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 - 285 Responses on “Chester, City of”
  1. This seat like at least 20-30 others – one where the CON/UKIP/right wing split will hand LAB a win.

    Is it possible Nigel Farage will try a rapprochement between the Tories?? and UKIP & decide not to put candidates in seats where there’s a eurosceptic Tory??.

    He did this of course in Clacton and Rochester for GE2010 and has indicated in the past that he may do this nationally (in selected seats)

    Let’s look at 14 ‘eurosceptic’ CON MPs who defied a 3 line whip, in Oct2011, on a motion demanding an EU referendum in 2013 – so they are genuine eurosceptics (at least).

    They face losing their seats to LAB by small margins (predicted 4-10% because of a significant UKIP vote in the seat). These 14 MPs are:-


    So do you think Farage not fielding a UKIP candidate in these seats is:-

    a) very likely
    b) probable
    c) not very likely
    d) c’est impossible
    e) horseshit


  2. The percentage of LD switchers to LAB is a low 15% in the latest national ASHCROFT Jan 15 poll– and this follows a trend in ASHCROFT polls. It was 30% in August, 23% in November and now 15%.

    On these figures; & If the gap between those LD switching LAB & those switching to CON, and more LD sticking with LD…..does this make CON favourites to win here in Chester?

  3. I don’t think so personally. I’m not setting any store on the Ashcroft poll unless & until there’s some corroboration from other polls or evidence.

  4. I think you are right to do that.

    POPULUS shows ‘normal ‘ figures for LD to LAB switchers – 31% -compared to the Tories -13%, which is what we’re used to.

  5. Interesting figures in Ashcroft on LD – Lab switchers but UKIP are also highly relevant here, as are possible ripples from a Liverpool/Merseyside effect in terms of voting intentions as previously mentioned.

    I have quite a lot of family in Chester and was up over Christmas/New Year. I can see UKIP doing fairly well here from anecdotal evidence/conversations, but perhaps here the 10-15% or so I’d predict they’d currently get will split fairly evenly from Tory and WWC traditional Labour voters.

    I think Chester has gone with the winning party nationally certainly since at least 1979 and suspect that will be the same again. Too close to call in reality but if pushed Tories to hold on a recount.

  6. The other day, Dalek was prattling on about how the Cyril Smith revelations were bound to damage the Lib Dems in Rochdale.

    Might there not be a similar effect here, regarding Peter Morrison and the Tories?

  7. who?

  8. The thing is the Liberal’s strength in Rochdale was based much more on a personal vote for Cyril Smith than the Tory vote in Chester was with Peter Morrison. I’d therefore think such revelations might have more impact in the former seat.

    There’s also the fact that in Rochdale it’s still a current issue, but how many people who live in Chester now know who Peter Morrison was? It was 25-30 years ago.

  9. All fair points. There is still however potential for the Westminster sex abuse enquiry to throw up something explosive somewhere.

  10. That’s true. I’ve just spotted a new Tory PPC listed who really is a car crash waiting to happen. A Walter M character would be being kind. I won’t name them, as I’m sure a journalist will uncover them during the campaign. What’s happening with Tory selections though? They really seem to be scraping the barrel with some of their CSI PPCs. It’s not as if it’s 1997. Does anyone know how many are left on their Candidates’ List?

  11. ‘who?’

    Peter Morrison was MP for City of Chester from 1974-1992 and who became Thatcher’s PPS and remained one of her staunchest allies

    You’d like him Runnymead

    Curiously he had a brother, Charles, who used to sit for Devizes and was one of Thatcher’s biggest critics on the backbenches

    I think I’m right in saying that both of them died at a relatively young age

  12. charles wasn’t that young…70 odd. peter was only about 50

  13. I think those people interested in PM’s proclivities had a strong suspicion of them whilst he was alive. I also don’t think this is an issue 20 odd years after he died, unlike possibly Cyril Smith in Rochdale.

    Morrison, who I met a couple of times, through 6th form debates and as I was a member of Chester Labour party at the time, was also Margaret Thatcher’s PPS Runnymede. He ran her November 1990 leadership campaign against Heseltine.

    Alan Clark’s diaries are worth reading on the point, to summarise I hope not unfairly as both men are dead Clark was very worried about how things were going, and offered to help Morrison get votes in for Thatcher. Morrison assured him the election was in the bag and not to bother and was asleep after too much of the sauce (something else he had a reputation for in political circles in the area) when Clark came in offering to help.

  14. I think Runnymede was being ironic.

    Clark’s diaries subtly hint at Morrison’s alleged preferences (somewhat hyprocritically, given Clark’s own numerous sex scandals). Edwina Currie’s diaries more than hint at them.

    What was Peter Morrison like in the flesh, Mike?

  15. Who’s next on our list of long-dead people to discuss? Tom Driberg? Lord Kagan? Lord Drumlanrig?

  16. Fair enough.

    Creepy, looked a mess and like a man who was overfond of the drink was my impression. I seem to recall he died pretty soon after standing down in 1992 and am trying not to be partisan here first as my Labour leanings aren’t as strong now as they were then, and also as I recall his successor who was a totally different kettle of fish.

    Thought GB was an assidious constituency MP, hilarious, a great speaker and a good deal more intelligent than he was often given credit for. Razor sharp and certainly knew all the gossip as well.

  17. In the 1983 Times Guide he looks about 55 but was actually 39.

  18. It’s amazing that we live in a country where an MP’s (and not just any MP but the PPS one of the country’s most heralded PM’s) alleged abuse of little boys is considered a non-issue

  19. Yes, from memory, Morrison, Tristan Garel Jones et al are all featured in the tv dramatisation. They come across as wet Wets, whereas toothatche Major and Heseltine came across as more contrived. Alan Clark apparently stormed in demanding that Morrison pass on his urgent message and he never did.

  20. Peter Morrison was not a wet.

  21. PC – I omitted “or” but to be clear I meant TGJ, Patten et al were Wets but a lot from that era appeared to have wet personalities, which perhaps led to Spitting Image etc exagerating the difference between them and Thatcher. Hence, “vegetables? They’ll have the same” being almost as memorable as actual quotes such as being ‘savaged by a dead sheep.’

  22. TGJ had a reputation for running the whips office with an iron fist, so he’d be an unlikely wet.

  23. “Peter Morrison was not a wet.”

    Certainly so, in fact he was to the right of Thatcher on quite a few things, and was a noted enthusiast for the death penalty.

    I was thinking that Thatcher would never have had a wet as her PPS, but on reflection perhaps Michael Alison could have been described as one.

  24. “TGJ had a reputation for running the whips office with an iron fist, so he’d be an unlikely wet.”

    He was as wet as the North Sea. Garel Jones makes Ken Clarke look like a Eurosceptic. Also he was one of the few Tory MPs to support gay rights and an equal age of consent way back in the 80s. He was an arch plotter against Thatcher in the leadership contest and ended up voting for Douglas Hurd.

  25. Alan Clark didn’t just storm in demanding that Morrison get Thatcher the message, he described him with a 4-letter expletive starting with C in his diary for not doing so.

  26. TGJ was probably one of the most ruthless Tory whips of recent times. You’ve got to question the way in which the whips were used to try and suppress the rebbels in the 1989 leadership elections. That on its own would make him come across as a die hard Thatcher loyalist.

  27. ‘TGJ was probably one of the most ruthless Tory whips of recent times’

    TGJ wasn’t a wet at all – he was just hugely pro-European and socially liberal

    Ecomomically he was drier than dust – hence his staunch support for trhe poll tax – he was one of the tellers for the ‘Nos’ when the brilliant Michael Mates tabled his amendement to amend the tax based on the property’s value – essentially today’s council tax

    He was a regular around the lawns of Saltwood

  28. Michael Alison is certainbly wet

    I remember watching a 1970s ekection night reoeat on the Parliament channel and Dimbleby himself described him as on the extreme Left of the Tory party – and that was back in the early 1970s when the Tory party was centrist/centre-left

  29. Michael Alison has been dead for 10 years.

  30. “This seat like at least 20-30 others – one where the CON/UKIP/right wing split will hand LAB a win”

    Hmmm, well certainly ukip will harm the tories in many areas and will no doubt deprive them of seats. This being a marginal I suppose ukip votes could well tip the balance. however, overall i would not say that this is a particularly ukip friendly seat. Ashcroft had them on 15% here at a time he had them averaging nearer 20% in English seats and I would probably expect them to be nearer 10% here come the GE.

    That could still swing the seat of course if it all came from the cons but it is also worth noting that the ukip candidate here is a councilor in the blacon ward (Labours best area). he drinks in Blacon pubs and does most of his canvasing in the area too. Most of the labour vote in blacon is the old wwc labour support which ed is doing terribly with as well and will be vulnerable to ukip.

    Thus i suspect ukip will harm labour and cons much more equally here that one might expect. a more crucial segment may be the who the lib dem voters of Hoole vote for.

    Mosley is popular so i still expect him to hold by maybe 1000 votes or so.

  31. New Ashcroft. Looks a clear Labour gain now.

  32. The North West has been an area quite resistant to UKIP, one of Labour’s stronger areas during this parliament. Add to that a small majority and a healthy (and looking at past election results, largely Labour-sourced) LD vote and a Lab gain was always fairly likely.

  33. Yes, just looked at the figures. How did their lead go up in such a short space of time and when the Tories are leading some opinions? Plus that part Chester isn’t seeing the “Merseyside effect” the same way Wirral or Sefton has.

  34. Sorry omit “that part of”.

  35. Clearly the polls a bit of an outlier, there’s no way there’s going to be a 8.5% swing here. This set of polls are certainly good news for Labour though showing an average of a 4-4.5% swing.

  36. the average swing in the latest 8 seats is 4.375% from C to labour.

    this equates to a tory lead in england (all the seats are in england) of 2.25%…which is roughly what the national polls are indicating.

  37. @Ceremony – why is it this poll and not the previous one that’s the outlier?

  38. This poll is absolutely appalling for the Tories. While I doubt that Labour will win in Chester by as much as 11 this seat is looking increasingly doomed for the Tories.

    On the bright side for the Tories can breathe a bit of a sigh of relief with Worcester which is looking good for them now. It seems Labours higher campaign presence is doing them no good.

    Halesowen and Rowley Regis may be more competitive than I previously thought as I had assumed the first poll was a random sample error and Labour were significantly further ahead. Now a second poll shows the Tories competitive makes me think it may not be an all that easy Labour gain (though they are favoured).

    As for Southampton Itchen the margin is slightly wider than I’d anticipated, I was expecting more in the 3-6 range. Though I still believe this seat will be in jeopardy in 2020 in the event of a Miliband government of which these Ashcroft polls indicate is likely.

    The Labour lead in Wirral West looks more in the range I would have expected that one point lead always looked a little odd. It seems Esther won’t ever fulfil her dream of becoming prime minister (thank god).

  39. funny thing is that nobody on here has thought worcester has ever been in real danger…the local elections there this parliament have not shown anything like the labour surge other seats, with similar tory majorities, have shown…ditto Gloucester, and Kingswood.

    the pro labour swing is geographically various, with the midlands, north west and london showing stronger swings than the west country, the west and south east.

  40. I think that the Ashcroft polling tells us is that, overall, this is an election (like most are, actually) where performance in Con/Lab marginal seats will be broadly similar to the national swing, which is currently about 4-5% from Con to Lab. That would suggest around 50 Labour gains from the Conservatives. If you think the end result will be radically different from that, I would suggest you need to be suggesting there will be a significant shift in the national polls between now and May. Despite the repeated shouting that the shift is coming every time the Tories get a couple of good polls in a row, there’s really no evidence that the polls are moving at all.

  41. They are definitely moving albeit at a glacial pace.

  42. I don’t think the Labour gains from the Tories will be quite 50 unless the polls shift significantly back in Labour’s direction, Ithink it will probably be in the 35-45 region.

  43. MrNameless – it’s been as recent as the past 9 months or so, but UKIP have been on the rise in the NW too. From paper candidates polling 20%+ in wards they contested for the first time in Lpool in May, to coming within 100 votes of winning wards in Manc, Sefton, Halton, Knowsley etc and of course, the H&M By-election.

  44. I am far from bullish about Tory prospects generally but even I am sceptical about this poll. I know the area well and I would be astonished if Labour’s vote increased by 10% points.

    I don’t have any issue re the other ones for instance I have long thought that Labour would take Wirral West.

  45. I wonder if Ashcroft polled Wirral South by mistake? Seriously though, I think it’s safe to bin this poll.

    I’d predict.

    LAB 41
    CON 38
    UKIP 9
    LD 7
    GRN 3

  46. Only 4 candidates here no Greens, same story in Crewe & Nantwich.

  47. Lots of City centre shops in Chester have closed over the past five years. Chester appears to be LESS prosperous than Liverpool city centre these days.

  48. GRN definitely NOT fielding a PPC here! (Council website checked).

    Only 4 candidates. above mentioned area standing.

    Green got 3% in ASHCROFT in March poll. Lab polled 45%.

    Nailed on Labour win?

  49. the greens have stood down in chester to help labour defeat mosley since he is an outspoken supporter of fracking.

    I have been regularly canvasing recently and on that basis alone would be confident of a tory hold. we are finding our vote to be very firm and are still discovering new tory voters. this makes some of the polls out rather puzzling – especially the one with Labour 11 points ahead here. It will certainly be much closer than that. If labour do win, it will because they rise at the expense of the lib dems rather than because we are falling.

    the lib dems actually have a strong history here, especially locally where they controlled most of the city for many years. In general elections this seemed to flatter the tory majority in the 80s. The libs tried very hard here again in 2005 and were very disappointed to take just 22%. The fact they eased off in 2010 and went backwards against the national trend allowed labour to hold up surprisingly well.

    While the libs will collapse and loose their deposit in some places the lib dem core is probably around 4000 here – particularly without a green candidate. moreover, since the lib dem vote comes pre squeezed from 2010 it is less laboury than it might be, we are pleasantly surprised to find some coming our way and lot saying don’t know.
    I also note that Chris matheson seems to be running a core vote strategy here, spending all of his time in the council estates. not sure if that will prove wise.

    contrary to most others here I expect it will be a very close con hold. Then again, that is just my feeling based on canvasing – the polls suggest i could be completely wrong. anybody with greater experience know which tends to be more reliable, polling data or canvassing returns?

  50. Polling data or canvassing returns? I wonder! Have you ever read this site?

    I suspect Mosley will be out next month. I’d guess the most conservative parts of the constituency are in the North and South of the city, and those in the North are upset by his support for fracking, while those in the South are upset about the release of green belt around the Wrexham Road for housing by the Conservative Cheshire West and Cheshire council. Together with the lack of a Green candidate, it doesn’t look good. I’m not sure that promising rail electrification is a great vote winner. Christine Russell used to claim to have been responsible for the hourly direct train service to London, and look where that got her!

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