Henley May 8, 2020 23:55:43 GMT via mobile
Post by unrepentantfool on May 8, 2020 23:55:43 GMT
Apr 14, 2020 19:13:50 GMT @abiezercoppe said:After the Liberal landslide of 1906, Valentine Fleming – father of the James Bond author, Ian Fleming – won the seat of Henley back for the Conservative Party in 1910. Since that election, the seat has continuously returned Conservative MPs. A number of prominent Conservative politicians have represented Henley, including the former cabinet minister, Michael Heseltine, and the current prime minister, Boris Johnson. The latter, however, resigned from the House of Commons to run for Mayor of London in 2008. After returning to the Commons in 2015, the Prime Minister now represents the seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Henley is currently represented by John Howell.
The seat was created by the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, as one of three seats which covered the county of Oxfordshire. The ceremonial county is now represented by six constituencies. Throughout its existence the boundaries of the Henley seat have changed considerably, particularly in recent years. In the early twentieth century, areas of the seat were transferred to the seats of Oxford and Reading. More recently, the seat has gained wards in the north of the county, which were transferred from Banbury, and it now stretches north of the county town. This has led to suggestions of renaming the seat to ‘Henley and Thame’ or ‘East Oxfordshire’.
As well as dominating national elections in Henley, the Conservatives have also controlled South Oxfordshire District Council for much of its existence. It should be noted, however, that the council also covers parts (Didcot and Wallingford) of the neighbouring Wantage seat. Prior to 2019, at local level, the Conservative’s main opposition were the Liberal Democrats in Wheatley and other villages on the eastern outskirts of Oxford, and a residents group in Henley. Nevertheless, at the 2019 local election there was a dramatic change in the political landscape of the council: the Conservatives lost 23 seats, and the Liberal Democrats and Greens gained 12 and 5 seats, respectively. This, in turn, led to the creation of a ‘rainbow coalition’, with the Liberal Democrats and Greens now running the district council. Whilst normality resumed at the 2019 general election, where the Conservative, John Howell, was easily reelected, the Liberal Democrats did achieve their best ever result in the seat. The Remain-nature of the seat is a likely explainer for this.
In the east of the seat are the rolling Chiltern Hills, and running along the western and southern border is the River Thames. Located on the Thames, is the market town which gives name to the seat, Henley. The town is famous for its rowing regatta, and is a byword for middle class. Other significant settlements in the seat are the small towns of Thame and Chinnor. Many of the towns and villages in the seat are filming locations for the TV series ‘Midsomer Murders’. The show offers a watercolour of ‘middle England', with fetes, village greens, and characterful pubs. Minus the murders, the show provides a glimpse (if not a slightly romanticized one) of what life is like in the villages that make up this seat.
Like Henley itself, the rest of the constituency is relatively affluent, particularly the villages close to Reading. The constituency’s high-speed connections to Paddington and Marylebone make it a popular place for commuters to live. Average incomes in the seat are way above national and regional averages. Nevertheless, there are small pockets of deprivation. In the large post-war village of Berinsfield, for example, 19% of children are living in poverty compared with 7% across South Oxfordshire.
It is hard to imagine a situation where Henley would not return a Conservative candidate at a general election. However, the inroads made by opposition parties at local level offer a possible route to a more competitive seat in the future.
As my second home and college is in this seat(indeed in Henley itself),maybe I can offer some insight into why the 2019 local election was so bad for the Tories. The Tory administration on SODC proposed a really unpopular local plan which would mean building on large swathes of green belt in the district. The Lib Dems,HRG(Henley Residents Group)and Greens ran on a ticket of opposition to this and,in conjunction with other factors like the high Remain vote you mentioned,the bounce back for the Lib Dems who were already relatively popular in the parts of the district which aren't really actually Oxon at all like Didcot and Wallingford and the alternative culture in some of the more rural parts of the district like the Hardwick Estate in Whitchurch-on-Thames,which has organic allotments and a green 24hr organic veg shop just outside the gates.Local factors in Henley include the anger over the education funding gaps which are severely affecting the oversubscribed local secondary school Gillots,where money for repairs have fallen so short that they've had to fence off a classroom because the mould issue is now affecting pupils' learning and Henley faced losing it's well used local bus services very recently which are important for a sparsely populated town with a very high 65+ segment,luckily the Town Council stepped in to provide funding.