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 - 79 Responses on “Barrow & Furness”
  1. I don’t quite know what will happen to Labour in 2020 yet, as it is clearly still far too early to draw too many conclusions- but I would have guessed that Corbyn will maybe struggle to stop the Tories getting a majority of at least 30, and at the top end of his ambitions will probably be to get a Hung Parliament which would benefit him and the SNP I would have guessed.

  2. It’s just pointless to say that without knowing how Corbyn is going to lead (looking for consensus, or full tilt leftwards?), what the economic situation is going to be in 2020, what will happen with the Euro-referendum, and who will be leading the Tories by then. You seem to be just assuming that none of these things will have a huge impact.

  3. Hence the caveat…

  4. Given that predicting five years ahead is totally meaningless, the caveat is by far the most worthwhile part of your post.

  5. What I’m trying to say is I did say at the beginning of my post that it was way too early to say FOR CERTAIN- that was the caveat.

  6. And just because I didn’t mention any of those things you refer to does not mean I am blissfully unaware of the likelihood of such things maybe happening.

  7. Are you making a prediction or not? Saying that, if Corbyn wins, it’s possible that the best he can do is keeping the Tories to a slightly increased majority, or maybe a hung parliament, or maybe none of these things is hardly telling us much.

  8. Simon – It doesn’t matter how Corbyn leads the party… Whether from the centre-left, left, extreme left

    The English electorate will have already made up their minds about him. He will lose badly. And for those few people who haven’t made up their minds the Tories have plentiful ammunition.

    but then again I may be completely wrong and Britain will leave NATO, abolish our armed forces and hike taxes to 60%

    Even 25% for Labour at the next election would be a disaster and lead to dozens of losses.

  9. ‘The English electorate will have already made up their minds about him. He will lose badly. And for those few people who haven’t made up their minds the Tories have plentiful ammunition.’

    That’s right

    Recent history shows us that when opposition parties elect leaders to satisfy their base – although in the case of Corbyn I’m not even sure Labour are doing that – they tend to suffer at the polls, and that’s usually regardless of how poorly the current government is performing

    Notwithstanding the political effects of Falklands War, the first Thatcher government’s domestic policies were deeply unpopular and yet she got back in in a landslide victory against a left-wing Labour Party led by Michael Foot and standing on a political platform almost identical to that Corbyn is advocating today – 32 years later

    Likewise, Duncan Smith’s stint as leader coincided with 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror, where Blair’s approach in backing American military action wherever they deemed it fit – first Afghanistan, then Iraq – was deeply unpopular with voters from all sides of the political divide, and yet IDS was unable to make any headway with the Tories flat lining on 30%.

    If Labour elect Corbyn on Saturday you don’t have to be Einstein to work out they will go the same way – and what should worry Labour most is that goaded by this the Tories might be tempted to pursue policies they wouldn’t otherwise dream of if they had an effective and popular opposition party against them

  10. I’m sorry Tim but what you’ve just posted isn’t correct. Either you’re ignorant or a liar! Corbyn’s policies are not exactly the same as Foot’s in 1983. The 1983 manifesto committed Labour to:

    – Leave the then EEC, Corbyn has said he wants an EU that protects workers rights and is therefore against what some Tories want UK withdrawal from the Social Chapter. Boris Johnson said this is what he wants!
    – Nationalise all FTSE100 companies, Corbyn wants to renationalise the railways and electricity companies. Most European countries have nationalised railways that are more efficient and therefore cost less than ours. Australia, one of the most successful capitalist countries in the world has nationalised electricity companies.

    Also you keep banging on about the Tories bringing in massively right wing policies because of a “weak” opposition under Corbyn but you don’t deny these would be deeply unpopular so would be counter productive. If the Tories did privatise the NHS, one of the policies you suggested they might implement because of a “weak” opposition, a turd on a stick could lead the Labour Party and the Tories would still lose!

    Corbyn is popular with young people and is the only candidate capable of winning seats back in Scotland judging by the evidence presented by the academics on the recent BBC Parliament programme, “Who won the UK General Election and why?” I wouldn’t be so confident of a Tory 2020 win particularly as people haven’t felt their tax credit cuts yet and as Vince Cable said to Andrew Marr on Sunday the economy is only superficially strong.

  11. tim jones,

    The problem for the Tories in the 2000’s in relation to IDS and Iraq was the fact IDS backed military action on the terms that Blair initiated! IDS was clearly out of his depth and even Conservatives were worried about voting for him should he have lasted to 2005. Interestingly IDS seems to have ideological purity at the top of his list when pursuing policies on welfare that will repel middle of the road tory voters.

    Indeed, my observations of the sanctioning policy of jobseekers allowance recipients leads me to believe the sooner IDS is removed from DWP the better.

    Corbyn has a perfect storm coming in the guise of a new recession whose roots are in the far east. If the economy dips into recession who says People’s QE would not be popular, the only downside to it in my opinion would be the fact that in a global market you would experience significant leakage.

    I do think that some of Corbyn’s previous viewpoints on International relations and defence policy are ill advised but then again Britain is not the major player it was even 30 years ago in some respects. The voters who fought in world war 2 have mostly died and the memory of Britain as a great power has diminished. With a second Falkland’s war unlikely I do not believe a watered down Corbyn defence policy would be such a problem as Labour’s defence policy circa 1983.

  12. There’s some minor differences between Corbyn and Foot but they both essentially speak to an increasingly narrow segment of the electorate – way too narrow to get elected

    I’d argue today’s electorate is considerably to the Right of that in 1983 – and the post war ideals of egalitarianism and paternalism are sadly dead. Both rich and poor have become disillusioned with the whole welfare state and ideas like a flat tax and even privatising the health service would have considerably more support than any socialist would dare admit.

    As somebody who personally strongly opposes both ideas it gives me no pleasure in saying in but the British electorate, specifically the English electorate is increasingly Right Wing – another reason why Corbyn would go down so badly

  13. @apollocyclops36 Corbyn’s views of international relations and people of extremist viewpoints he has associated himself with are far, far more than ill advised they are extremely dangerous especially if he becomes leader of the opposition and thus a potential prime minister. These views alone are completely and utterly out of whack with mainstream public opinion and will likely alienate everyone who is not a die hard left winger. The media will not let the public forget this, they only reason they are being quiet at the moment is they are crossing there fingers and hoping Labour sleepwalk over the electoral cliff, its the calm before the media storm beginning this Saturday.

    I do think left wingers are kidding themselves when they talk about ‘Corbynmania’ and how he is ‘immensely popular’. While this may be true of the Labour base it is far from true of the electorate at large. It also most isn’t true of the PLP who will seek to undermine him at every turn, I guess payback for him defying the whip all those times, what goes around comes around I guess. I wonder what Corbyn will do at PMQs with the loyal support of precious few in the chamber, should be an interesting watch.

  14. I don’t think Corbyn is the ideal candidate, but I think that the mainstream analysis is both lazy and one-sided.

    There are very substantial risks for Labour in opting for what you might call a continuity approach. It should be noted that Labour lost ground both to parties on its left (SNP, Greens) and to the right (UKIP, Tories). They only avoided an absolutely catastrophic result because of the collapse of the Lib Dems. That suggests to me, at least, that the problem is more than just one of exacrly where Labour should position itself ideologically. If they move to the left or right somewhat, but everything else is the same, I don’t think they can expect a radically better result. I can’t see the likes of Burnham coming up with much beyond the same old stuff reheated again.

    I think a lot of the problem is related to the question of what Labour stands for nowadays. Is it just to be broadly like the Tories, but being a bit nicer to people who are struggling, or is it more than that? If so, what is it? Most people could give you a pretty good idea of what the Tories stand for – cutting tax and spending less, sceptical of Europe, pro-business etc. I think they could do much the same for UKIP, the SNP or the Greens, especially if any of those parties are attractive to them. I’m not sure that they could for Labour, and I think there would be much greater variety in those answers that you do get for Labour. I think a lot of the appeal of Corbyn is that he has answers to these sorts of questions. To an extent, Liz Kendall does too, but the Labour Party as a whole doesn’t like her answers. Cooper and Burnham don’t even seem to think that there are issues to be discussed here.

  15. ‘To an extent, Liz Kendall does too, but the Labour Party as a whole doesn’t like her answers.’

    She seems to the only candidate who understands the British electorate and how the Labour Party is perceived by much of it – but as you say she seems to be disliked by those in her party almost as much as Blair or Mandelson as her answers aren’t the ones Labour wants to hear

    She deserves better although I’m not sure the Labour Party does

  16. Well, that leads to a different question, doesn’t it? If the electorate don’t think the same things as you do, are you better to try and persuade them that you are right, or to change your mind to match the electorate? Obviously, in the real world, you need to do a bit of both, but I think that one of the problems the mainstream Labour candidates (including Kendall) have had is that it isn’t clear to most people on which areas they’d seek to lead public opinion rather than moving to match it.

  17. Kendall understands the electorate and how Labour needs to moderate itself for vast swathes of the public for whom Corbyn (outside that echo chamber of his most ardent fans), but she has run such an uninspiring campaign. She sounds like a policy wonk or think tank researcher when she should be conveying New Labour values in ways that are actually understandable and which ordinary people can relate to.

    Those Newsnight focus groups a few weeks ago showed that even if Corbyn (who they all disliked) wasn’t on the ballot she’d have a struggle as they didn’t like her tone despite many talking up Blair. Cooper was the one who they liked most and ironically she is one of the two ‘continuity’ candidates, again suggesting that she’s much, much better at convincing voters than Miliband was.

  18. Of course a big part of the reason Corbyn is doing well is because of the uninspiring campaigns and if truth be told personalities of the other candidates

    Cooper and Burnham are too similar to Milliband – and look certain to go along the same cautious, left-wing direction remembering to criticise New Labour for brownie points from their own side, despite the fact they were both part of it

    Whilst Labour are unlikely to go backwards under either these two they seem unlikely to make any real progress either


    I did respond to your posts last night bit for some reason it’s ‘waiting for moderation’ so watch this space…

  19. Corbyn’s popularity varies considerably across the country. My guess is that Labour goes into the 2020 election under Corbyn they will do badly in Barrow cmpared to other seat (for instance in much of London).

    If the LibDems adopt the plan to replace Trident with a cheaper deterrent, pending mutlilateral disarmament, it will not help them in this seat, where the town more or less depends on bullding Trident and attack submarines.

  20. I can imagine the Tories taking this over the nuclear issue in 2020. Realistically the limits of Liberal aspirations here are probably a held deposit.

  21. Had to laugh at Frederic’s comment. We have been “pending multilateral disarmament” since the 1950s, and we shall be no nearer to it when all of us are dead & buried. Trident is necessary if only not to pile the burden of European defence entirely onto America’s shoulders.

  22. I’ll laugh with you, H. Hemmelig. I was reporting the proposed LibDem policy, not approving of it.

    Mind you, the assumption that we will all be “dead and buried” does suggest that the treaties a generation ago to limit nuclear armaments have had a considerable amount of success. In the 1960s, many people were fearing vaporisation.

  23. Yes your last sentence is very true, indeed the fear of vaporisation lasted well into the early 1980s….if I remember correctly there was renewed fear of nuclear war in the 1980-85 period, with Reagan’s hard line rhetoric worrying many. I vividly recall watching Threads as a terrified schoolboy at around this time. The emergence of Gorbachev is what thawed this in the late 80s and eventually led to the end of the cold war.

  24. ‘with Reagan’s hard line rhetoric worrying many.’

    And that’s all it was – rhetoric

    Although Gorbachev was the catalyst, I think Reagan played a huge part in ending the Cold War – but not in the way he likes to portray it with his tough talk and arms build up, but by actually going over to Russia and holding a host of constructive meetings with Gorbachev and actually listening him

    Reagan was known for trusting his own instincts over that of his advisers. I don’t think Jimmy Carter or George H Bush would have approached it like that

  25. “Yes your last sentence is very true, indeed the fear of vaporisation lasted well into the early 1980s….if I remember correctly there was renewed fear of nuclear war in the 1980-85 period, with Reagan’s hard line rhetoric worrying many. I vividly recall watching Threads as a terrified schoolboy at around this time. The emergence of Gorbachev is what thawed this in the late 80s and eventually led to the end of the cold war.”

    9 weeks at number one in the summer of 1984 for Two Tribes by Frankie Goes To Hollywood: “Mine is the last voice you will ever hear. Don’t be alarmed.” Words read by the same person who did the government’s nuclear meltdown information videos, Patrick Allen.

  26. Unlike many seats where a reduced Lab majority was merely down to Lab>LD in 2005 or Lab>UKIP in 2010/2015, this is the only seat in the NW where the Tory vote increased at every General since ’97. It may go Tory next time even without Corbyn.

  27. I think it’s extremely possible that all but Westmoreland & Lonsdale could go Conservative and remain that way. Barrow will definitely go first, Workington and Copeland could take another election although I wouldn’t be surprised if they fall in 2020.

  28. …In terms of Cumbria seats.

  29. Well Cumbria will be reduced to 5 seats in the next boundary review, something like:

    Carlisle (semi-safe Tory).

    Mid Cumbria (safe Tory)

    Workington and Whitehaven (semi-safe Labour)

    South West Cumbria (Tory marginal)

    Westmorland and Lonsdale (safe Lib Dem)

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