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. Tory voters won’t vote tactically for another candidate as they appear to have done for Clegg I think. So I would say Labour gain.

  2. In the past Liberals/LibDems have prospered under unpopular Tory Governments. Admittedly it may be more difficult in this parliament because people have recent memory of them keeping the Tories in office – and they now have competitors for the ‘pissed off’ vote as evidenced by UKIP and the Greens.

  3. Bolton is slightly unusual in terms of NW politics in that it leaned to the Tories in 1979 until 1997 (Bolton West and Bolton North East were both Tory at the 1992 GE – Peter Thurnham, former Tory MP for Bolton North East, infamously left Bolton NE at the 1997 to run away to what he thought was a safer seat).

    What I am trying to say is that many people from Bolton, who are Labour leaning are not ‘I will never ever vote Tory’ types, and assuming that the new Tory government performs OK over the next five years and the incumbent MP does a reasonable job, then this could be a difficult seat for Labour to win back.

  4. Out of interest, did Ruth Kelly ever have much of a personal vote when she was the MP?

  5. Neil Turner

    There were only 2 Bolton seats in 1979 (East & West) and Labour held them both.

    It wasn’t till 1983 that the Tories won the Bolton seats (can’t be bothered to check but I presume they had won at least one of them in 1970)

  6. The Tories won both seats in 1970.

  7. Makes sense, as in 70 the Tories did better in the north than London, 79 was the opposite.

  8. 87 of course was the peak Tory year in London.

  9. How much of the pre-1983 Bolton West is contained within this seat? If I am right in thinking both Horwich and Westhoughton were in the old Westhoughton division.

  10. It would be odd if the latter wasn’t in the seat you mention, although that didn’t stop Sutton ward being in Plymouth Drake until 1997 instead of the Plymouth Sutton constituency.

  11. Andy JS- indeed! It was Horwich about which I was less sure. Atherton was in the Leigh division since 1885.

  12. Does anyone have an idea as to what the result on the current boundaries would have been in 1992 ?

  13. Pretty similar to 2015 I’d imagine. The pre-1997 Bolton West did not include Atherton of course but it did include the inner Bolton ward of Halliwell, which was and is pro-Labour.

  14. The optimum boundaries for the Tories were those between 1997-2005 inclusive- no Halliwell or Atherton. The Tories would have won that version of Bolton West by about 2500 in 2010 and 2750 or so in 2015.

  15. Is Bolton the smallest town in England to be named in three separate constituencies?

  16. The reason I ask is that there must be much bigger towns that are not in any constituency name… Off the top of my head I can think of Huddersfield that has a larger population than Bolton. Must be others

  17. That’s because the Bolton seats actually cover all of the metropolitan borough of the same name, whereas the Huddersfield seat covers just the town of Huddersfield which lies within the wider metropolitan borough of Kirklees. If the Kirklees seats were named via the same method as the Bolton ones, we’d probably have Huddersfield Central, South West, North and East respectively, which would be plain daft!

  18. I think Bolton West should be renamed either Westhoughton or Horwich.

    Bury South should also be renamed Radcliffe and Prestwich.

  19. By analogy with the [Metropolitan Borough of] Bolton seats, you’d have to include the [County] Durham seats – City of Durham, North West Durham and North Durham – and Durham is much smaller than Bolton.

    Even if you restrict it to boroughs, rather than counties, Lewisham is smaller. And until a few years ago, Barnsley was in the name of three seats, too.

  20. A couple of interesting/strange local stories from Bolton.

    In one a Labour Cllr finally admitted he was the one who hadn’t paid his Council Tax. This was after a 3 year battle between the local paper and Bolton Council over their refusal to name the Cllr whose name they redacted from the FOI request.

    Cllr Ismail Ibrahim has now been sacked as the chair of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee – and lost his £5k pa allowance – as ironically this oversees council tax recovery.

    In the other story, a new Trans Tory Cllr has reported to the police as a hate crime, an elderly Lab Cllr who twice referred to her as he.

  21. This was the only middle class seat the Tories won from Labour in 2015

    ‘In the other story, a new Trans Tory Cllr has reported to the police as a hate crime, an elderly Lab Cllr who twice referred to her as he’

    That’s absolutely ridiculous and he/she should be arrested for wasting police time

  22. Well I don’t know about arrested as that would waste even more police time haha. But yes this ‘boy who cried wolf’ attitude (unsurprisingly usually found on the left this being a rather rare example) towards things like this rather diminishes the seriousness and impact of real hate crimes

  23. While it is, IMO, a waste of time, given that these things were very much the brainchild of Labour and the left I must confess to some amusement at seeing them hoisted by their own petard in this case

  24. Agree with Paul. If the councillors’ parties were switched round then this would become a social justice issue of national importance (and Tim would be bemoaning cons for nastiness).

  25. ‘If the councillors’ parties were switched round then this would become a social justice issue of national importance (and Tim would be bemoaning cons for nastiness).’

    No I wouldn’t

    Whilst I think it’s slightly perverse that such a person would choose to be a Tory in the first place, I very much agree with Peppermint that such a complaint only serves to diminish the seriousness of genuine hate crimes

    Not that a complete and utter moron such as yourself would understand that so f*** you too

  26. TJ is right – having met trans people myself, and made one or two faux pas along the same lines. Invariably they have responded understandingly – I wasn’t the first or last person to make that mistake.

    And personally I think it is great that the Tories have modernised sufficiently that a trans person can feel comfortable wearing a blue rosette. That, if anything, is testament to Cameron’s modernising project – gay marriage, the Equalities Act etc – one of the few things that most people can agree he got right.

  27. Polltroll
    “gay marriage, the Equalities Act etc – one of the few things that most people can agree he got right”

    Sadly there are still some who live in the dark ages and insist on making peoples life’s miserable for no discernable reason and its also sad that about 1/3 of Tory MP’s seem to fall into that category.

  28. @rivers well the most ‘backward’ demographic group in Britain is a solidly Labour voting block who if they got their way would make gays, women and Jews far more miserable than the most knuckle dragging Tory MP ever would dream of …

  29. Rivers: attitudes have changed fast. If the gay marriage vote were held today the number of Tory rebels would most probably be in single figures. Even Donald Trump supports gay marriage.

  30. And before anyone whinges ‘Islamophobia’ the views of many of that community are extremely alarming on so many issues and in my experience are getting no better with generational churn (in many instances it is getting worse). While progressive Muslims obviously are a sizable group they are sadly a minority silenced by the left who clamber over themselves to defend the actions and views of the bigoted ones while obviously not giving a pass to anyone else for holding the same view.

    Yes I have whinged about this before but is one of the actually rather few things that gets me really riled up as I take it personally.

  31. Pepps
    I agree, I’ve made it no secret that I hate religion and find Islam to be amongst the most reprehensible of them all. I just tend to view people as individuals though. I can’t claim to know but a microscopic proportion of the opinions of the millions of Muslims in the UK and thus I don’t cast aspersions over them all.

    Re Tory MP’s though, there are only 300 odd and their opinions are out there in the open for the most part so yeah I critique them more heavily, not excusing the bigots in the Muslim community though.

  32. And I don’t mean lets blanket blame all Muslims but its the elephant in the room that needs to be hashed out. While bigoted Tory MPs will be out of parliament and six feet under rather soon and the Tory parliamentary party will be near 100% pro-gay in about a decades time, young Muslims who hold these views aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Thus a full, frank discussion lead by progressive Muslims (Sadiq Kahn would be perfect given his standing) about widespread unacceptable views held in their communities is something that is desperately needed.

    Rant over.

  33. Polltroll
    I’d have to disagree, I could hazard a guess as to how the gay marriage vote would go if it were held today but I doubt the opinion of those that voted against (on all sides of the house) has changed much.

    Trump is a weird character, its easy to stereotype him as the epitome of all things hard right but the guy has his own bespoke said of views. His opinion on gay rights have been long held and actually have put him at serious odds with the Republican establishment and many Republican voters.

  34. I have never understood the left’s hatred of Christianity. They share many of the same values – the focus on equality of all people, and yes, the authoritarian streak, that is unshakeable in its belief that inside every being is a Christian/socialist silently sleeping and waiting to be unleashed by another true believer.

    (And – full disclosure – I say this as someone who has gone on and off Christianity for as long as I have been sufficiently mature to make that decision.)

  35. Personally I think all religions have a inherent charitable, pure and decent streak to them, that applies to some religions more than others though and I have to say the Abrahamic religions including Christianity score poorly compared to the likes of Buddhism, Shintoism or Taoism.

    However ultimately all religions are most probably based on nonsense and thus those official religious figures espousing hate and bile in the name of religion are some of the most dangerous people in the world if you ask me, the true lunatics. Throw in organised religions inherent conservative streak, adoration for authority, tendency to ensnare people and make them think and act a certain way and it bears all the hallmarks of an organisation that I’d just rather didn’t exist.

    As Marx said religion is the opiate of the masses…

  36. Polltroll – that’s untrue and I think you’ve stated that previously re gay marriage. Whilst the numbers opposed may have fallen from 200 MPs, there’s no way that it’s down to “single figures.” Indeed from memory an EDM on the subject garnered over 60 Tory MPs signatures in a day and that was on a Friday when most aren’t even around.

    You’re right re Trump, but for the wrong reasons. It isn’t that he’s a late convert to the concept of gay marriage.

    It’s that he as a metropolitan New Yorker has always supported it. The Left just seemed to think ‘cos he’s lousd he must be the most right wing candidate, but of course that was Ted Cruz.

  37. “gay marriage, the Equalities Act etc – one of the few things that most people can agree he got right”

    Cameron and Clegg opposed extending civil partnerships to heterosexuals so by definition didn’t believe in equality.

  38. ‘I have never understood the left’s hatred of Christianity. ‘

    That’s more a characteristic of the hard Left, who seem to dislike it almost as much as the other things this dislike such as capitalism

    What I find far more bizarre is the amount of those on the Right who claim to be Christian and yet share none of the beliefs and values that make people Christians

    Many spent most pf their lives doing things Christianity says they shouldn’t – from taking potshots at immigrants to making obscene amounts of money on the backs of the poor – and yet with a straight face claim to be Christians.

    It’s far more of an issue in the US than it is over here.

  39. Tim
    “What I find far more bizarre is the amount of those on the Right who claim to be Christian and yet share none of the beliefs and values that make people Christians”

    I can agree with that completely, in the US there is a near infinite number of examples but there are sadly more than a few (dare I say it) hypocrites here in the UK as well. As much as I find the man sort of endearing Jacob Rees-Mogg strikes me as the best example, the man claims to be a devout Christian yet has flown totally against the wind of Christian belief on most issues pertaining to caring for the most vulnerable and such.

    He did an interview with Owen Jones a while back and he genuinely justified voting against gay marriage solely on the principle that “he believes firmly in the teachings of Christianity” then later in the same interview when discussing the Pope and some of his critiques of Capitalism he responds that “the holy father is not infallible” and basically its none of the popes business…I mean come on either you believe the churches teachings or you don’t you can’t pick and choose what suits your own prejudices.

  40. Many on the Right who like the fly the Christian flag – both over here and on the other side of the Atlantic – like to pick and choose which bits of Christian teachings they heed and those that they don’t

    For example in the US death penalty always say ‘eye for an eye – it says in the Bible’ yet look at you rather dumbfounded when you mention what Jesus said about turning the other cheek

    Although I’m one of the few who regrets the diminishing influence of the church and Christian teachings in our daily life, I think ultimately we should be thankful that most of our politicians over here don’t do God

  41. Tim J – but they can equally point to verses which shows their beliefs are based on the Bible. On both maintaining strong borders and personal responsibility.

    It’s also interesting that it’s the liberal Church of England in decline here, whereas the evangelical churches are growing in numbers attending. Indeed the C of E numbers are also artificially bolstered due to their ‘nationalised’ structure (the fact most go to see the local Vicar for a funeral or Christening) and 1 in 4 primary schoolchildren in England attend a C of E school.

    ‘Most don’t do God’ – except Blair, May et al. Although you’re right that we don’t say God Bless…as the POTUS does. [Blair famously wanted to say this, of course and Ali C stopped him.]

    We leave that to HM Queen’s Christmas message, the Coronation, Royal Weddings and Daily Prayers in the Commons.

    Rivers10 – I think that says more about the mixed loyalties of him being both English and a Roman Catholic.

  42. Rivers, without wishing to get too much into a religious debate (which isn’t the purpose of this site and I suspect nobody really wants) JRM’s position isn’t actually contradictory. What many non-Catholics either don’t or choose not to understand is that Papal Infallibility is limited to him speaking as Pope on an article of the faith (as a trivial example, the Pope looking out of the window and saying “It’s going to rain today” doesn’t guarantee it, nor does it disprove infallibility if it doesn’t) so it’s entirely possible to subscribe to the Catechism (the official teachings of the church) but to not want the Pope to talk about certain things you happen to disagree with him on, especially those that are not directly related to the Church and its teachings.

  43. – I think that says more about the mixed loyalties of him being both English and a Roman Catholic’


    I always assumed him to be a High Church of England type – not a Roman Catholic

  44. Yes, very much so.

    He often refers to his ‘Mother Church’ in debates in the Commons.

    There’s still a fair few posh RC Parliamentarians around, although they are dying out. Earl Ferrers was probably the best known (indeed he was a member of the Stuart Society). Ruth Kelly was another ex public school RC.

    The rest tend to be either converts (such as Blair, Ann W) or those who attended state RC schools on the Labour side (Andy Burnham is the best known) or of Irish descent (Kate Green, Conor McGinn), or born in in the Irish Republic (Lord Alton).

    But it always amuses me when RCs – or Christians in general – complain they are not represented. When this was checked by a think tank, it found that eg 12% of Parliamentarians were RC compared with 8% of the population and 30% of MPs attend church compared with 10% of the public. They are therefore over represented, even without the Bishops in the Lords.

  45. I’m sure some of the 30% of MPs who attend church are doing it as community outreach rather than through belief.

  46. ‘community outreach’ is being kind – just being seen to go or purely for votes in some cases.

  47. Bolton Council have been accused of behaving like a dictatorship after barring both the press and opposition Party Leaders from a meeting where large grants were given to local businesses.

    The largest was £300,000 given to Asons Solicitors.

    At a time when Bolton Council are scrapping school crossing patrols as they cost too much at £9k each.

  48. The Chief Executive of Bolton Council has admitted that the £300,000 grant the Council gave to a local firm of Solicitors using emergency powers and without the knowledge of Opposition Cllrs or the press should not have happened.

    He declined to comment as to whether any Officer or Cllr will face disciplinary action as a result.

  49. Asons Solicitors have been closed down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority due to suspected fraud.

    The £300,000 ‘grant’ that Bolton Council provided Asons has been repaid, but the investigation into that grant continues.

  50. Former MP here Julie Hilling has applied for a rematch with Christoper Green.

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