2015 Result:
Conservative: 10764 (24.5%)
Labour: 22542 (51.2%)
Lib Dem: 1464 (3.3%)
UKIP: 9228 (21%)
MAJORITY: 11778 (26.8%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

Geography: East Midlands, Derbyshire. The whole of the Bolsover council area and part of North East Derbyshire council area.

Main population centres: Bolsover, Blackwell, Creswell, Pinxton, South Normanton, Clowne, Scarcliffe.

Profile: A Derbyshire mining seat (though the pits closed well over a decade ago - Markham Colliery finally shut in 1993) probably best known for its current MP, Dennis Skinner. The seat itself is mostly made up of former mining villages between Chesterfield and Mansfield and with the mines gone, the largest employer is the East Midlands Designer Outlet off the M1 at South Normanton.

Politics: Bolsover is monolithically Labour, albeit Skinner`s share of the vote has fallen over the years and no longer reaches the heights it did was this was an active mining community. At a local government level Labour is still the only game in town, with other parties only putting up a scattering of candidates and many Labour councillors being returned unopposed. Other than a few independents, the only non-Labour councillor in the borough was one Green councillor who resigned in 2013..

Current MP
DENNIS SKINNER (Labour) Born 1932, Clay Cross. Educated at Tupton Grammar School and Rushkin College. Former coal miner. First elected as MP for Bolsover in 1970. A left winger, member of the socialist campaign group and regular rebel against the Labour whip. Skinner is an assiduous attender of House of Commons debates, where he normally sits on the front row of the benches below the gangway. His heckling in debates earned him the nickname the beast of Bolsover.
Past Results
Con: 10812 (25%)
Lab: 21994 (50%)
LDem: 6821 (16%)
BNP: 2640 (6%)
Oth: 1721 (4%)
MAJ: 11182 (25%)
Con: 6702 (17%)
Lab: 25217 (65%)
LDem: 6780 (18%)
MAJ: 18437 (48%)
Con: 7472 (20%)
Lab: 26249 (69%)
LDem: 4550 (12%)
MAJ: 18777 (49%)
Con: 7924 (17%)
Lab: 35073 (74%)
LDem: 4417 (9%)
MAJ: 27149 (57%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
PETER BEDFORD (Conservative) Educated at The Ferrers School and Leicester University. Chartered accountant. Former East Northamptonshire councillor.
DENNIS SKINNER (Labour) See above.
DAVID LOMAX (Liberal Democrat) Bed and breakfast owner. High Peak councillor. Contested Tatton 2010.
ROY CALLADINE (UKIP) Sales and marketing director.
Comments - 198 Responses on “Bolsover”
  1. There was a council by-election last week, in Whitwell ward. This was a Green-held seat, but for some reason that party failed to present itself to the starting post. It turned out to be a straight fight between the local Residents’ Association & Labour, and victory went to the former, leaving it as one of the very few opposition wards in this overwhelmingly Labour district.

  2. I think the erstwhile lone Green councillor was something of a one man band, so it is perhaps not that surprising that there was no Green candidate in the by election caused by his resignation.

    He explained on his blog why he had to resign his seat. The blog also contains some interesting writings on local issues in the area.

    For me they highlight the need for some proper opposition to Labour on the district council. One party councils are never a good thing, no matter which party runs them.

  3. Bolsover is quite idiosyncratic, despite being almost a one-party state.

    Skinner will probably be here until they carry him out in a wooden box. When he’s gone, I think Labour’s strength may begin to erode substantially.

  4. Some of the most noticeable political shifts seem to be in former mining areas that have come out of economic depression and are re-inventing themselves as commuter villages or around alternate economic development.

    There is obviously a delayed effect, a mining community retains that community feel, that shared history and folk memory (and often that shared loathing of the Conservatives!) for a long time, but over the decades, the turnover of the generations and of residents it fades – I expect it will happen here in the fullness of time, though obviously Labour begin from a very high benchmark.

    I can’t imagine it becoming a marginal anytime soon, but I’d expect it to move from total Labour hegemony at some point.

  5. Aside from the Skinner factor, the major driver will be new build.

    As in neighbouring Amber Valley there are very large scale proposals here.

    Already, smart new estates have utterly transformed former pit villages in the seat such as Westhouses, where my uncle lives.

    Building on or close to old pit land does not encounter the kind of objections you get on greenfield sites normally.

  6. shame the Green Party councillors in Norwich aren’t so forthright

  7. Political affiliations aside Duncan Kerr does seem to be the kind of guy that we should have serving as a local councillor. As I mentioned on the old site, he was the only Bolsover councillor to vote in favour of cutting member’s allowances in line with the recommendations of an independent committee. The fact that Bolsover councilors claim an allowance more generous than is the case in any other shire district in the country is utterly indefensible.

  8. I would add that they only get away with it because of the uncompetitive nature of local elections here. For the reasons mentioned above that may not be the case for much longer.

  9. Unsurprisingly, that’s one area where UKIP did well in the county elections.

    In the 6 divisions contained in the Bolsover District, they polled 25%. All results between 21 and 27%.
    Labour average 59%: from 54% in South Normanton & Pinxton to 62% in Barlborough & Clowne.
    The Tories went back to 12% (they had 2 17% but they were below 10% in 3 divisions).

    I think the 4 North East Derbyshire District wards are split in different division and paired with NE Derbyshire constituency areas.

  10. In this year’s local elections Labour and UKIP took 84% of the vote between them in Bolsover district, (not the same as the constituency).

    District votes:

    Lab 8,929
    UKIP 3,810
    Con 1,832
    Others 495
    Ind 83

    There were no LD or Green candidates.

  11. I dare say that UKIP will manage a reasonable showing and come second in many of the donkey with a red rossette type seats in the North, Rather like Rotherham, Middlesborough and why not here?

  12. i hope they can challenge labour in those types of seat

  13. I think the tories have ‘blown’ their chances of a long term trend to them in ex mining seats such as this one even as the seat continues to trend away from Labour towards being a Lab leaning marginal such as Amber Valley and that Dennis Skinner will represent this seat until the day he dies.

    My forecast for 2015 –

    Lab 55
    Con 21
    UKIP 12
    LD 6
    BNP 3
    Others 3

  14. That should read Lab level of support like Amber Valley NOT marginal!

  15. Will this seat ever become marginal with the Tories in any of our lifetimes I wonder?

  16. If there was any kind of gentrification and/or movement of middle class groups as there has been in other former industrial areas.

    Even so, I’d say UKIP stands a better chance of competing with Labour than the Tories in Bolsover. Demographically speaking.

    Moreover, the Labour CLP would commit a mortal mistake if Skinner’s successor was a parachuted pro-EU apparatchik. I.e. someone akin to Denis MacShane.

  17. I think Skinner’s electoral record here is admirable all the same. He got a very good result here in 1992 I think. Of course 1987 had been against the national trend because of the whole situation with the Miner’s Strike in the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire heartlands at the time.

  18. The amount of time spent here discussing whether this seat will ever be winnable by the Tories is quite extraordinary given the political situation in the area. The Tories still have no councillors at all in this constituency & if they are making progress here, it’s very slow progress. It’s a bit like Sutton Coldfield the other way – yes Labour has strengthened there, but isn’t going to be competitive there any time soon.

  19. It’s not extraordinary at all given that it was The Results who started the discussion. Not sure why he keeps wanting to go back over things like this which have been discussed time and time again.

  20. One thing that has only been mentioned in passing (by A Brown) is that this seat is shifting against Labour, although certainly by no means decisively just yet. Nonetheless, there was nearly a 12% swing to the Conservatives here at the last election, even with Skinner still in situ. Neighbouring Ashfield has seen big swings from time to time and it could be in time that Bolsover moves out of the ‘safe Labour’ column, particularly when the Lib Dems start to recover in a few years.

  21. If the Lib Dems start to recover. Even if they hold many of their current seats in 2015, their local bases are wrecked (huge areas of the country don’t have a single Liberal councillor), two thirds of their membership has left and there’ll almost certainly be quite a damaging leadership contest.

  22. Dr John, actually this has been mentioned almost ad infinitum. I’m not getting too excited or fretting just yet. Remember that there are still no Conservative or LD councillors at all in the constituency. It is true that this is no longer Labour’s safest seat in the E Midlands (that’s Leicester E now), but it is not going to go into the marginals column any time soon.

  23. Bolsover is moving away from Labour in the same way that Sutton Coldfield is moving away from the Tories.

  24. It is, but at least Labour has won a council seat in Sutton Coldfield. And the wards are far, far bigger in Sutton Coldfield as in the rest of Birmingham.

  25. What has happened in Bolsover to be trending away from Labour? Has it become more of a commuter town for those who work in Derby or Nottingham, or is it the long-term effect of the mine closures? Locally it is or is close to a one party state AFAIK.

    Who would the challenge from in the future?

  26. Neil – I think it will be eventually from the Lib Dems, although as others have said, this won’t be anytime soon. The swing at the last election was to the Conservatives, although I don’t think they will ever come close to winning this seat. Interestingly, just about 10% of the vote last time voted either BNP or UKIP and this also partly explains Skinner’s big percentage reduction. I guess this seat is slowly trending against Labour for various reasons and the loss of the pits is just one of those. I drove through the constituency a month or two ago (not just on the M1!) and it has a different feel now – more middle Britain and less industrial.

  27. Apparently of 380 UK local authorities, this was the only one in which Labour performed worse in 2014 than in 2009.

  28. Yes, that is an interesting statistic.

  29. Apparently that statistic given by ElectionData on Twitter is incorrect. Labour increased their share in Bolsover by 5.9%.

  30. That is still interesting given that former industrial areas are slowly crawling away from Labour if you consider their fall in share in S Yorks (not far from Bolsover) authorities.

  31. Skinner has list his seat on Labour NEC (PLP/EPLP section). John Healey 216 votes, Steve Rotherham 133 Skinner 121 votes.
    Margaret Beckett was elected unopposed due to the woman quota.

  32. Some above claim that Labour’s Parliamentary success is tied to Dennis Skinner being liked, yet at District level Labour control 32 of 37 seats, and have all 6 of the Country council divisions. There is therefore a strong Labour support in political arenas where Dennis has no real input / control. However, would a Labour MP post-Dennis be able to consistently poll above 50% of the popular vote, I don’t know. Would a Tory, Lib Dem or UKIP genuinely get a look in? No.

  33. 45 years’ incumbency is very hard to overturn, but also could damage vote share quite badly when Skinner retires or dies (the latter is more likely). However, a newbie who could build that incumbency again might be able to keep it monolithically safe.

  34. Labour won’t lose this, certainly not in our lifetimes.

    I don’t really know if this seat actually is trending against Labour long-term, but the result in 2010 suggests their strength may be weakening now.

  35. I think Labour’s grip on the seat has weakened a little bit but a 25% lead in the context of 2010 is still very strong. I can see the Tories getting within 20% in a good year before long but I don’t see Bolsover becoming a marginal. Even in Barlborough where you think the Tories would do pretty well, Labour managed a 30% point lead in 2011.

  36. What I find interesting is that although he’s been the MP here for an incredible 44 years, Dennis Skinner has only ever increased his vote share twice- in 1992 and 1997. There was a swing of 0.76% to the Conservatives from Labour here in 1987, Skinner went down 0.12%, the Tories up 1.4%, although his numerical majority as well as number of votes did both increase. He had very strong results in the 90’s however.

    This seat is interesting I think because of how the Tories have performed during its history- For example, there was a swing of 1.03% in their favour here in February 1974, then a below-average swing of only 0.75% to Labour in October 1974. There was then a big 6.2% swing to the Tories in 1979, by that year’s standards at least. They’ve certainly had some good results here even though they’ll probably never win the seat.

  37. ”They’ve certainly had some good results here even though they’ll probably never win the seat.”

    I think once Skinner isn’t the MP for this seat, it will start to trend towards the Tories.

    I passed through this constituency about a year ago for the first time and was surprised at the prettiness of some of the villages. It seems these former mining towns/villages are gentrifying and becoming middle class commuter towns / villages for Nottingham and Sheffield and further afield a la ‘North East Derbyshire’ and’ Penistone and Stockbridge’.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if this became a safe Tory seat in 40 / 50 years time.

  38. The Conservatives will one day win this seat?

    It might get less safe for Labour over time but I don’t really know genuinely if the Tories would be capable of actually taking this, unless it really does become marginal. In any case, I don’t know how much of a personal vote Dennis Skinner has himself, so even if he does go, this could still remain safely Labour in 40-50 years time, you never know.

  39. prediction for 2015-

    lab- 49%
    con- 21%
    UKIP- 17%
    Lib- 11%
    BNP- 2%

    Now this is a pretty bold prediction, mine always are, but I forecast labour’s vote actually decreasing.

    This is an ideal seat for a UKIP surge , around 95% are white British, working class area where many do not have a degree past GCSE. UKIP will be big here, the tories will fall , the liberal democrats will fall and the BNP will be lucky if they even do manage 2%.

    Labour hold however with their majority widening further.

  40. UKIP should be hopeful of 2nd here. I can imagine the BNP doing well (for them) here. Its an awful place.

  41. I don’t think the BNP will do well anywhere next year. It’s a problem of demographics. The people who voted BNP before (to be blunt, largely angry white men) are exactly the same people UKIP are attracting. UKIP also have the advantage of being relatively electorally successful and their leadership not looking like a bunch of thinly veiled fascists.

  42. They probably don’t satisfy the hardcore out and out racist – of which this seat probably has more than its fair share.

  43. To clarify – I would guess about 2.5-3% in 2015.

  44. Personal votes for sitting MPs probably rise to a peak when they are most active, keen to build a party organisation and politically active in Parliament and beyond. Then support will wane as MPs become less fresh, complacent and even lazy and lose interest in things that are not their speciality. Their party organisations atrophy as members are more likely to be elderly too. A new candidate can then breath fresh life into the campaign and do better.
    I suspect Denis Skinner doesn’t try as hard as he once did. The Grimsby results suggests Austin Mitchell doesn’t either.

    This seat is still Labour’s for a generation if it takes care of the place. A byelection would however expose Labour’s complacency and could be an interesting prospect for UKIP, but still a very long shot.

  45. A large BNP vote to break, over 90% white British, working class area of generally uneducated people- UKIP could go from strength to strength here but I doubt they’ll ever take control of the area.

    Still however will be interesting to see.

  46. A portent for Labour here?

    Bolsover DC, Bolsover North West- 8th January 2015

    Labour 174 [45%; -22%]
    UKIP 153 [39.5%; +39.5%]
    Conservative 60 [15.5%; -17.6%]
    Majority: 21
    Turnout: 13.4%
    Labour Hold

    Turnout was diabolical even by recent low standards in council elections
    Percentage change since 2011

  47. The chance of Skinner ever being defeated is zero.

    Depending on how UKIP’s fortunes pan out, it might be an interesting seat when he has gone…..especially if he were to die mid-term in a Miliband government. UKIP would have a very good chance in those kind of circumstances.

  48. I think it’s very hard to extrapolate from a by-election with turnout that appalling. With a ward voter roll of roughly 2,880, there’s a margin of error of roughly 5%, even before you account for differential turnout by social group etc.

    There is some UKIP potential here, evidently. But they’re not going to win any time soon and I think even in H. Hemmelig’s case, the seat is so surrounded by seats full of Labour activists (Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire, Bassetlaw, Amber Valley, all of Sheffield) that it would be hard for UKIP to beat them in the ground game.

  49. Depends how unpopular the (likely) Labour government is. Given that Miliband is enormously unpopular before he has set foot in no.10, the omens are not good. Activists tend not to be motivated (or even still party members) when their party is leading an unpopular government.

  50. That’s true. If he does go within the next parliament, this may still be one to watch – although if Labour pick a decent candidate I would still expect a hold.

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