Bristol East

2015 Result:
Conservative: 14168 (30.7%)
Labour: 18148 (39.3%)
Lib Dem: 2689 (5.8%)
Green: 3827 (8.3%)
UKIP: 7152 (15.5%)
TUSC: 229 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 3980 (8.6%)

Category: Semi-marginal Labour seat

Geography: South West, Avon. Part of the Bristol council area.

Main population centres:



Current MP
KERRY MCCARTHY (Labour) Born 1965, Luton. Educated at Denbigh High School and Liverpool University. Former solictor. Former Luton councillor. First elected as MP for Bristol East in 2005. PPS to Rosie Winterton 2007, PPS to Douglas Alexander 2007-2009. Government whip 2009-2010. Shadow Environment Secretary since 2015.
Past Results
Con: 12749 (28%)
Lab: 16471 (37%)
LDem: 10993 (24%)
BNP: 1960 (4%)
Oth: 2844 (6%)
MAJ: 3722 (8%)
Con: 8787 (21%)
Lab: 19152 (46%)
LDem: 10531 (25%)
GRN: 1586 (4%)
Oth: 1664 (4%)
MAJ: 8621 (21%)
Con: 8788 (22%)
Lab: 22180 (55%)
LDem: 6915 (17%)
GRN: 1110 (3%)
Oth: 1341 (3%)
MAJ: 13392 (33%)
Con: 11259 (23%)
Lab: 27418 (57%)
LDem: 7121 (15%)
Oth: 924 (2%)
MAJ: 16159 (34%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
THEODORA CLARKE (Conservative)
KERRY MCCARTHY (Labour) See above.
ABDUL MALIK (Liberal Democrat)
JAMES MCMURRAY (UKIP) Teacher. Teignbridge councillor, originally elected as a Conservative.
Comments - 95 Responses on “Bristol East”
  1. With the local elections almost 2 weeks away, I thought I’d take a look at how voting is likely to go in Bristol. There are 23 seats up for election this year. All the wards in Bristol North West and Bristol West will be voting along with 5 of the 8 wards in Bristol East. None of the wards in Bristol South will have elections this year.

    This is the only part of Southern England where Labour has any chance of gaining a council this year and the odds of that happening this year seem quite slim. They need to gain 15 seats to become the majority party. Half of these should be doable but it will be a struggle to achieve more than that. The most likely scenario is for Labour to become the largest party with the 2014 elections in the city providing them with a good shot at overall control.

    As for other parties, the Greens could take the other seat in Ashley though I think the Lib Dems will probably hold on there. Conservatives and Lib Dems are likely to retain most of the seats in their respective constituencies but both will experience losses to Labour in Bristol East.

  2. Has anyone calculated vote share for this constituency using local results and is able to share this info- I’d be very appreciative?

  3. LAB 47
    CON 29
    LD 15
    GRN 5
    UKIP 4

  4. This year’s local election results only wholly covered the wards in the Bristol North West and Bristol West constituencies.

  5. OK- I used the 2010 figures for this seat though. Thanks anyway Andy 🙂

  6. The Tories don’t seem to do very well in this part of Bristol – a bit odd why.
    I think they are still competitive in one of the Bristlingtons but the seat has become a bit of a Lib-Lab urban desert in parts – but surrounding seats haven’t – there are actually more Tory patches at ward level in Bristol S, or were recently

  7. A closer look at the result here in 1983 (With notional changes in brackets)-
    Sayeed (Conservative)- 19, 844 (40.53%, +1.13%)
    Benn (Labour)- 18, 055 (36.88%, -11.32%)
    Tyrer (Liberal)- 10, 404 (21.25%, +10.45%)
    Andrews (National Front)- 343 (0.70%, N/A)
    Dorey (Ecology Party)- 311 (0.64%, N/A)

    Majority- 1, 789 (3.65%)
    Swing- +6.225% From Lab to Con.

  8. UPDATED 2015 Prediction
    LAB 41
    CON 23
    LD 17
    UKIP 12
    GRN 5

  9. OTH 2

  10. I guess I should be the first here to mark the death of Tony Benn. He still remained up to his death the effective spiritual leader (whether he liked it or not) of the Labour left. Although he may have seemed eccentric & crazy to some, he was almost universally acknowledged to have been a very effective cabinet minister & one of the finest speakers of his time – one of the MPs who, if it was known that he was to speak, was most likely to fill the House of Commons. The hatred that some had of him could well be that unlike, say, Dennis Skinner, he deserted his aristocratic background to concentrate on issues broadly concerning the working class. I was privileged to meet him on several occasions, and though he lived to a good age I am obviously very sad that he is no longer with us.

  11. ‘The hatred that some had of him could well be that unlike, say, Dennis Skinner, he deserted his aristocratic background to concentrate on issues broadly concerning the working class. ‘

    It’s that factor that shows him to be the truly decent man he is

    Genuine goodness is always threatening to those at the opposite end of the moral spectrum.

  12. A good man, a great loss…

    The current crop of unpatriotic spongers in Westminster could learn a lot from politicians like Tony Benn and others from that generation.

  13. I’m upset to hear about Tony Benn’s death. He was a great man who never stopped espousing the cause of democratic socialism and had effectively his own wing on the radical left of the Labour Party. He was also a very good constituency member, who served the people of Bristol and then Chesterfield and was re-elected a huge number of times. He will be sorely missed by me personally even though I never knew him, as well as millions of others I would have thought. It is sad that Bob Crow should pass away and then Tony Benn. RIP Mr. Benn you’ll never be forgotten.

  14. Tony Benn was not regarded as a “very good constituency member” in Chesterfield. He was a polarising figure locally who was never comfortable with sitting for a northern seat.

    I think Barnaby is correct, as a mining area, many in Chesterfield held Benn’s aristocratic background against him, to much a greater extent than in Bristol.

  15. He was elected yet another by-election for Chesterfield in 1984, and byelections can often have a habit of changing the political dynamics of a constituency for years afterwards, as happened here between 1984 and 2001. Benn increased his majority in 1987, and further increased his vote share in 1992 and 1997. If he was really really unpopular I imagine he would have lost the seat years before he retired TBH.

  16. No one is saying Benn was “really unpopular” as a constituency MP – either for Bristol or Chesterfield – but his results were pretty underwhelming for a p;olitocal heavyweight, and Benn’s aristocratic background did him few favours in a working class industrial town in the Midlands

  17. Benn suffered an above average adverse swing in Bristol in both 1979 and 1983 when he lost really quite easily despite favourable boundary changes. His increases in 1992 and 1997 were well below the national and regional average and his share in 1997 in Chesterfield in 1997 was barely higher than Labour had won there in 1983.

  18. “his results were pretty underwhelming for a p;olitocal heavyweight, and Benn’s aristocratic background did him few favours in a working class industrial town in the Midlands”

    In addition, ironically given his obsession with representative democracy, Benn was mostly London-based whilst MP for Chesterfield (I can’t speak for Bristol). He loved his house in Holland Park and didn’t pay any more than lip service to living in the constituency, which I think damaged him locally as well as his background and rather polarising politics.

  19. But didn’t Benn do quite a bit for Chesterfield and was very active on their behalf?

  20. One thing that lets this site down is the faux sadness at news of a politician’s death.

  21. I think people are being genuine.

  22. Oh I think there is always a faux element in these cases, and it is certainly not confined to this site.

  23. .Tony Benn.
    Can’t say I agreed with him on anything much.
    I also doubt many of his colleagues were grateful
    for some of his campaigns – particularly
    in 1979 when he appeared to support the strikes
    from the Labour Cabinet,
    and in the early 1980s when they went way to the left.

    However, he always seemed to be unfailingly polite
    and always kept to the arguments….
    He did test arguments which needed to be made.
    His diaries are very human, particularly from 1973 to around 1983.
    For that, is a sad day, and I wish his family and those who knew him well.

  24. “Oh I think there is always a faux element in these cases, and it is certainly not confined to this site.”

    Absolutely. Not the nine o’clock news parodies it particularly well

  25. Tony Benn’s death is a great loss, although like everybody he had his good and bad points. In the long term, he will probably remembered in particular for his extensive diaries.

    Could I make a psephological point in relation to his constituency results. Benn was right, as a media owner himself, in thinking that over the years he came under intense and sustained attack from the media and in particular the press. Given this hostility, it is not surprising if he did not always achieve good swings locally, particularly in 1983 when this hostility was at its height.

    By the way, I believe that the 1983 Labour Manifesto was one of the few election manifestos NOT to be a “suicide note.” If the well worked-out Alternative Economic Strategy had been put into operation, the United Kingdom would have had a Wealth Fund like Norway’s, based on our oil revenues. Thatcher deliberately squandered this wealth to buy votes, in particular by Council House sales before the 1983 election and by concentrating the UK economy on financial services, with all the inequalities and scandals that this has led to. Thatcher was in many ways an exceptionally sincere politician, but she can never be forgiven for her deliberate waste of British economic assets.

  26. “But didn’t Benn do quite a bit for Chesterfield and was very active on their behalf?”

    Not that I know of. Benn was never viewed with a great deal of enthusiasm by the people of Chesterfield. I think he kept an office-cum-flat in the constituency, but never properly lived in the town during his time as MP. Many in the local Labour Party at the time (such as my late grandfather) were far from enthusiastic about the constituency being used as route back into parliament for him.

    This was in marked contrast to his predecessor as MP who was universally respected. Varley always had larger majorities than Benn. Although the former was helped in that respect by a more evenly divided opposition, the fact that Benn was a something of a polarising figure probably helped create a situation where it was more likely that the non-Labour vote would coalesce around one party.

  27. Exactly right.

    We were discussing potential Loony candidates the other day, I wonder if Frederic Stansfield might be particularly well qualified.

  28. Lol. I did think something similar when I read his comments on one of the Kent threads the other day

  29. On a more serious note, I would point out to Frederic Stansfield that North Sea oil began flowing in the mid-70s and didn’t reach its peak production until 1999. Jim Callaghan (and his energy minister Tony Benn) and Tony Blair both had as much opportunity to establish a “wealth fund” as Thatcher did, yet curiously they are spared from criticism. If Frederic thinks that the likes of Tony Benn and Arthur Scargill could have been trusted as prudent guardians of North Sea oil revenues than I seriously fear for his sanity.

    As someone who has spent some years in Norway I can also say that Norwegians would definitely agree that the 1983 Labour manifesto was a suicide note. The scandies are social democrats, not unilateralist trots.

  30. Was it ever realistic for the UK to have a Norwegian style wealth fund paid for by the proceeds from North Sea oil? I somewhat doubt it given the UK’s much larger population.

    On current production levels even an independent Scotland with all of the oil fields (in reality they would get about 90% of them) would only be half as oil rich per head of population as Norway.

  31. Yes I agree.

  32. I think LBernard is being genuine & I think his comments are extremely generous considering how much he must have disagreed with Benn. I would never pay tribute to someone in mendacious terms but I do like to find redeeming features in people, even if in some cases they are quite small ones, and I imagine many of you are the same. I did find it quite hard in the case of Margaret Thatcher but even then there were one or two surprisingly endearing features in there (for example her great atttention to detail in remembering the tiniest personal bits & bobs about her parliamentary colleagues, which they generally loved) & it’s most interesting that even Dennis Skinner was kind to her when she announced her departure. I will generally only celebrate the death of tyrants such as Mugabe, Idi Amin, Pol Pot & Nicolae Ceaucescu (I’ve chosen them because I remember them all dying within the last couple of decades), not democratic figures with whom I disagreed, however profoundly, and there certainly are political figures that I would be very sad to see die on the other side of the political divide. Bob Crow & Tony Benn were very different in background & style, but their deaths are both a great loss to the political scene in this country as would be the death of, for example, William Hague or even dare I say it Nigel Farage. (I’ve excluded Margaret Thatcher from that simply because she had already withdrawn from the political scene quite a long time before her death.) He did achieve things in politics; his opponents will be relieved that he didn’t achieve a huge amount more.

  33. In answer to the comments about Frederic – I should remind you all that the Monster Raving Loony Party is now on the march, and ye should not mock. Yesterday they polled 15 votes in the Chertsey Meads ward by-election – a full 50% more than only 2 years previously.

  34. That certainly puts the one vote swing from UKIP to Labour in some perspective

  35. Tony Benn’s passing is worth marking. He was not my style of politician, but had some endearing traits and was always good value on Any Questions.

    It is interesting that Joe Haines could not find any kind words, blaming Benn for divisions in the 1970’s Labour Government.

    I find the BBC presentation today in stark contrast to that for Mrs Thatcher last year.
    Then they headlined by describing her as “divisive” and could not bring themselves to pay respectful honour to her memory. Immediate obituaries are best to pay respects, more balanced analysis can follow later. The deceased is always someone’s relative or friend and this should be considered.

    Benn did manage a very long career and was always interesting.

  36. One of the “what if” considerations played out in my mind when watching the BBC News coverage. His leftward shift and the divisions in Labour during the 80s might be interpreted by some (particularly non-Bennite aspects of Labour) as contributing to: 1. The party staying in opposition for 18 years; and 2. The birth of New Labour which might not have happened if Labour had been more moderate (but still to the left of Blair) in the 80s.

    Of course it would be wrong to pin what happened to Labour in the 80s on him, as there were obviously many other factors. But I do wonder what would have happened if Benn remained a moderate figure.

  37. How could you not like and respect a man who declared he was retiring from Parliament in order to spend more time in politics? I think Tony Benn was a good man who stuck to his principles and who tended to play the ball rather than the man to a much greater extent than most modern politicians. And I say that as someone who disagreed strongly with him on the majority of issues.

  38. Incidentally that quip I quoted is one of my all time favourite quotations 🙂

  39. Polly Toynbee debating Diane Abbott on Channel 4 News expressing her criticism of Tony Benn.

    Regardless of where people lie politically, at least Benn now has a lasting image that is pretty well respected by both left and right (for different reasons). Compared to Ms Toynbee who is viewed as a hypocrite by some and I don’t hear many fond memories of the SDP. I still don’t know what she fully stands for, even after reading her mile long record of partisan articles for the Guardian. Her view of left wing politics seems limited to things like spending on government initiatives like Sure Start (which she has gone on and on about) and there’s your lot.

  40. Abbott’s upper left cheek was shining bright purple in that interview, I swear somebody had just slapped her in the face. (it must be quite a tempting thing to do)

    Most Labour MPs are such boring drones these days that there is a real gap in the market for a left wing rentaquote to go on TV when someone older than Owen Jones is required. Abbott is clearly moving in to fill that gap.

  41. One joke Tony Benn made a number of years ago which I rather liked; he commented on the unfavourable way in which certain newspapers treated him. He said, “No doubt, if I saved a child from drowning, the headline would be `Benn grabs child` “.

  42. Abbott appeared on Newsnight debating Tony Benn’s legacy with Shirley Williams and Tim Montgomerie. She treated Baroness Williams with appalling disrespect, talking over her at every opportunity and generally hogging the discussion. She was good on This Week but I have to say she really seems to have let her self-importance go to her head now.

  43. I take your point but my opinion of Abbott has improved after reading that. I think anyone who treats Baroness Williams with appalling disrespect is all right with me. I’ve been doing it for decades 🙂

  44. Maybe people have been rude about my previous post about the 1983 Labour Manifesto because it had more truth in it than they could admit.

    I don’t think for a second that Arthur Scargill would have been safe anywhere near the Uk’s oil revenues; but the real question is why Labour has been controlled by successive leaders who have “sold out”. This includes Callaghan, Blair and Brown. Wilson is a more problematic case, not least because he had a great deal more economic expertise than any of the others, indeed than any other twentieth century politician.The question is who could have done better whilst not suffering from crude vilification which undermined them psephologically.

  45. Having watched a couple of news debates and the Benn documentary last night, it’s interesting how there appears to be some kind of point the finger blame game going on between different wings of the Labour party and perhaps the SDP if you look at the contributions of Shirley Williams and Polly Toynbee.

    It has been said so many times that Tony Benn’s oratory, honesty, conviction and all round kindness are qualities that turned him into much loved figure in Britain by both left and right. But in a way, a few of his views have to an extent become popular with some outside of the Bennite left. Of course it might not have been him who influenced those people, but maybe indirectly. His Euroscepticism won him Tory and UKIP fans (although I’m sure his opposition was on slightly different grounds, but the democratic stuff are arguments that have chimed with them). Foreign policy/intervention is another big one. While many wouldn’t dream of associating with cranks like Stop the War Coalition, there has been a big shift towards neutrality by members of the public, of differing political leanings.

    He was marginal figure by the time New Labour took power, but I guess in hindsight many more people will be quoting his phrases over those of Blair and Brown. His quote about spending more time in politics when he stood down as an MP was perhaps the point when he became a larger than Westminster figure. I guess people of all political views appreciate those who speak with honesty and not like technocrats or managers.

  46. Well that’s one way of “attacking” UKIP – something which critics of Labour’s election campaign (mainly those within the party) complained about. But how utterly depressing to go after those who voted for the party. Some of them might have been Labour voters themselves in the past.

    It’s comments like these you expect by the idiots who leave comments on articles in the Guardian, Independent or New Statesman. The type of sneering sentiment you find subtly conveyed in anti-UKIP articles on Left Foot Forward even.

    Attack the party’s policies, not the voters because they’ve done nothing wrong.

  47. A very large percentage of the population is thick and ignorant, not that it should ever be described in such an offensive and negative way. Only a minority of us take much interest in current affairs, and the world would certainly be an appalling place if everyone were an intellectual. To say that this phenomenon mostly describes only one party’s voters is in itself a very thick thing to say. It is something that a frustrated loser would say (and I always say the same when people refer to Labour voters as thick immigrant benefit spongers).

  48. ‘It’s comments like these you expect by the idiots who leave comments on articles in the Guardian, Independent or New Statesman.’

    That’s undoubtedly true – it’s not as if they are lacking the ammunition to attack UKIP itself – as opposed to those who vote it

    But I do think that part of UKIP’s success was down to reluctance by the high command of the mainstream political parties to challenge them head on

    You saw it on Thursday’s Question Time when it was only Kirsty Allsopp and the other lady, who were willing to say anything negative about UKIP. All the politicians on the panel seemed too scared, even though it was obvious they agreed with what was said

    Clearly UKIP were helped by the sneering attitude to some on the Left who targetted their voters for criticism, but they were also helped by the lack of a charismatic figurehead willing to take the fight to UKIP and expose them for what they are

  49. They’re seen the only alternative in town for most disenfranchised Tory, Labour and to some extent Lib Dem voters. The problem for ex-Labour voters is that every left wing alternative that has ever existed (mainly after the rise of New Labour) is sanctimonious and has this dogmatic streak against any working class person who raises the slightest grievance about immigration. Look at how new parties like Left Unity present themselves amid the spending cuts or movements like the People’s Assembly. What does it say about the non-mainstream left in 2014 when it’s only the church leaders who can criticise the government’s policies without sounding like unpalatable loudmouths?

    The Greens are the only ones to have achieved a degree of success. But when you have Natalie Bennett interviewed on BBC News talking about how great free movement of people in the EU is and the implication that voters were driven by fear to vote UKIP, (this was challenged by the correspondent asking her how she knew that for certain and suggested voters might actually like UKIP policies) it’s no wonder the wider left in Britain can’t mobilise.

    In media circles, left leaning journalists like Owen Jones are of the same mindset. They show sympathy for the working class when it suits them (despite the fact that the working class of 2014 is very different to the rosy idea he puts forward), but the prescription is the same old stuff that no one really cares for. Or if there are good proposals, they’re weighed down by an air of smugness and a holier than thou tone.

Leave a Reply

NB: Before commenting please make sure you are familiar with the Comments Policy. UKPollingReport is a site for non-partisan discussion of polls.

You are not currently logged into UKPollingReport. Registration is not compulsory, but is strongly encouraged. Either login here, or register here (commenters who have previously registered on the Constituency Guide section of the site *should* be able to use their existing login)