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Summary of the Essex South East parliamentary constituency from 1945 - 2019
Summary of the constituency

1) General Election results in detail from 1945 to 2019

2) Summary of the constituency history from 1660 to 1935

3) General Election results in detail from 1885 to 1935

In 1949 when Basildon was designated a new town the designated area fell within the South-East Essex parliamentary constituency. The member of parliament representing this district was Ray Gunter, a World War Two captain, who won the seat in 1945 for the Labour party. The constituency had been in existence since the 'Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885' and would remain so until 1950. The following election in February 1950 saw the seat reorganised as a result of boundary changes with Basildon becoming part of the new Billercay constituency. Ray Gunter opted to switch seats to Doncaster in Yorkshire and the Conservative party, represented by Bernard Braine (later Lord Braine of Wheatley), won with a comfortable majority. Bernard Braine won for a second time in 1951 after successfully defending the seat against the Labour opponent Brian Clapham.

For the next election in 1955 Bernard Braine opted to stand in a re-established South East Essex seat, and the result, which was also the first declared nationally, was another Conservative success with Richard Body (later Sir) declared the winner. For the 1959 election Richard Body stood down but the seat remained Conservative when Edward Gardner (later Sir) took it in the first of his two victories over his Labour opponent Rita Smythe. Another feature of the 1959 election was the declaration time which came in at 59 minutes. This stood as the record until beaten in 1997 by Sunderland South in a new time of 46 minutes.

The second and last of Edward Gardner's victories in this seat occurred in 1964 when he won with a reduced majority despite a higher turnout due to the continuing increase in the local population. The victory was short-lived though and he lost to Eric Moonman in 1966 when the seat fell to Labour for the first, and so far, only time. Robert McCrindle (later Sir) won the seat back for the tories in 1970 but new boundary changes meant certain areas moving and the seat became Basildon, which included Billericay voters, for the two 1974 elections. The first in February (which ended in a hung parliament) saw Eric Moonman once again the victor, a position he retained in October with another very substantial majority. The seat remained Basildon for the 1979 election and was taken by the Conservative Party when Eric Moonman - now standing in his 5th and final election - lost by 5,180 votes to Harvey Proctor.

Further boundary changes in 1983 saw Harvey Proctor leave Basildon to stand as the candidate in a new Billericay constituency. The Basildon seat was now for the first and so far only time, made up of those wards that came to make up the new town, along with Bowers Gifford.

The next three elections in 1983, 1987 and 1992 were won by the Conservative candidate, David Amess (now Sir), who can claim to be the only MP to have solely represented the area of Basildon.

The next election, in 1997, saw the constituency once again reorganised, as parts of Thurrock joined with the majority of Basildon to form the Basildon and East Thurrock seat. After serving Basildon for almost 14 years, David Amess chose not to contest it, and instead moved to the Southend West constituency. The election result that followed saw the Labour Co-operative candidate Angela Smith duly elected and the Labour party returned to power for the first time since 1974. The Billericay seat, established in 1983, also saw changes with Pitsea and parts of Laindon now incorporated within its boundaries. Teresa Gorman, representing the Conservatives, won the seat with a 1,356 majority over her Labour rival.

The General Elections of 2001 and 2005 were again won by Angela Smith although her majority was reduced on each occasion. The Conservative's, now represented by John Baron, retained the Billericay seat.

The election of May 2010 was won by Conservative, Stephen Metcalfe, who defeated Angela Smith in a reorganised Basildon South and Thurrock East seat. The Billericay seat was also subject to boundary changes which saw areas of Basildon once again reunited with Billericay where John Baron retained his seat for the Conservative party in the new Basildon and Billericay constituency.

The May 2015 election produced the same result as the preceding election with both Stephen Metcalfe, Conservative (Basildon South and Thurrock East) and John Baron, Conservative (Basildon and Billericay) holding their seats.

The 'snap' general election of June 2017 called by Theresa May on 18th April resulted in another hung parliament where the Conservative party, who won the most seats (318) over Labour (262), formed a minority government with the backing of the Democratic Unionist Party through a formal confidence and supply deal.

Since 1945 the seat has been a marginal one - the exceptions being 1950 and 1964 - with the elected MPs party going on to form the next government. Also in recent times - particularly during the David Amess years - Basildon had become something of a barometer in deciding the next government.

Page added: 2001

Text researched and written by William Cox, 2001 with revisions and additions 2002-2008, 2010, 2015.
Copyright © 2001-2008, 2010, 2015, 2017, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.
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