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 - 230 Responses on “Birmingham, Yardley”
  1. “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”

    Barnaby – Out of all the leadership candidates, who do you think will cut through in marginal seats and cummuter seats like Nuneaton, Reading East and West, Stevenage, Gillingham and Rainham etc?

  2. Labour should elect Liz in order to bring back Blairism: government by sound bite and focus group, which will end boom and bust economics, and be able to spend loads of money, hereby preventing any further recession.

  3. This was another awful Lib Dem result.
    It seemed to be one place where they were quite resilient.
    Stupendous momentum backwards, tangled and broken off.

  4. The problem with ‘bringing back’ Blairism for Labour is twofold:

    1) It requires someone with his political skills and broad popular appeal. Blairism was as much a personal thing as a policy one, indeed Labour at times looked like a Fuhrerpartei when he was in charge

    2) ‘Blairism’ is now associated with Blair, who was very popular in the 1990s but is now almost universally reviled and a thoroughly discredited figure.

  5. I can see the temptation of Blairism from a Labour POV. Just go back to the days when they won towering landslide majorities.

    But surely ‘Blairism’ is a ridiculous and discredited idea now?

  6. They need Blairism but without its name.

  7. Labour just needs to move to the centre ground more but to use wording like “centre left” or something like that, Blairism without his name is right on the substance, but his name is still pretty toxic.

  8. Very unusually l agree with Runnymede, and also slightly less unusually with Robberbutton’s sarcasm. lt would be the mark of a desperate party to go for some carbon copy (politically at least) of Tony Blair on the grounds that he won 3 times. That was then (and that was him), this is now. l believe people need a sense of hope that their lives & living standards will improve, and that is missing from, TBH, all of the leadership candidates, but Kendall most of all. She will most certainly not get my vote. l am currently leaning towards Cooper, but with no great enthusiasm. There are no easy answers for the Labour Party.

  9. “They need Blairism but without its name.”

    The default position of all marginal seats (where GEs are won and lost) are right-of-centre. Banging on about food banks and austerity isn’t going to cut it in those upper workng class/ lower middle class seat.

  10. Is Jess Phillips still a councillor in Longbridge?

  11. yes:

    and term ends this year….

    Interesting to note how many SNP new intake resigned their council seats and yet other parties have no compunction at leaving MPs hanging around as councillors when their seats should be relinquished.

    Before anyone mentions Mike Hancock, the LibDems would have been a lot better off without him remaining in local government well past his “use-by” date.

  12. Probably depends how easy it is for the party concerned to hold the seat, and how long till the term expires. Salmond, for instance, hasn’t resigned his Holyrood seat.

  13. Phillips is being tipped as a future leader. Comes across as irritating, gobby and arrogant, with the intellectual prpfile of a potato. Labour really are in trouble.

  14. Well that may be true but she’d be far less damaging to Labour than their current embarrassment of a leadership are. In fact you could probably pluck a new Labour leader out of a hat at random and there would be at least a 95% chance of the party getting a less awful, more competent leader.

    I am not a big fan of her style but at least she seems to grasp why Labour lost and what they need to do to win next time which is a damn site more than you can say for the current leadership. If Labour were actually serious about ending Tory rule they would have picked a leader who can connect with Con-Lab swing voters in midlands marginals like Nuneaton, the kind of people the party currently seems to be going out of its way to alienate…

  15. She won’t get the leadership. The next leader will be Creasy, Jarvis, Nandy or Starmer. But then I said Corbyn would come fourth…

  16. @MrNameless

    I don’t think Creasy, Jarvis or Starmer are very likely as the first two are too anti-Corbyn to be able to win next time and Starmer is probably seen as too much part of the establishment. I suppose there is an outside chance that the moderates next time manage to sign up loads of £3 supporters but I doubt that. Nandy is a possibility but really it is wide open and I certainly wouldn’t rule out Jess Phillips if the membership still want somebody straight talking. I think the next leader will probably be in the Kinnock mold – somebody from the left but more credible than Foot/Corbyn.

  17. Owen Smith’s the one to watch, in my opinion.

  18. A potentially good call actually Hannah.

    An article on LabourList the other day pointed out there are now more members who joined after the election than before it. How they’ll be feeling in four years we haven’t a clue.


    Perhaps this should be on the Somerset NE seat.

  20. I wonder who could oust this MP.
    The Tories and the Lib Dems are not credible.
    Perhaps a shock UKIP gain.

  21. Probably Lab hold though though –
    not credible in this seat I meant.

  22. Philips is going nowhere any time soon. The Lib Dems were well behind even with a fairly popular incumbent. I met a campaigner from Yardley up in Hallam about a month before the election who was convinced we’d win while in Yardley they didn’t have a chance…

  23. The thing is – what does Phillips actually stand for? All her attacks on Corbyn have been on his competence rather than his ideology, and the only other issue I’ve really seen her speak out about is gender equality, which, while important, is hardly the most salient issue for voters. And considering how much they hate Tony Blair (still!) I doubt Labour activists will vote for someone who stands for nothing more than winning.

  24. @Polltroll

    She’s very strong on protection for victims of domestic violence and rape, which was what she specialised in in her previous career, as well as gender issues. Policy wise I think she is quite off to the left, certainly not a so-called ‘Blairite’. But she’s not deluded that everybody shares her views like the Corbynistas and has a certain charm about her that Corbyn certainly doesn’t. I could certainly see her doing well if she stood for the leadership; whether people would then see her as a credible PM is a different matter entirely.

  25. “…her attacks on Corbyn have been on his competence rather than his ideology…”

    I think that’s because he’s not really made that many firm commitments on policy since becoming leader other than on Trident. He’s said a lot of things (for example on Marr this morning about wanting to repeal laws against secondary industrial action), but it isn’t clear how much of what he’s said he wants to be party policy.

    His lack of competance on the other hand is there for all to see. You can’t run a political party (or any other organisation) by surrounding yourself only with people who agree with you. In that kind of environment stupid ideas don’t get killed off because there’s no one putting the contrary view. That’s basic “The Big Book of Leadership for Dummies” stuff. Thatcher had “wets” like Hurd and Clarke in the cabinet until the end.

  26. Interestingly enough there isn’t yet much opposition to Corbyn within the PLP on domestic policy. They are extremely united in opposition to the Trade Union Bill, for instance (yesterday’s ComRes poll suggests the public don’t have much sympathy with their stance, incidentally) and after the initial rather pointless skirmish over whether to vote against 2nd reading of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill they have not been divided on welfare. Even on the economy there isn’t yet much evident opposition to Corbynomics. As Kieran says this may be because there isn’t yet much actual policy, or it may be because actually the gap between Corbyn and ‘mainstream’ Labour isn’t actually that great outside of foreign affairs and defence policy. It will be interesting to see how things develop.

  27. “If they fall further backwards in 2020 then they’ll be as desperate as Labour was in 1994 and elect a leader who can win.”

    Depends on who sticks around Labour in 2020. I don’t know much about the composition of membership in 1994. Obviously Militant and all kinds of other characters were kicked out long before that. Question is will Momentum stay or leave? A lot of Corbyn’s support comes from people who don’t seem to have a commitment to the party but just shouting slogans from outside. They don’t care if Labour is in opposition. That said, even without them Corbyn still would’ve won the leadership contest in September. So the long term membership is probably not like it was in 94.

    Actually the long term membership seems to have changed since 2010 at that. It was David Miliband who won their support, but was pipped by Ed because of union backing (though it wasn’t under OMOV). So what happened to those David Miliband supporters of the grassroots?

  28. I have to agree with Pepperminttea’s analysis. Whilst Phillips has a lot to prove (and can come across as rather gobby), she surely still has more appeal in key marginals than Corbyn. It doesn’t hurt that the comes from the Midlands either where there are so many key marginal seats.

    (Please note that in not only saying that she has more appeal than Corbyn. I’m still pretty certain that Nuneaton would, at present, still go for Cameron’s Tories rather than Philips’/ anyone but Corbyn’s Labour).

  29. As a student around 20-25 years ago I worked for two summers in a local textile factory, back in the days when we still had such things in Nottinghamshire. Jess Phillips reminds me of the kind of women who used to work there – gravel voiced from smoking 40 a day, sharp and cackling with very earthy views. How anyone can consider her leadership material boggles the mind.

  30. I’m now having visions of a young HH working at the Ashfield equivalent of Baldwins Casuals.

  31. “You can’t run a political party (or any other organisation) by surrounding yourself only with people who agree with you. In that kind of environment stupid ideas don’t get killed off because there’s no one putting the contrary view. That’s basic “The Big Book of Leadership for Dummies” stuff. ”

    To be honest, I blame the wider PLP for this as much as anyone else. If you essentially put your own leadership under siege then this is the outcome. Although, having said that, the cabinet is still fairly broad based, even after he’s thrown a few of the worst underminers overboard. What he has done, fairly sensibly IMO, is to fill each post with people who are well within different parts of the party mainstream overall, but lean closer towards his way of thinking within their individual briefs. Having said that, I agree that appointing Seamus Milne was a mistake.

    What the PLP need to do is to get behind their leaders, at least publicly, in order to give them a full chance to succeed. That doesn’t mean agreeing on everything or never giving constructive criticism, quite the opposite, but washing any dirty linen in private. Then they need to keep up the efforts until it’s quite obvious that it’s not going to work, and then move quickly. Basically do what the Conservatives do. Instead, what they have done to every leader after Blair, is to keep up a constant drip-drip of undermining, right up into the immediate pre-election period, but never see it through.

    This is part of the hangover of the New Labour period that has left them with a culture of (inept) intriguing and a messianic streak that sees that all efforts are useless until the second coming of Blair and they have to chew up all other leaders until that happens.

  32. “I’m now having visions of a young HH working at the Ashfield equivalent of Baldwins Casuals.”


    Not far from the truth actually; local heavy industry often hired students to do shitty jobs like cleaning up the inside of machines when most of the workers were on summer holiday. Good money it was too, a good laugh, and in truth it probably helped inspire me to work in industry after graduation rather than the city. Very sad this way of life had almost totally disappeared in such a short time, and makes me feel suddenly old.

  33. The idea of getting good money from a holiday job must seem like an concept from a previous millennium to a lot of people today.

  34. I see your point, though it was a dirty and dangerous job, unlike working in say McDonald’s or a supermarket. Unlike “Baldwins Casuals” this textile factory had its own dye house so much of the work involved cleaning out acid vats and the insides of huge dying machines. Health & Safety would have an absolute field day with it nowadays. I can still smell the horrible vinegary smell of the place and I can still feel the pin pricks on my fingers from the nails in the dying looms. But, as with coal miners, in working class areas people happily did horrible dangerous jobs for good money in decades past – that option barely exists now. As an inevitable parable of the times we live in, the factory is now underneath a Barratt housing estate.

  35. All the H&S, QA and training requirements certainly rule out taking on students at the factory where I work.

    As HH says it was totally different in the 1990s.

  36. “Labour MP Jess Phillips has likened the Cologne attacks to the harassment of women every weekend on a night out in Birmingham.”

  37. She came across on Question Time as a complete tool.

    Seems like she wants to be the next Dennis Skinner, when the beast finally steps down or drops down. However, she doesn’t seem to have noticed that her heckles are inane whereas Skinner’s are often very clever and witty. Fellow panellists seem to regard her thickness and rudeness with disdain and rightly so; this was also true on This Week a few weeks back when Portillo had a face like thunder.

  38. Clever and witty? Skinner? Have you taken leave of your senses?

  39. How come upthread people were touting her as Labour leader in waiting..?. Seems she came down in the last shower.. though “shower of what?” might be the appropriate question..

    Hemming is still very active so she had better not start letting TV appearances go to her head..

  40. “Clever and witty? Skinner? Have you taken leave of your senses?”

    You can’t tell me the famous heckle to Roy Jenkins wasn’t one of wittiest of all political heckles (remembering when Jenkins said rancour it sounded like wanker)

    And whatever you think of them, his heckles of the Queen at the state opening tend to be quite pertinent and well thought out…who shot the harriers etc.

  41. “How come upthread people were touting her as Labour leader in waiting..?”

    They must have been on something.

    Will be interesting to see whether the Lib Dems keep their council seats here

  42. @H.Hemmelig – Skinner will never retire. He’ll be carried out of the Commons in a wooden box when the time comes (hopefully not too soon). A by-election in his seat would be very interesting in the current political climate and current state of the Labour Party.

    With regards to Phillips, love her or hate her, at least she has a personality and isn’t yet another run-of-the-mill posh and bland former SpAd.

  43. Skinner *was* witty (maybe not clever) 15 years ago. For a long while he’s been well past it but Christian is correct about the likely reason for his exit when it comes…

    As I said before I quite like Phillips… there is something genuine about her, even if I don’t always or often even agree with her. But Antiochian is right about the danger of media appearances getting to people’s heads – there are plenty of other examples with people that spend all their time in TV studios and little in the chamber.

  44. “With regards to Phillips, love her or hate her, at least she has a personality and isn’t yet another run-of-the-mill posh and bland former SpAd.”

    I don’t think Birmingham Yardley has ever been represented by a “posh” MP.

  45. ‘at least she has a personality and isn’t yet another run-of-the-mill posh and bland former SpAd.’

    You could make the same comment about Hitler

  46. I see Jess Phillips taking over the This Week slot that Diane Abbott currently holds. She seems more like a chat show host than a Member of Parliament at times – not necessarily a bad thing, as it puts her in a select group alongside the likes of Boris Johnson and Charles Kennedy. In particular it can be a much more effective way of connecting with the electorate than the professional but dry personas that are common at Westminster.

    One thing that she doesn’t have in common with BJ and CK (not yet, at least) is universal likeablility. She’s very much a Marmite politician. Personally I quite like Marmite, though.

  47. I guess the other problem is that, while she is very good at connecting with people, she doesn’t seem to have that much to say.

  48. “How come upthread people were touting her as Labour leader in waiting..?”

    By merely being critical about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership (hardly a controversial position to take) that somehow automatically qualifies her to be leadership material.

  49. The electorate here seem to have ended up with another outspoken Member.

    Although at least John Hemming was accurate to speak out on electoral fraud, whereas this MP has just been corrected by the police here for her bonkers statement on BBC Question Time.

    Obviously she was wrong to equate the Cologne sex attacks with a night out on Broad Street, but I don’t get her point. Even if accurate, is she saying this would make it ok: if it happened here as well?!

  50. God knows. What an embarrassment for an MP.

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