Thirsk and Malton: Tory MP Anne McIntosh de-selected, 5-way marginal for 2015?

Interesting news from Yorkshire, where controversial Tory MP Anne McIntosh has been de-selected by her local party following a ballot of local party members.

Ms McIntosh has been in a long-running dispute with local officials about her political future. The MP, chair of the Environment Select Committee, said she still intended to fight the seat. Ms McIntosh, who was first elected to Parliament in 1997, survived a similar vote of confidence before the 2010 election and went on to increase her majority to more than 11,000. The MP is reported to have fallen out with the chair of her local party association, triggering the vote of party members about her candidacy at the 2015 general election.

ConservativeHome reports that the turnout in the ballot of party members was a whopping 88% – ‘which reflects the strength of feeling, and the depth of the controversy.’

Before we offer too much sympathy, by the way, it’s worth remembering that Anne McIntosh was the MP who warned of the danger of too many women becoming GPs and working part-time as and when they had children: “I think that is something that is going to put a huge burden on the health service.”

Intriguingly in her statement she’s made clear her intention to stand at the 2015 election – and assuming that’s no longer as the Conservative candidate it suggests she’ll run as an Independent. If she did, it could split the Conservative vote.

In 2010, Thirsk and Malton was in the unique position of voting after the formation of the Coalition, owing to the death of the Ukip candidate during the campaign. Here’s what the result was of the poll held on 27th May:

    Conservative: Anne McIntosh – 20,167 (52.9%, +1.0)
    Liberal Democrat: Howard Keal – 8,886 (23.3%, +4.5)
    Labour: Jonathan Roberts – 5,169 (13.6%, −9.8)
    UKIP: Toby Horton – 2,502 (6.6%, +3.5)
    Liberal John Clark – 1,418 (3.7%, N/A)

The seat itself is the successor to Ryedale constituency, home to a short-lived SDP-Liberal Alliance by-election win in 1986, when Elizabeth Shields won from the Tories on a swing of 19%. The Lib Dems continued to poll strongly there at general elections, though the party’s vote has fallen back from its most recent high-point of 36% in 2001.

Ukip’s relatively strong showing in the seat (close on 7% in 2010) could mean the small-c conservative vote splits three ways in 2015, between an official Tory, Anne McIntosh and Ukip. If (and I realise it’s a big if) it did so, it’s possible to imagine Thirsk and Malton becoming a five-way contest, with turn-out perhaps the key to who would sneak through. You’d still bet on the Conservatives winning – after all the party got more than half the vote last time – but the ructions there make this a seat worth keeping an eye on.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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  • Terry Gilbert 31st Jan '14 - 11:00pm

    I don’t want to sound complacent, but we are clearly NOT the most misogynistic party…

  • I can’t see Anne McIntosh standing as an independent making Thrisk and Malton a five way marginal. As all Lib Dems know, you need more than a candidate to make a campaign. If 88% of local Tory activists voted to deselect her that doesn’t suggest a large pool of volunteers for the McIntosh campaign. Anne isn’t being deselected for ideological reasons that might enable her to receive support from outside her home party in the way that Dave Nellist (Coventry South East) or Bob Spink (Castle Point) did to receive decent election results. A more useful guide would be John Browne (Winchester) deselected by his local party but stood in the 1992 election, getting 4.7%, a tenth of the official Conservative candidate’s vote.

  • Yorkshire Guidon 1st Feb '14 - 9:35am

    I might be wrong but I think most of the promising bits (for the LDs) of the old Ryedale constituency went into York Outer at the boundary review last time and that’s why York Outer was a target for the LDs in the 2010 GE.
    An alternative scenario would be for the LDS to stand aside for Anne McIntosh as the Independent candidate 🙂

  • Tony Dawson 1st Feb '14 - 9:54am

    Five way marginal? Do they grow magic mushrooms in Malton? 🙁

    “The Lib Dems continued to poll strongly there at general elections”

    The day 23 per cent becomes ‘polling strongly’ is the day we accept dictatorship from a man in the moon.

  • John Heyworth 1st Feb '14 - 10:15am

    Yorkshire Guidon – “An alternative scenario would be for the LDS to stand aside for Anne McIntosh as the Independent candidate.”
    Why would the Lib Dems stand aside in a seat that they come 2nd last time around? Why stand aside for a candidate who is NOT Liberal and NOT a Democrat? The Conservative right, of which Ms McIntosh is one, have made it clear they dislike the coalition and look forward (unlikely) to governing alone as a majority party – Are you saying we should place them one step closer to that goal?
    Liberal Democrats in Thirsk & Malton have a right to vote for their party. Just because we are coalition partners now does not mean that they should be faced with a choice between official Tory and Independant Tory, who would no doubt be welcomed into the officail fold by Cameron if she managed to pull off a miraculous win.

  • If it’s true that she was deselected for being female, not having gone to a posh enough school, and not hating Europe enough, is this someone we can work with? I don’t know her views on other issues which might be incompatible with LD principles but I hope the local party are given the space to start discussions if appropriate.

  • Tony Greaves 1st Feb '14 - 9:07pm

    Elizabeth Shields was L:iberal-SDP Alliance (not the other way round). It mattered in those days!
    There were strong rumours at one time that Anne McIntosh had flirted with joining the LIberal Party. She was MP for the Vale of York from 1997 and before then an MEP.
    She is also possibly the leading expert on flooding in the Commons, or one of them.

    (That is not to say that Rebecca is not right).


  • Matt (Bristol) 2nd Feb '14 - 12:32am

    I remember voting in Ryedale in 2001 when I was a student at York living in Osbaldwick (I guess I would by now be in York Outer). It was a bewilderingly hug constituency to someone like me originally from the home counties, and the debate had almost no relevance to the small group of student voters at the southern extremity. I seem to remember the farming element in the constitutency actively discouraging cadnidates from campaigning due to the foot and mouth scare – resulting in yet another incumbent Tory win. If the more urban elements (with the possible exception of the teeming metropoli of Thirsk and Malton themselves) have been shorn from the seat, it doesn’t sound promising LibDem territory based on my (limited and biased) experience, but it does sound like somewhere Ukip could play merry hell with.

  • There was no mention whatsoever in her last manifesto of industry. It is industry that will bring the country out of its current economic depression and there is a lot of industry in Thirsk and Malton. I got the feeling that Ann had no interest in our problems – but I suppose that could be true of most politicians these days.

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