South Thanet

2015 Result:
Conservative: 18838 (38.1%)
Labour: 11740 (23.8%)
Lib Dem: 932 (1.9%)
Green: 1076 (2.2%)
UKIP: 16026 (32.4%)
Independent: 61 (0.1%)
Others: 728 (1.5%)
MAJORITY: 2812 (5.7%)

Category: Marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Kent. The eastern part of the Thanet council area and two wards from the Dover council area.

Main population centres: Ramsgate, Sandwich, Broadstairs, St Peters.

Profile: A coastal seat, snaking around the eastern coast of the Isle of Thanet and then south into Dover to include the historic Cinque port of Sandwich and the rural villages inland from it, including Ash and Wingham. The main centres of population is the ferry port, fishing town and coastal resort of Ramsgate, the more genteel seaside town of Broadstairs and Cliftonville, a residential part of Margate. Thanet suffers from the economic problems often associated with declining seaside towns, and has some of the most deprived wards in the otherwise generally affluent Kent.

Politics: Historically this was a safely Conservative area, the Isle of Thanet seat that existed until 1974 was solidly Conservative throughout its history, as was this seat`s immediate predecessor Thanet East. In 1992 Jonathan Aitken enjoyed an apparently safe 23% majority here, but in 1997 he lost his seat to Labour`s Stephen Ladyman and subsequently his liberty after being found guilty and jailed for perjury. The seat was regained by the Conservatives in 2010 under Laura Sandys, a Tory moderate and pro-European. The 2015 election was one of the most high profile constituency battles, fought between the UKIP leader Nigel Farage, Craig Mackinlay, a UKIP to Conservative defector chosen to replace Sandys, and the Labour candidate Will Scobie. Ultimately Mackinlay won, prompting Nigel Farage to briefly honour a promise to resign as UKIP leader.

Current MP
CRAIG MACKINLAY (Conservative) Born Chatham. Educated at Rainham Mark Grammar and Birmingham University. Former chartered accountant and tax advisor. Medway councillor since 2007. Contested Gillingham 1992 as Independent, 1997 as UKIP, Totnes 2001 for UKIP, Gillingham 2005 for UKIP, Kent Police Commissioner election 2012 for the Conservatives. First elected as MP for Thanet South in 2015. Acting leader of UKIP 1997, Deputy leader of UKIP 1997-2000. Defected to the Conservatives in 2005.
Past Results
Con: 22043 (48%)
Lab: 14426 (31%)
LDem: 6935 (15%)
UKIP: 2529 (6%)
MAJ: 7617 (17%)
Con: 15996 (39%)
Lab: 16660 (40%)
LDem: 5431 (13%)
UKIP: 2079 (5%)
Oth: 1076 (3%)
MAJ: 664 (2%)
Con: 16210 (41%)
Lab: 18002 (46%)
LDem: 3706 (9%)
UKIP: 501 (1%)
Oth: 1012 (3%)
MAJ: 1792 (5%)
Con: 17899 (40%)
Lab: 20777 (46%)
LDem: 5263 (12%)
Oth: 1049 (2%)
MAJ: 2878 (6%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
CRAIG MACKINLAY (Conservative) Born Chatham. Educated at Rainham Mark Grammar and Birmingham University. Chartered accountant and tax advisor. Medway councillor since 2007. Contested Gillingham 1992 as Independent, 1997 as UKIP, Totnes 2001 for UKIP, Gillingham 2005 for UKIP, Kent Police Commissioner election 2012 for the Conservatives. Acting leader of UKIP 1997, Deputy leader of UKIP 1997-2000. Defected to the Conservatives in 2005.
WILL SCOBIE (Labour) Educated at Dane Court Grammar and York University. Thanet councillor since 2011, Kent county councillor since 2013.
RUSS TIMPSON (Liberal Democrat) Educated at South Bank University. Businessman, fire engineer and former Royal Navy submariner.
NIGEL FARAGE (UKIP) Born 1964, Farnborough. Educated at Dulwich College. Former commodities broker. Contested Itchen, Test and Avon in 1994 European election. Member of the European Parliament for South-East England since 1999. Contested Eastleigh by-election 1994, Salisbury 1997, Bexhill and Battle 2001, South Thanet 2005, Bromley and Chistlehurst 2006 by-election, Buckingham 2010. Leader of UKIP 2006-2009 and since 2010.
IAN DRIVER (Green) Thanet councillor since 2011, originally elected for Labour.
GRAHAME BIRCHALL (United Thanet) Born 1952. Businessman and former serviceman. Former Canterbury councillor for the Labour party.
DEAN MCCASTREE (Independent) Born St Lucia. Financial Trader. Former Thanet councillor, former Lambeth councillor. Contested Brent Central 2010.
ZEBADIAH ABU-OBADIAH (Al-Zebabist) Musician.
NIGEL ASKEW (Reality) Publican.
RUTH BAILEY (Manston Airport Independent) Teacher.
AL MURRAY (No description) Born 1968, Stewkley. Educated at Bedford School and Oxford University. Comedian.
Comments - 1,978 Responses on “Thanet South”
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  1. If Nigel Farage stands here, I think Labour will take the seat. This is an affluent area in some parts as well as being deprived in others, but if Labour takes votes directly from the Tories and Lib Dems and Farage excoriates Laura Sandys for being a pro-European, moderate Tory moderniser, then it will open the door for Labour to win.

  2. Farage stood here in 2005 winning 2,079 votes, just saving his deposit with 5.04%. Labour held the seat by 664 votes.

  3. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Farage stand here – I think Buckingham is probably the most likely though

  4. Even though he only came third with a fourth on his tail, without any of the 3 main parties (well not officially anyway)?

  5. I think this will be very tight between Labour and the Conservatives. On current polling I could see Labour taking it, at the GE I think the Conservatives might just hold on, but it will be quite marginal.

  6. Nigel Farage stood here in 2005. He may stand here again this being one of the seats that UKIP carried in the recent CC elections. Boston & Skegness has been mooted in this regard but it makes sense for him to stand somewhere in the region where he is an MEP and he comes from Kent so this or Thanet North would be a good bet (THanet North possibly better as it could become an open seat). Either way I don’t think there’s much likelihood of Labour winning actually

  7. Neil: I can’t see Labour winning this. They need a swing of 8.3% and the current UKPR polling average implies a swing of 8.2% in mid-term.

  8. Yep, this one is a swing too far for Labour. Dover and Chatham & Aylesford are Labour’s best bets in Kent for 2015 and even these will be at the higher end of the party’s hopes come the next election.

  9. One would tend to think that, but very little has gone right for the Conservatives in Thanet for the last 2 years & if they now face a serious challenge from UKIP as well as Labour the seat becomes rather more unpredictable than it appears on paper. There is however a significant non-Thanet section of the seat in & around Sandwich & this portion could just save their bacon, if you will forgive the food allusions.

  10. which part o ramsgate do the affluent people live in?

  11. I very much agree with Barnaby. The ‘Sandwich’ section of the seat will help keep the Tories in here.

  12. I’d like to think Laura Sandys can hold on here but she’ll have her work cut out

    I think it’s quite sad that all the best and most hard-working Tory MP’s tend to represent marginal seats,

  13. I doubt Labour will actually take the seat, but if UKIP pull it off here – and they’d be facing a pro-gay marriage, pro-European, pro-House of Lords reform, socially liberal, One Nation Tory moderniser – then it will divide the Tory vote and let Labour in.
    I suspect poll ratings for Labour will rise soon due to policy announcements and more Tory division, and Labour may get its 20% poll lead eventually. That could predict a big swing in excess of 10% from Tories to Labour. If Labour capitalise on that, that swing is likely to fall at an election but according to Ashcroft, the swing to Labour is higher in the Estuary seats than the rest of the country. Labour could get an 8% swing from Tory to Labour and Nigel Farage stands with a 10% swing from Tory to UKIP – that will divide the rightwing vote and open up the seat to Labour.

  14. Bob

    Lets wait and see what happens over the next year or so rather than speculating. I do not think this seat will be a simple one for Labour to take back at all.

    As Barnaby rightly says, the fact this seat contains Tory Sandwich means the odds are likely in favour of a Tory hold at the moment…although I completely understand your point about UKIP splitting the right vote here.

  15. i think laura sandys should change parties she might be more suited to LD

  16. The Thanet seats are sandwiches and not donuts.

    Here sandwiches benefit the Tories and not Labour.

    Were a Margate & Ramsgate urban constituency to be created and a Isle of Thanet rural constituency with other parts of North East Kent then Labour would have one strong prospect instead of two seats that were beyond their reach.

  17. I didn’t realise Laura Sandys was so left wing – not like her father then. All the more reason to target her then. If UKIP pull this off as Bob puts it then UKIP, not Labour will win. I don’t know about Ashworth’s poll in the ‘estuary seats’ but real votes (as the LDs are always fond of saying) don’t point to much Labour progress here. I heard several Labour supporters make the observation that none of UKIP’s gains in the county council elections came at the expense of Labour. This was almost true, but only because Labour had held such a pitifully small number of seats in 2009. One seat they did hold then was in Ramsgate – and this was lost to UKIP

  18. Who was ahead here in May then?

    Were Labour ahead but only it would appear because of Con/UKIP division?

  19. Traditionally this was always a rock-solid Tory seat, and our majorities weren’t high even when we held on to the seat.

    Clearly Labour aren’t out of contention here but the Tories would start as favourites. UKIP – well, that really does depend on where they end up taking votes from. The more Labour explain that their economic and social policies are essentially Tory, the more I would expect this to be from the Tories.

  20. “Who was ahead here in May then?”

    Joe according to Lewish Baston’s report UKIP were ahead here with 35% with Labout on 27% and the Conservatives on 26%. I don’t know how they divided the votes in Margate & Cliftonville. If they did it on a homogeneous basis then the figures are slightly misleading as Labour would clearly be stronger in the Margate part of that seat. UKIP won over 40% in both the two-member Thanet divisions which are entirely in this seat and probably approached that figure in Cliftonville too. The Tories retained Sandwich comfortably enough

  21. Thanks Pete – I did actually suspect UKIP were ahead but read something inaccurate that UKIP hadn’t actually carried a seat – it may have been lazy journalism although to be fair perhaps not all clear in the immediate.

    Bob’s point is actually a sensible one, although a bit Plopwellesque from a party who has lost 10 points on national projection over the last year.
    There is a danger Labour could explain to their voters that UKIP is basically a rival party on the right
    leaving the Tories far more exposed than they actually were this May
    but the majority here is still quite substantial for them should there be a large swing to UKIP or Labour.

  22. Sorry it was Merseymike’s point – not Bob – Sorry Bob, you are a Plopwell afterall.

  23. If Pete Whitehead thinks UKIP can win and take a seat, he should look at their poll ratings and look at the % of the vote in this seat. Not a chance. Real votes do show Labour is making progress but it needs to make more progress than what is making now. When the Tories get more divided, Labour makes more policy announcements and the possible return of Alistair Darling then Labour could expect to be 20% ahead. If Ashcroft’s surveys are right and UKIP split the rightwing vote (especially if Farage stands here) then Labour will win the seat.
    I happen to think Laura Sandys will hold on with a majority less than 1,000.

  24. I have no idea what will happen here next time , but am surprised that so many see Labour’s prospects as remote given that they held the seat at three consecutive elections. If Labour managed to hang on here in 2005 when enjoying a national lead of 3% , it can surely happen again. Whilst there was a big 9% swing to the Tories in 2010 a reversal of that movement should not be ruled out.

  25. ” Real votes do show Labour is making progress ”

    No real votes cast most recently in this seat show Labour going backwards winning a lower vote share here this May than they did in 2010 and contrived to lose a seat which they had held even in 2009.
    There is no doubt that UKIP will find it very tough going winning seats under the current electoral system (which is now completely unfit for purpose in a four-party system) but if they are to approach winning in any seats, then this would be a contender which is why I suggested it as a possible seat for Nigel Farage.
    Incidentally UKIP gained a seat from Labour in Northwood ward on Ramsgate town council recently as well. This is one of Labour’s best wards in this constituency and they are losing ground in places like that. Real votes. It isn’t as simple as UKIP splitting the ‘right wing’ or Tory vote while Labour sits pretty and comes through the middle. A strong UKIP performance here would take votes off Labour here as well

  26. Perhaps will be something like
    Con 35% UKIP 33% Lab 29% LD 2.5% SF 0.5%

    C -13%
    UKIP +27%
    Lab -2%
    LD – 12%

    I suspect C would hold on more comfortably, but depends on various factors Pete has described.

  27. Of course what Laura Sandys bio does not mention is that her father was a founder of the European Movement sand that she is as Europhile as they come having been steeped in it since birth. Her father was the first British EEC commissioner under Heath (who ironically was schooled in Thanet Sputh as well.. Not only that but of course this is the neighbouring constituency to Nigel Farage’s birthplace and one that Farage has already fought. Given the success of his county council candidates there (they won every ward) its perfectly set up for Farage to return and wipe the floor with a europhile Tory.

    The symbolism would be immense!

  28. Survation analysis of the county council vote was:

    UKIP 36%
    Con 29%
    Lab 27%
    Oth 7%

    A detailed spreadsheet with Thanet South on it is linked on the above page.

    Its also worth noting the UKIP candidate from 2010 was one of their successful County Council candidates in the constituency.

    Knowing the area as I do, its nowhere near as affluent as some on here would make out (nb and it lost its major local employer Pfizer in 2010). Affluent areas in Cliftonville, Kingsgate and Broadstairs are counterbalanced by large council estates and old Victorian terraced areas particularly in Ramsgate. It has over the years been a popular location for people to retire to as well. The area has generally been ignored by both Tories and Labour over the decades and has suffered from the migration of holiday makers abroad. Its town centres are run down (partly as a result of a ridiculous out of town shopping centre who transport links are atrocious). Both Tory and Labour have seriously failed this area.

    It is also quite susceptible to the anti politics narrative given that the main reason why Labour took the seat it in 1997 was because it’s MP was the disgraced Tory Minister Jonathan Aitken.

    Given the wider cultural narrative of Kent (along with Sussex, Essex, Norfolk and Lincolnshire) being the ‘front line against two millenia of European encroachment’ from the Roman invasion to World War II (the former RAF base and Spitfire museum at Manston is in the Thanet South constituency) Thanet South is as good a target for UKIP as there is.

  29. “There is no doubt that UKIP will find it very tough going winning seats under the current electoral system (which is now completely unfit for purpose in a four-party system)”

    I’d have had you down as a FPTP supporter Pete. What would you prefer?

  30. why does bob keep going on about alistair darling?

  31. I’d favour D’Hondt PR with open lists as per the system in Finland. I could settle for an AMS system so as to retain some constituency representation (essentially the system used for the Scottish and Welsh assemblies)

  32. @Pete Whitehead – UKIP is a protest party, and in some Labour areas, Tory voters instead of voting Tory vote UKIP to send a message. Also, by-elections have very low turnouts and that always effects the Labour vote. You shouldn’t read too much into it, perhaps you need some psephological sophistication. If you actually looked at the polls rather than getting funny dreams about Nadine Dorries and Nigel Farage together, you’d realise that only a very small proportion of Labour voters in 2010 are considering voting UKIP in 2015, compared to the 6% of Tory voters in 2010 who are saying that they will vote UKIP in 2015. Also, UKIP’s appeal to Labour voters is mainly in the North, not in the South, in industrial heartlands that are scared of globalisation, immigration and change and they protest. If Labour tell them that if UKIP stands for more tax cuts for the rich, more cuts to public services, tax hikes on the poorest, cuts to the welfare state AND that UKIP is a spin-out of Thatcherism, do you really think they’d give UKIP their vote every again? No. UKIP is a real threat to the Conservative Party and that benefits the left whether it is Lib Dems in Tory-Lib Dem marginals (as we saw in Eastleigh) or Labour in Labour-Tory marginals.

  33. @JoeJamesB – You’re prediction is not accurate at all. UKIP will not get 33% of the vote, Labour will not fall by 2% and Tories may not do that badly. This is more likely:
    LAB – 40%
    CON – 39%
    UKIP – 10%
    LIB DEM – 9%

  34. UKIP will probably get more than 10% in Thanet South given that they were already on 5.5% in 2010.

  35. My post on here was a joke but ukip may do much better than 10

  36. You might be right on UKIP getting more than 10% here, they will definitely come third but not much more as UKIP will probably start to falter come the election. This seat will become an ultra-marginal seat.

  37. “which part o ramsgate do the affluent people live in?”

    errmmmm? ….. Antwerp??? QEQM???

    Seriously, and having had close association with Thanet since 1964 (both my parents are buried in Margate cemetery) I know that the council has been a joke for decades. I can see the old tory vote splitting all but 50/50 with UKIP, with or without Garage. Whether this will be enough to let labour in (who are also not loved locally) is moot, though if Ladyman stands again (and he WAS popular, even with my right-wing mum) he will probably retake it.

  38. Labour don’t need to be “loved” to win elections. I think this seat could actually be very close but not if the Tories come close to drawing level with Labour nationally, in which case they should be OK.
    As it happens Laura Sandys’ late brother was a barrister in my father’s chambers. He was quite unbelievably right-wing – he would have made Pete Whitehead look like a raving socialist. His views were way, way to the right of hers, and even of his pretty right-wing father.

  39. I think there’s been some research showing that women tend to be less right-wing than men generally speaking, although maybe we already knew that anyway!

  40. It’s very difficult to predict any of this now, but I’d say UKIP will manage 17/18% in Thanet, with the Tories holding on and the LD vote almost disappearing.

  41. I dont think this will be close at all, unless its a mammoth labour win nationally. Swing would be below average i would have thought.

  42. Prediction for 2015:

    Con – 40
    Lab – 36
    UKIP – 17
    LD – 7

  43. A lot depends on whether council election results are just that, purely local dissatisfaction with the Tories on Thanet council. The trouble for Labour is twofold; firstly, no-one can be sure that if UKIP do well it would necessarily take more votes away from the Tories than Labour; and secondly that the constituency includes Sandwich & some bits around it. These areas will vote conclusively Conservative. I still think that the Tories have enough local difficulties to be run quite close, but I’d agree that it’s very much a longshot for Labour. It is arguable that Labour might have a better chance here than in Chatham & Aylesford, even though on paper the swing needed here is quite a bit more.

  44. Two things to remember when trying to predict vote shares this far out from the election:

    1. If Labour enjoy a lead over the Conservatives nationally come polling day, it will probably be very thin. A Conservative lead is probably at least as likely, and the national swing from Con to Lab is likely to be about 4%, if that.

    2. Supposing UKIP manage 8% nationally (about half current polling figures), that will still be approaching 3x the vote share in 2010.

  45. I think (a) the popular vote will be very close indeed, and (b) UKIP are guaranteed to win at least 6%, which is a doubling of their 2010 showing. That’s a bare minimum — they should be able to do better than that.

  46. Would 6% be sufficient to gain any seats. The Greens could do it with much less but Brighton Pavilion is a fairly exceptional constituency….and UKIP are less likely to have such a huge concentration of their vote in a particular area. I think UKIP will do better in Seaside towns than in other areas…but not enough to break through.

  47. Does anyone know if UKIP plan to stand a candidate in every constituency in 2015?

  48. Presumably – they stood in the overwhelming majority of seats at the last election. I’d expect them to put up a full slate next time, barring any decisions to stand down for sympathetic sitting MPs.

    In 2010 they stood in 558 seats in GB, deliberately stood down in 7 and failed to put up candidates in about 66, disproportionately in Scotland.

  49. Thanks Anthony, as a Scot I was wondering if they would stand in all the Scottish seats.

  50. “I’d expect them to put up a full slate next time, barring any decisions to stand down for sympathetic sitting MPs.”

    This is something that can backfire.

    The Scottish Socialist Party regarded John McAllion MSP for Dundee East as being sympathetic and chose not to felt a candidate at the 2003 Holyrood Elections.

    In the event, the SSP took more lefty SNP votes than Labour votes, and their absence in Dundee East may have contributed to John McAllion’s defeat.

    McAllion successively joined the SSP and stood in the Dumfermline & West Fife By Election.

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