West Suffolk (UK Parliament constituency)

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West Suffolk
County constituency
for the House of Commons
Outline map
Boundary of West Suffolk in Suffolk.
Outline map
Location of Suffolk within England.
County Suffolk
Electorate 76,158 (December 2010)[1]
Major settlements Newmarket, Haverhill and Mildenhall
Current constituency
Created 1997
Member of parliament Matthew Hancock (Conservative)
Number of members One
Created from Central Suffolk
Number of members Two
Type of constituency County constituency
Replaced by Bury St Edmunds
(also succeeded itself)
North-Western or 'Stowmarket' Division
South or 'Sudbury' Division
Created from Suffolk
European Parliament constituency East of England

West Suffolk is a constituency[n 1] represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Matthew Hancock, a Conservative.[n 2]



The seat saw a relatively long first existence under the Reform Act 1832 merely as a more representative division (with a total of four MPs) instead of two for the former entire county at large, which still allowed for double voting (or more) of those Forty Shilling Freeholders who also were householders or landlords of any particular boroughs within the county. This Act retained the four largest boroughs of the seven before 1832.

With two heirs to their title serving the seat were the Marquesses of Bristol, the Hervey family, major landowners in the county and the modern seat, at Ickworth, part of its grand house now being a luxury hotel.

Equally sweeping changes took place at the end of this period with the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 which here saw the establishment of three single-member constituencies covering much of the former half-county by widening the narrow and underpopulated dual-member seat of Bury St Edmunds: the other two seats being named the North-Western or 'Stowmarket' Division and the South or 'Sudbury' Division.


Its second creation occurred with Parliamentary approval of the Boundary Commission's third periodic review in time for the 1997 election (the first such review having been in 1945, following the Representation of the People Act 1918 review).

Political history

The seat in this time has only been represented by Conservatives with the narrowest majority having been that of 1997 at only 3.8% of the vote, since which the majority has gradually increased to a level seen most commonly in safe seats.

For the 2010 general election, the transition was planned six months before, on 23 November 2009, when the incumbent announced he would not stand again.[2]

Prominent frontbenchers

Richard Spring[n 3] was an opposition spokesman for Foreign Affairs (2000-2004) (shadowing a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister) then Shadow Minister for the Treasury (2004-2005) before being a Vice-Chairman of his party and being elevated to the House of Lords as Lord Risby. Several of his ancestors had previously represented Suffolk in the House of Commons.


1997-2010: The District of Forest Heath, and the Borough of St Edmundsbury wards of Barningham, Barrow, Cangle, Castle, Chalkstone, Chevington, Clements, Honington, Horringer, Hundon, Ixworth, Kedington, Risby, St Mary’s and Helions, Stanton, Wickhambrook, and Withersfield.

2010-present: The District of Forest Heath (the wards of All Saints, Brandon East, Brandon West, Eriswell and The Rows, Exning, Great Heath, Iceni, Lakenheath, Manor, Market, Red Lodge, St Mary’s, Severals, and South), and the Borough of St Edmundsbury wards of Bardwell, Barningham, Barrow, Chedburgh, Haverhill East, Haverhill North, Haverhill South, Haverhill West, Hundon, Ixworth, Kedington, Risby, Stanton, Wickhambrook, and Withersfield.

The constituency includes the town of Newmarket, the world headquarters of horse racing as well as the towns of Haverhill and Mildenhall with a farmed landscape, interspersed with patches of forest[n 4] and small villages.

Constituency profile[edit]

This area includes a slightly older demographic profile than the national average, with a significant proportion of semi-detached and detached homes and a higher than average proportion or retired people.[3]

Major economic sectors include defence (RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath), agriculture/food (including for major products as well as regional specialities such as ales, Suffolk cider and cured meats), tourism and leisure (such as Newmarket racecourse) and particularly in Haverhill, a range of industries. These include chemicals (such as International Flavors and Fragrances), waste processing, transport, construction and pharmaceuticals.

Workless claimants who were registered jobseekers were in November 2012 lower than the national average of 3.8%, at 2.5% of the population based on a statistical compilation by The Guardian.[4]

Members of Parliament[edit]

MPs 1832–1885[edit]

Election Member[5] Party Member Party [6]
1832 Charles Tyrrell Liberal Sir Hyde Parker, Bt Liberal
1835 Henry Wilson Liberal Robert Rushbrooke Conservative
1837 Robert Hart Logan Conservative
1838 by-election Harry Spencer Waddington Conservative
1845 by-election Philip Bennet Conservative
1859 The Earl Jermyn[n 5] Conservative William Parker Conservative
1864 by-election Lord Augustus Henry Charles Hervey Conservative
June 1875 by-election Fuller Maitland Wilson Conservative
October 1875 by-election Thomas Thornhill Conservative
1880 William Biddell Conservative
1885 constituency abolished

MPs since 1997[edit]

Election Member[5] Party
1997 Richard Spring Conservative
2010 Matthew Hancock Conservative


Elections in the 2010s[edit]

General Election 2015: West Suffolk[7][8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Matthew Hancock 25,684 52.2 +1.6
UKIP Julian Flood[9] 10,700 21.7 +15.3
Labour Michael John Jefferys 8,604 17.5 +2.7
Liberal Democrat Elfreda Tealby-Watson[10] 2,465 5.0 −18.4
Green Niall Pettitt[11] 1,779 3.6 N/A
Majority 14,984 30.4 +3.3
Turnout 49,429 64.9 +0.3
Conservative hold Swing -6.9
General Election 2010: West Suffolk[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Matthew Hancock 24,312 50.6 +1.7
Liberal Democrat Belinda Brooks-Gordon 11,262 23.4 +6.2
Labour Abul Monsur Ohid Ahmed 7,089 14.7 −14.2
UKIP Ian Smith 3,085 6.4 +1.5
BNP Ramon Johns 1,428 3.0 N/A
Independent Andrew Appleby 540 1.1 N/A
Christian Peoples Colin Young 373 0.8 N/A
Majority 13,050 27.1 +6.9
Turnout 48,089 64.6 +3.8
Conservative hold Swing −2.3

Elections in the 2000s[edit]

General Election 2005: West Suffolk[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Richard Spring 21,682 49.0 +1.4
Labour Michael John Jeffreys 12,773 28.9 −8.6
Liberal Democrat Adrian P. Graves 7,573 17.1 +5.3
UKIP Ian Smith 2,177 4.9 +1.8
Majority 8,909 20.2 +10.1
Turnout 44,205 60.7 +0.2
Conservative hold Swing +5.0
General Election 2001: West Suffolk[14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Richard Spring 20,201 47.6 +6.7
Labour Michael John Jefferys 15,906 37.5 +0.4
Liberal Democrat Robin Barry Martlew 5,017 11.8 −2.2
UKIP Will Burrows 1,321 3.1 N/A
Majority 4,295 10.1 +6.3
Turnout 42,445 60.5 −11.0
Conservative hold Swing +3.1

Elections in the 1990s[edit]

General Election 1997: West Suffolk[15]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Richard Spring 20,081 40.9 N/A
Labour Michael John Jefferys 18,214 37.1 N/A
Liberal Democrat Adrian P. Graves 6,892 14.0 N/A
Referendum James J.T. Carver 3,724 7.6 N/A
Natural Law Alistair J.M. Shearer 171 0.3 N/A
Majority 1,867 3.8 N/A
Turnout 49,082 71.5 N/A
Conservative win (new seat)

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ A county constituency (for the purposes of election expenses and type of returning officer)
  2. ^ As with all constituencies, the constituency elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election at least every five years.
  3. ^ Previously MP for the Bury St Edmunds seat
  4. ^ For example Thetford Forest, synonymous with Breckland.
  5. ^ This is the courtesy title given to the eldest son of the Marquess of Bristol as his main subsidiary title.
  1. ^ "Electorate Figures - Boundary Commission for England". 2011 Electorate Figures. Boundary Commission for England. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  2. ^ So Long and Farewell, Richard Spring Blog
  3. ^ 2011 Census
  4. ^ Unemployment claimants by constituency The Guardian
  5. ^ a b Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "S" (part 6)[self-published source][better source needed]
  6. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. pp. 464–364. ISBN 0-900178-26-4. 
  7. ^ "Election Data 2015". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  8. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/constituencies/E14001034/
  9. ^ http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Haverhill-councillor-reveals-hopes-West-Suffolk/story-25847199-detail/story.html
  10. ^ http://www.libdems.org.uk/general_election_candidates
  11. ^ http://midsuffolk.greenparty.org.uk/news/parliamentary-candidates-for-suffolk.html
  12. ^ "Election Data 2010". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  13. ^ "Election Data 2005". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  14. ^ "Election Data 2001". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  15. ^ "Election Data 1997". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.