Blackpool South

2015 Result:
Conservative: 10963 (34.5%)
Labour: 13548 (42.6%)
Lib Dem: 743 (2.3%)
Green: 841 (2.6%)
UKIP: 5613 (17.7%)
Independent: 73 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 2585 (8.1%)

Category: Semi-marginal Labour seat

Geography: North West, Lancashire. Part of the Blackpool council area.

Main population centres: Blackpool.

Profile: Blackpool is a famous seaside resort that boomed in the nineteenth century as the favoured destination for Lancashire`s industrial working class. The attractions of Victorian Blackpool remain to this day - the Blackpool Illuminations, the piers, the pleasure beach and the Tower. Like most seaside towns it has suffered economically from the growth of cheap foreign package holidays, but tourism remains the dominant part of the economy. Blackpool South contains the bulk of Blackpool, including the centre of the town the three piers and the major attractions.

Politics: Both the Blackpool seats are marginals between Labour and the Conservatives. Blackpool North was a Tory seat until the Labour landslide in 1997 when it was won by the current Labour MP Gordon Marsden.

Current MP
GORDON MARSDEN (Labour) Born 1953, Manchester. Educated at Stockport Grammar School and Oxford University. Former university tutor and editor of History Today. Contested Blackpool South 1992. First elected as MP for Blackpool South in 1997. PPS to Lord Irvine 2001-2003, to Tessa Jowell 2003-2005, to John Denham 2009-2010. Shadow minister for higher education since 2010.
Past Results
Con: 12597 (36%)
Lab: 14449 (41%)
LDem: 5082 (14%)
BNP: 1482 (4%)
Oth: 1582 (4%)
MAJ: 1852 (5%)
Con: 11453 (30%)
Lab: 19375 (51%)
LDem: 5552 (14%)
BNP: 1113 (3%)
Oth: 849 (2%)
MAJ: 7922 (21%)
Con: 12798 (33%)
Lab: 21060 (54%)
LDem: 4115 (11%)
UKIP: 819 (2%)
MAJ: 8262 (21%)
Con: 17666 (34%)
Lab: 29282 (57%)
LDem: 4392 (9%)
MAJ: 11616 (23%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
PETER ANTHONY (Conservative) Singer and former hotelier. Former Oldham councillor.
GORDON MARSDEN (Labour) See above.
BILL GREENE (Liberal Democrat)
DUNCAN ROYLE (Green) Environmental consultant.
ANDY HIGGINS (Independent)
LAWRENCE CHARD (Independent)
Comments - 141 Responses on “Blackpool South”
  1. exactly

  2. The wrong station was closed when Blackpool Central went.

  3. What would you have preferred? South?

  4. Beeching recommended North to close, originally, and I would say that would have made much more sense. The knock-on effects to losing a 14-platform central station are obvious to this day (and would, I think, frame very differently a lot of concerns about so-called capacity problems)

  5. “You should also remember that Labour was far more dominated at grassroots level by working class heavy industrial unions at that time. In many respects Labour was the more homophobic party in the 70s and 80s, and for a few years the defeat of the hard left entrenched that. In the late 60s and early 70s Labour was perfectly willing to make sly jabs at the uncomfortable bachelor lifestyle of Heath in comparison to the family man Wilson. Callaghan was also famously social conservative. You’re right that the turning point was probably Section 28, together with the numerous very cruel comments by Tory backbenchers about AIDS. Once Labour were perceived as trustworthy on the economy by 1997, the gay vote cemented to them.”

    Good point HH. I have to say that in my own family the Labour voters (being comprised of what would today be regarded as the “Old Labour Right”) were far more lukewarm on all things gay than the Conservative voters (Libertarian Thatcherites in the main).

    However, while many of the economic ideas of a strain of left-wing thought called the “New Urban Left” were seen off in the 1980s, their early advocacy of minorities arguably won the day in the end (though I regard equal marriage as a naturally conservative policy in common with Cameron).

    Aside from its perniciousness S28 was also a silly piece of legislation as it undermined local democracy. If you don’t want a “loony left” Council, vote them out. S28, just like rate-capping, was one of those policies that made it “OK” to vote Labour in local elections, as any risk of excess was apparently outlawed centrally.

  6. Re North closing…yes far more sense for North to shut than Central.

    It is frankly bizarre when you approach from the east that you get a good view of Blackpool before veering inexplicably away from the town northward and then approaching in a south westerly direction.

    Brighton of course kept its decent railway terminus.

  7. Brighton station in fact is very grand for the range of services it provides. You could get through trains to Birmingham, Manchester & Scotland from there for some years, but not any more. I don’t know if there are any long-distance inter-city services from Blackpool North at present.

  8. No- I don’t think there are any more, Barnaby. You can get to Liverpool and Manchester direct from Blackpool North but that’s your lot.

  9. Is Blackpool a main service or just a minor branch line from Preston?

  10. Many a Prestonian (well, many a North End supporter) would tell you that Blackpool is barely even a minor town!

    There are very regular trains, sometimes every five or so minutes, from Liverpool and Manchester, all coming through Preston.

  11. Blackpool North also has a service from all the way over in Leeds.

  12. Blackpool Central closed because the town council wanted to build on the land. They lobbied Beeching and got him to change his mind about closing North and keeping Central open.

    Also the closure of the direct line to Blackpool enabled the M55 motorway to use the disused trackbed almost to the heart of the town. For this reason most of the line has vanished without trace and couldn’t be reopened. The same slimy collusion between local authorities, national government and roadbuilding companies happened all over the country in the 1960s and is a major reason why it’s so difficult to reverse many of the Beeching closures.

  13. I think Cameron himself did a good job on the gay marriage issue – though in terms of being pro-gay, as much as I dislike him, the one with the very good record is George Osborne, who is socially and culturally very liberal – reflecting perhaps that he isn’t ‘County’ set but very much a Londoner.

    I honestly don’t know how the gay vote will go next time. On one level I don’t see why gay voters should vote differently to anyone else unless one party is taking a very anti-gay stance. But often people do make their minds about politics and stick largely by that decision – and for gay people growing up in the 80’s and 90’s the Tories are still pretty toxic.

    The other thing you need to remember is that gay people, although they are everywhere, tend to move to urban areas, which tend to be more Labour.

    Also, never put it past some of the Tories more neanderthal elements to say the wrong thing at the wrong time

    However, I want the issue to be above party politics

  14. Polls have generally shown that there is a fairly sharp improvement amongst gay voters in the Conservative share of the vote, and indeed it seems a positive swing in their favour since 2010, unlike in the population as a whole.

  15. There hasn’t really been a credible poll since the gay marriage run-up to the vote. I don’t count the Pink News panel! With half the Tories voting against and it being reliant on Labour votes to pass, it could have easily swung back

    However, with the issue less salient gay people may just vote on mainstream issues instead

  16. Cameron’s support for same-sex marriage might have given many gay people who are natural Tory voters, but felt alienated by them due to Section 28, etc a reason to opt for them now. Indeed New Labour with its economic centrism addressed their political views at the time, given its appeal across the demographics. Pink News ran a poll over a year ago and I think it indicated that support for the Lib Dems have fallen a lot since the election. Support for Labour has improved though.

    Guess it also explains why a few Guardian writers and the like, such as Suzanne Moore expressed great antipathy last year when it passed the 2nd reading.

    Sexuality doesn’t biologically predispose anyone to a particular political leaning. To give a very rough example, there was a lot of hostile reader comments on a Pink News article on the TUC’s LGBT conference where spending cuts were alluded to. Not sure if that’s just a snapshot or indicative of most of its readership.

  17. I would have thought that the type who would read a gay newspaper would be not a very accurate cross-section of the gay population at large.

  18. Blackpool used to be hugely Conservative until a newer genration of retirees who had been long-standing Labour supporters appeared. It also helped that Labour repeatedly held Annual Conferences here and in Brighton. By contrasted they are nowhere in other resort centres such as Bournemouth or Eastbourne.

    I am inclined to wonder how Labour’s vote will be affected in future years in seats like this which are well away from the centre of things as opposed to city seats in places like Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham etc.

  19. I don’t think that the obvious improvement in Labour’s position in Blackpool since the 80s is anything to do with conferences. After all the Conservatives too regularly held conferences there, and Labour had countless conferences in the town without any electoral improvement. Instead, surely, it’s to do with the town’s steeply declining prosperity as it ceased to be the popular holiday resort of the Northern & Scottish working class, many of whom started to holiday in Spain & other countries. As it happens, the Tories have tended to have happier conferences here than Labour; the reverse has tended to be true in Brighton which has also of course seen huge improvements in Labour’s position since the 80s, though mainly for different reasons.

  20. Just noticed that the BNP managed to outpoll the Lib Dems in last month’s Euro poll in the Blackpool council area. I know the Greens outpolled them in various local authorities. Didn’t expect them to fall that dramatically seeing as how they used to have some local representation here.

  21. My God, 815 votes really is terrible. There seem to be large areas of the country which are deserts for Lib Dems. Even in lower-tier councils and the like in areas where they were weak at parliamentary level you used to be able to find the odd couple of councillors for far-flung villages.

  22. and they used to win Squires Gate ward in this constituency regularly too – though the Tories have probably been ahead in the ward in most general elections. Possibly not in 1997 though. It is however notable that Labour didn’t lose second place here in 1983, when they had a tiny number of second places in non-marginals, which this seat certainly was at that time. The Alliance did get second in North that year.
    One other thing about Blackpool – it does have an unusually small amount of council-built housing for an area with such a working class social composition. There are many cheap terraced houses & a lot of private rented properties. Brighton by contrast has some quite large council estates and at least one ward (Moulsecoomb & Bevendean) is almost totally dominated by them, with a strong presence too in Hangleton & Knoll, E Brighton, Hollingdean & Stanmer and Hanover & Elm Grove wards, just for starters. I think Portslade N in Hove is heavily council-estate dominated too though I know that ward less well than any other in the city.

  23. Frederick’s interesting analysis would seem to miss many of the reasons why Labour is now so dominant here. A new generation of retirees is probably the least of the Tories’ problems.

  24. Blackpool has gone from the 30th most deprived area in the UK a few years ago to the 6th most deprived now. For many years it has been in decline, although a cursory look at the seafront would suggest to opposite as it has been hugely improved by a massive renovation and improvement scheme. However, a walk 2 or 3 streets inland shows a very different Blackpool, particularly in the area immediately south of the town centre running down towards the Pleasure Beach. Decaying housing, areas of blight, poor quality multi-occupation housing and a depressed and miserable ambience await. South of the Pleasure Beach there is a very different feel again, spacious streets, better housing stock and much more prosperous feel.

    I know from my work that issues of transience, sexual exploitation and substance misuse are huge in Blackpool – far, far worse than in similar ‘end of the line’ seaside towns. Nonetheless my local people are hugely proud of their town and it may well be that it starts to recover again in due couse.

  25. Not ‘my’ – a typo which makes me sound like the local grandee. Apologies!

  26. “Brighton by contrast has some quite large council estates”

    My impression was that the inland/ Eastern wards of Blackpool had council estates just as the inland/ Northern wards of Brighton

  27. They do, but they’re much smaller & less numerous.

  28. Neil noted that the Lib Dems were outpolled by the BNP in Blackpool in this year’s Euros. I happened to remember noticing the same in the 2009 Euros, so it’s not down to the coalition (though the LD result is of course much worse than 2009). Just looked up the figures from 2009:

    Con 10,306
    Lab 6,961
    UKIP 6,456
    BNP 3,523
    LD 3,067
    Grn 1,668

    It’s easy to forget that the LDs have generally done badly in Euros in general. As an example, in 1999 the LDs (then with 46 MPs) only topped the poll in 3 constituencies – and 2 of those weren’t even LD held at Westminster level at the time: Oldham East & Saddleworth and Birmingham Yardley. The other was Orkney and Shetland.

    They did top more polls than 3 in subsequent Euro elections, though often not coming close in many of their MPs’ constituencies and still winning many of those comfortably in the general elections that followed.

  29. Peter Anthony selected for the conservatives

  30. Today’s “Independent” reports an analysis, connected with the Fabian Society, about the likely effects of an increased UKIIP vote on the Labour and Conservative parties. In this analysis Blackpool South is at the top of the list of seats where switchers to UKIP may cost Labour the seat to the benefit of the Tories. I don’t get this It happens I was in Lancashire this week, indeed I was very briefly in Blackpool South this morning. There does not seem to me to be any particular UKIIP strenght in this part of Lancashire, indeed I would suggest it may be one of their weaker areas.

    Clearly any change in minor party votes is likely to have some differential effect between the two major parties, but I think it likely that the fate of this seat will be decided by a direct swing of votes from Labour to the Tories or vice versa.

  31. Waterloo ward By-election result after a recount: Cons 406, UKIP 372, Lab 347, LibDem 47.

  32. The report from the independent newspaper has more truth in its prediction than you think ! In the recent Waterloo by-election the Conservatives won, which proved that Blackpool was an exception when it comes to Ukip taking more votes off Labour. In fact Labour came third ! This is not good news for Gordon Marsden, Labour should have won this comfortably if they are going to hold on to this seat. Waterloo ward is a fair representation of the constituency, it has all walks of life from HMO’s, nice semi- detached houses around Arnold and everything inbetween . The Conservative candidate is already a household name in this area having entertained the people of Blackpool for decades. He has owned various small businesses in and around the area ( even a promenade guest house ) , he is also gay and immensely popular amongst their community ( even his partner of 19 years is extremely popular too ) , with this alongside the conservatives gay marriage policy I think he will prove a force to be reckoned with. His background is a council house northern mill town, comprehensively educated, and due to this, he is extremely ‘down to earth’ and a man of the people. I think Labour are in for a shock ! I’m not one to take sides as I only observe. I keep my political opinions private. I predict as the election approaches that the Conservatives will gain more ground on a national and local level, and I also predict Miliband’s credibility will fall to an all time low. I’m not saying that this is my opinion, but when it it comes to the crunch I think the people will not swap Cameron for Miliband. We will just have to watch this space !

  33. A private poll of which I have gained access to was conducted over the first week of December 2014. The Blackpool South poll had the big two neck and neck on the same percentage. Ukip were 12 points behind, with the Lib Dems extremely low indeed. The poll was conducted across 500 people.

  34. I would be interested to see an Ashcroft poll for this seat. When the Morecambe and Lancaster polls were published I assumed that Blackpool North would be an easy Labour Gain – till Ashcroft polled that seat to.

    Other than the town centre Claremont ward, Blackpool North’s Labour vote is concentrated inland on council estates. Cleveleys and Blackpool North Shore remain very Tory.

    On the other hand, the inland/ Southern/ and coastal wards/ town centre wards of Blackpool South are either mixed or Tory.

    Blackpool South contains a number of extremely poor safe Labour wards that are in the geographical centre of the constituency (set South of the town centre and just in from the coast).

    If UKIP polled strongly in these wards they would take far more Labour votes.

    If they Conservatives were to make any gains from Labour then this would be one of 10 constituencies I would consider (along with Hampstead and Southampton Itchen).

    My view is that all three will remain Labour but still fairly marginal.

  35. Labour will win this seat.

    Waterloo has never really been a Labour ward. It went split in 2011.

    The byelections Labour has won and especially Marton and Highfield show there is nothing drastically damaging the Labour vote.

  36. The Bookies and all election forecast websites all give LAB a massive favourites tag.

    ELECTION OBSERVER. ..Can you tell us any more of this poll done in December?

  37. “Labour will win this seat.”

    Thanks for stating the bleeding obvious.

  38. Well it’s not if you read from 2jan onwards and particularly the posts from EO and DALEK (ignore DOCTOR’S contribution)

  39. The only seats Labour could lose outside Scotland are Hampstead and Southampton Itchen IMO. They aren’t going to lose a constituency including some of the most deprived areas of England like this one.

  40. “Waterloo has never really been a Labour ward. It went split in 2011. ”

    I said that the extremely poor wards were in the geographic centre of this constituency.

    Waterloo is not in the centre but on the coast.

  41. Electorate:

    May 2010: 63,068
    Dec 2013: 61,949
    Dec 2014: 56,304

  42. great stats – do you have any views on the effect on turnout?

    By turnout – to be clear – I mean the voter turnout, that is, the % of the electorate who cast a ballot.

    (as opposed to the total NUMBER of people casting a ballot)

  43. (over the whole UK)

  44. There’s a lot of evidence UKIP are picking up a substantial proportion of their support from 2010 non-voters. For example in Thanet South it’s 34.7% in Survation’s latest constituency poll. So therefore turnout will probably be up from 2010, I’d guess to around 70%. Also voters seem to be energised in Scotland which might make a small difference to the overall turnout.

  45. Also a lot of the people dropping off the electoral register due to IER will be non-voters.

  46. HH. – If this is true ( & I believe it is) this is why the turnout will be higher than expected (inter alia).

    btw ANDY JS, you are the first person I have come across who agrees with me that turnout will be higher than 70%.

  47. Well I think Mike Smithson said the other day on PB that the bookies’ average betting for turnout is 70% at the moment.

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