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. We are busy attacking Labour; but in fairness we ought also to be attacking Cameron for proposing to spend £30 billion plus on Trident without even thinking about the issues.

    I agree that it will take Labour many years do undo their poor reputation on defence issues. But they could start by taking a fresh, dispassionate, look at what defence the UK needs.

    We rightly criticise the extreme views of Corbyn and his allies; but many of the extremists in the defence establishment, not least GMBATU, scare the life out of me. Both sides have lost touch with the basics.

  2. ‘…but many of the extremists in the defence establishment, not least GMBATU, scare the life out of me’

    The General, Municipal, Boilermakers and Allied Trades Union?

  3. Yes. They are placing us at risk of nuclear war by insisting on having obsolete nuclear weapons instead of effective non-nuclear ones. Sooner or later somebody is going to go to nuclear war in the Middle East out of desperation and frustration.

  4. Labour has suspended Tom O’Carroll here.

    The paedophile rights’ campaigner was revealed by The Times to be a Labour Party member here in Barrow who re-joined last year to support Jeremy Corbyn.

    He still supports sex with 12-year-olds, but said he no longer supports full sex with 4-year-olds.

    John Woodcock has said O’Carroll should be expelled by the NEC.

  5. John Woodcock has written an article in the Daily Mirror calling on Labour MPs to rally against Jeremy Corbyn as Leader.

  6. Can I first check that John Woodcock is actually a member of the Labour Party and that he supports the Labour Pary and obeys its rules.

    He is quite right to suggest that a member who supports sex with 12 year olds and has in the past supported sex with 4 year olds should be expelled in accordance with Labour Party rules. Apart from anything else, such a person would be bringing the Labour Pary into disrepute.

    I don’t belong to Labour myself, so in one sense it is not my business. but if Labour puts up with paedophiles they will lose masses of votes.

  7. O’Carroll was indeed expelled by the NEC, FS.

    As was Derek Hatton and that Revolutionary who appeared on the BBC Daily Politics, a fortnight ago.

  8. Did Derek Hatton even have his membership approved to be expelled.

  9. Derek Hatton was a delegate to the Labour Party Conference at which he was expelled, so he will have had his membership checked. The Labour Party had then recently tightened up its membership checks as a non-member had been elected to the NEC at a previous Conference (this was covered up.)

  10. Source for that? No way the current shadow cabinet are going to sign up to renewal, or that Corbyn would stand at a GE on a pro-Trident platform.

    At the end of the day what the Labour frontbench think on this doesn’t count for much at the moment because there is a clear parliamentary majority for renewal anyway.

  11. Just heard the report on Today. Sounds like a fudge to kick the issue of deciding their exact policy for 2020 down the road but Labour still likely to vote against renewal when it comes up in the next few months.

  12. Whatever the rights and wrongs of Trident, I hope the decision on whether to maintain the means of nuclear armageddon at the cost of billions is not based on pork-barrelling a marginal seat.

  13. The ward branch of Ulverston and Rural Furness said to have passed motion of No Confidence in John Woodcock. Seems major divisions exist in this CLP. The chair of this CLP has backed Woodcock through.

  14. No they don’t so I have been told.

  15. No they’re more putting down a marker really.

    They have no effect legally in the same way the motion on Corbyn didn’t.

    Trigger ballots might lead to deselections in 2018 or 2019 of course.

    After the Boundary changes.

  16. Why does everyone think the boundary changes will go through when whoever is PM will have to rely on an irreconcilable awkward squad?

  17. I’ve said before I think they are overwhelmingly likely to go through. There were few Tory rebels last time and the boundaries are now even more out of date, making it harder to justify voting against on any grounds other than self-interest.

    What might change is that the new PM may face pressure (i.e. from local associations during the campaign) to reverse the cut from 650 to 600 MPs, which is the legacy of a Cameron pledge from 2010. If that was combined with agreeing with Labour’s not entirely unreasonable demand that the boundaries be based on the post-EU ref sign ups register then it would eliminate a lot of opposition. Though the boundary commissioners who have been working on the basis of 600 seats/the register as of the end of 2015 would probably be very annoyed at having to essentially start again. For this to happen realistically new legislation would need to be passed this autumn.

  18. Hawthorn – because most MPs support them in basic terms.

    Yes, the Gov’t majority is only 12 and more than 6 Tories will oppose them.

    But equally most Opposition MPs will not vote against them.

  19. Re the boundary review most opposition MP’s will vote against them, Lab have explicitly said they will as have the SNP and Lib Dems. I assume most of the others will follow suit.

    As has been stated before the reasons only about 5 or so Tory MP’s rebelled last time was because everybody knew the review was going to be blocked. The Lib Dems had already came out against them so the numbers didn’t add up. Thus why would a Tory MP vote against something that was going to fail anyway and just get in trouble with the whips? This time though it will be on their own shoulders.

    And finally related to Jack’s point about the only reason being self interest of course that’s the main reason but they always fudge it somehow claiming their seat is weird and the locals don’t like it or this time they could quote the differential registration figures and claim the proposed boundaries are inaccurate, their are a slew of excuses to use as cover for voting to save themselves.

  20. The MP cut and the decision to use a 2015 cut-off date for the register give Lab, LD and SNP reason to vote against. I imagine they probably would if the vote were tomorrow but Labour and the LDs would be more likely to abstain if there were a change to the cut-off date to include pre-EU ref sign-ups..

    But the DUP and UUP, plus Douglas Carswell, will probably support the Tories as NI isn’t going to be that severely effected (it loses 1 seat) and they have been quite helpful to the Conservatives this parliament. That means you’d need about 16 rebels, assuming Labour have a reasonable turnout which is a very questionable assumption so far this parliament.

    Back in 2013, even though the vote came at a very rebellious point of the coalition, only four Tories rebelled on the boundary changes: John Baron, David Davis, Philip Davies and Sir Richard Shepherd (who is, of course, now retired). There were also a handful of abstentions but not a huge amount. I’d expect a similar number this time. At the end of the day despite the turkeys voting for Christmas aspect in some cases, most Tories appreciate that boundary changes are strongly in the party’s interest.

  21. Jack
    I agree there’s going to need to be about 15-20 Tory rebels for the review to be blocked but as I explained the reason so few rebelled last time in my earlier post, everyone knew it was going to fail so why get in trouble by rebelling?

    This time though I imagine were going to see about 5 rebels in Wales alone.

  22. MP-R – I hadn’t considered the LD position (as there’s so few of them), or the SNP (as seem to be taking barmy positions in the Commons).

    But certainly some Labour MPs will vote for the proposals (some have said so) – and certainly enough.

    But I mainly considered the Tories & DUP MPs.

  23. Barrow and Furness Clp nominate Jeremy Corbyn. I suspect we may see Woodcock standing as an independent in 2020.

  24. Could a long anticipated byelection at last be on the cards here next year?

  25. That’s a spooky bit of trivia about the identical Labour vote shares…

    What could it tell us about what might happen in 2020 I wonder?…

  26. Not only that, but in Clwyd South and Wrexham Labour polled the same share of the vote: 37.2%.

  27. Christ know that IS frightening, for two neighbouring seats in North East Wales.

  28. I’m beginning to realise why Woodcock wouldn’t want to recklessly resign here- he stands to gain nothing at all if he does so.

  29. Incidentally one thing I probably share with John Woodcock is that I myself have also struggled with depression over the last two years.

  30. Is it sensible to call it a terminal decline?

  31. I work with many who struggle with depression, many friends and family too. With some they can’t manage journeys even into town John Woodcock has done well to manage his depression it what can’t be an easy field

  32. Depression is awful but one of the best natural treatments is to have a purpose. And being an MP gives Mr Woodcock that purpose for another three years, possibly in a way that most other jobs wouldn’t – since, ultimately, being an MP is about standing up for what you believe in and writing those beliefs into law.

    So despite everything I doubt he will resign.

  33. I believe that Trudy Harrison will go head to head with John Woodcock here in 2020 and win. The new Barrow & Furness will be a notional ultra Conservative marginal…that contains Tory parts of Copeland.

  34. Ms Harrison seems to have lost her chance to do the “chicken run” to this seat, given Mrs May’s announcement earlier today.

    Given the antipathy that Jeremy Corbyn is likely to generate in this defence reliant seat, I expect this to be one of the easiest Conservative gains in the country come June 8th. A plum seat for any up and coming Conservative candidate.

  35. John Woodxock has given an odd statement, saying he’s running as the Labour candidate but will never vote to make JC PM. Not sure what he means by the latter part.

  36. Trudi Harrison should be fine to hold on in Copeland. It could make for an interesting selection battle in 2022 if there are two Tory MPs competing for the same seat

  37. If the Tories end up winning on anything like the scale suggested by polls they’ll obviously win here. But if things tighten a little Woodcock’s own personal vote – probably strengthened by his outspokenly pro-nuclear, anti-Corbyn stance since 2015 – could just come into play.

  38. Plopwellian Tory : Maybe, maybe not. The swing between 2005 and 2010 is given by the Nuffield General Election study as a mere 0.4% (note boundary changes so inevitably an estimate). So the 2015 result may have been a case of “catching up”.

    The roughly (?) equivalent seat in the 1980’s had Conservative majorities of 9% (83) and 7% (87), and this seat tends to be more “swingy” than some in Cumbria.

  39. John Woodcock seems like a decent MP with a personal vote may well hold up

  40. Matt, I expect a lot of sitting Labour MPs will be hoping/praying that their personal vote will save them from Corbyn’s lack of resonance with swing voters.

    The most immediate precedent – that of the sitting Lib Dem MPs in 2015 is not encouraging.


    Not sure how this squares with being the Labour nominee, but I suppose anything goes these days.

  42. To be fair the lib dems vote collapsed by more than half

  43. Suspect Corbyn’s antitrident stance will help the liberal democrats win this

  44. What’s the largest recorded swing in one seat? If lds wins i suspect they could break it

  45. There’s no danger of a Lib Dem win in Barrow, at least before the 2018 boundary changes. While they have some support in the ‘Furness’ rural parts of the seat, this is off-set by their almost complete absence in the town – they got 0.6% of the vote in Barrow Borough elections in 2015.

    This will be a Labour-Tory fight, with the key issue of nuclear weapons and to a lesser extent nuclear power shaping the seat.

  46. Until recently I lived in this seat and can categorically say I never once heard anyone say anything positive about John Woodcock. I say this as the posts above seem to assume he has some popularity in this constituency – the evidence for this is where? Huge swings in one of the most deprived areas of the country even when the Labour leadership was supportive of trident.

    What you do hear said about him is that he is in the wrong party, is not local and does not understand the people or area he represents. He is like Ed Balls – a spad parachuted into an assumed safe seat and not realising the local population expect more than a metropolitan elitist gracing them with his presence once or twice or month.

    John Woodcock will lose big. He has already lost the BAe pro-nuclear crowd long ago and ironically stands now to loose the remaining core Labour vote in the town by turning against the party leadership and failing to understand the working class concerns of this community.

  47. Conservatives did not gain Barrow & Furness in 1983. It was a notional Conservative Hold as Barrow in Furness was extended to become Barrow & Furness. It went from being based on the town of Barrow to then covering the whole Furness Peninsula that was much more Conservative.

  48. For security reasons the Electoral Commission have removed the link detailing Count venues and where the media will be, but I am allowed to say that Barrow is one of the NW seats that will be being covered live (both regional and national media).

    I’m sure you can hazard a decent guess where else they will be.

    The Guardian has published a handy PA guide to when declarations are expected, with as usual the Sunderland seats being first around 11pm, followed by a few from N Ireland such as N Antrim and then there’s a 2 hour break til anything worth seeing comes through.

    I still fail to understand why Lpool & Manc take ’til 4am given the lowest turnouts in their 2 city centre seats.

  49. Lancs it seems to me that some councils haven’t updated their time since 2015 when there were locals. Results should be quicker.

  50. Lancs, do you know how much the media knows throughout the day, even if they can’t report it? For instance do they get any word on the exit poll as it’s coming together or (more for regional papers) word on the ground or their own exit polls in their own areas that they can use to plan tomorrow’s front pages?

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