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Suffolk West

2010 Results:
Conservative: 24312 (50.56%)
Labour: 7089 (14.74%)
Liberal Democrat: 11262 (23.42%)
BNP: 1428 (2.97%)
UKIP: 3085 (6.42%)
Independent: 540 (1.12%)
Others: 373 (0.78%)
Majority: 13050 (27.14%)

Notional 2005 Results:
Conservative: 21424 (49%)
Labour: 12639 (28.9%)
Liberal Democrat: 7459 (17.1%)
Other: 2172 (5%)
Majority: 8785 (20.1%)

Actual 2005 result
Conservative: 21682 (49%)
Labour: 12773 (28.9%)
Liberal Democrat: 7573 (17.1%)
UKIP: 2177 (4.9%)
Majority: 8909 (20.2%)

2001 Result
Conservative: 20201 (47.6%)
Labour: 15906 (37.5%)
Liberal Democrat: 5017 (11.8%)
UKIP: 1321 (3.1%)
Majority: 4295 (10.1%)

1997 Result
Conservative: 20081 (40.9%)
Labour: 18214 (37.1%)
Liberal Democrat: 6892 (14%)
Referendum: 3724 (7.6%)
Other: 171 (0.3%)
Majority: 1867 (3.8%)

Boundary changes: Largely insignificant changes to bring the seat into line with ward boundaries. Loses parts of Pakenham, Cavendish and Horringer and Whelnetham, gains a tiny parts of Risby and Chedburgh.

Profile: Until 1997 this seat was called Bury St Edmunds, but at the previous set of boundary changes the eponymous town was moved into a new constituency, leaving this as the rural west of the country surrounding Bury St Edmunds itself. While mainly rural, there are very diverse areas within it. At the extreme south of the constituency is the largest town, Haverhill. Pressed against the Essex and Cambridgeshire borders, it is an industrial manufacturing town, making toothbrushes and chemicals, and provides to main pocket of Labour strength in an otherwise Tory seat (though even there they can no longer boast any councillors). To the west of the seat (and thanks to the unusual border between Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, situated in what is almost an enclave connected to the rest of the constituency by only a thin strip of land) is Newmarket, a market town that is a well-known centre for horse racing and houses not only the two race courses themselves, but the national Horseracing museum, the clubhouse of the Jockey`s Club, and huge numbers of trainers and stud farms. Finally the northern part of the seat is home to two huge United States Air Force bases, RAF Mildenhall (home of the 100th Air Refueling Wing) and RAF Lakenheath (home of the 48th Fighter Wing).

portraitCurrent MP: Matt Hancock (Conservative) Born 1978. Educated at King`s School Chester and Oxford University. Former Chief to Staff to George Osborne.

2010 election candidates:
portraitMatt Hancock (Conservative) Born 1978. Educated at King`s School Chester and Oxford University. Former Chief to Staff to George Osborne.
portraitAbul Monsur Ohid Ahmed (Labour) Works for Thames Gateway Development Corporation. Tower Hamlets councillor.
portraitBelinda Brooks-Gordon (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Cambridge University. Chartered psychologist. Cambridgshire councillor.
portraitIan Smith (UKIP)
portraitRamon Johns (BNP)
portraitColin Young (Christian Party)
portraitAndrew Appleby (Independent)

2001 Census Demographics

Total 2001 Population: 102999
Male: 50%
Female: 50%
Under 18: 22.9%
Over 60: 19.7%
Born outside UK: 14.8%
White: 95.9%
Black: 1.2%
Asian: 0.4%
Mixed: 1.7%
Other: 0.8%
Christian: 74.2%
Full time students: 1.8%
Graduates 16-74: 15.1%
No Qualifications 16-74: 30.4%
Owner-Occupied: 66.3%
Social Housing: 16.1% (Council: 12.8%, Housing Ass.: 3.3%)
Privately Rented: 9.9%
Homes without central heating and/or private bathroom: 4.3%

NB - The constituency guide is now archived and is no longer being updated. The new guide is at http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/2015guide

131 Responses to “Suffolk West”

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  1. I think there are slightly more problems than that. How do you decide which is the area which wants to move? A parish or ward might work, but what if only part of the parish or ward wants to move? Or, worse, if there are competing claims over which area wants to move?

    There is also the question of whether the other authority wants them. For example, if residents in a deprived area on the edge of a city wanted to transfer to a wealthier, neighbouring local authority?

    Finally, are the interests of the rest of the local authority of no relevance? If, hypothetically, western Newmarket was keen to transfer, but the east of the town was not, would it be reasonable to just hold a referendum in the western half?

  2. Yes indeed, all very good questions. I think you could easily work based on a local government unit such as a parish or ward. Perhaps parishes would be easier to use where they exist, because of course they are genuine local communities rather than lines on a map determined by the boundary commissions often ‘dark arts’ that have little to do with local communities. For example, where a ward covers only part of a town or where it unites more than one part of different towns.

    The question on whether the receiving local authority actually *wants* them is a more difficult problem. Presumably, the leadership of the receiving authority could give their permission before any actual ballot takes place in the area that wanted to move. In most cases, I suspect authorities would very rarely say no to getting bigger because it affects the money they get…perhaps why authorities are so reluctant to allow areas to move around freely?

    There was a slight suggestion that Trentham in my native Stoke-on-Trent might want to move into Stafford borough. It came to nothing of course…although it would make sense for some of it to be in Stafford rather than in Stoke.

    That case would involve precisely the problems you suggest, Warofdreams. There is no parish in Trentham and the ward is very large (10,000 electors taking in the whole south western corner of the city and stretching up to Hanford which has no connection to Stafford, and the outskirts of Stoke town itself). In that case the proposal to move would require an artifical boundary to have been drawn to determine exactly where ‘Trentham’ was.

    Theres more to this malarkey than first meets the eye!

  3. “Why? I can think of other places that could be switched between local authorities with much more reason.”

    Such as?

    The position of Newmarket really is a geographical oddity.

  4. I wondered why I kept seeing this MP making sycophantic points on tv, then realised he was the Chancellor’s Chief of Staff til last year. He and the MP for Stourbridge even make their Tory colleagues whince at how craven they appear.

  5. As Matthew Parris wrote in his autobiography, politics is different to business.

    In business, mild sucking up to the boss will get you promotion, but if you take it to the level where it is toe-curling or embarrassing, the effect will be counter-productive.

    In politics, the chance of promotion rises linearly with the level of sycophancy, no matter how embarrassing it looks to others.

  6. I recently listened to Parris’ “A Chance Witness” on CD. I can recommend it. A good observation. I think it struck me more, as Hancock is only 32 and was very lucky to get this seat at the last minute (after failing at Congleton etc when other expenses’ MPs retired). Yet, he was speaking so earnestly and with hyperbole as if he was an economic expert of long standing. Contrast that with Ken Clarke’s relaxed and affable nature and he is an expert.

  7. Having been Osborne’s head lackey I would expect that Matt Hancock wouldn’t need to the public sycophancy as he should already be one of the ‘in’ crowd.

    Though having been Osborne’s head lackey it makes you wonder whether how competant he is.

  8. Further evidence of Matthew Hancock’s lack of real world business experience.

    It is reported on ConHome that in his new book he comes out in favour of making it mandatory for company boards to be composed of 30% women.

    Having worked in Norway where this law is in place, I can attest to its damaging impact on businesses.

    It is depressing to see the bright young things in the Tory party getting infected with Labour-like equality and identity politics.

    The reality is that the low participation of women in the boardroom (and politics) reflects a paucity of suitable candidates, due to many women leaving to have families and subsequently wanting to maintain a better work-life balance.

  9. Although I think there is nothing wrong with MP’s such as Matthew Hancock always talking about the economy, it does beg the question whether or not MP’s from the new intake such as himself are positioning themselves for a future leadership challenge sometime in the future.

  10. He will be positioning himself to be Chancellor if George Osborne becomes the next Leader.

  11. Whenever I see Matthew Hancock on TV he strikes me as someone who’s trying a bit too hard to impress.

  12. Well I’ve never heard or seen Matt Hancock, but if he is as good as his reputation says on the economy, I don’t see any problem with him speaking on it or indeed positioning himself to be a future Chancellor. As an ambitious MP, why shouldn’t he?

    On the question of quotas in the boardroom though, I do think Hemmlig has got it spot on. I don’t see the point.

    It’s a nice fuzzy, Cameronite sort of idea (as usual completely pointless) but it does seem to be another indicator of where the Conservative Party is losing its way a bit. Not only is this proposal placing unnecessary regulation and intolerable interference on the private business, but it in no way helps business, it in fact HARMS business by forcing the promotion of people who may not be capable simply because they are there and the business needs to reach the quota. It tells women that they are not capable of reaching the top on their own merit and it extends the power of the state into matters which should not concern it.

    On every single level, the quotas proposal is anti every principle the Conservative Party is supposed to hold. What worries me is that MPs eager to carry favour with the leadership feel they have to trot out this sort of anti-Conservative drivel, and that someone as senior as the Chancellor himself should indicate sympathy with it!

    What does the future hold for us if this is the way things are going?

  13. “Well I’ve never heard or seen Matt Hancock, but if he is as good as his reputation says on the economy, I don’t see any problem with him speaking on it or indeed positioning himself to be a future Chancellor.”

    What reputation is that?

    As Osborne failed to spot the underlying weaknesses in the economy and didn’t notice the recession until the banks collapsed I can’t say I have any trust in his then right hand man.

  14. From wikipedia:

    “After university, Hancock briefly worked for his family’s computer software company,[4] before moving to London to work as an economist at the Bank of England, specialising in the housing market.[5] In 2005 he became an economic adviser to the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, later becoming Osborne’s chief of staff.[2].”

    Very reassuring.

    As a housing market economist it seems he didn’t notice the housing bubble which has so damaged the economy.

    And I notice it doesn’t sound like he’s done much in the way of wealth creation. If he had he might understand how difficult it is and ever increasing regulation makes it harder, sometimes impossibly so.

    I think it would be a good idea if some of these aspiring Chancellors had also spend some of their careers outside the Circle line.

  15. As to the boardroom quotas idea – how long would it be before it was extended to racial grounds I wonder? Although you can be sure it would never be extended to class grounds.

    Its yet another example of the Cameroons drawing their ideas from their Notting Hill dinner parties focus groups. Rather than the Grimsby chip shops.

  16. “What reputation is that?”

    I’d just heard that he was very good and knowledgable on the economy-probably because he used to be advisor to George Osbourne in opposition (although given George Osbourne’s performance in opposition compared to in government, perhaps alarm bells should have been ringing :-) )

    “As to the boardroom quotas idea – how long would it be before it was extended to racial grounds I wonder? Although you can be sure it would never be extended to class grounds.”

    Absolutely, and then the disabled and then some other group. My problem with the whole idea is mainly that it is not for government to interfere in principle. But if we start on that slippery slope, there will be no reason not to do the same in other walks of life. Before you know it, we will have government determining precisely which individuals do what right accross the board.

    Its not even a change that anybody in the real world actually cares about or is demanding. Once again with the Cameroons, it is all style and no substance. This is a radical ‘reform’ that you wouldn’t expect coming from a Tory (because it is anti-Tory) and so the Cameroon’s think it must be adopted without any further thought because of the headlines it will generate for them.

    I really do fear for the future of the party and the country under this team, I really do.

  17. I just heard Hancock on the radio yesterday morning for the first time, and would concur that he’s trying a little too hard to impress. Clearly fancies himself something rotten.

  18. In terms of ambition and a perceived sense of self-importance… well good grief they’ve got to be two of the most common characteristics present amongst MPs, MEPs, AMs, councillors etc.

    Of course that doesn’t stop them being unattractive traits if present in large quantities.

    Of course, with my party hat on, I’d say anyone who was a key Osborne lackey has got to be better than anyone who was a Brown lackey. *cough* Balls *cough* Miliband *cough, splutter, splutter, cough* ;)

  19. lol. Yes thats very true.

  20. Fair point John. But it’s a quality even found among ex-MPs as well – in 2 rather different generations, what about David “Lord” Owen and Evan Harris? Hardly shrinking violets are they?

  21. Are foreign servicemen or women allowed to vote in any form of elections? There are a few thousand in this constituency.

  22. US service personnel wouldn’t have a right to vote in any elections here

  23. Shaun

    “I really do fear for the future of the party and the country under this team, I really do.”

    Stop reading the Telegraph so much and you will find that they quite quickly become better than you thought.

  24. The Eriswell & The Rows ward of Forest Heath which contains the main USAF base at RAF Mildenhall has an estimated population in 2009 of almost 12,000 and an electorate in 2011 of just over 3000. I wonder if there are any more extreme examples of disparirty between population and electorate sizes. Numbers of people have been arguing lately that constituency boundaries (and presumably their logic should apply to ward boundaries too) should be based on population size as opposed to registered electors. I wonder if the can explain why a situation should arise whereby the electors of this ward have a vote that is worth four times as much as others.

  25. Re all of the above comments, Sky just had 2 Tory activists arguing about gay marriage and immigration. Then, 2 minutes later, this MP & the Stourbridge MP appeared gushing with praise of Cameron’s speech.

  26. This MP was just ordered to sit down by The Speaker. There then followed the Minister’s reply (Ed Vaizey), who joked that this MP is, “the most important MP in the House and a rising star.” It seems even Ministers are now tiring of Hancock’s ego.

  27. “Shaun – Stop reading the Telegraph so much and you will find that they quite quickly become better than you thought.”

    I know this was from September, but I missed that one at the time.

    I don’t read the Telegraph BT. I used to read the Times until about 10 years ago when it embarked on its anti-Ashcroft smear campaign whilst still pretending to be party neutral. I now can’t be bothered to read any paper in general. I now get my news from the internet and use Conservative Home and BBC Politics to seek out the stories I want to read about.

    In relation to what I said to cause BT to make that comment to me however, I went back and re-read it and still find myself taking the same view. Some of us can come to opinions based on principle without having to have a newspaper to tell us what to think.

    In this case, the principle was that it is not for government to interfere in the boardroom nor in any other walk of life outside of the public sector. End of story.

  28. ‘I used to read the Times until about 10 years ago when it embarked on its anti-Ashcroft smear campaign whilst still pretending to be party neutral.’

    The Times is the best English newspaper – and I say that as someone who dislikes Rupert Murtdoch and the influence he seeks to peddle through such publications

    The Times embarked on its anti Ashcroft because they had solid evidence that he was involved in a host of shall we say undesirable ‘activities’ and one can reach their own conclusion as to why Ashcroft didn’t want his day in court to refute the allegations entirely and clear his name

    Besides, The Times never pretended to be party neutral and even endorsed Blair’s Labour Party in 2001 and 2005 before returning it’s more natural Conservative home

  29. No Tim, the Times has always pretended that it is ‘independent’ when it was quite clear that in the 1990s it was the mouthpiece of New Labour.

    Do you actually remember what the Times printed about Ashcroft back in 1999? There were no actual allegations at all.

    What there were was front page headlines screaming “Ashcroft under pressure to resign” almost every day (conveniently falling during the Eddisbury by-election campaign). Inside, the shocking revelations included ‘ Ashcroft is a close friend of both Thatcher and Tebbit AND has even MET them! Ashcroft is a millionaire and even-my favourite allegation- the Times has uncovered the shoclking truth that Ashcroft lives in Belize!

    What the Times then tried to do was frankly disgusting-backed up by Labour MPs abusing parliamentary privilege they tried to hint and use innuendo to link Ashcroft with the Belize criminal world.

    Why no legal action was taken I have no idea, but looking back, I fail to see the cast iron case that you speak of. And the fact that 10 years on, Ashcroft is still happily going about puiblic life despite periodic harrassment from the press and Labour Party probably indicates how much truth there is in any of the ‘allegations’. If there was anything on him, we’d have heard it by now-and thats what the media and the left so despise about him.

    And for a change, we might one day hear about Ashcroft’s good, generous and charitable works not just in Britain but accross the world!

  30. “And for a change, we might one day hear about Ashcroft’s good, generous and charitable works not just in Britain but accross the world!”

    Al Capone gave more money to charity than Lord Ashcroft does, and we all know what a fine law-abiding citizen he was.

    The Tories should have had nothing to do with Ashcroft. It was a major mistake to keep him so closely and publicly involved at the top of the party, which I’m sure was one factor contributed to Cameron falling short of a majority.

  31. ‘No Tim, the Times has always pretended that it is ‘independent’ when it was quite clear that in the 1990s it was the mouthpiece of New Labour.’

    To describe The Times as the mouthpiece of New Labour in the mid 1990s is quite frankly ludicrous. It had lost faith with John Major’s moderate Conservative administration but was equally unenthusiastic about Tony Blair’s Labour Party

    Unlike its equally right-wing sister paper The Sun, it didn’t endorse New Labour in 1997, instead urging its readers to back Euroskeptic candidates, the majority of whom were of course Conservatives

    ‘Do you actually remember what the Times printed about Ashcroft back in 1999? There were no actual allegations at all.’

    My recollection is crystal clear Shaun. The articles against Ashcroft in The Times had nothing to do with his tax status or citizenship but were about his alleged involvement the type of hardcore criminal activity that would be good enough to earn him a much deserved lethal injection if convicted in the federal courts of the United States – hardly small beer

    It’s their association with the likes of Ashcroft that caused the Tories do become so despised in the 90s in the first place. Your attempts to defend him are as inappropriate and misguided as Tory MP Graham Stuart’s attempts to use a debate on the phone hacking of a murdered schoolgirl to do the same

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