then the seats fall the exact same way in both scenarios which is obvious given the Tory lead and respective swing is identical in both scenarios. As I said a 7 point lead is a 7 point lead.

  14. “Blimey days. This seat could fall to the Tories?!”

    Or possibly Mr Fish Finger, don’t forget he’s still running here 😉

  15. Rivers is right – the larger majority comes from ‘others’ when Con and Lab both rise equally.

    Such that Lab may also end up with more seats.

  16. Rivers10 – “A 7 point lead is a 7 point lead”

    It really isn’t.

    Just think about what you’re saying. 50 v 43, 34 v 27 etc, as Peter said.

  17. Farron has just been on LBC and refused to say whether he thinks homosexuality is a sin, when asked by a caller.

    He said “we are all sinners.”

    Ferrari asked him again a couple of times but Farron said “You know what, no – we’re not going there.”

  18. One car crash of an interview which seems to have gone under the radar was the increasingly hapless david davis on channel 4 news eaier this week – not quite a bad on the surface as abbott or corbyn forgetting their figures but pretty painful to watch all the same And May’s interview with Neil was even worst – she came across as arrogant, cold and untruthful the more i see of her the more im comvinced of her unsuitability to be PM

  19. Lancs
    “It really isn’t.
    Just think about what you’re saying. 50 v 43, 34 v 27 etc, as Peter said”

    It really is.
    As I said putting aside the smaller parties and just looking at the Con vs Lab contest, on a UNS the Tories fail in both of the scenarios you just provided to win their number 1 target City of Chester. The Lab vs Con marginals fall the exact same way in both scenarios.

  20. I just don’t buy your mathematical assumptions, Rivers10 re UNS.

    It’s as silly as those who say eg there’s been a 2% swing from the DUP to Sinn Fein in a seat.

    Clearly no voters switched from DUP to SF. All that will have happened will have been extra voters on the roll, higher turnout or some other voters voting SF or some DUP voters staying at home. It’s so notional a swing that it is in fact no movement of actual voters.

    Which is why the Tories don’t need a swing to them at all to get a majority north of 50 if most 2015 UKIP voters vote Tory tomorrow. I realise it may be calculated as a swing, but it requires not a single Labour voter from 2015 to vote Tory this time. [Although I happen to believe there will be many]

  21. It really comes down to a question of what is driving the increase in the Labour vote. We’ve seen Corbyn appearing in safe seats like Halton and Ladywood in recent days; if the Labour vote grows there then clearly in FPTP terms it’s useless, though the overall Labour vote and share will rise.

    Personally I feel that a fair chunk of the rise will be in these safe seats but that there is also a lot of UKIP -> LAB switching in the north. The big question is, is it in places like Hull, where the Tories aren’t in contention anyway, or Hartlepool/Darlington/Grimsby where a UKIP -> CON net switch would make a difference.

  22. Paul D – I can understand the logic in thinking that – the Lab vote will increase in Merseyside, the NE etc – but in such areas there was increase in the Labour vote in 2015 (due to the collapse in the LDs) so I feel it’s already maxed out. [Plus Merseyside is one of the few areas of England – as well as Corby, Plymouth, Portsmouth – where the JC/JMc PIRA stances will hinder them]

    Where I do agree is that it’s wrong to assume that where there is no UKIP candidate this time that automatically assumes Tory gain. It certainly does not eg in Wirral South or West as neither Tory candidate voted Leave. Indeed in South the guy is a TRG Dr and in West their guy is a millionaire from St Helens.

    UKIP voters aren’t stupid (as much as many on here think so) and the one thing they’ll attempt to find out is whether it’s worth voting at all this time. But nationally my own view is that 2 million of the 2015 UKIP vote will vote Tory tomorrow taking the Cons vote close to 14m. Who knows they may even beat the 1992 record if turnout is decent and there’s a similar anti-Corbyn turnout as there was an anti-Kinnock turnout that day.

  23. I have a feeling Labour will get good vote share increases in areas where the Lib Dems used to be the main challenge to the Tories but fell completely out of contention in 2015 so I don’t think Labour voters will in this case carry on voting tactically. For example many seats in the home counties and rural/small town south west could see decent Labour vote rises as Labour supporters are no longer tactically backing the Lib Dems (i.e. Labour returning to their ‘natural’ position of 20% or so after decades of being squeezed). This is obviously useless as far as seats go as the Tories will be way over 50% (probably over 60% in several) in most.

  24. The other side of that is that if there’s LD -> LAB switching across the south west and the LD vote is static then their vote must be increasing elsewhere – London Remainia being a good bet

  25. Pepp- yes that’s a good point. The only seat in my area that’s true of is Southport ie the Labour % could well increase again with the same PPC but it won’t gain them the seat.

    But I can only think of perhaps 20 such seats.

  26. Twitter says a recount here

  27. Cons targeted hard, unlike in 2015, presumably in an attempt to create a moment that would have demonstrated that they truly had ‘crushed the saboteurs’. Simple as that, I think.

  28. With Farron’s profile boosted as Leader and only a 6% UKIP vote to be absorbed from 2015, this should have been an easy win with a five-figure majority.

    Labour’s increase of less than 4% also shows that a fracturing of the left was not to blame.

    The Tories must have come very hard at this seat.

  29. It would seem well within their reach. Even more surprising given it being so tribally LD in recent years – for instance I believe it was the only constituency with a majority vote for the party in the 2014 Euros.

    Farron is a bit of wally, though. Although doubt he’ll be going anywhere, given he’s increased his party’s seat number by 50%..

  30. I think the opposite explanation is more plausible. Farron has done so well here because he’s been a hard worker for the seat. Now he’s leader, he’s got to be putting way less time into it. I think it’s actually dissatisfaction with him being leader/nationally focused that lost him votes.

    Also, as for leaders increasing majorities: notably, May didn’t increase hers, either.

  31. (Incidentally, the last time an LD/Liberal leader lost his seat was, if I am not mistaken, 1945 when Sir Archie Sinclair lost Caithness.)

  32. Unbelievable isn’t it? And there we were all along expecting Farron to EASILY end up with the biggest majority of the lot that got back!

  33. James Airey will need to stand again if the Tories are to have any chance here at the next election or two. Of course, as you say, once Farron goes, I would have thought all bets are off this seat over time going back to its original rock-solid Tory complexion.

  34. Farron may even decide to stand down should the next general election come in the next four or five years, as opposed to months. I say that because he may feel his chances of holding on to this in the future will be harder, but if he gets tactical Labour votes back on board at some point he might recover a bit here…

  35. The precedent is indeed there. Perhaps Farron will just have to sit tight and hope and pray to God he can recover his position after an uncharacteristically shaky majority this time round of 777.

  36. Some prescient posters on here – Farron has resigned.

  37. Oh my God. Well there we go!

  38. According to his statement it’s nothing to with how they did last week – he feels being LibDem leader is incompatible with his Christian faith.

    It’s curious that it’s taken him so long to discover or realise that

  39. It’s probably based off of Paddick’s resignation, really.

    And by “incompatible,” does he mean he’s leaving the party, or simply doesn’t think he can lead it? I’d reckon the latter — he’s been a Lib Dem or Liberal since he was 16.

  40. Perhaps someone like Jo Swinson or Vince Cable might now take over? Whatever happens, Tim Farron is going to have to go back to South Cumbria and work harder than ever before…

  41. Cable is 74. Far too hold.

    Also, we can all agree: CLEAR MR FISHFINGER GAIN.

  42. I reckon Jo Swinson will take over – surely Vince is too old realistically?

  43. The BBC report of his remarks reads like code for ‘and I do think gays are sinful’….. Pretty appalling, if that’s the case.

    Knock, knock.

    Who’s there?


    Tim who?

    You’ve forgotten me already?

  44. I don’t think that’s the case at all, David W. He’s saying that he doesn’t believe in forcing his faith — or anyone else’s — onto anyone else. That’s the mark of a true liberal: think what you like, and let others do the same.

  45. I disagree, Plopwell. I completely disagree. I think Farron did badly here because he was leader; as an assiduous constituency campaigner, as he was in the past, he’ll be doing better, hunkering down like he did in ’10 and ’15.

  46. Also, to correct someone above: Moran has a smaller majority in percentage terms, though Farron’s is smaller in terms of absolute votes.

  47. So the bookies are correct so far (UKIP, LibDem, Lab, Con is the order they rate for leadership elections to occur).

    It was good to hear Farron attacking illiberal liberals. Perhaps if he’d done that from the outset he’d still be Leader.

  48. I think farron is right. It just goes to show how deeply illiberal 21st century Britain (and certain Lib Dem -Paddick et al) is.

  49. As an atheist I find it very sad that being a committed Christian and leading a liberal party now seem to be incompatible.

    Anyhow, this might prove a lucky break for the LDs, surely opening up a chance for Jo Swinson, who I think will probably be more popular in the country.

  50. Oh, electorally, this is good for them.

    But — as a classically liberal sort (though in the past more in the Bright Blue vein than the Lib Dem one) — I find it disgusting that a liberal party would turn knives on its leader for his faith.

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