South Derbyshire

2015 Result:
Conservative: 25066 (49.4%)
Labour: 13595 (26.8%)
Lib Dem: 1887 (3.7%)
Green: 1216 (2.4%)
UKIP: 8998 (17.7%)
MAJORITY: 11471 (22.6%)

Category: Safe Conservative seat

Geography: East Midlands, Derbyshire. The whole of the South Derbyshire council area.

Main population centres: Swadlincote, Willington, Melbourne, Repton, Hilton, Hatton.

Profile: The seat covers the old pottery and mining town of Swadlincote and the more rural commuter towns and villages in Derby`s southern hinterland.

Politics: The constituency has a long history of being a Labour vs Conservative marginal, represented in the past by some colourful former MPs. From 1950 to 1983 this area was part of the old Belper seat and for many years returned the Labour Deputy leader and Foreign Secretary George Brown. When it became its own seat in 1983 it was represented by Conservative minister Edwina Currie. The seat fell to Labour in their 1997 landslide but was regained by the Conservatives in 2010. Swadlincote, with its mining and potteries heritage has always been the core of the Labour support here, although previous boundary incarnations also included wards from Derby itself that provided Labour votes. The more rural parts of the seat vote Conservative, making this a key marginal.

Current MP
HEATHER WHEELER (Conservative) Born 1959, Norwich. Former specialist in Professional Indemnity insurance. Wandsworth councillor 1982-86, South Derbyshire councillor 1995-, leader of South Derbyshire council 2007-10. Contested Coventry South 2001, 2005. First elected as MP for Derbyshire South in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 22935 (45%)
Lab: 15807 (31%)
LDem: 8012 (16%)
BNP: 2193 (4%)
Oth: 1472 (3%)
MAJ: 7128 (14%)
Con: 20328 (36%)
Lab: 24823 (44%)
LDem: 7600 (14%)
BNP: 1797 (3%)
Oth: 1272 (2%)
MAJ: 4495 (8%)
Con: 18487 (36%)
Lab: 26338 (51%)
LDem: 5233 (10%)
UKIP: 1074 (2%)
Oth: 813 (2%)
MAJ: 7851 (15%)
Con: 18742 (31%)
Lab: 32709 (55%)
LDem: 5408 (9%)
Oth: 617 (1%)
MAJ: 13967 (23%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
HEATHER WHEELER (Conservative) See above.
CHERYL PIDGEON (Labour) Born Nottingham. Educated at Long Eaton Grammar School. Trade union officer. Erewash councillor, former Derbyshire county councillor. Contested Erewash 2010.
LORRAINE JOHNSON (Liberal Democrat) Born Nottingham. Educated at Pingle schools and Hatfield Polytechnic. Former IT professional.
ALAN GRAVES (UKIP) Born 1963, Mansfield. Educated at Harvey Grammar School. Director of a computer company. Derby councillor 1995-2000 and since 2002, originally elected for the Labour party. Contested Derby South 2010 as an independent.
Comments - 81 Responses on “Derbyshire South”
  1. Labour did decently in the 2013 local elections though I doubt they will get that close in May given the demographic factors discussed above. I’d say Conservative hold majority 5100.

  2. Heather Wheeler has been hospitalised with a “persistent infection.”

  3. I went out for lunch in Swadlincote last week and you wouldn’t know there was an election on. Not a single poster of any kind.

  4. Conservative Hold. 4,000 majority.

  5. Does anyone have a list of the biggest Con to Lab and Lab to Con swings between 1992 and 2015 ?

    This is complicated by two sets of boundary changes.

    Croydon North was notionally narrowly Conservative in 1992 and now has a Labour majority of 21,364 (39.9%).

    Derbyshire South was notionally narrowly Labour in 1992 (on its boundaries at that time it was Conservative) and now has a Conservative majority of 11,471 (22.6%).

  6. What about Sefton Central in terms of Con to Lab? It was still Crosby in 1992 (I think it had Maghull in the seat before it was moved into the Knowsley North & Sefton East seat between 1997 and 2010). In 92 it was a Conservative seat with a majority of 14,806 (21.8%). As Sefton Central it is now a Labour seat with a majority of 11,846 (24.2%).

    Or Brent North possibly?

  7. “Does anyone have a list of the biggest Con to Lab and Lab to Con swings between 1992 and 2015 ?”

    To be fair I don’t think anyone would have that information immediately to hand.

  8. I think Sefton Central is a possibility but the boundary changes there hurt Labour when it lost two Crosby wards to Bootle.

    Most of the big Con to Lab swings have been caused by ethnodemographic change.

    But that doesn’t apply to Sefton Central unless we redesignate Scousers as non-English 😉

  9. well…

  10. Mitcham & Morden probably slightly beats Croydon North in terms of magnitude of Con to Lab swing, and unlike Croydon offers an exact comparison from 1992 because the boundaries are almost exactly the same.

  11. This was a horrendous result for Labour. I never had this seat down as a possible gain to begin with, but the fact the Conservatives won with an increased majority tells me that Labour don’t have a chance here anymore, perhaps not even with a landslide.

    The 2011 Census showed quite a large “white flight” to this seat so it’s becoming more affluent and/or a commuter seat and Swadlincote is nothing like the Labour stronghold it might have been in the past.

    Different boundaries in 1992, but they still managed a 2nd place finish, 7% behind.

    Look at how Labour went backwards even in 2001.

  12. Yet another small town English seat in which Labour seems moribund.

  13. Hard to believe it now, but these boundaries are actualy better for Labour than those in force in 1992. The 1997 boundary changes wiped at least 2000 off Edwina Currie’s majority.

  14. “The 2011 Census showed quite a large “white flight” to this seat so it’s becoming more affluent and/or a commuter seat and Swadlincote is nothing like the Labour stronghold it might have been in the past.”

    I’ve got a friend that lives in Church Broughton so I kind of know this seat. You’re right, this is now an aspirational commuter seat for Derby and Nottingham. Many families middle class families have moved into this seat from Derby and Nottimgham. Labour are finished here forever and this is now a safe Tory constituency.

  15. I think Pete calculated that Labour was slightly ahead in 1992 on the 1997 boundaries.

  16. Although IIRC Labour was ahead in 1979 on the 1983-1992 boundaries.

    So I wonder what the result on these boundaries would have been in 1979.

    Likewise Labour notionally won the new Leicestershire NW in 1979 and that increasingly looks like a safe Conservative constituency now as well.

  17. “Hard to believe it now, but these boundaries are actualy better for Labour than those in force in 1992. The 1997 boundary changes wiped at least 2000 off Edwina Currie’s majority.”

    That was certainly true at the time. I’m not so sure it would necessarily be true today since the the current South Derbyshire constituency has probably moved to the right a lot more than the Derby wards which used to be in the seat until 1997.

  18. This area is being gentrified and Labour would only win it back now in an exceptionally good year for them. I would not describe this seat as a key marginal.

    The Labour target list runs out at Number 125, Rochford and Southend East,, where the Conservative majority is 21.7%. I would be very surprised if there is a swing of more than 10% to Labour in 2020 compared to 2015. For that to happen there would probably have to be an economic meltdown in the meantime, following which anything might happen.

  19. The Tories also got 2/3 councillors in Swadlincote. If the Tories are competitive there Labour’s chance of wining South Derbyshire are zero to none. I don’t know if the Tories have ever got councillors there before (they haven’t this century) but Swadlincote electing two Tory councillors perfectly demonstrates Labour’s problems in post-industrial areas of Britain.

  20. Labour’s problem is their now heavy reliance on two types of voter: ethnic minorities and public sector workers. As soon as you have an area with relatively few of those voters the party struggles to get a decent result. Seats like Bishop Auckland have become marginal for the first time largely for the same reasons.

  21. I see that the Conservatives topped the poll in Swadlincote this year.

    Has that ever happened before?

  22. I would hasten to say that Labour will find it difficult to win here again any time soon- I think this seat, along with neighbouring North West Leicestershire and North Warwickshire are continuing to demographically move in favour of the Tories, and away from Labour.

  23. Labour need an 11.3% swing, which might be achievable if there were a landslide like that in 1997. But as things stand this does not appear lkely. Labour would also have to get any additional swing needed to overcome demographic changes.

  24. Although, It does seem to be a seat that can produce high swings,
    and if a completely reformatted party won some landslide it could happen. Doesn’t look likely where we are.

    I would guess the answer to Richard’s question is no, unless we count local elections like 1977.

  25. I would say that it is virtually certain that Labour will lose its majority on Derbyshire CC in May, and that the Tories will finish up as the largest party. I reckon Labour will lose Swadlincote Central in this seat, and every division where their majority over the Tories is smaller (Aston, Belper, Dronfield E, Glossop & Charlesworth (2 seats), Linton, Matlock, Wirksworth, Ripley W & Heage, Petersham and Buxton N).

    Those changes alone would make the council 31 Labour, 30 Conservative, 3 Lib Dem In reality Labour are also likely to lose two seats to the Lib Dems in Chesterfield (Stavely N & Whittington and Loundsley Green & Newbold; the latter being the area where I grew up).

    If that’s all that happens then in the current climate it could be said Labour had got off lightly. But they could well also lose Ilkeston West and Ripley East & Codnor to the Tories, and one further Chesterfield seat to the Lib Dems (Boythorpe & Brampton South). All the Lib Dem targets in Chesterfield I would say are similar demographically to the part of Sheffield where Labour recently lost a city council seat to the Lib Dems. That would make the council Tories 32, Labour 27, Lib Dems 5 (so the Tories a seat short of overall control).

    The Tories taking overal control is a tough ask. It would depend on them taking one of the harder targets, such as Walton & West in Chesterfield from the Lib Dems. They finished a close third there last time, but there is a sizeable UKIP vote for the Tories to squeeze.

  26. Overall Tory control probably is a bit Plopwell yes. I guess it might be possible, but there could be a variety of results across the country.

  27. RIP John McCririck

    Another 1980s/90s icon falls away. I worked in betting shops for a few years as a student and his daily horse racing coverage was hilarious and whiled away many a boring afternoon.

    (Strictly I suppose I should have posted this under the seats for Newmarket or Aintree, but chose Edwina’s former constituency on account of her “celebrity wife swap” with The Mac, one of the funniest TV programmes ever).

  28. Yes, he was good at explaining racing terminology to the public and took on the industry and I think uncovered corruption in the Tote before we were born.

  29. Edwina Currie tried a political comeback, standing in Whaley Bridge (which is in High Peak District). However, she failed to unseat Ruth George (2017-19 High Peak MP) who gained the division in a by-election last year.

  30. I wonder if Ruth George has a bit of a personal vote up there. Or parts of High Peak constituency may be trending Labour…they lost the seat in 2019 by only 3 digits, a much less drastic swing compared to other parts of Derbyshire.

  31. Yes, High Peak is by now means classic “red wall” territory. Thanks for sharing that Andrea – very interesting! Wouldn’t have thought that Currie had any interest in going back to frontline politics.

    Sadly, the Wife Swap episode she’s in which HH refers to above isn’t on YouTube now. Currie is another example of the knack ex-Tory MPs have for turning themselves into media celebrities. Ann Widdecombe is another. Michael Portillo too, although admittedly his media career is more serious. I’m sure there are others I can’t recall for now. The Hamiltons fulfilled this role for a while. Ex-Labour MPs don’t generally go in for this sort of thing, except perhaps Ed Balls. Not sure if David Mellor counts: he still presents a show on Classic FM. I suppose the fact that most ex-MPs sink into obscurity makes him stand out regardless. Gyles Brandreth’s political career just seems to have been a brief interlude in his media work. High-ranking politicians don’t count – ie. Blair and Osborne. The latter is perhaps more prolific than the average ex-Chancellor though.

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