2015 Result:
Conservative: 14186 (35.8%)
Labour: 16750 (42.3%)
Lib Dem: 1368 (3.5%)
Green: 1179 (3%)
UKIP: 6148 (15.5%)
MAJORITY: 2564 (6.5%)

Category: Semi-marginal Labour seat

Geography: North West, Cumbria. The whole of the Copeland council area and part of the Allerdale council area.

Main population centres: Whitehaven, Keswick, Cleator Moor, Egremont, Millom.

Profile: A seat on the remote west coast of Cumbria. The constituency is a mixture of hill farming countryside, impressive Lake District wilderness, including Scafell Pike itself, and somewhat economically depressed former mining or iron working towns. The main town is Whitehaven, historically a coal mining town and commercial port, mining ceased in the 1980s. The Marchon chemical factory also closed in 2005 leaving the nearby Sellafield nuclear power complex as the most important source of local employment. Keswick, to the north of the constituency, was the first place to produce graphite pencils and was for many years the base of Derwent, the manufacturers of fine art pencils. They are now based just outside the constituency in Lillyhall.

Politics: Copeland and its predecessor seat Whitehaven have been represented by the Labour party since 1935, although not always with comfortable majorities.

Current MP
JAMIE REED (Labour) Born 1973, Whitehaven. Educated at Whitehaven school and Manchester University. Former Sellafield press officer. Former Copeland councillor. First elected as MP for Copeland in 2005. PPS to Tony McNulty 2006-2008, PPS to Harriet Harman 2008-2010.
Past Results
Con: 15866 (37%)
Lab: 19699 (46%)
LDem: 4365 (10%)
BNP: 1474 (3%)
Oth: 1383 (3%)
MAJ: 3833 (9%)
Con: 10713 (32%)
Lab: 17033 (50%)
LDem: 3880 (11%)
UKIP: 735 (2%)
Oth: 1396 (4%)
MAJ: 6320 (19%)
Con: 13027 (37%)
Lab: 17991 (52%)
LDem: 3732 (11%)
MAJ: 4964 (14%)
Con: 12081 (29%)
Lab: 24025 (58%)
LDem: 3814 (9%)
Oth: 389 (1%)
MAJ: 11944 (29%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
JAMIE REED (Labour) See above.
DANNY GALLAGHER (Liberal Democrat) Former Preston councillor. Contested Wyre and Preston North 2010.
Comments - 1,754 Responses on “Copeland”
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  1. Jack Cunningham’s declaration was shown by ITN in their coverage of the 1992 Election- AndyJS recently uploaded a few more parts of it on You Tube.

  2. Forecast for 2015

    Lab 50
    Con 25
    UKIP 15
    LD 4
    Green 4
    Others 2

  3. I think you are about right with this prediction except UKIP may not achieve as high as 15% here. You will likely be right about the Lib Dem lost deposit, although I think we Greens can push them into fifth place (or worse; there never was a good Liberal/Lib Dem vote in the Labour-supporting parts of Cumbria!).

  4. European election results for the Copeland area in 2014-
    Labour- 5, 778 (31.53%)
    UKIP- 5, 351 (29.20%)
    Conservative- 4, 570 (24.93%)
    Green Party- 742 (4.04%)
    Liberal Democrats- 573 (3.12%)
    BNP- 522 (2.84%)
    An Independence From Europe- 332 (1.81%)
    English Democrats- 275 (1.50%)
    NO2EU- 82 (0.44%)
    Pirate Party UK- 67 (0.36%)
    Socialist Equality Party- 33 (0.18%)

    Turnout- 18, 325.

  5. Thanks – I didn’t realise UKIP had done that well here.

  6. Have to be honest, neither did I JJB.

    The Lib Dems didn’t do very well did they? On that basis, albeit not really the best to use, they would probably lose their deposit in the Copeland constituency next year, and finish behind UKIP.

    They managed to clear 5% across Allerdale BTW.

  7. I think that one or two contributors on here have become transfixed by the shadow on the wall thrown by UKIP. This is based on their admittedly strong showing in the entirely unrepresentative European elections (the very same ones that saw the Green vote up at 15% in 1989).

    I would suggest, as with Plato’s cave dwellers, that this does not represent reality. The shadow will diminish, if not into nothing, then into something much less threatening to the three main parties at the next GE. I continue to predict about 7% of the vote and no seats.

  8. Some of the Euro election polls routinely include supplementary questions for UKIP voters, asking how many intended to stick with the party in a general election. Around 40-50% of UKIP voters polled in the Euros said they intended to vote UKIP in the next general election. That would give them a national vote share somewhere in the ballpark of 10-13%.

    In 2009 Euro polls 20-25% of UKIP voters said they intended to vote UKIP in the 2010 general election, and in the end that turned out to be an accurate prediction of their support.

    I cannot see UKIP going down to 7%, indeed on available polling evidence it’s very hard to see how they would fall back into single figures.

  9. 40-50% said at the time or shortly after that they would stick with ukip – all that tells us that if a GE were held just after the Euros, UKIP would sore 13-15 ish.

    However, it is not a reasonable assumption to think that that statistic will remain constant, it will not and fewer and fewer UKIP european voters will vote ukip nationally as the months go on.

    Yes it did last time, but there was not the attention shown to ukip in 2009 that there was in 2014. Furthermore, everyone knew UKIP hadn’t a hope of winning any seats in 2010, – so the 20-25% represented the core vote. Once that becomes obvious to everyone in 2015 that UKIP haven’t a hope of winning 99% of seats, the less hardcore supporter may reconsider his choice.

  10. i think people don’t take polls seriously at all…for ukip to fall below 7% would be an epic collapse…you’re basically saying that they will lose 40-45% of their current support in 9 months’ time…possible, but unlikely in my book….they’ve been polling more than 10% for more than 18 months…7% would be a historic collapse, of which as yet there is not much sign.

    you read some nutty stories of tories thinking that labour will collapse to 31% while they end up on 38%…this is crazy stuff, there is no sign whatsoever that the electorate is that volatile….people seem to think we’re still in mid-term or something and that any old thing can happen; it can’t…there are barely 9 months until the election. labour will not collapse to 31%; the tories will not leap to 38%, the lib dems will not leap up to 17%; UKIP will not collapse to 7%…..

    but what do i know….maybe all these things will happen and I’ll will put may hands up and admit I got it totally wrong. let’s see?

  11. Well, all of us can get things totally wrong from time to time and are none the worse for it. Nonetheless, I don’t think that UKIP getting 7% in the GE could be remotely considered as a ‘historic collapse’ since they have never come anywhere near that level of the vote in any previous GE.

    Additionally, a Labour ‘collapse’ to 31% of the vote would actually be a 2% increase on their last GE vote and would probably see them pick up 20 plus seats.

    Having said that, I guess I’m probably underestimating the likely UKIP share of the vote next time and respect the views of other learned posters on this site who are sure they will be in double figures. I’m probably guilty of letting my dislike of UKIP colour my judgement – the wish is father to the thought and all that.

    I still don’t see Labour going above about 34% though.

  12. Jamie Reed had his own personal Natalie Bennett moment here:

  13. Labour Hold. 5,000 majority.

  14. Both main parties did rather badly here.

    Not quite sure why – it must be UKIP’s appeal.
    In fact, this was a slightly better LD result – it could have gone down to less than 1,000 here unless there is a little knock on from South Lakeland.

    Labour still can’t seem to make this safe.
    For a long time it was held by a Labour right winger who supported nuclear power, Jack Cunningham.

  15. A definite target for the Tories in 2020 along with Barrow & Furness.

  16. ‘A definite target for the Tories in 2020 along with Barrow & Furness.’

    This seat has been a Tory target for decades but they have never quite managed to pull it off

    I’d imagine Whitehaven and Cleaton Moor to be Labour-voting towns

  17. Do we really think the Tories will be looking to target further seats in 2020? I’m not sure what scenario would lead to them being able to, since I’d say it’s fairly likely that the opposition will gain votes and there are no more Lib Dems to crush.

    It’s possible of course – nearly five years is an eternity in politics.

  18. Tim – Whitehaven & Cleator Moor are certainly Labour-voting, and so are Egremont & Frizington. St Bees is more Tory, Millom is Tory-inclined, and Bootle is pretty much as heavily Tory as its larger namesake on Merseyside is Labour. Whitehaven is much the largest town & Labour wins the seat because it picks up almost equal support in the neighbouring ex-mining towns & villages. Perhaps surprisingly, Labour is competitive in Keswick, though the surrounding countryside is very heavily Tory & the addition of that town hasn’t had as much of a pro-Tory partisan effect as some expected.

  19. @MrNameless

    Depending on boundaries they could get a few more such as Barrow, Halifax, Newcastle uL, Walsall N and Darlington IMO.

    I don’t necessarily envisage gains in London for the Tories next time although Labour will still need to be careful in Hampstead, Westminster N , Ealing C, Tooting etc

    I don’t regard Copeland as a true marginal in it’s current form however as the tory share fell marginally as Joe was saying.

    I think it’ll be difficult for Labour in 2020 as they’ll have a very good chance of increasing their vote by at least 3-3.5% in my view if the SNP scare isn’t as prevelant but the position in marginals isn’t very good and I’d only be confident of gains in certain marginals like Bury N, Lincoln, Telford, Croydon C, Brighton K etc not that I’m confident about analysing Con/Lab marginals anymore.

  20. The potential impact of the boundary changes could be bad for Labour in Cumbria. They would be reduced from 3 seats and a strong prospect to 1 seat and 1 prospect.

    With 650 constituencies being reduced to 600, Cumbria would meet the electoral quota of 5 constituencies (a reduction of 1).

    I would see Carlisle extending to include all (or all but 1 ward of the Carlisle Council area) becoming a semi-safe Tory seat. Barrow & Furness extending further up the coast with the 795 Labour majority being wiped out.

    Westmoreland is very close to the new electoral quota anyway.

    I could see a ‘Workington & Whitehaven’ urban constituency being created with the rural parts of Copeland and Workington joining the remaining parts of Penrith to become a ‘Penrith & Copeland’ constituency.

  21. Those boundaries sound plausible. Although Mid Cumbria would sound better than Penrith and Copeland.

  22. Labour should hold on ok here unless it’s a major boundary review.

  23. Seems the sort of area where the tories are deemed to get close but not cigar

  24. There do seem to be a fair number of voters here who are prepared to switch directly between Tory and Labour but the rest of the electorate is quite fixed.
    Only the foot and mouth election in 2001 really stands out.

    There was a slightly high swing in 1979 but I think Cunningham’s vote also rose – the swing coming from the turnout and decline of the Liberals.
    Labour then held up quite well in the 80s and saw off the attack.

  25. Labour are going to be in deep trouble in seats like this in 2015. Copeland,Workington, Barrow and Furness, Wrexham, Clwyd South, Newcastle-under-Lyme, and Stoke-on-Trent South are seats with a very similar makeup that have been getting better for the Tories over the years, and I can see them getting fairly close here in 2015- even if they don’t win this, they might only be about 100-200 votes away from doing so.

  26. Presumably you mean 2020 and if so, I think it’s far too early to tell.

  27. I do of course mean 2020. As for it being too early to tell you’re probably right but as this Parliament is only young who knows how Labour might manage under Corbyn in the seats I mentioned above- that’s just my initial assessment of the challenge they potentially face.

  28. We have been chatting on other seats e.g. Barrow. Boundary changes could be really bad for Labour in Cumbria, very possibly leaving them with just one safe seat in 2020..

  29. Well Labour will certainly lose this seat and Barrow if Corbyn explicitly makes party policy opposed to nuclear power and Trident, which I assume he will since those are long-held beliefs on his part.

  30. Not sure how you can be so certain of that, at least in the case of Copeland. Labour held it in 1983 on a similar national manifesto. Reed is a former employee of Sellafield so could quite feasibly hold the seat on the back of his own pro-nuclear views as Jack Cunningham did 30 odd years ago.

    Copeland has actually flattered to deceive for the Tories…their vote share in 2015 was below 2010 and, incredibly, even below 2001.

  31. The result here in 2001 was a bit of a strange one- there was a 7.35% swing to the Tories here, but I don’t know if that might have been down to Foot and Mouth perhaps? Or was it more because of factors relating to Sellafield at that time? In 2005 when Jamie Reed took over from Jack Cunningham he achieved a swing back to Labour and since then hasn’t done too badly to hold on to this seat when I’m sure at the last few elections the Tories were probably quite confident of winning it.

    I agree the current figures don’t really tell the full story and that the Tories seem destined to be continually disappointed here time and time again- as long as Labour have pro-nuclear MPs just like in neighbouring Barrow and Furness I suspect they may never actually lose either seat, but will always be in for close battles for some time to come with the Tories.

  32. Foot & Mouth undoubtedly played a part….also no UKIP or far right candidate in 2001, and perhaps Jack Cunningham had become a bit too lazy / complacent by the end. He was never very popular in the PLP even by the time Blair won the leadership….I recall he was voted out of the shadow cabinet in the 1990s.

  33. This seat most likely won’t exist in this form in 2020. The boundary changes in Cumbria (as I think others have said on different threads) are likely to be horrendous for Labour.

    Cumbria will probably lose one seat so what will likely happen are the following (which were proposed at the aborted review):
    -Carlisle will have to expand to take some heavily Tory wards making that constituency much more challenging for Labour to win.
    -Barrow will have to expand northwards taking some of the Tory voting parts of Copeland making that seat much more competitive (the Tories would have won it this year on the new boundaries).
    -The urban heavily Labour parts of Copeland and Workington will be combined in one seat named West Cumbria (or something similar like Workington and Whitehaven).
    -Westmoreland and Lonsdale will gain Appleby and surrounding areas.
    -Penrith will be paired with the rural Tory voting parts of the old Workington.

    If the boundaries were in place for this election instead of getting 3 seats Labour would have won only 1. The Tories by contrast would have got 3 instead of 2.

  34. The flip side of that being that in a worse than average year the Tories will also only be able to win 1 seat out of 5.

  35. If Labour does go anti-nuclear under Corbyn this seat and its neighbours could come under serious threat from UKIP or another right-wing working-class party. Even if they didn’t win they could hand the seat to the Tories.

    Cunningham was an exceptionally able politician but to hold onto this seat, narrowly, he bcame almost semi-detached to the Labour Party, to an extend that was quite distasteful for people looking on from elsewhere in the country.

  36. You would imagine that, boundary changes aside, the Conservative position in this constituency would be slowly strengthening because of demographic shift here. However, as HH says, their vote share in 2015 was less than it was in 2001, although FMD was likely to have boosted their vote at that election as demonstrated in the subsequent falling off in 2005.

    However, the ‘feel’ of Whitehaven is now very different to that of Workington just up the coast. While Workington still has a very industrial look and feel, Whitehaven has moved steadily away from its industrial roots and has a marina, pleasant Georgian buildings and reasonable restaurants.

    It will surely be slow demographic change that will erode the Labour vote in the end.

  37. No H.Hemmelig in a worse than average year on the current boundaries the Tories would only win 1/6 seats in Cumbria: Penrith (unless of course they can work out how to undo the Lib Dem trend in Westmoreland which is very unlikely at present). On the new proposed boundaries in a worse than average year they would still almost certainly still win 1/5, again Penrith, but they would also have a far greater chance of holding Carlisle on the new boundaries due to that seat having to expand to take in more rural, heavily Tory wards. The proposed new boundaries in Cumbria were excellent for the Tories (with no negatives at all) and disastrous for Labour.

  38. “The flip side of that being that in a worse than average year the Tories will also only be able to win 1 seat out of 5.”

    Unless the swing to the Tories in Cumbria is a long-term one, which it might be IMO.

  39. The changes wouldn’t be great for Labour just now, but Labour would probably win 3 out of 5 if they were in a position to form a government.

  40. The one safe Labour seat centred on Whitehaven and Workington would probably be the sort of constituency where UKIP rather than the Tories might provide the main opposition to Labour.

  41. The first casualty of the Corbasm; he’s resigned as Shadow Health Sec, citing Corbyn’s “poorly informed and fundamentally wrong” nuclear policy.

  42. Dalton Ward By-election Result:

    Independent 133
    Labour 118
    Conservative 93
    UKIP 53
    Green 22

    Independent Gain from Conservative.

  43. Jamie Reed wins the award for really taking on the Corbynistas tonight.

    His letter to Corbyn has been published and include him telling JC about his “duplicitous behaviour” and he goes on to tweet he’s selling tshirts @ £3 with “I’m not sure this is a good idea, Seamus” on.

    He now refers to himself as MP for Copeland. Red Leader, Rebel Alliance.

    Needless to say he’s received a lot of abuse in reponse, including death threats on twitter.

  44. The cheapest rental areas in the country as a proportion of pay:

    Copeland 62% L
    Derby 57% L
    Fylde 57% L
    Barrow 61% L
    N Lincolnshire 66% L
    Selby 59% L
    Darlington 56% L
    Hartlepool 70% L
    Amber Valley 60% L
    West Lindsey 62% L

    and the most expensive:

    Kensington 69% R
    Westminster 69% R
    City 75% R
    Camden 75% R
    Islington 75% R
    Hackney 79% R
    Tower Hamlets 68% R
    Hammersmith 70% R
    Lambeth 79% R
    Southwark 73% R


    ‘ ◾The most expensive places to rent a room in the South East are large parts of Surrey, Oxfordshire and Tunbridge Wells in Kent

    ◾Renting a one bedroom property in the South East would be impossible within recommended limits everywhere except Medway, Hastings, Rother, Gosport, Dover, Shepway, Thanet and the Isle of Wight ‘

    I’m tempted to say that it shows how stupid Remainers are but perhaps it illustrates that different people have different priorities in life.

  45. Jamie Reed is to resign as an MP, triggering a by-election.

    At long last we’ll now get to test Conservative Estimate’s theory that the Tories are going to win these northern marginal seats from Labour.

  46. Jamie Reed is standing down to take a job working for Sellafield.

    Should be an extremely interesting by-election. First thought is it probably depends on how far the Tories can squeeze the UKIP vote.

  47. Well regardless of the outcome of the by-election at least Jamie Reed will be gone and that’s something we can all be pleased about.

  48. A Tory win here might well be curtains for Jeremy Corbyn.

    Perhaps it’s better for them if they lose.

  49. Possibly, then again Lab could win this with a massively increased majority and I’m sure the moderates and media would find a way to spin this into something negative.


    You get the point…

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