Isle of Wight (UK Parliament constituency)
|The Isle of Wight|
for the House of Commons
|County||Isle of Wight|
|Major settlements||Brading, Lake, Newport, Ryde, Sandown, Shanklin|
|Member of Parliament||Bob Seely (Conservative)|
|Number of members||One|
The Isle of Wight has been a single seat of the House of Commons since 1832. It covers the same land as the ceremonial county of the Isle of Wight and the area administered by the unitary authority, Isle of Wight Council: a diamond-shaped island with rounded oblique corners, measuring 22.5 miles (36.2 km) by 13 miles (21 km), the Needles and similar small uninhabitable rocks of very small square surface area. The island is linked by ferry crossings from four points (five points if counting Cowes and East Cowes separately) to three points in Hampshire: Lymington, Southampton and Portsmouth.
Its electorate of 113,021 at the 2019 general election is the largest in the UK, more than 50% above the UK average: 73,181, and five times the size of the smallest seat: Na h-Eileanan an Iar, formerly known as the Western Isles.
One or two seats problem
The reviews of the Boundary Commission for England since 1954 have consulted locally on splitting the island into two seats (and included occasional proposals for a seat crossing the Solent onto the mainland) but met an overall distaste by the independent commissioners and most consultees and consultation respondents. The consensus of varying panels of Boundary Commissioners, party-interested and neutral commentators is that the island would be best represented by one MP. The Commissioners did make mention perfunctorily of their duty by law to avoid such an extent of malapportionment (termed by most commissioners "leaving the island somewhat oversized"). One problem the independent body cited in 2008 was a difficulty of dividing the island in two in a way that would be acceptable to all major interests. The arbitrary division line problem is routinely encountered in those council areas which have no rural elements or natural divides.
Eventually, under the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, which proposed that the total number of constituencies in the UK Parliament should be reduced from 650 to 600, it was specified that the Isle of Wight should comprise two "protected" seats, meaning that their electorates did not have to be within the statutory range of ±5%. The 2011 Act was amended by the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 2020 which reversed the decrease in the total number of seats, but retained the two protected seats for the Isle of Wight.
Proposed boundary changes
Following the abandonment of the Sixth Periodic Review (the 2018 review), the Boundary Commission for England formally launched the 2023 Review on 5 January 2021 and published their initial proposals on 8 June 2021. The commission has proposed splitting the Isle of Wight into East Isle of Wight (electorate 57,004) and West Isle of Wight (electorate 54,712).
Before the Reform Act 1832 (apart from the First Protectorate Parliament (1654–1655), when a whole island constituency existed) the island was usually represented by three Parliamentary boroughs: Newport, Newtown, and Yarmouth, each electing two MPs. The county electorate of the island, which included freeholders qualified by property, was represented by the two MPs for Hampshire. The Reform Act abolished the Newtown and Yarmouth parliamentary boroughs, and a single-member county division of Hampshire was created for the island. The separate and overlapping Newport representation was reduced to one MP in 1868 and finally abolished in 1885. Since then, the whole of the Isle of Wight has been represented by one constituency.
The constituency has traditionally been a battleground between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and their predecessors. The seat was held by a Liberal from 1974 until 1987, a Conservative until 1997, a Liberal Democrat until 2001, and a Conservative since then.
At the 2015 election, the incumbent Conservative scored one of his party's largest swings against the Liberal Democrats whose candidate finished in fifth place.
In the 2017 general election, Nick Belfitt, the Liberal Democrat candidate, became the youngest ever candidate to stand for the seat at the age of 23.
At the December 2019 general election the Liberal Democrats agreed to stand aside and support the Green Party candidate as part the Unite to Remain agreement between the two parties and Plaid Cymru involving 60 constituencies in England and Wales, with the purpose of increasing the chances of candidates who supported remaining in the European Union.
Members of Parliament
Elections in the 2010s
|Independent Network||Carl Feeney||1,542||2.1||New|
|Liberal Democrats||Nicholas Belfitt||2,740||3.7||−3.8|
|Liberal Democrats||David Goodall||5,235||7.5||-24.2|
|Liberal Democrats||Jill Wareham||22,283||31.7||+2.2|
|English Democrat||Ian Dunsire||1,233||1.8||New|
|Middle England Party||Paul Martin||616||0.9||New|
Elections in the 2000s
|Liberal Democrats||Anthony Rowlands||19,739||29.5||−5.8|
|Liberal Democrats||Peter Brand||22,397||35.3||−7.4|
|Isle of Wight Party||Philip Murray||1,164||1.8||New|
|Socialist Labour||James Spensley||214||0.3||New|
|Conservative gain from Liberal Democrats||Swing||-6.6|
Elections in the 1990s
|Liberal Democrats||Peter Brand||31,274||42.7||−2.9|
|Natural Law||Clive Daly||87||0.1||−0.3|
|Rainbow Warriors||Jonathan Eveleigh||86||0.1||New|
|Liberal Democrats gain from Conservative||Swing||+8.4|
|Liberal Democrats||Peter Brand||36,336||45.6||+2.7|
|Natural Law||Clive Daly||350||0.4||New|
Elections in the 1980s
|Conservative gain from Liberal||Swing|
|Isle of Wight Residents Party||Thomas McDermott||208||0.3||New|
Elections in the 1970s
|Liberal gain from Conservative||Swing|
|Vectis National Party||Ronald W.J Cowdell||1,607||2.8||New|
Elections in the 1960s
Elections in the 1950s
|Labour||Edward Cecil Amey||18,396||37.1||-0.3|
Elections in the 1940s
General Election 1939–40
Another general election was required to take place before the end of 1940. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place from 1939 and by the end of this year, the following candidates had been selected;
Elections in the 1930s
Elections in the 1920s
|Liberal||St John Hutchinson||17,383||38.1||+0.3|
|Labour||Henry Edward Weaver||6,256||13.7||+3.9|
|Labour||Henry Edward Weaver||3,620||9.8||+2.7|
|Unionist gain from Liberal||Swing||+7.5|
|Ind. Unionist||Arthur Veasey||7,061||21.0||New|
|Liberal gain from Unionist||Swing||+11.5|
Elections in the 1910s
|C indicates candidate endorsed by the coalition government.|
Another General Election was required to take place before the end of 1915. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place and by July 1914, the following candidates had been selected;
|Conservative gain from Liberal||Swing||+6.8|
Elections in the 1900s
|Conservative||Anthony Hickman Morgan||5,892||44.2||N/A|
|Liberal gain from Conservative||Swing||N/A|
|Ind. Conservative||John Seely||Unopposed|
|Ind. Conservative gain from Conservative|
Elections in the 1890s
Elections in the 1880s
- Caused by Webster's appointment as Attorney General of England and Wales.
|Conservative gain from Liberal||Swing||+2.3|
|Conservative||Benjamin Temple Cotton||1,973||49.8||-0.3|
|Liberal gain from Conservative||Swing||+0.3|
Elections in the 1870s
|Conservative gain from Liberal||Swing||+4.9|
|Conservative gain from Liberal||Swing||+5.5|
- Caused by Simeon's death.
Elections in the 1860s
Elections in the 1850s
|Conservative||Thomas Willis Fleming||610||45.5||−8.0|
|Whig gain from Conservative||Swing||+8.0|
|Conservative gain from Whig||Swing||+9.6|
|Conservative||Andrew Snape Hamond||519||47.9||+4.0|
|Radical gain from Whig||Swing||−4.0|
Elections in the 1840s
|Conservative||Thomas Willis Fleming||373||43.9||N/A|
|Whig gain from Conservative||Swing||N/A|
|Conservative||William à Court-Holmes||Unopposed|
Elections in the 1830s
|Conservative||William à Court-Holmes||628||52.9||+11.8|
|Conservative gain from Whig||Swing||+11.8|
|Conservative||George Henry Ward||337||41.1||+27.5|
|Turnout||820||c. 70.3||c. −0.3|
|Registered electors||c. 1,167|
|Tory||Alexander Glynn Campbell||112||13.6|
|Whig win (new seat)|
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