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Conservative vote share varies across Devon but still blocks an Independent MP in East Devon

Labour loses vote share in every constituency, but retains Exeter and Plymouth Sutton & Devonport to leave the county position unchanged from 2017.

General election   Plymouth sutton & devonport   Tiverton & honiton   Totnes   Newton abbot   Devon central   Exeter   Devon east   Torbay   Devon south west   Devon west & torridge   Plymouth moor view   Devon north  

Apart from Devon East, where independent candidate Claire Wright was well-positioned to challenge 150 years of Conservative representation at Westminster, few people expected any of Devon’s twelve parliamentary constituencies to change hands at this election.

As predicted, a sea of blue still surrounds Exeter and Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, both of which Labour held with reduced majorities.

The only South West seat that changed hands was Stroud, which has been marginal since 1997. Labour lost 5% of its vote share, while the Green Party increased its vote share by the same amount, turning a Labour majority of 687 into a Conservative majority of 3,840.

The only South West MPs outside Devon that are now not Conservative are the four in Bristol, all of whom held their seats for Labour, and Bath’s Liberal Democrat, who bucked the national trend to increase her majority mostly at her Conservative rival’s expense.

But the surge of support that produced extraordinary results for the Conservatives in other parts of the country was not replicated across Devon, with some candidates losing vote share on 2017’s results and others only managing to increase theirs by a couple of percentage points.

2019 parliamentary elections - East Devon vote share change bar chart

In East Devon, where Independents won 31 district council seats in May, up 18, to take control of the local authority from the Conservatives for the first time in its 45 year history, Claire Wright was expected to do well against newcomer Simon Jupp, having increased her vote share from 24% in 2015, the first time she stood in the seat, to 35% in 2017.

Her grassroots campaign generated widespread support and interest, with hundreds of posters and banners visible across the constituency and national media attention reflecting its prominence.

However, despite the exit poll prediction that she had a 96% chance of winning, a high turnout of 74% and her vote share increasing to over 40%, Simon Jupp ended the night with a reduced Conservative majority of 6708 on a share of nearly 51%.

Before the ballot there had been criticism of the Greens and Liberal Democrats for failing to stand down in favour of Unite to Remain proposals to back Claire Wright as the constituency’s strongest remain candidate, but the count revealed that so few votes were cast for the other four candidates that put together they still fell short of the winning margin.

Labour’s vote share notably fell by nearly 7%, leaving all four unable to reclaim their deposits.

2019 parliamentary elections - East Devon vote share bar chart

Exeter’s May local elections had seen new Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent councillors elected, although Labour retained 29 of 39 seats on the city council, and an October county council byelection had resulted in a collapse of support for Labour in Heavitree & Whipton Barton where the Green and Liberal Democrat vote shares both increased by more than 11%.

However Labour incumbent Ben Bradshaw, who has held the seat since the 1997 Labour landslide, was defending a large majority of 16,000 having increased his vote share by 16% in 2017 and so was expected to win comfortably.

In the event a 9% vote share loss saw his majority reduced to just over 10,000 on a turnout of 68%, down 3% from 2017.

The Conservative party’s vote share increased by nearly 2%, but Green Party candidate Joe Levy notably increased his vote share by nearly 7% to nearly 9% of the ballots cast, supported by 5,000 voters.

The Liberal Democrat candidate stood down in the constituency, which no longer includes St. Loyes or Topsham since their 2010 transfer to Devon East, as part of the Unite to Remain campaign pact.

2019 parliamentary elections - Exeter vote share change bar chart

Luke Pollard did rather better for Labour in the party’s other Devon seat, Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, where he won with 2,000 fewer votes than in 2017 on a share that shrunk by 5%. The turnout of 68% was up by a point and a half.

He had taken the seat in 2017 with 13% of the vote and a majority of 7,000 but now has the smallest majority among Devon MPs, making his constituency the most marginal in the county.

He nevertheless successfully saw off the Conservative candidate Rebecca Smith, whose vote share was 1.1% lower than her predecessor’s. Ann Widdecombe came third for the Brexit Party with sufficient vote share to avoid losing her deposit, but too few votes to have handed victory to the Conservatives had pro-Brexit support not been split.

2019 parliamentary elections - Exeter vote share bar chart

Conservative Neil Parish also lost 1.1% of the vote share in Tiverton & Honiton, which covers half of East Devon district and half of Mid Devon district, in both of which Independents did well in the May local elections.

He nevertheless increased his majority to 24,000 to comfortably hold the seat with 60% of the ballots cast on an unchanged 72% turnout.

Labour’s vote share fell by 8%, most of which apparently went to the Liberal Democrats who nevertheless still finished third.

The Conservative candidate in Totnes, Anthony Mangnall, who was selected to run against previous incumbent Sarah Wollaston after she resigned from the party in February, also saw his party’s vote share shrink slightly compared with 2017.

He nevertheless comfortably held the seat, which covers the eastern half of South Hams and parts of Torbay, with 53% of the votes giving him a majority of nearly 13,000 on a 75% turnout, up nearly 2%.

Sarah Wollaston had joined the Liberal Democrats in August after co-founding The Independent Group for Change in parliament.

Despite benefiting from the Unite to Remain electoral pact and increasing the Liberal Democrat vote share by 16% to nearly 29%, her defection has cost her a place in parliament, where she previously played a prominent role as chair of the health select and liaison committees.

Labour’s Totnes vote share fell by 10% to under 9,000, the biggest drop in the county.

2019 parliamentary elections - Devon Labour vote share change bar chart

Anne Marie Morris, who had been suspended from the Conservative Party between July and December 2017 for making a racist remark at a Brexit report launch event, comfortably held the Newton Abbot constituency. Her vote share was unchanged at 55%, giving her a majority of 29,000 on a slightly increased 73% turnout.

Liberal Democrat success at the local elections in May, when the party nearly doubled its seats on Teignbridge District Council to take control from the Conservatives, was not replicated at the general election. The party’s modestly increased vote share of 22% was, however, enough to push Labour into third place.

Mel Stride’s performance in Devon Central was slightly better, increasing his vote share by a little over 1% on a high 77% turnout to give him a majority of nearly 18,000. The Labour vote share only fell by 2% here, leaving the party in second place well clear of the Liberal Democrats.

The constituency, which covers parts of East Devon, Mid Devon, West Devon and Teignbridge districts as well as Dartmoor, is the third largest in the country. It is the only one without a conurbation with a population of more than 10,000: Bovey Tracey, Okephampton and Crediton all have fewer than 8,000 residents.

Devon parliamentary constituency and district council boundaries map

Devon parliamentary constituency and district council boundaries.
Contains OS data © Crown copyright and database right 2019.

Devon South West has been held for the Conservatives since 1997 by Gary Streeter, who was previously MP for nearby Plymouth Sutton before its absorption into what is now Luke Pollard’s seat in 2010.

He is a prominent Christian MP who has chaired Christians in Parliament for over a decade and has controversially attempted to overturn an Advertising Standards Authority ban on faith healing claims.

His vote share increased by 2.5% to give him a 21,000 majority with 62% of the vote, 6,000 larger than in 2017. Turnout was slightly down at 74%.

Labour support fell by 8% while Liberal Democrat vote share increased by 7%, but Labour retained second place with a 22% share, twice that of the Liberal Democrats.

Geoffrey Cox has held neighbouring Devon West & Torridge since he overturned a small Liberal Democracy majority in 2005.

He was appointed Attorney General by Theresa May in 2018, subsequently placing him at the centre of the prorogation controversy that saw Parliament unlawfully suspended in September.

His vote share increased by 3.6%, largely at the Labour candidate’s expense, to give him a majority of nearly 25,000 on a 75% turnout, up 1%. As a result Labour fell to third place behind the Liberal Democrats.

Devon West & Torridge is the largest constituency in the country by area, covering all of Torridge and most of West Devon districts. Okehampton, which had previously been in the seat, was transferred to Central Devon in 2010.

2019 parliamentary elections - Devon Conservative vote share change bar chart

Kevin Foster performed better for the Conservatives in the Torbay constituency, which covers most, but not all, of the unitary authority area of the same name, Brixham being part of the neighbouring Totnes constituency.

His vote share increased by over 6% on a turnout matching the UK average of 67%, giving him an increased majority of nearly 18,000. The Liberal Democrats came second, as they have since 2015 after previously holding the seat from 1997.

Johnny Mercer held Plymouth Moor View more emphatically for the Conservatives, increasing his vote share by nearly 9% at the Labour Party’s expense and more than doubling his majority to nearly 13,000 on a turnout of 64%, down 2%.

He controversially took a second job in 2018 which paid £85,000 for 20 hours’ work a month, equivalent to £350 per hour, and has been challenged several times over his campaign and parliamentary expenses.

He was appointed as a junior defence minister earlier this year and sits on the Health and Social Care Select Committee.

The Devon Conservative vote share increased most of all in Devon North, the only constituency in the county to coincide with its namesake district, despite the Conservatives losing control of the council in May to the Liberal Democrats.

Newcomer Selaine Saxby, who was elected as a district councillor in May, saw the Conservative vote share rise by nearly 11% to boost the party’s majority to 15,000 on an unchanged 73% turnout.

The Liberal Democrats have historically performed well in this seat: it was held for their Liberal predecessors by party leader Jeremy Thorpe from 1959 to 1979 and again by Nick Harvey from 1992 to 2015, so the loss of 8% of the vote share and the scale of the Conservative victory is all the more remarkable.

Selaine Saxby is the first female MP to represent the constituency and one of only two women representing the county in Parliament. 220 female MPs have been elected, 12 more than the previous peak in 2017, but they still only constitute just over a third of the House of Commons.

Electoral Reform Society results analysis showing voters per representative across parties

Meanwhile Electoral Reform Society analysis of results across the country has revealed that while the 865,000 people who voted for the Green Party will be represented by a single MP, each of the SNP’s 48 Westminster MPs only needed 26,000 votes to take a seat in Parliament.

At the same time 45.3% of votes were cast for losing candidates, so none of those votes will be represented in Parliament at all.


 is editor of Exeter Observer and a member and director of its publisher Exeter Observer Ltd.

 


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Exeter students celebrated the lives of polar explorer and botanist Elke Mackenzie, inventor, engineer and futurist Nikola Tesla and astronaut and children's author Sally Ride in winning LGBT+ network competition entries.

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Jubilee Beauty - Exeter Central library chidren's area rocking horse

News  ⁄  Community & society

Exeter library children's horse to keep on rocking!

A crowdfunding appeal has successfully raised £1000 to repair Exeter Central library's popular rocking horse, Jubilee Beauty.

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Exeter City Council accounts delayed by auditors Grant Thornton

Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter & East Devon council accounts delayed by Grant Thornton's "lack of staff resources"

Annual accounts for local government, including Exeter City Council, have been delayed by private sector firms failing to complete their work on time after cost-cutting government auditing reforms.

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Exeter election polling station

News  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Conservatives hold Topsham in Exeter city council by-election

A by-election held on general election day produced an unusually high turnout but a lower Conservative vote share than at the May local elections.

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East Devon Independent Claire Wright 2019 general election candidate

Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

East Devon Independent Claire Wright set to unite Remain voters in close historic two-way contest

Claire Wright is poised to make history by beating the Tories in East Devon next week. If she does it will be without thanks to the LibDems and Greens, who insisted on standing candidates against her despite the preferences of local party members and the Unite to Remain campaign.

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Striking University of Exeter history lecturers Dr Jennifer Farrell and Dr Gemma Clark

News  ⁄  Education & skills

University of Exeter staff strike over pay, pensions and working conditions

The Exeter branch of the University & College Union (UCU) is taking part in a national eight day strike for fair pay and pensions, including equal pay for female and BAME staff, and against casualisation and increasing workloads.

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Heart of the South West Local Industrial Strategy branding

Analysis  ⁄  Economy & enterprise

Will a new South West industrial strategy deliver what it promises?

Our business-led Local Enterprise Partnership appears committed to a new approach to driving growth which its CEO describes as "game-changing".

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2019 Devon County Council Heavitree & Whipton Barton by-election Exeter vote share swing bar chart

News  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter Labour support collapses in Heavitree & Whipton Barton county by-election

Greg Sheldon wins Devon County Council division by just 40 votes after Labour loses nearly a fifth of its previous vote share.

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Exeter City Council cuts executive decision-making scrutiny

Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter City Council cuts scrutiny of executive decision-making

Constitutional changes proposed by Exeter City Council will make it more difficult to hold the ruling political group to account.

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Exeter Global Climate Strike demonstrator holding placard

Analysis  ⁄  Climate & environment

Exeter youth climate strikers launch Green New Deal for Devon

Fridays For Future Exeter have published a detailed vision of a more equitable future that calls on elected representatives across the county to recognise the climate crisis as a symptom of a dysfunctional political economy.

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Exeter Global Climate Strike Bedford Street crowd

News  ⁄  Climate & environment

Thousands march in Exeter for global climate strike as millions mobilise worldwide

Fridays for Future Exeter led 3500 people on a climate crisis demonstration through the city backed by dozens of organisations on the eve of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York.

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Rhian Keyse speaking at Exeter UCU's anti-casualisation campaign launch

News  ⁄  Education & skills

Education union challenges university to address widespread casualisation of teaching staff

Exeter University & College Union (UCU) launched an anti-casualisation campaign on Friday as a prelude to negotiation with the University of Exeter over academic staff contracts.

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Exeter anti-government protest Devon for Europe speaker

Comment  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter protest misses its mark by mixing its messages

One of Exeter's biggest ever street demonstrations combined anti-Brexit and pro-democracy concerns to produce a confused protest against government policy.

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Exeter Extinction Rebellion funeral march climate crisis High Street

News  ⁄  Climate & environment

Mock funeral march brings Exeter city centre to a sombre standstill

Extinction Rebellion campaigners brought the gravity of the ecological emergency home to Exeter on Saturday in a funereal procession commemorating wildlife loss caused by climate change.

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Exeter City Council public toilet closures Exeter Live Better hoarding

Comment  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter could do better - was there no alternative to closing so many public toilets?

Exeter City Council did not need to close thirteen public toilets to balance the books. The money to keep them open was available in reserves, but no mention of this option was made during public decision-making by councillors or officers.

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Exeter City Council public toilet closure notice

Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Caught short - balancing the books in a hurry

Exeter City Council has unapologetically confirmed its decision to close 13 public toilets as a money-saving measure with full knowledge of its expected effect on residents and visitors. Can we expect other spending cuts to be handled the same way?

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Preston Street Union present SERGE/SURGE at Cricklepit Mill

Review  ⁄  Arts & culture

Preston Street Union rolls out the red carpet

The Exeter-based artists explore migration driven by the city's historic wool trade in new work commissioned by RAMM.

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Exeter Youth Strike 4 Climate protestors with banner

Comment  ⁄  Climate & environment

Exeter Youth Strike 4 Climate - the floodgates are open

Exeter is one of the smallest cities in Britain, yet it has produced some of the country's biggest youth strikes. Climate activist Sophie Sleeman recounts the story so far and explains what it means to the young people who are creating a global wave of change.

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Photo of The Jambassadors by Gabe Riedlinger

Preview  ⁄  Arts & culture

Jambassadors feature in pop-up Jazz Toast at Barnfield Theatre

Musical director Roz Harding invites us to join an Exeter College Music Academy student collective in a one-night-only experimental exploration of in-the-moment improvisation.

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Extreme Imagination - inside the mind's eye exhibition at Exeter RAMM

Review  ⁄  Arts & culture

Extreme Imagination - Inside the Mind's Eye

University of Exeter research fellow Dr Matthew MacKisack guides us through a RAMM exhibition that explores works by artists, writers and makers with widely varying visual imaginations.

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Molly Scott Cato at the European Parliament

Profile  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Is EU membership essential to our ability to deal with the climate emergency?

Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West, visited Exeter during her re-election campaign to explain why the EU and its Green Group is leading the way on a wide range of progressive policies.

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Exeter College students in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Barnfield Theatre

Review  ⁄  Arts & culture

Playing with gender expectations at Barnfield Theatre

An Exeter College interpretation of A Midsummer Night's Dream transforms it into an enchanting contemporary gender-adapted tale.

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Front elevations of proposed development at Mount Radford Lawn

Analysis  ⁄  Planning & place

Mount Radford Lawn development proposals conflict with St Leonards community vision

Exeter Deaf Academy hopes to sell a school playing field to developers who plan to build luxury homes. Local residents have other ideas about how best to use the land. A dispute is looming over an historic green space driven by prospective profit from planning gain.

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Rainbow Trail LGBTQIA+ exhibition queers RAMM for Exeter Pride 2019

Preview  ⁄  Arts & culture

Rainbow Trail LGBTQIA+ exhibition queers RAMM for Exeter Pride 2019

A new collaboration between X-Plore Youth Devon, Exeter College LGBTQ+ society, Natalie McGrath of Dreadnought SW and Dr Jana Funke of the University of Exeter explores gender and sexual diversity across time, place and culture by reimagining objects from the RAMM collections.

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Exeter City Council city centre wards map

News  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter Labour loses local elections in all three city centre wards

Voters in Exeter yesterday elected three new councillors to represent them in the key wards that cover the city centre, with all the city's ruling Exeter Labour group candidates missing out despite the party's confident campaign.

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Exeter Clifton Hill sports centre

Analysis  ⁄  Planning & place

Clifton Hill sports centre – the background

Storm Emma met the Beast from the East and dumped a huge amount of snow on the roof of Exeter's Clifton Hill sports centre, setting off a chain reaction which has ignited two campaigns and put Exeter City Council's approaches to competence and openness into sharp focus.

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Jemima Moore campaigning in Exeter local elections

Profile  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Local resident stands as independent candidate in Exeter elections

Jemima Moore is a 36 year-old part-time primary school teacher and mother of two young children with little political experience. So why has she decided to stand for election to Exeter City Council on 2 May?

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Exeter City Council press and public exclusion notice

Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

What does your council know that you don't know you don't know?

Extracting information from councils is hard work but increasingly necessary for local democracy.

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Greater Exeter Strategic Plan banner

Analysis  ⁄  Planning & place

Is the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan GESPing for air?

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan has been a long time in gestation. When it finally arrives, will it deliver?

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Extinction Rebellion climate emergency protesters in Exeter Guildhall shopping centre

News  ⁄  Climate & environment

Exeter Extinction Rebellion stages climate emergency protest

Today around 70 people joined the Exeter branch of Extinction Rebellion on the city's streets to demand urgent action to minimise the risk of catastrophic impacts from climate change.

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Kaleider Mikrofest Our Dancing Shadows in Exeter Princesshay

Review  ⁄  Arts & culture

Out of sight, out of mind

A performance of From The Light of The Fire, Our Dancing Shadows in Exeter for Kaleider Mikrofest appears to favour illusion over truth in a confused rendering of Plato's cave allegory that leaves both performers and audience in the dark.

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Exeter St James period housing stock

Comment  ⁄  Planning & place

Exeter St James regeneration

How can the supply of low-cost, incrementally investable city centre accommodation be stimulated to attract and retain creative, technically-skilled young entrepreneurial talent?

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Historic Exe Bridge traffic

Comment  ⁄  Transport & mobility

Streets are for people, not cars

Cars adversely affect economic output, air quality and wellbeing, take up valuable space when parked and discourage people from walking and cycling when driven. Reducing their use would enhance Exeter's retail and leisure offer, improve public health and attract needed workers to the city.

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