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)

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.

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.

How you voted

Screenshot of Hertsmere general election result from BBC web site, 8 May 2015It was never going to be the most exciting of elections for us in Hertsmere. No earthquake for us. It’s a Conservative hold, of course (as it is across Hertfordshire). And the Hertsmere numbers tell the national story pretty well. Conservative, Labour and Ukip all saw increases, both in absolute numbers and in share of the vote. And the source of those extra votes? The Lib Dems, by and large (an increased turn-out also helped – it was 65% in 2010). Share of the vote for the party whose candidate was reportedly too busy to campaign fell by a wapping 11.8% to 5.5% (2,777 votes – she’s just retained her deposit) The biggest gainer was Ukip, whose share jumped by 9.1%. Ukip candidate Frank Ward polled more than twice as many votes as Sophie Bowler (6,383). For Hertsmere, there’s the story.

Stay tuned for the Hertsmere borough and Aldenham parish election results, which we should have from about 4pm today.

So what’s going to get you voting?

Less that 24 hours to go. Which Radlett issues will influence your vote in the election? We asked and you answered (you can still complete the survey here).

So, in order of importance to local voters, here are the issues that will motivate the Radlett electorate in the polling booth Thursday (number of votes for each issue in brackets).

1. The Freight terminal and the green belt (158)
2. Development in Radlett (156)
3. The NHS (150)
4. Crime and policing (148)
5. Local amenities (139)
6. Transport and commuting (136)
7. Local business (127)
8. Schools (125)
9. Young people (124)
10. Environment (123)
11. Elder care (115)
12. Housing (115)

You can see the full survey questions on the survey page and the detailed results here.

It probably won’t surprise you that the top scoring issue relates to the planned freight terminal on the old Radlett airfield in Park Street. Likewise, the pressures caused by development in Radlett were bound to be high on the list. Some of you added narrative responses. Here’s a few of them:

Give more teeth to planning officers who seem incapable of stopping overdevelopment at the expense of the greenness of the area. Stop concreting over front gardens. Plant more trees. The state of verges is appalling with thoughtless drivers parking on them with impunity.

NHS Free at the point of care. No privatization not even sneaky its not really privatization privatization.

Potential mansion tax, inheritance tax.

No Free Schools to be built. Rather schools built where they are actually needed not as some form of vanity project or special interest group intent on avoiding national governance or indeed national curriculum.

Rail Freight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks to all of you who completed the survey. Don’t forget to vote!

The manifestos are in

So we now have manifestos from all the major parties. Here, for your convenience, are the manifestos of the four parties standing in Hertsmere:

Conservative – Strong leadership, a clear economic plan, a brighter, more secure future (here’s the downloadable version).

Labour – Britain only succeeds when working people succeed (downloadable version).

Liberal Democrats – Stronger economy, fairer society, opportunity for everyone (downloadable version). The Lib Dems provide their manifesto in several different versions, including this ‘easy read’ version (PDF) and an audio version.

Ukip – Believe in Britain (downloadable version). Ukip’s manifesto is also accompanied by a 20-page ‘economic review of policy proposals‘ prepared by consultancy CEBR.

We’ll leave it to you to evaluate the various parties’ commitment to the issues that are important here in Radlett. But don’t forget to complete our survey about those issues, which will be live until the election.

Leaflets from Hertsmere candidates, summarising party positions on local and national issues, are being circulated now (although we haven’t seen one from the Lib Dems, yet). You can see all of them on the volunteer-run Election Leaflets web site.

And, of course, there are other players in this exceptional election. Although you can’t vote for any of them, you’ll want to take a look at the manifestos of the Green Party (PDF), the SNP, the DUP (PDF) and Plaid Cymru (PDF). They could all influence the outcome on 7 May.

Hertsmere votes

The count for the Hertsmere local elections and referendum that took place on 5 May 2011

The nice people at Herstmere’s communications department are doing a great job today keeping electors up-to-date with the count in the local elections and the referendum on voting reform that took place yesterday.

They’re using Twitter to post regular updates and pictures (like the one above, from the count itself). Yesterday they alerted us to the fascinating fact that not everyone who gets a postal vote uses it!

Have you voted yet? Of around 9,000 postal votes sent out we have about 6,000 returned.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

And earlier today, they estimated the turnout for the elections:

A rough indication of overall turnout is 35% but we will hopefully be clarifying soon! Counters are still very busy…less than a minute ago via Mobile Web Favorite Retweet Reply

And provided the actual turnout for the referendum when it became available:

#hertsmere referendum turnout 40%. 28,905 voted. 22,721 at stations. 6,184 by post. We will keep u posted on local results as we get them!less than a minute ago via Mobile Web Favorite Retweet Reply

As I type this they’re relaying the results, ward-by-ward as they come in, like this one from one minute ago:

#Borehamwood Kenilworth labour Richard Butler electedless than a minute ago via Mobile Web Favorite Retweet Reply

Chris Hewett in the Watford Observer picks up the Liberal wipe-out at 1.15.

Harv Cohen, a Conservative councillor tweets with mixed news for the Tories:

Good news for #conservatives #hertsmere, Sam Dobin has held the seat for us , we have taken all Bushey ,unfortunately lost Kenilworthless than a minute ago via HTC Peep Favorite Retweet Reply

For me, as an elector, this poll has been transformed by social media. Where I might have been able to get results in real-time in the past, I had never bothered to. With details of the poll, the count and the result coming to me via Twitter, though, I’m significantly better-engaged. And the local authority’s willingness to use its own social media accounts to spread the word is a genuine public service. Well done Hertsmere.