City of Chester

2015 Result:
Conservative: 22025 (43.1%)
Labour: 22118 (43.2%)
Lib Dem: 2870 (5.6%)
UKIP: 4148 (8.1%)
MAJORITY: 93 (0.2%)

Category: Ultra-marginal Labour seat

Geography: North West, Cheshire. Part of the Cheshire West and Chester council area.

Main population centres: Chester, Ledsham,Aldford, Eccleston.

Profile: Covers Chester itself and surrounding villages, running up to the border with Wales. Chester is a historic walled market town, which became an upmarket residential town for the upper classes fleeing the industrial sprawl of Manchester and Liverpool during the industrial revolution and, and like much of Cheshire, it remains a relatively affluent area. However, Labour support in housing estates like Blacon and Lache make Chester into a marginal seat..

Politics: Conservative for most of the twentieth century, Chester fell to Labour in the 1997 landslide, unseating the television celebrity Gyles Brandreth. It was briefly won by the Conservatives in 2010, but regained by Labour in 2015.

Current MP
CHRIS MATHESON (Labour) Educated at LSE. Former trade union officer. First elected as MP for Chester, City of in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 18995 (41%)
Lab: 16412 (35%)
LDem: 8930 (19%)
UKIP: 1225 (3%)
Oth: 1228 (3%)
MAJ: 2583 (6%)
Con: 16543 (37%)
Lab: 17458 (39%)
LDem: 9818 (22%)
UKIP: 776 (2%)
Oth: 308 (1%)
MAJ: 915 (2%)
Con: 14866 (33%)
Lab: 21760 (48%)
LDem: 6589 (15%)
UKIP: 899 (2%)
Oth: 763 (2%)
MAJ: 6894 (15%)
Con: 19253 (34%)
Lab: 29806 (53%)
LDem: 5353 (10%)
Oth: 358 (1%)
MAJ: 10553 (19%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
STEPHEN MOSLEY (Conservative) Born 1972, Solihull. Educated at King Edwards School and Nottingham University. IT consultant. Chester City councillor 2000-2009, Cheshire county councillor 2005-2009. MP for City of Chester 2010 to 2015.
CHRIS MATHESON (Labour) Educated at LSE. Trade union officer.
BOB THOMPSON (Liberal Democrat) Born 1956, Chester. Educated at Nottingham University. Retired HR director. Chester councillor 2002-2009, Cheshire West and Chester councillor since 2008. Contested Eddisbury 2010.
Comments - 273 Responses on “Chester, City of”
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  1. Christian Matheson has been selected as Labour candidate. He’s a Unite officer . He used to work in the General Secretary Office and now works in the HR Department.

  2. Watching Have I Got A Bit More News For You last night I was reminded of when Gyles Brandreth used to be the MP here during a good chunk of the 1990s (1992-97). It’s a pity in a way he left politics since he is such an intelligent and witty person, he really would light up the place if he was still there I think. And who could ever forget his Ten-Minute Rule Bill about plain English back in 1992?

  3. Gyles is always such good entertainment when he’s on TV.

  4. ”Gyles is always such good entertainment when he’s on TV.”

    He comes across as the sort of person who would be good entertainment no matter what platform he was on- Be it TV, radio, newspapers, the House of Commons, after-dinner speaking etc. etc.

  5. I saw him in one of his one-man theatre shows a couple of years ago. He’s good at working a crowd.

  6. This constituency hasn’t had a lot of attention from us but it could well be a very close contest. Labour would have lost it by slightly more had Christine Russell not had the gumption to attempt to defend her seat – Mike Hall (admittedly he was unwell) & Helen Southworth didn’t present themselves to the starting post. There will therefore be a slight “double incumbency factor” in favour of Stephen Mosley, but in real terms Labour probably still needs a swing of only 3% (the Tory lead is 5.5%). Given this seat’s regional position, one would have to make Labour very slight favourites, but it does look like a pretty close one.

  7. Difficult to argue with any of that. I agree it will be rather close given Mosley’s incumbency, and I wouldn’t like to call this at the moment either way. But if Labour get a decent swing nationally, it might just tip the balance here in their favour.

  8. To close to call. I do favour labour very slightly.

  9. For those who may be interested, my favourite snooker player Ricky Walden comes from Chester.

  10. ITN reported from this seat during their coverage in 1992 but didn’t go back there for the result for some strange reason.

  11. It came through at about the same time as Banff & Buchan which was shown on both BBC and ITN. I would probably have preferred to have seen Brandreth being elected.

  12. Same here TBH. It would have been more exciting given it was a closely fought marginal.

  13. Any of the 3 SNP gains in 1987 would have been interesting to watch but none of then were shown on either BBC or ITN. But I think Moray 1987 is available on ITN Source.

  14. Actually I think the declaration for Moray may well have been televised by ITN during their coverage, going off various clips I found on ITN Source which are no longer available I don’t think. Ironically Banff and Buchan was shown in 1992 while Moray wasn’t, unlike 1987 when it was the otherway round.

  15. Another 2015 forecast

    Lab 41
    Con 32
    LD 12
    UKIP 10
    Others 5

  16. I think this will be very tight indeed. I would perhaps make Labour slight favourites (though not on the basis of any supposed Mersey effect) but I don’t find predictions of a 7.5% swing convincing.

  17. This is another one of those urban middle class seats in the North West which despite being relatively affluent has been swinging away from the Tories long-term

    1997 was the first time Labour had ever won Chester and whilst it had never been Tory by huge margins it was a pretty reliable seat

    The swing here in 2010 was rather lacklustre – considering Tory efforts in more working class seats lke Crewe and Weaver Vale – and as things currently look I’d fancy Labour to take it

  18. Tim- I don’t agree entirely with you. I accept that there has been a long-term drift to Labour but since 1992, I think the position here has been quite stable. This is in contrast to the two Wirrals for example, which have only got worse for the Tories.

    I also accept that the 2010 swing was mediocre but the 2005 swing was pretty strong and the pre- 2010 boundary changes probably made things a little harder for the Tories. All in all, whilst I think Labour has a more than decent chance of regaining this one, I don’t have the pessimism about Chester that I have about other north-west marginals.

  19. PS- and believe you me I am pessimistic about the North-West. I have pretty much given up on Wirral West, Lancaster and Fleetwood, Carlisle, Morecambe and Lunesdale, Blackpool North, Bury North, and Warrington South. And I’m not terribly hopeful about Weaver Vale either, though I think demographics may be moving in our direction there. Funnily enough, three of the seats about which I am relatively optimistic (or at least hopeful) were not even Tory in 1992: Crewe and Nantwich, Pendle, and Rossendale and Darwen.

  20. Whilst I agree with Tory’s comments about the North West in general I think he is inderestimating the Merseyside effect which is definitely a factor here given Chester’s proximity to Merseyside

    Whilst there are obvious areas of labour strength – like the council estates of Blacon and the Lache – the general flavour of Chester is still pretty middle class – and as in seats like Wirral South there are quite a few affluent commuter villages that you woufd have thought would be good for the Tories

    Elsewhere in Cheshire it doesn’t look great for the Tories. Wirral West and Warrington South look as good as gone and as an effective cheerleader for his local area that Graham Evans is, he really beat the odds winning here in 2010 and given the bulk of the electorate comes from the industrial working class towns of Runcorn and Northwich, he has his work cut out, as does the likeable Ed Timpson in Crewe

    I think the Tories are in real danger of losing all five

  21. Tim- thanks for your reply. I’ll put my contention like this: if there was an on-going Mersey effect in the Chester constituency, the Conservatives would not have won the seat back in 2010 given the relative position of the parties in 1992. Remember also that the Tories were in a much stronger position in both Wirral South and Wirral West back then. However, in 2010 they failed to regain the former and regained the latter with a majority barely greater than that Moseley managed in Chester. So even if there is a Mersey effect, it is not nearly as strong as in other nearby constituencies.

    I agree that the Tories are in real danger of losing all five. As it happens I think Timpson will cling on in Crewe and Nantwich, albeit very narrowly. As I’ve said, I’m still reasonably hopeful about this one but the other three look gone.

  22. I agree that the so-called Merseyside effect is less of a factor here than in seats that are actually in Merseyside – Wirral West, Wirral South etc – it’s still a factor

    As it is in say Warrington South, which had it existed as a seat in the 1960s-70s would have been safely Tory,

    Even the ultra-industrial seat of Runcorn – which contained a lot of what is now in Warrington South – was reliably Tory back then

  23. Yes, but that was mainly because of the other areas it included, which were far from “ultra-industrial”. The same applied to Northwich – neither seat was ever won by Labour though Northwich was close in 1945.

  24. The Conservatives certainly seem to have done better in Cheshire in 2010 than in 1992 but worse in southern Lancashire.

    I wonder if Pete could do some combined county results.

  25. Barnaby- yes, IIRC Northwich will have included staunchly Conservative communities like Tarvin and Tarporley which are today part of Eddisbury. Indeed, Alistair Goodlad moved from Northwich to the revived Eddisbury with the 1983 boundary changes.

    Richard- in so far as your comments relate to the now defunct administrative area of Cheshire, I agree. In 2010, we won three seats we didn’t win in 1992: Warrington South, Weaver Vale, and Crewe and Nantwich, though I think the boundaries of the former two seats are more favourable to us now than they were back then. But taking the traditional County of Chester as a whole, the picture is more mixed because of our decline in Wirral and Stockport.

    I agree with your comments about southern Lancashire. In fairness, boundary changes in that area have been very unhelpful since 1992- I am thinking here of the losses of Davyhulme and Littleborough and Saddleworth as well as the changes to Bolton North East. Nevertheless, I doubt we’d have carried the 1992 version of those seats in 2010- we’d have possible won Davyhulme but it would have been knife edge. And of course we won Bolton West and Bury South in 1992, which we didn’t manage in 2010.

  26. I wonder if the Tory majority would have been different here had Christine Russell decided to stand down rather than defend her majority. It’s a marginal seat and Labour look reasonably well-positioned for 2015 here, but do you reckon her incumbency for the 13 years prevented a larger swing to the Tories?

    This and Warrington South are IMO Labour’s best prospects in Cheshire in 2015. I want to say Weaver Vale too, but I’m slightly on the fence about that outcome. The Tory majority in Crewe and Nantwich and the swing needed to gain it are too uncertain to tell at this point.

  27. Neil- perhaps but remember she suffered a 6.5% swing in 2005.

    The problem for the Tories in Weaver Vale is the continued presence of Halton wards. Take those out and I’d be optimistic about a Tory hold. As it is, I think Labour is very likely to gain the seat.

  28. LAB GAIN MAJ : 6%
    LAB 40
    CON 34
    LD 13
    UKIP 9
    GRN 4

  29. Ladbrokes:
    4/7 Lab
    5/4 Cons

  30. ‘The problem for the Tories in Weaver Vale is the continued presence of Halton wards. ‘

    A decisive problem really as the eastern part of the seat – Northwich and the surrounding areas are moving over to the Tories quite decisively – and the plesant rural towns in the centre of the seat – like Helsby and Frodsham – have always favoured the Tories.

    No sign of that in the Halton wards one, and I thinbk the Tories have a better chance of holdong Chester than Weaver Vale

  31. the basic arithmetic makes that obvious really. There aren’t many solid Labour wards in this constituency & it isn’t easy to forecast sometimes.

  32. ‘There aren’t many solid Labour wards in this constituency’

    The Blacon ward is about as solid as they come.

    Even in 2010 Labour secured about 60% of the vote but it certainly is the exception as opposed to the rule

  33. Yes you are right that Blacon is very solid, but it’s the only one. Weaver Vale on the other hand has several safe Labour wards.

  34. The problem for the Tories in Weaver Vale was that they found their reliable vote in the centre completely cancelled out by the Labour vote in the Halton wards in the West and Northwich itself in the East – although with the latter trending Tory they do at least have a chance

    Not enough though I suspect

  35. One thing to factor in here is the incumbent Conservative Council; the leader appears to be relatively disliked, (along with the council as a whole) and there will be all-out council elections on the day.

    Given the City of Chester has 22 council seats entirely within it (I believe) , with Labour holding 8 – and gaining 5 on a 4% uniform swing), I’d be inclined to suggest that Labour will take control of the council, the majority of council seats within the City of Chester, and indeed the Parliamentary seat on the same day.

    I expect Labour to gain 9 Councillors, the Lib Dems to lose their sole seat, and the Conservatives to lose 8, giving a Labour majority of 7.

  36. CWAC Boughton by-election (with % change from 2011)

    Lab 614 44.8% (-7.3% )
    Con 469 34.2% (-6.2%)
    UKIP 131 9.6% (+9.6%)
    Gre 86 6.3% (+6.3%)
    LD 70 5.1% (-2.4%)

    Lab-Con swing of 0.55% since 2011

    Not a bad result for the Tories in what is a pretty urban ward with something of a student/young professional character.

  37. PS the Tory vote will probably come from the smart mock-Tudor semis in the south-east of the ward off Christleton Road- i.e. out of the city towards Boughton Heath.

  38. There was another chester seat up for election and that had a bigger swing to the tories. More like 3% since 2011.

  39. See the Weaver Vale thread, Joe- I’ve covered it.

  40. I was thinking about Chester earlier today on my lunch break (amazing what you consider even in the office lol). For anyone more informed about the psephology of the city, which direction do you think it’s trending? Is there a Merseyside effect or is it more complex than that? Which sectors are the workforce mainly employed in?

    I looked up the election history (and I’m aware that the seat has likely undergone a number of boundary changes over the years). Although there was clearly a Labour presence before 1997 they couldn’t win it even in their very best years like 1945 and 1966. Interestingly the Conservative vote always held up well but wasn’t in the ultra safe category either. The 2% gap between Brandreth and Labour in 1992 seemed to be writing on the wall that Chester would become more competitive.

  41. Neil,

    a constant gripe i and a few others have , is how little actual information about real seats we seem to get here nowadays.

    City of Chester is a key marginal, but no one seems to have the foggiest idea of what’s going on there.

  42. Well I’m not from Chester so I too have absolutely no idea what the situation is here, and indeed I’m definitely not the closest poster to here without living there, but as I’m from Merseyside I’ll merely give my own thoughts about how this seat appears to be trending, not saying they’re right.

    The result here in 2010 wasn’t an overwhelming gain for the Tories, but it wasn’t bad either, they were above 1992 in terms of majority, their vote here has gone up by 6.4% since 1997, just above the national average, so they haven’t really recovered their position too badly by the looks of things, but whether they’ll hold up longterm is a question I sadly can’t answer.

    What I can say is though is that any Merseyside Effect there may be here may take longer to be felt given how Chester is very much still in Cheshire and not Merseyside, although the cultural links are there I think. But from what I know, and I do have family living here, I would say there’s a chance that Labour might do well again here in the near future, and this will no doubt continue to be marginal in the coming years and decades, but the way Labour fell below the national average last time seems to suggest it might be trending in their favour longterm perhaps, though I might well be flat-out wrong.

    As this is a key marginal seat, one thing I am certain of are the candidates who have been selected so far. They are-
    Stephen Ingram (UKIP)
    Chris Matheson (Labour)
    Stephen Mosley (Conservative)
    Robert Thompson (Liberal Democrat)

  43. The Results- Labour’s below average fall in 2010 could well have been due to other factors namely:

    1) Ever so slightly favourable boundary changes;
    2) The fact that Labour’s vote had already fallen markedly in 2001 and (particularly) 2005.

    As I have posted before, I strongly dispute the notion of a dynamic Liverpool effect in this constituency. There is no way you can meaningfully compare the electoral behaviour of this seat with that of Wirrals W and S and Crosby since 1992.

    Incidentally, Lord Ashcroft covered the City of Chester in his latest marginals poll:

    Lab 37
    Con 36
    UKIP 15
    LD 7

    If I was Stephen Mosley, I would be reasonably happy with those figures with 6 months to go.

  44. I know Steven but have not yet spoken to him about the above poll. Will do so soon and report back.

    For what it is worth I think he will hold his seat, just. I remember walking through town with him and being stopped by people constantly wanting to chat. I took that as a good sign. He is certainly more popular than his predecessor. Fist time incumbancy and a recovering local economy should see him through.

  45. Regarding the much discussed demographic trends, I do think the seat will move against the Tories however. It is not so much the Mersey effect which Tory rightly suggests , to the extent it ever effected this sear, has already happened. It is more the university.

    The Uni is very ambitious and is aggressively buying up lots of local property to fuel it’s rapid growth. I spoke to a governor who commented casually that he wanted Chester to become another great city Uni like Exeter, York or Bath. My heart sunk, three ex Tory seats, long gone. For the moment it will remain marginal but this is perhaps a forewarning of chester’s fate.

    Some changes are visable already. 25 years ago my parents would describe Chester as the kind of place one cold buy a bespoke wedding dress but not milk. I don’t feel that today. There are less antique furniture shops, more trendy bars and fast food joints. In general, younger and less genteel.

  46. ‘There is no way you can meaningfully compare the electoral behaviour of this seat with that of Wirrals W and S and Crosby since 1992.’

    I think you can

    It’s worth remembering that Chester – like the Wirral and Crosby – had never been represented by a Labour MP prior to 1997 and the swing to the Tories in 2010 was waaay below expectations

    And all this is despite the fact that like the Wirral seats and Crosby, Chester remains quite a middle class seat, albeit public sector mioddle class which is quickly becoming one of Labour’s most reliable voting groups

    So I think the comparison is apt, although I’m not convinced Labour will win here in 2015 – whilst they are almost certain to in the other three seats

    All four seats have quite a strong public sector middle class

  47. Though not represented by Labour prior to 1997, Chester was not safe for the Tories in the way Wirral always was….the Tory majority in 1987 was only 4000 or so, and only 1000 in 1992. It retains the same degree of marginality relative to the national result, whereas both Wirral seats are now better for Labour than Chester is.

  48. This seat is not like the wirrals or Sefton (yet).
    As observed earlier, Tories are slightly further ahead than in 1992, in a way totally unlike the wirrals or Sefton.

    Canvassing in the other three you find many self identifying middle class scousers and public sector comuters to Liverpool and Chester. Those people living in Cheter do not typically consider themselves scousers. Moreover the “guardianista” aspect of this seat is over exaggerated and not comparable with the wirrals. Most of the labour vote comes from the rougher estates like bacon and lace not so much the middle class profesionals. Indeed, the stronger Tory areas like upton, boughton or mikel trafford tend to point into Cheshire.

    perhaps over time thigs will change (as I was wondering earlier) but that will be more the university than mere proximity to Liverpool I suspect.

  49. Also, just noticed the description claims ledsham is in this seat. 90% sure it is in elsmere port and Neston. Could be wrong though.

  50. Ledsham is in fact just within this constituency. I’m not sure I would describe it as one of the ‘main population centres’ however. According to Wikipedia it has a population of 88

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