Houghton & Sunderland South

2015 Result:
Conservative: 7105 (18.5%)
Labour: 21218 (55.1%)
Lib Dem: 791 (2.1%)
Green: 1095 (2.8%)
UKIP: 8280 (21.5%)
MAJORITY: 12938 (33.6%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

Geography: North East, Tyne and Wear. Part of the Sunderland council area.

Main population centres: Houghton, Hetton-le-Hole, Doxford, Shiney Row, Silksworth.

Profile: The seat contains relatively little of Sunderland itself and it mostly made up of former mining towns to the south-west of the City, most notably Houghton and Hetton-le-Hole.

Politics: The seat underwent substantial changes in the 2010 boundary review, swapping the eastern part of Washington (now united in a single seat) for part of the dismembered Sunderland South seat. Both on old and new boundaries, it is solidly Labour and on various boundaries the Houghton seat has been held by Labour since 1935.

Current MP
BRIDGET PHILLIPSON (Labour) Born 1983, Gateshead. Educated at St Robert of Newminster RC Secondary and Oxford University. Former charity worker. First elected as MP for Houghton & Sunderland South in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 8147 (21%)
Lab: 19137 (50%)
LDem: 5292 (14%)
BNP: 1961 (5%)
Oth: 3484 (9%)
MAJ: 10990 (29%)
Con: 4772 (14%)
Lab: 22310 (64%)
LDem: 6245 (18%)
BNP: 1367 (4%)
MAJ: 16065 (46%)
Con: 4810 (14%)
Lab: 24628 (73%)
LDem: 4203 (12%)
MAJ: 19818 (59%)
Con: 5391 (13%)
Lab: 31946 (76%)
LDem: 3209 (8%)
MAJ: 26555 (63%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Houghton & Washington East

2015 Candidates
STEWART HAY (Conservative) Born 1956, Whotley Bay. Educated at Monseaton Grammar and Northumbria University. Solicitor and retired detective inspector.
BRIDGET PHILLIPSON (Labour) See above.
JAMES MURRAY (Liberal Democrat)
RICHARD ELVIN (UKIP) Born Lincolnshire. Educated at Newcastle University. Former teacher, runs a travel company. Contested East Midlands region 2009 European election for Libertas, Houghton and Sunderland South 2010, Middlesbrough 2012 by-election, South Shields 2013 by-election, North East region 2014 European election for UKIP.
Comments - 50 Responses on “Houghton & Sunderland South”
  1. I can envisage UKIP coming second in a lot of seats like this at the next election if they’re doing fairly well overall.

  2. i wonder if ukip will ever challenge labour in this sort of seat

  3. I think UKIP have the potential to take a fair few votes from Labour, as well as the Conservatives here

  4. Interesting that the combined share for UKIP, Ind and BNP was already 14.3% in 2010. I think UKIP have the potential to pick up the majority of those votes next time plus some more from the Tories and maybe a few from Labour and LD. Obviously they’ll be a considerable swing of votes from LD to Lab at the same time as there was in the South Shields by-election.

  5. *there’ll*

  6. Watching the 2010 coverage of this seat – does anyone know who the independent was and how he campaigned? 6% is way above usual results for Independents.

  7. Colin Wakefield is a local councillor for the Copt Hill Ward on Sunderland Council, first elected there in 2007. The Independents have pretty much replaced the Tories here as the party that can beat Labour so they don’t stand cnadidates in the ward. Labour presently has one of the councillors (elected in GE year, 2010). It’ll be interesting to see if they hold it in a non-GE year this time. It is a marginal though.
    Cllr Wakefield is a prolific ‘issues’ campaigner and rarely out of the press.

  8. prediction for 2015-

    Lab- 50%
    con- 19%
    UKIP- 15%
    Lib- 11%
    Indy- 4%
    BNP- 1%

  9. Please update my profile, I will supply a photo if you email me

    Stewart Hay (Conservative): Born in Whotley Bay (1956) educated at Monseaton Grammar School & law graduate of Northumbria University. Retired Detective Inspector with an exemplary service record, currently working as a consultant solicitor. A local association brach chairman, previously stood in local elections only in South Tyneside.

  10. According to the PA’s best estimate. It may not actually be the first.

  11. it was the first last time too

  12. I think it could be central that declares first, it was counted slower last time as it was assumed it could be close. Anyways ukip are putting effort into here especially into the Chinese finger trap that is Hetton. They will get 2nd and should be aiming to exceed what the tories got in 2010.

  13. Labour hold. 15,000 majority

  14. SOPN: http://bit.ly/1aHlHyf

    Richard Elvin (UKIP)
    Stewart Hay (Conservative)
    Jim Murray (Liberal Democrat)
    Bridget Phillipson (Labour)
    Alan Robinson (Green)

  15. ElectoralCalculus and ElectionForecast have UKIP at 13-14.5% here…I think this is one of those places where they’ll take far more Labour than Tory votes…it’s just how many L/D voters go to Labour..

    I’d be surprised if UKIP poll less than 18-20% here..same goes for Sunderland Central…

  16. Labour vote up 4.8%.

  17. It could be that they’ll pile up their votes in safe and semi-marginal seats but be underwhelming in target seats.

  18. A 35% swing from Labour to Lib Dem in Sandhill ward in this constituency:

    LDEM: 45.0% (+41.5)
    LAB: 25.0% (-29.9)
    UKIP: 18.7% (-7.2)
    CON: 10.0% (-5.7)
    GRN: 1.3% (+1.3)

  19. That really is a surprise.

    Dead cat bounce or the yellow peril really are back?

    Or was there a very local factor here?

  20. Word is the by-election was triggered cos the Lab councillor in question had an appalling attendance record, Libs ran on that.

    I have to say though I am again disappointed at the selective reporting here, the first week I stop posting local by elections and peeps only mention the bad Lab result, well here was the other result of the night.

    Gade Valley (Three Rivers) Lib gain from Con
    Lib Dem 60.9% (+24)
    Con 19.1% (-22.9)
    Lab 11.6% (-9.6)
    Ukip 6.7% (+6.7)
    Grren 1.8% (+1.8)

    If people are going to mention local by elections you have to quote them all not just the ones that you like the look of.

  21. @Rivers10
    If this is aimed at me, I think it’s ridiculous that any individual poster should be obligated to post all local by election results (there are sometimes 6 or 8, and many are not of great interest).

    You haven’t even bothered to find out the constituency Gade Valley is in. Why didn’t you post this under the relevant constituency?

    And why would you think I don’t like the Gade Valley result? I am in fact delighted by it, but that should be irrelevant.

    Posters need to reign in their partisanship. There are other sites for that.

  22. JR
    It wasn’t directed at you specifically others had been doing it for months prior to me posting all the results, I only just stopped doing so and to again see a bad result for Labour highlighted but the other result not mentioned irks me, sadly there are far too many peeps on this site who are more than happy to pontificate over any bad result for Lab while casually dismissing anything bad for their own party or good for Lab.

    I agree its ridiculous that any individual poster should have to post all results but seriously a while back we were literally bearing witness to 5 results in a night, four of which where a disaster for the Tories, one was a disaster for Lab and posters would gleefully post solely about the disastrous Lab result claiming it was a harbinger of Labs doom. That is what’s being partisan, simply requesting that if people find local by-elections to be sufficiently important to mention, simply post all results from a given night especially when the other results don’t fall under any definition of “boring”

    Its a sad state of affairs I agree but the behaviour of some here have necessitated it, I can’t highlight how bad the selective reporting was a few months back and I just want to nip it in the bud and stop it re-emerging.

  23. @rivers while I am of the opinion that people make far to much out of local by-elections the Sunderland ward is clearly more significant than Gade Valley. The Lib Dems nearly always win that ward, the only lose it in high turnout general election years so of course they’d win it easily in a pathetically low turnout by-election where they probably put far more effort in than everywhere else.

    For reference this was Gade Valley in 2016:

    LD: 61.7%
    Tory: 25.4%
    Lab: 13.%]

    Not substantially different from this local by-election.

    In Sunderland they came from deposit loss territory to win in an area where they have traditionally had no strength whatsoever. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out which of the two might be significant and which is a pretty standard Lib Dem local by-election performance.

    Though having said that I wish people would stop treating these pathetically low turnout elections, which are primarily fought on local issues as the be all and end or all or even vaguely indicative of the national picture.

  24. Rivers10 – to be fair the Labour share also halved in the one you quoted, so it wasn’t, ‘the one bad one.’

    It’s not selective as both showed the same: a good night for the LDs.

  25. Pepps
    We are in agreement that people read far too much into local by elections, I only ever posted them to stop the aforementioned selective reporting. If one wanted to delve in deep one could assume the Sunderland result is more significant but it still doesn’t excuse not posting all results.

    Also might I add there have been far too many cases of local by-elections of late where there has been a sound electoral factor (not a local factor) why Lab might “appear” to do badly most notably the result a few months back in multi member Eltham North were some peeps got far too overexcited over the Cons “winning” the ward from Lab even though it was an exact repeat of the 2014 result. My attempts at explaining that though were dismissed as me being an apologist…

  26. Lancs
    And the Tory vote fell by a third in the Sunderland result, frankly reading into local by election results in seats where parties don’t eve try is even more foolish.

    My main point was Lab lost a ward on a huge swing, the Tories lost a ward on a huge swing, no reason whatsoever to solely quote Labs loss, whether intentional or not that is selective reporting and we had far too much of that a few months back.

  27. ”the Tories lost a ward on a huge swing”

    There was only a small swing to the Lib Dems from the Tories in Gade Valley compared to 2016 result that I posted above. There was only a huge Lib Dem swing if you compare it to 2015 which had probably around 6 times the turnout. Gave Valley is a safe Lib Dem ward in non general election years.

    The Sunderland ward was a huge swing compared to 2016 too and the Lib Dems came from deposit loss territory in an area where they’ve never had any strength. It’s pretty clear that that result was the one perhaps vaguely significant while the Gade Valley one was entirely predictable based on past off year results. To pretend that it was equally bad for Labour and the Tories is a huge false equivalence.

    ”some peeps got far too overexcited over the Cons “winning” the ward from Lab”

    On that you were entirely correct on this you are wrong. The Sunderland result was a disaster for Labour (though people shouldn’t read too much into it) whereas Gade Valley voted exactly how you’d expect it to vote in a low turnout by-election.

  28. Can’t we just agree that these were two Plopwellianly good results for the Lib Dems and move on?

    If I were a Lib Dem activist right now I’d want a general election ASAP. They have nothing to lose and are the only party with any kind of momentum.

  29. “We are in agreement that people read far too much into local by elections, I only ever posted them to stop the aforementioned selective reporting”.

    Rivers, you’ve mentioned this before, implying that there has in the past been some sort of concerted effort on this site to mention local by-election results that are bad for Labour and ignore those that are good. In reality there are perfectly good reasons why some results might get mentioned and others not.

    Certainly I only tend to mention results when they occur in a part of the country I know something about so I can place them in some sort of context. Those areas would be north Derbyshire (where I was born and raised, and possibly Sheffield next door) and north Kent (where I live now). Doubtless others do the same, and this would be at least part of the reason why some results don’t get mentioned.

    Also quite simply all local by elections are definitely not equal. Those in Metropolitian wards and county divisions with big electorates tend to be more significant than those in shire district wards which often have tiny ones. The former are more representative and less likely to be influenced by local idiosyncrasies, so it’s perfectly legitimate that they might get more attention.

  30. Presumably the first to declare but there was a link on PB to an article by David Cowling explaining that the results should be much quicker this time because there are no local votes to separate. However looking at the Press Association list and some local media, a lot of councils haven’t bothered (or refused?) to update their time.

  31. I don’t have the figures but watching the declaration it would appear the result here was much better for the Tories than the exit poll.

  32. Clarify – 3.5% swing to the Tories. The hell?

  33. Yes, when this result came in at around 1130 in the evening it showed a miselading swing to the Tories, a sign that maybe the exit poll was flawed. But it turns out it wasn’t.

    So what was the discrepancy? Bridget Phillipson has been writing about the result in the New Statesman, and she thinks it’s to do with postal votes. Apparently around half the ballots in this seat were cast by post, and many of them would have been cast early in the campaign, when the Tories still had that big lead.

    A very logical explanation, though I can’t think why a seat like this would have so many postal voters in the first place.

  34. It’s a dynamic that we need to get used to I think.

    Most of us including me forgot the likely impact of postal votes in EUref….they were being filled in when Leave had its greatest boost 1-2 weeks from the day itself. Consequently perhaps 20-25% of votes were cast before the campaign swung back to Remain in the final week. It’s highly likely Remain may have squeaked a win had nobody voted by post.

    Not sure postal voting had much impact on GE2017 as May had already cocked up the campaign a month ahead of the election.

  35. I do remember Dan Hodges’ smugness when this result came in, ‘clearly illustrating that the exit poll is wrong’. He’s still scraping egg off his face as we speak.

  36. He’s gone really quiet compared to his glory days ahead of the 2015 election. Even as someone who disliked Miliband, I found the way Hodges repeatedly knifed his own side to sell papers highly distasteful. I suspect without Cameron’s influence his career is dead (Hodges was reportedly Cameron’s favourite columnist).

  37. Agreed. His opinion barely seems relevant anymore. Plus his column in the Mail on Sunday really is twaddle mostly; safe, middle of the road beigeness that never commits to anything.

  38. Personally I’m amazed most of these pundits still have even the vaguest whiff of a career after the last election, the amount of egg they’ve had to scrape of their face could end world hunger for a year.

    My personal favourite has always been Andrew Lilico though who’s always been a great purveyor of nonsense but this one probably takes the turnip.


    Ooops XD

  39. He has made a career out of being a Labour person who constantly uses a platform in anti-Labour media, as well as always being ready to appear on the telly, to slag off the party and in particular its current leader. Now that he has been proved completely wrong about the appeal of Corbyn (even though the Tories have managed to stay in office), and publicly jettisoned his own party by proclaiming his support for the Tories in the election, he can no longer make out he’s a Labour supporter. He left the party in 2015, attempted to sign up as a registered supporter, but having publicly supported a Lib Dem candidate I was able to appeal to the relevant NEC member and have him denied a ballot in the leadership election. He’s basically burned his own boats.

  40. I have never even heard of Andrew Lilico. More power to his elbow though, his sort of message clearly didn’t work one little bit in June, if I may be permitted a relatively partisan part of my comment. The comment above was about Dan Hodges, not Lilico.

  41. “A very logical explanation, though I can’t think why a seat like this would have so many postal voters in the first place.”

    In 2015 GE this one was the constituency with the highest share of electorate with postal votes.
    Top 6 were all in North East: the 3 Sunderland constituencies, Newcastle Central and North and Blaydon. Jarrow, South Shields, Gateshead, Newcastle East were in top “postal votes” 15.

    I think it may have something to do with 2004 Euro elections when North East had the all postal voting experiment.

  42. Thanks for that info, Andrea. Worth bearing in mind for future GEs, given that Newcastle & Sunderland tend also to be the first to declare.

    Where did you get the info from?

  43. “I think it may have something to do with 2004 Euro elections when North East had the all postal voting experiment”.

    Not sure about that. 2004 was a long time ago, also Yorkshire and the East Midland were also all postal in that year’s Euros.

  44. polltroll

    it’s in the Electoral Commission election reports. 2017 have not been published yet.

    It will appear at this page

    if you look at 2015 GE report, there is a table with constituencies with highest share of postal votes.
    Furthermore, the excel file attached have the postal votes data for all constituencies.

  45. Re Andrew Lilico

    I’ve often disagreed with him though for a staunchly Tory academic economist he has not been afraid to criticise Cameron and May from a progressive/ethical standpoint. For example he has fiercely criticised retrospective amendment of rules on public sector pension entitlement and student loan repayments.

    Also Lilico predicted Brexit 5-6 years ago, in one of his columns for ConHome.

  46. Re high postal voting-

    The areas mentioned do seem to be mostly post-industrial constituencies with many retired miners etc who are likely in bad health and perhaps can’t get out of the house.

    Though if this is so I’m surprised not to see Welsh Valley constituencies on the list. Apparently Merthyr Tydfil is the mobility scooter capital of the UK.

  47. I think the reason there are so many postal votes in Sunderland and Newcastle is because of the race to declare the first result.

  48. Sorry wrong thread

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