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
Con: 6687 (19%)
Lab: 22082 (63%)
LDem: 6554 (19%)
MAJ: 15395 (44%)
Con: 4602 (17%)
Lab: 18059 (65%)
LDem: 5125 (18%)
MAJ: 12934 (47%)
Con: 4827 (17%)
Lab: 20418 (70%)
LDem: 3722 (13%)
MAJ: 15591 (54%)
Con: 5982 (15%)
Lab: 27825 (71%)
LDem: 3548 (9%)
Oth: 1168 (3%)
MAJ: 21843 (56%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
CLARK VASEY (Conservative)
FRANK FIELD (Labour) See above.
ALLAN BRAME (Liberal Democrat)
Comments - 213 Responses on “Birkenhead”
  1. ‘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.’

    I think she’s one of many. Many of my Tory-supporting friends think this is largely an irrelevance

    At the rusk of being accused of anti-semitism myself it’s not too surprising that the most Jewish-dominated industry in the UK (the press) should seek to use the anti-semitic tag to demoinize a man they clearly despise

    What is surprisingly is that those newspapers that are making the biggest deal of it are those who are the last to speak (if they speak at all) whenever a Muslim, a black or an Asian is a victim of racism

  2. Hemmelig: “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.”

    See also: Brexit.

  3. HH
    “He’ll sadly be as forgotten as Danczuk in a year or two (another of Lancs favourites if I recall)”

    Lancs predicted that Danczuk was in with a good chance of winning Rochdale as an independant in 201…as it happened Danczuk got less than 2 percent

    I think Frqnk Field would do better, a held deposit would be possible, 10 percent or more? Less so

  4. “See also: Brexit.”

    I don’t think even the most disinterested Joe Bloggs on the Clapham Omnibus would say that Brexit is irrelevant among the big issues we face today. This might have been the point you were trying to make but it doesn’t read that way.

    “I think Frqnk Field would do better, a held deposit would be possible, 10 percent or more? Less so”

    Field has been around for donkeys’ years, has a good name as a campaigning MP and hasn’t been mired in repeated sex scandals. So you’re probably right. Though Birkenhead is much more “donkey with a red rosette” territory than Rochdale is.

  5. Hemmy: okay, put it this way, Brexit was an irrelevance to the country until we voted for it. It was an internecine war within the Conservatives in the same way that the anti-Semitism/Palestine/IHRA stuff is in Labour, that in both cases held back the parties from their pursuing their primary goals.

    Back on FF, he’s said he won’t trigger a by-election. From a purely psephological perspective, I feel we need one (in a seat more relevant to the next general election than Lewisham East, or indeed Birkenhead) to test the waters, because I’m not convinced current polling methodology has yet quite caught up with the shifts in the electoral landscape. Peterborough would certainly be interesting.

  6. Polling is dead MRP is the future

  7. The thing is, I saw how MRP got results at the last election, but instinctively I don’t trust it because I don’t know how it works.

    If polling is irreparably broken, well I think that’s not only a shame from an academic point of view, but it does have real-world consequences. No matter how often people repeat that Peter Hitchens quote (you know the one), polling really does help politicians learn what their electorates want. Since democratic politics is largely an exercise in giving voters what they want, if you lose the ability to reliably obtain that knowledge then both politicians and voters lose out.

  8. MRP crunches quite large samples, in the GE YouGov polled 50,000 people which is why its so expensive, and then it maps what we know from British Election studies like turnout, demographics, general psephology, etc. onto the population as a whole which is why they were able to predict results by constituency without having to resort to uniform swing.

    I’m not sure determining policy based on polling is a particularly good way to govern imo and I think the excuses made by Matt Singh & co that we’d be worse off without it while probably true just isn’t good enough. Pollsters really need to uo their game and actually win back people’s trust and threats of black market polling or odds fixing with dodgy commissions just dont cut it

  9. I think its too early to call curtains on traditional polling but I do agree that its on very shaky ground.

    The problem as I see it is that its pretty much impossible for pollsters to properly determine the electoral landscape and then factor this into their filters etc. What I mean by this is that the last two UK elections (with their respective polling bloopers) the US election, the EU ref etc all had the same problem. the filters were wrong and what’s worse they were all wrong in different directions, over estimating or underestimating certain groups likelihood to vote. How can the pollsters expect to predict how enthused the young are in a given election? Yes I know they ask questions on that but as we’ve seen the public often often straight up lie.

  10. The problem is when it comes to GE inaccuracies in polling didnt really matter from 1997-2010 since they got the result right even if they were out but the last 2 elections produced entirely different results highlighting that unless the result isnt in doubt modern polling struggles.

    What really tops it off is most pollsters wpuld have got the 2015 election right had they been using 2017 weighting and the 2017 result right with 2015 weighting. What a paradox to find yourseld in

  11. I tell you what could renovate polling (in a very bad way) – the power of big tech.

    Right now, Facebook probably has as good a handle on what the British public thinks as Yougov. That’s actually terrifying considering they’re not even trying to investigate us like that, they just happen to have world-class market research (using datasets far, far larger than
    any pollster could manage) as a byproduct of their business model.

  12. Frank Field has said he will not join the new Independent Group and that he has his own plans. Are we going to see a second splinter of Pro-Brexit Labour Mp’s?

  13. At 76 years old, his only ‘plans’ should be retirement. Mhairi Black is too young, this old duffer is too old.

  14. Frank Field has confirmed he’ll stand as an Independent at the next election.

    Efforts to find a replacement Labour candidate ran into difficulties, as the person forgot the keys to the Town Hall.

  15. Can’t see him getting anywhere near winning.

  16. For those not familiar with local politics, I should point that there is now an Ind Group of (ex Labour) cllrs who are campaigning with Frank Field.

    They can be seen here wearing their Ind rosettes:

  17. Wirial council has fallen into No Overall Control. Not sure if it end up Labour Minority, Labour with the Greens or Tory led council.

  18. Labour just beat the Ind (ex-Lab supported by Field) after a recount in one ward here.

    The Greens, LDs and Tories all gained from Labour on the Greenbelt issue – as well as council waste and alleged deception – so I wouldn’t rule out entirely a grand anti-Labour coalition, but I imagine Ian Lewis would want to wait ’til next year for a few more gains.

  19. Labour shortlist

    Danielle Cornish-Spencer
    Tony Norbury
    Helen Robinson
    Mick Whitley

  20. Lots of controversy here over the failure of Theresa Griffin to make the shortlist despite having several big union endorsements.

  21. Frank Field has confirmed that he’ll stand at the next election for the Birkenhead Social Justice Party, which he has formed with some Cllrs and a Peer.

    From the press conference, it looks to be a DUP-style manifesto (tough on crime, Brexit, immigration but compassionate on welfare etc), although LD tactic of “everyone knows someone helped by Frank” in his first pledge.

  22. I can’t see him winning – probably get 15-20%.

  23. Sounds about right to me. Funny thing is, the sort of things Field is likely to make his personal pitch on (particularly abolishing Universal Credit) are things that Labour would agree with him on anyway, making the whole contest a bit moot.

  24. PT – Frank doesn’t propose abolition. Indeed, Frank was the first to suggest merging all benefits administratively into one as the idea is a great one.

    However – as is often the case with Govt IT systems – the civil service failed and local authorities still administer housing benefit separately, even though it is paid within UC payments.

    As for Labour agreeing with him on the rest of his personal pitch (crime, immigration, Brexit), that’s bonkers and part of the reason he left the Party because they have moved further Left/out of touch on all of those.

  25. Merging all benefits is not a good idea. People looking for a job and people with debilitating disabilities don’t require the same support so why are we giving them the same benefit

  26. Mick Whitley selected for Labour.

  27. Vote tally in Labour selection

    Whitley 224 votes
    Norbury 116
    Cornish Spencer 52
    Robinson 39

  28. Matt W – I think you’re missing the point.

    Merging the administration of benefits does not mean all receive the same rate. Indeed very few do, as housing benefit is dependant on where you live and your circumstances. Plus there are still other benefits for disabled people and hardly any are yet on UC.

  29. Everyone who isn’t already receiving ESA or isn’t being backdated will be in receipt of universal credit where its been rolled out

  30. Yes and transitional protection means none who are migrated will receive less under UC.

    But I was in fact referring to the 14 other benefits which will still exist separately and provide higher benefits to the disabled, including carers allowance and motability vehicles.

  31. Given disability premium is being phased out people will recieving less

  32. Best of luck to Frank Field, though personally I think he’s made a mistake by not standing down. Hanging around in the commons into your 80s diminishes your reputation IMO. Heath should have retired many years earlier and IMO so should Skinner.

  33. I don’t like what Field’s done even though I am a Leaver.

    He will lose his deposit.

    And yes speaking generally there are far too many over 70s in the House of Commons. We should have many more under 35s!

  34. “He will lose his deposit.”

    I think he’ll do pretty well, along the lines of BM11’s 15-20%, if not perhaps a bit better, but still unlikely he’ll win. A similar result to Dave Nellist in Coventry in 1992 would be my guess.

    Much will depend though on the timing and circumstances of the election, and also on the Labour candidate.

    I don’t know this area very well but I suspect Field’s kind of socialism is a better fit for Birkenhead than Corbyn’s.

  35. Frank Field has pointed out that all of the time & expense of 4 legal challenges has gained the Remainians just 2 extra days in the House. Still due to recess for Tory Conf next week and prorogue again before the Queen’s Speech.

    They wasted 1 of those 2 yesterday asking 179 oral Qs, which could have been written Qs during recess.

    Incidentally, on HH’s point above, he revealed that he has received a substantial sum in donations since he announced his new Birkenhead Party and most have been small amounts from locals. [Although I have heard that a substantial sum also came from a well known individual]

  36. Recess has been voted down

  37. That really is the finest example yet of, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’

    Dan Carden has just spent the last 2 weeks boozing – on expenses – at the TUC and then the Labour Conf and today he votes against recess for the Tory Conf!

  38. Tories only have themselves to blame. Had they not attempted prorogation through conference season only to convene a week before their conference this would never of happened. No sympathy here. Shot themselves square

  39. Several MPs have suggested a compromise of focusing on issues which command bipartisan support, such as the Domestic Violence Bill. (In fact, it might be a good time to get that one through while Chris Chope isn’t around…)

  40. The Electoral Commission have confirmed that Frank Field applied to register the Birkenhead Social Justice Party, last month.

    Working Hard for Birkenhead is the authorised Description.

    I haven’t seen the official emblem yet, although I have seen an online ad with Frank waving a Union Flag (I think it was a Royal visit).

    He and Ivan Lewis in Bury South appear to be the first Inds out the block with leaflets.

  41. I’ve now seen about 40 freepost election communications from about 20 seats in the NW.

    The electionleaflets’ site has more. Frank Field’s has FAR too much content and poor layout (although that was also the case in 2017).

    Labour’s in Lpool W Derby went on about diversity and mosques: good luck with that in 99% white Norris Green ward (which was voting 25% BNP even 5 years before their peak). I suppose it shows that maybe Momentum activists just think everyone thinks the way they do? Whereas the left of the past never did that. Eric Heffer famously said they wouldn’t field an RC candidate in a couple of wards in his Walton seat.

    The decent leaflets came from Cons in Weaver Vale (photogenic ex-copper standing), Labour in Southport (good layout even if the PPC is sub-5ft) and Radford Liberals in W Derby (although him being a Unionist may put off Catholic voters).

    No Rev David Braid this time, which must be a first.

  42. Photogenic Copper guy looks like he will lose.

  43. That wasn’t the impression from BBC North West Tonight’s vox pop there.

    Although by it’s very nature (an oddly shaped seat taking in part of Runcorn plus Frodsham, Northwich and 6 Cheshire villages) it’ll always be a close run thing as well as hard to gauge depending which part of the seat you visit.

    Tories seem to be gaining Labour votes in Runcorn (the 2 switches on NWT both had Scouse accents) but losing some in the rural parts. Although even there they were losing them to LDs not Labour. So the Tory vote could well remain the same and still result in a gain on that basis. As LDs are up everywhere from their dire 2017 %s.

  44. Vox Pops can be confusing. in 2017 we had ones showing Chester and Slough as sure bets for Tory gains

  45. Yes but early in the 2017 campaign that would have made sense.

    The rest is history. . .

  46. BM11 – tbf the vox pops were spot on in the North West.

    Indeed the MRP actually mirrors exactly the vox pop in this seat from last month: Lab 50% and 1 in 7 plumping for Frank.

    As I’ve mentioned before: the most accurate poll I’ve ever seen was a vox pop of only 25 voters in 2015. We must have just got lucky as to who was passing that time of day in that seat.

  47. Frank polled over 17%, over 7,000 votes.

    So the voxpop was pretty good.

    Rivers10 wrong again.

  48. Frank Field is set to receive a Peerage in the delayed Queen’s Honours.

    I had heard that a while ago, but it’s good to see it confirmed in the Telegraph. Frank is expected to sit as a crossbencher with Lord Alton & new Peer John Mann.

    10 Cons are expected, as well as a DUP Peer and 3 Labour.

  49. Deserves it. Controversial for some but a remarkable Parliamentarian. Was on the right side of the Brexit debate.

  50. I disagree with Field on Brexit, but we are going to badly need people like him in the coming years. He has a deep understanding of social problems in poor areas and is as disdainful of the handwringing PC mindset as he is of the traditional right wing dismissals of poverty. A shame he’s too old to serve in government now.

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