2015 Result:
Conservative: 35201 (60.3%)
Labour: 10046 (17.2%)
Lib Dem: 3953 (6.8%)
Green: 2970 (5.1%)
UKIP: 5352 (9.2%)
NHA: 616 (1.1%)
Independent: 12 (0%)
Others: 238 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 25155 (43.1%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Oxfordshire. Contains the whole of the West Oxfordshire council area.

Main population centres: Witney, Carterton, Woodstock, Chipping Norton, Burford, Charlbury.

Profile: Large rural seat in the West of Oxfordshire, including the Oxfordshire part of the Cotwolds. This is the affluent rural England of the "Chipping Norton set" (the name given to the media to the social circle around David Cameron and his wife, including Elizabeth Murdoch, Matthew Freud, Rebekah Brooks and Charlie Dunstone). There is agriculture here, but other important parts of the local economy are high-tech motorsport, the large RAF base at Brize Norton and tourism from the Cotswolds and Blenheim Palace.

Politics: Generally a very safe Conservative seat, made even more so by the extra support party leaders normally enjoy at the ballot box. The seat has been won by the Conservatives since its creation in 1983, originally being held by former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd. Between 1999 and 2001 it was briefly represented by Labour when the then MP Shaun Woodward defected to Labour after being sacking for opposing Section 28. Since 2001 it has been represented by David Cameron.

Current MP
DAVID CAMERON (Conservative) Born 1966, London. Educated at Eton and Oxford University, where he was a member of the infamous Bullingdon club. Former Conservative party researcher, special advisor to Norman Lamont from 1992-1993 and Michael Howard 1993-1994, and director of Corporate Affairs at Carlton Television from 1994-2001. Contested Stafford 1997. First elected as MP for Witney in 2001. Vice-Chairman of the Conservative party 2003-2004, local government spokesman 2004, head of policy co-ordination 2004-2005, shadow education secretary 2005. Leader of the Conservative party since 2005, Prime Minister since 2010. David Cameron was promoted to shadow education secretary after the 2005 election, being seen as Howard`s preferred choice as successor. His speech at the 2005 Conservative party conference, and a lacklustre speech by the then frontrunner David Davis saw him become the favourite and he was elected leader of the Conservative party in December 2005, despite allegations of drug use surfacing during the campaign. As leader of the Conservative party Cameron sought to rebrand the Conservative party, making the environment a central plank of policy, pushing for the selection of female candidates and largely avoiding traditional Conservative issues such as immigration. This lead to large Conservative leads mid-term, but these fell back as the 2010 election approached, particularly after the leader debates which saw Liberal Democrat support surge. The Conservatives fell short of a majority, and Cameron became Prime Minister at the head of a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. He is married to Samantha Cameron and the couple have four children - their oldest son Ivan was severely disabled and died in 2009, their youngest daughter Florence was born after Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 33973 (59%)
Lab: 7511 (13%)
LDem: 11233 (19%)
GRN: 2385 (4%)
Oth: 2667 (5%)
MAJ: 22740 (39%)
Con: 26571 (49%)
Lab: 11845 (22%)
LDem: 12415 (23%)
GRN: 1682 (3%)
Oth: 1356 (3%)
MAJ: 14156 (26%)
Con: 22153 (45%)
Lab: 14180 (29%)
LDem: 10000 (20%)
GRN: 1100 (2%)
Oth: 1770 (4%)
MAJ: 7973 (16%)
Con: 24282 (43%)
Lab: 17254 (31%)
LDem: 11202 (20%)
Oth: 1401 (2%)
MAJ: 7028 (12%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
DAVID CAMERON (Conservative) See above.
DUNCAN ENRIGHT (Labour) Educated at Oxford University. Publisher. West Oxfordshire councillor since 2012.
ANDREW GRAHAM (Liberal Democrat) Born Birmingham. Teacher and playwright. East Hertfordshire councillor 1995-2011. Contested Clacton by-election 2014.
SIMON STRUTT (UKIP) Contested Buckingham 2010 as a Cut the Deficit candidate. Contested South East region 2014 European Elections for UKIP.
STUART MACDONALD (Green) Born 1946, Glasgow. Educated at Hitchin Boys Grammar and Cambridge University. Professor. Contested Witney 2010.
COLIN BEX (Wessex Regionalist) Architect. Contested Windsor and Maidenhead 1979, 1983, Portsmouth North 1997, Wells 2001, Dorset South 2005, Witney 2010, Eastleigh 2012 by-election.
CLIVE PEEDELL (NHA) Born Botley. Oncologist.
DEEK JACKSON (Land Party) Comedian. Contested Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath 2010.
VIVIEN SAUNDERS (Reduce VAT in Sport) Born 1946, Sutton. Educated at Nonsuch County High and London University. Golf club owner and former British Open Champion. Awarded the OBE in 1997 for services to golf.
CHRIS TOMPSON (Independent)
NATHAN HANDLEY (No description)
BOBBY SMITH (Give me back Elmo)
Comments - 2,068 Responses on “Witney”
  1. Andy JS – apparently there were predictions of great things including even a win at times.

    From memory, the collective wisdom on here was that he might have done better if he hadn’t spent so much time posting on his own site and this one.

  2. Iain Lindley performed pretty well in 2010 with a 7%+ swing – but he will have been disappointed, perhaps, by his 2015 showing.

  3. Here’s Ladbrokes prediction based on their current markets
    47% Cons
    30% Lib Dems
    12% Lab
    6% UKIP

  4. The most amusing prediction was that of Anne Perkins in the Guardian who stated that a single pro-migrant Party would have beaten the Tories in Witney today.

  5. A LAB/LD/GRN probably wouldn’t win. They’d be lucky to get 40%

  6. LO: Ha. The pro-migrant stance is one of the things voters dislike most about those parties.

    I don’t know how the Guardian tries to square its dubious claim that the EU referendum was all about immigration (and hence that it was won by closed-minded xenophobes), with the idea that pro-immigration policies are vote winners.

    Guardianistas are quick to label leave-voters as “little Englanders” but they themselves seem quite content never to venture outside of Zone 1…

  7. I don’t know how the Guardian tries to square its dubious claim that the EU referendum was all about immigration (and hence that “it was won by closed-minded xenophobes), with the idea that pro-immigration policies are vote winners”

    They also say it was all about immigration and then they blame the £350m a week “lie”. clearly IF the vote was principally motivated by xenophobic fears about immigration, the money thing was neither here nor there…

    Most remainiacs have moved on, but the bitterness of grief has made a few of them lose their reason.

  8. @ Peter Crawford

    Re the £350m a week “lie”.

    By how much do you contend that we stand to gain financially per week by leaving the EU?

  9. Final prediction:

    Con 51.3 (-8.9)
    LD 27.6 (+20.9)
    Lab 10.2 (-7.0)
    Green 4.9 (-0.2)
    UKIP 4.5 (-4.7)
    Others 1.6 (-0.1)

    Turnout 55.1 (-18.2)

  10. pro-immigration policies are of course not vote-winners…

    However immigration is necessary for the health of the economy which is why despite 6 years of St Theresa vowing to bring net (non-EU) migration down, it is almost exactly the same as it was in 2009. EU net migration has of course gone up over that period, but after Brexit non-EU migrants will be needed to fill the gap unless of course the economy tanks… Probably that will suit the Brexiteers I guess! Unemployment is 3 million but at least we brought net migration down!

    Meanwhile no-one I know thinks that Leave won purely because of the £350 million lie. That was just the thing that pushed the vote over 50%…. Even if the result had been different the country would have been deeply divided and the losers would have been calling for a new vote..

  11. Interesting to read now exactly what Nigel Farage had to say BEFORE 23rd June about the possibility of the issue not being settled after a close result.


    “”In a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way”

  12. Andrew111 – being the fault of the quad 2010-2015 (LDs in Govt + DC & GO who have all now gone).

  13. My prediction on Turnout – 48%

  14. I doubt it

  15. I was in Witney town itself this afternoon, having a general look around.

    Sky News correspondent at Witney: no doubt Tories have won the seat. Big Tory majority, LDs probably second.

  16. Excellent bus service between Oxford and Witney, every 15 minutes all day long. Just like an airport shuttle service for example. I wish the bus services were like that in my area.

  17. 47% well done my deepest apologises

  18. Lancs Observer
    I may have missed something, but I believe Theresa May was Home Secretary responsible for controlling immigration from 2010 onwards…

    All she did was introduce a series of half-baked policies like deporting 50k+ students thought to have dodgy English results, which made no difference whatsoever other than in the short-term since they would have gone home anyway at the end of their course (according to the report leaked last week..).

    I don’t believe Theresa May has gone, has she??

  19. Thankfully, no. So we can now start dealing with the issue as all 4 of the Quad have gone, as I said.

    But good to see a LD criticising the Coalition Government’s performance.

  20. Lancs Observer

    I took a holiday from being a Lib Dem from 2010 to 2015, but working at a university the idiocies of Theresa May regarding overseas students were very plain to see!

    I expect many more idiocies in the coming years!

  21. As long as it was a bona fide college, you’re ok 😉

    As are they.

    They just can’t stay here indefinitely as some try to do.

  22. Con 45, LD 30, Lab 15. About what many of us predicted, though at the upper end of predictions for the LDs. Nothing for the Tories to be overly concerned about, or Labour really.

  23. True.

    The rest:

    Green 4%
    UKIP 4%
    NHA 1%
    Others (8) 2%

  24. Eleven lost deposits? Should go some way towards offsetting the cost of Cameron’s decision to go early so he can line his own pockets a bit quicker.

  25. 10 I think, unless I missed a candidate (or rather Sky News did as it went to the declaration a bit late). Glad I didn’t watch BBC – they didn’t show either result.

    But yes, 19 lost Deposits today.

    Does it still go to Govt or do the councils get to keep it?

  26. I was just going by what you said, Green, UKIP, NHA and 8 others

  27. Labour will be pleased not to have been squeezed here and to have remained 2% above their 2010 vote share.

  28. Not too surprising in a way given the May 2016 local results. The Labour vote clearly held up in Witney itself (and maybe also Chipping Norton) while the LDs did well and probably outpolled the Tories in areas like Eynsham, Charlbury, Woodstock and possibly Freeland and Hanborough where they’ve done well on and off at a local level since the early 2000s.

    In 2020 I suppose the Tories will edge above 50% again with the LDs reconsolidating their 2005 and 2010 distant 2nd place and Labour staying around 15-18%.

  29. In the end all 3 main parties will be satisfied that the large effort they put in achieved the result they wanted. Labour were able to hold their vote through a big defensive action in the last 10 days but their slow start let the Lib Dems establish second place. The Tories also had to mount a big defensive action, with May putting a 3 line whip on MP’s to visit ( which is why she went herself). The lib Dems have shown they are once again a force to be reckoned with in a by-election after a string of dismal results going back before 2010. They will use the swing in future contests (it would win Richmond Park for example), and will be hopeful for the County Councils next May

  30. ANDREW11 – this is only a good result for labour in the context of the most recent national polling (which has been the first set of polls which I think have been genuinely bad for Corbyn). May may still be in something of a ‘honeymoon’ of course, and UKIP’s demise may be favouring the tories more (especially with many UKIP politician’s praising May’s change of direction), but it also suggests that the attempted labour coup probably has caused lasting damage, and this result is merely one small piece of evidence for that narrative.

    The party who will be most disappointed, though, are my own, the Greens. A high-profile candidate with good media exposure, Labour in the problems it is, and with many in the constituency being possible ‘protest voters’, and the share drops to a lost deposit. Not good.

  31. Excellent result for the libdems, though. They must have high hopes of challenging in some of those affluent, south-west seats they lost in 2015.

  32. The problem for the Lib Dems is you get no prizes for a distant second. Their national profile has collapsed and they needed a much better result than this to give it a significant boost. Few people among the general public will take note of this, and fewer still in a week’s time.

  33. A good LD performance though the circumstances were pretty favourable it has to be said- a by-election in a prosperous constituency which voted Remain with a liberal-tinged eastern section.

  34. Tomorrow’s chip paper, nevertheless, I think.

  35. Whats interesting is the collapse of UKIP that may have benefit ed the Conservatives.

    Had UKIPs vote increased and Labours collapsed the result would have been much tighter.

  36. A mixed night for me in terms of predictions. I overestimated LAB vote her a little (3%) and seriously underestimated the LD vote. I got turnout almost spot on, only (0.8% out)

    Shame for me that Duncan Enright didn’t get a few more votes – I had a not insubstantial bet at 5/1 that LABOUR would get between 15-20%. He ended up with 5765 out of 38492, which 14.979%.

  37. “…it also suggests that the attempted labour coup probably has caused lasting damage…”

    Surely it’s just as likely that Corbyn’s reelection is responsible for that damage rather than the attempted coup that preceded it. It’s conceivable there could have been some Labour voters who doubt Corbyn’s abilities who were reluctantly telling the pollsters they would still vote Labour. Following his victory by an increased margin they now see the party as lost for the forseable future and are withholding support.

    After all the difference between Labour’s current polling position (dreadful) and the situation pre-coup (slightly less dreadful on some measures) is not huge.

    It’s just a bit too convenient for the Labour Party’s current difficulties to be entirely the result of things that happen around the current leader rather than the evident inadequacies of the man himself.

  38. Certainly tomorrow’s chip paper, but it probably still reflects a little of changes more generally. Not great news (other than it makes one question that recent tory poll of 47% nationally; one can’t imagine Witney having a below average Tory vote! (My suspicion is that the absolute cieling for the tories is about 42%, probably a similar level to Labour).

  39. Apologies for my spelling and grammar/punctuation above.

  40. KIERAN W – Why would Corbyn’s re-election put Labour in a much worse position than they were before the contest, unless the contest had worsened their position overall (yes-it’s possible that the contest has worsened the public opinion of Corbyn himself, but that amounts to the same thing).

  41. @Ecowirral

    Not sure that you can compare a by-election with a GE poll. Clearly in a GE the Tories would do much better than 45% in Witney and the LDs wouldn’t have much of a campaign there.

  42. I think if we look at the raw votes it’s clear there wasn’t a lot of switching between the parties, but a lot of stay-at-home Tory voters from 2015. This is quite normal in by-elections, especially unnecessary ones.

    Bearing this in mind, there is not much to read into this result, hence the chip paper comment./

  43. “Why would Corbyn’s re-election put Labour in a much worse position than they were before the contest…”

    Ecowirral, firstly Labour are not in a “much” worse position than they were pre-coup. As I said, the difference in polling between then and now is not huge.

    Secondly there could easily have been Labour sympathisers who were sticking with the party before Corbyn was reeelected on the assumption that Corbynism was a fad that would soon pass. His reelection by an increased majority might have convinced some that the party has shifted in that direction for the forseable future and therefore no longer merits their support.

  44. I’m not sure there was a person in Britain who genuinely thought Owen Smith was going to win the leadership election

  45. @Keiran W
    ‘ Following his victory by an increased margin they now see the party as lost for the forseable future and are withholding support.’

    Whilst it has been widely reported that Corbyn increased his winning margin , it is not actually true! He did increase his vote share from 59.5% in 2015 to 61.8% this year but his margin of victory fell from 42% -ie 59.5% to 17% for Burnham – last year to 23.6% in 2016 — ie 61.8% to 38.2% for Smith.
    The by election result is satisfactory for Labour who remain 2% above their 2010 vote share here. It certainly fails to support the 17/18% Tory leads being reported nationally by some pollsters.

  46. That’s because four candidates stood in 2015 and two stood in 2016 the combination of ABC was 180,000 or 41.5% this year 190,000 or 38%

  47. Indeed – but had the preferences been redistributed in 2015 Corbyn would have defeated Burnham by a 65 -35 margin.Had Cooper edged into second place , Corbyn’s margin of victory would have been at least 67 – 33. There was obviously no need to do this because Corbyn had won over 50% on the first preferences , but to make a real like for comparison we need to consider what the result would have been in 2015 with only two candidates remaining in the contest. On that basis, it is pretty clear there was a small swing AGAINST Corbyn compared with a year earlier. The media have once again shown their ignorance of how electoral systems work and failed to come up with a sound objective analysis.

  48. What anumber impressive LD swing in the by election . Hopefully they can repeat this in 2020 and gain the seat !

  49. Yes, and Bootle must be in play for the Lib Dems now as well.

  50. KIERAN W – It surprises me when people (even tories like yourself) are so reluctant to acknowledge the damaging effect of the PLPs failed coup on Labour’s chances at the next election. And yes, current polls are MUCH worse than those just before the coup, which showed labour approaching parity (and actually being ahead in one poll). That wasn’t a great position, either, but it looks a heck of a lot better than polls in the last couple of weeks.

    Having said that, as I’ve already indicated, I doubt the current polls, mainly because of the size of the reported tory share, which would seem to cut into the proportion of the population who actively dislike them.

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