Monday, 15 February 2010

A Look @: Cornwall

Cornwall is a fiercely contested Conservative/Liberal Democrat battleground which the latter won at the last General Election taking all five seats. Since then Cornwall has received an extra seat, and the Lib Dems have become a little less popular locally, so they look set to lose their Orange County. The Tories became the largest party in the new council following the 2009 elections, but Cornwall has a tradition of backing independent councillors and in light of the expenses scandal third parties could have a big say this May. UKIP and the Cornish Nationalists, Mebyon Kernow (MK), could distract the main parties from each other and possibly alter the outcome. MK could be a problem for the Lib Dems as they share a similar political platform but this may be cancelled out by Conservative voters defecting to UKIP if Europe becomes a major campaign issue. Labour are only vaguely competitive in Camborne & Redruth; a seat they lost in the last election.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed



St. Aust. & Newq.

New Seat




CON Gain

Truro & Falmouth

Matthew Taylor




LD Hold

Cornwall SE

Colin Breed




CON Gain

Cornwall North

Dan Rogerson




LD Hold

Camb. & Red.

Julia Goldsworthy





LD Hold

St Ives

Andrew George




LD Hold

The big boundary change in Cornwall has been the splitting of Matthew Taylor’s old constituency in two. Calculating notional majorities in Cornwall is notoriously difficult due to the success of independent candidates in county council elections. As a result you can find wildly differing notional figures from UKPolling Report compared to those we’ve quoted from Rallings and Thrasher. Taylor won the Truro and St. Austell seat in 1987 and the Liberal Democrats, and their previous incarnations, have held it since 1974. Given the Conservatives resurgence I think they will take one of these open seats with Ladbrokes indicating St. Austell and Newquay is the prime target. UKPR suggest the majority here is virtually nothing and the Conservatives have selected the former TV Presenter and Journalist Caroline Righton from their A-List (#83) which suggests they mean business. The Lib Dems have local councillor Stephen Gilbert running and to make his life more difficult the Mebyon Kernow leader, Dick Cole, is also contesting the seat. In Truro and Falmouth, however, the Lib Dems have former local councillor Terrye Teverson running against the politically inexperienced Sarah Newton, which maybe why they appear to stand a better chance of winning this race. I’m sticking with the bookies on this one but it’s a bit of a lottery really and either party picking up both seats is a real possibility.

The Liberal Democrats have held Cornwall South East since Colin Breed won the seat in 1997. His retirement has left the Tories with a very good opportunity. It’ll be a tight race between Sheryll Murray (CON) and Karen Gillard (LD) who both have a great deal of experience in local politics. But the Conservatives need a couple of seats in Cornwall and without Breed’s personal vote it’s going to be difficult for the Lib Dems. If they’re smart with their resources the Tories have a good chance of a gain here.

In Cornwall North Dan Rogerson is ending his first term in a seat the Lib Dems have held since 1992. He was unscathed by the expenses row which should help him defend his fairly small majority. The Conservative PPC here is Sian Flynn who is a former Surrey Councillor and local businesswoman. She is certainly not out of this one and there could be a few twists and turns here before May. Incumbent Lib Dems usually do well and so Rogerson is the early favourite but he certainly can’t be complacent.

Julia Goldsworthy won the three-way marginal Camborne & Falmouth in 2005 as the Lib Dems came from third to take the seat with surprising ease. She is now defending the heavily altered Camborne and Redruth constituency and she can’t afford to slip up if she hopes to secure a second term as an MP. Although she bought rocking chair at the taxpayer’s expense she looks likely to hold off the Conservative challenge from ex-spin doctor George Eustice. Jude Robinson is hoping to regain Labour’s foothold in Cornwall by retaking this seat but she is likely to be way off the pace here thanks to her party’s national performance. Lib Dem Hold.

Andrew George in St Ives may enjoy the biggest majority but he has also been the most affected by the expenses scandal. Allegations surrounding his daughter living in his second home may dent his majority, but with over 10,000 votes to lose he’s likely to survive. Expect a reduced majority, but Lib Dem Hold.


  1. This is misleading because obviously all the Cornish seats are on significantly changed boundaries.

    In Falmouth, Labour is the only Party not to have been in third place - LDs fell to third place in 1997 (with their current candidate) and 2001, Tories came third in 2005. At 2009 local elections Truro/Falmouth returned 10 Indy, 8 Tory, and 4 LD Councillors. Facts I keep in mind as the Labour PPC.

  2. I appreciate your feedback as a PPC in the area.

    In the elections you highlight Falmouth was part of the now abolished “Falmouth & Camborne constituency. Given the demographics of the old constituency I’d suggest the Labour vote was more likely to have been centred in the Camborne and Redruth area. They are now, of course, in the “Camborne and Redruth constituency. Although Goldsworthy’s win in 2005 may have had a bit to do with the Kandy Atherton controversy (and anti-Blair), she’s since become a high profile LD MP and this should help her hold the seat.

    As for your constituency, the newly created “Truro and Falmouth”, I don’t think I’m in the minority by suggesting you’ll have done very well to make Labour competitive here. Labour have no councillors in Cornwall, and are struggling all over the country in rural areas, so I’d say this constituency is a pretty standard Lib Dem/Tory marginal.