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 - 220 Responses on “Burnley”
  1. Lib Dems/Birtwistle had an excellent result here in 2015 in the national context.

    However, with the strong Leave vote and loss of incumbency (and perhaps some tactical votes, though not as obvious as many seats), if Labour is going to lose to anyone I should think it is more likely to be UKIP – if they pick a guy with a reassuring haircut. 🙂

  2. “If Birtwistle defected to UKIP or ran as an independent he’d have more chance.”


  3. Given that it’s a two-way contest chances are the Conservative/UKIP vote will breakdown here: they didn’t do fantastically well in 2015 considering the BNP managed 9% here in 2010 and didn’t stand then.

  4. From what I saw of him Birtwistle seemed like a really nice guy, in contrast to Labs candidate.

  5. It’s not a 2-way contest. IMHO that’s the old way of thinking.

    It’s not like the top two parties are a combined 80%+ here.

  6. Correct, it’s not a two-way contest, it’s now a safe Labour seat. Realistically come next election Labour will be in the high forties in this seat with Con, LD & UKIP in the teens or low twenties. The Lib Dems are making progress but their internationalist pitch will not go down in a seat that once had BNP councillors.

    (Actually that’s a good stat question – has any other seat apart from Burnley had a Lib Dem MP and BNP councillors simultaneously? That must be an unusual combination.)

  7. Just off the top of my head:
    Bradford, Leeds, Kirklees, Solihull, Pendle, Stoke-on-Trent, Epping Forest, Havering, Redbridge

    Not common, certainly, but not THAT rare.

  8. When did Stoke or Havering have any Lib Dem MPs?

  9. To be honest I’m not sure any of those apply. I seem to remember the Solihull BNP councillor was in Meriden constituency. Also were there really any BNP councillors left in Bradford East after the Lib Dems won it in 2010. I can’t recall whether there were any BNP councillors I Rochdale when the Lib Dems held the seat 2005-2010.

  10. HH is right.

    Iain seems to have just listed any councils which had both LD & BNP Cllrs.

    Birtwistle must be one of the very few who managed a larger LD % in 2015 than in 2005.

  11. Seats where LDs did better in 2015 than in 2005:

    Maidstone & the Weald
    Oxford West & Abbingdon
    And of course Westmoreland & Lonsdale
    End list?

    Leeds North-West & Ceredigion miss out by tiny margins. Can’t think of any others and surely Burnley must be the only Lab/Lib contest where they are better now than in 2005.

  12. Whoops, read it as places having Lib Dem and BNP councillors simultaneously!

  13. You’re quite right, no idea what I was thinking there.

    Normally I fight my corner (however indefenisble it is) in such arguments but when the truth is literally three clicks away there doesn’t seem much point 😉

  14. Right, I was thinking of Ashfield. Not really the same place all (and it only barely qualifies, with a vote share of 15% versus 14% ten years before).

  15. Edinburgh West and East Dunbartonshire both had higher numerical votes than 2010.

    East Dunbartonshire even beat 2005 for number of votes (2005 was their high point in terms of %, at 42%).

    Redcar also fell just short (18% vs 20%) of beating 2005.

  16. No, but Danny Alexander got more votes in Inverness in 2015 than 2005. I think that’s the only other Scottish seat that this happened in, but stand to be corrected.

  17. Sorry, Clegg did get more votes in Hallam than in 2005 (I assume boundary changes weren’t significant in this).

  18. In terms of raw vote, the Lib Dems outperformed 2010 in:
    Edinburgh West (+1,484)
    Gordon (+1,455)
    East Dunbartonshire (+1,375)
    Argyll & Bute (+194)
    Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross (+80)

  19. Argyll, Caithness and Gordon? No. I can’t see them managing close to the required 42% of the vote to surpass the Yes vote from 2014 in Argyll or the 45% in Caithness. All parts of the Gordon seat swung heavily over to the Tories in 2016 so under the current boundaries Salmond is safe for the time being.

  20. At least you’re honest

  21. Birtwhistle will stand again.

    Thoughts on LD chances? I’d think low, but he did much better than I thought he would in 2015.


  22. More likely to go Tory if it really changes hands, though possibly Lib Dem on no more than 30% of the vote.

  23. I have this as a candidate for a long-shot Tory gain. The way the LD vote held up in 2015 suggests it is quite anti-Labour and the EU ref result suggests they won’t get much traction here this time. There could, then, be swings from all three of Lab, LD and UKIP to Con.

  24. It would take only one visit to Burnley to dispel any notion of a Tory gain, long shot or not.

    The Tory vote is conentrated in the outer villages such as Cliviger and Worsthorne, in harsh contrast to the poverty that engulfs vast portions of the seat.

    The Lib Dems had been working this seat for years and the reason for their vote holding up well in 2015 was more to do with Birtwistles reputation as a local personality (i.e. soapboxing in the town centre) rather than any Lib Dem popularity. With any other candidate i would’ve had this as a Labour hold, but would be surprised if it wasn’t very competitive with Birtwistle standing again.

  25. LDs will drop to 25%, they have no chance here, its over.

  26. I personally can’t see the LDs making any gains in the North West, but this is the only slight possibility.

    That’s only based on the fact GB was visible as the MP and this hasn’t been the case since for Burnley.

    However, what I think many LD supporters are forgetting is that whilst I dislike Clegg, the LDs did at least have the credibility and publicity of being in power in 2015 so were a potential choice in voters’ minds.

    That just isn’t the case with Farron. So LDs could yet fall further in the same way the Tories were defeated but polled some half decent losses in some seats in 1997 – yet fell back further in 2001 as they just weren’t in the running in unwinnable seats.

    Whilst GB is active I also wonder whether people want to vote for an MP who’ll be 79 in 2020.

  27. One thing to consider here (apart from all the polling evidence) is that this is Alistair Campbell’s home seat..he is a well known Burnleyite…he is always at their football games for e.g.

    I’m just saying that he is well regarded there & his anti Corbyn rhetoric, closeness to Blair etc may well be noticed by the Burnley people and means that I agree that Labour will haemorrhage votes and it could well be (another) shocker for LAB

  28. To be perfectly honest, there are good arguments against all the outcomes here. I suspect a Labour hold, but wouldn’t be shocked at all if they lost it.

  29. When someone says ‘I wouldn’t be shocked’ it usually means they are covering their own back in case they are wrong

  30. ‘However, what I think many LD supporters are forgetting is that whilst I dislike Clegg, the LDs did at least have the credibility and publicity of being in power in 2015 so were a potential choice in voters’ minds.’

    But they lost about half of their vote specifically for being in government, full stop, and even those on the centre right who might have stuck with them in 2010 deserted them for the Tories in 2015

    I think the Lib Dems will get back up to double figures in terms of the popular vote but I don’t see them winning many more seats

  31. I think what some of you are missing is the Lib-Dems role here as a repository for Protest votes.. UKIP stole some of their thunder in 2015, & they were hit by both the L/D’s role in the coalition and Labour’s courting of the Asian heritage vote…
    Gordon Birtwistle did very well here in 2015, compared to most Lib-Dems nationally..
    Burnley is a quite contrary place, ex-Labour and dis-illusioned Labour voters may vote UKIP or L/D as a protest, but due to to historical factors ( Closure of Mills/Mines & Poll Tax ) wouldn’t vote Tory as long as they drew breath…
    Very much in play for the Lib/Dems,may need tactical voting from the Tories, and how the 2015 UKIP voters vote this time may prove decisive….

  32. Conservatives have easily taken control of Lancashire County Council:

    Cons 46
    Lab 28
    LD 4
    Ind 2
    UKIP 1
    Green 1

    The LDs were here and in Pendle. UKIP gained a seat here from Labour and the Greens held their HQ in Lancaster. Inds always win the Fylde wards. Labour were reduced to their strongholds in Skem, Leyland etc.

  33. What Lanc seats will the Torries take in June.

  34. Blackpool South, L & F I agree.

    Chorley will prove more difficult – the Deputy Speaker voted Leave. Indeed the 2 Deputy (Lab) Speakers did but often failed to receive any publicity or mention, along with the other 10 Labour MPs.

    Hyndburn is doable but the Tories always seem to fail there

    Similarly Bury S is doable (I realise it’s in GM but black pudding is Lancashire surely), but depends on the Tories.

  35. Sky reported a projection from these results that the Tory majority would only be 48 seats. At the moment it’s 12 I think so that’s only a net 18 gains they’re forecasting.

  36. I favour a Labour hold here after todays results. Even factoring in Labour losing Padiham to UKIP, the Lib Dems were unseated in Burnley Rural and Gordon Birtwistle was comfortably defeated in Burnley North East.

  37. What total % votes did Cons (and the other parties) get in locals in this seat?

    And how many seats did each stand in?

  38. Anyone know the answer?

    Thanks in advance.

  39. I think there are just the 4 Burnley wards on Lancs CC? (N, W/Padi, SW, CE).
    Based on that –
    Lab 42.9%
    Con 19.1%
    LD 24.7%
    UKIP 9.6%
    Grn 3.7%

  40. Oops, missed off Central West

    Lab 40.4%
    Con 19.7%
    LD 25.6%
    UKIP 9.2%
    Grn 5.0%

  41. And Rural (facepalm)

    HOPEFULLY this is it!

    Lab 36.4%
    Con 23.7%
    LD 25.8%
    UKIP 9.3%
    Grn 4.7%

  42. The Tory candidate here is abroad on holiday for a week.

    I’m sure this won’t be the last of the stories uncovered after the Party HQs selected PPCs rather than members.

  43. A week ago, I’d have bet 60 -40 on Gordon Birtwistle regaining the seat..then Tim Farron opened his mouth ! 50,000 more Syrian refugees, legalising Cannabis,& admitting to being a Blackburn Rovers fan !
    Labour have done their bit, by proposing to site the new travellers site in an 80% Asian heritage ward ( Guess what, they’re not keen either! ), Tories have selected a Candidate that’s on holiday for a 1/4 of the Campaign…
    UKIP will get a reasonable residual vote, and the Greens perhaps 1100 or so..
    I’ve lived here for nearly 30 years, and I haven’t a clue who’ll win..My best guess is that Julie Cooper will win with a reduced majority, before being de-selected next time for Sobia Malik, especially if the Boundary Commission proposals are implemented…

  44. The bookies don’t seem sure who’s likely to win Burnley, either.

    Lib Dem 11/8
    Lab 11/8
    Con 5/2

  45. It really is a tricky one… but I think the LDs have no chance at all, and if I’m reading that right and the bookies make them favourite that’s very wrong… most likely Lab hold, but mainly through good luck in Julie Cooper’s opponents rather than a strong Labour showing.

  46. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a result pretty similar to 2015, with just the Tories and UKIP swapping places but with still a decent UKIP showing around 10% or so. I work in the constituency and theres arguments to be made for a decline in the vote of nearly everyone; a bizarre dynamic.

    Not a terribly popular incumbent; disappointing, at least in my view, results for the Lib Dems in the CC elections along with national positions which will go down like a pint of sick here; a Tory candidate who’s just returned from a holiday to Turkey in the middle of an election; and the decline of UKIP in general.

  47. All the Emails I’ve been getting about campaigning in the North West and not one mentions Burnley, I read into that the local Lab party must be confident (whether deservingly or not)

    As has been mentioned Burnley overwhelmingly backed Leave which doesn’t help the Libs ad the CC elections were less than promising for them. the Libs trump cards come down to the candidates, Cooper is by all accounts pretty useless while Birtwistle is apparently a really nice guy.My guess though is that this will be a Lab hold with a much reduced majority.

    As for Birmingham Yardley, Libs have no chance, easy Lab hold perhaps even with an increased majority.

  48. Agree with Rivers above Birtwistle is super nice alright… easy pickup for him

  49. Ladbrokes’ Odds for Burnley:

    Labour 6/4
    LibDem 6/4

  50. Honestly could see anything happening here. I tend to think it could actually be a three-way marginal: UKIP vote goes largely to Tories, LDs lose some to Tories/gain some from Labour, Labour goes down generally with some losses to Tory but a few UKIP pickups.

    Could see all three being between 25 and 35% or so.

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