Barrow & Furness

2015 Result:
Conservative: 17525 (40.5%)
Labour: 18320 (42.3%)
Lib Dem: 1169 (2.7%)
Green: 1061 (2.5%)
UKIP: 5070 (11.7%)
Independent: 130 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 795 (1.8%)

Category: Ultra-marginal Labour seat

Geography: North West, Cumbria. The whole of the Barrow in Furness council area and part of the South Lakeland council area.

Main population centres: Barrow in Furness, Ulverston, Broughton in Furness.

Profile: The Furness peninsula and the area to the north of it. Barrow itself is an important industrial town, a major deepwater port and shipbuilding town, one of few sites capable of constructing nuclear submarines. It is also important for energy generation, with the Roosecote Power Station, the terminals for the Morecambe Bay gas field, servicing major offshore wind farms in the Irish sea. Note that the town and the council are called Barrow IN Furness, but since 1983 the seat has been called Barrow AND Furness.

Politics: This is a Labour leaning seat, represented by the party for most of the time since the second world war. The exception was 1983-1992 when the Conservatives won the seat, perhaps due to Labour`s then support for nuclear disarmament and the constituency`s connection with submarine building..

Current MP
JOHN WOODCOCK (Labour) Born 1978, Sheffield. Educated at Edinburgh University. Former special advisor to Gordon Brown. First elected as MP for Barrow and Furness in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 16018 (36%)
Lab: 21226 (48%)
LDem: 4424 (10%)
UKIP: 841 (2%)
Oth: 1615 (4%)
MAJ: 5208 (12%)
Con: 11323 (31%)
Lab: 17360 (48%)
LDem: 6130 (17%)
UKIP: 758 (2%)
Oth: 922 (3%)
MAJ: 6037 (17%)
Con: 11835 (30%)
Lab: 21724 (56%)
LDem: 4750 (12%)
UKIP: 711 (2%)
MAJ: 9889 (25%)
Con: 13133 (27%)
Lab: 27630 (57%)
LDem: 4264 (9%)
Oth: 1995 (4%)
MAJ: 14497 (30%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
SIMON FELL (Conservative) Born Lancashire. Educated at Warwick University.
JOHN WOODCOCK (Labour) See above.
CLIVE PEAPLE (Liberal Democrat) Retired headteacher.
ROBERT O`HARA (Green) Small businessman and former teacher.
IAN JACKSON (Independent)
Comments - 197 Responses on “Barrow & Furness”
  1. I doubt if John Woodcock will be on Jeremy Corbyn’s Xmas card list anytime soon but he owes him for this remarkable hold – 205 votes – in a seat where Labour should have been dead in the water.

  2. John Woodcock has been suspended from the party.

  3. John Woodcock says his suspension is a stitch-up:

    Pretty shocking if true. Suspending your political opponents on false charges is Putinesque behaviour.

  4. Pretty shocking if untrue. If he’s falsely accusing the NEC of making up sexual harassment claims that’s the kind of behaviour I’d expect of George Galloway.

    I notice none of the other MPs suspended from the party whip due to ongoing investigations into sexual harassment accusations have withdrawn their cooperation. I haven’t heard Ivan Lewis accusing the NEC of silencing him as a Corbyn sceptic.

  5. Well, I guess we’re both showing our own partisan bias here. There’s no evidence really, one way or the other.

    It is possible that both sides are acting in good faith, of course. The problem with sexual harassment is that men (and it is always men) do not always recognise that they are crossing boundaries. Even a woman asking politely for him to back off can be rationalised as her “playing hard to get”. Quite plausible that Woodcock has been seriously misbehaving, and doesn’t even realise it.

  6. Don’t get me wrong I do not assume to believe John Woodcock is guilty of sexual harassment and it’s quite likely that much like in the other cases there is no way for sure to prove that he did sexually harass someone.

    Some of his letter I agree with. It may well be better if these cases were handed over to an independent inquiry. They would be legal and independent adjudicators that couldn’t be accused of personal bias or having a personal interest. If there are found guilty they may need to start criminal proceedings.

    Though some will still accuse them of allowing a sex pest off scot free or fuelling a witch hunt, etc. In most cases accusations of sexual harassment aren’t upheld even in court because there is just almost no way of knowing for definite and people still often feel rightly that they’ve got away with it

  7. Paul D – we sometimes get news items which are embargoed until a certain time (usually for legal reasons).

    Govt, councils, police etc also supply the media with advance notice of events, so that copy is produced and ready to go to publication or so a reporter and photographer can be present, as you suggest.

  8. Incidentally, Rivers10 returned and had a discussion with PT on this thread I thought yesterday?

    It appears to have been removed today, however?

  9. John Woodcock would be more than welcome in the Conservative party and I’m puzzled as to why he has not defected yet as he is in a relationship with Isabel Hardman.

  10. Because he’s Labour through and through and wouldn’t be the first Labour MP in love with a Tory

  11. And indeed two of Labour’s five post war prime ministers were married to Tories….though they were very discreet about it there’s no mistaking the political preferences of Mrs Attlee and Mrs Wilson were not Labour.

  12. But the story of how they became involved – they were both in Nice at the time of the terrorist attack there a few years back, and her hotel was off-limits for safety reasons so he offered to share his room – is pretty heartwarming regardless of your politics.

  13. John Woodcock’s done well in that respect

    I think they share a history of suffering from depression

    And whilst Hardman’s from the Right, I wouldn’t really describe her as a Tory.

    She’s a reporter/analyser of political news rather than a creator of it

    A bit like say Andrew Neil, whose personal right wing views are irrelevant to his role and effectiveness as a pundit

  14. Today’s politics isn’t the place to be for those of a sane disposition who re prone to depression….just looking at the state of the Labour and Tory parties (and the US) from the outside is enough to make one feel very down in the dumps.

    We are lucky that governments and politicians have so little power and so much less impact on the economy these days than in decades past. Had this shitshow of politicians presided in say the 1980s they would have caused an economic calamity unprecedented in modern times. Fortunately in the modern global people are much more able to shrug them off and carry on with their lives and businesses as normal – at least they’ve been able to do so so far.

  15. There are quite a lot of people I know politically active who suffer from depression. Personally I think positive action can really help. When you see what you’re doing is changing lives for the better. I’ve felt quite down for some months but while canvassing this bloke said to me he was fed up with rubbish strewn across his road so I said to my cllr can we clean it up and get bin put in. 2 weeks later it’s being put in place and I think well that wouldnt be there if I hadnt said something. Stuff like that makes life worth it

  16. Matthew Parris has written about how those in elected politics disproportionately suffer from mental health disorders. Makes sense as few people with a normal mental balance would find politics a rewarding career.

    With national politics on both sides such a mess, I can see the attraction of focusing on pavement politics in your local patch.

  17. Tbf that’s how it’s always been. With both my parents being cllrs and dragged along to council meetings when I was still a babe in arms I’ve kind of brought up into it. I don’t find macro economics that interesting but if you want to talk about allocated grant, adult social precept, local plan, etc. I am your man. Voters have never talked about national politics either; its always parking, buses and highways. That’s the stuff that matters and you can really change lives by getting someone a stairlift, a disabled parking space, resurfacing dangerous roads, etc.

  18. John Woodcock MP has left the Party to sit as an Independent and was noted as such at PMQs today.

    In his resignation letter he repeats his criticisms of Corbyn, including anti-Semitism and his failure to condemn it sufficiently and that he would be a danger to national security as PM.

    BBC NW News interviewed 10 random people in Barrow and most said he was right to do so and that he’d been good for the town.

  19. Woodcock is maybe resigning to protect himself from investigation over sexual harassment.

    The disciplinary process, as with every other such case, is handled by the elected NCC, which is, I understand, not run by the Left.

  20. What happens to that investigation now? Can parliamentary authorities do anything?

  21. He will launch his own independent investigation. If found guilty then it’s up to the victim to proceed with a civil or criminal prosecution

  22. In an interview with BBC North West Tonight, John Woodcock MP says other Labour MPs will follow him and leave the Party.

    He declined to be drawn on names, but confirmed he has spoken to 2 today who have confirmed they will decide during the Recess.

  23. I’ll believe it when it happens.

  24. /\/\This

  25. I tend to agree with you.

    I suppose it’s at least some progress that Tristan hasn’t attacked the messenger for a change.

    The only (NW MP at least) I can foresee jumping would be Graham Stringer.

    Frank Field won’t – unless deselected and then he’d probably win as an Ind anyway or just retire in 2022.

    Jonathan Reynolds didn’t disagree with anything Nigel Evans said on the last NW Politics Show before Recess – which seemed odd, but maybe they just get on well.

  26. I could be wrong but isn’t Graham Stringer a member of the SCG?

    Johnny Reynolds is also in the shadow cabinet

  27. John Woodcock was right after all.

  28. and you weren’t must be a first to concede that 😉

  29. Predicting the odd Labour MP is going to leave the party is hardly the work of some esteemed oracle. It has been happening every now and then since Noah were a lad, even at the height of New Labour the odd MP flounced off (the MP for Shrewsbury sticks in my head in particular). Same with the Tories as well. I’m yet to be convinced there will be a flood of resignations, more likely a couple of the most bitter malcontents while the Chukkas and Kendalls wait it out.

  30. Apparently Clare Short too didn’t realise resigning the whip meant leaving the party

  31. That’s a pretty good comparison actually. Short, like Field, was a highly principled loner not a team player, and similarly mucked up her resignation by leaving it too late.

  32. John Woodcock is not voting for the no-confidence motion.

    Very brave.

  33. Is it? He’s not looking to be re-delected and re-elected in Barrow. He can what he want.

  34. Brave in that it will make him a pariah in the commons even among the Labour moderates who agree with him on most things. Existing like that for another 3 years would be miserable.

  35. There was no pairing in the vote.

    No..325 votes. 314 CON 1 IND* 10 DUP. the tory deputy spker didn’t vote, plus the 2 tellers.

    5 Lab MPs or Independent “Lab”, did NOT vote for the Labour motion of No Confidence. Lab MPs Paul Flynn and Rosie Winterton didnt vote. Also 3 “Labour” Independents…Fiona Onasanya, Woodcock and Ivan Lewis.

    Has the pairing system completely broken down?? – Flynn is seriously ill and I think Winterton was also unable to attend

  36. * IND was Sylvia Hermon (NI unionist)

  37. Rosie Winterton is a Deputy Speaker.

  38. Even in the more gentlemanly days of 1979 there was no pairing in the No Confidence vote which brought down Callaghan (notwithstanding the famous personal agreement between Walter Harrison and Bernard Weatherill). So I’m not surprised there was no pairing on this. Though the government was never likely to lose, the vote was always going to be quite close and reliant on the whims of the DUP.

    The meaningful vote on the Brexit deal and Tulip Sidiq’s theatrics are a different kettle of fish. There was no reason why she needed to attend that vote and put her child’s wellbeing at risk.

  39. “Has the pairing system completely broken down??”

    Worth saying also that the pairing system completely broke down in the dog days of the Major government, due to the Tories allegedly cheating on a close vote. Labour refused any more pairing for quite some time after that, causing Major’s government many a sleepless night. But when Blair was elected with a big majority, normality resumed and the pairing system went back to normal.

    It’s fair to say I think that the pairing system almost always comes under a lot of strain during periods where the government has little or no majority.

  40. John Woodcock has confirmed he will stand against labour at the next election and he is involved launching a new centre left party. Not sure someone who’s faced the allegations he faced would be that welcome in a new party just launching.

  41. I general, the New Centrist Party(TM) is going to have to work out how it doesn’t just come across as a coalition of losers.

  42. I’d be interested to know if this guy has any personal following whatsoever in the town.

  43. Probably a small amount but not enough to beat both main parties.

  44. Unsurprisingly John Woodcock has urged voters to vote Conservative.

    As well as the billboard unveiling with Ian Austin, he’s sent out a retirement letter to voters here, which ends with that conclusion.

    There were rumours that John Mann would do likewise but personally I doubt that. He was supporting the new Bassetlaw Lab PPC until the NEC intervened.

    I think the next ex-Lab MP to tell voters not to vote Labour is more likely to be a different Friends of Israel member such as Jane Kennedy or Louise Ellman or Stephen Twigg.

  45. Through the later 3 will not be encouraging tory votes as all three are strong remainers.

  46. Tories 15 points ahead here according to MRP. Jounalists say it fits with what they hear.

    And indeed two of Labour’s five post war prime ministers were married to Tories….though they were very discreet about it there’s no mistaking the political preferences of Mrs Attlee and Mrs Wilson were not Labour.
    July 4th, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    I’ve heard about Violet Attlee several times. But Mary Wilson’s obituary suggests otherwise:
    ‘She also had strong leftwing political convictions of her own. She was a Bevanite in the 1950s and a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and, as a critic of the Common Market – as the European Union was known – voted against Britain’s continued membership in the 1975 referendum.
    She was very careful never to criticise any of her husband’s successors, but in the only lengthy newspaper interview of her life, which she gave at the age of 90 to the party’s former deputy leader Roy Hattersley, she continued to describe herself as “old Labour”.’

    I was surprised to hear about Woodcock and Hardman, but I can imagine the behaviour of his party has put him off the left. There were rumours that he was going to defect to the Tories but I couldn’t see it. Been a while since any MPs did go Lab->Con and vice versa. Incidentally, Lancs Observer has mentioned camp politicians here before, and I always found Woodcock very camp. Of course it’s perfectly possible for straight men to come across that way, as gay men aren’t always camp. None of the gay MPs could be called ‘camp’ as far as I can see.

    Of course, Woodcock pulled out of the election when Hardman’s pregnancy was announced. Someone on these pages predicted that B&F would have the biggest swing to the Tories of any of their gains, but in fact it was only 6.5%, and the Tory majority is now 12.6%, so still fairly marginal.

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