Election 2019: Education's big beasts keep their seats

Despite huge shifts in the national picture, most of the school system's key players across all three parties remain as MPs

Catherine Lough

Polling station

All the schools' ministers and their counterparts in the main opposition parties kept their seats last night, against a background of dramatic national change.

With an expected majority of 86 seats, the Conservatives look set to achieve their best result since 1987, while Labour has suffered its worst result since 1935.

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In education, however, most of the leading voices in each party have retained their seat. Education secretary Gavin Williamson has kept his seat in South Staffordshire, with a vote share of 73 per cent, representing a 3.3 per cent swing towards the Tories since 2017.

It was also a good night for long-serving schools minister Nick Gibb, who held Bognor Regis and Littlehampton with a 63.5 per cent share of the vote: again, a swing towards the Conservatives – this time of 4.5 per cent.

But Mr Williamson – tipped to remain in place at the Department for Education – will be looking for a new special adviser. One of his existing team, Richard Holden, is now a Conservative MP having ousted Labour in Durham North West – the first time the seat has changed parties in 84 years.

Labour's shadow education secretary Angela Rayner kept her seat in Ashton-under-Lyne. But her party could soon be looking for a replacement spokesperson on schools, as she is being touted as a possible successor to Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.  

Labour's shadow schools minister Mike Kane also retained his seat in Wythenshawe and Sale East.

Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran overcame her party's waning fortunes with a strong result in Oxford West and Abingdon – she held the seat and picked up 53.3 per cent of the vote share, a 9.5 per cent increase on her result in 2017.

Robert Halfon, the Conservative Commons Education Select Committee chair, kept his seat in Harlow, and Labour MP education select committee member Emma Hardy also kept her seat in Hull West and Hessle.

However, shadow FE minister Gordon Marsden lost his seat in Blackpool South to the Conservatives, reflecting a national trend of constituencies in former Labour heartlands swinging to the Tories.

He had held the seat for Labour by a small majority since 1997 but voters’ swing towards both the Tories and the Brexit Party cost him votes.

In the Isle of Wight, Green Party national education spokesperson Vix Lowthion failed to oust her Tory rival, Bob Seely.

Former free schools head Mark Lehain failed to win Newcastle North for the Conservatives. 

But secondary teacher Jonathan Gullis achieved a strong Conservative majority in Stoke-on-Trent North, gaining the seat from Labour with an increase of 7 per cent of the party’s share of the vote.



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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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