Bermondsey & Old Southwark

2015 Result:
Conservative: 6051 (11.8%)
Labour: 22146 (43.1%)
Lib Dem: 17657 (34.3%)
Green: 2023 (3.9%)
UKIP: 3254 (6.3%)
TUSC: 142 (0.3%)
Independent: 72 (0.1%)
Others: 79 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 4489 (8.7%)

Category: Semi-marginal Labour seat

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

Main population centres: Bermondsey, Borough, Rotherhithe, Elephant & Castle and Surrey Quays.

Profile: This covers central London south of the river, facing the City of London across the Thames. The riverfront has undergone massive redevelopment and gentrification, and is now backed with offices, luxury apartments, the cultural quarter of Tate Modern and the Globe theatre and skyscrapers popping up around City Hall, whose crash helmet style home sits on the riverfront here. The seat also includes Guys Hospital and the fashionable Borough market. Alway from the trendy apartments to the north though, the rest of the area is still poor, racially mixed and struggling with problems of crime and deprivation though the process of regeneration of troubled estates like Heygate is rolling slowly onwards.

Politics: Demographically you would expect this seat to return a Labour MP: a poverty striken inner city seat, over 20% afro-carribean, over 40% of properties council owned. In fact it returned to the Labour party only in 2015, having been the Liberals and Liberal Democrats for over twenty years. Simon Hughes long tenure was probably due to his own performance as MP, but he only became the MP for Bermondsey in the first place because of the unusual circumstances of his election. The Bermondsey by-election must be one of the most infamous in recent political history. The local Labour party had selected as their PPC the left-winger Peter Tatchell, who was disowned by the then Labour leader Michael Foot. He was opposed by a Labour right-winger, John O`Grady, who stood as a "Real Labour" candidate and was backed by the former MP Bob Mellish. The by-election was notoriously dirty, Tatchell was consistently attacked for his sexuality, received hate mail and a bullet in the post. The Liberal party took the seat on an overwhelming swing and remained here for almost a quarter of a century.

Current MP
NEIL COYLE (Labour) Born 1978, Luton. Educated at Hull University. Former policy director. Southwark councillor since 2010. First elected as MP for Bermondsey & Old Southwark in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 7638 (17%)
Lab: 13060 (29%)
LDem: 21590 (48%)
BNP: 1370 (3%)
Oth: 993 (2%)
MAJ: 8530 (19%)
Con: 4752 (13%)
Lab: 12468 (33%)
LDem: 17874 (47%)
GRN: 1137 (3%)
Oth: 1728 (5%)
MAJ: 5406 (14%)
Con: 2800 (8%)
Lab: 11359 (31%)
LDem: 20991 (57%)
GRN: 752 (2%)
Oth: 960 (3%)
MAJ: 9632 (26%)
Con: 2835 (7%)
Lab: 16444 (40%)
LDem: 19831 (49%)
Oth: 1140 (3%)
MAJ: 3387 (8%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Southwark North & Bermondsey

2015 Candidates
JEAN-PAUL FLORU (Conservative) Born 1969, Belgium. Educated at Leuven University. Author. Westminster councillor since 2006. Contested London region 2009 European election.
NEIL COYLE (Labour) Born 1978, Luton. Educated at Hull University. Policy director. Southwark councillor since 2010.
SIMON HUGHES (Liberal Democrat) Born 1951, Cheshire. Educated at Llandaff Cathedral School and Cambridge University. Barrister. Contested London Mayoral election 2004. MP for Bermondsey 1983 by-election to 2015. Environment spokesman 1983-1988, education spokesman 1988-1992, environment spokesman 1992-1994, health spokesman 1994-1997, home affairs spokesman 1997-2003, President of the Liberal Democrats 2004-2008. The second longest serving Liberal Democrat MP, Hughes was first elected to Parliament in the notorious 1983 Bermondsey by-election. Contested the Liberal Democrat leadership elections of 1999 and 2006, during which he was outed by the Sun newspaper.
WILLIAM LAVIN (Green) Born 1956. Contested Huntingdon 1987.
STEVE FREEMAN (Republican Socialist)
DONALD COLE (All People)
LUCY HALL (Independent) Born 1989. Educated at Waldegrave School and Manchester University.
KINGSLEY ABRAMS (TUSC) Former Merton councillor, Lambeth councillor 2006-2013. Contested Wimbledon 1992, North Southwark and Old Bermondsey 2001 for Labour.

Comments - 651 Responses on “Bermondsey & Old Southwark”
  1. How about this as a more realistic prediction should the Tories do well enough to move into second place without voting tactically for the Lib Dems-
    Labour- 54%
    Conservative- 21%
    Lib Dem- 18%
    Green- 4%
    UKIP- 3%

  2. Perhaps, though certainly longer term I don’t think Labour will be as strong as that due to riverside gentrification spreading south. The redevelopment of Elephant & Castle, for example, will make a considerable difference. It won’t be anything like as safe as Pekham, though Labour will hold on easily enough with more than 40% of the vote.

  3. So this seat will actually get much better for the Tories in the long run than it will for Labour so to speak. So perhaps by 2025 (a very forward-thinking prediction LOL) given the changing demographics under-way helping the Tories the most we could have a situation here like this-
    Labour- 49%
    Conservative- 29%
    Lib Dem- 13%
    Green- 6%
    UKIP- 3%

  4. My guess is now that Hughes has been seen off, a long-overdue defeat given his history on sexual politics, Labour will re-establish themselves in this seat.

    What is likely to happen here at the next boundary changes?

    Once you get away from the river frongt this part of London has dire, soulless, post-war blocks of flats. Not exactly appetiizing places to live.

  5. Increasingly that’s less true nowadays, see my comment on Elephant & Castle.

  6. On a different subject, the white British population of London was 60% in 2001 and 45% in 2011. If the same trend continues, the figure will have just dropped below 40%. The change in population may even had speeded up compared to 2001 to 2011.

  7. If the Lib Dems do implode here with the departure of Hughes I wonder which wards the Tories may start to get councillors in/become competitive with Labour? Surrey Docks is probably a certainty, perhaps Riverside too and maybe one or two others? I guess it depends how much of the Lib Dem vote was Tory inclined tactical votes.

  8. It may depend upon whereabouts companies from tax havens get the local council to make compulsory puchases and then build luxury flats for the stinking rich in place of much needed council flats. Surrey Quays certainly seems to be a likely possibility.

  9. ”What is likely to happen here at the next boundary changes?”

    The last boundary review merged this seat with the neighboruing Lewisham Deptford seat.

  10. Thanks, Christin. I guess the next review may well recommend the same thing.

  11. Sorry for the typo, Christian.

  12. That’s fine Frederic.

  13. In 2013 aborted review there was a Bermondsey and South Bank seat with 70% of this seat along with 22% of Harman’s seat and 9% of Vauxhall.

  14. Thanks Andrea.

  15. The government’s partisan measure to bring forward the full implementation of individual registration by a year (so the boundary review takes place on a smaller register), will lead to a loss of a seat in south London compared to last time, despite the rapidly growing London population (much of which is of course ineligible to vote at parliamentary elections). Therefore this is one area in which the seats proposed are likely to bear little resemblance to last time, given that the size of London wards provides major constraints in meeting the 5% tolerance.

  16. 2020

    Labour Neil Coyle 21000

    Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes 14000

    Conservative 9000

    UKIP 4000

    Green 3000

    Labour Hold Labour Majority 7000

  17. Very unlikely. Hughes almost certainly won’t stand again. This will revert to being a very safe Labour seat – Labour will be well over 50% and the Tories might squeeze into 2nd place in the low 20s. Corbyn won’t be a drag on Labour here.

    Keep an eye on whether the Lib Dems hold their council seats here in 2018, if they lose most or all of them the scenario I envisage is quite likely.

  18. I’m not really sure, it depends how much of the LD vote is personal for Simon Hughes and wouldn’t expect him to stand again.

    I’m honestly not sure what will happen in 2020. I would guess Labour could be up at 50%, with the LDs a relatively distant 2nd on around 25%.

    On the other hand if you apply the swing from last nights by election in neighbouring Faraday ward (which backs on to the constituency) from 2014 to this seat, it would be on a knife edge in 2020 so the LDs may still be up for a fight even with a new candidate.

    Dalek’s prediction is just about credible apart from a rise in the Grn vote.

    I would suggest:

    Lab 48%
    LD 27%
    Con 16%
    UKIP 5%
    Grn 3%

  19. This is a rather pointless exercise four and a half years out. Without Hughes I’d expect it to revert to an entirely safe LAB seat, much like Brent Central did without Sarah Teather in 2015. But really it is silly to make predictions – especially predictions involving numbers – this early.

  20. The difference here compared with Brent Central is the gentrification along the river. There is a lot of latent Tory potential which could get them 20-25% of the vote if the Lib Dem tactical votes unwind.

  21. There are certainly some very nice parts of this seat along the river. But how many people live there? Holborn and St Pancras also has many nice looking parts but it is the council estates that have the votes. I expect Bermondsey is quite similar.

  22. To be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lib Dems do implode and the seat reverts to being very safe Labour with the Tories second. Though the indication the Tories could get second next time depends on if they can win any council seats in 2018 (Surrey Docks being their best opportunity) and if the Lib Dems are annihilated locally or not.

  23. I Agree

    Boris Johnson carried most of the riverside wards in 2011. In the council elections in 2014, these were the only wards held by the Lib Dems with the Conservatives competitive.

    Without Simon Hughes, it is quite likely the Conservatives will win the riverside wards and match their success in Tower Hamlets north of the river. Labour will still hold Southwark comfortably.

  24. “Keep an eye on whether the Lib Dems hold their council seats here in 2018, if they lose most or all of them the scenario I envisage is quite likely.”

    I think they will be wiped out pretty much everywhere with the exception of the outposts in Surbiton/Chessington, Central Sutton and North Carshalton. Maybe a few in Twickenham too.

  25. “There are certainly some very nice parts of this seat along the river. But how many people live there?”

    Quite a lot now. There is huge redevelopment going on all the way from Rotherhithe up to London Bridge.

    “Holborn and St Pancras also has many nice looking parts but it is the council estates that have the votes. I expect Bermondsey is quite similar.”

    The nice bits of H&SP contains a very substantial arty/media/academic element which is broadly quite hostile to the Tories (though note the Tories still manage more than 20% of the vote there). That factor is still present around London Bridge to a certain extent but, as in Shoreditch, it is diminishing fast as rents rise and banker types move in.

  26. It’s very easy to commute from those riverside flats to both Canary Wharf and the City using the Riverboat service. There’s also the Jubilee Line.

  27. To complete last night’s by-elections the Lib Dems held Surrey Docks ward (changes from 2014):

    LD 51.7% (+20.1)
    LAB 21.3% (-0.3)
    CON 12.9% (-7.0)
    GRN 7.4% (-4.3)
    UKIP 6.3% (-8.9)
    IND 0.3% (n/a)

  28. Great result for the Lib Dems here.

    Now obviously local by-elections are weird creatures and very little can be drawn from them but this result must be a bit of a blow for local Tories. With Hughes now gone they would have hoped that the rapidly gentrifying riverside wards of Southwark might be winnable and indeed Surrey Docks was their best bet but with a result like this that prospect is looking distant to say the least.

  29. Tory progress at local level probably requires the LDs to lose incumbency, which this result (though only a by-election, where the LDs tend to do remarkably well whatever the national picture) suggests isn’t happening any time soon.

  30. Even post-Hughes the Lib Dems will be trying hard here – it’s not like there’s a neighbouring seat where they’re strong. Even if, as many suspect, the Lib Dems fall back, possibly considerably, without Hughes, it’s not going to be to the levels you put forward.

  31. Greenwich and Woolwich were never Lib Dem held. They were held by members of the continuity SDP who never joined the Lib Dems, and retained their activist bases. A completely different situation.

    What you write of Hornsey & Wood Green is pure nonsense. The Lib Dem appeal there is / was separate to Featherstone’s, and though I could see the LDs falling back at the next election (as one of the few places where Corbyn actually has appeal) they will clearly remain the challengers.

    Teather’s seat was caught in a perfect storm. As you say, the appeal there was basically built on her, in the same way as B&OS (though this support has had longer to ‘bed in’) but different to H&WG. Teather virtually disowned the party, and her replacement was then forced to step down over some lobbying issue (IIRC), bringing in a replacement a couple of weeks before the election. Activists were told to abandon the seat and help Featherstone. Without all off this, LD support would probably have been around the level of the Ashcroft poll, ~20%, even without Teather.

    Even without Hughes, the seat will not be given up on, and while one possible (probable?) scenario is the Lib Dems falling back badly, maybe even to third, your predictions are nonsense. I think the Lib Dems still won around 17% in the London LIST vote.

  32. ‘Even without Hughes, the seat will not be given up on,’

    The vast demographic changes going on here – which looks set to continue despite Brexit – ought to help the Lib Dems here

    I imagine a few of the incoming young A/B professionals will be willing to support them given the Tories derisory support here

    They could do with selecting a candidate and getting him or her out there

  33. Why is Tory tactical voting ‘sure to unwind without Hughes’

    From an LD perspective there are few candidates less suited to picking up tactical Tory votes than Hughes.

  34. I don’t really see the Tory improvement in inner London seats that you have speculated about here and on other threads happening. Yes, there are lots of swanky new developments. But the people that move into those sort of places are often either from overseas (and so can’t vote) or urban city-types with liberal anti-Tory perspectives. So you can’t assume every person that lives in a swanky riverside flat votes Tory. Plus, although they stand out visually in most of these constituencies the posh bits are still comfortably outnumbered by crap bits with utterly derisory Tory votes. Bermondsey and OS is probably a classic example of that. The type of development that would be needed to make it a viable Tory target is, if it happens at all, likely to take several decades. The much more likely medium-term scenario is that it becomes a safe Labour seat with the MP getting 50-60% of the vote.

  35. I do think the LD vote is likely to collapse – probably to the 15% region. But the chances are more of that switches to Labour than Conservative.

    I can see something like LAB 57 LD 16 CON 14 UKIP 6 GRN 4

  36. Fair enough. Maybe the Tories can push up to 20%. But I don’t see them doing much better than that. They’ve never shown any signs that there is significant underlying strength being masked by Hughes’ vote in local elections.

  37. ‘But the people that move into those sort of places are often either from overseas (and so can’t vote) or urban city-types with liberal anti-Tory perspectives.’

    Exactly – high-earning people who live in today’s largely redeveloped city centres tend to be no more Tory than the WWC people who they’ve replaced – those pof them that are britishj that is

    ‘Plus, although they stand out visually in most of these constituencies the posh bits are still comfortably outnumbered by crap bits with utterly derisory Tory votes.’

    Seats like this still have huge amounts of people in social housing – sometimes next door to the swanky new developments on the South Bank itself

    Once place which has moved over the Tories due to the influx of money is Milwall – and this happened a couple of decades ago – and yet the Tories are still no where near to winning Poplar & Limehouse, which returned its Labour MP in 2015 with a majority over 16,000

  38. Surrey Docks had the highest Liberal Democrat vote in the London Mayoral elections out of every single ward in London.

    This seat is Bermonsley, not any of those mentioned above and we cannot make such assertions before at least the council elections.

  39. ^and it also had the biggest Lib Dem increase from 2012

  40. I wouldn’t use the mayoral election – the LD vote is artificially lowered in a Lab-Con battle, just as the Con vote is at Westminster. The LDs do best in Constituency Assembly (where Surrey Docks was the only ward they won) but List Assembly is probably the best thing to look at.

    The Tories may have narrowly beaten the LDs in this, but they did in 2012, while Labour may have done so in Twickenham. It’s normal. Also love how you say it’s a poor Tory year (it was so-so) but not a poor Lib Dem one!

  41. So what’s so difference between this seat and, say, Cambridge, where the Tories are similarly far behind but where there has also been hea

  42. …vy tactical voting for the Lib Dems which has depressed the Tory vote? Why is no-one expecting the Tories to regain second place there?

    (Sorry, accidentally sent mid-message, don’t know how.)

  43. ‘The LD’s here are all about Hughes’

    Firstly, the fact that we actually carried a ward here at GLA constituency level would suggest otherwise.

    Secondly, this would not happen.

    June 9th 2016 Surrey Docks (Southwark) result:

    LDEM: 51.7% (+20.1) 1523
    LAB: 21.3% (-0.3) 629
    CON: 12.9% (-7.0) 380
    GRN: 7.4% (-4.3) 218
    UKIP: 6.3% (-8.9) 187
    IND: 0.3% (+0.3) 10

    Yes it’s a bye election, but it’s also 500 more votes than we polled than the council elections in 2014, on a slightly lower turnout. Yes it’s a bye election but the Conservatives are nearly 1200 votes behind.

    I’m not suggesting we’re going to win here in 2020, but this at least shows we’re not ‘all about Hughes’. The real indicator will be 2018 council elections. Predictions before then are assertions based on no local evidence. If the tories take Surrey Docks in 2018 (which they won’t) then you may well turn out to be correct.

  44. Simon Hughes has announced on the BBC’s Sunday Politics that he intends to stand as the Lib Dem candidate in this seat at the next General Election.

    I personally think he’s got no chance of winning it back. I’ve always said that once the Lib Dems lose this seat, it’ll be out of their hands for at least a generation. This is now a safe Labour seat. It’s the type of seat where a Corbyn-led Labour Party will do very well at the next General Election.

  45. 2018 will be a reasonable indicator of how this seat might vote in 2020. Some predict the Libs will start to flounder even in the likes of Surrey Docks now that Hughes is gone, I’m personally not so sure but we’ll see.

  46. “After 7yrs of divisive/disastrous Tory-led Govts, almost 7% swing away from Labour. Ignoring this insults everyone who needs a Labour Govt.”

    Neil Coyle MP.

  47. Anthony Wells

    “The Liberal party took the seat on an overwhelming swing and remained here for almost a quarter of a century.”

    Actually, well over a quarter of a century – 32 years.

  48. Neil Coyle said he’s been reported to the Chief Whip and GenSec of the Party.

    He has no idea why other than he emailed Jeremy Corbyn requesting that communication to the PLP be improved as well as the Leadership’s reaction to world events.

  49. Lancs
    He wrote a very scathing article in the Scum attacking Lab staff and shadow cab members. Whether you agree with him or not the article was potentially in violation of party rules and certainly a stupid self inflicted wound that warrants some disciplinary action..

  50. What is Simon Hughes up to nowadays?

    Has Bermondsey had a ‘snap election’ selection like Cambridge, Bristol West, etc etc

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