Yeovil

2015 Result:
Conservative: 24178 (42.5%)
Labour: 4053 (7.1%)
Lib Dem: 18865 (33.1%)
Green: 2191 (3.8%)
UKIP: 7646 (13.4%)
MAJORITY: 5313 (9.3%)

Category: Marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Somerset. Part of the South Somerset council area.

Main population centres: Yeovil, Chard, Crewkerne, Ilminster, Ilchester.

Profile: The southernmost seat in Somerset, neighbouring Dorset and Devon. Yeovil itself is a town strongly associated with the defence and aerospace industries - the AgustaWestland helicopter factory (the ownership of which was once the centre of a political scandal and the cause of Michael Heseltine`s cabinet resignation) is situated here, and BAe systems also have a prescence in the town. Other settlements include the market town of Crewkerne and Chard, where Henry vacuum cleaners are manufactured.

Politics: Until 2015 Yeovil was one of the Liberal Democrats` safest seats, falling to the Conservatives on a swing of 16%. Past MPs include the Liberal Democrat party leader Paddy Ashdown and David Laws, who served extremely briefly as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in the coalition government, resigning over his expenses claims after only a fortnight.


Current MP
MARCUS FYSH (Conservative) Born 1970, Australia. Educated at Oxford University. Former businessman. South Somerset councillor since 2011 and Somerset county councillor since 2013. First elected as MP for Yeovil in 2015.
Past Results
2010
Con: 18807 (33%)
Lab: 2991 (5%)
LDem: 31843 (56%)
UKIP: 2357 (4%)
Oth: 1162 (2%)
MAJ: 13036 (23%)
2005*
Con: 17096 (34%)
Lab: 5256 (11%)
LDem: 25658 (51%)
UKIP: 1903 (4%)
MAJ: 8562 (17%)
2001
Con: 17338 (36%)
Lab: 7077 (15%)
LDem: 21266 (44%)
UKIP: 1131 (2%)
Oth: 1320 (3%)
MAJ: 3928 (8%)
1997
Con: 14946 (28%)
Lab: 8053 (15%)
LDem: 26349 (49%)
Oth: 1131 (2%)
MAJ: 11403 (21%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
MARCUS FYSH (Conservative) Born 1970, Australia. Educated at Oxford University. Businessman. South Somerset councillor since 2011 and Somerset county councillor since 2013.
SHEENA KING (Labour) Educated at Maidstone Grammar School. Air traffic controller.
DAVID LAWS (Liberal Democrat) Born 1965, Farnham. Educated at Woburn Hill School and Cambridge University. Investment banker. MP for Yeovil 2001 to 2015. Chief Secretary to the Treasury 2010. Minister of State for Education since 2012. Appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury following the 2010 election he was in office for only 17 days before resigning when it was revealed that he had been claiming expenses for a flat he rented from his partner. Laws said he had paid and claimed for rent rather than claiming for the mortgage so as not to reveal his homosexuality.
SIMON SMEDLEY (UKIP)
EMILY MCIVOR (Green) Policy advisor. Contested Tiverton and Honiton 1997, South West Region 2014 European election.
Links
Comments - 260 Responses on “Yeovil”
  1. I quite agree, though I would note that the LDs have been fairly sensible in doing it thus far, giving AWS to seats which would be expected to pick a woman anyway.

    Apparently Sanders said he didn’t want to do it, but has now changed his mind and it may not be AWS in Torbay any longer.

  2. During the coalition, I think the Lib Dems became increasingly concerned about the lack of female representation, having seen how Labour (AWS) and the Conservatives (Tory A-List) elected more women MPs. Now with zero women they probably see it as vital. They probably expected to elect women in MPs in seats like Hazel Grove and Berwick upon Tweed, but with such low polling stats it wasn’t to be.

    That said, I never supported all-women shortlists or any other kind of gender-biased selection processes.It’s the quality and ability of a prospective MP that should win over party members, not their sex.

  3. Ultimately I think these things are up to the party. Labour (members, MPs, many supporters) are very comfortable with the idea of AWS so I don’t see why they should be prevented from following that course. It is certainly true that it has gone a long way to achieving its objective – more female MPs.

    Very few Conservatives would support AWS so it is unsurprising that they haven’t adopted them. In recent years the various steps taken to increase female representation have had some success. But there is more work to do and undoubtedly there would be more Tory female MPs with AWS.

    Lib Dems fall somewhere in between. Ideologically they are opposed to a measure that limits democratic choice. But, like Labour, gender equality is something they prioritise. They will have been very embarrassed to end up with an all male group of MPs – though it wasn’t by choice that only 8 male incumbents held on to their seats. The problem was more in pre-2010 candidate selection (all the 8 survivors were elected in 2005 or earlier) than 2015.

  4. Maxim, Sheffield Hallam could end up with a female Lib Dem MP in 2020 if Clegg stands down. Barring the exceptional circumstances of the 2015 GE I think it should return to type next time, more or less. We’re a bit of a weird seat in that it was gained by the Lib Dems in 97 from the Tories and has undergone enough change (very big middle class public sector vote) to become the closest thing to a LD firewall. Labour were unable to get close to winning it in its very best years (of course they nearly won it last year) and Conservative fortunes just keep getting worse. Even affluent Dore and Totley haven’t elected Tory councillors in nearly 10 years now.

  5. ‘The Tories didn’t need AWS to get women from a diverse range of backgrounds elected in winnable seats and many of these now have senior Cabinet positions like Justine Greening, Amber Rudd, Andrea Leadsom, Liz Truss, Priti Patel, Karen Bradley.’

    Indeed. But female MPs still make up only just over 20% of the parliamentary Conservative party compared to 43% in Labour. I don’t support AWS but hard work to increase this number must continue. It can’t be assumed it will just naturally increase as in the past there have been prolonged plateaus.

  6. I don’t disagree with you, but your premise is that there are less talented women around than talented men. There is no evidence of that.

    (Whilst I’m no fan of Helen Goodman there are plenty of poor MPs who have not been selected by AWS and the evidence that worse MPs get chosen by AWS is slim/non-existent).

  7. Swinson did very well considering the SNP surge last year, holding off a much bigger swing. So I’m guessing it’s because it’s relatively pro-union (see Scot Ref) and perhaps she had a bit of personal vote.

    The majority remains small enough. I can’t see a seat like E Dunbartonshire staying with a pro-independence party. for ages Moreover there’s no guarantee Sturgeon is going to remain universally popular across Scotland for another 4 years. “Softer” seats like this are ripe for an odd LD gain. I think the Tories stand a good chance of taking Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk.

  8. Yes, the SP election already hinted that the odd situation of strongly unionist seats returning SNP MPs is unlikely to persist outside the traditional SNP heartland of the North East. This doesn’t necessarily require a fall in SNP support in these areas – unionist voters working out which candidate they need to support and a decline in turnout from the unusually high level of 2015 would suffice.

    In rough order of likelihood to fall in this way on current boundaries these seats would be:

    – Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (CON)
    – East Dumbartonshire (LD)
    – Edinburgh West (LD)
    – North East Fife (LD)
    – West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (CON)
    – Dumfries and Galloway (CON)
    – East Renfrewshire (LAB/CON)
    – Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (LD)
    – Edinburgh North and Leith (LAB)
    – East Lothian (LAB)
    – Gordon (LD)
    – Edinburgh South West (LAB/CON)
    – Argyll and Bute (LD)

    Other SNP seats look fairly safe barring a major downturn in support.

  9. The problem is that the Lib Dems are the only tactical voting vehicle that most unionists can get behind. How would you feel about voting for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, if you lived in Scotland? Many Labour supporters would have the same problem in reverse, with the added issue that an SNP MP is a much better fit with their views on social and economic policy than a Tory would be.

  10. Of course AWS were deemed illegal when first used, Labour passed the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002 to get around this. Just for giggles it would make for interesting mischief for a Female Prime Minister’s government to repeal it.

    Tory women get to be Prime Minister; Labour women get to go in a pink van.

  11. Absolutely bizarre story came across my Twitter feed today. Worth a read and a scratch of the head. http://www.markpack.org.uk/147310/marcus-fysh-bullying-accusations/

  12. Sounds like more local Lib Dem sh*t stirring

  13. As an establishment politician, Lord Carlile always struck me as quite an odd Liberal Democrat, lacking perhaps the liberal instincts and likeable manner of many of his former colleagues

    I’m surprised he’s quit though as he always struck me as relatively pro European

  14. Alex Carlile was MP for my constituency. He was generally highly-regarded and many people wished he had not stood down. His successor, of course, was not so highly regarded at the end of his tenure!

  15. Daisy Benson who was to have been the LibDem candidate here has now stood down. The election has come at the wrong time as she’s in the process of buying a house in the constituency…

  16. Very sad news. She would have been a fantastic MP if elected

  17. She should just pick a house at random and say it’s hers like Nutter did in Stoke

  18. That probably kills any chance at all they had here.

  19. UKIP not running here, will support Marcus Fysh

  20. Amusing, if not very informative, article in today’s The Times about Yeovil. The online podcast is much fuller. On a purely subjective level I don’t think the Tory candidate came over very well, while his LD opponent did. But as I say, a purely objective assessment. In any event the large 2015 UKIP vote should ensure the Tory is returned.
    Of wider consequence, the question was asked whether the LDs have any long term future as a strongly pro- Remain party in the very Eurosceptic West Country. Tim Farron’s strategy of appealing to the 48% Remain vote wil play well in some urban, middle class constituencies, but might well even cost seats currently held in strong Brexit areas. In any event, only about 22% now think Brexit should be reversed.

  21. It was daft of Farron to play the overt anti brexit card, given that the southwest a historic centre of liberalism voted decisively for brexit. I never understood that!

  22. Peter
    Hindsight’s a wonderful thing, I remember at the time many here were claiming Farron’s pitch o the 48% was a political masterstroke, a single policy to unite the Libs traditionally broad and varied mix of supporters, and it was going to result in a Lib Dem resurgence and possibly even the Libs ascendency to official opposition perhaps even government…

    I’m really not exaggerating some people were making that claim.

  23. Hindsight is wonderful, doesn’t mean it wasn’t daft. I got the abstract logic of wanting to fish in a pool of 48% if you only got 8% in the previous election.

    I never understood how it worked in practice if one of your best regions, I.e the southwest, voted decisively for brexit. The lib dems lost every single seat they held in the south west in 2015, I think it was 15 in number. You would have to go back a very long time 60 or more years, before they had zero MP s in that part of the country. I didn’t see and still don’t see how an aggressive anti brexit stance helped them in that part of the world. But time will tell…

  24. They could have written off the SW and carved out a new niche for themselves in London Remainia and the university towns. Yes it may have yielded only a handful of seats this time but also a lot of good 2nd places to build on down the line.

    Farron has ended up with the worst of both worlds.

  25. But why would you write off the southwest if you are a lib dem … It’s historically been their strongest part of the country, as paddy ashdown and Jeremy Thorpe would probably agree?

  26. PC
    But if your strongest area is firmly against your signature policy, such incoherence is bound to lead to stresses and strains, if not a total breakdown.
    I notice on the Liberal Defence posts, the possibility of a total wipeout is being canvassed. Highly unlikely, but how you can appeal in both Remian Twickenham and Leave Yeovil is beginning to look quite difficult.

  27. As i said they lost 15 seats in the last election in what is described as the “south west”. show me 15 seats in london they might win and I would agree that the idea of abandoning the southwest for putative gains in london is not insane.

  28. PC.
    You are of course quite right.
    All of which goes to show what a terrible bind the LDs are in. Sometimes I think winning the Richmond Par k by-election was the worst thing that could have happened to them. It has led them to an existential cul de sac.

  29. I think they’ll try to return to the days of being “all things to all people” with generally popular but not incredibly realistic policies once this election is out.

  30. For the Lib Dems, Yeovil is a symbolic seat, being the constituency of former party leader Paddy Ashdown, whilst they are hungry to win it back, the Lib-Dems are possibly being unrealistic in their expectation of regaining it. The Tory vote went up, there’s a big ukip vote for the Tories to squeeze, not much of a labour vote to tactically go Lib-dem and of course a parachuted in at the last minute candidate.

    Conclusion – there are better prospects for the Lib-Dems elsewhere.

  31. I think the LDs should be happy to hold their vote. Tories should increase majority by picking up UKIP voters.

  32. LDs are done here, they have absolutely no chance.

  33. Will also comment, aside from chances here: how much did Laws’ sexuality hurt him in 2015? Enough to lose the seat?

  34. Doubt it. For all that hullaballoo the LDs make about the strength of their incumbents, this wasn’t even that close. Having said that, it was still a better performance than some others. Still, doubt his sexuality cost him much, if anything.

  35. Suspect the linked expenses issue to conceal his sexuality cost him more votes.

  36. I think their incumbent strength is a decent point most of the time, but they couldn’t resist that tide. Still, the ones who did survive were probably more on personality (except for Clegg and maybe Carmichael) than anything else.

  37. The LibDem candidate running away, having applied to be the candidate if there was a 2017 election, has probably done for their chances here.

  38. I dont think the Lib Dems can be privately confident of retaking Yeovil they seem to have completely lost the WWC vote that they used to harness relatively well in the battles against the Tories

    They would be much better off putting their efforts into targetting those anti-Brexit middle class seats like Cheltenham, Cambridge, Bath, St Albans, Kingston – although as things currently stand they dont look likely to take many of thess

  39. A few months after GE2015 I saw David Laws walking in the street in Kennington. Looked very down on his luck.

  40. The count seemed to take a long time here in 2015.
    Loved it on the BBC when they said the Lib Dems were looking very very very glum over by the Yeovil tables.

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