Birkenhead

2015 Result:
Conservative: 5816 (14.9%)
Labour: 26468 (67.6%)
Lib Dem: 1396 (3.6%)
Green: 1626 (4.2%)
UKIP: 3838 (9.8%)
MAJORITY: 20652 (52.8%)

Category: Ultra-safe Labour seat

Geography: North West, Merseyside. Part of the Wirral council area.

Main population centres: Birkenhead.

Profile: A gritty working class industrial seat facing Liverpool across the Mersey and connected to it through the Mersey tunnel. This is a seat facing problems of unemployment and deprivation, of industrial terraced housing and council blocks. Historically the main source of employment was the shipbuilding industry and it continues to cling on in the area, with the new owners of the historic Cammell Laird name still repairing ships in the old Cammell Laird Docks.

Politics: A safe Labour seat, held by the party since its creation in 1950, since the 1980s by towering majorities.


Current MP
FRANK FIELD (Labour) Born 1942, Edmonton. Educated at St Clement Danes School and Hull University. Former further education teacher. Hounslow councillor 1964-1968. Contested South Buckinghamshire 1966. First elected as MP for Birkenhead in 1979. Minister for Welfare Reform 1997-1998, he was appointed to think the unthinkable, did so, and was reshuffled out of the position, resigning rather than accept an alternate position. He publicly criticised Gordon Brown as Labour leader, backing Geof Hoon and Patricia Hewitt's calls for a leadership ballot. He is a social Conservative, somewhat detached from the Labour mainstream and seen as a guru of welfare reform, albeit, one often more admired from the political right than the left. He was appointed as David Cameron`s poverty tzar in 2010.
Past Results
2010
Con: 6687 (19%)
Lab: 22082 (63%)
LDem: 6554 (19%)
MAJ: 15395 (44%)
2005*
Con: 4602 (17%)
Lab: 18059 (65%)
LDem: 5125 (18%)
MAJ: 12934 (47%)
2001
Con: 4827 (17%)
Lab: 20418 (70%)
LDem: 3722 (13%)
MAJ: 15591 (54%)
1997
Con: 5982 (15%)
Lab: 27825 (71%)
LDem: 3548 (9%)
Oth: 1168 (3%)
MAJ: 21843 (56%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
CLARK VASEY (Conservative)
FRANK FIELD (Labour) See above.
ALLAN BRAME (Liberal Democrat)
WAYNE HARLING (UKIP)
KENNY PEERS (Green)
Links
Comments - 209 Responses on “Birkenhead”
  1. Best interview I’ve ever seen is Field reminiscing about his year at DWP. Blair told to cut welfare so he said ‘in real terms, cash terms or GDP’, Blair looled blank so Field offered to write him a memo which Blair took. Next day Field found a note on his table say ‘just cut welfare’

  2. Yh he was instructed: ‘think the unthinkable’, and when he did he was promptly fired.

  3. What did Field actually propose when he was at the DWP?

    Of all the de-selected MPs who fought their constituencies as independents – and heavily lost as nearly all did – Field’s result surprised me the most.

    He had been MP here for a long time, was well known and well liked. He might have pipped the Tories to second place but 17% of the vote seems like thin pickings

  4. “What did Field actually propose when he was at the DWP?”

    1. Field has consistently argued against means testing of welfare, saying that paying benefits to the middle class (eg child benefit) gives them a stake in the system and solidifies support for helping those who really need it.

    2. Field has consistently been in favour of schemes to get people to work for their benefit rather than leaving them to fester on the dole.

    3. Field was a critic of forcing mothers, especially single mothers, back to work when they would have preferred to stay at home looking after their kids.

    Field’s proposals would have cost a lot more money in the short term in the hope of savings and fewer social problems in the long term…Blair and the Treasury wouldn’t accept them due to the short term cost.

    Ironically IDS resigned over a similar disagreement with Osborne and Cameron.

  5. Yes the IDS resignation was an interesting one and gave a real insight into cameroonisms attitude to welfare. IDS was a proper free marketter who really saw PIP for what it really was, going after disability benefit while continuing to defend wintervfuel allowance and triple lock on pensions

  6. Field’s suggestions sound perfectly reasonable – even more so at the time I would imagine after decades of high unemployment and this was prior to the new deal and other Government schemes requiring claimants to earn their welfare payments.

    What I don’t see is how that was thinking the unthinkable

  7. I agree.

    At the time, even very minor changes from Thatcherite orthodoxy (slight increases in income tax for example) did seem like “thinking the unthinkable”.

  8. HH is right at the time we had a Labour government that had committed to two years of Conservative spending plans and no increase in income taxation

  9. As well as setting up the Frank Field Educational Trust, Frank has now endorsed the Free Speech Union.

    From what I can see it is an all-Party group established by Toby Young, the former chair of the Equality & Human Rights Commission Trevor Phillips etc.

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