North West Durham

2015 Result:
Conservative: 10018 (23.4%)
Labour: 20074 (46.9%)
Lib Dem: 3894 (9.1%)
Green: 1567 (3.7%)
UKIP: 7265 (17%)
MAJORITY: 10056 (23.5%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

Geography: North East, Durham. Part of the County Durham council area.

Main population centres: Consett, Crook, Lanchester, Willington.

Profile: A large rural seat, covering the remote and sparsely populated Wear Valley and part of the former Derwentside council area. The isolated towns and villages here are the relics of heavy industry now departed, former coal mining villages in the Wear Valley and the old steel town of Consett. The steelworks closed in the early eighties, devastating the local economy and rendering this an unemployment blackspot. More recently the area is better known for making snack food than steel - the Phileas Fogg company (now part of KP Snacks) used to advertise their crisps as being made in Medomsley Road, Consett..

Politics: The coal mining and heavy industrial traditions of the area have the unusual result of created a remote rural seat that is overwhelmingly Labour. The seat has been held by Labour since its creation in 1950, for most of the period by members of the same family (Ernest Armstrong, the MP from 1964 until 1987 was suceeded by his daughter, Hilary Armstrong, who represented the seat until 2010. While Labour have been dominant at the Parliamentary level, at a local level there has been significant Liberal Democrat and Independent strength on the old Wear Valley and Derwentside councils. Watts Stelling of the Derwentside Independents contested the 2005 and 2010 general elections, retaining his deposit both times.

Current MP
PAT GLASS (Labour) Born 1957, Esh Winning. Former education advisor and officer. First elected as MP for Durham North West in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 8766 (20%)
Lab: 18539 (42%)
LDem: 10927 (25%)
BNP: 1852 (4%)
Oth: 3731 (9%)
MAJ: 7612 (17%)
Con: 6463 (16%)
Lab: 21312 (54%)
LDem: 7869 (20%)
Oth: 3865 (10%)
MAJ: 13443 (34%)
Con: 8193 (21%)
Lab: 24526 (63%)
LDem: 5846 (15%)
Oth: 661 (2%)
MAJ: 16333 (42%)
Con: 7101 (15%)
Lab: 31855 (69%)
LDem: 4991 (11%)
MAJ: 24754 (53%)

2015 Candidates
CHARLOTTE HAITHAM-TAYLOR (Conservative) Born 1978, Malton. Educated at Heathfield School and City and Guilds of London Art School. Artist. Wokingham councillor since 2010.
PAT GLASS (Labour) See above.
OWEN TEMPLE (Liberal Democrat) Durham county councillor since 2008. Contested North West Durham 2010.
Comments - 117 Responses on “Durham North West”
  1. David Watkins, Labour MP for Consett from 1966 until its abolition in 1983, and a friend of mine, has died at the age of 88. He had been very poorly after a serious stroke on Christmas Eve.

  2. oh that’s sad

  3. This has always struck me an interesting seat. Perhaps given its heritage always Labour, but worth noting that the Labour share was “only” 42% – not spectacular for an apparently safe North East Labour seat. Especially as between them the Conservatives and Lib Dems took 45%.

    Interestingly the local independents also held their seats against Labour challenges here in 2013. Anyone know the roots of the unenthusiastic Labour vote here?

  4. My forecast for 2015 here:

    Lab 49
    UKIP 19
    Con 15
    LD 12
    Others 15

  5. I suspect some voting fraud in play here with a total percentage of 108…

  6. Labour did well to lose Chester in government. That must have taken some doing.

  7. 110% even.

  8. I don’t know the independent candidate so I’ll just have to take a very un-educated guess on whether their share goes up or down.

    prediction for 2015-

    Lab- 50%
    UKIP- 19%
    con- 14%
    Lib- 12%
    Indy- 4%
    BNP- 1%

  9. Burnopfield & Dipton Ward By-election result: Labour 656, Ind 655, Con 83, Green 68.

  10. I grew up in this constituency although I’ve been away a long time.

    It’s tribal Labour territory but machine politics and bad performance in local government mean there’s sometimes space for Lib Dems or Independents as an alternative. Conservatives pick up some votes further up Weardale but the ceiling for them is low.

    Hilary Armstrong was a well known figure locally and had a personal vote. I don’t know much about Pat Glass.

    I’d expect the LD vote to collapse in 2015 and Labour to head back north of 50%, but it depends how strongly UKIP run, because nobody in NW Durham has much reason to thank Westminster.

  11. Labour hold. 15,000 majority. Tories 2nd.

  12. Yes, Shaun’s prediction sounds reasonable. There’s some beautiful villages and countryside in this seat. It’d be a safe Tory seat if it were in the south of England.

  13. no way! this seat includes Consett, Tow Law, Crook & some other very stark working-class towns villages. It has a very strong mining & steel heritage. This would not be a safe Tory seat even in the south of England, though seeing that steel & coal are the heritage industries the seat couldn’t ever be in that region anyway. No-one visiting Tow Law for example could think that it could ever belong in a safe Tory seat.

  14. Sadly, worryingly, depressingly NW Durham will trundle along to the Polling Stations, vote Labour and go back to sleep having ‘done our duty’.
    Why? might you ask.
    ‘My father voted Labour, and his father before him. So if it’s good enough for them…it’s good enough for me’
    ‘We’ve always voted Labour in this house’
    How utterly depressing is that? Thatcher ended the link with big industry in Consett in 1980 and our mindset remains there. Wake up folks!!! The world has moved on!!!
    By all means vote Labour..but not just because it’s what everyone expects you to do. Ask yourself this:
    Consett under Labour…No Town Council anymore, No Hospital (of any note), Police Station closed after 5:30pm, Streets flooded with Parking Enforecement Officers, Nowhere to even dump our rubbish after Leadgate closed so ask yourselves this:
    For our decades of blind loyalty…what exactly has Labour done for Consett ???

  15. Reading HERO’s posting I could agree more. Voting Labour because of a history of voting that way is an a front to all the people who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. A vote is the one and only chance you get to voice your opinion – once every 5 years. We need proportional representation so every vote counts, plus a re-call mechanism so we can ditch an MP not delivering – they represent US.

  16. Hero is right. We need to move on and be better. We seem to continue to be tribal, often without thought or understanding but through blind tradition. We are a proud people and we have a strong heritage, but we are also welcoming of others and friendly. We are better than we give ourselves credit for, so we ought to rise out of this mindset. Beamish is wonderful but a museum; we should not forget our past but we should not be stuck in it.

    One of my granddads was a miner, the other a welder, and they would have suffered 30 years ago too.

    But they had strong values about finding a way, bettering yourself, forgiving and controlling your own destiny and they instilled these in me.

    None of us will ever change our mind on supporting Sunderland or Newcastle, regardless of what happens, because they are our teams.

    The same does not apply to politics – the two main parties are often similar in many ways, so the best one to support can easily change from election to election.

    Id never change my football allegiance but I have done with political parties. Regardless of who you vote for in May, do it for the right reasons. Read about what each party believes in and go for the one who fits best with your ambitions.

    Good luck 🙂

  17. Came to Wear Valley in 1980’s from the South. Bought an answerphone not a dog. Got a temporary job straight away. Tried harder than some, got made permanent. Invested the money in property, not racing pigeons or greyhounds. I’ve made a few thousand, whilst savvy Geordies have been making hundreds of thousands. One or two I know, millions.
    The pigeons, greyhounds, and the WMC’s are almost extinct now where I live. The economy and lifestyles of the region are vastly different from when I first came here. So why has the political landscape remained the same? As previous comments suggest. It’s simply an imprinted reaction by the non-academic majority. But this time it may be different. Political opinion has never been more sharply divided, People in general are much better informed and can make a choice depending on their particular circumstances. So I think Labour’s majority will be reduced this time.

  18. Pat Glass actually increased her majority, but the difference, this time is; that the Conservative candidate came second with a substantial proportion of the vote. Political opinion has definitely changed, Is this the result of a property owning society ?
    David Cameron’s “Northern Powerhouse” Why oye man, bring it on.
    The case for inward investment in the North East has never been more compelling.
    (1) We have one of largest and purest reservoirs of conserved water in the country. What doesn’t seem to be appreciated is that it doesn’t flow through limestone rocks so there is no scaling and minimal corrosion of hot water appliances.
    (2) Due to past mining and industrial activities we have wide roads throughout the region.
    (3) Large seaports and airports at Newcastle & Teasside.
    (4) Oil refining, Steel-making, and Chemical manufacturing capacity.
    (5) Electricity generation. (nuclear, gas, and wind power)
    (6) The “peice-de resistance” has to be an experienced and dedicated workforce with the ability to train others in engineering and manufacturing skills.

  19. Not a great result here for Labour by historical standards – particularly considering the collapse in the Lib Dem vote which was primarily assembled from dissolusioned Labour voters.

  20. The long-term Tory tide has not reached this part of the world yet. A likely outcome for this seat is that it will disappear in future boundary re-organisations. Alternatively the Tories or, less likely, UKIP could catch up over several elections. All this is assuming there there is no political earthquake in the meantime.

    The Corbyn tendency will do Labour no good in traditionalist working-class constituencies like this

    By the way, Darlington has in the past been a Tory seat and it is far from inconceivable that it could be so again in the future..

  21. Sedgefield could be carved up which could help the Tories gain Darlington.

    I still think a Tory gain in Bishop Auckland is a bit far fetched at least in the short/medium term even under Corbyn leadership. The Tory vote is still below 1983 and 1987, barely above 92 and turnout is quite low.

  22. In Darlington, Labour deserters are likely to go to the Conservatives as they are already strong challengers. But in other safe Labour seats in Durham will voters leaving Labour go to the Conservatives or will they go to UKIP?

    Even as far away as this, it may depend on whether UKIP win Oldham West and set up as challengers to Corbyn Labour rather than the Tories.

  23. Pat Glass’ husband defeated at AGM for campaign co-ordinator role.

  24. Pat Glass MP – Labour’s Europe rep – door knocking for Remain in Derbyshire:

    (recorded by BC Derbyshire)

    “The very first person I spoke to was a horrible racist.
    I’m never coming back to wherever this is.”

    She’s been unavailable for comment since.

  25. The MP has now issued an apology.

  26. Since when has Polish been a race? It’s a nationality and a language as far as I’m aware. The race is European.

  27. True. Although I think Labour also class anti-Irish sentiment as racist for some reason.

  28. Pat Glass MP strikes again:

    “Don’t ask your grandfather. Old white men are a problem for the Remain side.”

    I’m amazed they’re still letting her go outside.

  29. Pat Glass, appointed Shadow Education Sec yesterday, has announced she’s standing down at the next general election.

  30. Pat Glass has now resigned from the position of Shadow Education Secretary that she was appointed to on Monday.

  31. Well, at least she gave it her best.

  32. Worthing West is another long term possibility for Lab though one I’m vastly less confident about.

  33. By and large I would agree with your predictions (although a lot of big ifs in each case)

    Re the Lab to Con seats
    Bar Hammersmith I think you’re being a little bit optimistic re inner London. The number of council homes and low quality rented accommodation vastly outweighs the gentrifying areas. As soon as you leave the riverside the seats rapidly go downhill, this does make Bermondsey and Greenwich slight possibilities due to their large riverfronts but I’m doubtful about Vauxhall.

    As for Stoke South that’s more a symptom of Lab weakness rather than Tory strength, the area isn’t really drifting Tory rather its just drifting away from Lab, if Lab continue to lose votes to UKIP while the Tories remain static or if the Tories can claw back some of the UKIP vote then yes their in with a good shot otherwise it’ll probably remain out of reach.

    Everything else though I agree (boundaries permitting)

    Re the Con to Lab seats again mostly agree.

    Basingstoke is entirely dependant on boundaries, if the city is split in two Lab have no chance, if it remains as one seat minus the rural wards Labs in with a shout.

    Rushcliffe is a big ask but West Bridgeford is definitely drifting Labs way, the issue is I think they may hit a ceiling due to inability to make inroads into the rural areas making it a seat Lab only win in its very good years.

    Sutton Coldfield does appear to be drifting Labs way but at a truly glacial pace, I think the Tories are fine for the very foreseeable future.

    The main disagreement would be in Spelthorne and other commuter belt seats, property prices are just insane and save for some gargantuan demographic shifts I just don’t see them ever voting Lab

    Another possibility for Lab is Colchester, big, growing student population and if they can eat into the Lib Dem vote and become the main opposition to the Tories locally they could very well win it.

  34. Pepperminntea
    Re Altrincham I may be over analysing since I know the seat very well but I do think Lab will win it at some point in the next couple of decades. FWIW boundaries can probably only help Labour there but sticking with the current makeup for the sake of argument.

    Your analysis is broadly correct but I think your largely underestimating the pace of change in the area. Its the typical edge of conurbation drift, the old Tory vote dies off and the middle class managerial types move further afield (into Cheshire proper in this case) and are replaced by affluent public sector workers, throw in a small bit of suburban decline and before you know it Lab are competitive.

    Sale as you point out is definitely drifting Lab and I imagine in a decade or less they’ll start picking up councillors there and beyond that full slates like they now do in formerly Tory Stretford. Its at a slower pace but the exact same thing is happening in Broadheath, Timperley and Altrincham proper where I imagine Lab will start consistently picking up councillors in about 15-20 years.

    The problem for Lab is rightly as you point out the southern most wards around Hale. I can’t imagine Lab ever carrying these in the medium to long term (save huge, unpredictable demographic shifts) but it actually doesn’t really matter. Labs position (while in no way competitive) has strengthened in the last decade or so and this will likely continue to some extent thus whittling away the Tory advantage in these wards. This leaves us in Wirral West territory where several very safe (but not monolithic) wealthy Tory wards (Hale Central, Hale Barns and Bowdon) are capable of being outvoted by a couple of swing wards (Altrincham, Timperley and Village) and two or three solid Lab wards (Broadheath, St Mary’s and Ashton upon Mersey).

  35. @rivers10 I think we agree except for the timescale. I accept you know the area better than me but the election results there at the moment don’t show the pace of change necessary to make it into a safe Labour seat or for Labour to win barring a blowout in 20 years time. I think the Tory majorities will erode in wards like Ashton-upon-Mersey but I suspect it won’t be a fast process.

  36. Pepperminttea
    Oh I’m not talking about it becoming a safe Lab seat I’m just talking about the Tory majority declining to the point where Lab could feasbly win it.

  37. This discussion contains a remarkable amount of presumptuous comment. Who knows what the next 40 years will bring? Frankly who knows if there will still be Conservative and Labour parties in the enxt 40 years or whether the political system will more closely mirror the divide revealed in the Brexit vote. Who knows if suburban areas will continue declining? The rot could well stop- in which case don’t expect a continual drif tto Labour.

    I wasn’t going to comment for those reasons but I have to make some observations about Altrincham. It is extremely presumptuous to talk as Rivers 10 has about the pace of change there. The striking thing about Altrincham is the extent to which it *hasn’t* changed compared to a lot of of middle-class outer conurbation seats. Yes, there has been a drift towards Labour in Sale (albeit theTories took 58% in St Marys earlier this year) but Altrincham itself has if anything becoming more Conservative and the two Hales and Bowdon remain far more solidly Tory than the leafy wards on the Wirral. There is a good reason for this, which is that Altrincham is one of the few northern courbation seats where the public sector is really not a large employer (only about 28% as of 2011- in Wirral West it’s 38%) and so long as that continues don’t assume Labour will start picking up councillors here there and everywhere.

  38. Might I also add that the swing to Labour at last year’s general election was negligible (0.15%)- which was slightly below the national average and way below the North West average (including in the likes of Wirral West, Wirral South, Sefton Central etc with which Altrincham is frequently and in my view erroneously compared).

  39. Tory
    I agree whole heartedly that this is all very presumptuous and for what its worth I actually do believe that British politics will be totally unrecognisable in 40 years time, that’s why I’m sticking to predicting seats no further than 20 years from now but obviously an awful lot can happen in that time and this is all just a bit of fun.

    I have to profoundly disagree though that Altrincham is becoming more Conservative, ignoring any anecdotal evidence I may have and just focusing on the election results it does appear that the Tories are stubbornly stuck on around 50% and Lab are stubbornly stuck on about 25% but one has to bear in mind the odd growing strength of the Greens locally who actually managed to beat Lab for second in 2016. The fact that Labs vote hasn’t noticeably declined amidst the growth of the Greens is somewhat telling as to the way the area is going. Now I’m not saying Altrincham is going to become some bohemian hipster suburb (believe me it isn’t) and I’m truly baffled as to where the Green support comes from but its possibly indicative of a wider trend.

  40. I’m talking about the Altrincham ward there by the way

  41. 2016 was a bit of a mystery, yes. But only the previous year the Conservatives achieved a significantly better result than what they managed in the previous general election year of 2010- indeed their lead was only a bit below what they managed in 2006, 2007, and 2008 when the Conservatives were leading by miles in the polls. The electoral evidence shows that the Conservatives have maintained their position and that it has *possibly* improved (I didn’t put it any higher than that).

  42. Well the Greens did pretty terribly at the 2015 general and Labour were still miles away from winning so the point about the Greens is not really relevant. There has been some decline in the Tory position since 1992 (the boundaries are better for them now) but not by a great deal, certainly not enough to signal an impending Labour victory in 20 years time. Though as Tory said this hypothetical discussion is rather dependent on if the Tories and Labour still exist then or we have some kind of PR by then (which is looking increasingly likely).

  43. Yes but don’t presume that other people aged in their late twenties and early thirties are going to continue thinking like you! I dare say my friends would quite like to live in Mole Valley too but it’s out of the question.

  44. Peppermint tea- the boundaries issue in Altrincham is complicated. If I recall correctly the Conservative notional majority in 1997 dipped a bit from the actual 1992 result but the removal of Bucklow for the 2010 election was undoubtedly helpful (though turnout is pretty low in that ward in any event). The recovery in the Conservative vote post-1997 has been pretty strong.

  45. The politics of this scenario would be a right dominated Central London and home counties and a left dominated London suburbs.

  46. There could well be a small trend. But I don’t think it is a big, relentless trend that will see it swiftly become safe Labour territory like the Ealing seats, Ilford South or Croydon North. Barnet just isn’t experiencing the same changes in ethnicity and remains a very desirable place to live. With average property prices of £595,534 (across the borough, but I doubt there is much difference btwn the 3 seats – if anything with Totteridge in it CB may have higher prices) poorer people priced out of Central London are also likely to be priced out of Barnet. This average property price figure (2015) was the highest for any outer London borough except Richmond.

  47. The proposed constituency here is an abomination. The commission proposed a similar constituency last time to much fury. They have managed to make it much worse by having half of Barnard castle, Weardale, Consett and Gateshead Suburbs in one snakelike monstrosity. No chance of a Tory breakthrough in west Durham on these boundaries though the Consett + Barnard Castle from last time was a Semi marginal and would have probably been quite tight in 2015.

  48. Stockton West isn’t terrible for the Tories, I certainly anticipated worse for them on Teeside.

  49. I agree for the most part but I struggle to see how you’d get Sedgefield proper into a Stockton South seat…

    I personally thought paring Sedgefield with Bellingham was smarter then you could have a seat encompassing all of Stockton proper.

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