2015 Result:
Conservative: 27123 (57.5%)
Labour: 7467 (15.8%)
Lib Dem: 2891 (6.1%)
Green: 2038 (4.3%)
UKIP: 7569 (16%)
Others: 80 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 19554 (41.5%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Essex. Parts of the Colchester, Maldon and Braintree council areas.

Main population centres: Witham, Kelvedon, Tiptree, Coggeshall, Stanway.

Profile: This is a large rural seat with few large population centres, it runs from the hinterland of Maldon to the south, almost up to Braintree in the north and to the western fringes of Colchester, including the village turned suburb of Stanway, in the north. The main town is Witham, once a spa and wool town that saw the building of several GLC overspill estates in the 1960s and 70s and hence actually has some reliable Labour areas. Elsewhere the constituency is rural or suburban and more strongly Tory. Other towns and villages include the growing village of Kelvedon, swollen by more recent housing development; Heckfordbridge; Tiptree, associated with jam-making; Coggeshall, once an early industrial centre for silk making, now a picturesque collection of listed buildings; Chipping Hill; Wickham Bishops; Goldhanger and Tollesbury, a fishing village which traditionally harvests oysters from the Blackwater estuary to the south of this constituency.

Politics: Created in 2010, Witham is a very safe Tory seat. This was the seat that Bernard Jenkin and other Conservatives MPs are supposed to have told Asian would-be Conservative candidate Ali Miraj that they would be shocked if it did not select a white, middle-class male. Presumably to the shock of Bernard Jenkin it did not, opting instead for Priti Patel, who become the first female Asian MP.

Current MP
PRITI PATEL (Conservative) Born 1972, London. Educated at Keele University. Former CCO researcher and corporate affairs spokesman for Diageo, Press Spokesman for the Referendum Party at the 1997 General Election. Deputy Press Secretary to William Hague between 1997 and 2000.. Contested Nottingham North 2005. First elected as MP for Witham in 2010. Exchequer Secretary since 2014-2015. Minister of State for Work and Pensions since 2015.
Past Results
Con: 24448 (52%)
Lab: 8656 (18%)
LDem: 9252 (20%)
UKIP: 3060 (7%)
Oth: 1419 (3%)
MAJ: 15196 (32%)

2015 Candidates
PRITI PATEL (Conservative) See above.
JOHN CLARKE (Labour) Educated at George Tomlinson Secondary Modern and UMIST. University lecturer.
JO HAYES (Liberal Democrat) Barrister. Colchester councillor since 2012.
GARRY COCKRILL (UKIP) Contested Southend West 2010.
JAMES ABBOTT (Green) Born 1960. Educated at UCL. Gardener. Braintree councillor since 1999. Contested Braintree 1992, 1997, 2001, 2005, Witham 2010.
Comments - 138 Responses on “Witham”
  1. ‘Margaret Thatcher, who is the one who removed exchange controls in the first place, must be spinning in her grave to see what is being said and done in her name.’

    Thatcher considered the creation of the Single Market her greatest achievement – something I totally agree with as its worked fir the UK – particularly with us being nit in the Euro

    My guess is that she would see those proposing we leave it without a deal as mad as I do

  2. On the falling pound: the government surely realises that you don’t have to venture abroad to lose out, you only have to buy products made outside the UK (which is a lot of them). Under normal circumstances this would at least be counterbalanced by a boon for exporters but in this particular scenario this would be outweighed by the enormous barriers to trade that Brexit represents. They are just hoping their voters remain ignorant.

  3. ‘They are just hoping their voters remain ignorant.’

    Yet to be fair one can’t really blame them for that

    On the day of the referendum result Johnson’s face gave the game away – he literally couldn’t believe that voters were that stupid to believe his complete and utter lies

  4. Just seen that picture of Priti Patel selling pro-death penalty t-shirts.

    Unless the picture of a noose was intended to underline how depressing Tory conference has been that year…

  5. Priti Patel has denied having ever supported the death penalty

    The shameless way that members of the current government lie, lie and then lie again through their teeth to any question is the real threat to our democracy

  6. Priti Patel today refused to confirm that the government was committed to reducing immigration (she instead preferred the word ‘controlled’). I think all political parties have given up on reducing the numbers (both because they don’t think it’s realistic and because frankly they don’t want to). Don’t think the voters in Ashfield or Sunderland will be too happy when the penny finally drops!

  7. I’m told it was because a day is planned on the subject after the Manifesto is published.

    So today became more of an attack on Labour’s position.

  8. In the interests of fairness (and I’ve written many unflattering things about Priti Patel on these boards), Labour are behaving like arses regarding this whole BLM issue. It’s also politically not astute, and frankly makes some Lab MPs look extremely arrogant- it’s as if they think they own anything pertaining to race issues. Pathetic.

  9. I have total sympathy and give my full support to the BLM campaign in the US – black people have been treated appallingly by the police force since the dawn of time and the incidents we hear about are those caught on camera – but I don’t think it necessarily carries to this side of the Atlantic

    Sure there’s been problems but and one incident is one too many, but the behaviour of British police can’t be compared to what the frequent brutality all too frequently displayed by their American counterparts, who always seem to get away with it too in court. IMO you can’t compare being stopped and searched to being murdered.

  10. The weird thing about BLM is that its members have two main goals: get mainstream acceptance for progressive ideas, while retain their identity by being woker than everyone else. These two incentives are in constant opposition, and the only way they can keep a hold of both is by adopting ever more radical views themselves. In a short space of time they have pushed the needle quite significantly on police reform; but of course that means they need more extreme slogans. So now we get “refund the police” (unpopular, but you could make a credible argument for it) and “abolish the police” (what planet are you living on?)

  11. I think describing BLM as woke is a pretty poor take tbh. These aren’t hippies in a some fancy coffee batista ordering something you can’t pronounce.

    Given Minneapolis lawmakers just voted to abolish their police department I’m guessing they live on that planet

  12. Minneapolis lawmakers are terrified of the mob. This behaviour reflects bowing to pressure from a powerful lobby rather than a sincere change of heart. Is that how lawmakers should behave?

  13. I agree that maybe “woke” was the wrong word, although I don’t feel like it’s interchangeable with the sort of hipster culture you describe. Maybe “progressive” would have been a better choice.

  14. Matt W – BLM in Bristol were precisely that. Crusties, a lecturer, 2 ex Militants in their 60s, students.

    As ever, these are hardly working class black gangs that these activists profess to speak for.

  15. Tristan is right on the specific, but I’d go further than that.

    Just look at the black MPs Labour have given us.

    Does anyone honestly think that Bernie Grant, Abbott, Vaz, Sarwar, King, Lammy aid their cause?! Sorry I forgot Shahid Malik.

    The Tories were almost as bad with the Cameroon A listers Adam A, Seema K, Sam G, Alan Mak.

    No wonder Priti & Rishi are popular with half of the nation.

    So as not to neglect the LDs, I see that Layla Moran now lists herself as ethnic and pansexual!

  16. Lancs, it sounds as though you’re saying the opinions of people of colour are only valid when they happen to agree with you. How is this different from, or better than, those on the left who label BAME Tories as coconuts and Uncle Toms?

  17. I didn’t realise BLM protest in Bristol was 5 people…

    Just for a point of clarification Seema was not an A Lister. As a local Cllr in St Albans I knew her, not well but she’s not even a Cameroon. Certainly far less so than her fellow Marshalswick South Cllr, Heidi Allen.

    On whether lawmakers should be decide policy based on a change of heart or because they’ve been lobbied too is a debate for the ages. One a voter in Hallam put to me over Brexit and cited Edmund Burke who said:

    ‘Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.’

    I did remind this man that Edmund Burke did lose his seat much the voters thought of his judgment. But whether politicians should stand on their judgements and be judged so serve the opinions of their constitutents is a difficult line to balance. There are issues you will always disagree on but politics is compromise and if you don’t compromise with your constitutents they’ll compromise with someone else.

    Ironically the victorious candidate in Hallam Olivia Blake took a principled stance resigning as deputy leader of the city council over issues important to voters in Hallam. I imagine that didn’t hurt her either.

    and maybe alternatives to department policing will be successful. Maybe not but we won’t know unless we see what happens

  18. Where you at the far right riot in London on Saturday Lancs?

    Genuine question

  19. Lancs always struck me as a cosseted grumbler who has never realised his own privilege, a middle-class gammon for whom appeasing the far right would be immensely foolish. If, God forbid, there is a far-right insurrection one day, Lancs and his ilk will not be spared – the thugs will simply come for him last.

  20. I doubt Lancs travelled all that way tbh

  21. I was in Trafalgar Square on Saturday afternoon. Imo there were few genuine ppl on either side demonstrating and thinking about the issues. There were simply two groups of ppl wanting to attack each other* and actually attacking each other and also to abuse the unfortunate police who were in the middle.

    It reminded me of the organised football team gang clashes of the 1980s.

    *Unlike the previous week

  22. This Alliance of Football Fans or what ever they are called do remind me a lot luke the old football firms.

  23. Mark: your description of “two groups of people wanting to attack each other” is interesting. The narrative I’d picked up is that BLM got wind of the far right presence and smartly decided to cancel their own march, to leave the playing field to their opponents and avoid getting sucked into a violent confrontation that could damage the perception of their movement.

  24. I have to say, in his media interviews, Marcus Rashford comes across as a very fine young man. Focusing on bread and butter issues such as the one he is campaigning on will be of more benefit to the poorest than obsessing about statues of slave traders.

  25. PS – I’m guessing Mark Felt is the new alias of Deepthroat?

  26. Premier League football is the one British elite with proportionate working-class representation. Perhaps we should not be surprised that footballers are actually a lot closer to what matters to ordinary people than many people at the summits of other professions.

  27. Another point on Rashford: it helps that he is not approaching this issue from a position of partisan antagonism. He’s not motivated by trying to weaken the government. Thid in turn makss it much easier politically for thr government to do the right thing.

    This is kind of reminiscent of the way Joanna Lumley took up the Gurkhas’ case. God, those were simpler times…

  28. The Premier League is an elite league created to end profit sharing between the four divisions which has led to the top clubs accumulating wealth to share amongst themselves and pay for the very best footballers, shoving home grown talent to one side. There have been attempts to manage this like ensuring all clubs have so many academy players. However, a few ‘thinking man’s footballer’ coming through like Rashford and Jermaine Jenas.

  29. PT – I’m not middle class, but I am used to your false assertions.

    The reverse of your other false claim is precisely Labour’s view, highlighted by their letter: they hate Priti, Rishi, et al because they’re not the right sort of BAMEs with the wrong views in their opinion.

    I see no-one denied my point re BAME MPs, presumably because Sarwar, Vaz, Abbott et al were so woeful.

    HH – probably. Mark F neglected to mention the peaceful veterans who in fact paraded in berets, kept the hooligans away from the police and BLM lot for a time.

    PT – I thought that until I compared the figures. Far more police injured by BLM, yet fewer arrested (as police ran away).

    Matt W – you’re right on one point. I just checked and it was the previous South Ribble female Cameroon MP parachuted in who was the A-Lister. Both didn’t last long, of course. Fyi the 5 I referred to were the so far identified who moved the statue.

  30. Coco the monkey and the Rice Krispie elves are racist according to the ex Peterborough MP:


  31. Your Jun 13 post at 2.05pm was out of order. How are all these BAME MPs ‘bad”…? How are they different from other MPs other than the content of what they are or were saying?

    All of the ppl you include were intelligent and articulate esp Oona King, Diane, Vaz…. As for the Tory MPs you name: Afriye is capable and still rated favourably I understand and Sam Gyimah was a super smart operator which I’m sure Matt Wilson here will confirm.

  32. “Sam Gyimah was a super smart operator which I’m sure Matt Wilson here will confirm.”

    You would expect me to like Gymiah as our views are quite similar, and I do, but living only a mile outside his former constituency I can also confirm that he was pretty well regarded in East Surrey.

    Nevertheless I don’t think any “super smart operator” would have defected to Jo Swinson’s car crash party; much as I admire his bravery in giving up his career, he and those like him should have stayed in the Tory party.

    There are good and bad BME MPs just as there are good and bad white ones….the trend that the quality of MPs has deteriorated in my view applies across the board and doesn’t particularly reflect ethnicity.

    I have stated recently on here that Priti Patel has grown on me even though I disagreed with her on Brexit.

    I do think the Tories increasingly get a lot of unfair stick on minority issues (as well as stick which is fair enough). My wife had “Loose Women” on the other day and one of their black panellists claimed that there are no BME cabinet members. None of the other panellists corrected this fake news despite some of them (eg Janet Street Porter, Jane Moore) being journalists who know full well it is fake news. I haven’t seen or heard of a correction since nor the government demanding one. So fake news sinks into the mind of the unsuspecting public who unfairly think worse of the government for it.

  33. I’m not given to defending Lance Observer – I’m beginning to think the only thing that separates him from the far right things he salutes is the fact that he has a brain – but Alfirie is as bad an MP you could possibly – lazy, arrogant and greedy.

    Do have to say a lot of the current government have been growing on me a little – Johnson and Patel chief amongst them

    Have to say I’ve been impressed by Boris courtesy in PMQs. Very different from most PMs – particularly Cameron – mr Punch and Judy politics

  34. “Have to say I’ve been impressed by Boris courtesy in PMQs. Very different from most PMs – particularly Cameron – mr Punch and Judy politics”

    I agree with that as well. Boris is also quite good at showing humility when it’s most needed (probably because of all the practice he’s had begging his ex-wife to forgive him after his various affairs). He handled the Marcus Rashford climbdown yesterday very well. But Boris also has to start showing some backbone on the important stuff. A good speech is not sufficient to get something difficult implemented, as Mrs Thatcher often noted.

  35. To be honest I can still see it only going one way for Boris – once Brexit bites – as it surely will given the current economic stagnation however we end up leaving at the end of the year.

    But it is curious that the Boris Johnson who got elected with a solid mandate last December seems very different in character and conduct to the Boris Johnson who governed for four months beforehand. Less arrogant, more magnanimous, although I suspect his brush with corona might have something to do with that too

    Regarding the Rashford climb down, he played that as well as he could have – certainly better than the way Labour handled their climb down on the Gurkhas when embarrassed by Joanna Lumley

  36. If Boris Johnson has discovered some newfound modesty, then it is surely only because he has so much to be modest about.

  37. Mark F – out of order for being true?!

    “how are they different?”

    Grant revelled in the brutal murder of a police officer.

    Vaz: too numerous to mention, but the Standards’ recommendation of a 6 month suspension should answer your Q.

    Abbott – again, too numerous to list her errors.

    Sarwar – scandals. Ditto Malik.

    I disagree with HH in part. Indeed the list shows that ethnic minority MPs disproportionately err and either resign due to scandal, defect etc. I’ve pointed this out previously re ethnic minority Cllrs who defected to the Tories under DC. Roughly half ended up defecting again and a shocking 20% ended up in Court.

    However, my point was more that these MPs don’t represent ethnic minorities and do them a disservice, both in terms of representation per se, but also because some white voters must think black voters are all as angry and aggrieved as them (whereas reality such as Gogglebox will show them that 80% of black and Asian households are entirely normal). Other than activists, most must be embarrassed hearing Lammy or Abbott rant nonsense on tv.

    Tim – not at PMQs today. The old Boris was back attacking Starmer.

  38. Diane Abbot has made some daft mistakes but when anyone eose makes the very same mistakes nobody treats them with anything close to the same contempt they treat Diane with. When Hammond got the numbers wrong on HS2 people didn’t blink. When Priti Patel literally made up a number for the total infection rate in the UK. It went unnoticed. When Corbyn didn’t know how much his own policy on universal childcare would cost he didn’t get as much stick as she does

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