Cratus 2019 General Election Guide – Essex

Cratus 2019 General Election Guide – Essex

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The Conservatives have had a good showing in Essex over the recent decades with their worst performance in 1997 which saw eight out of 18 seats held by parties other than the Conservatives. Since then, the Conservatives have continually strengthened their position with a clean sweep in 2017. Following the 2019 Local Elections, there are reservations as to whether the county will remaining fully blue, with two Conservative run councils changing hands – Chelmsford City Council turning Liberal Democrat and Uttlesford District Council turning Residents for Uttlesford. However, in a county which voted strongly to Leave the European Union, the Conservatives’ Brexit position and the fact that the Brexit Party are not standing candidates should assist Boris Johnson’s Party.

Seat Profile Chelmsford
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 13,572
  • 2017 incumbent – Vicky Ford is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 50.7%, Remain 49.3%
  • Candidates – Vicky Ford (Conservative), Penny Richards (Labour), Cllr Marie Goldman (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction – Con Hold – just!

The parliamentary seat of Chelmsford has recently been viewed as a relatively safe Conservative seat, never having been lost since its creation in 2010, however in that year, the Liberal Democrats came a close second, with the former MP, Sir Simon Burns only having a majority of 5,110. Between then and Local Elections in May of this year the Liberal Democrats had receded with Labour taking second place.

However, Chelmsford made headlines in the national news earlier this year when the Liberal Democrats took control of the council in at the Local Elections in May, overturning a 52 seat majority Conservative administration into a 31 seat Liberal Democrat administration – a gain of 26 seats!

Many hailed the progress that the Liberal Democrats made across the country at that election as the start of their triumphant march of resurgence. However as they say, a week is a long time in politics and the Local Elections were back in May!

At the time, Cratus learned that two primary issues were seen as leading to the Conservatives downfall. Conservative voters stayed at home due to a mixture of the proposed Local Plan being unpopular locally and because of lack of progress with regards to Brexit nationally.

Since then however, the Conservative Party has had a new leader elected in Boris Johnson who is promising to ‘Get Brexit Done’ which will definitely chime well with those voters who stayed at home and with this being a national election, general turnout will be higher which are both to Vicky Ford’s advantage. But the rise of the Liberal Democrats in Chelmsford cannot be overlooked, especially considering that the Liberal Democrat candidate is Cllr Marie Goldman, Deputy Leader of the Council.

Cratus’ intelligence is that the Liberal Democrats are waging a fierce ground war in the seat with not only blanket leaflets but direct targeted mail (a Liberal Democrat favoured tactic) however given the history of the seat, Cratus believe that this will be to the detriment of Labour and so we will most likely see a result akin to that of 2010 – a Conservative Hold but a reduced majority for Vicky Ford.

Seat Summary and Candidate List

Basildon & Billericay
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 13,400
  • 2017 incumbent – John Baron is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 67.1%, Remain 32.9%
  • Candidates – John Baron (Conservative), Cllr Andrew Gordon (Labour), Edward Sainsbury (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction – Conservative Hold. The area has consistently voted Conservative and continues to be a strong Leave area. John Baron is a known and vocal Brexiteer therefore, he is expected to easily retain his seat.
Braintree
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 18,422
  • 2017 incumbent – James Cleverly is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 61.5%, Remain 38.5%
  • Candidates – James Cleverly MP (Conservative), Cllr Joshua Garfield (Labour), Dominic Graham (Liberal Democrat), Cllr Jo Beavis (Independent)
  • Cratus Prediction – Conservative Hold. The seat has voted Conservative for over a decade and is a strong Leave area. With James Cleverly’s ascent to the role of Conservative Party Chairman and high profile in the media providing a pro-Brexit stance for the Conservatives, he is expected to retain his seat.
Brentwood & Ongar
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 24,002
  • 2017 incumbent – Alex Burghart is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 61.1%, Remain 38.9%
  • Candidates – Alex Burghart (Conservative), Oliver Durose (Labour), Cllr David Kendall (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction – Conservative Hold. The Local Election in May saw a rise in the number of Liberal Democrat councillors which is likely to translate to an improved Liberal Democrat vote, however given the strength of the Conservative vote Alex Burghart is expected to retain his seat.
Castle Point
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 18,872
  • 2017 incumbent – Rebecca Harris is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 72.7%, Remain 27.3%
  • Candidates – Rebecca Harris (Conservative), Katie Curtis (Labour), Cllr John Howson (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Predication – Conservative Hold. While in the past, UKIP have presented a threat to the Conservatives in this seat, the lack of a Brexit Party candidate leaves the Conservatives as the only party which is openly pro-Brexit and virtually guarantees a win for them in this seat.
Clacton
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 15,828
  • 2017 incumbent – Giles Watling is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 73%, Remain 27%
  • Candidates – Giles Watling (Conservative), Cllr Kevin Bonavia (Labour), Callum Robertson (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction – Conservative Hold. This area remains strongly Leave and former actor Giles Watling has been vocal in supporting Brexit so is expected to retain his seat.
Colchester
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 5,677
  • 2017 incumbent – Will Quince is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 51.5%, Remain 48.5%
  • Candidates – Will Quince (Conservative), Tina McKay (Labour), Cllr Martin Goss (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction – Conservative Hold. The Leave sentiment in the local area has softened even from the result which was almost evenly split, however when this is coupled with a divided opposition, almost evenly matched, as demonstrated by the 2019 Local Election result (Liberal Democrat – 13, Labour – 11) the split vote gives Will Quince an advantage and makes the likely outcome the retention of his seat.

Epping Forest

  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 18,243
  • 2017 incumbent – Eleanor Laing is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 61%, Remain 39%
  • Candidates – Eleanor Laing (Conservative), Cllr Vicky Ashworth te Velde (Labour), Cllr Jon Whitehouse (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction – Conservative Hold. Epping Forest has voted Conservative since the seat was created in 1974 and as a strong Leave area is expected to continue to do so.
Harlow
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 7,031
  • 2017 incumbent – Robert Halfon is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 67.7%, Remain 32.3%
  • Candidates – Robert Halfon (Conservative), Laura McAlpine (Labour), Charlotte Cane (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction – Conservative Hold. Harlow is a strong Leave area where Robert Halfon is known to be an assiduous local MP. Therefore we expect him to retain his seat.
Harwich & North Essex
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 14,356
  • 2017 incumbent – Bernard Jenkin is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 59%, Remain 41%
  • Candidates – Bernard Jenkin (Conservative), Stephen Rice (Labour), Mike Beckett (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction: Conservative Hold. Harwich & North Essex has consistently voted Conservative since 2010 and as a Leave area with a strongly outspoken Brexit MP in Bernard Jenkin, we expect that he will retain his seat.
Maldon
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 23,430
  • 2017 incumbent – John Whittingdale is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 60.9%, Remain 39.1%
  • Candidates – John Whittingdale (Conservative), Stephen Capper (Labour), Colin Baldy (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction: Conservative Hold. Maldon has voted Conservative since 2010 and is a strong Leave area therefore former Cabinet Minister John Whittingdale is expected to retain his seat.
Rayleigh & Wickford
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 23,450
  • 2017 incumbent – Mark Francois is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 67.7%, Remain 33.3%
  • Candidates – Mark Francois (Conservative), David Flack (Labour), Cllr Ron Tindall (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction: Conservative Hold. The seat is a strong Leave area and Mark Francois is a high-profile pro-Brexit MP who should retain his seat.
Rochford & Southend East
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 5,548
  • 2017 incumbent – James Dudderidge is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 61%, Remain 39%
  • Candidates – James Duddridge (Conservative), Ashley Dalton (Labour), Keith Miller (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction: Likely Conservative Hold. Given the strength of the Leave vote in this area, a Conservative victory is the likely outcome, however Labour are targeting the seat with a strong local campaign and candidate. This campaign could almost have the desired effect for Labour in reducing the Conservative majority although probably not by enough to win.
Saffron Waldon
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 24,966
  • 2017 incumbent – Kemi Badenoch is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 51%, Remain 49%
  • Candidates: Kemi Badenoch (Conservative), Tom van de Bilt (Labour), Cllr Mike Hibbs (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction: Conservative Hold. While this constituency is almost split down the middle on the referendum result, the strength of the existing majority and Remain voters splitting across Labour and the Liberal Democrats should lead to Kemi Badenoch retaining the seat.
South Basildon & East Thurrock
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 11,490
  • 2017 incumbent – Stephen Metcalfe is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 73%, Remain 27%
  • Candidates – Stephen Metcalfe (Conservative), Cllr Jack Ferguson (Labour), Michael Bukola (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction: Conservative Hold. This seat is a strong Leave area and Mr Metcalfe has been consistent in voting for Brexit which should secure his re-election.
Southend West
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 10,000
  • 2017 incumbent – David Amess is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 55%, Remain 45%
  • Candidates – David Amess (Conservative), Aston Line (Labour), Nina Stimson (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction: Conservative Hold. The seat has been a Conservative safe seat since its creation and with a strong Leave vote, is expected to return David Amess.
Thurrock
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 345
  • 2017 incumbent – Jackie Doyle-Price is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 70.3%, Remain 29.7%
  • Candidates – Jackie Doyle-Price (Conservative), Cllr John Kent (Labour), Stewart Stone (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction: Conservative Hold. Thurrock has always been viewed as a marginal seat due to a three way split between the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP which then became the Thurrock Independents. However when one considers the strong Leave vote in the area coupled with the absence of a Brexit Party candidate it is expected that Jackie Doyle-Price will retain the seat with an increased majority. It’s notable that the recent YouGov projection indicated that Thurrock would see the highest rise in the Conservative vote of any seat in the country and its status as a close marginal may be coming to an end.
Witham
  • 2017 Result – Conservative majority 18,646
  • 2017 incumbent – Priti Patel is seeking re-election
  • EU Referendum – Leave 60.5%, Remain 39.5%
  • Candidates – Priti Patel (Conservative), Martin Edobor (Labour), Cllr Sam North (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cratus Prediction: Conservative Hold. Witham is a safe Conservative seat with a strong Leave vote and a vocal advocate of Brexit in Home Secretary Priti Patel, who we expect will be returned in this election.

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