Battersea

2015 Result:
Conservative: 26730 (52.4%)
Labour: 18792 (36.8%)
Lib Dem: 2241 (4.4%)
Green: 1682 (3.3%)
UKIP: 1586 (3.1%)
MAJORITY: 7938 (15.6%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of the Wandsworth council area.

Main population centres: Battersea, Balham.

Profile: A London seat in the Conservative flagship borough of Wandsworth. As well as Battersea itself the seat stretches South to include half of Clapham Common and part of Balham. Once a reliable Labour area Battersea underwent gentrification in the 1980s as young professionals split over from Chelsea. As well as affluent areas the seat does still contain some very deprived areas such as the Winstanley Estate. The North of the constituency contains Battersea Park, the power station and New Covent Garden market.

Politics: Demographic change has been moving Battersea towards the Conservatives as it gentrifes. For much of the twentieth century the Battersea North seat which most closely approximates to the current seat was safely Labour (or was even more left wing - it returned a Communist MP for much of the 1920s). It was won extremely narrowly by the Conservatives in 1987, but returned to Labour in their 1997 landslide. By 2005 it was one of Labour`s most marginal seats, since 2010 it has been comfortably Conservative.


Current MP
JANE ELLISON (Conservative) Born 1964, Bradford. Educated at Oxford University. Contested Barnsley East 1996 by-election, Tottenham 2000 by-election. First elected as MP for Battersea in 2010. Public Health Minister since 2013.
Past Results
2010
Con: 23103 (47%)
Lab: 17126 (35%)
LDem: 7176 (15%)
GRN: 559 (1%)
Oth: 828 (2%)
MAJ: 5977 (12%)
2005*
Con: 16406 (40%)
Lab: 16569 (40%)
LDem: 6006 (15%)
GRN: 1735 (4%)
Oth: 333 (1%)
MAJ: 163 (0%)
2001
Con: 13445 (37%)
Lab: 18498 (50%)
LDem: 4450 (12%)
Oth: 411 (1%)
MAJ: 5053 (14%)
1997
Con: 18687 (39%)
Lab: 24047 (51%)
LDem: 3482 (7%)
Oth: 377 (1%)
MAJ: 5360 (11%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
JANE ELLISON (Conservative) See above.
WILL MARTINDALE (Labour) Educated at Kings College London. Oxfam policy advisor and former banker.
LUKE TAYLOR (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Imperial College. Transport planner.
CHRIS HOWE (UKIP)
JOE STUART (Green)
Links
Comments - 538 Responses on “Battersea”
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  1. I think that’s actually quite accurate – but of course Labour need to try to win over the middle-classes in order to win an election. This is a good step forward for them.

  2. Yeah, I thought Battersea would be far too middle class to be won by Corbyn.

  3. It might be interesting to see a detailed analysis of the 2017 Battersea vote. The constituency still has swathes of social housing and a “float” of private renters, it’s not all City types in gentrified streets around Northcote Road…..

    To what extent was Labour able to get previously unregistered tenants not just registered but out to vote, and to what extent was their victory due to either Tory abstainers or direct switching to Lab over a sense of disgust with Tory policy towards leaving the EU?

  4. There’s also a lot of problems with gangs and knife crime, including recent stabbings – the kind of social problems which are unusual for Tory-held seats. It’s possible Corbyn did enthuse a lot of the “core” Labour voters who might not have bothered for Miliband.

  5. This seat is socially liberal and I suspect many here were put off by the Tories’ fixation on reducing immigration. Remember that many people vote Tory only out of economic self-interest.

  6. Plus that combined with the Tories’ hard Brexit stance (leave single market, ‘no deal better than bad deal’ etc), it’s possible many might not have seen them as the safe economic bet they usually do.

  7. Yes, the silence from businesses that would normally have queued up behind the Tories was deafening. Notably the Conservatives’ financial support in this election came more from individuals than businesses. Just like it was in the nineteenth century when the Conservatives represented the aristocracy, the Liberals were the party of the nouveaux riches and us common oiks didn’t yet have the vote.

    Sounds like progress to me…

  8. David Whitehouse

    “It might be interesting to see a detailed analysis of the 2017 Battersea vote. The constituency still has swathes of social housing and a “float” of private renters, it’s not all City types in gentrified streets around Northcote Road…..
    To what extent was Labour able to get previously unregistered tenants not just registered but out to vote, and to what extent was their victory due to either Tory abstainers or direct switching to Lab over a sense of disgust with Tory policy towards leaving the EU?”

    A very good post. I have to hold my hand up and say that my suggested projection of the result (and it was only a suggestion, not a firm prediction) was way off the mark. I heard it said at the start of the campaign that the Conservatives feared the Liberal Democrats, that even if they did not win, they might split the vote and let Labour in. As it happened, Marsha de Cordova gained another 7,500 votes above those Will Martindale won in 2015, and Jane Ellison lost 3,500 votes. Brexit went down extremely badly here; it was said that the Remain vote was 80%. Labour somehow managed to convince people that their Brexit would be softer than the Tories’, even though Corbyn and McDonnell are equally firm on leaving the Single Market and Customs Union.

    David, you are right about the social make-up of Battersea. Although you do have some very prosperous areas, such as Balham, Northcote and increasingly Shaftesbury, other areas are not nearly as well off. There are the Winstanley and York Road Estates, whose problems are well known, but there are a number in Queenstown too, such as the Doddington and Rollo, Patmore (where I support a charity working with single parents and their children) and Savona Estates, which have multiple problems.

    In my view, the Tories were always in trouble here, and I don’t think mounting support for Corbyn was necessarily a recent thing. I refer readers back to the post I made about the Queenstown by-election, which saw a huge swing to Labour, and the fact that I, though being a member of Wandsworth Conservatives, did not receive any request for help, and only found out about the by-election on Wandsworth Council’s website. The ground campaign simply wasn’t good enough.

  9. Could Battersea now be trending back towards Labour in the long-term?

  10. This area has a history of trending in different directions at different times – Tory-leaning pre-war, Labour stronghold post-war, Tory leaning from the 80s, leaning towards Labour again now (it would seem).

    To a large extent that reflects rapid population change in London. But on this occasion I think it is more to do with the fact that there has simply been a very substantial swing to Labour among London’s professional classes in recent years. When this area became populated with ‘yuppies’ as they were then called in the ’80s that was a group that was Conservative leaning. But today’s young professionals (by which I mean people under about 40) lean to Labour, especially in London. It is mainly a values thing, though the nature of the London housing market is probably also significant.

    There must be a big question about the council elections next year. When I looked at this after that by-election Wandsworth Voter mentioned it looked to me that the Tories were just about safe, but after the GE result I would have thought Labour now have a good chance of taking the council for the first time since 1974.

  11. Clearly Brexit played a big role this time but it is quite a volatile and unpredictable seat. The Tories did well against the tide in 1992, Labour did better in 2001 than in 1997, the Tories did well in 2015 (very untypical for London) only to suffer a big reversal this time.

  12. ”Could Battersea now be trending back towards Labour in the long-term?”

    We will see but I suspect the result this time was a bit of an aberration caused by the electorate in Battersea being extremely upset about Brexit and the direction May was taking the Tories as opposed to any endorsement of Labour. The next Labour government, whenever it happens, is obviously going to be of the left and left wing economics will go down like a bucket of cold sick in much of the Battersea constituency (whilst they might actually help Labour in places like Cornwall).

    Thus I suspect the first election after the next Labour government is elected (probably sometime in the late 2020s) will see a sharp trend back to the Tories in Battersea (ditto other wealthy seats) whilst poor areas will trend back to Labour. A left wing Labour government will probably cause the return of class (or at least wealth) based politics, perhaps for the better…

  13. It was such a massive swing that if the Tories do rebuild here in the long-run they will really have to put the work in locally all over again surely. Basically the Wandsworth Factor is going to have return in a big way for them here over the next few elections if they’re to come back in what was once one of their flagship councils throughout the Thatcher era…

  14. The thing is, very few, if any, of these inner London seats are uniformly affluent. As we have seen so tragically this week, even the wealthiest areas have neglected pockets.

    I’m also not sure that Brexit was the sole cause of the swing to Labour in London, because they fudged their Brexit pitch, too. Meanwhile, the proudly European Lib Dems failed to fire against Zac Goldsmith and particularly Kate Hoey in highly pro-remain areas. As I’ve written elsewhere, London voters had certain values that led them to support EU membership, and then to swing behind Labour, but that does not mean that the former caused the latter.

  15. ‘and left wing economics will go down like a bucket of cold sick in much of the Battersea constituency (whilst they might actually help Labour in places like Cornwall).’

    Perhaps, but at the same time, many people under a certain age are getting pretty tired of austerity, along their incomes barely increasing and forking out a lot of money on rent while being unable to buy – plus a general feeling of generational unfairness and the Tories being the party for the old/retirees. These issues are definitely going to help Labour in London where the electorate is much younger than the national average.

  16. A lot of sense being spoken here. I can’t really add much more to that than to simply say there’s a clear split emerging in terms of who supports the two main parties, both socioeconomically and demographically.

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