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Elections and Constituencies

Kent Constituency 1236 - 1832

We are used to the idea of each constituency being of equal size, but this is a comparatively new idea. Before 1832 each incorporated borough returned 2 MPs. Kent had 8 boroughs (Rochester, Maidstone, Canterbury, Sandwich, Dover, Hythe, Queenborough, New Romney), the latter two were "rotten" boroughs - New Romney had only 8 electors! This left the rest of the county, including Hartley, to be represented by 2 MPs. Of course only a tiny fraction of people were entitled to vote. Only male freeholders with land worth 40 shillings per annum could vote. This meant Hartley had only 3 electors

The earliest Parliament is thought to be in 1236 when each shire sent two knights to represent them.  It was not until Simon de Montfort's parliament of 1264 that they were required to be elected though.  His parliament was also the first to allow boroughs to send 2 MPs too.  15th century returns suggest that elections were held at Rochester or Canterbury.  One notable member was Geoffrey Chaucer, author of the Canterbury Tales, who was MP for Kent in 1386.  Analysis by Roskell and others suggest that the majority of MPs were middling in wealth, but about a fifth were not particularly wealthy.

For more information, see the Wikipedia page on the Kent Constituency.


West Kent Constituency 1832 - 1885

In 1832 the Great Reform Act remedied the worst abuses of the old system, it was passed in the teeth of opposition which included the Conservatives and the bishops. Overall Kent went from 18 to 16 MPs, but the vast county division was divided into East and West, so representation was slightly improved for Hartley. This Act introduced electoral registers for the first time.

People from Hartley would have to go to Gravesend to vote.

Map showing electoral divisions of Kent 1832

The next boundary changes were in 1867, when the West Kent division was split into West Kent and Mid Kent because of population increases. In addition the Gravesend Borough Constituency was created. Hartley lay at the eastern extremity of the West Kent seat, something of a familiar theme in the years to come. We were still a long way from the modern system.

These early elections were subject to rough and tumble which make modern elections seem fairly tame.  At the 1832 election the successful Lib (Liberal) candidate Thomas Rider said he "had been witness to such a system of corruption and intimidation that he was convinced that a full and fair expression of the elective franchise could not be secured without [the secret ballot]", it was said that most voters in Blackheath were intimidated not to vote for him (Liverpool Mercury 28.12.1832, Morning Chronicle 31.1.1833).  In the 1859 election the Conservatives were rumoured to be behind a gang of roughs who ran riot in Dartford on election day (Daily News 9.5.1859).  The Liverpool Mercury said "The Tories are accused, not only of  resorting to all the ordinary agencies and artifices that could possibly be employed at the late election, that is of having used bribery, corruption, intimidation, coercion etc, but of having enlisted .... the lowest ruffians of the prize ring....." (Liverpool Mercury 23.5.1859).  

In 1880 three members of the Farmer's Alliance Party from Crockenhill were fined for having a van pulled by an emaciated horse at Sydenham Hill, which they said represented the neglect of farming interests (Lloyds Weekly Newspaper 25.4.1880).


(1) Southwark: Counting the Vote (2) Reading the Result (Illustrated London News 10 April 1880)


West Kent Election Results 1832-1880
DateCandidatesVotes
18/19 Dec 1832
Thomas Law Hodges (Lib)
Thomas Rider (Lib)
Sir William Geary (Cons)

3,380
3,107
2,488

New Seat.
Hodges & Rider elected (Lib 2)

22 Jan 1836
Sir William Geary (Cons)
Thomas Law Hodges (Lib)
Thomas Rider (Lib)

2,558
2,093
2,007

1 Cons Gain
1 Lib Hold

7 Aug 1837
Sir William Geary (Cons)
Thomas Law Hodges (Lib)
Thomas Rider (Lib)

3,584
3,334
3,229

1 Cons Hold
1 Lib Hold

12 Mar 1838
(by election)

Sir Edmund Filmer (Cons)
Following resignation of Geary

unopposed
1 Cons hold
6 Jul 1841
Viscount Marsham (Cons)
Sir Edmund Filmer (Cons)

unopposed
1 Cons Hold
1 Cons Gain

25 Apr 1845
(by election)

Col Thomas Austen (Cons)
Following elevation of Marsham to Lords

unopposed
1 Cons hold
7 Aug 1847
Sir Edmund Filmer (Cons)
Thomas Law Hodges (Lib)
Thomas Austen (Cons)

3,219
3,127
3,082

1 Cons Hold
1 Lib Gain

19 Jul 1852
Sir Edmund Filmer (Cons)
William Masters Smith (Cons)
Thomas Law Hodges (Lib)

3,247
3,159
2,652

1 Cons Hold
1 Cons Gain

19 Feb 1857
(by election)
Charles Wykeham Martin (Lib)
Sir Walter Riddell (Cons)
3,680
3,198
1 Lib Gain
8 Apr 1857
Charles Wykeham Martin (Lib)
James Whatman (Lib)
William Masters Smith (Cons)
3,896
3,578
3,171
1 Lib Hold
1 Lib Gain
9 May 1859
Viscount Holmesdale (Cons)
Sir Edmund Filmer (Cons)
Charles Wykeham Martin (Lib)
James Whatman (Lib)
3,796
3,654
3,584
3,460
Cons Gain (2)
22 Jul 1865
Viscount Holmesdale (Cons)
William Hart Dyke (Cons)
Sir John Lubbock (Lib)
William Angerstein (Lib)
4,133
4,054
3,896
3,861
Cons Hold (2)
2 Dec 1868
Sir Charles Mills (Cons)
John Gilbert Talbot (Cons)
Sir John Lubbock (Lib)
William Angerstein (Lib)
3,440
3,378
3,323
3,196
Cons Hold (2)
9 Feb 1874
Sir Charles Mills (Cons)
John Gilbert Talbot (Cons)
Mr A Hamilton (Lib)
Mr E Marjoribanks (Lib)
5,295
5,227
3,391
3,346
Cons Hold (2)
15 May 1878
By Election
Viscount Lewisham
J Talbot left to fight Oxford University by election
unopposed
Cons Hold
5 Apr 1880
Sir Charles H Mills (Cons)
Viscount Lewisham (Cons)
Henry Mason Bompas QC (Lib)
John May (Farmer's Alliance)
6,113
5,986
4,857
977
Cons Hold (2)
Who did people vote for?

We are used to elections by secret ballot, but the secret ballot was not introduced until the Ballot Act 1872. Until then the votes of each person were recorded and would be published in "Poll Books". Public voting also allowed the parties to know hour by hour how they were doing in a poll. The Ballot Act is credited with abolishing the power of landlords to force their tenants to vote for them, for example one of the candidates in 1852 and 1857 was the Conservative William Masters Smith who was the landlord of George Best of Hartley, however as George Best continued to be a member of the Conservative party after 1872 this would suggest he would have voted for Mr Masters Smith anyway.


Dartford Constituency 1885 - 1918

The equal constituency system as we know it was introduced in 1885 when Hartley became part of the new Dartford (North West Kent) constituency

Universal male suffrage and the secret ballot did not stop all malpractices. At the 1886 election, a Dartford Conservative employer was accused of trying to prevent their Irish workers from leaving to vote for the Liberals (Freemans Journal 9.5.1886).

The Liberal Landslide of 1906 did not make many inroads in Kent, but history was made when James Rowlands became the first non-Conservative member for Hartley since the 1885 reforms. He stood as "Liberal-Labour" and in his 1918 election leaflet he still claimed to be that at heart, although by then he ran solely under the Liberal banner.

The Conservatives made strenuous efforts to win the seat back and did so in 1910. It was mentioned that women party workers from the safe seat of Tunbridge Wells were brought to Dartford to help, still a common tactic of the parties. Elections were big spectator events then; thousands were reported to have assembled outside the Dartford Council offices to hear the returning officer declare the result (he would have already announced it to those in the hall). Mr Mitchell is said to have been carried shoulder high by his supporters to the Conservative offices (South Eastern Gazette 1.2.1910). However their success was to be brief, there was a second election in 1910 and James Rowlands was back. It was in those elections that Dartford learned what it was like to be a marginal seat, with visits from leading party members.


(1) James Rowlands (2) William Foot Mitchell


Dartford Election Results 1885-1910
Date
CandidatesVotesPercent
4 Dec 1885
Sir William Hart-Dyke (Cons)
Mr J Ebenezer Saunders (Lib)
4,488
4,006
52.8%
47.2%
New Seat. Cons win
Maj 482
7 Jul 1886
Sir William Hart-Dyke (Cons)
Mr J Ebenezer Saunders (Lib)
4,198
2,965
58.6%
41.4%
Cons Hold
Maj 1,233
Swing L>C 11.6%
2 Feb 1887 (by election)
Sir William Hart-Dyke (Cons)

Unopposed
8 Jul 1892
Sir William Hart-Dyke (Cons)
Mr Jeremiah Lyon (Lib)
5,294
4,722
52.9%
47.1%
Cons Hold
Maj 572
Swing C>L 10.4%
18 Jul 1895
Sir William Hart-Dyke (Cons)
Sir Patteson Nickals (Lib)
4,693
4,557
50.7%
49.3%
Cons Hold
Maj 142
Swing C>L 4.2%
1 Oct 1900
Sir William Hart-Dyke (Cons)

Unopposed
19 Jan 1906
Sir William Hart-Dyke (Cons)
James Rowlands (Liberal-Labour)
6,728
9,532
41.4%
58.6%
Lib-Lab Gain
Maj 2,804
Swing n/a
26 Jan 1910
William Foot Mitchell (Cons)
James Rowlands (Liberal)
9,807
8,990
52.2%
47.8%
Cons Gain
Maj 817
Swing L>C 21.6%
14 Dec 1910
Willliam Foot Mitchell (Cons)
James Rowlands (Liberal)
8,918
9,152
49.4%
50.6%
Lib Gain
Maj 234
Swing C>L 5.6%
Chislehurst Constituency 1918 - 1948

In 1917 there was a new review of Parliamentary Constituencies. The Dartford seat was made smaller, to become Dartford and Erith. Most of the rural disticts of Dartford and Bromley, including Hartley, went into a new Chislehurst seat. Most of the parties who attended the Boundary Commission Enquiry at Maidstone on 24 July 1917 were happy with the this proposal. Both Conservativea and Labour supported this, however the local Liberals said a Dartford-Erith seat at 103,000 electors would be too large and that a better option would be a seat made up of Dartford and Dartford Rural District. (Gravesend Reporter 28.7.1918)

In 1918 electors were presented with a choice between Conservatives and the National Party, a right wing splinter group from the Conservatives. In the end the election was won by Sir Alfred Smithers. He was a financier with several rail interests including the Grand Trunk Railway in Canada, where there is a town named after him. He was MP until 1922 and from 1924 to 1945 his son Sir Waldron Smithers was MP.  The high point for the Conservatives came in 1931 when as "National Government" candidate they won 85% of the vote, Labour chipped away at this in 1935 and Chislehurst was once of the seats that was flipped in the Labour landslide of 1945.


The count at the Dartford by-election 1920

Meanwhile in our old constituency of Dartford, James Rowlands died in 1920 and Labour gained the seat in the resulting by-election. The photo above shows the count, which is little changed today, with four of the candidates anxiously watching as election staff work.


Dartford by-election 1920, address by winning candidate J Mills


Chislehurst Election Results 1918-1945
Date
CandidatesVotesPercent
14 Dec 1918
Sir Alfred Smithers (Cons)
Capt A Edmonds (National)
8,314
2,507
76.8%
23.2%
New Seat.  Cons win
Maj 5,807
15 Nov 1922
Robert Nesbitt (Cons)
David Mason (Lib)
11,801
6,256
63.4%
36.6%
Cons Hold
Maj 5,545
6 Dec 1923
Robert Nesbitt (Cons)
Robert Nevill (Lib)
9,725
7,806
55.5%
44.5%
Cons Hold
Maj 1,919
Swing C>Lib 7.9%
29 Oct 1924
Sir Waldron Smithers (Cons)
John Thomson (Lab)
Robert Nevill (Lib)
14,440
3,757
3,647

66.1%
17.2%
16.7%
Cons Hold
Maj 10,683

30 May 1929
Sir Waldron Smithers (Cons)
James Bateman (Lib)
John Thomson (Lab)
16,909
9.025
5,445

53.9%
28.8%
17.3%
Cons Hold
Maj 7,884

27 Oct 1931
Sir Waldron Smithers (Cons)
W T Colyer (Lab)
32,371
5,731
85.0%
15.0%
Cons Hold
Maj 26,640
14 Nov 1935
Sir Waldron Smithers (Cons)
W T Colyer (Lab)
J A Williams (Lib)
38,705
12,227
5,238
68.9%
21.8%
9.3%
Cons Hold
Maj 26,478
Swing C>Lab 11.5%
5 July 1945
G D Wallace (Lab)
Maj T L Fisher (Cons)
E C G Hawkins (Lib)
25,522
19,243
6,824
49.5%
37.3%
13.2%
Lab Gain
Maj 6,279
Swing C>Lab 17.5%
Orpington Constituency 1948 - 1954

The next general review of boundaries had to wait for nearly 30 years by the new Boundary Commission for England which had been established by a 1944 Act of Parliament. Regular reviews of boundaries now became mandatory. Since 1918 the electorate of Chislehurst had increased from 26,801 to 110,000 so it was clear that changes were needed.  The Gravesend Reporter of 20 December 1947 announced that as a result of the review, Hartley, along with the rest of the Dartford Rural district was to be moved to Orpington constituency. This was not to the Parish Council's liking as their choices were first Chislehurst and then Dartford. They unanimously passed a motion of objection to be sent to the Home Secretary in February 1948. The following month they had decided Gravesend Constituency was a better choice. However the Orpington proposal was confirmed in July 1948. Later that year the Hartley Conservatives held a farewell party for the Chislehurst prospective candidate, Pat Hornsby-Smith (Gravesend Reporter 9.10.1948).

Hartley may have been in a new constituency but they found themselves with a familiar MP in Sir Waldron Smithers, who had been the MP for Chislehurst from 1924 to 1945. In the boundary review that followed he chose to fight the safer seat of Orpington.


Orpington Election Results 1950-1951
Date
CandidatesVotesPercent
23 Feb 1950
Sir Waldron Smithers (Cons)
George Vaughan (Lab)
Lady Ruth Abrahams (Lib)
24,450
14,161
4,523
56.7%
32.8%
10.5%
Cons win
Maj 10,289
25 Oct 1951
Sir Waldron Smithers (Con)
R D Vaughan Williams (Lab)
27,244
16,241
62.6%
37.4%
Cons Hold
Maj 11,003
Swing Lab>C 0.6%
Dartford Constituency 1955 - 1974

Hartley was to remain in the Orpington seat for just the two elections of 1950 and 1951. The Boundary Commission wanted to create a new seat out of Dartford for Erith and Crayford (Times, 20.11.1954), which meant that the Rural District had to move back to the Dartford seat. For once it appears all parties were happy with the boundary change. Orpington Labour Party "wholeheartedly welcomed" the changes to Orpington. The SE Region Conservatives wanted the whole Dartford Rural District put in with Dartford Constituency as they said they look to Dartford not Orpington, and is currently divided between Chislehurst and Orpington seats. Dartford Borough Council agreed, but didn't like the name change to "County Constituency" (done when a seat has a rural component). (Source: National Archives File AF1/311).  The changes made the seat a much more winnable prospect for the Conservatives.

For most of this time our MP was Sydney Irving, later Lord Irving of Dartford. He was deputy chief whip (1964-66) and then a Deputy Speaker (1966-70). Richard Crossman's diaries record the vigorous defence he put up for his constituents over the issue of New Ash Green. 1970 was one of those elections where most polls failed to detect a late swing to the Conservatives, so much so that the famous swingometer on the election night coverage had to be amended by hand. Dartford was one of those seats that probably fell at the last minute.


Dartford Election Results 1955-1970
Date
CandidatesVotesPercent
Turnout

26 May 1955
Sydney Irving (Lab)
Peter Walker (Cons)
25,928
21,730
54.4%
45.6%
81.0%
Lab Hold
Maj 4,198
Boundary Changes
8 Oct 1959
Sydney Irving (Lab)
Peter Walker (Cons)
B C Davis (Lib)
25,323
24,047
5,881
45.8%
43.5%
10.7%
83.0%
Lab Hold
Maj 1,276
Swing Lab>C 3.3%
15 Oct 1964
Sydney Irving (Lab)
J J Davis (Cons)
M Janis (Lib)
27,371
22,496
9,047
46.5%
38.2%
15.3%
81.5%
Lab Hold
Maj 4,875
Swing C>Lab 3.0%
31 Mar 1966
Sydney Irving (Lab)
Peter Trew (Cons)
Peter Loftus (Lib)
29,547
22,638
7,094
49.8%
38.2%
12.0%
80.8%
Lab Hold
Maj 6,909
Swing C>Lab 1.7%
18 Jun 1970
Peter Trew (Cons)
Sydney Irving (Lab)
J P Johnson (Lib)
27,822
27,262
5,453
46.0%
45.0%
9.0%
74.0%
Cons Gain
Maj 560
Swing Lab>C 6.3%
Sevenoaks Constituency 1974 - 1983

From 1974 to 1983 Hartley was part of the ultra-safe Conservative constituency of Sevenoaks. For most of the time our MP was Sir John Rogers, who had been MP since 1950 and had spent most of his career on the backbenches, as one of the "knights of the shires". I am not sure, but I seem to remember that Mr Scanlan, the Labour candidate in 1974 may have run a shop in New Ash Green.


Sevenoaks Election Results 1974-1979
Date
CandidatesVotesPercent
Turnout

28 Feb 1974
Sir John Rodgers (Cons)
Ian Bradley (Lib)
J Scanlan (Lab)
D J Woolard (Independent)
29,936
16,223
14,987
754
48.4%
26.2%
24.2%
1.2%
83.4%
Boundary Changes
Cons win
Maj 13,713
10 Oct 1974
Sir John Rodgers (Cons)
J Scanlan (Lab)
Robert Webster (Lib)
26,670
15,065
15,024
47.0%
26.5%
26.4%
75.7%
Cons Hold
Maj 11,605
Swing C>Lab 1.9%
5 May 1979
Mark Wolfson (Cons)
R H Redden (Lab)
G Phillips (Lib)
M Easter (National Front)
36,697
14,583
11,839
821
57.4%
22.8%
18.5%
1.3%
79.0%
Cons Hold
Maj 22,114
Swing Lab>C 7.1%
Dartford Constituency 1983 - date

The 3rd periodic review of the Boundary Commission ran from 1976 to 1983.  It resulted in the parishes of Hartley, Longfield, Fawkham, Ash cum Ridley and Horton Kirby being moved from Sevenoaks to Dartford constituency.

Boundary changes in 1994 meant that New Ash Green was transferred to Sevenoaks constituency. This had the effect of notionally reducing the Conservative majority in 1992 from 17.2% to 14.7%. Hartley Parish Council then campaigned to be in Sevenoaks too, because they believed (wrongly) that Hartley would be included in plans for the East Thames corridor.

The boundaries were looked at again in 2005. As well as looking at population changes, the commission had to consider recent changes to local government boundaries, which meant for example Hartley and Hodsoll Street ward was split between two constituencies.  This time Hartley's local Conservatives made cause with Labour to favour a move to Sevenoaks Constituency.  The national Conservative party argued for Hartley to remain in Dartford.  Following a 5 day public enquiry held in Ashford the chairman of the enquiry recommended that Hartley remain in Dartford constituency, partly because it would be the minimum change option and partly because evidence from Dartford Borough Council and others that Hartley has more in common with Dartford than Sevenoaks.  He particularly praised Dartford Borough Council's submission as a model for others to follow.  Further details and a transcript of the public enquiry can be found at the archived version of the Boundary Commission's website.


Election leaflets 2005

Dartford is officially the country's "bellweather" seat, in that it has the longest record of being won by the party that wins the election nationally since 1964.  In truth for many years the seat appears to be slipping away from Labour.  The party does not need to win Dartford to win the General Election.  The 12% swing required for Labour to take the seat now would give them a 200 seat majority in the House of Commons if repeated nationally.

In the 2017 election both Labour and Conservatives increased their share of the vote, thanks to the collapse of the UKIP vote.  Their vote in Dartford and Gravesham appears to have split roughly 2-1 in favour of the Conservatives (although this may be disguising switchers from Conservative to Labour).


Dartford Election Results 1983-2017
Date
CandidatesVotesPercent
Turnout

9 Jun 1983
Bob Dunn (Cons)
D Townsend (Lab)
J Mills (Lib/Alliance)
A H Crockford (Fancy Dress)
G E Nye (National Front)
28,199
14,636
11,204
374
282

51.6%
26.8%
20.5%
0.7%
0.5%
76.4%
Boundary Changes
Cons Win
Maj 13,563
11 Jun 1987
Bob Dunn (Cons)
B J Clarke (Lab)
M G Bruce (SDP/Alliance)
Keith Davenport (Fancy Dress)
30,665
15,756
10,439
491

53.5%
27.5%
18.2%
0.9%
79.0%
Cons Hold
Maj 14,929
Swing Lab>C 0.6%
9 Apr 1992
Bob Dunn (Cons)
Howard Stoate (Lab)
Peter Bryden (Libdem)
A Munro (Fancy Dress)
Angela Holland (Natural Law)
31,194
20,880
7,584
262
241

51.9
34.7
12.6
0.4
0.4
83.1%
Cons Hold
Maj 10,314
Swing C>Lab 4.4%
1 May 1997
Howard Stoate (Lab)
Bob Dunn (Cons)
Dorothy Webb (Libdem)
P McHale (BNP)
Peter Homden (Fancy Dress)
James Pollitt (Christian Dem)
25,278
20,950
4,872
424
287
228

48.6%
40.3%
9.4%
0.8%
0.5%
0.4%
74.6%
Lab Gain
Maj 4,328
Swing C>Lab 12.8%
7 Jun 2001
Howard Stoate (Lab)
Bob Dunn (Cons)
Graham Morgan (Libdem)
Mark Croucher (UKIP)
Keith Davenport (Fancy Dress)
21,466
18,160
3,781
989
344

48.0%
40.6%
8.5%
2.2%
0.8%
61.9%
Lab Hold
Maj 3,306
Swing Lab>C 0.5%
5 May 2005
Howard Stoate (Lab)
Gareth Johnson (Cons)
Peter Bucklitsch (Libdem)
Mark Croucher (UKIP)
Michael Tibby (New England)
19,909
19,203
5,036
1,407
1,224

42.6%
41.1%
10.8%
3.0%
2.6%
63.2%
Lab Hold
Maj 706
Swing Lab>C 3.0%
6 May 2010
Gareth Johnson (Cons)
John Adams (Lab)
James Willis (Libdem)
Gary Rogers (English Dem)
Richard Palmer (UKIP)
Stephane Tindame (Independent)
Ernie Crockford (Fancy Dress)
24,428
13,809
7,361
2,178
1,842
264
207

48.8%
27.6%
14.7%
4.3%
3.7%
0.5%
0.4%
65.7%
Cons Gain
Maj 10,628
Swing Lab>C 11.6%
7 May 2015
Gareth Johnson (Cons)
Simon Thomson (Lab)
Elizabeth Jones (UKIP)
Simon Beard (Libdem)
Andy Blatchford (Green)
Steve Uncles (English Dem)
25,870
13,325
10,434
1,454
1,324
211

49.0%
25.4%
19.9%
2.8%
2.5%
0.4%
68.4%
Cons Hold
Maj 12,345
Swing Lab>C 1.2%
8 Jun 2017
Gareth Johnson (Cons)
Bachchu Kaini (Lab)
Ben Fryer (UKIP)
Simon Beard (Libdem)
Andrew Blatchford (Green)
Ola Adewunmi (Ind)
31,210
18,024
2,544
1,428
807
211
57.6%
33.2%
4.7%
2.6%
1.5%
0.4%
69.8%
Cons Hold
Maj 13,186
Swing Lab>C 0.4%
The future - Gravesham?

The Conservative government in 2010 passed a law to reduce the the number of constituencies nationwide from 650 to 600 (strangely enough commentators noted that the main beneficiaries of doing this would be the Conservatives themselves!) Needless to say this has the effect of increasing the electoral quota for each seat (that is the number electors per MP). While the existing Dartford seat met the quota, some of the surrounding seats did not, this led the Boundary Commission to propose moving Hartley into an expanded Gravesend seat.

The proposal was supported by the local Conservative and Labour parties, Labour's reasoning was that they preferred the whole of Dartford and Gravesham boroughs to be in one constituency. The Liberal Democrats however suggested that the numbers to make up Gravesend should come from Wrotham and 2 other wards in Tonbridge and Malling, they would then have added Ash parish to Dartford too. There were 4 replies from Hartley, all favoured staying in Dartford, one reluctantly supported the recommendations by acknowledging the rules the Commmission has to work under and saying Gravesend was the second best option. Hartley Parish Council having opposed staying in Dartford in the 2003 review was now in favour of staying in Dartford. The Boundary Commission upheld the proposals as regards Hartley, but accepted another proposal that Hextable and not Horton Kirby should be in the Dartford seat. Once again it was suggested that the borders of Dartford Borough are wrong and should include more parishes to the south.

One counter proposal which had a lot of support was to move Swanscombe (and possibly Southfleet too) to the Gravesend seat and include Hartley and other parishes in the Dartford seat, because Swanscombe and Southfleet clearly look to Gravesend more than Dartford. The commission rejected this because it would involve splitting Dartford Borough between two seats.

The new boundaries were due to come into force in 2013, but parliament decided to postpone the review until 2018. The new government has pledged to reinstate them then.
Background Reading
History of Parliament website (with a few gaps, gives a list of MPs and election results where known from 1386 to 1832)

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