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 - 189 Responses on “Birkenhead”
  1. Cllr Sylvia Hodrien has died and a by-election is to be held next month in Upton.

  2. [Snip]

    Labour vote might fall against the trend here in 2015:

    Lab 60
    UKIP 15
    LD 13
    Con 12

  3. Has Anthony decided to snip A Brown’s life stories in his predictions?

  4. I sometimes do wonder what would have happened if Labour had accepted Field’s welfare reform proposals all those years ago. Given how toxic the issue became in the media since the previous decade, could implementing his reforms have helped them scrape a win in 2010? If Field’s legacy had remained with Labour throughout even the Brown years, might it have taken some problems off their shoulders re questions over their management of the economy?

  5. Has Anthony decided to snip A Brown’s life stories in his predictions?’

    Yes.

  6. I am sure the LD vote will be below the con vote come 2015. (A Brown)

  7. Can’t see that happening at all.

  8. Frank Field received the 10th highest Labour share of the vote in 2010. I’m pretty sure this would have been the first time he was in that particular top 10. (Of course only having 3 candidates standing probably assisted a bit).

  9. Local election votes:

    Lab 9,726 (48.2%)
    UKIP 3,530 (17.5%)
    Green 2,665 (13.2%)
    LD 2,219 (11.0%)
    Con 1,864 (9.2%)
    Ind 64 (0.3%)
    Oth 91 (0.5%)

  10. There wasn’t a huge variation in the number of Labour votes cast in the four constituencies in this year’s local elections:

    Birkenhead: 9,726
    Wallasey: 9,487
    Wirral South: 7,213
    Wirral West: 6,719

  11. On that basis, here is my prediction for 2015-
    Field (Labour)- 58%
    Conservative- 14%
    Green- 10%
    UKIP- 9.5%
    Liberal Democrats- 8.5%

  12. One of the interesting things about this seat is that it is not uniformly deprived (though the worst parts are some of the most deprived in the entire country). Oxton and Prenton lie to the south-west of Birkenhead proper and are both pretty smart, particularly Oxton which is home to Birkenhead School (alma mater of F.E. Smith).

  13. I’ve been to Birkenhead myself and I thought it was a very good place.

  14. The high Labour vote in some places in Merseyside doesn’t always mean the area in question is in a bad state. I was travelling along the front at Bootle about a year ago and the area looked quite nice. Maybe the inland wards are more run down. The same was true in Birkenhead and Wallasey.

  15. What would be the likelihood of Mr Field becoming a defector to UKIP? Farage is hinting of a ‘senior’ Labour MP considering the move, and I think Frank quite fits the bill.

  16. I’m not from the area, though I do live on the other side of the Mersey from here, and I can say I’m not at all surprised that Frank Field could well be the next defector to UKIP. Even if he isn’t, he may still go across in the near future. If he did, he could hold this in his new colours, as I think he enjoys some degree of personal popularity here that could be kept if he stood for UKIP, but I could see the result being close with Labour, and a hold for him in the 30’s in such circumstances.

  17. I’m certainly he would be crushed if he defected and held a by-election. Not only is this very Labour territory, but it’s surrounded by very Labour territory with piles of resources to throw in. I would imagine very few Labour members would follow him over to UKIP.

  18. Of the most Eurosceptic Labour MPs, Field as well as Kate Hoey are the only ones with some propensity. Other Eurosceptics are part of the Campaign Group so they wouldn’t go to UKIP. If either of them actually defected and triggered a by-election they’d have a major uphill battle. Birkenhead is tough given the size of the Labour majority (although UKIP could take distant second place due to weak Tory and Lib Dem votes), but Vauxhall would be out of the question. It’s in London and contains the demographics UKIP haven’t done well with. Both MPs are not universally liked by the grassroots of the party.

  19. Labour locally here have been struggling a bit recently however, and they lost a ward in Birkenhead to the Greens not all that long ago.

    While I admit it’s actually quite unlikely Field would win again for UKIP, Labour would fall back some way here in by-election conditions definitely, it would just be a matter of how many votes Frank Field would also be able to draw from the Tories and Lib Dems- If it was an extremely fanciful narrow win for Field, perhaps something like-

    Field (UKIP)- 39%
    Labour- 38%
    Green- 14%
    Conservative- 7%
    Liberal Democrat- 2%

  20. “I’m not at all surprised that Frank Field could well be the next defector to UKIP. Even if he isn’t, he may still go across in the near future.”

    You do say some extremely daft things The Results. Frank Field may be a maverick but he is Labour through and through and won’t be defecting to UKIP or anywhere else in a million years. Field ran the Child Poverty Action Group and the Low Pay Unit in the 1970s. To envisage him sat in the same party as Farage is ridiculous.

  21. I’m being a bit adventurous here I’ll gleefully admit- I like to be a bit eccentric, and I struggle to hide it often-times. I was manically covering all potential bases for the future in declaring Frank Field UKIP defector number 3, and having a bit of a laugh at the same time.

  22. Any defector from Labour will probably be someone you haven’t thought of. Or perhaps someone like Austin Mitchell who is standing down anyway and thinks “fuck it”. But there’s no chance it’ll be Field or Hoey. Both enjoy staying Labour out of sheer bloody mindedness. Hoey also regularly criticises Labour’s Lambeth councillors from the left.

  23. I’d be amazed if we saw a Labour MP defect this side of the GE.

    Not because I don’t think there are some who would consider it, but because a small Labour majority with a small but vocal group of UKIP MPs would probably give them more backbench influence than joining UKIP outright. That and the fact that they probably wouldn’t win re-election in 2015 even if they did pull off a by-election.

  24. If a third Tory MP defects before a Labour one does, I’d guess the chances of a Labour defection drop considerably. Nobody wants to be Brocklebank-Fowler.

  25. I think UKIP will be thirsting for a labour defector.

  26. I was in Birkenhead recently with work, a truly grim and awful place in the main. Given Labour have controlled for so long surely people must be up for a change.

    If not then a strange mentality, Liverpool and Birkenhead must be right up there for total grim deprivation, not just isolated sink areas, most areas are horrible.

  27. I dont really know how likely it would be, but a defection here as people say would be massive.

    With the current problems in Scotland and the South Labour need to hold onto every seat they can get for there 35%

    What would interest me is would Field hold onto the seat in a by-election?

  28. Most areas of Liverpool and Birkenhead are not ‘horrible’. There are some areas of deprivation, but others which are anything but – of course they are urban areas, and if you want chintz and countryside, the same criticism could be aimed at any city district

  29. Sorry Liverpool is always right at the top of most of the deprivation stats, I have to travel a lot and it has to be at the top in my opinion for overall grimness.

    Surely the people can’t be happy with their lot, a defection from an MP from this area would be very interesting.

  30. Stagnation,

    Field would have a hell of a mountain to climb – a 22% swing would be needed to take this from Labour, probably more given that lots of Lib Dems would vote Labour.

  31. Wait that mistook the Cons for UKIP. I meant a 31% swing from a standing start.

  32. MRNAMELESS,

    My exact thought, Labour voters on the whole tend to be very loyal to the party too.

    I dont know the area I was wondering if he was maybe a very popular MP or something… if he isnt then I cant understand why there was any chance he would defect.

  33. His majority is certainly very large but I think it would be whoever had the seat. His economic views are not likely to be those shared by most of his voters.

  34. Ian Wright – Merseymike is right. I accept if the routes you drive in to the city are bad eg Gillmoss or Huyton. [Indeed it was always a joke that you knew you had entered the city boundary as the grass was higher and houses were boarded up and that’s why Labour were so unpopular in Lpool in the ’90s and the LibDems gained it in ’98 til 2010.] But, Lpool has more parkland and green spaces than any UK city outside the capital. Woolton has better demographics than most wards in the North West. There are very quaint villages in Gateacre and West Derby and the most listed buildings of any city centre outside the capital, as well as a UNESCO Waterfront. It’s certainly no longer the second city of the empire, but is not the grim state it was in the ’70s and ’80s. There are plenty of grim places in the NW, from Blackpool to Oldham. Trust me, I’ve been!

  35. I don’t think Field is likely to defect. If he did so, he would be extremely unlikely to beat Labour.

  36. ‘It’s certainly no longer the second city of the empire, but is not the grim state it was in the ’70s and ’80s. There are plenty of grim places in the NW, from Blackpool to Oldham. ‘

    That’s the impression I got when I visited for a wedding lasat year – I expected it to be considerably worst

    I would say the likes of Manchester, Oldham, Blackburn, Preston and Burnley are in a worst state than Liverpool

  37. Tim J – true. Manc and Salford had riots and looting in the city centre, whereas one shop was in Lpool in 2011. Oldham is well known for them. Blackburn and its environs were surprisingly green and pleasant when I went to a wedding, last year. Although some would probably be in the Ribble Valley and Rossendale & Darwen seats.

  38. Still can’t have it North Liverpool has to be the worst area I have visited in England and Birkenhead a close second.

  39. Your loss. Please don’t come again!

  40. Personally I find Milton Keynes weirder and less prepossessing than Liverpool.

  41. Greater Manchester has worse areas than Merseyside.

  42. The Labour, and also the Tory vote, have both held up relatively well here. Not quite sure why that is.
    That’s about the most interesting thing I can say about this seat.

  43. I don’t know the answer to that one Joe. Demographics maybe?

  44. I don’t know Birkenhead at all. One thing I do remember from the Almanac of British Politics was Robert Waller’s saying that Birkenhead is rather fluid, that it sometimes isn’t very clear where Birkenhead as a town ends & another begins. Anyone who knows the area agree or disagree with that?

  45. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/rochester-aftermath-labour-backbenchers-call-to-arms-against-partys-north-london-set-9878724.html

    ‘Labour is dominated by a “north London set” who must be “demolished” if the party is to reconnect with its core support, a senior backbencher warned today.’

    ‘The former minister Frank Field said the flag incident was “the most serious thing that has happened” to the party.’

  46. The polls don’t show anything of the kind. At least not so far. In any case Ed Miliband dealt with it quickly & firmly. Field can hardly talk in any case being a very middle-class Southerner. If the polls show no impact from this rather odd incident, Field will look very silly.

  47. Austin Mitchell’s western counterpart sounds off again. I actually have more time than some in the Labour Party for Frank Field, but sometimes it’s pretty clear he likes to cause trouble.

  48. Frank Field was rushed to Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital last night, after collapsing at a public meeting. He’s said to be sitting up and doing well and will release a statement later today.

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