2014 Clacton by-election

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2014 Clacton by-election

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Clacton constituency
  First party Second party Third party
  Douglas Carswell.jpg Official portrait of Giles Watling crop 2.jpg No image.svg
Candidate Douglas Carswell Giles Watling Tim Young
Party UKIP Conservative Labour
Popular vote 21,113 8,709 3,957
Percentage 59.7% 24.6% 11.2%
Swing New party Decrease28.4% Decrease13.8%

Map showing the Clacton Parliamentary constituency within the English county of Essex.

MP before election

Douglas Carswell

Subsequent MP

Douglas Carswell

The Clacton by-election was held on 9 October 2014[1] for the United Kingdom House of Commons constituency of Clacton.[2][3][4][5] The by-election was triggered by the Conservative MP for Clacton, Douglas Carswell, defecting to the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and subsequently resigning his seat to seek re-election as its candidate.[6]

Standing for UKIP, Carswell retained the seat with 59.7% of the vote, becoming UKIP's first elected MP. The Conservatives came second, and Labour third. According to John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, the result was the biggest increase in the share of a vote for any party in any by-election in history.[7]


Douglas Carswell defected from the Conservatives to UKIP and triggered the by-election by resigning his seat

On 28 August 2014 Carswell, a Eurosceptic backbencher, announced his defection to UKIP and said that he was resigning his seat in order to fight a by-election. He said he did not think Prime Minister David Cameron was "serious about the change we need", adding that "many of those at the top of the Conservative Party are simply not on our side" and "Of course they talk the talk before elections. They say what they feel they must say to get our support when they want our support, but on so many issues – on modernising our politics, on the recall of MPs, on controlling our borders[,] on less government, on bank reform, on cutting public debt, on an EU referendum – they never actually make it happen".[8] He also said: "...local issues regarding planning and overcrowding of GP surgeries were a factor in my decision to resign".[9]

Responding to the news that Carswell had defected and would trigger a by-election, Cameron said the contest would be held "as soon as possible". He also confirmed that the Conservatives would contest the by-election.[10] It was later announced that the by-election would be held on 9 October, which was also Cameron's 48th birthday. The poll was one of two parliamentary by-elections the same day, with an election also being held in the constituency of Heywood and Middleton following the death of its MP, Jim Dobbin of Labour.[11]

Analysis of demographics for the constituency prior to the by-election were said to make it the most UKIP-friendly in the country.[12]

Conservative reaction[edit]

There was speculation that Boris Johnson, the Conservative Mayor of London, would seek the candidacy at the by-election. On 29 August 2014, The Daily Telegraph journalist Peter Oborne wrote that: "David Cameron should go down on his knees and beg Boris Johnson to stand as the Conservative Party's candidate for Clacton in the coming by-election."[13] The bookmaker Ladbrokes offered odds of 33-1 against Johnson standing in Clacton.[14] He ruled out standing, saying that he was intent on fighting Uxbridge and South Ruislip at the general election.[15]

While many Conservatives condemned Carswell's defection, some were more supportive of him. Conservative backbencher Nigel Evans suggested that possibly the Conservatives should not stand in Clacton.[16] Former minister Norman Tebbit refused to campaign against Carswell and claimed that the "House of Commons needs men like Douglas Carswell".[17] Backbencher Zac Goldsmith described Carswell as a "model parliamentarian" and remarked that "I hope he is an MP after 2015".[18]

Nick Herbert, the former policing minister, said that the Conservative Party was more concerned with the Clacton by-election rather than winning the Scottish independence referendum that was held during the early part of the Clacton campaign.[19]

During the campaign, a second Conservative MP and close friend of Carswell,[20] Mark Reckless, likewise defected to UKIP and sought re-election in a by-election for his constituency of Rochester and Strood.


Tendring District Council, the local authority administering the by-election, confirmed the deadline for nominations as 4 pm on 16 September 2014.[21]

Carswell announced that he would stand again for the seat as UKIP's candidate, although he was opposed by the recently selected UKIP candidate, Roger Lord,[22] with some local activists speculating that they might not adopt Carswell.[23] However, UKIP rules for selecting by-election candidates invested the decision with the National Executive Committee, which selected Carswell.[3][24] Lord left UKIP and resigned his County Council seat, supporting the Liberal Democrats in the council by-election.[25]

The Conservative candidate was actor Giles Watling[26] who was chosen by an open primary on 11 September. He was shortlisted with Colchester councillor Sue Lissimore.[27][28] Though he lost this by-election, he went on to win the seat at the 2017 general election after Carswell stood down.

Colchester councillor Tim Young had been announced prior to Carswell's resignation as candidate for Labour[29] and was confirmed as their by-election candidate.[30][31]

The Liberal Democrat candidate, Andy Graham, is the former mayor of Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire.[32] He is an actor as well as an author of children's books.[33]

The Green Party candidate was Chris Southall.[34] Southall has stood for the Green Party over the last 40 years and gained some notoriety for a UFO hoax in the 1960s.[35]

Alan "Howling Laud" Hope was the candidate for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party. He is also the leader of the party and the former mayor of Ashburton, Devon.

Charlotte Rose and Bruce Sizer were independent candidates.[36] Rose described herself as a "high class courtesan" campaigning "for sexual freedom".[37] Sizer was a consultant oncologist at Colchester Hospital[38][39] who stood as a single-issue candidate to get health and cancer care onto the agenda of the political parties.[40] He was Joint Clinical Director of the Essex Cancer Network from 2006 until 2008 and is Oncology Editor for the Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary.[41]


The Conservatives were mocked by UKIP supporters for sending out a leaflet, called "The Big Clacton Survey" asking voters to prioritise issues including "local train and tube service".[42][43] UKIP claimed to have recruited 150 local Conservative members after Carswell's defection.[44]

The journalist and former Conservative MP, Matthew Parris, created a controversy by writing in The Times that the Conservatives should be "careless" of Clacton voters’ opinions as "Clacton-on-Sea is going nowhere",[45][46] remarks which were disowned by local Conservatives and denounced by Carswell as "reflective of what so many in the upper echelons of the Tory party really think"[33] and were cited by two local Conservative councillors as a reason for defecting to UKIP.[47]

An important component of the UKIP campaign was a public meeting of 700 people at the Clacton Coastal Academy with Douglas Carswell and UKIP leader Nigel Farage which was billed as the "biggest public meeting in Clacton in living memory".[48][49][50]

Both the Prime Minister David Cameron[51] and the Labour leader Ed Miliband[52] visited the constituency to help their respective party campaigns.

Ten days before the election Banksy painted a mural on a wall in Clacton which showed five grey pigeons holding three placards. They held the words "go back to Africa" "migrants not welcome", and "keep off our worms". They were directed towards a more colourful migratory swallow perched further along the same wire. The mural was removed by Tendring District Council who had received a complaint that "offensive and racist remarks" had appeared on a wall.[53]


Polling organisation/client Sample size Con Lab UKIP LD Green Others Lead
9 Oct 2014 Clacton by-election Result 35,365 24.6% 11.2% 59.7% 1.4% 1.9% 1.2% 35.1% over Con
29 Aug–1 Sep Lord Ashcroft (for the next General Election) 1,001 27% 19% 48% 3% 3% <0.5% 21% over Con
29 Aug–1 Sep Lord Ashcroft (for the 2014 by-election) 1,001 24% 16% 56% 2% 1% 1% 32% over Con
28–29 Aug Survation (for the 2014 by-election)[54] 700 20% 13% 64% 2% 1% <0.5% 44% over Con
6 May 2010 General Election Results 43,123 53.0% 25.0% - 12.9% 1.2% 7.8% 28.0% over Lab


By-election 2014: Clacton
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UKIP Douglas Carswell 21,113 59.7 N/A
Conservative Giles Watling 8,709 24.6 Decrease 28.4
Labour Tim Young 3,957 11.2 Decrease 13.8
Green Chris Southall 688 1.9 Increase 0.7
Liberal Democrats Andrew Graham 483 1.4 Decrease 11.5
Independent Bruce Sizer 205 0.6 N/A
Monster Raving Loony Alan "Howling Laud" Hope 127 0.4 N/A
Independent Charlotte Rose 56 0.2 N/A
Majority 12,404 35.1
Turnout 35,338 51
UKIP gain from Conservative Swing Increase 44.1

The election produced a number of statistical records, partly because of the unusual situation in which an incumbent MP with a large majority for one party has resigned and then stood for re-election on behalf of a new party for which support was in any case on a strongly rising trend. The 59.7% increase in the percentage vote achieved by UKIP since the previous general election (when they did not field a candidate) is the greatest ever in British parliamentary elections, although the percentage swing remains 0.1% less than the record 44.2% swing to the Liberal Party at the 1983 Bermondsey by-election. The 28.4% reduction in Conservative votes is the 16th worst for any party since the Second World War, while the 1.4% of the vote achieved by the Liberal Democrats was, at the time, the third smallest vote ever obtained by a major party, and the worst since World War II.[55] Since then, however, the Liberal Democrats received an even smaller proportion of the vote at the Rochester and Strood by-election later in 2014.[56]

Previous result[edit]

UKIP did not stand a candidate against Douglas Carswell in 2010, citing his Eurosceptic views.
General election 2010: Clacton[57]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Douglas Carswell 22,867 53.0 Increase 8.6
Labour Ivan Henderson 10,799 25.0 Decrease 10.9
Liberal Democrats Michael Green 5,577 12.9 Decrease 0.6
BNP Jim Taylor 1,975 4.6 N/A
Tendring First Terry Allen 1,078 2.5 N/A
Green Chris Southall 535 1.2 N/A
Independent Chris Humphrey 292 0.7 N/A
Majority 12,068 28.0
Turnout 43,123 64.2 Increase 1.6
Conservative hold Swing Increase 9.7

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Clacton by-election to be held on 9 October". BBC News. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Chancellor makes Douglas Carswell's resignation official". Itv.com. 29 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Stuart Wheeler: More Tory defections to UKIP 'odds on'". BBC News. 29 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  4. ^ Swinford, Steven (28 August 2014). "Douglas Carswell's shock defection to UKIP triggers by-election battle". Telegraph. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  5. ^ "ITV News Carswell and Farage in Clacton Ahead of by-election". Itv.com. 29 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  6. ^ Watt, Nicholas (28 August 2014). "Tory MP Douglas Carswell defects to Ukip and forces byelection". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Ukip surge sends tremors through Westminster". ft.com. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  8. ^ BBC News: Tory MP Douglas Carswell switches to UKIP 28 August 2014, Accessed 6 August 2014.
  9. ^ Dwan, James (28 August 2014). ""Local issues affected my decision" claims Carswell following defection to UKIP". Clacton and Frinton Gazette. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Tory MP Douglas Carswell defects to UKIP and forces by-election". BBC News. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  11. ^ Oliver, Joe (12 September 2014). "By-election battle: Fight for late MP Jim Dobbin's Heywood and Middleton seat begins before he is buried". Mancunian Matters.
  12. ^ Osborn, Andrew (9 October 2014). "UKIP poised to snare first parliament seat in blow to Cameron". The Independent. London.
  13. ^ The Daily Telegraph, 28 August 2014, accessed 6 September 2014
  14. ^ GetWestLondon: "Will Uxbridge lose Boris Johnson to Clacton seat?" accessed 6 September 2014
  15. ^ "Boris Johnson Rules Out Fighting Douglas Carswell For Clacton". The Huffington Post UK. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  16. ^ Watt, Nicholas (31 August 2014). "Tories should give Ukip free run in Clacton, MP suggests". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  17. ^ Tebbit, Norman (28 August 2014). "The House of Commons needs men like Douglas Carswell: I would not campaign against him". Blogs.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  18. ^ Politics Home: accessed 6 September 2014 Archived 3 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Swinford, Steven (18 September 2014). "Tory MPs expected to 'buy ice-creams in Clacton' instead of going to Scotland". Telegraph. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  20. ^ "Conservative MP Mark Reckless defects to UKIP". BBC News. 27 September 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  21. ^ Clacton constituency parliamentary by-election Tendring District Council
  22. ^ Holehouse, Matthew (29 August 2014). "'Douglas Carswell is a gutless coward' says ousted UKIP candidate Roger Lord". Telegraph. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  23. ^ Anne Poonian, secretary of Clacton UKIP association, was quoted by Buzzfeed saying that, although she welcomed Carswell's decision to defect, he may not be selected.BuzzFeed: "Carswell's taking a very big risk for getting in for a little party. We may not adopt him as our candidate, who knows? He has to be adopted by us, the local association. At the moment he’s just an unemployed MP. Who knows whether he’ll be adopted?" Accessed 6 September 2014
  24. ^ Clark, Natasha (29 August 2014). "Ukip candidate blasts 'stupid' Carswell". Politicshome.com. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  25. ^ East Anglian Daily Times 3 September 2014: UKIP County Councillor resigns after being de-selected as Clacton election Candidate Accessed 8 September 2014 Archived 5 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "Frinton actor Giles Watling named as Tory candidate for by-election". Essex County Standard. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  27. ^ "TORY 'open primary' candidates for Clacton by-election are Frinton actor Giles Watling and Colchester councillor Sue Lissimore". Clacton and Frinton Gazette. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  28. ^ "Two candidates shortlisted for the Clacton by-election". Conservative Home. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  29. ^ Dwan, James (3 December 2013). "Tim Young selected as Labour candidate for Clacton". Gazette News. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  30. ^ "Tim Young on Twitter: "Delighted to have been endorsed as Labour's by-election candidate for Clacton. We'll be campaigning on the issues that really matter."". Twitter.com. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  31. ^ "Clacton by-election to take place on 9 October". BBC News. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  32. ^ "Former Stortford mayor Andy Graham to fight Clacton by-election for Lib Dems". Bishops Stortford Herts & Essex Observer. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  33. ^ a b Poll: Is Clacton a town that's going nowhere? Archived 10 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ "Clacton environmentalist Chris Southall is Green Party's by-election candidate". Clacton and Frinton Gazette. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  35. ^ "Tell Tom - Are we alone?". BBC. 18 February 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  36. ^ Lodge, Will (16 September 2014). "Clacton: Candidates announced for Parliamentary by-election". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  37. ^ Sex worker named as candidate in Clacton by-election Clacton and Frinton Gazette
  38. ^ Profile SpecialistInfo
  39. ^ Neil and Bec defy the odds to welcome Poppy into the world Archived 18 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine Colchester Hospital
  40. ^ Lodge, Will. "Essex/Ipswich: Cancer doctor to fight Clacton by-election on health agenda". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  41. ^ "Dr Bruce Sizer - Oncology". Ramsay Health Care UK. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  42. ^ Dwan, James (6 September 2014). "Ukip supporters mock Tory survey asking Clacton voters' views on 'local' tube services". Clacton and Frinton Gazette. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  43. ^ "Ukip's Douglas Carswell Tells Clacton: 'Don't Get Angry, Get Change'". Huffingtonpost.co.uk. 6 September 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  44. ^ Dwan, James (4 September 2014). "Ukip claims "mass exodus" of Tory party members". Clacton and Frinton Gazette. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  45. ^ The voters of Clacton don't deserve Mr Parris's sneering contempt | The Daily Telegraph
  46. ^ If the Tories abandon the working class to UKIP they deserve to lose Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph
  47. ^ "Two Clacton Tory councillors defect to Ukip". Clacton and Frinton Gazette. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  48. ^ Dwan, James (22 September 2014). "More than 700 people snap up tickets for "biggest public meeting in Clacton in living memory" with Ukip leader Nigel Farage". Clacton and Frinton Gazette. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  49. ^ "Ukip takes anti-establishment fight to Essex seaside". FT.com. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  50. ^ Hayes, Kat. "Video: Is Ukip's Douglas Carswell overshadowing Nigel Farage within the party?". Telegraph. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  51. ^ Dwan, James (2 October 2014). "David Cameron says 'underdog' Tories can win Clacton by-election during visit to resort". Clacton and Frinton Gazette. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  52. ^ "Clacton: Labour leader Miliband - 'we're the party to tackle GP shortage'". Clacton and Frinton Gazette. 2 October 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  53. ^ "Council removes Banksy artwork after complaints of racism". Guardian. 1 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  54. ^ "Survation".
  55. ^ Curtice, John (10 October 2014). "Clacton by-election: Statistics of Douglas Carswell's win". News online: politics. BBC. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  56. ^ McSmith, Andy (21 November 2014). "Rochester by-election: Lib Dems blame tactical voting for party's worst ever result". UK Politics. The Independent. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  57. ^ "Clacton". BBC News. 7 May 2010.