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. ps. We have been visited by Chris Matheson here in leafy Westminster Park. Mr Chong thought he was a very nice man.


    Miliband was mobbed by a hen party from Knutsford in Chester on Saturday! It’s been all over the news and social media! I think this is the highlight of the Election campaign thus far!


    Ed Miliband was mobbed by a hen party from Knutsford in Chester on Saturday! It’s been all over the news and social media! I think this is the highlight of the Election campaign thus far!

  4. Either that hen party was full of Labour supporting ladies, or they were just being ironic.

  5. Neil – They are from affluent and picturesque Knutsford which is in Osborne’s seat so it’smost likely they are Tory supporters!

  6. They seemed very well behaved for a Hen Party. Either that or they were all Tee-total young ladies.

  7. Maybe they thought Miliband was the male stripper

  8. ”Maybe they thought Miliband was the male stripper”

    One of them tweeted a pic with him and the caption ‘the stipper has arrived’ Haha!

  9. That would have been the aptly named Edward Balls?

  10. The thought of Ed Balls doing the full monty is not a pleasant one.

  11. Labour Gain. 1,000 majority.

  12. Boris was up here recently and received a very good reception. – never seen anything like it. He really is a star.

    I continue to canvass nearly every day and continue to believe Stephen will hold. We have found over 18,000 voters who have said they will vote for Stephen. I know some will not do so but likewise I am sure others will decide late or will not have been found. In general I will be very surprised if the tory vote is not very similar to 2010, maybe up a tad in numerical terms – especially if turnout is up.

    However, the recent poll of wirral west showing the tory vote slightly up on 2010 (confirming my experience when I was thee) from 42 to 43 but still behind labour reminds us that the election is unusual in that labour are not reliant on taking our voters but on uniting everyone else. Thus it is very hard to decipher where we stand in comparison.

    Having said that i do not detect the enthusiasm here for a labour gain of any comfort. I am not ruling out holds wirral west of bury north yet either where canvass returns reveal a similar pattern I gather. In fact several Mps seem to be saying that they are surprisingly heartened by things on doorsteps in ways the polls do not reflect. Very interesting to see who is right come friday!

  13. The bookies (Paddy Power) make Labour 7-4 on to take the seat, and (William Hill) 2-1 on, with the Tories 6-4 against. Wirral W looks a little closer, but Labour are still 13-8 on, and the Tories 6-5 against. Bury N though shows Labour at 5-2 on & the Tories 7-4 against. This doesn’t prove anything perhaps, but it does suggest not many people give the Tories that much chance of holding Chester. Canvass returns are always a very unreliable method of determining election outcomes, unless they are truly overwhelming or there is a very dominant local issue; you simply can’t tell how the opposition splits. In this seat, it will be very heavily dominated by Labour. MPs saying they’re surprisingly heartened by the doorstep response has happened at EVERY general election since time immemorial. Much of the time, it simply means people were usually polite, which tells you nothing whatsoever.

  14. Wirral West has become an oldfashioned Tory/Labour fight with Lib Dems and UKIP squeezed to the extent of possibly both losing their deposits (Greens not putting up here). Could require something like 46% to win. How does that compare with Chester?

  15. yes they are very good points Barnaby. we are all subject to bias about what we care for. then again I have nothing else to say if not what i am detecting in my experience!
    mersylib – similar, though not quite so polarized. Perhaps ukip and libs at around 10% and labour and tories on around 40% each

  16. The North West Effect should see Labour take this seat by one to two thousand votes.

  17. If Shaun Bennett is only predicting a Labour majority of 1000, then perhaps the Conservatives might just hold on after all – I suspect that there will be lots of re-counts during the early hours of Friday morning – !

  18. Can’t believe Labour took this (albeit on a knife egde), wonder what did it, having come up short in so many easier target seat.

  19. Labour had a very good performance as whole in Merseyside. Maybe this had an effect. Also no Green candidate here or in Wirral West. Maybe the hen party. Maybe the massive Salmond in Ed’s pocket poster.

  20. If Labour gets its arse into gear and Chris Matheson proves to be a good MP, this might be an increased majority for them in 2020. If Ed Miliband can take this seat even in one of the party’s most dire elections, a much stronger leader could surely make it more secure next time. They’re very lucky to win Chester and Wirral West IMO.

    Kinnock won seats in 92 (not this one though) on pretty narrow results and they were transformed into healthy majorities by the time Blair was elected in 97.

  21. I think the areas of the North West influenced by Merseyside continue to trend towards Labour, although interestingly just across the border in NE Wales the Tories took Vale of Clwyd to my surprise and Wrexham as well as Alyn and Deeside and Delyn is now properly marginal.

  22. Chester was a puzzle because nearby Weaver Vale was an excellent Conservative hold against the odds. I wonder if the burgeoning student population is a factor.

  23. Yes, I thought you’d hold Crewe and Nantwich just but had Weaver Vale and to a slightly lesser extent Warrington South down as pretty surefire Labour wins; good results for you.

  24. Cheshire West & Chester council was the only Labour gain direct from the Conservatives.

    Labour also gained West Lancashire from NOC.

    The baleful electoral influence of Liverpool continues to spread.

    Has anyone ever opinion polled Scousers and compared the results to those of people from East Cheshire, North Wales and Lancashire ?

  25. I’m not that surprised about West Lancashire. Didn’t expect them to take control of CW&C council one bit. Ellesmere Port and parts of Chester are particularly good for Labour, as well as parts of Northwich and Winsford. But no where near enough to take the council.

    Can their narrow gain of Chester be down to a gradual Merseyside ‘effect’?

  26. How doe we define ‘Scousers’ Richard? Accent …hair…tracksuits…?

  27. We define “Scousers” as being born in the Second City of the Empire.

  28. I think it’s striking how differently West Cheshire/Wirral voted from North East Wales, which is very close culturally in many respects. For example, Wrexham, which neighbours this seat and is far more working class, saw a very healthy rise in the Tory vote, and the Labour majority was down. Similarly, the swing to the Tories in Clwyd South, Vale of Clwyd, Clwyd West and Aberconwy. Pretty striking divergence.

  29. Wales has got its own devolved Welsh Assembly, with a Labour majority.

  30. In the Locals in Chester and Cheshire West Councils, the Conservatives actually polled 5004 more votes than Labour (120,477 to 115,473)

  31. Really? Didn’t they lose control of Cheshire West & Chester Council?

  32. I was born in Liverpool, but I don’t know if I can technically be described as a Scouser really for the following reasons- I have actually lived all my life in Crosby or Waterloo which are in Sefton, mainly the latter, which many would say counts as being part of Crosby though I’m not 100% sure. I do however go to college in Liverpool itself, so I don’t know really…

  33. I think you can be called a Scouser depending on what part of Merseyside you’re from- many on the Wirral would call themselves such, and certainly the people of Knowsley would. Sefton is an altogether different matter given you have Southport and Formby to offset Crosby and Bootle in terms of Scouseness. Maghull is a tricky one, I don’t really know if they are Scousers there really or not, but if I had to guess based on people from there I have known, I would say they are slightly TBH, but are quite close to the boundary with West Lancashire.

  34. Interesting to note that Esther McVey increased both her vote and percentage share.

  35. It is indeed. Perhaps a lot of that was down to incumbency, as it was one of only two vote share increases that was seen in a Merseyside seat for this election. The other one was Liverpool Wavertree of all places.

  36. what’s interesting about Cheshire is that the two marginal seats that labour won back – Wirral West and here – are more middle class and affluent than those they missed out on – such as weaver vale and crewe

    I do get the impression though that Stephen Mosely wasn’t particularly popular here and would have thought that played just a big a role as the Merseyside effect in explaining labour’s unlikely victory

    I wonder if someone with local knowledge could elaborate

  37. An anonymous CW&C councillor wrote a piece for Con Home last week in which he was extremely critical of the council leader for a few of the decisions made in recent times. It’s possible that the council performance was in part responsible for the result here, though it doesn’t explain the differences between this seat and the aforementioned Weaver Vale or Crewe & Nantwitch.

  38. Not so in the case of C and N, which falls under Cheshire East rather than CWAC, Paul. But yes I saw the piece.

  39. Chester differs from those other constituencies in that it’s a far more attractive place to live for public sector workers, academics, middle-class radicals — (mainly because a lot of those types of people already live there).

  40. This was not a bad result for the Tories at all, their vote was 2% up on 2010 and about the same level as 1992. Unfortunately for them, Labour took a large part of the LD vote and UKIP did very poorly. As Andy says, this reflects the comfortable middle class character of the city. I’m quite sceptical the Merseyside effect had much to do with the result here.

  41. “Labour had a very good performance as whole in Merseyside. Maybe this had an effect. Maybe the hen party”

    As crazy as it sounds, the hen party may have just clinched it for Labour here. It was huge news locally (and nationally). Considering this is the type of seat where Labour flopped at the GE, it may have pursuaded a few (93) voters to look favourably upon Miliband and the party.

  42. Perhaps it is indeed more a case of the demographics moving towards Labour here given the university, students and public sector workers and I have overstated The Merseyside Effect here?

  43. It is a case of the left-leaning vote not being the kind of people to be tempted by UKIP. The Tory vote is at around the same level as 1992 despite the national Tory vote share being 4-5% below 92 levels. That does not indicate the demographics moving particularly to Labour.

  44. Strictly speaking the hen party only needed 47 voters (who were previously planning to vote Tory) to switch to clinch the seat for Labour. I’d say on balance it may well have done it.

    On the late “Milibounce” more generally, it’s been laughed off a bit since the election – and understandably so, since Labour lost. But I did pick up that quite a few people – particularly young people – started to warm to him during the campaign.

    It was too little, and came too late, but the Tories might be sitting on a more secure majority than they currently are if the hen party/Milifandom/Hell Yes hadn’t happened.

  45. Hen parties are very middle class these days….much fewer working class people get married, and many of the people who still do get married have already got kids to worry about. My wife is going to a hen party on Saturday where they are going to be making cupcakes and will be home by 10pm and not a stripper in sight (or so she tells me). Ed Miliband’s hen partiers coming from Knutsford very much fits into the stereotype I’ve painted.

  46. Paul D – yes, I assume that was Cllr Gareth Anderson. He was one of the Tories suspended from the Group by the Leader and has clashed with him in the past over a planning issue.

    The Leader sounds a bit dim on BBC NW News whenever he is on. But then the calibre of council leaders around here is woeful.

    I think Cllr Anderson just held on after a recount, but Labour gained a seat in the same ward so it must have been close again.

  47. ”It is a case of the left-leaning vote not being the kind of people to be tempted by UKIP. The Tory vote is at around the same level as 1992 despite the national Tory vote share being 4-5% below 92 levels. That does not indicate the demographics moving particularly to Labour.”

    I’m not so sure about that- I think Chester is clearly trending towards Labour in the long-term going off the latest result because more and more people are moving in from Liverpool and Merseyside, many of whom will likely be aspirational middle-class public sector professionals who may work as lecturers and academics for example.

  48. I think HH is right- if there is a trend towards Labour here, it is not massive. I am also somewhat sceptical about the Liverpool effect. I accept it may be a factor but in my experience the Liverpool effect tends to peter out fairly rapidly south of the Ellesmere Port-Neston axis. I have friends in places like Christleton and though they are left-wing public sector workers of the type HH describes, they have few if any connections with Liverpool.

    We must also take into account the expansion of the University of Chester and all that that entails. The Conservatives don’t exactly have a great record in towns with growing university-employed populations.

  49. Chester and Ilford North were undoubtedly the two most surprising Conservative losses – they were predicted as Con holds on my many polls in the other place.

  50. “The Conservatives don’t exactly have a great record in towns with growing university-employed populations”.

    True, and it is employees of universities rather than students that make the difference. The latter can’t be relied upon to cast a vote, and are increasingly registered at their home rather than their university address.

    This survey from just before GE 2015 illustrates the extent of the leftish slant among university employees:

    In that article and elsewhere THE attempt to break the results down by subject area and institution. For what it’s worth the Tories do better among those working in business and law faculties rather than in, for example, creative arts where the survey failed to find a single employee intending to vote Tory. Not sure those breakdowns tell us much though as the relevant subsamples must have been pretty small.

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