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Kent general election: The Faversham and Mid Kent constituency and the candidates standing

Faversham and Mid Kent has traditionally been a safe, true blue seat. Formed in 1997 after splitting with its Swale neighbours Sittingbourne and Sheppey, the constituency has never strayed from Tory hands, even bucking the trend when Tony Blair’s Labour party scored its 1997 landslide.

Things could, however, be set to change come July 4. With Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour consistently ahead in the national polls, analysis by pollsters predicts there’s a decent chance the incumbent MP – Conservative Helen Whately – could be unseated by her Labour challenger, Mel Dawkins.

Faversham forms a key part of the constituency, with the traditional market town currently represented by Conservative Helen Whately
Faversham forms a key part of the constituency, with the traditional market town currently represented by Conservative Helen Whately

What national pollsters won’t tell you though is the underbelly of support for the Liberal Democrats and the Greens - both of whom will be optimistic about upsetting the apple cart.

Dethroning the Conservatives in this traditionally rural constituency, which covers the market town of Faversham as well as rural villages such as Dunkirk, Boxley and Hollingbourne, would represent a significant shift in political alignment.

When the seat was last contested in 2019, the Conservatives won with a thumping majority of 21,967. Helen Whately, who has represented the constituency since 2015, claimed a 63.2% share of the votes cast. Her nearest challenger, Labour’s Jenny Reeves, received just 19.6%. It was the largest majority in this seat’s history.

Split across two district boroughs - Swale and Maidstone - the political landscape can be hard to predict, but wards within the constituency have on the whole gone with the Conservatives at a national level.

But boundary changes since the 2019 election may make the constituency more competitive this time around. The redrawing of the Westminster map has seen more affluent wards such as Headcorn and Boughton Monchelsea – where support for the Conservatives would traditionally be strong – transferred to the new Weald of Kent constituency.

A map of the new Faversham and Mid Kent constituency
A map of the new Faversham and Mid Kent constituency


In come places such as Teynham, Lynsted and Bredgar - which have traditionally voted Tory at a national level but have displayed variations in loyalty locally.

Since 2019 there have been signs of change in the regional political landscape. At the Swale elections in 2023, the Conservatives won just two seats in wards which will come under the new constituency - both of these in Teynham and Lynsted.

Within Faversham itself, five out of seven seats in the town centre at Swale Borough Council were won by the Liberal Democrats, with the other two secured by Labour. Ten of its 14 town councillors are also Lib Dems - including parliamentary candidate Hannah Perkin.

In more rural areas, residents strayed from the trends displayed at the general election, with many wards choosing to bring in members from Labour or Swale Independents.

The Greens have done well in the five years since the last election, with wins at both county and district level to the east of the constituency and have signalled their intent to put a lot of resources into fighting for a shock win for its candidate Hannah Temple.

In the 2024 Maidstone elections, wards which will remain in the redrawn boundaries offered mixed results, with independent candidates, Conservatives and Labour bringing in roughly the same number of winners.

In borough wards across Maidstone and Swale, there are eight Labour, seven Conservative, seven Lib Dems, six independents and five Greens. It’s a much more diverse mix - though may not translate into vote share for the election in this constituency.

While local issues are likely to take a back seat to national concerns at a general election, there are constituency-specific matters which will heavily influence the voters. People locally have pushed back against the number of planned developments - such as the Duchy of Cornwall’s 2,500-home estate and the Cleve Hill Solar Park - which come at the cost of farmland which many constituents have grown up with.

Policies linking to education and social issues will also appeal to voters - with people in this area being analysed as more deprived and not as well educated as those in other constituencies in the south east.

There are also no A&E units within the boundaries of Faversham and Mid Kent, with those in need forced to travel to Medway or Maidstone depending on location - two hospitals with very different reputations.

A wider Kent issue relating to migrants and immigration will no doubt influence some in the constituency, with Reform’s Maxwell Harrison and British Democrat Lawrence Rustem keen to capitalise on the anti-boats sentiment felt among some in the county.

The fortunes of Helen Whately, who is once again standing for re-election, could well rest on the scale and efficiency of tactical voting. Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens all consider themselves as viable main local challengers to the Conservatives, but split votes among the three parties could derail any attempt to oust the Tories - even if Reform are able to snatch a significant per cent of the vote share away from Ms Whately.

Despite the national poll projections, it would still be a shock to some if true-blue Faversham and Mid Kent does return a Labour member to parliament on July 4, but after 14 years of Conservative rule, it looks as though Labour and Sir Keir Starmer are destined for Downing Street with a thumping Commons majority.

The candidates for Faversham and Mid Kent are:

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