Worthing West

2015 Result:
Conservative: 26124 (51.5%)
Labour: 7955 (15.7%)
Lib Dem: 4477 (8.8%)
Green: 2938 (5.8%)
UKIP: 9269 (18.3%)
MAJORITY: 16855 (33.2%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: South East, West Sussex.

Main population centres:

Profile: Like many seaside retirement areas this has historically had a very high proportion of elderly people, though this has fallen in recent years with younger residents moving into the area.


Current MP
PETER BOTTOMLEY (Conservative) Born 1944, Newport. Educated at Westminster school and Cambridge University. Former lorry driver and salesman. Contested Woolwich West Feb 1974, Oct 1974. MP for Woolwich West 1975-1983, Eltham 1983-1997. First elected as MP for Worthing West in 1997. PPS to Cranley Onslow 1982-1983, PPS to Norman Fowler 1983-1984, junior employment minister 1984-1986, minister for roads and traffic 1986-1989, junior Northern Ireland minister 1989-1990, PPS to Peter Brooke 1990. He is married to former cabinet minister and MP Baroness Bottomley. Knighted in 2011 for public service.
Past Results
Con: 25416 (52%)
Lab: 5800 (12%)
LDem: 13687 (28%)
UKIP: 2924 (6%)
Oth: 1296 (3%)
MAJ: 11729 (24%)
Con: 21383 (48%)
Lab: 8630 (19%)
LDem: 12004 (27%)
UKIP: 2374 (5%)
Oth: 550 (1%)
MAJ: 9379 (21%)
Con: 20508 (47%)
Lab: 9270 (21%)
LDem: 11471 (27%)
UKIP: 1960 (5%)
MAJ: 9037 (21%)
Con: 23733 (46%)
Lab: 8347 (16%)
LDem: 16020 (31%)
Oth: 1029 (2%)
MAJ: 7713 (15%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
PETER BOTTOMLEY (Conservative) See above.
JIM DEEN (Labour)
HAZEL THORPE (Liberal Democrat) Educated at McEntee Technical School and Open University. Former teacher. Worthing councillor since 2000.
TIM CROSS (UKIP) Contested Worthing West 1997, 2001, 2005, South East region 2004 European election.
Comments - 156 Responses on “Worthing West”
  1. The election battle (for second place!) is hotting up down here in Worthing West.

    The Lib Dem election leaflet has made the outrageous claim in an election leaflet (without any shred of evidence provided) that ‘more and more Labour supporters are switching to back local Lib Dem Hazel Thorpe this time – the only candidate that can beat the Conservatives here’.

    Well, last time ‘Labour supporters switched to the Lib Dems to beat the Conservatives’ in 2010 they are well aware of what happened next. Breathtaking to make such a claim.

  2. the idea that ANYONE has a chance of beating Peter Bottomley is ridiculous.

  3. Indeed so – the only battle here, as I say, is for second place and I’m not sure that Labour supporters would ‘lend’ Ms Thorpe their votes for a second time.

    I think I’d rather vote for Peter Bottomley.

  4. I lived in this constituency for 19 years… 1987-2006. In 1995 it was a LibDem stronghold (they won 10 of the 12 local council wards, including even true blue Goring). Since 1997 they collapsed and it reverted to its historical allegiance. No way Bumley could ever lose this one.

  5. Conservative Hold. 16,000 maj

  6. I’m going to permit myself the indulgence on commenting on this rather boring safe Tory seat as it is my own constituency and therefore perhaps a bit more interesting to me than to others on this site.

    At first sight (and probably second and third as well) it is just one of those ineffably safe Tory seats with a massive majority – close to 17,000 – that is entirely typical of most rural and suburban seats in the southern half of England. However, Peter Bottomley’s share of the vote declined a touch – it is still just over 50% – and it was the only the Lib Dem collapse plus the dividing of the principal opposition vote between Labour and UKIP that pushed up Bottomley’s majority by over 5,000.

    My guess is that he will ‘call it a day’ in 2020. His rather gentle, quixotic Conservatism looks a bit eccentric these days and he is now over 70.

  7. Maybe one day. But that day won’t be soon. At the moment Worthing is still a modest retirement town populated largely by not especially wealthy but nonetheless very reliably Conservative voters. It does not pull in younger people at the same rate Hove does, by virtue of being next door (or, in reality, subsumed within) Brighton.

  8. Tim Jones’ view would be useful as he’s a local, as is Dr John. I know the area a bit but not hugely well. Nevertheless there is I think enough geographical separation between Hove and Shoreham/Worthing for it to be unlikely that the Brighton effect will subsume those towns. For a start the transport links to London are far worse than from Brighton.

  9. ‘Is it possible that this seat could ever go the way of Hove one day?’

    Jack’s post sounds about right – sums up Worthing quite nicely

    What you do find is that places like Worthing and Shoreham are increasingly becoming places to live for people who can’t afford to buy property in Brighton

    But this doesn’t make the seat less Conservative, as often these newcomers are people in white collar occupations, middle incomes and are starting up families

    As Hemelig says, despite their closeness to Brighton, Worthing and Shoreham are very very different, as anyone who has driven along the coast from Brighton to Worthing can testify

    I know quite a few people who bought property in Worthing around 2000 and whilst they have seen a modest rise in their investments it’s nlpt close to the amounts they were expecting following what happened in Brighton & hive in the late 90s/early 00s – and for goofd reason

    As someone currently on the market for a house in Brighton & Hove, I personally think the premium is worth every penny. I wouldn’t even live as far out as Portslade

  10. ‘I read something in The Argus that corroborates this.’

    Outside London this might be true

    Although I’d be cautious about reading anything you believe in The Argus – an utterly hideous local rag that tries to be a cross between The Daily Mail and The Sun but miserably fails

  11. Brighton turning into Islington by the Sea means that Joe and Joanna Bloggs will move out when they have kids. Perhaps to somewhere nearby like Worthing or Seaford. As Tim seems to allude, I think it will bolster the Tory vote rather than the opposite.

  12. Shows how little I’ve been on this site of late – have missed several comments about my own constituency, although the conversation seems now to have morphed more into one about Brighton and Hove.

    Two things to say – all this ‘independent state of Brighton and Hove’ stuff that one still hears in these parts seems to willfully ignore the fact that the Conservatives retained Kemptown. What’s so radical about a town that has three MPs from different parties, one of whom is a Conservative?

    On Worthing West, I don’t think that this seat will ever fall to Labour, even within the lifetimes of some of the younger posters on this site. Worthing is certainly changing and the town centre wards definitely have a younger, more transient feel. The Green party were successful in Worthing Central in the 2014 locals, albeit by only 9 votes and were not that far off in neighbouring Heene. Both of these wards of part of Worthing West. However, the massive Tory strength of Goring-by-Sea and the wards further west in Rustington and East Preston (in Arun district) are truly impregnable and will keep this seat in the Tory column in perpetuity as far as I can see, even while Worthing town itself slowly changes in a distant and faint echo of what has happened 12 miles to the east.

  13. ‘all this ‘independent state of Brighton and Hove’ stuff that one still hears in these parts seems to willfully ignore the fact that the Conservatives retained Kemptown. ‘

    But that’s only because they include bits which aren’t in Brighton & Hove, like the run-down and Conservative-voting coastal town of Peacehaven

    Brighton & Hove still stands out because its nicer and considerably more affluent than the rest of the towns on the Sussex coast, and yet its turned away from the Conservatives

  14. It’s got a substantially different demographic from the other Sussex coast towns – I don’t know about the more subjective ‘nicer’ – and its radical middle-class vote is very large, particularly in Pavilion.

    Kemptown is clearly an embarrassment to such people who (to paraphrase Barry Goldwater) would prefer to see it detached and float off into the sea.

  15. Seaford is not in Brighton Kemptown constituency.

    Your uncle sounds a very odd person. Why would he want Baker defeated simply for having the temerity to write a book about the strange death of Dr Kelly? Your uncle isn’t Alistair Campbell is he?

  16. ‘I visited my uncle in Hove in August 2014 and he was convinced Kyle would win as most other people were. I visited again in August 2015. My uncle lives in St Ann’s Court, Nizells Avenue, Hove (I’m not sure what ward this is in though).’

    I used to live in Davigdor Road for five years, which is adjacent to Nizells Avenue

    I assume that like Davigdor Road it’s in the Goldsmith ward – a largely residential area, with a suburban feel, which like much of eastern Hove used to be fairly reliably Conservative but isn’t now

    ‘My uncle is one of those people who believes in everything Blair did, including Iraq.’

    That makes him odder still – the only person I can think of – besides Blair himself – who knowing what we know now still thinks invading Iraq was the right thing to do

    Having said that, Hove MP Peter Kyle is very much New Labour – one of the few who backed Liz Kendall for the leadership

  17. I don’t think much is going to change here. Lib Dems will return to their customary place as distant second to the Tories who are likely to have a majority of around 20,000 in my view. The recent WSCC elections show that this seat remains a Tory monolith.

  18. Genuinely stupendous momentum for the Labour Party in Marine ward tonight :
    Lab: 1,032 (47.4%…..+27.8%)
    Con: 846 (38.8%….. -6.4%)
    LDem: 246 (11.3%….+1.1%)
    Grn: 55 (2.5%……-6.2%).
    This is the first Labour councillor in Worthing since 1973. Easily Labour’s highest numerical vote in this ward, let alone percentage. The above comment by Dr John is clearly not correct, not now.

  19. The Brighton effect writ large. I suspect Tim Loughton next door will be a tad jumpy at that result.

  20. I read it’s been Conservative since 1983

  21. I read somewhere that (presumably left-leaning) people are moving to Worthing finding Brighton too expensive. The elderly population kept it in the Leave column.

  22. Matt – the ward was created in 1973 and AFAIK the Tories had never lost it until last night.
    There are apparently 5 wards in the borough where Labour are stronger, Heene, Central, Broadwater (the last ward to be won by a Labour candidate, in 1973), Selden & Gaisford. If Labour continued to do this well in the next few years actual control of Worthing council would be a realistic objective in 2020.

  23. Sbjme19: this isn’t just, or even mainly, a demographic effect. Demographics just don’t change that much in two years! This is more about the extreme concentration of Labour activists in Brighton and its surroundings.

    There will have been a large chunk of elderly Labour voters round here, far more than there have been in the past.

  24. The Brighton and Hove impact is clearly having a domino effect on Worthing and we could well be seeing similar changes that saw Hove go from an ultra-safe Tory to safe Labour in the space of 30 years repeating itself. I could also see the same thing happening in Lewes if the Libs collapsed in the seat. The population here is turning younger and as each passes it is likely to be in Labour’s advantage. Worthing West is still safe Tory(barring a 97 style Labour landslide) but Tim Loughton looks like he may be living on borrowed time in East Worthing and Shoreham.

  25. Not unlike many others at the moment, you’re getting carried away. Lewes on current boundaries has far too much Tory rural hinterland to ever be a safe Labour seat. Lewes town is already arguably the equal of Brighton and Hove in the muesli eating sandal wearing stakes. For Labour to have even the slightest chance, the “Brighton effect” would have to utterly transform the south of the seat in Newhaven and Seaford. Possible, but there’s little evidence of it as yet. Newhaven in particular remains a complete and utter dump.

    Worthing is also far from a nice town and Labour’s sudden success is just as likely to reflect the significant low-income proportion of the electorate here getting totally fed up with spending cuts etc.

  26. I think the excited Labour members on this forum could do worse than read back through threads like Bridgend, Bishop Auckland, etc, seats that it was assumed would get swallowed up by the strong and stable May machine. (I think the most ridiculous one was Norwich South. Yes, some people thought the Tories could win Norwich South!) And now Labour supporters are falling into the same trap. Get excited, by all means, but don’t assume you’re going to win the next election by default. Ed Miliband did that.

  27. Agreed, a lot of Plopwellian Socialists around at the moment.

    Not to say that Labour don’t stand a good chance of forming the next government, but they’ll struggle to hold seats like Kensington in an election where Corbyn winning is a realistic possibility.

    Similarly the Tories will struggle to hold the likes of Mansfield after soft Brexit fails to dent immigration. They will also need to watch their backs in fishing seats like Hastings and Banff & Buchan, following the news that we are likely to remain in the CFP or something similar.

  28. In fairness, if May wasn’t so awful she would have won Bishop Auckland easily.

    I don’t think anyone is assuming Labour will just win the next election, but even if Labour didn’t win the next election, I think they’d win seats they haven’t won before. The swing to Labour in Worthing East for example was very large – it’s more marginal now than ever. Excitement is understandable.

  29. Oh, and regarding this whole ‘People won’t vote Labour again because Corybn might actually win’, I found this interesting:


    Might not apply to the well-heeled in Kensington etc, but I don’t think the idea that they voted for Labour only because they thought they wouldn’t win is necessarily true.

  30. I certainly admit that seats like Lewes are longshots at the moment and are not even in range for Labour – or likely to be at the next election; but their vote is currently considerably dented by the Liberal Democrats and tactical voting. I suspect if Lewes never had a Lib Dem MP Labour would be in a good second place with margins not too dissimilar to East Worthing and Shoreham. The rural hinterland is always likely to prove a challenge in that seat as East Worthing is more urban. Worthing West is also highly unlikely to be a Labour seat at the next election barring a landslide.

    I would never have predicted some of the results prior to the recent general election but the political landscape is changing fast in parts of the country.

  31. Yes that’s a fair comment.

    The Tories have been very complacent in their home counties heartlands for decades and them being shaken out of that complacency is a good thing. Ditto the Labour coalfield seats in the midlands and north. The Tories are totally invisible here (Mid Sussex) and have been for the 5 or so years I’ve lived here, yet they have won all the local & national elections here handsomely.

  32. As a frequent commenter on this site i well remember how labour were gonna lose a ton of seats. Ed Milibands biggest mistake was to believe he would win in 2015 because he thought he had a right to it. I think TM made the same mistake this time round. It will be incumbent on Labour and the Tories to not make the same mistake next time round

  33. Thought I’d just post last nights entire collection of local by-elections.

    Marine (Worthing) result:
    LAB: 47.4% (+27.8)
    CON: 38.8% (-6.4)
    LDEM: 11.3% (+1.1)
    GRN: 2.5% (-6.2)

    LAB Gain
    Already mentioned obviously, very good result for Lab.

    Penshurst, Fordcombe & Chiddingstone (Sevenoaks) result:
    CON: 58.8% (+5.5)
    LDEM: 34.0% (+0.2)
    LAB: 7.2% (+7.2)

    CON hold
    Exceedingly unremarkable.

    Loughborough Shelthorpe (Charnwood) result:
    LAB: 45.5% (+5.8)
    CON: 45.2% (+0.1)
    LDEM: 7.1% (+7.1)
    UKIP: 2.2% (+2.2)

    LAB hold
    Figures are a bit misleading, it looks like a Lab gain but its only a hold, multi member ward where Lab came in second last time and the Lab seat was up for grabs.

    Margate Central (Thanet) result:
    LAB: 57.5% (+23.7)
    CON: 24.1% (+3.6)
    UKIP: 6.6% (-25.2)
    LDEM: 4.2%
    IND : 3.0%
    GRN: 2.9% (-8.6)
    IND: 1.6%

    LAB gain
    Yep UKIP are dead, little news there.

    St Margarets w/ St Nicholas (King’s Lynn):
    CON: 36.2% (-6.6)
    LAB: 30.0% (-3.1)
    LDEM: 24.7% (+24.7)
    GRN: 9.0% (-15.1)

    CON Gain
    Unfortunate for Lab, like in Loughborough it was another multi member ward where Lab came in second and the Lab seat was up for grabs, in this case they were unable to hold on. Could have been worse though in what is a decidedly Brexity and Corbyn unfriendly part of the world I’d have thought.

    Milton Regis (Swale) result:
    LAB: 53.8% (+25.1)
    CON: 23.9% (-9.8)
    UKIP: 14.2% (-14.7)
    LDEM: 8.1% (-0.5)

    LAB gain
    Another corker for Lab there and in North Kent too an area that many (including myself) thought Lab was pretty much dead and buried even before Brexit, interesting to say the least.

  34. If I’m not much mistaken, the Tories recorded their highest numerical in the old Worthing seat in 1966, making it their safest seat in the whole of the uk

    As with many down-trodden seaside seats that have seen better days, the high proportion of retired people and pensioners has meant the Tories have never really been seriously challenged, although the influx of young families who can no longer afford to live in Brighton means seats like this could become more competitive in future. i know several families who have made that move in the last year or so and none of them would even consider voting Tory

  35. ‘Ed Milibands biggest mistake was to believe he would win in 2015 because he thought he had a right to it.’

    I got the impression that Miliband always knew deep down that he would never become Prime Minister, and as I said at the time, I never understood why so many people thought Labour would win in 2015.

    Prior to 2010 people were saying that whoever won that election looked set to become the most unpopular government ever because of the cuts they would have to make to try and sort out out budget deficit, and yet despite the implosion of the Lib Dems and the unlikely rise of UKIP, the Tories themselves never really dipped below 35% in the opinion polls through the 2010-15 Parliament – and who believes in opinion polls anyhow

  36. That is an argument to had. It was said that BMGs internal polling for the labour party had tories polling ahead by 7% as early as 2013. However, that doesnt really chime much the BES or Beckett report done post election

  37. Tim- is Worthing really that downtrodden? (Genuine question). I thought it was a reasonably affluent place, nowhere near as run down as Clacton, Blackpool etc.

  38. I must confess I don’t know Worthing (West) despite having studied at Sussex University. I have however read Robert Waller’s profile of every constituency in the late Almanac of British Politics. In the last of these, for the 2001 election I think, he mentions that there is very little sign of the deprivation for which Hastings & Brighton were already known, except to a very small degree in Heene & Central wards. It may be that it has become more socially downscale since then of course. Perhaps Tim would know more than me. What we do know is that there has been a very large swing to Labour in the borough in recent months, apparently from almost nowhere. This can’t simply be put down to increased Labour activity, though that must have contributed in this by-election. But you don’t win elections without having a good message & having, ultimately, an electorate that will respond to that message. The LDs apparently put a lot of effort into the by-election in Milton Regis, Kent which Labour won this morning, but got no reward for it all.

  39. Worthing is pretty affluent as seaside resorts go…and while it lacks the glamour of Brighton it also lacks the Deprivation of some of Brighton. The IMD maps bear this out. My Mum has also recently moved there.

    Central and, to a lesser extrent, Heene, are basically where the “poor” areas are (plus an outlying area in Northbrook out to the NW). What makes the Marine result even more surprising is Marine is actually a pretty “nice” area…typified by suburban houses and nice private flats in blocks inhabited by propsperous retirees (Streetview George V Avenue, Grand Avenue or West Parade to see what I mean). It makes me wonder if there was a very “local” factor at play in the by-election? Certainly one can imagine Labour winning Central and Heene, but to win in Marine…

  40. Labour can win very nice areas in Brighton & Hove too. Even grand ones sometimes. I’ve canvassed in Palmeira Square by the seafront in Hove, when the Tories were elected nationally, and there was plenty of support. Nevertheless it has to be worrying for the Tories that they can lose Marine ward, and lose it pretty easily at that. As others say, it would be best not to get over-excited – one by-election win is just that, one by-election win. It is however fair enough to point out that on the basis of such a result, if it were to be borne out in the rest of the borough, the Tories would be facing serious danger in the borough of Worthing. It would still be quite extraordinary however if Labour got into contention in Worthing West as a constituency, when it contains some retirement areas outside the borough boundary which are particularly bad for Labour as a rule. Worthing East & Shoreham, that’s a different story.

  41. Agreed. But the “nice” areas in BH tend to be ful of younger, trendier people…Marine is still staid middle and old aged people in the main.

    Marine does, however, appear to bear some phyiscal and architectural resemblannces to Goldsmid in Hove, and we all know what happened to that ward in less than 15 years…

  42. What is quite interesting is that Labour polled around thousand votes its not like the Tories just collapsed because of turnout and Labour did better at getting their vote out.

  43. Worthing is certainly not downtrodden. It is an affluent and thriving town, although culturally and economically rather stifled by the presence of the Brighton and Hove behemoth 10 miles to the east. Therefore (for example) shops in Worthing town centre are less thriving and diverse than one would usually see in a town of over 100,000 people. Also, many people gravitate naturally to the theatres, clubs and restaurants of Brighton for a night out, although the far west end of Worthing town centre is gradually becoming a bit trendier as the demographic gets younger and new bars and restaurants open. Marine ward is on the western fringe of this area, on the ward towards Goring.

    I live in the Tarring ward of the Worthing West constituency and have gradually seen the town change in the past 10 years, in my view for the better. It is now slightly more diverse and younger individuals and families seeking to escape from the mad property prices in B&H have gradually moved to the town. The local elections of 2011 showed a sharp increase in the Labour vote, but that was then dissipated by the rise in the UKIP vote from about 2012 onwards. The GE result in 2017 in both Worthing seats showed a very sharp increase in the Labour vote, with the party achieving an almost unbelievable 33% of the vote in more Conservative Worthing West. This seat also takes in very prosperous areas in the Arun district to the west such as East Preston and the Kingston estate.

    Marine Ward itself is (hitherto) solidly conservative middle-class slice of seaside suburbia , running south from the railway line near West Worthing station to the sea. I would have taken a flyer on Labour winning a by-election in Heene or Central wards which are more diverse and which have more hidden deprivation. Labour’s victory in Marine is stunning – not a ward one would remotely have expected them to win.

  44. * on the way

  45. thanks for that Dr John, pretty insightful to those of us who don’t really know Worthing well, if at all really.

  46. …and for confirming the supposition in my post of 4/8.

  47. It is unfortunate that often entertainment and shopping get exported or just can’t compete. When I was a child we had a few single plex movie theatres and various places you could eat out. Now theyve either closed up shop or been replaced with upmarket venues which are expensive and not always to everyones taste.

  48. Mark Senior sadly passed away last week. I don’t know if he was still a regular poster on this site as I haven’t been myself for quite a while but he was for many years and many longstanding regulars here will have known him as he was an institution both here and in another place.

  49. That is sad news. I think it’s a long time since he posted on here, so maybe not many will remember him. I had some heated arguments with him not long after I first started posting back in 2009.

    He was infuriating at times, but he clearly cared about politics. I respect anyone who exhibits that quality.

  50. Thank you for letting us know Pete.

    Mark was a wonderful source of the most obscure Psephological facts and will be sadly missed.

    Rest in peace.

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