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 - 170 Responses on “Birkenhead”
  1. The only Labour MP in Scotland has resigned as Shadow Scottish Secretary, so they might have some difficulty filling that role.

  2. Frank Field is facing a civil action for defamation from Sir Philip Green.

    He received a letter from Schillings requesting an apology within 24 hours. FF refused.

    SPG doesn’t seem aware that truth is a defence to slander.

    Yes, what Frank said might lower people’s opinion of him, but it was true!

    Indeed, FF was quite mild. He could well have gone on to say both SPG & Napoleon or Maxwell were short, looked like the Joker and disappeared on a boat.

    But seriously, SPG could have saved his £ by reading Keith Schillings piece on reputational damage on his site:

    “What the business community does not appreciate is being kept in the dark. If they feel a management team is not being transparent about the company they will take a very dim view.”

  3. No surprise that sir philip tries to use the sutuation to make more money, this time in court

    Its laughable to suggest green has or ever had any intention of cleaning up his mess, and theresa may should take this opportunity to show that she really does stand up against and the underserving rich and strip him of his knighthood and kick him out of the country

  4. Quite the opposite in fact.

    He’s behaving like Richard Pryor in Brewster’s Millions of late.

    Apparently he’s thin skinned – hence the threats to sue, even though there’s little prospect of success.

  5. Frank Field has welcomed the proposed £10k per household payouts to those in Fracking areas, such as his.

    He went further, arguing that it could garner working class support for May in the same way that the Right to Buy did for Maggie.

  6. I suspect Sir Philip Green’s prospects of success in a defamation action against Frank Field must be near 0% now.

    http://news.sky.com/story/philip-green-10540903

  7. Sir Philip Green has sent another letter to Frank Field accusing him of making defamatory statements.

    If it’s all so defamatory surely he would have issued proceedings by now.

  8. http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/136-year-old-oxton-conservative-12349446

    A Conservative Club on Merseyside has decided to allow women to become members from 01.01.17.

    [Before people ask, 2 others here still do not allow women members]

  9. The efforts of the admirable Frank Field ought to be recognised very son. How is it that people like Green are Honoured and not the likes of the courageous Field? He’s a credit to the Labour movement.

  10. This letter in the Guardian presumably is what EcoWirral thinks of the LDs and their 2010 voters who now vote Tory rather than Labour or Green:

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/02/lib-dem-voters-may-be-a-problem-for-a-progressive-alliance

  11. That word “progressive” again.

  12. I love the letter underneath, which accuses the Guardian of turning its back on “free-thinking journalism” by failing to write exclusively columns that she agrees with.

  13. There have been and I recall mention of one current Conservative-Labour administration running a local authority. The reality is, particularly where elections are only 4 years, that some interesting coalitions crop up in the name of stability.

  14. Frank Field MP has turned up today to vote with the Government, despite his arm being in a sling.

  15. Frank Field has resigned the Labour whip.

    Jumping before he was pushed?

  16. And so Field becomes the second major political martyr this week (the first being John McCain).

    Both men combined great decency and ability with inexplicable lack of judgement at times.

    What on God’s earth posessed Field to nominate Corbyn for the leadership?

    Though nothing can compare with McCain’s judgement recruiting Sarah Palin as his VP candidate. Not only did it utterly ruin his campaign, it resulted in the toxic establishment of the Tea Party and arguably led in the end to the election of President Trump. All developments, ironically, which McCain hated.

  17. Tbf he nominated both Diane Abbott & John McDonnell in 2010 & 2007

  18. Shows his judgement to be even worse.

    Nominating a leader whom you would object to if they won is just plain dumb.

  19. ‘Nominating a leader whom you would object to if they won is just plain dumb.’

    Lots of MPs did it with Corbyn – Beckett for example – all in the name in giving the party greater choice

    But Corbyn won by such a large margin that you have to ask whether these MPs understand their own party and even if they do, none of them seemed ti recognise the effects of what Milliband did do apply for membership – which passed without any controversy at the time

    Field is another Kate Hoey – politically all over the place

  20. Tbf Margaret Beckett was a former member of the socialist campaign group and a campaign for labour party democracy backed NEC member. Corbyn even voted for her in the 1994 leadership election.

    MPs probably aren’t sitting on the pulse of Labour Party members but even if they were it would have been a difficult position when a significant number of Labour members clearly wanted Corbyn on the ballot

  21. Hard to disagree with that.

    This was a rather odd move IMO.

    Field is pushing 80 so was likely to stand down at the next election anyway. He should have stayed and fought his corner just as he successfully did when Militant tried to remove him in the 80s. He will have less impact as an independent.

  22. Matt Wilson- Beckett disavowed her old leftist views decades ago. It’s no more relevant than Peter Mandelson or Peter Hitchens being a former communist. The system of requiring enough MP nominations is there for a reason, namely to block unsuitable candidates. Labour is now reaping what silly MPs like Field and Beckett have sowed.

  23. Some speculation that Field might resign his seat and trigger a by-election.

    I can’t see him beating an official Labour candidate unless they are blindingly awful.

    Wouldn’t be good news for the government re Brexit votes.

  24. One thing that’s just popped into my head – as Select Committee chairmanships are reserved to specific parties, will Frank Field be able to hold onto his or is it going to go to another Labour MP?

    It would be a shame, whatever else you think of him, that was a job he did very well. (Though he did have Philip Green and Mike Ashley for opponents, anyone would look good next to those two.)

  25. I think the select committee chairmanships are divvied out between government and opposition. Unless he joins the Tories he will still be in opposition so probably safe. It probably also depends on how sympathetic the majority of the PLP are.

  26. ‘It probably also depends on how sympathetic the majority of the PLP are.’

    I doubt too many will share Chris Williamson’s unsympathetic assessment on Newsnight yesterday

    He made the odd pertinent point, but he’s establishing himself a reputation as the Corbynista to go to when it comes to defending the indefensible

  27. My great granddad was a stalwart of Derby North CLP, in the days when it was controlled by the National Union of Railwaymen and thus relatively moderate. He must be turning in his grave to see the MP there now. One Labour MP which I think stands a good chance of being booted out next time.

  28. Regional News voxpop in Birkenhead today asked how people would vote in any by-election.

    4 said Independent Field and 2 said Labour.

  29. Tbf having campaigned in Derby I’ve found despite his views which you might find anathema he seems rather a good MP and well liked by his constitents. A combination of his time as Derby leader & his constitency work even when he lost his seat. Unfortunately in contrast Derby councils pay review has made them deeply unpopular. Chris’ result was one of the best in the Midlands. Tbf he only need a small swing but now has a 2k maj and was the only gain in the East Midlands on a night when the average swing in EM was barely noticable

  30. Matt
    “was the only gain in the East Midlands on a night when the average swing in EM was barely noticeable”

    Not totally accurate, Lincoln was another Labour gain in the EM and as it happens represented by another member of the Labour nutty bar society, John McDonnell’s PPS Karen Lee famous for continuing to work as an NHS nurse despite being elected as an MP and for publically wishing Fidel Castro a happy Birthday…every rose has its thorn and all that.

  31. I’ve never heard of her tbh. I must be getting slow with old age

  32. Lancs
    “Regional News voxpop in Birkenhead today asked how people would vote in any by-election.

    4 said Independent Field and 2 said Labour”

    Ah the ever famous television vox pop, famous for predicting nothing ever.

    Sorry but Frank Field has no chance in a by election, Birkenhead is monkey in a red rosette territory and even still Labour would flood the seat with activists to ensure a big a defeat as possible.

    Also despite all the huff I imagine Fields personal vote is pretty insignificant. If electoral history tells us anything its that the average punter in the street doesn’t care about their MP’s being the chair of a select committee or other Westminster bubble stuff, to garner a significant personal vote as an MP you need to be very locally active (regular campaign sessions and surgeries, active in local events etc) which even his greatest admirers would have to admit doesn’t apply to Frank Field who is renown for being despised by and likewise despising his own CLP (been the case for decades) and thus avoids his seat like the plague.

  33. “I’ve never heard of her tbh. I must be getting slow with old age”

    She seems like a mostly decent egg but yeah hasn’t made the same waves (good or bad) as some of the other Corbynista’s to get elected in 2017.

    Aren’t you only a year or two older than me? Don’t be writing yourself off yet or I’ll start to ponder how old I’m getting XD

  34. “Sorry but Frank Field has no chance in a by election, Birkenhead is monkey in a red rosette territory and even still Labour would flood the seat with activists to ensure a big a defeat as possible.

    Also despite all the huff I imagine Fields personal vote is pretty insignificant. If electoral history tells us anything its that the average punter in the street doesn’t care about their MP’s being the chair of a select committee or other Westminster bubble stuff”

    Some deselected MPs have got circa 5000 votes when they stood as independents in the relatively recent past (Andrew Pelling a good example, also John Browne), indeed Dave Nellist did rather better than that, and there is also the example of Blaenau Gwent. But in Birkenhead Field would have to get at least 40% of the vote to win as an independent, given the weakness of the non-Labour parties, and that is very very unlikely IMO.

    By the way I have noticed a lot of the media today referring to Birkenhead being in Liverpool…bet that goes down well locally.

  35. Lol yes I am in fact only a few years old I’m perhaps being over dramatic

  36. I agree an independent Frank Field wouldn’t stand a chance here against the Labour machine (and it is quite the machine). He might do better to go gracefully.

    The fact that some vox pops support him is evidence of nothing beyond the broadcaster’s preconceived narrative.

    See my comments on the Wakefield thread for how absurdly unrepresentative vox pops can be. (Yes, that was during the last election, well over a year ago, but that particular example was so extreme that it has stayed with me.)

  37. There was a famous vox pop / voodoo poll in Edinburgh Pentlands in 1997 predicting Malcolm Rifkind coming last with something like 5% of the vote. Circumstances in that election were such that some of the media took it seriously.

  38. Re: Fields chances of re-election standing as an IND –
    I wouldn’t say he has “no chance” but would agree that it seems unlikely.

    For GE2005 the trunout for the seat was just 48% and just 52% in 2015. Compare this with 68% for GE2017 and it suggests that a decent – & genuine – Leftie there would be a very popular choice.

    Btw, Field is fond of justifying his post EU referendum actions by declaring BIRKENHEAD voted LEAVE, but it was only just about: it is estimated* that BIRKENHEAD voted just 52% LEAVE.

    *Chris Hanretty,Professor of Politics, Royal Holloway

    https://medium.com/@chrishanretty/revised-estimates-of-leave-vote-share-in-westminster-constituencies-c4612f06319d

  39. According to Wikipedia, turnout in 2015 was 63%. I think you must have read the wrong line, as the majority in that election was 52%.

  40. You’re right. It was though just 56% in the previous GE.

  41. “Field is fond of justifying his post EU referendum actions by declaring BIRKENHEAD voted LEAVE, but it was only just about: it is estimated* that BIRKENHEAD voted just 52% LEAVE.”

    An interesting observation.

    Also worth saying that Birkenhead has had a pretty strong Green presence over the past decade, partly courtesy of my former colleague Patrick Clearly, and also Ecowirral formerly of this parish. It does suggest perhaps a bit of postindustrial Brightonesque left wing gentrification in bits of the locality, though by and large it remains a very poor seat.

  42. In a recent mega poll by yougov of a second ref by constituency shows birkenhead to have flipped

  43. “Also worth saying that Birkenhead has had a pretty strong Green presence over the past decade, partly courtesy of my former colleague Patrick Clearly, and also Ecowirral formerly of this parish. It does suggest perhaps a bit of postindustrial Brightonesque left wing gentrification in bits of the locality, though by and large it remains a very poor seat”

    I’d say this is broadly accurate, It may surprise some but a lot of the Labour vote in Birkenhead these days is actually of the middle class metropolitan lefty variety.

    Very significant chunks of this seat (Oxton, Claughton, Noctorum, parts of Prenton and Bidston and the areas on the periphery of Birkenhead park) are made up of some pretty ornate and often very large period properties. The fact that their on the “wrong” side of the Mersey and more often than not in some pretty scruffy areas means these properties are surprisingly cheap making them very popular with a certain bohemian crowd.

  44. Isn’t this true of most if the Wirral. Wallesy turned Labour for the first time in 1992 and South/West are historically marginal

  45. ‘Wallesy turned Labour for the first time in 1992 and South/West are historically marginal’

    Up until 1997 both South & West were considered safe Tory seats – West especially so

    But then prior to the 90s other nearby seats like Crosby (sefton Central), Wallasey and Chester – had never been represented by anything other than a Tory throughout the post war period, and prior to that there were Tory seats in Liverpool itself – like Wavertree

    The area had fallen out of love with the Tories decades ago – and slowly that’s come to encompass even middle class seats like Crosby, Chester and Wirrals West and South

  46. “Up until 1997 both South & West were considered safe Tory seats”

    The predecessor seat of Wirral South was Labour-held from 1974-1979 and only very marginally Tory in 1979…though as its boundaries included Ellesmere Port they were almost certainly better for Labour than the current ones.

    I think your general point is a valid one and that the composition of the middle class vote in Wirral and Crosby has shifted towards more left leaning groups over the past 30 years. Also, during the 80s and early 90s, I expect disgust at Derek Hatton etc probably propped up the Tory vote in Wirral and Crosby for longer than otherwise would have been the case, just as happened with loony left infested London boroughs.

  47. Frank Field has chickened out of resigning to force a by-election.

    Clearly he disagrees with Lancs Observer’s vox pops and has concluded during his “weekend speaking with constituents” that he would be defeated.

    His shooting his mouth off with big threats last week has made him look like a bit of a clown and a coward now. He’ll sadly be as forgotten as Danczuk in a year or two (another of Lancs favourites if I recall). Like May, Corbyn is exceptionally lucky in his enemies at the moment.

  48. Yep..Seems disingenuous to say ” I’m taking the Party to Court, so I won’t have time to fight an election”.

    Labour NEC results released at 8pm tonight. It’s been widely reported that the JC9 (Corbynites/M) have achieved a clean sweep.

  49. Cue the: “I’m leaving cos the anti Semite, Pete Wilsman, has been re elected” from a few fanatics.

  50. My wife is pretty apolitical and has been a Con-Lib Dem floating voter for the 12 years I’ve known her. Unlike me, I could see the circumstances where she might vote for Labour even under Corbyn.

    Yesterday during the BBC news she said that she’s fed up to the back teeth with all this anti-Semitism stuff. Without expressing which side of the debate she’s fed up with – she just thinks it’s totally irrelevant to the big issues facing the country and she’s totally right. I imagine she’s speaking for many non-politicos right now.

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