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Kent general election: The Canterbury constituency and the candidates standing

Although historically a safe Tory seat, Canterbury has been held for the last two parliaments by Kent’s only elected Labour MP, Rosie Duffield.

In a shock result in 2017, the former teaching assistant unseated Conservative Julian Brazier, who had held the constituency for 30 years. She won by just 187 votes, going on to strengthen her mandate two years later when she was re-elected with an increased vote share.

Canterbury was a long-time Tory seat until Labour’s shock victory in 2017
Canterbury was a long-time Tory seat until Labour’s shock victory in 2017

Pollsters now make it the safest seat in Kent, projecting a third consecutive victory for Ms Duffield, who will have taken confidence from the results of last year’s local elections.

At the time of both her previous general election victories, Canterbury City Council was held firmly by the Conservatives.

But Tory support fell away last May as a Labour-Lib Dem coalition was voted into power.

Ms Duffield and the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, Russell Timpson, will be hoping this shift translates into votes for their respective parties on July 4.

The constituency includes both urban and rural areas - encompassing the Cathedral city and the seaside town of Whitstable to the north, as well as rural villages and farmland.

A map of the new Canterbury constituency
A map of the new Canterbury constituency


With three universities in Canterbury, students make up around a third of the population. But with polling day falling outside of term time, student voters - who traditionally support Labour and were seen as a key factor in the 2017 result - may be in different areas of the UK when the time comes to cast their vote.

Nevertheless, alterations made to constituency boundaries of Canterbury may work in Ms Duffield’s favour.

Compared to the 2019 map, Canterbury has shrunk slightly - losing the traditionally Conservative-voting parish of Sturry to the new constituency of Herne Bay and Sandwich, which borders it to the east.

The incumbent’s main challenger will be Tory Louise Harvey-Quirke, who served as a city councillor in Sturry four years and sat on the local parish council.

But with the village now excised from the constituency, Ms Harvey-Quirke will not be able to rely on any votes from her old stomping ground.

As candidates campaign over the coming weeks they will no doubt be talking to voters about how national issues such as housing, education, the environment and a struggling NHS are experienced at a local level.

Although Kent is home to some of the country’s best schools, persistent absenteeism has been a real problem since the pandemic and there is a distinct shortage of SEN schools in Canterbury and Whitstable.

The constituency also includes the town of Whitstable and its bustling harbour
The constituency also includes the town of Whitstable and its bustling harbour

In higher education, the University of Kent - the county’s largest - exemplifies the structural financial problems being faced by universities across the UK.

Cuts to council budgets have also been felt by Canterbury residents, as the local authority has been forced to hike parking charges and cut back on public services.

On the environment, Whitstable residents in particular will be listening out for solutions to the problem of water companies polluting beaches with sewage.

Elsewhere, large housing developments across Canterbury have upset locals who say roads and public services cannot cope with a rising population.

Meanwhile, the district’s main hospital - Kent and Canterbury Hospital - is experiencing financial, staffing and operational problems all too common across the NHS.

With Sir Keir Starmer’s party consistently ahead in the national polls and Ms Duffield’s recent success in the area, analysts say a Labour hold is all but a certainty in Canterbury.

It would appear a huge swing is needed if Mrs Harvey-Quirke is somehow able to wrestle the seat back for the Tories.

The candidates for Canterbury are:

The full list of candidates are:

Henry Stanton, Green Party

Louise Harvey-Quirke, Conservative

Russell Timpson, Liberal Democrats

Rosie Duffield, Labour

Bridget Porter, Reform UM

Luke Buchanan-Hodgeman, Social Democratic Party

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