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. Birkenhead is the classic example of a constituency who would vote for the proverbial donkey with a red rosette. Frank Field has no need to defect (I actually see him more as a Tory than a UKIPPER, not that there’s much difference) but he would be throwing his seat away. As it is, many people way the left of Field vote unerringly for him here. There are also a surprising number of Frank enthusiasts in Birkenhead, though, to be fair. No idea why.

    I really hope Kenny Peers does well here, but can’t see him doing better than a distant second. He’s a good bloke, and would have looked very at home as a Labour candidate pre-Blair. The “red donkey” voters of Birkenhead would be wise to compare the views of the 2 men before voting for one of them!

  2. Frank Field has claimed some Green Party members took photographs as he suffered his heart attack.

  3. Ecowirral – surely you mean a very distant 4th here?

  4. That’s also a possibility….I meant as a very best result. They will probably win 2wards on the day, so there’ll be a decent green turnout.

  5. Mr Nameless-yes, he has. I presume it wasn’t a heart attack? But anyway, it does sound like one Green Party member tried to take a photo of the suspected heart attack. He says that he agreed not to when strongly asked not to by Labour party members (not that that excuses it) and that other people were doing it too (not that that does either!). I think this says more about the modern world than it does about the Greens!

  6. EcoWirral the Greens may well win the Birkenhead and Tranmere ward but what other ward are you claiming they can win? The other five wards look absolutely dreadful for them and they have never got over 10% of the vote in any of them in local elections.

  7. Surely a General Election turnout with Labour polling 60%+ of the vote would prevent any ward not being won by Labour. This is what happened in the rest of Merseyside in 2010, where Tory/LD/Greens would have won on a Locals’ turnout.

  8. Pepperminttea – Rock Ferry. There has been a very recent campaign about a piece of woodland which the council have decided to spend council cash on the fines incurred by cutting down protected trees. It may not translate into votes against Field, but there should be a decent fight for the council seat there.

    I’m not suggesting the Greens have any chance of winning the parliamentary seat, but there is an opportunity to beat a weak Tory party and an even weaker Libdem party. Let’s hope UKIP don’t stand!!!!

  9. Actually…isn’t it a bit surprising UKIP aren’t standing? Maybe they really do know something about Frank’s future plans……

  10. Lancs Observer….it’s a fair point, but Tranmere has been building its Green vote for some time, and won it for the first time last year, so hopefully that may give a boost. Also, Field got 60% last time, when there was no Green candidate. A small proportion of his vote would have been Green last time if there had been.

  11. They will probably win 2wards on the day………….. l very seriously doubt that. l think in a general election that labour will be ahead in every ward in this seat.

  12. I mostly agree with Barnaby. There will be a much bigger Labour turnout in a General, with council seats going their way as 2010 demonstrated.
    Wouldn’t be expecting a Labour gain in Oxton though.

  13. any news about frank field? presumably labour are trying to avoid a new selection this close to an election, or field himself is making a good recovery.

  14. He’s fine as far as I know. He thanked hundreds of well wishers via the Liverpool Echo the other day. I think he blacked out in a packed public meeting more than any suspected heart problem, so I assume he’s standing in May.

  15. EcoWirral – Field’s 62.5% in 2010 (Labour’s 2nd worst) will only go up is surely the assumption. Plus Field has been vocal on the failing DWP and immigration. Wouldn’t Greens have voted LD? IIRC UKIP didn’t stand against a dozen BOO members eg Reckless, Field, Philip Davies last time.

  16. not many other labour mp’s were candidates in 1966 (david winnick was elected for croydon south then). field stood for south bucks in that election, aged 24.

  17. Lancs observer- yes, a good slice of 2010 Greens would have voted LD, but I suspect it was more complex than that. OK….I’ll make a prediction, and you can hold it in evidence on the day:

    labour 60%
    Green 16%
    Tory 16%
    LD 8% (I think they’ll keep a bit through local loyalty in Oxton)

    That would probably represent an equal performance for Field from last time. It would be more interesting if UKIP stood; they claim to be trying to stand everywhere this time, and Birkenhead should have a good demographic for them. Field would still win comfortably, of course.

  18. I grew up in this constituency and my parents still live there. They say they haven’t heard anything from any candidates yet (they live in Birkenhead and Tranmere ward, so I thought they’d have at least heard from the Greens) but suggest that Pat Cleary’s win for the Greens last May was a personality thing; he’d been very visible in the area for years and did some great work. It was, in effect, a vote for him not the Greens.

    With that in mind, and supposing UKIP don’t stand, I’d predict

    Field (Lab) – 68%
    Vasey (Con) – 17%
    Peers (Grn) – 8%
    Brame (Lib) – 7%

  19. P.s. If UKIP *do* stand, I’d argue:

    Field (Lab) – 64%
    Vasey (Con) – 11%
    UKIP – 11%
    Peers (Grn) – 8%
    Brame (Lib) – 6%

  20. Having looked at the last few local elections, Labour have been within a couple of hundred votes of taking Oxton off the Lib Dems, so may end up topping the poll in all wards with the higher GE turnout.

  21. Someone called Wayne Harling apparently standing for UKIP. That puts the Greens 3rd, I reckon.

  22. Labour Hold. 15,000 majority.

  23. Apparently, like in Castle Point, the returning officer made a mistake with the declaration here. He/she read out 162 as the Green figure when it was in fact 1,626. In Castle Point the returning officer read out 80 votes for the LDs when the correct figure was 801.

  24. Labour Cllr Jim Crabtree has been suspended by the NW Labour Party after it was revealed that he got special needs children to deliver Labour leaflets, last month.

    Complaints have been received from parents.

  25. He’s in Birkenhead. Why on earth did he think he NEEDED more leaflets delivering and that THAT was the appropriate way of doing it?!

  26. Yes, this is the Birkenhead thread.

    He was meant to be mentoring them at gardening, apparently.

  27. I think Mrnameless’s point was that in Birkenhead leafleting is unnecessary as the result is a foregone conclusion.

  28. Not saying unecessary – but that sufficient leafleting and contact for a safe seat like this can be carried out with a relatively small CLP rather than stooping to something ridiculous.

  29. Ah I see. Not that it makes much difference (given the increased turnout due to the General), but he was delivering local election leaflets.

    I know they lost Birkenhead (ward) to the Greens last year, but just checked and he was delivering in Bidston ward, so no idea what his reasoning or excuse well be.

    I suppose in safe areas, there’s often lazy Cllrs who find it hard to get anyone to leaflet. That doesn’t of course excuse him using people who lack capacity to support a cause they can’t comprehend. No wonder parents were livid.

  30. “Weeks before polling day, Field placed a £50 bet with a leading bookmaker at odds of 5/1 on a big win by Cameron.

    He did so while fighting successfully to retain his Birkenhead seat in Merseyside.

    He spent his winnings treating his 20-strong campaign team to a four-course meal at the historic Refreshment Rooms restaurant in Birkenhead.

    Labour elder statesman Field, 72, is now chairman of the powerful Commons’ Work and Pensions committee. He told The Mail on Sunday he had no regrets about profiting from Miliband’s demise.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3141737/Fury-Labour-figures-killing-betting-AGAINST-Ed-Miliband.html

  31. Good lad

  32. Ah a good choice for a meal too.

  33. “Harman’s refusal to table reasoned amendments to the welfare bill, outlining the party’s differences with the government, angered Frank Field, the chair of the work and pensions select committee and the former welfare reform minister, who shouted at her that Labour had to defend the “three million strivers” who faced losing £1,000 from tax credit cuts (prompting Keith Vaz to quip that he never thought he’d see the day when she would be “attacked from the left” by Field).”

    Fun at the PLP meeting (courtesy of the NS).

  34. Frank Field has said “Momentum can’t get rid of 60 of us. Any they pick off should cause a By-election, stand as Independent Labour and we’ll all go and support them.”

  35. If you are completely out of sympathy with the party you are representing, then you have a problem. It may well be that the party has left you rather than you leaving the party, but the problem is the same.

    There is a major redistribution coming up, as a result of the reduction of seats. This will mean a proper selection process in a large number of seats. Why would any party member vote for someone who is clearly out of sympathy with their party?

    PS: Field should be all right as his Birkenhead seat will be expanded, but should remain much the same.

  36. Labour MPs supporting Leave according to the Guardian:

    Frank Field
    Gisela Stuart
    Ronnie Campbell
    Roger Godsiff
    Kate Hoey
    Kelvin Hopkins
    Khalid Mahmood
    Graham Stringer

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2016/feb/23/how-will-your-mp-vote-in-the-eu-referendum

  37. Dennis Skinner is also Out – not sure why the Guardian have missed him.

    Ironically electing a relatively Eurosceptic leader has probably shortened this list. As rebellious backbenchers there is a fair chance that Corbyn, McDonnell and some of their other supporters now on the front bench might have followed the old Bennite line and gone with Leave. But the decision, probably correctly, seems to be that this isn’t a fight worth having with the vast majority of Labour MPs who are for In.

  38. What about John Mann? He was very critical of Cameron’s so-called renegotiation.

  39. Yes, I somehow expected Mann to support Leave. He’s not one of Labour’s main Eurosceptics like Field or Hoey, but he’s a critical backbencher.

  40. Not sure John Mann’s declared yet. Guido have him as In, though their list is a bit dodgy in places and he could well be Out.

  41. Regional (NW) News referred to Frank Field as 1 of 10 Labour MPs supporting Leave.

  42. Ha just re-read EcoWirral’s Green ramping here.

  43. Incidentally, John Mann was just giving BoE Governor Carney a hard time. Mann sounds like he’s voting Leave from this session.

  44. Frank Field MP:

    “Of course the Catholic Church supports EU immigration. It almost depends on it. Well, most Poles are Catholic and most people in this Country aren’t.”

    Something I hadn’t considered before now, but it’ll be interesting if the Leave v Remain vote splits in the same way the Scottish Referendum vote split along Protestant No v RC Yes lines in Glasgow. Although I realise this is only a consideration confined to perhaps 50 seats in areas such as Merseyside and Glasgow mainly (as well as Corby and Northern Ireland where the DUP support Leave).

  45. “He comes out with all of this old claptrap. Jeremy sends half of the electorate weeping in one direction and the rest laughing in the other. He has to go.” Frank Field MP live on Sky News.

    Journalists are currently trying to locate Angela Eagle re a Leadership bid.

    At the last count, 7 or 8 members of the Shadow Cabinet have resigned – but it’s hard to keep up at the moment!

  46. And Chris Bryant is considering his position. Be surprised if remains by tomorrow.

  47. I was slightly amazed Coaker (Cooper supporter, pro-Trident) stayed on in the first place. Bryant is a bit of a maverick who loves being in the shadow cabinet – on the face of it he should go but don’t be surprised if he stays. Lord Falconer is also still there at the moment!

  48. I think it’s just with it being a Sunday morning/afternoon – a lot can’t be contacted.

    Tom Watson is on his way back from Glastonbury. Falconer on holiday I think. Bryant loves the media but not heard anything yet.

    Of those outside, Jarvis, Chuka are keeping quiet upto now.

  49. Ha not so sure about Watson, ’til we hear from him.

    Oh yes. JC would try to stay.

    It’s whether he could get sufficient noms from MPs to even stand. After all Frank was one of those last time.

  50. Word is that Lab have taken legal advice and JC will automatically be on a leadership ballot.

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