Kent is very nearly an entirely true-blue county, however at the 2017 General Election Labour somewhat unexpectedly gained Canterbury tarnishing the Conservative’s perfect record. Since this time, the Conservative local government base was somewhat eroded at the May 2019 local elections when they lost control of Folkestone & Hythe and Swale Councils, with Labour gaining control of Gravesham which previously had been no overall control. Despite this the Conservatives still comfortably control Kent County Council and are likely to continue to dominate in the Garden of England on 12 December.
Seat Summary and Candidate List
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 17,478
- 2017 incumbent – Damian Green
- EU referendum – 59.86% Leave 40.14% Remain
- Candidates – Damian Green (Conservative) Dara Farrell (Labour) Adrian Gee-Turner (Lib Dem) Susannah De Sanvil (Independent) Mandy Rossi (Green).
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. With the Conservatives winning every election since the creation of the seat, with the one exception of 1929, it will be no surprise when former Cabinet Minister Damian Green retains his seat. Unlike many of the Conservative moderates of his generation, Green decided to stand again at this election and as Chairman of the One Nation caucus of moderate Conservative MPs remains an important figure in Parliament.
Chatham and Aylesford
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 10,458
- 2017 incumbent – Tracey Crouch
- EU referendum – 63.91% Leave 36.09% Remain
- Candidates – Tracey Crouch (Conservative) Vince Maple (Labour) David Naghi (Lib Dem) John Gibson (Christian Peoples) Geoff Wilkinson (Green)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. Chatham and Aylesford has been represented by a Conservative MP since 2010 when the Conservatives gained the seat from Labour. There is little threat to the Conservative incumbent, former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch particularly because of the large Leave vote. Expect Crouch to return as a Minister in the near future.
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 13,186
- 2017 incumbent – Gareth Johnson
- EU referendum – 63.98% Leave 36.02% Remain
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. Dartford is currently the longest-valid ‘bellwether’ constituency as the party of the winning candidate has formed the government in every General Election since 1964. It is also the only constituency which rejected Margaret Thatcher as a candidate (she lost the seat in 1950 and 1951). We see this as being a fairly comfortable Conservative hold.
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 6,437
- 2017 incumbent – Charlie Elphicke (Independent after having the whip removed in July 2019)
- EU referendum – 63.01% Leave 36.99% Remain
- Candidates – Natalie Elphicke (Conservative) Charlotte Cornell (Labour) Simon Dodd (Lib Dem) Nathan Sutton (Independent) Beccy Sawbridge (Green) Eljai Morais (Women’s Equality)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. The incumbent MP Charlie Elphicke is stepping down. He has been replaced by his wife Natalie Elphicke. Natalie Elphicke is a Housing policy expert and she has served as Chief Executive of the Housing & Finance Institute and was the joint author (with the Liberal Democrat Leader of Eastleigh Council) of the Elphicke House report for the Coalition Government on the role of local authorities in providing housing supply. In the likely event she is elected, she can be expected to be an influential voice in Housing and Planning policy discussions.
Faversham and Mid Kent
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 17,413
- 2017 incumbent – Helen Whately
- EU referendum – 58.67% Leave 41.33% Remain
- Candidates – Helen Whately (Conservative) Jenny Reeves (Labour) Hannah Perkin (Lib Dem) Gary Butler (Independent) Hannah Temple (Green)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. Faversham and Mid Kent has been a Conservative hold seat since its inception in 1997 and this is not set to change, with Conservative rising star Helen Whately safe in this constituency.
Folkestone and Hythe
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 15,411
- 2017 incumbent – Damian Collins
- EU referendum – 61.64% Leave 38.36% Remain
- Candidates – Damian Collins (Conservative) Laura Davison (Labour) Simon Bishop (Lib Dem) Henry Bolton (Independent) Rohen Kapur (Young People’s) Andy Thomas (Socialist (GB) Georgia Treloar (Green)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. Chairman of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Damian Collins has been a strong critic of Arron Banks and certain elements of the Leave campaign. Although Mr Collins was opposed to Brexit prior to the referendum, he has now aligned himself to the Conservative message of getting Brexit done which is likely to resonate in this strong Leave constituency.
Gillingham & Rainham
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 9,430
- 2017 incumbent – Rehman Chisthi
- EU referendum – 63.58% Leave 36.42% Remain
- Candidates – Rehman Chisthi (Conservative) Andy Stamp (Labour) Alan Bullion (Lib Dem) Peter Cook (Independent) Rob McCulloch Martin (UKIP) Christian peoples (Roger Peacock) George Salomon (Green)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. Rehman Chisthi previously stood as a Labour Party candidate for Horsham, later switching to the Conservative Party after saying he was disillusioned by Labour. Chisthi has proven himself to be a reliable Conservative since he was first elected here in 2010 and in a strongly Leave-voting constituency, he is safe at this election.
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 9,347
- 2017 incumbent – Adam Holloway
- EU referendum – 65.37% Leave 34.63% Remain
- Candidates – Adam Holloway (Conservative) Ukonu Obasi (Lib Dem) Laura Sullivan (Labour) Marna Gilligan (Green)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. Eurosceptic Conservative Adam Holloway has held this seat since 2005. Whilst the Conservatives are set to retain their grip on the seat, Labour did take control of Gravesham Council in the May 2019 local elections.
Maidstone and The Weald
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 17,704
- 2017 incumbent – Helen Grant
- EU referendum – 55.92% Leave 44.08% Remain
- Candidates – Helen Grant (Conservative) James Willis (Lib Dem) Dan Wilkinson (Labour) Yolande Kenward (Independent) Stuart Jeffrey (Green)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. Remainer-turned Boris Johnson loyalist, Helen Grant has held this seat since 2010. Despite a historically respectable Liberal Democrat presence, if the polls are anything close to being accurate Grant will be safely re-elected.
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 10,738
- 2017 incumbent – Sir Roger Gale
- EU referendum – 65.18% Leave 34.82% Remain
- Candidates – Sir Roger Gale (Conservative) Coral Jones (Labour) Robert Edwards (Green) Angie Curwen (Lib Dem)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. Sir Roger Gale has represented North Thanet since its creation in 1983 and is now one of the most senior MPs in the House of Commons. It would take an electoral earthquake for him not to be re-elected and that’s not going to happen at this election.
Rochester and Strood
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 9,850
- 2017 incumbent – Kelly Tolhurst
- EU referendum – 63.69% Leave 36.31% Remain
- Candidates – Kelly Tolhurst (Conservative) Graham Colley (Lib Dem) Teresa Murray (Labour) Sonia Hyner (Green) Roy Freshwater (UKIP) Chris Spalding (Independent)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. Rochester and Strood was briefly gained by UKIP following the defection of the former Conservative MP, Mark Reckless and his subsequent by-election victory. UKIP’s success was not long-lived as the Conservatives won the seat back at the 2015 election under Kelly Tolhurst. There’s no chance of Business Minister Tolhurst losing this time.
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 21,917
- 2017 incumbent – Sir Michael Fallon – standing down
- EU referendum – 54.04% Leave 45.96% Remain
- Candidates – Laura Trott (Conservative) Gareth Willis (Lib Dem) Seamus McCauley (Labour) Paulette Furse (Independent) Sean Finch (Libertarian) Paul Wharton (Green)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. Despite not being a Sevenoaks resident, which has been a point of contention for the opposition, new Conservative candidate Laura Trott, former Downing Street adviser to David Cameron and Camden councillor, is expected to win comfortably. Trott looks likely to be one of the rising stars of the new Conservative intake.
Sittingbourne and Sheppey
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 15,211
- 2017 incumbent – Gordon Henderson
- EU referendum – 65.36% Leave 34.64% Remain
- Candidates – Gordon Henderson (Conservative), Clive Johnson (Labour), Ben Martin (Lib Dems), Monique Bonney (Independent), Sam Collins (Green), Lee McCall (Independent), Mad Young (Monster Raving Loony)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. Sittingbourne and Sheppey has been a bellwether constituency, since its creation in 1997 with the Conservatives only winning the seat from Labour in 2010. However, since 2010 they have held a strong majority, increasing by 3,043 between the 2015 and 2017 elections. Gordon Henderson is one of the more low profile MPs at Westminster but he is secure in his constituency.
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 6,387
- 2017 incumbent – Craig Mackinlay
- EU referendum – 61.69% Leave 38.31% Remain
- Candidates – Craig Mackinlay (Conservative) Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt (Labour) Martyn Pennington (Lib Dem) Rebecca Wing (Green)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. Conservative candidate Craig Mackinlay has held the seat since 2015 when he saw off the challenge from Nigel Farage. He is likely to see an increase in his majority on this occasion given the sizeable Leave vote and the lack of a Brexit Party candidate.
Tonbridge and Malling
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 23,508
- 2017 incumbent – Tom Tugendhat
- EU referendum – 52.86% Leave 47.14% Remain
- Candidates – Tom Tugendhat (Conservative) Dylan Jones (Labour) Richard Morris (Lib Dem) April Clark (Green)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. Tonbridge and Malling is a rock-solid safe Conservative seat and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Tom Tugendhat, is a good fit for this finely-balanced seat on Brexit.
- 2017 result – Conservative Majority 16,465
- 2017 incumbent – Greg Clark
- EU referendum – 54.9% Remain 45.1% Leave
- Candidates – Greg Clark (Conservative) Antonio Weiss (Labour) Ben Chapelard (Lib Dem) Nigel Peacock (Independent) Christopher Camp (Independent)
Cratus Prediction – Conservative hold. The Liberal Democrat have been focusing their campaigning efforts in Tunbridge Wells, in the hope of capitalising on it being one of the few Remain-voting areas in Kent. However, they may be hampered by the Conservative candidate being former Business Secretary Greg Clark who was temporarily suspended from the Conservative Party after opposing a No Deal Brexit. Now Clark is back in the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrat campaign is making little headway nationally, it is likely that he will hold onto this seat.
Seat Profile – Canterbury
- 2017 result – Labour Majority 187
- 2017 incumbent – Rosie Duffield
- EU referendum – 54.67% Remain 45.33% Leave
- Candidates – Rosie Duffield (Labour) Anna Firth (Conservative) Claire Malcolmson (Lib Dem)
Up until 2017 Canterbury was recognised in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest interrupted period of one party holding a Parliamentary seat. This changed when Labour’s Rosie Duffield won the seat by just 187 votes, marking the end of the 185-year period of Conservative dominance. This is an extremely interesting seat in the upcoming General Election due to the small majority and the timing of the election potentially impacting student voters. Students played a key role in electing Duffield in 2017. In the pre-election period, 8,000 new voters registered in Canterbury with the majority of them being students. Canterbury’s student population doubled to 40,000 between 2005-2015, making it one of the highest ratios of student to general population in the country.
The previous MP, Conservative Sir Julian Brazier, actually increased his vote by almost 2,500 in 2017 (his best personal result for 25 years), but this result was overshadowed by Duffield. The shift to the Left is not solely down to the influence of students but also the changing demographic of Canterbury with improved connectivity into London seeing younger, Labour-voters from the Capital moving to the area. This has included not just Canterbury but also increasingly fashionable locations such as Whitstable which is part of the constituency.
There has been concerns around the timing of the elections as some students may have left their university towns for the Christmas period. However, students in Canterbury finish term on 13 December so many students will still be in Canterbury to vote. Somewhat surprisingly given the small majority and the Conservative strength in the national opinion polls, the YouGov model predicted that Duffield will narrowly hold onto the seat. This one looks set to go down to the wire with student turnout absolutely key to Labour’s chances.