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. Am I right in think the MP here stands for the Co-Operative Party as well as Labour?

    Perhaps Anthony might amend the biographies of the MPs concerned to show if they are Labour and Co-operative, rather than just Labour. This has not recently been very important, but it may be significant at the next General Election.

  2. John Woodcock MP: “I’m depressed and I’ve decided to get help”

    All those years carrying bags for Gordon Brown is enough to make anyone depressed

  3. Well that is a very unpleasant thing to say I’m afraid.

    How much do people who post on here actually know about me BTW……………………?

    Is it any wonder there are now so many Historians, NHS, ,charity workers etc in the Labour party now either………..?

    And Gordon Brown was not a good PM but I usually judge people based on a range of factors.

  4. Prediction for 2015-
    Woodcock (Labour)- 53%
    Conservative- 33%
    UKIP- 7%
    Liberal Democrat- 6%
    Others- 1%

  5. The reason I found Hemellig’s views on John Woodcock so troubling are that I have a physical neurological condition (i.e. a narrow cerebral aqueduct so I have a VP shunt which has blocked and required multiple operations over my life)

    I have been accused of having mental health problems and having panic attacks before by people who should have known better. Pressure built up in my skull 9 years ago, which was not treated promptly enough and I was gravely ill and I do not wish that on anyone else.

    I don’t have a medical background but know a surprsing amount about neurology, other medical conditions and even belatedly a bit about psychology now.

  6. I am sorry that you do not enjoy the best of physical health & wish you well for the future. I also applaud John Woodcock for being grown-up and honest with his constituents and hope that he enjoys better mental health in the years to come.

  7. And just for the avoidance of doubt I’m not someone who takes any pills or anything whatsoever.

    All I do is try and think about absolutely everything properly all the time which other people don’t bother to do.

    Hard to know where to ‘draw the line’ with people though!

  8. “The reason I found Hemellig’s views on John Woodcock so troubling are that I have a physical neurological condition (i.e. a narrow cerebral aqueduct so I have a VP shunt which has blocked and required multiple operations over my life)”

    Can you please show me where I have expressed any view on John Woodcock’s illness? All I did was link to the story and remark on how stressful it must have been to work for Gordon Brown, which after all is a well documented fact.

    We are all very sorry to hear about your problems but its a strange way to try to elicit sympathy by constantly slandering other posters and inventing things they haven’t said. Anthony told you to give it a rest yesterday so why don’t you listen to him and focus on the psephology.

  9. Gordon Brown’s office must have sometimes seemed like the Victorian Bedlam.

  10. John Woodcock has announced he’s training to be a classroom assistant one day per week.

  11. After the Euro election result, this can no longer be considered a safe Labour seat. Labour polled 4297, Ukip polled 4096. Had fake party ‘An Independence from Europe’ who polled 197 not been allowed to stand by the unfit for purpose Electoral Commission, the margin may have been as little as 4 votes.

  12. By-election took place today in Walney South . I believe the last local by-election before GE day. The by-election was for the county division but the district ward has the exact same boundaries. By-election caused by Labour Cllr resigning to move back to Scotland after divorcing John Woodcock MP.

    Result: Lab 727 UKIP 239 Con 181.
    Compared to most recent contest in that ward/divsion (2013 county elections) Lab +1.97 UKIP +3.32 Con -5.29.
    Comparing to 2010 district elections which took place on GE day, the changes are Lab -2.21 Con -18.61 (it was a straight fight back then).

  13. Labour Hold. 6,000 majority.

  14. Labour majority reduced to 795 votes. Trident must have been a factor.

  15. IF the Government increase defence spending, and decide to order more submarines to be built in Barrow, would that help the conservative at the next election, do you think?

  16. Trident was the defining factor at the last election here – the message got through that trident would be under threat if an SNP/Labour coalition governed and the Labour candidate went so far as to sign a pledge saying that he wouldn’t vote for scrapping Trident.

    Increased Tory submarine spending isn’t going to do any harm but it’s only where a Labour government potentially threatens the overall future of the yard that this seat has switched in the past. Presuming policies on Trident remain the same then if an SNP/Labour coalition is on the cards in 2020 it could go; if not, expect a swing back to Labour.

  17. If Corbyn wins the Labour leadership election this seat will probably be doomed to fall to the Tories at the next election due to Corbyn’s stances on Trident. Though if the Labour Party membership feel like throwing away seats like this due to some left wing ‘crusade’ be my guest :D.

  18. I think you’re right.

  19. Yep I completely agree. Corbyn with his views on immigration and defence will go down very badly here. Personally I will strongly consider voting tory if corbyn is the Labour leader.

  20. Who did you vote for at the general election?

  21. I voted LD in the end. Though I was undecided for a long time between LD/LAB. I sometimes vote tory in the locals but never in a national election.

  22. This was a terrible result for Labour and I’m sure the slenderness of the majority came as a big shock to John Woodcock. What is interesting however is to note how well Labour actually did here in 2010 in increasing their vote share, so I just wonder if this time round the swing to the Tories was partly a correction of the eccentric increase of five years ago as well as issues surrounding Trident, as this seat has gone against the national trend more than once in the past?

  23. It is grim how symbolic Trident has become regardless of how technically efficient it is and how relevant it is to the UK’s over-stretched defence needs.

    I recently read a magazine “Warship” in which, on the basis of defence leaks, it is implied that both Trident and Polaris before it have always had major technological problems which are inherent in the weapons system, and which cannot be put right without the procurement of a replacement system.

    My guess, leaving aside CND considerations, is that if the UK wants a nucklear deterrent that works it would probably have to be built by a different UK manufacturer, presumably a start-up company. I also suspect that it would not be based on submarine systems which are completely obsollete. We might as well have a fleet of Dreadnought battleships.

    If rational procuremment of the nuclear deterrent would cost the Tories this seat, iis it really worth £100 billion to save it? There is no way the Tories or anybody else would waste £100 billion in any other area iof government just to win one or two constituencies. So why will they do so for a defence system? Note that nothing in this post suggests that the UK should get rid of the nuclear deterrent.

    An immeidate point is that the nuclear deterrrent should be included in the current defence review and not given “holy cow” status.

    Who knows? If the Tories improved the efficiency of our defence industries they might actually win votes in defence related consitituencies.

    Let me stress again. Nothing in this post advocates that we should abandon the nuclear deterrent..It does advocate that if we have such a deterrent it should acutally work and that there are electoral implications if it does not.

  24. I’m beginning to think John Woodcock could be in a lot of trouble here in 2020 if Corbyn is indeed leading the Labour Party into the next election- This seat would not respond well to hisstyle very well I don’t think and although Woodcock is clearly a respected enough MP locally whose stance on Trident no doubt saved him this time, it might not be enough for him in five years from now and I think the Tories may view this as a top target if they’re wanting to make further progress against Labour, particularly in the North.

    I would predict for 2020 at this very early stage-
    Conservative- 41%
    Woodcock (Labour)- 39%
    UKIP- 17%
    Green- 2%
    Liberal Democrat- 1%

  25. The Results. I agree. Presumably the Conservatives would win as UKIP are in third place 30% behind, which is too big an ask.

    I can see a UKIP surge in Labour held working-class seats though. But in Cumbria they might be better to concentrate on Workington, for which I have just posted.

  26. Yes in Workington UKIP are much better positioned to potentially launch an attack on the seat, also because the Tories decreased in vote share unlike here where they got a very good vote share increase. Here the Tories are the clear challengers for the seat, and so it stands to reason that John Woodcock will probably be one of the most active constituency MPs over the next five years- whether it will be enough to narrowly save him from defeat is another matter however.

  27. If the number of seats in Cumbria is reduce by one, presumably voters will be moved into this constituency from Copeland, which Labour would prefer, or Westmoreland. It doesn’t look good for Labour.

  28. If Corbyn wins the MP might be the first to resign and force a by election. He said 4 weeks before the general election that he’d resign if Labour didn’t build Trident.


  29. Frederic even if this seat expands into Copeland it would be taking Conservative inclined wards and would get nowhere near Labour’s stronghold of Whitehaven. At the aborted review the Boundary Commission wanted to add these wards: Newtown, Haverigg, Holborn Hill, Millom Without, Bootle, and Seascale. These wards all voted for the Tories at this years local elections. While Labour are fairly competitive in the first three (though adding tilt/lean Tory wards to a marginal Labour seat is not helpful to Labour anyway) but the latter three are extremely Conservative and their addition would make Labour’s job here significantly harder. Under the previously proposed boundaries Barrow would have been won fairly convincingly by the Tories in 2015

  30. The current situation can’t be doing Woodcock’s depression any good. That’s one reason why I think he’s more likely to leave politics than go through the unpleasantness of fighting a by-election as an independent.

    In such circumstances I wonder whether the Tories would field a candidate or give the defector a free run? If they do the latter it might damage Labour more by encouraging others to do the same.

  31. If there is a by election here, the Tories will be massive favourites and will take the seat IMO by many thousands (whoever stood against the Tory candidate).

    So actually, considering that, it may be unlikely that there is one.

  32. The problem is that Labour’s majority here is so narrow that if Woodcock were to run as an Independent here in a by-election triggered by his resignation, a split in the votes would probably let the Tories in-
    Conservative- 38%
    Woodcock (Independent)- 25%
    Labour- 24%
    UKIP- 10%
    Green- 2%
    Others- 1%

  33. So maybe the Tories would agree not to field a candidate….it would cost them the chance of winning Barrow but encourage more Blairites to resign their seats and cause more damage to Labour than one by-election loss.

    By elections in Blairite MP seats where the Tories have no chance – eg Streatham, Leicester West – would be very interesting indeed.

  34. Umunna in Streatham even with his large majority could not be more than mildly confident of holding on. I would think a charismatic Corbynite in Streatham would probably win.

    The only Labour MPs I can think of that might resign and win as an IND are CREASEY, FIELD or LAMMY (not that I believe its likely ANY Lab MP will resign.

  35. Perhaps so yes. I think Woodcock would stand a very good chance of holding on to this by a couple of hundred votes if the Tories did stand back in his favour- he might soak up a lot of their likely votes as he is on the right of the Labour Party and would likely still appeal to a lot of voters in the seat here given he is very much pro-Trident. I don’t know if he will actually resign during the course of this Parliament, but I rather suspect if he waits until 2020 he might have a very close fight with the Tories to hang on to his seat in his current Labour colours- would he be better off becoming an Independent sooner rather than later and putting himself up for re-election on as such over the Trident issue should Corbyn win the leadership election?

  36. Creasy not a true blairite through. Many non Blairite moderates have endorsed her for deputy so I think she would be pragmatic and even settle for a shadow cabinet role.
    Being a newish MP she would not have much chance of a independent win. Inner working class London will be an area where Corbyn would be popular so the Same for Lammy and Umunna.
    I could Merseyside being another area where Corbyn is quite popular so Birkenhead would not really be an independent hold.
    I doubt any would resign to stand as independent. A new party or a defection maybe but even then not that likely because it would not be certainty they would win.

  37. Might Woodcock not simply cross the floor and become a Tory or even UKIP until 2020?

    A by-election in the near future might however be interesting as it would bring debate about Trident in the open. If you go with my previous posts there are actually two debates:: –
    1. Should the UK have a nuclear deterrent?
    2. If we do have a nuclear deterrent shuld it be an updated Trident or something else? For instance a cruise missile based system.

    In relation to (2) there is the point that there are informed people who beilieve that despite its huge expense Trident never has worked, isn’t working and never will work.

    Opponents of (1). divide into (a) the CND mob and (b) armed service supporters who may think we should spend the money on more effective conventional weapons instead.

    If Woodcock goes for Trident, it might, almost certainly would, do wellfor him here; but would he be shown up as a pork-barrel politician nationally?

    A problem for Woodcock is that he is not yet forty and that he is yet another Labour career politician who was a Special Advisor before entering parliament rather than having a “real” job.

  38. Will this seat still have an MP by this time next week?

  39. Is there a real reason to think that a 37 year old man with a three figure majority is going to voluntarily ruin his career because he doesn’t like the 66 year old man who is likely to win the leadership of his party? If Woodcock has any ambitions to be part of any future Labour Government, he’s not going to do anything as reckless as resigning his seat.

  40. Yes far more likely to defect I would have thought

  41. I’d bet money that he’ll neither resign nor defect. The most likely option is that he becomes the default MP that the press go to when they want someone to moan about how awful Corbyn is.

  42. There will be no shortage on them in the PLP. The press could probably find a different Labour MP willing to moan about and backstab Corbyn every week from now until the end of 2016 and maybe even beyond (and that isn’t even mentioning Labour Lords or other prominent party figures). How anyone thinks Labour will be anything but bitterly divided after a Corbyn victory I really don’t know.

  43. With the PLP probably going into all out warfare if he’s elected, his only cheerleaders will be Len McKluskey and all those social justice warriors who show up at his rallies and give off the illusion that they reflect the common person. These are not people you want around you. Most people whose primary political activity is voting once every 5 years (and aren’t active in party politics) will be put off by such in image

    David Blunkett was on Panorama last night. He made an interesting point that it won’t even be Corbyn himself who’ll do the damage, it’s those he associates with who’ll do the most harm.

  44. To be honest, the people who will do most damage to Corbyn are likely to be those like Blunkett who will never knowingly pass up the opportunity to complain (preferably on TV) that if only people would listen to them, everything would be great.

  45. Those people won’t be helpful in presented a united front but the real damage to Labour’s electoral fortunes will be done by the Corbynites themselves who’s views on most issues are vastly different from that of the general public. If anything those from the moderate wing of Labour undermining Corbyn from the wings may actually be helpful to the party long term as there may be a small chance they could get rid of him before the next election and it may also remind the public that there is a part of the Labour party that is still interested in getting into government by trying to represent the whole country and not just pandering to the hard left party base.

  46. They need to work out what the party is for nowadays. It’s all very well for the Blairites to complain about the unelectability of Corbyn (which is entirely legitimate) but they’re not currently in a position to offer an electorally popular alternative either. As long as you’re perceived as being both inept and lacking in principle, people are unlikely to vote for you unless the Government really screws things up.

    If you look at Labour’s performance last year, they lost votes directly to the Tories, UKIP, the SNP and the Greens, all of whom actually believe in things. They only avoided an utterly abysmal result due to the Lib Dem collapse – probably not a conicidence that the Lib Dems were the other party having difficulties in articulating what they actually stand for.

  47. ‘It’s all very well for the Blairites to complain about the unelectability of Corbyn (which is entirely legitimate) but they’re not currently in a position to offer an electorally popular alternative either. ‘

    I agree to an extent

    A better argument to make would be to imagine the things the Tories might do if they had the numbers in the House of Commons that a Corbyn-led Labour Party might enable them to get

    So if they wanted to privatise the NHS, introduce a flat rate of income tax and/or abolish jobseekers allowance altogether – as many Tories do – they would have the numbers to get such policies through the Commons

    That ought to alarm any Labour Party supporter – Corbynites and Blairites alike

    Yet by electing Corbyn as leader Labour are making such a scenario far more likely

  48. Tim, if the Tories ever did what you’ve suggested they’d be out of office forever. Those policies are not popular at all!

  49. ‘Tim, if the Tories ever did what you’ve suggested they’d be out of office forever.’

    I’m not suggesting the Tories implement such policies at all – I’m suggesting that Labour should suggest that they might if the Tories win a big enough majority in 2020

    And a Corbyn-led Labour Party makes that eventuality more likely

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