Hertsmere – the results are in

Oliver Dowden acceptance speech 2017Blimey, what a night. British politics has been turned on its head. Young voters have challenged the electoral status quo as never before. A Prime Minister brought low by hubris. But you don’t want to know about all that. You want to know what happened here in Hertsmere, right?
Screenshot of 2017 election results from Hertsmere Parliamentary constituency

As expected, it was not an exciting night in Hertsmere. The photograph (from Hertsmere Borough Council on Twitter), taken during Oliver Dowden’s acceptance speech, properly expresses the frenzy at the count in Borehamwood. It was a good night for Dowden, though. He was re-elected with more votes and an increased share.

He’s won a smaller majority though, and that’s all about a substantially better performance from Labour and the collapse in UKIP’s vote. Fiona Smith, a first time candidate for Labour, built on Richard Butler’s work in 2015, taking Labour’s vote to 14,977, over 6% more than in 2015 and a 28.7% share, the party’s highest since 2001. I predict a solid political future for Fiona Smith.

UKIP’s loss mirrored the national numbers. David Hoy polled only 1,564 votes, 75% fewer than in 2015.

The Liberal Democrats polled almost exactly the same as in 2015, which itself was a thirty-year low point, and the Greens’ return to Hertsmere politics made essentially no difference. Return to two-party politics, anyone?

Turnout was 71%, the best since the high water mark of 1997, when it was 74%.

What to expect from General Election day in Hertsmere

Polling station in New South Wales, Australia, in 1925First of all, if you live in Radlett and can vote, do complete our one-minute survey about local issues influencing Radlett voters. We’ve done this before and it produces lots of useful insight. It’ll be online until 5pm today and we’ll share the results this evening.

We essentially already know the result of the 2017 General Election in our constituency, Hertsmere. It’s the 103rd safest seat in the country for the Conservatives. Only an gigantic electoral earthquake could unseat Conservative incumbent Oliver Dowden so, for Hertsmere, it’s all about the details:

Will Oliver Dowden improve on his 2015 majority of 36.9%? His majority was very close to his predecessor James Clappison’s in 2010 but he had managed to improve his party’s share by more than 3% over 2010.

Will the post-Brexit political ferment increase turnout from 2015’s 67.9%, which was itself up from 64.7% in 2010? National turnout for the 2015 General Election was 66.1%, up over the previous three General Elections but still substantially down on the average for the second half of the 20th Century, when over 70% of the population showed up to vote every time. Some pollsters are projecting a big increase in turnout, thanks to a rush of enthusiasm from young people enthused by Jeremy Corbyn. We’ll see.

Can the Liberal Democrats’ candidate Joe Jordan possibly improve on his party’s disastrous 2015 Hertsmere performance – 2,777 votes, down 11.8 ooints on 2010? 2015 was an especially bad year for the Liberals, for reasons you’ll probably remember, but many think the party has badly miscalculated the electorate’s interest in re-running the Brexit vote. This may even reduce the Lib Dems’ share.

Will UKIP’s vote, which was 6,383 or a 12.7% share in 2015 (over three times the party’s 2010 vote) shrink sharply as it is expected to nationally?

Can Labour’s Fiona Smith overcome the concerns of Hertsmere’s Jewish community, on antisemitism and the party’s position on Israel? She’s been working hard to do so in the constituency but with Labour’s share in 2015 at not much more than a third of the Tory vote, it’s not looking good.

And will the return of The Greens to the fray, with Sophie Summerhahyes, who only joined the party in 2015, further reduce Labour and the Lib Dems’ share in the constituency?

We’ll share the Hertsmere result here and on Twitter and Facebook as soon as we have it. The count, at Allum Lane Community Centre in Borehamwood, is always well organised so we’re expecting a fairly early result. Also on Twitter, the Borehamwood Times and the press team at Hertsmere Borough Council will also be providing election news overnight.

Your Hertsmere candidates are:
Oliver Dowden, Conservative.
David Hoy, UKIP @1DavidHoy
Joe Jordan, Liberal Democrats @GeekofHearts.
Fiona Smith, Labour @Fiona4Hertsmere.
Sophie Summerhahyes, Green Party @Barber_Sophie.

Here’s our detailed analysis of the 2016 referendum vote and of the 2015 General Election vote in Hertsmere.

Your Radlett General Election guide

Let’s start with the 2015 results for the Hertsmere constituency. Here’s our analysis of the voting two years ago.
Screenshot of Hertsmere general election result from BBC web site, 8 May 2015
Four parties stood last time (no Greens) and the Tory share was a substantial 59.3%. According to the excellent Electoral Calculus, Hertsmere is the Conservatives’ 103rd safest seat and Oliver Dowden has a 97% chance of retaining the seat so all the action this year will be at the margins. Will the Liberals lose share, as some predict? Will Labour do better than expected?

Your candidates. There are five this time around:
Oliver Dowden, Conservative.
David Hoy, UKIP.
Joe Jordan, Liberal Democrats.
Fiona Smith, Labour.
Sophie Summerhayes, Green Party.
Here’s what we know about them so far.

And what about that other big vote?. Our polling district voted Leave by a margin of 1.6% (50.8 – 49.2%), putting the district 262nd of the 382 UK polling districts – meaning that 261 districts, or 68% of the total, had larger majorities for Leave. We put together a quite detailed analysis of the Brexit vote in Hertsmere – putting the local vote in the regional and national context. Referendum vote counting was done differently from election counting, so we don’t have ward-by-ward voting data, except for neighbouring Shenley, which, thanks the BBC’s Martin Rosenbaum, we know voted Remain.

Before the 2015 election we ran a survey. We wanted to know what were the Radlett issues that got you all voting. The big issue last time around was the railfreight terminal- a story that has moved on since then but is still not in any way resolved. Do please take two minutes to fill in this year’s survey! It’ll take two minutes and we’ll share the results here and on Facebook and Twitter.

What to do on the big day. There are usually four polling stations in Radlett – the United Synagogue and the Radlett Centre, Newberries Primary School and the Phillimore Community Centre, and if you don’t know which one is yours, there’s a handy web site where you can find out.

Local and Parliamentary elections in Radlett are run by a team at Hertsmere Borough Council. They have a useful web site where you can find out about candidates, counts, previous results and so on. On the My Society web site, there’s a very useful, plain English guide to voting in UK elections.

Are you ready for the General Election?

Here’s a timetable for the next few weeks.

Monday 22 May (11.59pm). Deadline for registering to vote. Do it online here. You’ll need your National Insurance number (but there’s also a way to register if you don’t have one) and it takes five minutes. If you haven’t done this yet, or if you haven’t helped the young people in your household to do so, you’re off our Christmas card list for good. Seriously.

Tuesday 23 May (5pm). Deadline for new new postal vote and postal proxy applications and for changes to existing postal or proxy votes. If you or your proxy can’t attend the polling station in person on the day.

Wednesday 31 May (5pm). Deadline for new applications to vote by proxy (not postal proxy or emergency proxies). If you can’t attend the polling station in person on the day you can appoint a proxy. You can apply for an emergency proxy vote up till 5pm on polling day itself.

Thursday 8 June, polling day (7am – 10pm). You know what to do. There are usually four polling stations in Radlett – the United Synagogue and the Radlett Centre, Newberries Primary School and the Phillimore Community Centre, and if you don’t know which one is yours, there’s a handy web site where you can find out.

Local and Parliamentary elections in Radlett are run by a team at Hertsmere Borough Council. They have a useful web site where you can find out about candidates, counts, previous results and so on. On the My Society web site, there’s a very useful, plain English guide to voting in UK elections.

What we know about your candidates for the 2017 General Election

There are five candidates for the 2017 election in Hertsmere. That’s one more than in 2015 – the Greens have returned to the fray.

Here’s what we know so far. I’ll add more here as we get it.

In alphabetical order:

Oliver Dowden, Conservative. The incumbent. A local man and a former Cameron adviser, helicoptered in by CCHQ for the 2015 election, he’s managed to retain his relevance in the May era, principally by the simple expedient of absolute loyalty. You won’t find a single vote in defiance of the whip in his Parliamentary record and he’s been heard saying “strong, stable leadership” on a number of occasions, including on this episode of Radio 4’s Westminster Hour in April.

David Hoy, UKIP. Chairman of Hertsmere UKIP. Hoy stood in the 2014 and 2016 local elections. He’s on Twitter, where his bio reads: “Don’t care I will do it anyway”, although he hasn’t tweeted since Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.

Joe Jordan, Liberal Democrats. Jordan’s a software engineer and a scientist (with a doctorate). He’s a Liberal activist from Huntingdonshire, where he’s been looking after social media and the web for his local party. He stood in Royston at the 2015 General Election. He’s set up a web site for his Hertsmere campaign and he’s on Twitter (and he’s definitely the only candidate to have his own comic book-style custom Twitter avatar).

Fiona Smith, Labour. Interestingly, Smith has served in both the military and the police force. She’s on Twitter and recently found herself explaining a tweet critical of Israel sent in 2014 (although it looks like it was a tweet sent automatically when she signed an Amnesty online petition). She supported Liz Kendall in the 2015 Labour leadership election so is unlikely to be a Corbyn loyalist.

Sophie Summerhayes, Green Party. Summerhayes joined the Green Party “just before the green surge in 2015” and she’s co-founder of Watford Young Greens. She’s also on Twitter.

Jewish News has some more detail on the candidates. I’ve made a Twitter list for the Hertsmere candidates – follow it to keep up with their tweets during the campaign (Oliver Dowden doesn’t seem to be using Twitter at the moment).

The 2017 County Council elections in Radlett

Hertfordshire County Council elections 2017, Watling division results

UPDATE: Saturday 6 May.

The County Council results are all in. The details shows a strong swing towards the Conservatives. They’ve gained five seats. Labour has lost six, including their leader on the Council, Leon Reefe. The Liberals gained two. Turnout was 34.1%, substantially up from 28.9% in 2013 (turnout here in Watling Division was also up substantially, from 25.8% to 33%).

UPDATE: 8:40am Friday 5 May.

About a third of Hertfordshire’s County Council electoral divisions will be counting today, but the results so far are clear: a big win for the Conservatives, with an increased majority. The Watford Observer has the live story and the BBC’s results pages will have the national numbers.

Results here in the Watling division also show a big increase in the Conservative share of the vote. Caroline Clapper has taken votes from Labour and from UKIP (who helped out by not standing at all). It’s also likely that an increase in turnout has helped the Tories. An interesting local detail is that the Liberals have almost doubled their 2013 vote.

3,726 votes in total (2013 votes in brackets)
Saif Al-Saadoon, Liberal Democrats 318 votes, 8.5% (176, 6%)
Caroline Clapper, Conservative 2,889 votes, 77.5% (1,874, 63.7%)
Peter Halsey, Labour 344 votes, 9.25% (392, 13.3%)
Jessica Wand, Green Party 175 votes, 4.75% (did not stand)

Wednesday 3 May

Elections. Oh God. Will they never end? Here’s another one to worry about. If you’re resident here and you’ve registered to vote (you have registered to vote, haven’t you?) you’ll be able to vote in the Hertfordshire County Council elections on 4 May – like a kind of warm-up for the big one in June. This is just for the County, though – not District (Hertsmere) or Parish (Aldenham).

If you live in Radlett, your County Councillor is Caroline Clapper (Conservative) and she’s standing for re-election. She represents an electoral district (to avoid confusion, they’re actually called ‘divisions’ at County level) called Watling, which also takes in Aldenham, Letchmore Heath, Elstree and a bit of Borehamwood. Watling Street cuts right through the division, from the Northern end of Radlett to the Southern end of Elstree, where it meets the London Borough of Barnet. 15,000 people live in the Watling division and we’re quite an elderly lot: 54% are over 40 and the largest segment in the age distribution is 50-54 (8.5%). More about the Watling electoral division on the Hertfordshire web site.

Clapper (who is also a Hertsmere Borough Councillor), as well as being a member of the full County Council is also on the Enterprise, Education & Skills cabinet panel and the Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

In Radlett, she recently consulted local people about the redevelopment of Newberries car park via the Radlett Facebook group and the overwhelmingly negative response must have informed her decision to step down from the Hertsmere committee responsible for the planning decision. She’s cannily expressed no personal opinion about the development but she says “I strongly believe that Radlett residents and businesses should have a big say in any major development proposed for our village.”

Clapper won her seat in the 2013 election with a 63.7% share of the vote so she’s unlikely to be packing her desk at County Hall any time soon. The other candidates for this election are: Saif Al-Saadoon for the Liberal Democrats, Peter Halsey for Labour and Jessica Wand for the Greens. Although they came second in 2013, with a 16.5% share, UKIP are not standing this time. Here are the 2013 County Council election results (scroll down for the Watling division results).

Here’s what we know so far about the 2017 General Election in Hertsmere

Prime Minister Theresa May announcing her decision to go for a snap general election in Downing Street on 18 May 2017There will be a General Election. The House of Commons has voted 522 to 13 to approve the Government’s motion for an early General Election and it will take place on 8 June.

It was a complete surprise – and not just for electors. When I called the office of our MP Oliver Dowden after Theresa May’s Downing Street announcement yesterday, the staffer I spoke to said “when I came to work this morning, I was not expecting a General Election”.

I’m waiting to hear whether Dowden will be seek selection again. I’ve also asked 2015 Labour candidate Richard Butler if he’ll be running and Hertsmere UKIP if they will put forward a candidate. The Greens put up no candidate in 2015 and if I can reach them I’ll ask if they plan to this time.

Hertsmere is, of course, a very safe Conservative seat, so expect no fireworks on June 8th. All the interest will be in the detail. The 2015 result was all about the collapse of the Liberals and the rise of UKIP – almost the whole of the 11.8% swing away from the Liberal Democrats went to UKIP’s Frank Ward and UKIP wound up with more than twice the Liberal vote. Here’s my analysis from May 2015, with detailed results. Turnout was 67.9%.

Brexit, of course, looms large in this vote. Hertsmere voted Leave, by a slightly smaller margin than the country as a whole. Turnout was 76.6%. It’s not possible to break out the Radlett vote for the referendum but our own opinion poll produced a small lead for Remain which, given the profile of the community and its dependence on jobs in the City, doesn’t seem implausible. Read my detailed analysis, putting the Hertsmere vote in the local and national context, here.

We’ll try to post some interesting and helpful stuff here during the run-up to this most interesting election – and will come up with a way to poll Radlett voters too, as we did for the referendum. Do please get in touch if you have any ideas about how we should cover the election from a Radlett perspective. We’re on Twitter (at @RadlettWire) and on Facebook, of course.

Radlett’s EU referendum vote in context

Hertsmere EU Referendum 2016 results comparison

It was, let’s face it, a surprise. As late as the close of polling on Thursday bookmakers were still offering 7/1 on Brexit (that’s a 12.5% probability). The opinion polls weren’t too far off for this vote but still gave Remain a small lead.

Our polling district, Hertsmere, voted Leave by a margin of 1.6% (50.8 – 49.2%), putting the district 262nd of the 382 polling districts – meaning that 261 districts, or 68% of the total, had larger majorities for Leave.

The table, which uses data from the BBC web site, puts Hertsmere in the context of its immediate neighbours and confirms what we essentially already know about the vote in England. London, and a handful of other urban districts, voted Remain, while prosperous suburbs, rural areas and struggling towns voted Leave. The three London boroughs to Radlett’s South voted Remain and all of our other neighbours outside London (except St Albans) voted Leave.

For comparison, I’ve included London itself and the constituency with the largest Leave vote – Boston in Lincolnshire – and the one with the largest Remain vote – Lambeth (I’ve excluded the obvious outlier, Gibraltar, where all but 823 people voted to remain).

It’s difficult to know how Radlett itself voted. The referendum poll – unlike general elections – is not broken down by ward and, of course, there’s no such thing as a ‘safe seat’ in a referendum. Every vote counts. Thanks to Martin Rosenbaum at the BBC, though, we do know how the good people of Shenley voted. He used FOI requests to get referendum voting data at the ward level from all the UK local authorities that collected it. So, although it’s not clear why Hertsmere reported voting for Shenley and not the other wards, we are fairly sure that Shenley voted Remain. Our own opinion poll of local voters gave a small win to Remain.

And incidentally, the Radlett margin predicted by our poll (which closed on the morning of the referendum) was exactly the same as the actual margin achieved by Remain in critical North East district Newcastle upon Tyne – the first mainland seat declared and the one that got Remainers sweating because it came in below the number suggested by the BBC model.

Radlett Wire EU referendum poll results graphic

Some local people are clearly in shock – especially those whose jobs depend on the financial sector. Others are celebrating. Were you surprised by the result? Do you think we’ve made a terrible mistake? Or is this, as Nigel Farage puts it, a ‘new dawn’ for Britain? Leave a comment below (anonymously if you like) and we’ll share your reactions here, on Facebook and on Twitter.

The Guardian and the BBC both have excellent detailed analysis of the national results.

Lord Ashcroft’s detailed polling, published the day after the referendum, is essential reading.

EU Referendum – Hertsmere has voted

Hertsmere EU referendum result

Leave wins in Hertsmere, by a margin of about 0.9%. And against the backdrop, as I write this at 3.40 a.m., of a bigger vote for Leave than expected. In our Radlett opinion poll, which closed just before the polls opened on Thursday morning, Remain was ahead by about 1.5%.

Turnout for the referendum in Hertsmere was 76.6%, against 67.9% in the last general election and 71% for the referendum nationally. The people of Hertsmere were interested enough to get out and vote, even in Thursday’s storms.

By the time you read this, it’ll probably all be over. The BBC has all the results.