Islington South & Finsbury

2015 Result:
Conservative: 9839 (22.2%)
Labour: 22547 (50.9%)
Lib Dem: 4829 (10.9%)
Green: 3371 (7.6%)
UKIP: 3375 (7.6%)
Others: 309 (0.7%)
MAJORITY: 12708 (28.7%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of the Islington council area.

Main population centres: Finsbury, Islington, Clerkenwell, Canonbury.

Profile: Islington is fashionable and up-market residential area, Tony Blair lived in Barnsbury prior to his elected as Prime Minister and the area was for a time closely associated with New Labour. However there is also a large traditional Labour vote here, with a high proportion of council tenants and substantial Afro-caribbean and asian communities. Islington is a particular young area, and has the highest proportion of unmarried people in the country. To the south the seat borders the City of London and contains office and business development that has spilled over from the city proper, such as the offices of Finsbury Square (the former site of the Occupy London camp) and the cluster of tech start-up companies around the Old Street roundabout.

Politics: Now a safe Labour seat, this has occassionally been a Labour-Lib Dem marginal. All three Islington MPs defected to the SDP and in 1983 the seat was only narrowly held by Labour`s Chris Smith against the incumbent George Cunningham. Chris Smith himself built a strong Labour majority, but after his retirement in 2005 it once again came under threat from the third party, with the Liberal Democrats only narrowly missing out at the 2005 election.

Current MP
EMILY THORNBERRY (Labour) Born 1960, London. Educated at University of Kent. Former barrister, specialising in human rights. Contested Canterbury 2001. First elected as MP for Islington South in 2005. Shadow Attorney General 2011-2014. Shadow Employmenr Minister since 2015. Was forced to resign from the frontbench in 2014 after tweeting about a house in Rochester and Strood bedecked with St George flags and a white van in a way that was seen as being disparaging.
Past Results
Con: 8449 (19%)
Lab: 18407 (42%)
LDem: 14838 (34%)
GRN: 710 (2%)
Oth: 1151 (3%)
MAJ: 3569 (8%)
Con: 4594 (15%)
Lab: 12345 (40%)
LDem: 11861 (38%)
GRN: 1471 (5%)
Oth: 690 (2%)
MAJ: 484 (2%)
Con: 3860 (14%)
Lab: 15217 (54%)
LDem: 7937 (28%)
Oth: 1192 (4%)
MAJ: 7280 (26%)
Con: 4587 (13%)
Lab: 22079 (63%)
LDem: 7516 (21%)
Oth: 393 (1%)
MAJ: 14563 (41%)

2015 Candidates
MARK LIM (Conservative)
EMILY THORNBERRY (Labour) See above.
TERRY STACY (Liberal Democrat) Housing Association chairman. Islington councillor 2002-2014, Tower Hamlets councillor 1998-2002. Leader of Islington council 2009-2010. Awarded the MBE for services to housing in 2011.
CHARLIE KISS (Green) Local government officer.
Comments - 312 Responses on “Islington South & Finsbury”
  1. Actually Matt, only 29% of respondents to that survey had experienced “Islamophobia” – not a majority. See

  2. 29% sounds astonishingly high

    Who are these Labour Party members who are islamophobes and what exactly have they been saying.

    It’s beyond illogical given how locked down Labour is with the Muslim vote and sounds like a Tory plot to me – a party that has plenty of members who really do dislike Muslims.

  3. Not all of Labour’s members will be in areas with high Muslim populations, so they may be less familiar with Muslims. Also, the 29% are self-reporting. It’s their perception of Islamophobia as defined by the victim. The link does say:

    ‘Common trends include accusations of “planned takeovers” when Muslims participate at a local level, stereotypes of “grooming gangs,” a disproportionate expectation on Muslim members to condemn violence and insults using terms such as “terrorist” and “foreigners.”’

    Not all of these examples are explicitly “Islamophobic” in my view. It’s a slightly leading question from my reading. Also, I think it’s a bit of a wild leap to suggest it’s a “Tory plot”. The polling was done by Labour Muslim Network. If anything, it’s an attempt to move the spotlight away from Jewish people onto Muslims.

    It would be interesting to see polling on Labour’s membership demographics. It probably has more Muslims than the population as a whole, but I’m pretty sure it’s predominantly white British middle-class (and atheist).

  4. I agree – I would have thought the predominant demographic would be the white, middle class and public sector – one of the least racist groups in the whole of society

  5. But if you asked Labour Women’s Network members how many felt they had experienced sexism in the party, you might get an even higher figure. Everyone has prejudices, but some groups are probably more adept at hiding them.

  6. sorry my mistake

  7. British political activism is a bit like supporting a football team, you are expected to cheer them on rain or shine, success or failure, and remain loyal to your party even when it is wrong and/or you don’t particularly agree with it any more. Most voters used to be like that as well, though less so nowadays.

    Muslims, especially from Pakistan or Bangladesh, do not fit so easily into the “my football team good or bad” approach, and come from a culture which is much more fluid and where it is normal to change parties and shift allegiances regularly. At local level, this leads them to be looked upon highly suspiciously by staunchly partisan activists in all parties. I recall one Muslim guy who stood as a Tory paper candidate in Bromley about 20 years ago who went canvassing for Labour in Lewisham in the same election. This is quite normal in Pakistani culture but sent the local blue rinse brigade into apoplexy.

  8. Gosh – I wouldn’t have expected that. I didn’t know it was a cultural thing either.

    This article has a similar scenario in Pendle (it’s well worth reading too):

    When I first met Sajid, however, he was outside a polling station doing a stint as a teller and laughing merrily along with his blue-rosetted counterpart, Arshad Mahmood. Yet things were not quite as they seemed. Mahmood was part of a mass defection of Pakistani Lib Dems to the Conservatives which appears to have nothing to do with Brexit, extra taxes for the NHS or Maymania. What it does have to do with remains elusive even to local politicians: “clan politics” and “personal ambition” were mentioned. It may be even more complicated than that. “So you’ll be voting for Theresa May next month?” I asked Mahmood. “Oh, no, I like Jeremy Corbyn. Very good policies.”

  9. I hope it’s not considered “Islamaphobic” to point out these kind of bona fide cultural differences, and I’d also like to say that these kinds of generalisations should in no way tar everyone in a particular community with the same brush. In some ways it’s arguably good for democracy for aspiring politicians to have less of a “my party good or bad” attitude, and of course “personal ambition” severely affects politicos of all creeds.

  10. I have read things in the past about the unusual political behaviour of Pakistani communities. Being independent-minded is, of course, no bad thing, but this sort of thing is quite the opposite, because it appears to be a pattern that an entire bloc will change their vote en masse. My understanding is that there are often local elders who recommend voting for a particular candidate, and that their endorsement has a level of adherence that would put Britain’s national papers to shame. I believe this is part of what swung the 2012 Bradford West by-election for George Galloway.

  11. HH, some may consider your comments to fall into that category, but I don’t. We can all generalise about groups, the white working-class being a prime example. Indeed it is better for democracy for people to not support their party come hell or high water, although the vast majority of Muslims do seem to unquestionably vote for the Labour Party without fail, which is undoubtedly bad for democracy. I wonder if the white working-class voted Labour in such high numbers in the 1950s or 60s. OK, most Jews currently vote Tory, but they have voted differently in the past.

    PT, I’ve heard similar things, though not about Bradford West – it doesn’t surprise me in that case. However, this type of “bloc voting”, if it goes on, mainly seems to have benefited left-leaning parties: Labour, Respect, Tower Hamlets First. Both these parties will have given Labour reason to worry, I’m sure. All the Muslim Tory MPs represent largely white areas. Maybe at local level there are Muslim councillors who represent Muslim areas.

    In Westminster, a Muslim Conservative candidate won a 2008 by-election in Church Street ward, taking a safe Labour seat. The name suggests a Muslim candidate and I can only guess it was someone locally known, maybe an example of what PT is talking about.
    At the next council election, the seat reverted to its safe Labour status, as it has remained since then.

  12. To add to the above – it looks like the Tories have won councillors in Dewsbury South on Kirklees council with Muslim candidates. The ward contains Savile Town, which is about 98% Muslim.

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