Witney

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
2010
Con: 33973 (59%)
Lab: 7511 (13%)
LDem: 11233 (19%)
GRN: 2385 (4%)
Oth: 2667 (5%)
MAJ: 22740 (39%)
2005*
Con: 26571 (49%)
Lab: 11845 (22%)
LDem: 12415 (23%)
GRN: 1682 (3%)
Oth: 1356 (3%)
MAJ: 14156 (26%)
2001
Con: 22153 (45%)
Lab: 14180 (29%)
LDem: 10000 (20%)
GRN: 1100 (2%)
Oth: 1770 (4%)
MAJ: 7973 (16%)
1997
Con: 24282 (43%)
Lab: 17254 (31%)
LDem: 11202 (20%)
Oth: 1401 (2%)
MAJ: 7028 (12%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
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)
Links
Comments - 2,062 Responses on “Witney”
  1. @Graham I’m not really sure it would have done. The Lib Dems failed to take many votes from Labour that is true so to increase their vote share Labour would have had to flip votes from other parties and with their current joke of a leadership who realistically believes they could do that? In fact more appearances by Corbyn and people like Abbot showing up would probably have increased turnout which would heavily lean Tory as people would have taken it as less a message to the government and more a referendum on Corbyn of which the verdict especially in a place like this would be damning. To be quite honest with you the less the public sees of Corbyn and the socialist worker placard waving ‘activists’ the better.

  2. Not at all- had they launched a fullscale effort similar to the LibDems ,Labour would have got more of its 2015 supporters out to vote – and boosted the turnout to 50% or so!

  3. Yeah but they would have also boosted themselves into the local press and not overly political Tory leaning supporters would have come out too out of disgust at the crazy Labour leadership appearing in their back yard.

  4. @Graham

    For the Lib Dems, hard votes are everything right now. I have no idea if or when they will ever recover to 2005/2010 levels, but they are most certainly toast if they can’t recover to a national share in the low-to-mid teens.

    (or, to put the same point more sarcastically, they can’t afford new signs, and must therefore try to demonstrate that “Lib Dems can win here” is plausible in the seats they previously lost)

  5. If it was made into a Con vs Lab contest and Labour had thrown the kitchen sink at it appearances by Corbyn and his ilk. Labour would maybe have got 17% (and that’s being generous) the Lib Dems would have done far, far worse and the Tories would be well over 50. There is clear evidence to suggest the more the public has Corbyn and the nutjob wing of Labour in their faces the more they are repulsed and become more anti the party.

  6. But a more intensive Labour effort would not have required Corbyn and his ilk to turn up any more than they did! It would simply have required them to draft in hundreds of volunteers for 3/4 weeks in the same way that the LibDems chose to do.They did not do so because the result had much less significance for Labour. – but I don’t doubt that it could have been done!

  7. @Graham yeah if they could get Corbyn and the national party to stay as far away as humanly possible and they drafted in local activists not espousing the Corbnite gospel (which would be virtually impossible IMO) then maybe. But an overtly Con vs Lab contest (or even a three way contest) would have easily pushed the Tories over 50%.

  8. TBH I would be not surprised at all if Corbyn showing up in Witney cost Labour a % point or two lol.

  9. Oh come off it ! Labour has been perfectly capable in the past of drafting in resources when needed – long before Corbyn became leader. Labour’s candidate was well known not to be sympathetic to him too. An intensive Labour campaign would not have worried the Tories at all – it would have split the opposition to them in this contest!

  10. Er no it wouldn’t have worried them but ‘Labour main challengers’, ‘Corbyn third appearance in Witney’ ‘Abbot denounces the government’ headlines would have hugely panicked Tory voters far more than ‘Farron campaigns for Leffman in Charlbury’. The Lib Dems are not toxic with Tory voters Labour are. A huge nationalised campaign would have quite frankly sunk Enright, Plus the Labour activist are more extreme than they have ever been sending them to somewhere like freaking Witney can only lead to poll ratings going south as people are reminded that Corbinite Labour is virtually unhinged…

  11. But that was never going to happen! Labour never had a hope in hell of actually winning the seat. A good Labour effort suited the Tories very nicely – the last thing they would have wanted was Labour squeezed to circa 5% and the LibDems up at 40%!
    I have to retire now , but I feel you are being a bit silly for someone who normally speaks a lot of sense – and who I enjoy chatting with!

  12. @Graham but Labour don’t have to defend their core base here though. 10-15% are Corbynistas that are impossible for the Lib Dems to squeeze. I think you underestimate the effects on a-political Tory voters or Liberal leaning Tories of the national Labour party showing up in their neck of the woods though.

  13. A more intensive campaign did not require the national party to appear more than it did.Corbyn made a token appearance and that was enough. However, the party could still have drafted in hundreds of workers for 3/4 weeks – rather than the final 10 day period they appear to have decided was sufficient.

  14. To squeeze the Labour vote the Lib Dems needed to be in a clear second place, as they were in both Newbury and Christchurch, cited above..

    Labour put in plenty of effort in the last 10 days in the areas where their vote was concentrated, probably matching the Lib Dems in those areas. Hence their vote was not squeezed – it is not rocket science!

  15. M P-R – I don’t think you can say the Govt has been in over 6 years.

    I think 18 months is fair (that’s how long we’ve had a Tory Govt). I’m not someone who says it’s a new Govt just cos the PM has changed. Although it’s undoubtedly true that the large leads have occurred since May became PM.

    Not unprecedented, of course. Maggie was even further ahead of Labour in some polls for a few months in both 1983 and 1987.

  16. The Lib Dems did squeeze Labour from 3rd place in Bromley and Chislehurst – but they were only narrowly behind Labour in 2005…

    Also the Labour candidate was Rachel Reeves, who is best kept away from actual voters….

    But in Newbury Labour only started on 6%!

    Looking back it is very hard to find an analogue for Witney in the modern era . The Liberals did win several Tory seats from 3rd place in the 1970 parliament

  17. I don’t know if anyone has mentioned it but a poll commissioned by the Independent in light of this election claimed a new Pro EU Party would gain 25% of the vote nationally (via. YouGov)

  18. That is one of the sillier polling questions I have ever seen though. “Pro-EU” is hardly a comprehensive policy platform.

  19. I think the above is a bit misleading. IIRC the wording was that a “Stop Brexit” party would get 25% of the vote. You can be Pro-EU while still thinking that stopping Brexit would be the wrong thing to do given the result of the referendum. Nevertheless from my own clients and contacts in Europe there is still very much a suspicion there that the UK will never actually leave.

  20. 25% may sound great but on the figures that YouGov produced you’d probably have got an almighty Tory landslide under FPTP… much like the SDP ‘Stop Brexit’ probably wouldn’t win many seats, given that in most of their strongest areas they would be up against hefty Labour majorities. Of course that polling is virtually meaningless because in practice how well they’d do would depend on how much elite support they got, what exactly their policy platform was, what the other parties platforms were, what stage Brexit had go to by then and so forth.

  21. ‘Nevertheless from my own clients and contacts in Europe there is still very much a suspicion there that the UK will never actually leave.’

    That was suggested by Conrad Black – who was on typically fine form on last week’s Question Time – a ‘Leave’ supporter

    But it seems to be an opinion from people who live outside the country

    I think us Remainers have perhaps belatedly recognised that we are in a minority – and that more people – as unbelievable as it may seem – care a lot more or about immigration levels than the country’s economic health – something which I expect will be the other way round five years from now

  22. “But it seems to be an opinion from people who live outside the country”

    Yes I agree with that. IMO a hard Brexit seems pretty inevitable now. Perhaps those feeling worst of all will be the liberal leavers, the Kieran Ws and Dan Hannans, who somehow assumed that a soft Brexit could emerge following a campaign won by relentless focus on immigration. But we shall see.

  23. Throughout the campaign Hannan was adamant that Brexit wouldn’t mean than leaving the Single Market was inevitable – as it now seems

    Again this should show people the danger of not having a credible opposition able to oppose the government when it needs to be opposed

    Incidentally the best opposition I remember was the 1992-97 Labour Party, who after 13 years of getting rejected at the ballot box had finally cottoned on what they needed to do if they were serious about governing – lessons the current Labour Party has all but forgotten.

  24. Yes. After 1983 the public’s view of Labour gradually shifted from “dangerous hard lefties” to “wishy-washy”. “I don’t always agree with Thatcher but at least I know where she stands” was a familiar doorstep conversation many Labour canvassers were familiar with at the time.

    Today half of Labour is dangerous hard lefties and the other half is reminiscent of wishy washy Kinncock circa 1987. A kind of back to the future from hell. It’s fairly easy to define where the government stands on Brexit and what they are likely to push for. Labour is quite literally all over the place, with the David Lammys wanting to ignore the referendum, Emily Thornberrys wanting second referendums, right over to the Rachel Reeves and Chuka Umunnas who want to insist on zero compromise on immigration control. They are a total dog’s breakfast. At such a precarious time swing voters are likely to prefer a party which knows where they stand to one which doesn’t, even if they don’t necessarily agree with their position.

  25. “more people – as unbelievable as it may seem – care a lot more or about immigration levels than the country’s economic health”

    I think people thought one wouldn’t affect the other really, that Remain were scaremongering etc. and, crucially, that Brexit would be good for them PERSONALLY.

    In theory it should be, for those at the lower end of the wage scale and most affected by migration – all other things being equal lowering immigration lowers “supply” into the wage market and should drive up pay.

    What the long-term impact will be is obviously uncertain. Personally I feel that Brexit WILL turn out to be a good thing for th UK economy in time, that any shocks to the economy will be short-term and it’s very easy at the moment to cite the CETA shambles as a reason why it will be easier to do deals outside of the EU. As the UK is also a huge export market for the EU, cool heads should realise that they won’t want to antagonise us. Of course, cool heads don’t always prevail in politics.

  26. ‘As the UK is also a huge export market for the EU, cool heads should realise that they won’t want to antagonise us. ‘

    And that was the argument the Redwoods, the Graylings, the Leadsoms and all the others on the hard Brexit Right were telling us over and over again and yet to listen to what the German government is currently saying now it seems that the EU as an institution will come before the interests of their car manufacturers – and that doesn’t bode well for the UK

    Of course we are to hope that cooler heads prevail once talks commence, but people said the same about when former PM Cameron started negotiations to repatriate some powers from the EU in the run up to the referendum, and he got very little indeed

  27. There will be hell to pay if Theresa May doesn’t deliver hard brexit.

    Millions of voters including Hemmelig’s parents were voting to abolish free movement above the needs of the economy and we will not let them down.

  28. @Tim it’s quite widely accepted that the EU was prepared for months of negotiations with Cameron but he wanted them over as quickly as possible and thus he got virtually nothing. Apparently European politicians were quite shocked with the blasé attitude with which Cameron treated the renegotiations.

  29. @Tim Jones

    It was amazing to see people telling us we needed to Leave because the EU was dysfunctional, obsesssed with integration and unresponsive to British demands, but that we would certainly get a great exit deal from them because it was obviously in their interests.

  30. By that reasoning it’s a catch 22 situation. The more “dysfunctional, obsesssed with integration and unresponsive to British demands” the EU is we have to stay as we’d otherwise be faced with the task of negotiating an exit agreement with an organisation that’s “dysfunctional, obsesssed with integration and unresponsive to British demands”.

    This is why some of us voted leave. I’d sooner we take our chances out of an organisation that is characterised even by some of its supporters as something between Hotel California and a protection racket.

    It’s reminds me of John Rentoul’s description the other day of Tony Blair’s major speeches on the EU as basically arguing that Britain had to “…agree to things we didn’t like in the EU in order to keep our place at the top table so that we could agree to more things we didn’t like”.

  31. Steady now – I didn’t make this post.
    Perhaps any posts similar should be treated with caution.
    If anyone is unclear, my views on the EU are quite borderline.
    I can hardly complain though to get a taste of my own medicine.

    “”””There will be hell to pay if Theresa May doesn’t deliver hard brexit.

    Millions of voters including Hemmelig’s parents were voting to abolish free movement above the needs of the economy and we will not let them down. “”

  32. I think this whole “economy versus immigration” thing is overblown. Nobody wants “no immigration”, and it will work sector by sector. We’ll take doctors, engineers and other areas where there’s a skills shortage, we’ll probably take fruit-pickers and other jobs Brits aren’t prepared to do; but we probably won’t take so many plumbers. Unless Polish plumbers are so incredibly vital to the economy.

  33. “Nobody wants “no immigration””

    But plenty of people want no MORE immigration. Generally not far off half the voters, when polled
    I suggest you take a trip around Scunthorpe or Barnsley and keep your ear to the ground.

  34. ‘I suggest you take a trip around Scunthorpe or Barnsley’.

    Err, no thanks. But HH is right that there is a huge groundswell of anti- immigration opinion in working class communities across England that perhaps even the right wing posters here don’t fully appreciate. It’s not pleasant, PC or pretty to listen to but it’s out there. And I’m sure very many of them would want ‘no immigration’, ta very much.

  35. Sorry, when I said “nobody” I meant “no politicians”. Since they’re the ones making the decisions.

  36. Most people were happy with 50,000-100,000 migrants a year, as was typically the case in the 80s and early 90s.

  37. HH & Tristan are right.

    In fact the polling on this is even more anti-immigration than that.

    36% actually supported repatriation of immigrants when last asked in a poll.

    Polltroll – I take your point, although even that isn’t strictly true. Phillip Davies, the DUP, Frank Field have all called for no immigration – albeit for a 12 month period, in the form of an emergency brake (presumably to avoid a pre-exit rush).

    Migrationwatch tends to call for the figures Andy JS mentions, ie a return to the levels of the recent past, below 100k pa.

  38. Most people were happy with 50,000-100,000 migrants a year, as was typically the case in the 80s and early 90s.

    Good point. While immigration had been an issue in the 1970s, I remember campaigning in what was thought to be a marginal seat in the 1997 general election; immigration did not come up once as an issue.

  39. It’s also about distribution. Immigration before Blair threw open the doors was more concentrated in specific geographical areas than now eg London and a few northern & midland cities.

  40. Poll troll,
    Getting a plumber to call is like winning the lottery where I live! And on one of the roundabouts going into Leeds there is always a handwritten sign for a polish plumber! Presumably aimed at the metropolitan elite!

  41. Cameron’s legacy ruined:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/david-cameron-worst-prime-minister-ranking-third-since-ww2-a7358171.html

    The survey of 82 academics, specialising in post-1945 British history and politics, was carried out at Leeds University.

  42. And Paxman says : “I think he’s been a pretty terrible prime minister actually” and his actions are “unforgiveable “.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-paxman-david-cameron-unforgivable-brexit-referendum-ryan-tubridy-a7399086.html
    November 5t

  43. As seems to be inevitable in this polarised post-Brexit landscape, Paxman’s comments are rather hyperbolic. And saying he “didn’t even bother to make the case for staying in Europe” is flat-out wrong. He led from the front for the remain side, and even before that he had spent months jetting around Europe trying his damnedest to get a better deal to sell to the electorate.

    I’ve not even looked at the article about the academic survey, since the fact that academics don’t like a Prime Minister who tripled tuition fees is hardly a revelation.

  44. To state that the reasoned opinions of 82 respected history academics would be swayed by Camerons government’s tuition fees policies is dumb.

  45. ‘he had spent months jetting around Europe trying his damnedest to get a better deal to sell to the electorate’

    No – he really didn’t try that hard and the other European leaders were surprised how little he asked for and how short a period he allowed for his ‘efforts’. The ‘renegotiation’ was a sham from the start.

  46. I could write a couple of paragraphs on the flawed nature of the research ranking Prime Ministers linked to above. Link to the original source here:

    https://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/3930/britains_post-war_prime_ministers_ranked_by_politics_experts

    Suffice to say that these words in the extremely brief description of the methodology should ring alarm bells for anyone with even the sketchiest understanding of what constitutes empirical research: “The sample was developed by Professor Theakston”.

  47. I share Kieran’s scepticism about the methodology of the Leeds study but as someone who likes Cameron I would struggle to disagree with that rating. In time he’ll always be remembered as the PM who risked everything for party management reasons and lost, just as Eden’s premiership is remembered for little but Suez.

  48. “…he’ll always be remembered as the PM who risked everything for party management reasons and lost…”

    The question of EU membership wouldn’t have gone away had Cameron not allowed a referendum. Saying that he did so for party management reasons implies that there was no demand for a vote outside the membership of the Conservative Party. That’s patently nonsense.

    Cameron was presented with a situation where allowing a referendum was the least worst option. That’s one of the many problems with the research cited above. It seems to judge how PMs played their hand without any consideration of the hand they were dealt.

  49. I’m surprised to read the opinion that hiking tuition fees was unpopular among academics; I thought the universities were calling for such a rise.

  50. I share Kieran’s scepticism about the methodology of the Leeds study but as someone who likes Cameron I would struggle to disagree with that rating. In time he’ll always be remembered as the PM who risked everything for party management reasons and lost, just as Eden’s premiership is remembered for little but Suez.

    Good assessment. Cameron’s insouciance, looking back, was incredible. It’s also clear his government made zero contingency plans for the eventuality of the electorate voting for Brexit. I don’t think it ever crossed his mind that he might lose the referendum, before it was too late.

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