Birmingham, Northfield

2015 Result:
Conservative: 15164 (35.7%)
Labour: 17673 (41.6%)
Lib Dem: 1349 (3.2%)
Green: 1169 (2.8%)
UKIP: 7106 (16.7%)
MAJORITY: 2509 (5.9%)

Category: Semi-marginal Labour seat

Geography: West Midlands. Part of the Birmingham council area.

Main population centres: Longbridge, Northfield.

Profile: A seat in urban Birmingham, England`s second city. Northfield is at the South-West tip of Birmingham and consists of the wards of Kings Norton, Longbridge, Northfield and Weoley. It is a white working class seat, inextricably linked with the Longbridge car plant which once dominated the local economy. The factory closed in 2005 and has partially been redeveloped for housing and employment, but lower scale of MGs continues here under new ownership. The seat is mostly made up of owner occupied semis and former council properties bought by their owners in the 1980s, though Kings Norton has more council property.

Politics: Birmingham Northfield is a marginal between Labour and the Conservatves, albeit one that leans to Labour and can normally only be won by the Conservatives in their very best years - it was held by the Tories through the 1980s (except from the 1982 by-election caused by the suicide of Jocelyn Cadbury) but only by wafer thin majorities. In 2010 the Labour majority here fell sharply, but not enough to put it into Conservative hands.

Current MP
RICHARD BURDEN (Labour) Born 1954, Liverpool. Educated at Wallasey Technical School Grammar, Bramhall Comprehensive and York University. Former trade union official. First elected as MP for Birmingham Northfielf in 1992. PPS to Jeff Rooker 1997-2001. Chair of the parliamentary Palestian Group and strong critic of Israeli policy. Voted against the government over the Iraq war.
Past Results
Con: 14059 (34%)
Lab: 16841 (40%)
LDem: 6550 (16%)
BNP: 2290 (5%)
Oth: 2074 (5%)
MAJ: 2782 (7%)
Con: 8965 (29%)
Lab: 15419 (50%)
LDem: 4171 (13%)
BNP: 1278 (4%)
Oth: 1223 (4%)
MAJ: 6454 (21%)
Con: 8730 (30%)
Lab: 16528 (56%)
LDem: 3322 (11%)
UKIP: 550 (2%)
Oth: 404 (1%)
MAJ: 7798 (26%)
Con: 10873 (28%)
Lab: 22316 (57%)
LDem: 4078 (10%)
Oth: 337 (1%)
MAJ: 11443 (29%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
RACHEL MACLEAN (Conservative) Educated at Oxford University. Ran a family publishing business.
RICHARD BURDEN (Labour) See above.
STEVE HAYNES (Liberal Democrat) Seo consultant.
KEITH ROWE (UKIP) Businessman. Contested West Midlands Police Commissioner by-election 2014.
ANNA MASTERS (Green) Midwife.
Comments - 109 Responses on “Birmingham, Northfield”
  1. Which seats was King’s Norton in from 1955 to 2010?

  2. I think Kings Norton was in the Selly Oak seat for many years.

  3. It was in Selly Oak from 1974 until the most recent set of boundary changes but was in Northfield from 1955-74

  4. I see that our host has put the comma between the city and locality in the constituency name, something the Times Guide of the House of Commons ceased to do after 1979 and a practice I thought had been almost forgotten.

  5. Highters Heath is in the Selly Oak constituency (Billesley ward)

    Oh just seen Anthony on Newsnight

  6. Swanarcadian – after messing up things like Ribble South last time round, this time round the constituency names *should* all match the formal legal names of the seats (even in extreme cases like the Hull seats, which *no one* calls Kingston upon Hull)

    (Though actually I need to make a correction in the next upgrade – I’ve put hyphens in the name of the Hull seats when there aren’t any)

  7. Pete – it is, its miles away from Northfield! Wonder how I managed that

  8. Not sure why the Communists bothered to stand here in 1983.
    Perhaps the size of the rosette was to compensate.

  9. The reason Joe is the very rightist views of the Labour candidate John Spellar. Spellar was an official of Frank Chapple’s EEPTU, which was previously under the control of the Communists and was a vicious opponent of the Labour left, and both Chapple & his acolytes such as Spellar & Eric Hammond have always been hate figures for those on the left and CP members. As it happens Spellar’s views appear to have trimmed somewhat away from the Right these days, and he backed Ed Balls for leader rather than the most right-wing candidate David Miliband, and his clear hatred of the Lib Dems have gained him a grudging respect from some who are a bit further to the Left than he is. So basically Joe it’s sheer animosity against Spellar.

  10. I should add that the Communists were guilty of ballot-rigging in the EETPU to keep control of the union, and my father who represented them in court now regrets doing so (though he still hates Chapple today). Spellar’s dislike of the LDs could partly stem from the fact that they ran a pretty dirty campaign him in the 1982 by-election here, which he alluded to in his interview after being elected (he said that however the Tories fought a clean campaign). He did come down to take part in the Feltham & Heston by-election where I very briefly met him but he wasn’t one of the many Labour MPs I went canvassing or knocking up with.

  11. I’ve always been a fan of John Spellar. If Labour had more people like him, they could give the Tories a very hard time. Disapppointed he backed Balls though.

  12. If he despises the LibDems then he must be a good egg.

  13. Many of the old Labour right have views on economics that would today be considered left wing and old-fashioned.

    Certainly that’s true of Roy Hattersley and the late John Golding and Gwyneth Dunwoody.

  14. “He did come down to take part in the Feltham & Heston by-election”

    When Parliament is sitting, he lives in Bromley (where he was born). During the 2006 by-election, Sarah Teather allegedly canvassed his house. She didn’t recognize him and went on asking who he would vote for. He told her to guess it…and she couldn’t as he still didn’t recognize him.

  15. That’s a very common occurrence in London.

    One of the Blair Babe MPs from 1997 lives in a rather tatty terraced house in Penge (she’s so forgettable I can’t even remember her name).

    She was canvassed multiple times by Tories in the 1997 Beckenham by-election who didn’t have any idea who she was.

  16. HH does have a valid point about the old Labour right
    but at least the traditions of Shore, Golding, Dunwoody, Spellar, y Bob Ainsworth, John Reid,
    are rooted in doing a proper job
    possibly industry
    with skills
    and being in the mainstream of where most of the population are

    rahter than some screechy whiney politically correct liberal
    who works as a “consultant”
    but is actually very left wing indeed.

  17. There are of course many on the Left of the PLP who have had “proper” jobs. Several were miners, and not just Dennis Skinner. The right of the party are just as likely to have worked in “consultant” or similar jobs as the left. In fact, of the remaining miners in the PLP, more are on the old left than the old right. I am not sure when the last docker sat in Parliament though.

  18. A lot of the ‘left-wing’ credentials of the screechy metropolitan types are essentially for show I think; re-heated student posturing of yesteryear.

  19. The old Labour right such as Hattersley are now towards the left of the party. There was always an element on the right who were clearly reformist and largely pro Europe but firmly egalitarian and sceptical towards the market. That’s pretty much where I stand.

  20. i’d love to know the name of the female labour mp who ives in the scruffy house

  21. I’ve a feeling she is no longer an MP.

    I can’t remember exactly who it was now. Charlotte Atkins vaguely rings a bell so it may have been her.

  22. Was fascinated to learn that Ray Carter – the Labour MP here from 1970 to 1979 – leaves nearby to me in Bracknell.

  23. *lives

    Today is not one of my good spelling days.

  24. Charlotte Atkins apparently got married in Bromley in 1990. So it could be her. She is now a district and county councillor in Staffordshire. In the 80s she co wrote with Mullin the infamous How to select and reselect your MP book.

  25. 2012 council results for this constituency:

    Labour 8,469 (43.8%)
    Conservatives 7,594 (39.3%)
    UKIP 955 (4.9%)
    Liberal Democrats 750 (3.9%)
    BNP 732 (3.8%)
    Greens 717 (3.7%)
    Communities Against the Cuts 129 (negligible)

    Total votes: 19,346

    Compared to the 2010 council elections in Northfield:

    Labour: +8.5%
    Conservatives: +2.8%
    UKIP: +3.6%
    Liberal Democrats: -12.3%
    BNP: -4.2%
    Greens: +1.4%

    Swing from Lib to Lab: 10.4%

  26. This is very interesting – something definitely does happen in South and West Birmingham in local elections where the Tories hold up locally.

    A 13% lead in the previous Northfield (including Bartley Green) in 1991 didn’t prevent a Labour gain in 1992.

    I still don’t quite know why it is.
    Differential turnout being more pronounced
    or people not wanting to pick up the bill for Labour councils,
    but why particularly here

  27. I don’t think turnout would fully explain it. In 2010, the Tories led in the local vote by 1.2%, yet lost the parliamentary vote by 6.7%. For whatever reason, there are a fair few people in Northfield, and other constituencies like Edgbaston, who will in one instance vote Tory locally but then go on to vote Labour nationally.

    And then there’s Birmingham Yardley. The Lib Dems led in the 2012 local elections by 9 points. Just 1 point down on 2010.

    Birmingham really does have a funny political culture going on.

  28. Raw data for 2010 council elections in Northfield:

    Conservatives: 15,166 (36.5%)
    Labour: 14,685 (35.3%)
    Liberal Democrats: 6,715 (16.2%)
    BNP: 3,313 (8%)
    Greens: 969 (2.3%)
    UKIP: 526 (1.3%)
    English Democrats: 174 (negligible)

    Total votes: 41,548

    1) 1,107 people who voted Tory locally neglected to nationally.
    2) 165 voted LD locally but not nationally.
    3) 1023 voted BNP locally but not nationally.
    4) 563 voted Green locally…

    5) An extra 837 voted UKIP nationally rather than locally.
    6) An extra 2,156 voted Labour nationally…

  29. ….and by all accounts the Tory candidate went down well, too. There does seem to be this ticket-splitting in SW Birmingham. Anyone who really wants to see a one-sided contest should take a look at Washwood Heath ward in the Hodge Hill constituency on the Brum council website & look at the result for 2012.

  30. Got a feeling this will become the mate marginal Birmingham seat for the Tories next year. I think Labour will win here with a 3,000 majority, but a 3,500 majority next door in Edgebaston.

  31. There was a 3000 majority in 2010 – are you predicting no swing at all here?

  32. It would be most surprising if Labour didn’t improve on 2010 – local elections don’t suggest the Tories doing any better here than other Birmingham seats.

  33. ….well a bit better in some respects, but nothing that suggests Labour going badly either.

  34. I only suggested that because demographically the seat does appear to be becoming more favourable for the Conservatives in the long term.

  35. Maybe,Adam,but it will be a long time before the Conservatives are actually able to take it…the Lib Dem vote will mostly fall to Labour in this seat in 2015.

    I predict approximately the following result for Birmingham Northfield in 2015:

    Lab 50
    Con 34
    UKIP 6
    Lib Dem 5
    Green 3
    Others 2

    My Green colleagues will likely contest all the Birmingham constituencies in 2015 with Respect out of the picture, but our support in Birmingham is sadly not strong enough to be sure of even saving any deposits in any Birmingham constituency |except possibly Small Heath & Sparkbrook, and with a particularly left-wing Green).

  36. Oh FFS. Are you going to go through every single constituency and predict a tripling of the Green vote share. Can I ask you again what national polling evidence there is for this prediction?

  37. I am not predicting a tripling of the Green vote in every constituency. By the way, national opinion polls (not YouGov’s unreliable and biased polls!) poll the Greens between 3-5%. As I said in my last post, my prediction for the Greens in much of the West Midlands (except Meriden and Solihull) is still not that hopeful.

  38. “By the way, national opinion polls (not YouGov’s unreliable and biased polls!) poll the Greens between 3-5%.”

    The Greens will not get 5% nationally unless they stand candidates pretty much everywhere.

  39. I think it’s important for people to digest & analyse the polls, not to tell them what they want to hear, but to see what is actually happening. YouGov may not necessarily be the most correct of the pollsters, but they poll the most frequently & there is nothing unscientific or biased in their polling – who do you think they’re biased towards? I have my doubts about some other companies like ComRes or Angus Reid, and to some extent about the methodology used by ICM, but even so their polls are carried out scientically and use broadly representative samples. To dismiss YouGov so airily is a recipe for considerable disappointment. Read the polls, read all the reputable polls, not just the ones you like the best, see what their message is, and then come to a rational conclusion. Tonight the polling news doesn’t look good for Labour, but I am going to look at the general picture over a period of time before I start to spread doom & gloom. The same would apply if the polls tonight showed Labour 15% ahead – you need to look at the whole picture. You (meaning Lotus) should do the same. This is a polling site & if you think a whole raft of polls is inaccurate you should explain why. Just saying they’re biased won’t do.

  40. Barnaby

    National polls also overestimate minor parties because there are many constituencies they do not stand candidates in.

    For the Greens, 3% nationally is a big stretch for 2015, 5% is cloud cuckooland IMO. Do you agree?

  41. I also think in an age where regional preferences are so varied the national figures just arent enough. For example, If the Tories sre doing disproportionately well in the south-east then that is a problem for them because they hold pretty much all the seats they are likely to.

  42. HH – yes I do agree with you there.

  43. Tory PPC Rachel Maclean has tweeted (and since deleted) that Oxfam are a ‘thinly disguised left-wing lobby group’ which may not do her any good.

  44. That is not an inaccurate statement of course

  45. I like the Oxfam second hand bookshops.

  46. LOL, I really hate their chuggers

  47. In other news an H.Hemmelig is now listed among the membership of vote2012 and supports the labour party. A very small amount of digging reveals it to be non other than our old friend, A. Brown.

  48. Now that’s a rather creepy thing.

  49. ”In other news an H.Hemmelig is now listed among the membership of vote2012 and supports the labour party. A very small amount of digging reveals it to be non other than our old friend, A. Brown.”

    I’m confused- Does that mean that A Brown is pretending to be H Hemmelig on Vote2012 for some bizarre reason? What is going on there?



    Last year in April I went to the Hazel Grove Sainsbury’s with my mother and we bought a Times newspaper with a large supplement devoted to Margaret Thatcher.

    The Liberal Democrat candidate of course has a keen interest in International development.

    I tend to trust Catholic Left and Philip Davies’s local knowledge here.

    The classic trio of facts with one featuring his mother.

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