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 - 209 Responses on “Burnley”
  1. My point about Hull North was that the Lib Dems have continued to hold traditional working class Labour wards during this parliament in Hull when the have been destroyed in Liverpool losing even safe middle class wards like Wootton.

    Hull seems less effected by the Lib Dem collapse and seems to me to be the only place where the Lib Dems could conceivably gain a seat from Labour. I did not say that they would…only that they could.

    Labour seats fell to the Lib Dems and Lib Dem seats fell to Labour in 2010 so I don’t see why the same would not happen in 2015 even if there is a swing from Lib Dem to Labour.

  2. Ashfield is definitely a better LD prospect than Hull N. Though Labour will hold both.

  3. The Lib Dems did OK in Hull in 2012, but terribly in 2011. It’s reasonable to assume the change had more to do with Hull Labour taking their eyes off the ball than any massive change on the ground, especially as most of the LD seats were won by small margins and they weren’t close to holding any more.

    What’s more, most of the seats the Lib Dems managed to win in 2012 are not in Hull North, which is the only seat they’ve had any history of success in. None of the three wards they held in that constituency could creditably be described as traditionally working-class, either.

    So all in all, Hull does not look like a happy hunting ground for the Lib Dems. The most that can be said is that Labour ought to be doing a better job of taking their council seats than it did last time.

  4. Dalek, I simply point you to the reply of ECB, where the Lib Dems needed to do well to have any chance of winning Hull North, they didn’t.
    They will not even come close at the General Election to taking seats from Labour in Hull.

  5. Neil : “Even with Birtwistle’s independent streak”?

    I am truly baffled, what independent streak?

  6. Exactly. He is a straight-down-the-line supporter of the coalition with almost no exception.

  7. Conservative contesting 5 out of 15 wards in the local elections. 7 seats are straight Lab/LD contests.

  8. Votes cast in local elections:

    Lab 9,923
    LD 8,005
    UKIP 1,819
    Con 1,251
    BNP 446
    TUSC 148

  9. All those LibDem councillors who were defending seats this year held those seats.

  10. Actually the lib dems lost 3 councillors in may.

  11. @doktorb yes the lib dem incumbents did hold their wards but they also lost three wards where there was no incumbent.

  12. Has there been any polls here?

  13. How many of the seats did UKIP stand in? 8.4% in the locals strikes me as remarkably low given the former strength of the BNP and the lack of a like-for-like replacement.

  14. I’ve so thoroughly written this seat off as a Lib Dem loss that I often forget it even exists.

  15. The LDs would have faced an uphill struggle to hold this even if they had for some reason stayed in opposition during this parliament (for instance if there were a Conservative majority), as Labour were always going to do a lot better than 31% at the next GE.

    But I’m curious about UKIP, because if we’re talking about traditional northern Labour areas in which they might be able to make headway then instinctively I would have had this on the list.

  16. 4,000 people here have been voting BNP for 15 years. If they don’t stand and add to that the Ind vote, I’m not 100% this will be a Labour gain. It’s likely but not certain. Tory voters could help him hang on in the way Liz Lynne and David Alton did just.

  17. If there is a shock LD hold at the next election, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is it. I used to think it might have been Redcar but obviously with Swales’ retirement that isn’t a possibility now.

  18. I’d be surprised. But who knows, I guess that’s what “shock” means.

  19. I would not see beyond a Labour gain here; there has been some Lib Dem rally in local elections but Birtwistle has become very unpopular among many voters who switched from Labour to him last time.

  20. {{Citation Needed}}

  21. I don’t know whether Birtwistle is unpopular with such voters or not. He certainly hasn’t done anything to endear himself to them. What I have noticed, however, is that general election polls have been dire for the LDs in most of the seats where Labour is the main challenger, Bermondsey & Old Southwark and Cambridge being so far the only exceptions, even in areas where the LDs have held their own in local elections since 2010 (Redcar & Cardiff Central are very good examples, and Redcar has seen 2 huge Labour leads in constituency polls this year). If & when Ashcroft or anyone else finally gets round to doing a constituency poll here, it would be surprising if Labour does not have a very healthy lead.

  22. Those local elections are surprising and that has indeed narrowed from 2011-13,
    as it has in the very different DIdsbury in Man Withington.

    I still expect Labour to take both seats easily though.

  23. ChrisHornet…UKIP stood in only 4 of 15 wards in 2014 but came 2nd in each, and none were a formerly strong BNP ward. As well as coming 2nd in the Euro Elections, to Labour..without targeting them. The local Branch have little funds but could take lumps out of all three partys, with a decently funded campaign, and a good Candidate.
    Add into this 1800 votes that went to a well funded Independent in 2010, a strong % of the former BNP vote, and the fact that the Greens & TUSC may well stand…then it is fertile territory for UKIP..
    If the local Tories could put their funds and efforts into saving the neighbouring Pendle seat, then, getting say 45% of their 2010 vote & some of the L/D protest vote from that election, then UKIP could be in business..
    But if my Auntie had B***S, she’d be my Uncle…!!

  24. Why have UKIP not set this in their sights? They have at least 5% of a BNP vote, 2% existing vote. That’s 7%, Times it by 4.5 for their growth and that’s round about 31%. With good campaigning and a mini crash in the labour vote it would go purple.

  25. I will put my chips on a labour gain.

  26. I agree with Andy. LibDem hold

  27. whenever i read rubbish…i look at my reliable bullsh*t detector, the betting odds…

    labour 1/9 to win this seat acc. paddy power
    lib dem 9/2 acc. to the same source…nuff said.

  28. Hi James. When I said that I would put my chips on a labour gain I didn’t fess up that I only bet on a near sure thing. Teddy – take a look at the lib dems defence list. Whilst the ld/tory marginals are a mixed bag the ld/labour ones are not. You have to get all the way down to Bermondsey and Old Southwark before you find a polled seat where the lib dems are in front. Seriously the lib dems will not hold Burnley.

  29. You’re forgetting that Gordon Birtwhistle has been contesting elections here since 1992. In doing so he’s built up a considerable personal vote. This is much more difficult for Labour than it looks on paper and should just elude them.

  30. Birtwhistle has come across as a very Tory-friendly LibDem and not likely to find it easy to hang on to former Labour voters.

  31. And Teddy you are forgetting that the Lib Dems are polling at 1/3rd of their 2010 vote nationally.

  32. Birtwhistle will put up a fight, but this will be an easy Labour gain with a big UKIP rump. I actually think Birtwhistle might come third here, and I rarely think an incumbent party (even in the Lib Dems’ rough shape) will see that happen. Here, Redcar, and Norwich South, as far as I’m concerned, are the only Lib Dem seats where they are at all likely to come third.

    I would predict the following in this seat:

    Lab 37
    UKIP 23
    LD 23
    Con 13
    BNP 1
    Oth 3

  33. While Labour should take this seat quite easily, I think the Lib Dems will finish well ahead of whoever is third here.

    I agree about Norwich South — I think that’s the Lib Dem held seat where they are most likely not to hold on to second. Another good possibility is Argyll & Bute. Perhaps Gordon as well. And if it’s a really terrible result for the Lib Dems in the SW, maybe St Austell & Newquay.

  34. Ben if you really were an election junkie you’d know that around this period in the 1987-92 parliament the LibDems were down in low poll ratings but managed to jump back up by th 1992 election. Their current ratings are therefore unreliable from which to make predictions. Factor in Graham’s point about Birtwhoatle being Tory friendly and there’s another potential 3 or 4 thousand tactical votes. Also, UKIP should hurt Labour here so all variables point to a LibDem hold

  35. Teddy – The political environment is a lot different for the Lib Dems in 2014 than it was in 1987-92. To put it simply the amount of support that they have lost as a result of the coalition with the Tories means that their vote will not recover to anything like the 2010 GE. They are running at 7-10% and have been for months. Let’s assume that they get 15% on election day (I think that is improbable but go with it anyway) then that won’t save them in seats like Burnley.

  36. Also, Teddy: Birtwhistle being Tory-friendly would COST votes. Sure, he might pick up a few from the Tories, but he would lose even more to Labour.

  37. No there are almost 7 thousand Tory votes for a squeezin. Maybe it’s in host interests to convey a close thing so he can get the maximum number of these. This is the sort of blue collar northern area where UKIP will do well at labour’s expense so the LibDems shall hold on here

  38. Teddy i wish there was a constituency level poll here. We can’t both be right.

  39. Living in the Constituency, it’s a tough call..who knows how many of the core Tory vote were “squeezed” in 2010 to vote L/D to overthrow the sitting disgraced Treasury minister, Kitty Ussher. How much of that was tactical voting & how much was influenced by “Cleggmania”..
    I’m told the Greens won’t stand here, and who knows about the BNP ?
    A respected local Business-man, Andrew Brown stood as an Independent in 2010 and polled over 1800 votes..where will they go ?
    I can only guarantee that Gordon Birtwistle’s election literature will be devoid of references to Nick Clegg and that the Conservatives may concentrate their funds on the neighbouring Pendle seat which is a narrow marginal..
    Birtwistle is regarded as a hard-working constituency MP & the abject Labour Candidate, Julie Cooper resigned as Council Leader in April 2014 to concentrate on winning the seat..She lost in 2010 having sold her Pharmacy business “As I won’t have time to run it when I’m your MP”.
    Oddly, as a former English Teacher & owner of a Small Business, she’s a devoted member of the UNITE union, which may or may not be related to the funding she receives from them !!

  40. How are we evening discussing this? Any votes Birtwhistle gains from the Tories will be lost many times over to UKIP and Labour (both of which will also take Tory votes), and the Lib Dems would be extremely lucky to break 30% here. Labour could well get above 40%, and will almost certainly break 35%, and UKIP will likely be above 20%. The Tories and Lib Dems will be far down on 2010.

  41. P.T Richards – thank you for articulating what i was thinking.

  42. “Ben if you really were an election junkie you’d know that around this period in the 1987-92 parliament the LibDems were down in low poll ratings but managed to jump back up by the 1992 election”

    In November 1991 the LDs were averaging at over 14% in the polls and then jumped up to 17.8% in 1992. They are currently polling about half that level so that a similar increase would see them make it into double figures but would represent a decline of over 10% compared with 2010.

    One question for Teddy. Are there any currently LD held seats which you expect the party to lose next May?

  43. Thanks Pete but I know the history. I think the Lib Dems won’t bounce back this time because 2/3 of those who voted for them in 2010 are really pissed with them as a result of the Tory coalition. ALL of the polls demonstrate that. I feel a bit sorry for them to be honest. They had a chance to be in government for the first time in a very long time and it just didn’t go well.

  44. And I accept that seats like Cambridge are a good chance to be Lib Dem holds. But not Burnley.

  45. I was (I thought fairly obviously) responding to Teddy who I quoted

  46. Looked on here this morning for the first time in a week, and TBH I wish I hadn’t bothered.

    I can’t understand why, whenever irritating trolls fade away for a bit, they are immediately replaced by new ones.

    6 months ahead of the last election, this site was packed with intelligent and informed debate….that is not the case now

  47. Oh ok Pete my mistake. To whom are you referring HH?

  48. I’m tempted to believe that Teddy, The Results and Harry Porter are all creations of Anthony to stir up a reaction….it’s the only explanation as to why they haven’t been banned from the site.

  49. And of course Bob before them, who is soon to be bankrupted after making scores of £1000 bets with posters that Labour will win various hopeless seats….

  50. Hahahahaha

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