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Results & Constituencies
 
 Bedfordshire South West
Other Conservative hold
Name Party Votes % +/- %
Andrew Selous Conservative 18,477 42.1 +1.4
Andrew Date Labour 17,701 40.4 -0.1
Martin Pantling Liberal Democrat 6,473 14.8 +0.5
Tom Wise UK Independence 1,203 2.7 +1.9
Majority 776 1.8
Turnout 43,854 60.8 -15.0
Swing
Against 1997 General Election 0.8% from Labour to Conservative

Description
Bedfordshire South West might appear, at first glance, to be another Tory stronghold but Sir David Madel, who has been MP here for 30 years, retained his seat by a mere 132 votes in 1997.

Dunstable, which lies on the seat's eastern border with Luton, is the constituency's largest town. It is nearly all-white, unlike its larger neighbour Luton, and is dominated by owner-occupied semi-detached housing.

The town is traditionally associated with the motor trade, though it has suffered from the closure in recent years of AWB Trucks and Renault Trucks' plants in the area. Despite this, unemployment in the constituency as a whole is below the national average.

Leighton Buzzard in the west of the seat is the only other main town. There are still jobs in motor manufacturing here as well as in light industry, distribution and other services. BOSS Trucks, Gossard and Liptons are all based in Leighton Buzzard and in nearby rural areas, employment can be found in a number of smaller manufacturing units as well as in agriculture.

The constituency is increasingly reliant on tourism, with Whipsnade Zoo, stately homes and the Chiltern Hills being the main attractions. In common with the other Bedfordshire constituencies, this seat has a relatively small proportion of pensioners.

Past Results

1997 General Election
 Bedfordshire South West
Conservative hold
Name Party Votes %
David Madel Conservative 21,534 40.7
Andrew Date Labour 21,402 40.5
Stephen Owen Liberal Democrat 7,559 14.3
Rosalind Hill Referendum 1,761 3.3
Thomas Wise UK Independence 446 0.8
Alexander Le Carpentier Natural Law 162 0.3
Majority 132 0.2
Turnout 52,864 75.8
 
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