Birmingham, Yardley

2015 Result:
Conservative: 5760 (14%)
Labour: 17129 (41.6%)
Lib Dem: 10534 (25.6%)
Green: 698 (1.7%)
UKIP: 6637 (16.1%)
Respect: 187 (0.5%)
TUSC: 135 (0.3%)
Others: 71 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 6595 (16%)

Category: Semi-marginal Labour seat

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

Main population centres: Yardley, Sheldon, Acocks Green.

Profile: A seat in urban Birmingham, England`s second city. Yardley is in the east of the city, covering the wards of South Yardley, Stechford and Yardley North, Acocks Green and Sheldon..

Politics: Yardley was once a Conservative vs Labour marginal and for many years was a bellwether seat, normally being won by the party that won the most seats nationwide. However, in the 1997 election the Conservatives were pushed into third place and have been surplanted by the Liberal Democrats as the anti-Labour option. With the retirement of Estelle Morris in 2005 the seat was won by the Liberal Democrats John Hemming, a somewhat eccentric politician with a colourful love life who came to public attention for using Parliamentary privilege to name bankers and footballers who had used superinjuctions. In 2015 the seat was regained by Labour.

Current MP
JESS PHILIPS (Labour) Educated at Leeds University. Former charity manager. Birmingham councillor since 2011. First elected as MP for Birmingham, Yardley in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 7836 (19%)
Lab: 13160 (32%)
LDem: 16162 (40%)
BNP: 2153 (5%)
Oth: 1539 (4%)
MAJ: 3002 (7%)
Con: 2970 (10%)
Lab: 10976 (37%)
LDem: 13648 (46%)
BNP: 1523 (5%)
Oth: 314 (1%)
MAJ: 2672 (9%)
Con: 3941 (13%)
Lab: 14085 (47%)
LDem: 11507 (38%)
UKIP: 329 (1%)
Oth: 151 (1%)
MAJ: 2578 (9%)
Con: 6736 (18%)
Lab: 17778 (47%)
LDem: 12463 (33%)
Oth: 164 (0%)
MAJ: 5315 (14%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
ARUN PHOTAY (Conservative) Educated at Tettenhall College and Hertfordshire University. Business development manager. Wolverhampton councillor since 2012.
JESS PHILIPS (Labour) Educated at Leeds University. Charity manager. Birmingham councillor since 2011.
JOHN HEMMING (Liberal Democrat) Born 1960, Birmingham. Educated at King Edwards School and Oxford University. Businessman. Birmingham councillor 1990-2008. Contested Birmingham Hall Green 1983, Birmingham Small Heath 1987, Birmingham Yardley 1992, 1997, 2001. MP for Birmingham Yardley 2005 to 2015. A somewhat eccentric campaigning MP, who in recent years has come to prominance by using Parliamentary privilege to name celebrities who had obtained superinjunctions preventing the press from reporting stories about them, including Fred Goodwin and Ryan Giggs.
GRANT BISHOP (Green) Educated at Cockshut Hill Technology College and University of Wales.
PETER JOHNSON (SDP) Contested Birmingham Hodge Hill 2010.
Comments - 216 Responses on “Birmingham, Yardley”
  1. Could people in Yardley be unhappy with Birminghas Labour council?

  2. Yes, it’s possible. On the other hand, they could be happy or unhappy with just about anything. They certainly don’t seem displeased by Hemming sleeping around, though.

  3. A few things about the seat, first Lib Dems still popular locally, winning all four seats in the constituency this May, secondly look at the contact rate of the parties, lib dems twice as likely as Labour to have been in contact that makes a big difference. Third John Hemming has been fighting here for 25 years, not surprising he is well known and liked!

  4. Respect have announced Teval Stephens as their candidate in this seat.

  5. Sorry to report the death of Derek Coombs, sometime MP for an earlier version of this seat (1970-74), Birmingham businessman and convert from One Nation Toryism to Labour politics later in his life.

  6. A hugely significant seat and one which is very hard to call. My own impression is that Jess Phillips is running a strong campaign but she is up against a truly formidable political operator. It is no surprise that the Lib Dems are putting all their resources into this seat and neighbouring Solihull.

    Labour should be able to get a strong vote in South Yardley but they will struggle in Sheldon. Accocks Green is a Lab/Lib Dem marginal at local level and Stechford will also be close. I suspect UKIP will score well and their vote will come from across the political spectrum.

    I am not brave enough to predict this one but I will be watching with interest on election night.

  7. Spent a day here last week and did a straw poll, will be very close between LAB and LIB DEMS, but despite some Tories trying to help the LIB DEMS, it appears to me that LAB will just about make it here, Straw Poll;
    LIB DEMS-35%

  8. Straw poll of whom? How many? Did you weight the sample? How unscientific.

  9. Paul Way appears to spamming a few mainly LD marginals with these ‘straw polls’, a counter to Teddy perhaps?

  10. these so-called straw polls are most tiresome & tell us nothing of value.

  11. Yes…standing in the High St and asking 100 people is not a good basis for accuracy.

  12. Actually Paul has straw polls in a few far flung places so he’s probably on the phone using telephone directories…or he’s just plain making it up.

  13. The latter I suggest

  14. The Liberals will do better here than in many other constituencies. This is because the Liberal candidate is getting positive coverage at a national level. See

  15. Apparently according to Ladbrokes the Labour & LD candidates are joint favourites. Both 6-5 on.

  16. I think Hemming will hold on here. The Liberals could hold 3 Labour facing seats – Bermondsey & Cambridge will be the other two.

    Hemming is surprisingly popular, and will be aided by the council elections taking place at the same time.

  17. John

    Spotted you commenting on one of Polly Toynbee’s articles a few months back.

    Though it’s pretty clear our politics are quite different I thought your argument about how the death of collectivism and the rise of individualism has permanently killed socialism was excellent. Your contribution was so good as to get a reply from lady Toynbee herself no less. As it happens I share your misgivings about Osborne’s pensions giveaway and as a country we’ll live to regret it quite quickly.

  18. I think Bermondsey could be on a knife-edge. On the other hand, I expect Greg Mullholland to hold Leeds NW. I know this isn’t strictly Labour facing, but everyone considers Labour to be the main challenger here this time round.

  19. LD hold 1000

  20. that’s my assumption too. However, there was, l think, only one Ashcroft poll here, and it was quite a while ago too. Who knows – since it was within the MOE it may not have been conclusive. But l tend to agree that Hemming will just make it.

  21. Leeds NW is hard to call. It could be a Yardley but yet again….it could be a Bristol West.

  22. well the Ashcroft poll put Labour 13% of the Greens in Bristol W with the LDs in 3rd. l don’t entirely discount the possibility of Labour winning Leeds NW, but if they do take it it won’t be by anything like that much.

  23. It isn’t a great comparison as Bristol West covers a fair amount of deprived territory in the city centre, as well as nice areas like Clifton etc. That’s not really so much the case in Leeds NW.

  24. And nor is Leeds NW anything like Yardley

  25. Just looked at the Paddy Power site – they make Labour very narrow outright favourites to win this seat. That probably makes this the only seat where Labour are the bookies’ favourite but l’m not currently forecasting a Labour win. There are several where the reverse is true, but not that many. Only looked at England so far.

  26. I was about to ask where else the SDP & Respect were standing and then found them both here.

  27. Technically Cambridge isn’t Labour-facing, Con were second in 2010. Does make a difference to those bar charts.

    Of the technical left-facing seat here and bermondsey are possible holds. O&S is the only cert. I think the rest are gone.

  28. Lib Dem Hold. 500 majority.

  29. Adding to the questions of this exit poll…did I see this seat going to Labour? Not impossible, but certainly Lib Dem leaning.

  30. Labour takes Yardley with approx 6,500 majority.

  31. Not even remotely close. See Hemmingmania above

  32. Labour’s majority is slightly bigger now than when Estelle Morris held it in 1997.

    UKIP pushed the Tories into 4th.

  33. On the Sunday Politics West Midlands John Hemming says that he thinks the collapse of the Lib Dems was down to not aggressively campaigning for the continuation of the Con-Lib coalition. I find this surprising as I thought he was quite clearly on the left of the party.

  34. @Pepermintea

    if they did that then I would’ve have voted for them!

  35. Could somebody explain how the Tory vote in this constituency has practically disappeared over the past 23 years?

    I mean, in 1992, they were getting 34% of the vote, but in recent years, they’ve only got 14% of the vote in the general election, and only about 5% in the local elections.

    Where has the vote gone?

  36. @anon

    There hasn’t been a lot of demographic change, although there were boundary changes in 2010 which didn’t help the Conservatives. Basically it was local Liberal activity (see discussions throughout this site on the importance of local political activity), embodied by Hemming, which got previous Conservative voters to vote Liberal instead.

    Remember also this is the West Midlands, and there is (was) a significant working class Conservative vote, which doesn’t react in the same way as Conservatives elsewhere.

    There is a good chance that the Conservative vote will rebound now that Hemming has been defeated, although the Liberals still have a large activist base and councillors, which the Conservatives don’t. Demographically this seat is fairly similar to Erdington, although there is a larger Muslim population.

  37. Fantastic result for Labour here and as with many seats in major cities, the Labour majority is larger now than in 1997.

    Noticed there is a lot of leafy suburbia in this seat that wouldn’t look out of place in a Tory seat. Old Yardley Village looks very picturesque. I wonder where the Labour vote comes from in this seat?

  38. Old Yardley village is tiny.

    Look at the demographics – this is quite a poor constituency with a substantial and growing Asian/Muslim minority.

    There is some “leafy suburbia” in Sheldon, which borders Solihull (albeit the most down market part of Solihull proper) on the other side of the main A45 Coventry Road, but leafy suburbia is not what Birmingham residents would associate with Yardley.

    It has long been accepted that this was the oddest Liberal seat in the country demographically. The Labour vote comes from everywhere…..

  39. I wouldn’t get too excited about Labour strengthening its position in inner city seats like this one. They can’t win an election like that, and really it only indicates that their appeal is narrowing.

  40. The strongest Labour ward is Acocks Green, the Lib Dems’ best area is Sheldon. In 2010 the two other wards would have gone LD, this year they would have been Labour.

  41. @John
    Thanks for this, and I reckon that if Hemming doesn’t run for the Council in one of the wards or for Parliament again in 2020, the Tory vote could resurge, with Tories no longer tactically voting Hemming.

    Also, if the Tories enact the boundary changes due in the last Parliament, then Sheldon would be moved into Solihull which would please the Solihull Lib Dems and further make Yardley in to a Labour stronghold.

  42. We simply don’t know what the new boundaries will like at this stage as they will be based in the 2015 rather than 2010 electorates. And because the BC have so little flexibility under the new rules, even the smallest of changes in electoral figures since 2010 will mean that proposed boundaries will have to be completely re-drawn.

  43. I will be pressing the Boundary Commission to split wards in order to meet its statutory requirements – apart from the 7.5% tolerance, these are (a) to avoid unnecessary change (b) to respect natural communities (c) to take account of local council boundaries.

    The suggested constituencies for Birmingham were appalling, because they refused to split wards, which are all c18,000 in size. So they ran round the edge of Birmingham, linking Birmingham wards with wards from the surrounding councils on all sides. By splitting wards (some of which are eminently splittable with clearly distinct communities separated by hard borders), Birmingham can simply be given 9 and a bit seats instead of 10.

    Basically the Boundary Commission should consider whether the statutory requirements can be better met by splitting wards whenever the average ward size in the area is greater than 15% of the quota (ie 7.5% either way), or c11,500. This really I think only affects Birmingham, Sheffield, and Leeds, in England.

  44. I very much doubt that will happen as the Commission will only split wards in very exceptional circumstances.

    It would be better for the government to accept that the proposals drawn up last time were a complete dogs-breakfast and increase the amount the commission is permitted to deviate from the quota from 5% to 10%, the same as in local government boundary reviews. I’d also like to see the frequency of reviews changed from every 5 years to every 10 years and for the number of seats to be set at 642 rather than 600 (current number minus Welsh over-representation. That should eliminate the excessively over and under sized sears we got under the old rules, but allows for seats to better reflect community identities and ensures some of them don’t look like gerrymandered American congressional districts.

    But I can’t see any of that happening TBH.

  45. I doubt the Liberals will come back, purely because, just like the Tories in 1997, they are worn out – I mean, there was very little presence of the Lib Dems while Labour were pounding away.

    But as I’ve said before, it does largely depend on whether Hemming will contest one of the Council seats in 2016 or 2018 or recontest Yardley in 2020.

  46. Why does Birmingham have such huge wards? Why not have more smaller ones instead?

  47. That is in fact the new proposal made by some commissioner or other appointed by the government. This is for 100 single member wards of around 7500 – the average size for metropolitan areas. The wards are so large because Birmingham is by far the largest local authority in the country, and it has traditional 3 member wards with election by thirds as in all metropolitan districts. Even so the council size of 120 is the largest in the country as well, and almost certainly more than is needed to ensure efficient administration and adequate representation.

    However this won’t happen until after the Boundary Commission have done their stuff, and doesn’t resolve the problem in Leeds – the second largest local authority.

  48. “I wouldn’t get too excited about Labour strengthening its position in inner city seats like this one. They can’t win an election like that, and really it only indicates that their appeal is narrowing.”

    Runnymede – I’ve made this point on here on many occasions myself. Labour really need to win over voters again in seats like Loughborough, Warwick and Leamington Spa, Watford, Dartford and other commuters / market towns if they are to govern again. In my opinion, out of all the Labour leadership candidates, Kendall is the only one who will cut through in these types of seats.

  49. I used to work in this seat. Hemming’s has personal appeal and clearly has been able to organise campaigns in the past. The Lib Dems still hold Sheldon with a reasonably safe majority on Birmingham Council. They have successfully eliminated the Conservatives from the local scene.
    However this election has flattened the Lib Dems and they did not win a single council seat in neighbouring Solihull this year. They dominated the Solihull constituency council seats for a generation. Now the Greens, who have established in Labour’s old territory in Solihull Borough (Meriden constituency) are catching up on the council.

    Solihull and parts of Yardley are very similar and indistinct. The Lib Dem decline will take a generation to fix. It is very difficult to see where they can get any traction in the Midlands now.

  50. There’s no evidence that Kendall will be any more or less electorally successful than Burnham. Not sure why some people are so certain one way or the other. lt’s a major risk electing her. She doesn’t have the disadvantage of association with the last Labour government, but it smacks of desperation to go right back to fully-fledged Blairism, but years after Blair last won.

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