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
2010
Con: 18995 (41%)
Lab: 16412 (35%)
LDem: 8930 (19%)
UKIP: 1225 (3%)
Oth: 1228 (3%)
MAJ: 2583 (6%)
2005*
Con: 16543 (37%)
Lab: 17458 (39%)
LDem: 9818 (22%)
UKIP: 776 (2%)
Oth: 308 (1%)
MAJ: 915 (2%)
2001
Con: 14866 (33%)
Lab: 21760 (48%)
LDem: 6589 (15%)
UKIP: 899 (2%)
Oth: 763 (2%)
MAJ: 6894 (15%)
1997
Con: 19253 (34%)
Lab: 29806 (53%)
LDem: 5353 (10%)
Oth: 358 (1%)
MAJ: 10553 (19%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
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.
STEPHEN INGRAM (UKIP)
Links
Comments - 285 Responses on “Chester, City of”
  1. One of my Journalism lecturers is a very very staunch right winger, who writes a column for the Yorkshire Post in which he once compared the British Left to North Korea and the Kims. Not EVERYONE in the creative faculties leans to the left.

  2. Sky News has revealed that Brittan, Morrison, Hayman, Straubenzee were listed as suspected child abusers, but that the risk to the Government was given priority over any blackmail security considerations..

    The Cabinet Office has apologised that they were not ‘found’ last year during the review.

    The full contents have not been made public, but will be passed to the Goddard CSE Inquiry.

  3. Well, surprise surprise. I can only hope that the campaigning efforts of MPs such as Tom Watson and Zac Goldsmith can shed some light on the horrendous allegations re. this that are in the news. Most importantly, I hope the victims get at least some of the closure they so obviously deserve.

  4. I think this seat is going against the Tories in the long-term given the result here in May. I don’t know for certain though if the demographics are changing continually to their detriment solely because of the considerable public sector element in much of Chester or if it is genuinely down to this seat being close enough to Liverpool for the Merseyside Effect to have a big enough impact on its politics for a long time to come, or a combination of both perhaps, with the former a bit more dominant?

  5. The usual question. How is this seat going to be affected by redistrbution before 2020?

  6. IIRC the proposed boundary changes were moderately pro-Conservative so I wouldn’t be surprised if this was notionally Conservative by 500 or so in 2020.

  7. Because someone was discussing this before the election, we have here a seat where the Tories got 40% but still lost.

  8. There are several seats where the Conservatives achieved 40% of the votes in them but still lost-including most of the seats they lost to Labour (Brentford & Isleworth, Ealing Central & Acton, Enfield North, Ilford North, Wolverhampton South West, and Wirral West) and one of their top targets in 2015, Tooting.

  9. For the area Chester is just as up-market today as it was 20-30 years ago.

    I’d suggest that one of the main reasons this seat is trending against the Tories is simply because middle class public sector voters – of which there are quite a few – are less likely to vote for them today than they were 20-30 years ago

    I was still quite surprised that the Tories lost here – given some of the other seats they didn’t lose

  10. I agree Tim. I think you could make comparisons in that sense with the likes of Birmingham Edgbaston and Gedling, which also have a lot of middle class public sector voters, have continued to move away from the Tories. I think also that this seat’s proximity to Merseyside makes a difference to the politics of Chester to an extent, but I wouldn’t call it the defining factor as to why Labour won this seat back.

  11. The expansion of the university really hasn’t helped the Conservatives here. Unless and until the seat acquires some surrounding rural areas, the Conservatives are going to be somewhat on the back foot though the situation isn’t all that worse than 20 years ago here unlike in Wirral West.

  12. Chester does not have a particularly hiihg student vote, in particular when compared with other medium sized towns/cities e.g Durham, Lancaster etc. Whether this will change as the University here gets more established, particularly as students tend to like to spend three years somewhere nice, is another matter.

    A somwhat different expalnation is that the Tory vote tends to be older and Chester does not have a particularly large retired population either..

    Leaving aside the likely reduction in the number of MPs, I would have thought that City of Chester would be likely to lose rather than gain wards from surrounding rural areas.

  13. Given that 11% are in F/T education by 2011 (Census) figures, it still has a way to go before being a true “uni”/student town. Any future expansion will probably help Labour given the extra numbers of staff working there.

  14. Frederic- it’s not so much the students as the university-employed population that I was thinking about.

    As to your other point, it is surely the opposite way around. If there will be fewer seats, the City of Chester will surely expand in size. The principle will be fewer seats with larger electorates.

  15. An article appeared on ConservativeHome a while ago which suggested that the MP in Chester was especially vulnerable due to the leadership of the local council which is/was apparently Conservative. I can’t remember the exact reason why people were put off but it had something to do with planning and permits

  16. I think that looking back now, Labour did extremely well to win this seat back from the Tories. Chris Matheson must have campaigned very hard indeed.

    On the face of it, you would have thought this seat in line with other first-time Tory incumbents defending their seats, would have been held by Stephen Mosley, and indeed he did increase his own vote share. But then once you have takeninto account the geographic and demographic factors, you have some reasons as to why Labour got such a large increase in vote share to just get over the line here. The seat has changed in their favour recently, because of the university’s growing stature and the presence of more public sector workers. I would also have thought there is a bit of a Merseyside Effect at work here, because there are bound to be many people commuting to Liverpool somewhere in the city.

    Overall, this gain stood out for me on the night, in an election chock-full of disappointments for Labour. This, Lancaster and Fleetwood and Wirral West were all Northern gains down to either the universities or changing demographics, or a combination of these two factors.

  17. Wirral West may have been a narrow Tory hold if the MP was anyone other than Esther McVey, in my view. Or she’d have held it if she wasn’t in that particular ministerial position that made her a target for the left.

    As for this seat, does the Merseyside effect extend this far?

  18. I’m personally of the opinion that Chester is perhaps just a little too far away from Liverpool to really be impacted by the Merseyside Effect that much. That’s not to say the influence isn’t there, it just isn’t as noticeable, perhaps because Chester is its own city? I’m not too sure.

  19. Yes, on the face of it most seats of this type were Tory holds in May. I know next to nothing about the area but I think fracking is quite a big local issue. That might have been a factor here, and in Lancaster and Fleetwood. Also note Mosley’s vote share went up, just not as much as LAB’s. In many seats in the north the ex-LD vote was effectively substituted by the UKIP vote, and vice versa, but UKIP only managed 8% here to the LDs 19% in 2010. Quite possible that much of the ex-LD vote was left-leaning and went to Matheson, whilst compared to other constituencies LAB lost few voters to UKIP.

  20. I wonder about the relatively low numbers of retired people here compared to other similar seats. Is it possible that significant numbers of home owners have sold up and moved – possibly to the nearby north Wales coast. This would help explain the improving Conservative vote there and their disappointing result here.

  21. If there is a Liverpool effect it is slight. It is more the expansion of the university and its attendant consequences. Still, the boundary changes will probably move it into the Conservative column and it’s one of those seats where you’d expect a Corbyn-led Labour party to struggle somewhat.

  22. You also have to bear in mind that the Conservative administration running CWAC was pretty unpopular by May 2015 and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of that spilled over into the general election result.

  23. Moseley was also unpopular locally.

  24. I agree with Tory in that the boundary changes will surely make this a nominal Tory gain in 2020 and that they will probably be strong favourites to gain this seat. Having said that, this was one of the very few good Lab results on the night, so I guess if they get their act together in time for the next GE anything is possible.

  25. Boundary changes increased the Tory majority by 1000 votes before the 1997 election.

  26. Commenting on Tory’s point from several months back on the new figures this seat should be able to go through the review unchanged.

  27. @Rivers10 probably unless when the boundaries for the other Cheshire seats have been drawn up there is a left over rural ward with no other seat it could go into.

  28. True but I can’t envisage such a scenario. Cheshire is in the awkward posistion of falling quite a bit short of a whole number of seats thus like last time we’re going to see several cross county seats with the likes of Poynton and Wilmslow being paired with Cheadle or Hazel Grove. This essentially guaranties there will be no leftover wards for them to add.

  29. Yes but for the unpopularity of the then Conservative-administration running CWAC, the Conservatives might have narrowly clung on here last year- it would have been another Bury North perhaps.

    The Tories actually did quite well in real Cheshire last year, the Wirral excepted: good increases in vote share in the likes of Tatton, Congleton, Altrincham & Sale, Macclesfield and Warrington South; the gains from the Lib Dems in Cheadle and Hazel Grove; the decent majority in Crewe & Nantwich where post-by election swingback could have caused more problems than it did.

  30. Of course it helps that Cheshire is doing okay economically- Warrington in particular has been a real success story in recent years.

  31. Well indeed and the Merseyside effect isn’t going to continue spreading for an indefinite period across an indefinite span of the north-west, a point which seems lost on some posters.

  32. Warrington South may have been Tory on current boundaries but only by the slenderest of margins- there has been a Lab to Con swing there since 92.

    In Lancashire I suspect the Liverpool effect goes as far north as the Southport-Burscough line.

  33. The situation in Lancaster probably has a lot to do with the expansion of the university. In Blackpool North and Morecambe, it’s economic decline associated with many seaside resorts (and which is by no means unique to the north- just look at how the Conservatives have declined in seaside seats generally) though they did well in both seats in 2015.

  34. Not that it matters much, but Labour’s PCC candidate gained Cheshire from the Conservatives, surprisingly. Turnout was 23%.

  35. It no doubt helped Labour that Halton and Warrington had their council elections on the same day.

  36. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/07/high-hopes-sensible-strategy-what-chester-thinks-of-theresa-may

    Another “what’s happening on the ground” piece.

    What always strikes me about these, as a floating voter who gives far more than the average amount of thought to who should receive my vote, is the triviality of the reasoning most people have for their decision.

  37. I’m never amazed by the stupid reasons people come up with for voting for one side or another, most people just really don’t have a clue, even those that claim they know what’s going on clearly don’t for the most part.

  38. Well, you have canvassed before. I tend to keep the great unwashed public at arm’s length 😉

  39. God don’t get me started, I was canvassing locally here in Liverpool the other week and met a lady that said she hated the government primarily cos of the new speed bumps that had been built on her street. Not only is that a stupid reason to vote for one party or another but obviously said speed bumps where Liverpool’s Lab controlled council’s responsibility (facepalm)

    I didn’t point that out to her obviously, so long as she’s voting for my side…

  40. @Tory yeah it was the same reason Labour got second behind the incumbent independent in Avon and Somerset because of huge turnout in Bristol for the mayoral election with atrocious turnout in Somerset where Labour does abysmally. Labour will almost certainly lose a fair few PCC seats next time as it will be in a general election year where turnout is not skewed towards Labour cities and the Tory small town/countryside are out in full force. Independents aside my guess is the Tories will probably pick up Cheshire and Leicestershire and perhaps also Humberside, Lancashire, Derbyshire with even a shot at Northumbria with general election turnouts.

  41. Rivers10 – I’ve heard that too, although that not stupid a reason as the LDs are responsible for most of the speed humps in the city (1998-2010).

    But if last year, yes it’s doubly your fault haha (Labour & Joe).

  42. The event that most began the change in the politics of Chester occurred in 1973 with the closure of the large MOD Western Command Headquarters. Chester was a military town, and as with all military towns, its politics was skewed to the right. Hence Labour failed to win here in 1966, Since the 70/80s its status as a garrison town has also declined, the last barracks, Dale Camp due to close in 2023. Studentification, when the college becoming an expanding Uni, the arrival of the Uni of law campus, decline of agricultural vote, all contribute to the very gradual left ward swing in Chester. This is a city that has noticeably been in decline, its shopping centre losing out to Cheshire Oaks, Broughton Park etc, and it has a high % of low paid service jobs. Yes, it has a few up-market leafy Tory voting suburbs, but the analysis above is poor. The Labour vote is far wider than its largest estate Blacon, and other wards are as good as or better for Labour than Lache.

  43. The event that most began the change in the politics of Chester occurred in 1973 with the closure of the large MOD Western Command Headquarters. Chester was a military town, and as with all military towns, its politics was skewed to the right. Hence Labour failed to win here in 1966, Since the 70/80s its status as a garrison town has also declined, the last barracks, Dale Camp due to close in 2023. Studentification, when the college became an expanding Uni, the arrival of the Uni of law campus, decline of agricultural vote, all contribute to the very gradual left ward swing in Chester. This is a city that has noticeably been in decline, its shopping centre losing out to Cheshire Oaks, Broughton Park etc, and it has a high % of low paid service jobs. Yes, it has a few up-market leafy Tory voting suburbs, but the analysis above is poor. The Labour vote is far wider than its largest estate Blacon, and other wards are as good as or better for Labour than Lache.

  44. I am interested in this seat because not only is it not that far from where I live, but more importantly it is Labour’s most vulnerable seat, and the Tories’ top target. I suspect all eyes will be on it on the night in 2020, but my question is what are people’s thoughts on Chris Matheson’s chances of holding on here, bearing in mind he will have the incumbency on his side?

  45. This seat will get an awful lot of attention at the next election but probably more than it deserves. As marginal as it is on paper there is quite a larger list of (on paper) safer seats that Lab need to worry abut and will fall well before this one does.

    This has been discussed before but the seats Lab picked up from the Tories in 2015 will probably be quite challenging for the Tories to regain, all are trending Lab and have very Lab friendly demographics and UKIP are a factor in practically none of them, what damage UKIP to do is disrpoprtioantly to the Tories in seats like this.

    Then there are the side issues like Matheson’s incumbency, the issue of fracking, whether the unpopularity of the then Tory council cost them the seat or maybe even if the Ed Hen party incident made a difference (for better or worse) we just don’t know as of yet.

    I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to which way the seat will go in a GE at this early stage but I would say depending on how the night as a whole goes expect a much more Lab friendly swing. If there is a swing to Lab nationally expect an above average swing here, if there is a swing to the Tories nationally expect a below average swing here.

  46. Very interesting reply that- thanks a lot. I think it will certainly be interesting to see what kind of swing Matheson achieves if he successfully defends his seat, be it in the order of 1% or as high as 10-11% for example. Given the demographic factors at work here, a loss to the Tories would surprise me, combined with Matheson’s incumbency.

  47. “I am interested in this seat because not only is it not that far from where I live, but more importantly it is Labour’s most vulnerable seat, and the Tories’ top target. I suspect all eyes will be on it on the night in 2020, but my question is what are people’s thoughts on Chris Matheson’s chances of holding on here, bearing in mind he will have the incumbency on his side?”

    The Results – Labour has absolutely no chance of holding this – on the whole – picturesque, leafy, middle class, non-metroplitan seat with Corbyn at the helm!

    If Labour had chosen any of the other 2015 leadership contenders or Owen Smith in this year’s leadership contest to be leader, Matheson would of had a decent chance of holding onto this seat. However, even with Matheson’s incumbency, Corbyn’s so toxic in seats of this nature that Labour will definitely lose it at the next General Election.

  48. Christian
    You’ve clearly never been to Chester have you? I’d argue its the type of place where Corbyn will do the least amount of harm to Lab, second only to trendy cosmopolitan seats.

    You may be right that Lab wont hold this, who knows at this stage but the rest of your post betrays a very clear lack of knowledge on the seat.

  49. “I’d argue its the type of place where Corbyn will do the least amount of harm to Lab, second only to trendy cosmopolitan seat.”

    Rivers 10 – I live in a subrban seat in the outskirts of inner London. It’s a marginal seat held by the same Labour MP since 1997. He’s very popular amongst the constituents but with Corbyn at the helm, even he’s admitted thete’s little chance of holding his seat at the next General Election. This seat isn’t as picturesque/olde-worlde as Chester so why do you think Corbyn won’t have much of a negative impact on Labour’s chances there at the next General Election?

  50. Rivers- I’m curious as to what special appeal Corbyn might have in Chester specifically? In any case, this seat is toast for Lab based on current polling. Surely even you have to admit that.

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