2015 Result:
Conservative: 5374 (13.5%)
Labour: 14951 (37.6%)
Lib Dem: 11707 (29.5%)
Green: 850 (2.1%)
UKIP: 6864 (17.3%)
MAJORITY: 3244 (8.2%)

Category: Marginal Labour seat

Geography: North West, Lancashire. The whole of the Burnley council area.

Main population centres: Burnley, Padiham.

Profile: Covers the towns of Burnley and Padiham, both former industrial towns that grew up around the weaving and coal mining industry and are now more dormitory towns for Manchester and Blackburn, linked by the M65. The town has struggled economically, with other major employers like Michelin and Gardner Aerospace also closing in recent decades. There is a significant Asian population concentrated largely in the Daneshouse and Stoneyholme areas and Burnley has a history of racial tension, including riots in 2001.

Politics: Historically Burnley has been a safe Labour seat, but the Liberal Democrats gained strength in recent decades and briefly managed to hold the seat between 2010 and 2015 after the former MP Kitty Ussher stood down having been embroiled in the expenses scandal. There was also significant BNP strength here before the party`s self destruction, the party got over 10% of the vote in the 2001 and 2005 elections and returned local borough councillors..

Current MP
JULIE COOPER (Labour) Former teacher and owner of a pharmacy business. Burnley councillor since 2005, former leader of Burnley council. Contested Burnley 2010. First elected as MP for Burnley in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 6950 (17%)
Lab: 13114 (31%)
LDem: 14932 (36%)
BNP: 3747 (9%)
Oth: 3102 (7%)
MAJ: 1818 (4%)
Con: 4206 (11%)
Lab: 14999 (38%)
LDem: 9221 (24%)
BNP: 4003 (10%)
Oth: 6554 (17%)
MAJ: 5778 (15%)
Con: 7697 (21%)
Lab: 18195 (49%)
LDem: 5975 (16%)
BNP: 4151 (11%)
Oth: 866 (2%)
MAJ: 10498 (28%)
Con: 9148 (20%)
Lab: 26210 (58%)
LDem: 7877 (17%)
MAJ: 17062 (38%)

2015 Candidates
SARAH COCKBURN-PRICE (Conservative) Pendle councillor.
JULIE COOPER (Labour) Former teacher and owner of a pharmacy business. Burnley councillor since 2005, former leader of Burnley council. Contested Burnley 2010.
GORDON BIRTWISTLE (Liberal Democrat) Born 1943, Oswaldtwistle. Engineer. Burnley councillor since 1982, Leader of Burnley council 2006-2010. Contested Burnley 1992, 1997, 2005. MP for Burnley 2010 to 2015. PPS to Danny Alexander 2010-2012.
Comments - 219 Responses on “Burnley”
  1. An increased Labour vote, for Julie Cooper.
    The Tories in second place, the Lib Dems collapsed.
    Probably not much of a surprise actually.

  2. Perhaps more of a surprise that Birtwistle had managed to hold up as well as he did two years ago and only collapsed this time round?

  3. I think it’s reasonable to say that this place isn’t natural liberal territory – let’s not forget it was the only place UKIP got a councillor elected in this year’s locals. It only fell into their hands due to a couple of specific events. First, in 2005 the Iraq War pushed many of the city’s sizeable Asian population into their hands, and then in 2010 the fallout from the sitting MP’s expenses abuse pushed them over the line. I imagine 2010 will be the only time they ever win the seat, even if one day the party has 50+ MPs again.

  4. I quite agree yes. It really makes it all the more commendable on the part of Birtwistle I reckon that he was able to limit the damage of his loss in 2015 to the extent he did- perhaps an indication of a personal vote having been built up being retained at the time maybe?

  5. Then again Burnley can be a politically volatile town, much like its East Lancs neighbour Blackburn tends to be from time to time.

  6. There are clear limits to Blackburn’s volatility. Apart from the time when it was divided into 2 seats between 1950 & 1955, one of which was Tory, it’s not been a proper marginal at any time since WWII, but more like a semi-marginal. Even in 1983 Blackburn was pretty easily held by Labour.

  7. Both Labour and Conservative vote shares were down in 1992, with the Lib Dems actually increasing against the national trend.

  8. Also the Lib Dems held up pretty well here as well that year by 1992 standards.

  9. 3 UKIP Cllrs (Tom Commis, Peter Gill & Alan Hosker) have defected to the Brexit Party here.

    I recall Commis was a young PPC in 2015 and Hosker is also a County Cllr. They are typical of youngish new successful activists in all Parties in the North West.

    Burnley still has 7 Groups on the Council.

  10. Do we think Tories will do the 2nd 1/2 of the job and actually win Burnley this time?

    (now they’re established in 2nd place, making voters’ tactical choices more obvious)

    Also – a seat where TBP would take more votes from Lab than Con – reasonable assumption?

  11. No.

    Much of the Lib Dem strength in Burnley in recent years has been from the city’s Asian community, who defected from Labour in the aftermath of the Iraq War. These folk would seem unlikely convertd to the Burqa-bashing Boris.

  12. Sorry to see you putting daft Owen Jones slogans like that in your usually good posts. It’s election time I guess and it brings out the worst in people. On the substance however you are surely correct, if Boris wins Burnley he’s heading for a 1983 kind of landslide.

  13. “On the substance however you are surely correct, if Boris wins Burnley he’s heading for a 1983 kind of landslide.”

    That’s an interesting observation. I had wondered if it were the kind of seat Cons might win – esp when you consider the MRP analysis showing big Lab fall in N-W – even on a night when their overall total seats didn’t increase much.

    But we shall see, and I don’t possess local knowledge, though Lancs may be able to comment further.

  14. From regional polls, it looks like the Tories are actually doing better in the north west than any other region with a swing of about 11% on the last one I saw. That MIGHT (although probably won’t) put seats like Burnley at risk.

  15. The north west looks likely to be THE key battleground this election – as it was in 1983, 1992, 1997

    Outside the cities and posh parts of Cheshire, nearly all the seats supported Brexit in 2016, and there are quite a lot of wwc seats, so how well the Tories do here looks sets to be decisive to how well they perform overall

    An 11% swing would be remarkable

  16. Shaun & HH – that’s certainly my feeling (although it’s largely second hand from colleagues and friends in Parties), as despite my interest, I don’t tend to cover elections or candidates.

    Unless one happens to be in Court such as today!

    Tim is right in that every Lancashire seat voted Leave.

    PT is right although I should point out that Asians only make up around 8% of the electorate in this seat and maybe only 5% of voters. (Despite LDs & HNH’s best efforts this seat more than most caused Griffin to be elected MEP and even this year 4% here voted Tommy Robinson) Asian votes do however make the difference in many other seats such as Pendle, R & D, Bury, Bolton. [The part I’m familiar with – I’m in the Southport seat but checked the other day that the W Lancs boundary is just 50m away – is actually 99% White]

    Personally I have no knowledge of this seat this year but I’d surprise me if it went Tory. The right wing wwc voters I referred to from what I’m told have been voting for local Parties in recent years Locals’ such as Padiham Inds (rather than Tory as they have in Bolton & Bury).

  17. Sebastian Payne of the Financial Times reporting Burnley is being seen as Marginal and could fall to the Tories.

  18. Confirms my thoughts.

    In the unlikely event that there really is an 11% swing in the N-W (see Shaun’s post above), it would be a big shock if Burnley didn’t fall to Cons.

  19. This surprised me.

    Can’t be many counts with 3 MPs for the seat present.

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