What were the big issues for General Election voters in Radlett?

About a week ago, just before the 2017 General Election, we asked you which local issues would motivate you to vote. We did this for the last election too, back in 2015.

So, in order of importance to you, here are the issues that got the Radlett electorate voting, with the 2015 position in italics and the number of votes for each issue (in brackets).

1. The NHS (140) – up from 3rd position
2. Local amenities (134) – up from 8
3. The freight terminal and the green belt (133) – down from number 1
4. Caring for the elderly (130) – up from 11
5. Crime and policing (130) – down from 4
6. Transport and commuting (129) – non-mover
7. Young people (129) – up from 9
8. Development in Radlett (121) – down from 2
9. The Newberries car park development (121) – new entry
10. Housing (120) – up from 12
9. Local business (117) – down from 7
10. Environment (114) – non-mover
11. Or is it really all about Brexit? (112) – new entry
12. Schools (105) – down from 8

The NHS has displaced the freight terminal as your number one concern since 2015, the Newberries car park redevelopment is a new entry at number nine and, although we were really expecting you to tell us that Brexit trumps everything else, it was the second-least important issue in the survey. Does this reflect a national loss of interest in the mechanics of Brexit, now that it’s a done deal? And will the biggest electoral surprise in decades throw the whole Brexit calculation in the air again anyway?

It’s also fascinating that schools have dropped from number eight to last place. The huge cuts coming down the pipe for all state schools are clearly not freaking out the population of Radlett.

Our 2017 election survey results are here. And you can read the 2015 results here.

And on the national scale, Tory donor (and noted tax avoider) Lord Ashcroft runs a large and detailed survey of UK voters after every major vote. His most recent data is absolutely fascinating. He shows, for instance, that the only age group that voted majority Conservative in last week’s election was the over-55s.

Elections in Hertsmere since 1983

A line chart showing Hertsmere Parliamentary election voting data, from 1983-2017That’s 34 years of Hertsmere General Election voting data, from the Thatcher high water mark of 1983 (the biggest landslide since Labour’s 1945 win, you’ll remember) to 2017’s most surprising result, via that other high water mark – Blair’s even bigger 1997 landslide.

The Hertsmere Parliamentary constituency has only existed since 1983. Before it there was a constituency called South Hertfordshire that itself only lasted for three general elections. Cecil Parkinson, a close ally of Margaret Thatcher, held the seat from 1983, when he also ran the extraordinarily successful Conservative national campaign. He was replaced, after a particularly egregious scandal, for the 1992 election, by James Clappison, who went on to be a popular and hard-working constituency representative for five Parliamentary terms.

Clappison was summarily dumped by his party for the 2015 election, though, to make room for David Cameron adviser Oliver Dowden. Dowden himself has spent the last two years building a reputation for hard work and commitment to the constituency and he has, of course, now been re-elected with a higher share of the vote, although a slightly smaller majority.

What all the results in the chart have in common, of course, is the winner. Hertsmere has been a comfortably Conservative seat throughout. Even the Blair revolution, in which Labour took 418 Parliamentary seats, the largest number ever held by a UK party, couldn’t (quite) touch that and, although Fiona Smith has lifted the party further from that dreadful 2010 result, the Corbyn uprising has done essentially nothing to close the gap.

In some ways, the Liberals’ trajectory in the constituency since 1983 is the grimmest of all – steadily falling from a quarter of the vote and second place ahead of Labour – to little more than 5% this year. That’s a snapshot of the national challenge for Farron and his party.

This chart shows the Conservatives’ winning majority in Hertsmere, over the 34-year period. You can see just how close things got in 1997. It’s fascinating to note how long it’s taken the party to recover from that enormous electoral shock.

Chart showing winning majority in Hertsmere Parliamentary constituency from 1983 - 2017

And this chart shows turnout over the same period.
Hertsmere General Election turnout data, 1983-2017

To keep the top chart simple, I’ve left out the minor parties – the levitating transcendentalists from the Natural Law Party (please watch their 1994 European Parliamentary election broadcast); James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party, whose programme looked pretty kooky at the time but now looks like a model of sanity; the Independent Communist candidate whose vote exceeded 2% back in 1983; Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party and the BNP, whose Daniel Seabrook ran once in 2010 before being rendered entirely irrelevant by UKIP. The smaller-party numbers are all included in the raw data, though, in case you’re interested.
(sources: Wikipedia and BBC)

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%.

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.

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).

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. 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.

The Radlett Wire EU referendum poll – the results are in

Our EU referendum opinion poll closed early this morning. You voted – narrowly – in favour of Remain. Now it’s time for the real thing. During the ten days the poll was live, things moved around a lot, though, and both sides had a majority at one point or another. With a sample of 361, the poll is probably pretty representative.

Final results of Radlett Wire's EU referendum opinion poll
Turnout in Hertsmere at the last general election, in 2015, was 67.9%. Will the feverish – not to say furious – atmosphere of the campaign and the sheer gravity of the decision we have to make produce a higher turnout? Or will the rain keep voters at home? We’ll know in about twenty hours.

We’ll be at the count and will bring you the results as soon as they’re public. Follow us on Twitter or on Facebook to get the news first.

Police and crime commissioner – no surprises but a big increase in turn-out

David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, standing in front of a Hertfordshire Police signConservative David Lloyd has been re-elected. Most people don’t know who their Police Commissioner is and surveys have shown that many have no idea what they do. Something’s obviously changed in Hertfordshire, though, because turn-out for the vote more than doubled, from a disastrous 14.5% in 2012 to an almost creditable 29% this year – and that’s in a year with no local authority elections to boost the vote.

None of the candidates secured 50% of the vote in the first round so counting went to a second round, in which Lloyd beat the Labour candidate Kerry Pollard 126,069 votes to 85,854. Chris White, the Liberal candidate, came third, with 38,488 of first round votes. The UKIP candidate, who is a financial adviser to ‘professionals and the comfortably well-off’ in Royston, came dead last.