Bolton West

2015 Result:
Conservative: 19744 (40.6%)
Labour: 18943 (39%)
Lib Dem: 1947 (4%)
UKIP: 7428 (15.3%)
TUSC: 209 (0.4%)
Independent: 321 (0.7%)
MAJORITY: 801 (1.6%)

Category: Ultra-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: North West, Greater Manchester. Part of the Bolton council area.

Main population centres: Heaton, Horwich, Westhoughton, Atherton, Blackrod.

Profile: Bolton West contains very little of Bolton itself, just the relatively affluent outskirts like Heaton. The majority of the seat is made up of the suburban and rural commuter belt between Bolton and Wigan, including the town of Horwich (home of Bolton Wanderers) and the former mining towns of Westhoughton and Atherton and the village of Blackrod. The seat is the whitest and the most affluent of the three Bolton seats, with the largest proportion of owner-occupiers..

Politics: A Labour-Conservative marginal, the seat was held by the Conservatives between 1983 and 1997 before falling to Labour in that years landslide. The Conservatives narrowly missed out on the seat in the 2010 election before wining it back in 2015.

Current MP
CHRISTOPHER GREEN (Conservative) Former engineer. Contested Manchester Withington 2010. First elected as MP for Bolton West in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 18235 (38%)
Lab: 18327 (39%)
LDem: 8177 (17%)
UKIP: 1901 (4%)
Oth: 936 (2%)
MAJ: 92 (0%)
Con: 15175 (37%)
Lab: 17239 (43%)
LDem: 7241 (18%)
UKIP: 524 (1%)
Oth: 364 (1%)
MAJ: 2064 (5%)
Con: 13863 (34%)
Lab: 19381 (47%)
LDem: 7573 (18%)
Oth: 397 (1%)
MAJ: 5518 (13%)
Con: 17270 (35%)
Lab: 24342 (50%)
LDem: 5309 (11%)
Oth: 1374 (3%)
MAJ: 7072 (14%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
CHRISTOPHER GREEN (Conservative) Engineer. Contested Manchester Withington 2010.
JULIE HILLING (Labour) Born 1955, Oxford. Educated at Cedars School and Nottingham University. Trade union organiser. MP for Bolton West 2010 to 2015.
ANDREW MARTIN (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Cambridge University. Fitness instructor. Bolton councillor since 2014.
BOB HORSEFIELD (UKIP) Lighting technician.
ANDY SMITH (Independent) Artist.
Comments - 123 Responses on “Bolton West”
  1. 2012 local election results for this constituency:

    Labour: 10,072 (41.6%)
    Conservatives: 6,277 (25.9%)
    Liberal Democrats: 3,922 (16.2%)
    Independent: 2,115 (8.7%)
    Greens: 1,037 (4.3%)
    English Democrats: 588 (2.4%)
    Green Socialists For Investment Not Cuts: 190 (0.8%)

    Total votes: 24,201

    Compared to the 2010 council election results here:

    Conservatives: -7.5%
    Labour: +9%
    Liberal Democrats: -9.5%
    BNP: -2.8%
    Greens: +2%
    Community Action Party: -1.4%
    English Democrats: +2.4%
    Green Socialists For Investment Not Cuts: +0.8%

    Swing from Con to Lab: 8.3%

  2. Looking at 2012 local results, the Labour lead is similar in Bolton West and Bolton Notth East.

    I guess Crausby had a considerable personal vote in NE while here Labour didn’t have any (no incumbent and I am not sure Ruth Kelly was particularly popular anyway).

    I guess the 2 constituencies can re-align each other again in 2015.

  3. Labour was saved here by the addition of the Atherton ward in 2010. The Conservatives would have won the 1997-2010 Bolton West by 2500-3000.

  4. I agree with Tory. I first calculated the results for the Bolton council wards here, and the Tories were significantly ahead in the local election results. Indeed, Labour were quite close to being beaten into third place by the Lib Dems. Only the huge Labour majority in Atherton closed the gap, and I’m sure it’s what saved them in the general.

    Interestingly though, Atherton was won by an independent in 2012.

  5. The Lib Dems clearly get a substantial local election bonus here.
    I expect Labour to hold on with an increased majority – probably fairly regardless of the overall swing.

  6. Yep, an increased Labour majority looks the only realistic prospect. This is the kind of seat the Tories need to gain to get an overall majority of their own, but being reduced to a quarter of the vote in 2012 is no way to mount a winning campaign.

  7. I cannot see the Tories winning this seat in 2015…especially if UKIP stand again.

  8. The new MP seems to be more in tune with the seat – without knowing the seat myself.
    I think we missed our C chance in 2010 and
    it’ll stay Labour for a good few years to come.

  9. I agree with what the others have said- the Conservatives will find Bolton West difficult to win on its current boundaries.

    I suggest the following (distinctly hypothetical!) scenario would be ideal for the Conservatives in the Bolton area:

    (1) A modified Bolton West renamed ‘Westhoughton’ with Hulton replacing Atherton- I suspect the Tory majority would have been about 3000 in 2010;

    (2) A compact ‘Bolton’ seat, which would be strongly Labour;

    (3) A revived ‘Darwen’, which would make proper use of the three Tory-leaning wards in Bolton North East: Astley Bridge; Bromley Cross; and Bradshaw. The latter two wards were part of the old Darwen constituency.

    (4) A revived ‘Radcliffe cum Farnworth’ taking in the southern bits of the Bolton MBC.

  10. By the way, I’m open to requests. If someone would like to see the 2012 local election results for a constituency under a unitary authority (or equivalent thereof), just ask me and I’ll be happy to calculate them if I can. Reason for asking for unitary requests, is there’s no point working out district results when we had county results in 2013, and county results across a constituency just give me a headache working out. Doesn’t have to be a marginal seat, happy to do safe seats if you’re curious to know the results there. I enjoy tabulating all these results, but I’m starting to run a bit low on marginal seats left to work out, so would welcome any requests.

  11. Do you have the results for all of the Redbridge wards?

  12. Do you have all the Redbridge wards results?

  13. In Ashcroft’s latest constituency poll here Labour have a decent lead but little rise in vote share since 2010. I suspect UKIP:

    LAB – 40% (+1)
    CON – 27% (-10)
    UKIP – 21% (+17)
    LDEM – 8% (-9)

  14. That looks very promising for labour.

  15. Ashcroft poll also shows BNP has gained a vote here. Wonder if that will affect UKIP.

  16. I hear that the Conservatives are in the lead here? Any news?

  17. This is a Labour held seat and so virtually all commentators on this blog will say that the Tories can’t possibly win.

    This constituency was on Radio five live on the day that Labour launched their manifesto, and they talked to a number of Labour supporters, who all said that they could vote UKIP.

    Neither Labour nor the Tories will poll anything near to 40% here

  18. Labour Hold. 4,000 majority.

  19. Good to see that David Cameron was in this constituency yesterday. Perhaps he thinks that h does have a chance after all.

  20. Tory GAIN of 801.

  21. Full Result:

    Con 19,744 40.6%
    Lab 18,943 39.0%
    UKIP 7,428 15.3%
    LDem 1,947 4.0%
    Ind 530 1,1%

    The swing to the Conservatives was only 0.9% – but it sufficed.

  22. Labour complacency maybe in seats like this.

  23. I got this half wrong and half correct. I said that neither Lab nor COn would get near 40%, which they both did – !!! However, I did say that UKIP will do well here, which they did. In fact UKIP did well in all three Bolton constituencies.

    As soon as I saw ‘Recount in Bolton West’ and then ‘Con Gain Bolton West’ on the TV, then I knew that a Tory Majority was possible.

  24. Do you think this could swing back to Labour in 2020?

  25. Christian- oh absolutely. As long as Bolton West includes Atherton, the Conservatives are going to find it difficult to win but this was a surprising result. I suspect the middle-class LD vote in Smithills broke for the Conservatives and that they may have been an important factor.

  26. Julie Hilling says UKIP took Labour votes – seems like UKIP Tory voters knew went back UKIP ones didn’t get the message. Incredible complacency lost this.

  27. Labour UKIP voters I mean

  28. Several seats where a high UKIP vote seems to have hit Labour – Gower, Croydon Central, this one, Morley & Outwood. Ex-Labour UKIP voters may have been undercounted by polls as such voters would be especially ashamed to admit their VI. So UKIP did have an impact on the election, but purely a negative effect that didn’t help their own party, only the Tories.

  29. This election has a 1979 feel to it. I suspect that Labour will go backwards with lots of in-fighting and the Tories will win by a landslide next time, a la 1983. If my prediction is true then the Tories can certainly hold onto seats like this next time.

  30. That is what I think as well. I fear that the Conservatives could conceivably win in 2020 as well, as for 2025 that is too far in the future to speculate about I feel.

  31. Labour can of course win the next election but the figures speak for themselves: they now need a 8.7% swing in the marginals instead of a 4.7% swing. If you discount Scotland the swing required is 9.4%. How often has any party achieved that kind of swing? The only example I can think of is Blair in 1997 who achieved a national swing of 10.3%. (The swing in the marginals was a bit higher).

  32. I’d say it’s more like 1987 TBH. There aren’t that many places the Tories can advance further in the south and midlands TBH apart from a few seats in Birmingham and Walsall and only 3/4 seats in Wales.

    I think the next election will be more like 1992 although perhaps without a majority for the tories and then Labour will most likely get back into power in 2025.

    I don’t expect Labour to win back more than half a dozen seats in Scotland in 2020 either.

  33. Regarding 2020, I think a lot still depends on what sort of leader Labour elects and whether they can get the full backing of the party. Then there’s also the state of the economy and if the Tories make any slip ups or lurch to the right. It is conceivable that the Tories could increase their vote share and number of seats for a fifth election in a row, but it’s also conceivable that they could become extremely unpopular and facing a Blairite Labour leader in 2020 they could find themselves in a 1997 senario.

    In short it’s still too early to tell what will happen in 2020. And given the surprising result last week, I won’t be prepared to say for sure what I think the outcome will be until we get the exit poll on the night.

  34. Quite surprised the Tories were so close in 2010 after the boundary changes.
    Isn’t Heaton the posh area?

  35. Doesn’t this constituency include part of Wigan borough ?

    If so is this the first time part of Wigan has had a Conservative MP ?

  36. yes, 1 ward from Wigan

  37. The collapse in Scotland makes Labour’s performance worse than it actually was – in England Labour did somewhat better than in 1992. If Labour can get back to 260 in 2020 , it would be able to contemplate a minority Government with SNP/Plaid/LibDem support. I am pretty sure that the LibDems will be in no mood to help the Tories out again and will be looking for some revenge. I suspect that we will hear much less about the largest party having the first right to form a government – indeed I don’t recall Ashdown advancing that argument prior to the 1992 election. Had Kinnock and Ashdown been able to outvote Major after that election I am pretty sure that a Lab/LibDem deal would have been reached – regardless of the Tories still having most seats.

  38. The idea of a minority government on 260 seats is loopy. It wouldn’t last 5 minutes.

  39. I wonder how many Lib Dem MPs there will actually be in 2020. Less than eight, I am pretty sure.

  40. I disagree. A rainbow coalition was an option in 2010 when Labour had 258 seats even though the LibDems chose not to go down that road because of not wishing to pair up with a party decisively rejected. In a scenario where the Tories have clearly lost their majority the psychology would be different.I imagine the LibDems under new leadership will look for any opportunity to pay back the Tories for the blows dealt to them and in no circumstances be inclined to help them out.

  41. Labour were very dirty with the Lib Dems too. Been to Hornsey & Wood Green lately? A lot of straw clutching going on on the Labour side at the moment which I suppose we shouldn’t begrudge.

  42. PS a lot of Labour figures also rejected the rainbow coalition in 2010, including Balls

  43. I imagine Conservative strategists will be delighted by this kind of talk of rainbow coalitions. Straw clutching is exactly what it is.

  44. I believe Balls was part of Labour’s negotiating team with the LibDems in 2010.

  45. Yes and you will recall the Lib Dem feedback that the Labour negotiators “didn’t appear serious and were simply going through the motions”. In truth only Brown had any enthusiasm for the rainbow idea. Balls, Mandelson, Milliband and Harman all knew the game was up.

  46. I think that is very speculative. Lord Adonis has implied that the LibDems were simply going through the motions. I still believe that the psychology would be different in 2020 if the Tories are down to 300 with Labour plus various allies up at 330. LibDems will not play ball with the Tories again this side of 2050.

  47. If there are only a handful of Lib Dems, that really makes little difference, does it?

  48. I agree – though they may recover to circa 15 in 2020.

  49. Why? I think they are more likely to lose seats.

    A lot of the seats they used to hold they now need massive swings to get back. Some of the old stagers who crept back in this time will retire as well.

    And during this parliament I suspect their numbers will drop too – Clegg won’t hang around once a nice international job comes along, for a start and the Lib Dems won’t hold Hallam in a byelection. Other defections/resignations are also possible.

  50. Runnymede,

    I’m not 100% about the LDs not holding Hallam in a by-election. Clegg was less popular than his party there (masked in the polling figures by the coalition and high tactical voting).

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