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”
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  1. Just noticed that the total number of votes cast in Islington South & Finsbury rose from 30,961 to 43,555 between 2005 and 2010 (with no boundary changes having taken place).

    That’s a pretty massive increase: 41% in terms of percentage increase.

  2. That may be due to the increased number of commercial building conversions into flats meaning more residents. There has been quite a lot of that type of construction going on here over the past decade.

  3. That may have something to do with the amount of new conversions that have taken place in this seat over the past deacde. Many empty commercial buildings have been converted into flats which would mean more residents.

  4. Also enormous gentrification, especially around Angel and Farringdon. The newcomers are the kind of people more likely to vote. The Tories will become increasingly competitive here in the future.

  5. ‘Also enormous gentrification, especially around Angel and Farringdon. The newcomers are the kind of people more likely to vote.’

    That’s been the case for years though hasn’t it – without any noticeable electoral benefit to the Tories?

    To be honest I’m surprised the Tories haven’t been more competitive here

  6. There are still a great deal of left wing ‘human right lawyer’ types here whom easily outvote the more Tory inclined city workers. There are also a number of large council estates here which most probably helps Labour.

    I have often wondered whether there is a degree of tactical voting going on here with some Conservative voters lending their vote to the Lib Dems.

  7. “That’s been the case for years though hasn’t it – without any noticeable electoral benefit to the Tories?”

    Angel possibly, but the serious gentrification of Farringdon is quite recent. I worked there for a bit in 2009 and it was far grottier than now. Cross Rail is going to have a massive impact here.

    As LBernard says, initially the area changed from working class into arty types. Now, as in Hampstead and riverside Bermondsey, it is increasingly city types moving in.

    You say that there hasn’t been any noticeable electoral benefit to the Tories. Look at the figures and you’ll see that’s wrong, their vote up from 13% in 1997 to 19% in 2010. I would be happy to bet the Tories will be above 30% here in 10 years time.

  8. Large increases in the other seats in Islington and Hackney between 2005 and 2010:

    Islington North: from 31,494 to 44,554

    Hackney North & Stoke Newington: from 30,920 to 46,459

    Hackney South & Shoreditch: from 30,697 to 42,858.

    Combined figures for the 4 constituencies: from 124,072 to 177,426.

  9. ‘Look at the figures and you’ll see that’s wrong, their vote up from 13% in 1997 to 19% in 2010.’

    But 13 to 19% is neither here nor there – especisally condsidering that 1997 was Labour’s best year and 2010 one of theor worst

    Thjis is especially so where you consider the Tories got 25% in 1992

  10. “But 13 to 19% is neither here nor there – especisally condsidering that 1997 was Labour’s best year and 2010 one of theor worst”

    I disagree. This is inner London we are talking about, where the default position is a declining Tory vote due to demographic change.

    If you look at quite a few London Labour seats in Hackney, Croydon, Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth there was a lower Tory vote in 2010 than 1997. A 6% increase does indicate a notable shift….but as I said, I think there will be a more substantial increase to come.

  11. LBernard is obviously right. Owner-occupied housing in this constituency is clearly far beyond the means of the vast majority of ordinary people, and the very well-off who can afford it will not have a majority of Labour voters (even if there may be a rather large Labour minority amongst them here than in, say, Battersea). The large number of council estates, some of them of considerable size, are the major factor which has prevented any party other than Labour winning here in any postwar parliamentary election – just. Labour may in the short term benefit from a more even split in the anti-Labour vote than has been the case for decades, but in the longer term H.Hemmelig is almost certainly correct – there will be a large increase in the Tory vote. I do think it will be a long time until it threatens Labour’s tenure though.

  12. With a good campaign and matching the liberal expectations of the voters here, could the Greens come second here or in Islington North?

  13. I live in this seat and disagree with H. Hemmelig. The test of future Tory success will be local elections you forget that they have no seats on council even in the wards in the extreme south Bunhill & Clerkenwell. This hampers campaigning.

    This is a seat with high population turnover and among long term permanent residents Labour has an advantage due to nature of housing tenure. The dominant housing tenure even in Clerkenwell & Bunhill remains either social housing or housing association with large Peabody/ Corporation of London estates in Angel, Old Street. & Farringdon. There is also an increasing private rented sector. You also make the assumption that there will be no new housing association & council properties built when Islington council has started building a large number of homes for first time in 20 years.

    Tim Jones has got it right even in the context of past Tory performances 19% is not a harbinger of some massive increase about to come. Tories got 25% in 74, 35% in 79, 26% in 83 & 20% in 87. So 2010 suggests that they getting back to their natural level after Blair landslides even if they got 30% in 10 years time they wouldn’t win the seat.

    Not forgetting that a collapse of Lib Dem support will also benefit Labour. The assumption that most of redevelopment in Farringdon will be of a residential nature is inaccurate it is increasingly becoming commercial overspill from City of London and scope for substantial increases in housing units will as a result be limited.

    Local CLP is very active & very good at locating voters keeping in touch & getting them to vote that’s what saved them in 2005 & shocked Lib Dems in 2006 & 2010.

  14. A pity you are not able to post without being so partisan, unlike your Labour colleague Barnaby Marder.

  15. A perplexing response. What is partisan about my post? I said I disagreed with your analysis & proceeded to explain why I found Tim Jones scenario more plausible you are free to disagree…. Yet you inexplicably define it as ‘being partisan’ i.e not agreeing with you?

  16. Actually he (or she) is right about the local CLP – it struck me as one of the most prepared & best organized in the country when I saw a presentation by it & by Emily Thornberry at a conference a few years ago. I do tend to agree that the Tories will gradually rise here, but more at the expense of the LDs than Labour for the most part.

  17. “I do tend to agree that the Tories will gradually rise here, but more at the expense of the LDs than Labour for the most part.”

    That’s basically what I said as well.

    Nowhere did I say I expect the Tories to win this seat in the next 2 decades.

    Hence the angry man post was a bit weird.

  18. I still don’t think the Tories will rise enough to take even a council seat in this seat. Maybe if the borough was re-warded than newly drawn wards would give the Tories a better chance.

    AM is spot on. Islington away from the main roads is littered with council estates, housing ass properties and tons of transient renters. The fact that it is still so expensive means only a small core of Tory voters who work in the City can afford to live here, your more lower middle class city worker would probably struggle to afford the rent and certainly couldn’t afford to buy.

    I cannot see anything changing for a long time yet. But then again politics can be unpredictable at times.

  19. I will add that I really hope Labour stop rolling this MP out and onto the Question Time panel at every opportunity. She is highly irritating.

  20. Alan Sked launched his new party in Islington…

    a sign that this may be his place to run next? Or Hampstead & Kilburn maybe…. either case would be a cat amongst the pigeons..

  21. A supposedly left-wing anti-EU party would surely do better in traditional industrial working-class areas than in “intelligentsia” areas such as those mentioned.

  22. I would agree…. but he launched his effort there for some reason.. or maybe no reason… he has been all over the place in the seats he challenged in his formative UKIP days.. I doubt he’ll try it on in Bath..

  23. ‘Alan Sked launched his new party in Islington…’

    I don’t get this

    Alan Sked has already made the political journey from a liberal internationalist to reactionary isolationist, hence his setting up of UKIP – which under right wing, populist and loud-mouthed braggart Farage has radically changed from the type of thing he had in mind

    Sked has never been on the ‘Left’ – so it seems bixarre that he would establish a party endorsing left-wing policies – perhaps a Labour version of UKIP

  24. I share Tim’s scepticism. In his description of Sked’s political journey, Tim fails to mention also that Sked joined the Tories in the Hague years after leaving UKIP….certainly not the mark of a man of the left.

    To me this is very much resembling the Pro Euro Conservative party. Just as there was no market for that party, there is no market whatsoever for an anti-Euro party of the intellectual left. Sked’s party will disappear into oblivion as fast as the pro-Euro Tories did. As Barnaby says, the most Eurosceptic segment of the left is the WWC Labour vote, which will be far more comfortable with UKIP than with an Islington based party led by Sked.

  25. In the 70s of course it was indeed the left, and often the far-left that provided much of the strongest opposition to the EU (aka ‘bankers’ ramp, bosses conspiracy, obstacle to socialist planning, US imperialist plot’) in the UK.

    I can’t really see any revival of that going on though. Most former Trots are now amongst the EU’s biggest supporters.

  26. I never realised Sked had joined the Tories – especially under the woeful keadership of Hague – when the Tories were at their least attractive – and it indeed backs up the case that he is on the Right

    There was indeed no market for the Pro-European Tory Party, despite earning the backing of several former pro Europe Tory MPs (although they won my vote in 1999) and I would have thought there would be even less for a party such as this

    He’s one of the few people in politics who seees UKIP for what they really are although I get the impression that Sked has become so obsessed by his desire to leave the EU that he’s willing to do anything to help make it happen – even setting up a party whose policies he doesn’t and never has agreed with

    Interesting development though

  27. Sked should read the polling that relatively few of UKIP’s voters support them mainly for their stance on the EU. Their most popular policies are on immigration. An anti-EU party without the “right wing populism” on immigration etc would certainly have minimal support.

    The remaining Eurosceptics on the intellectual left generally aren’t so obsessed about the issue that it would cause them to leave Labour (I’m guessing Barnaby is a good example), and in any case if they did leave, the Greens would be a natural home.

  28. I always got the impression that Alan Sked was a liberal, more than anything else – albeit of an old-fashioned type which exists perhaps mostly among historians now (!).

    Since his departure from UKIP however he seems to have mostly been involved in trying to damage his former colleagues in that party. This latest initiative seems to be aimed in the same direction..I would be surprised if it gains any traction.

  29. Good points. Reminds me a bit of Kilroy leaving UKIP to form Veritas.

  30. UKIP has been plagued with personality clashes since its inception

  31. ‘Since his departure from UKIP however he seems to have mostly been involved in trying to damage his former colleagues in that party.’

    But who can blame him. The party he set up as a protest at the UK being in the EU, was hijacked by extremist right wingers who hate erything about Britiain as it is today and as a consequence win support from racists, biggots, romantic idealists longing for the return of a UK that never existed in the firsat place and those who generally lack intelligence and enjoy blaming others for the problems in their lives

    If I were Sked I think I’d be more than a little annoyed

    ‘Reminds me a bit of Kilroy leaving UKIP to form Veritas.’

    Kilroy was a dim-witted yet hugely arrogant egotist who let the popularity of his vile chat show go to his head

    Apart from an incestous poltical career, he shares no similarities with Sked, a man of considerable more intelligence

  32. I don’t remember Kilroy’s TV show being vile. A bit dumbed down and trashy maybe, but nothing out of the ordinary by the standards of daytime TV. Quite often he came across as a leftish liberal. I vividly remember one show about 10 years ago, for and against immigration. Kilroy’s sympathies clearly seemed to lie on the side of the immigrants and was quite rude with many in the audience arguing against immigration.

    Therefore it came as a big shock to many when he seemed to relinquish his centre left opinions overnight…first in his outlandish column for the Daily Mail, and shortly afterwards by standing for UKIP.

  33. H.Hemmelig has correctly remembered that I am not a Europhile. I wouldn’t however use the word Eurosceptic to describe myself, which implies at least some potential support for the EU; rather, I am ideologically opposed to the EU, although I recognise that it will be very hard to see it come to an end. I am an internationalist but do not see the EU as a means to achieve the society I want. HH is also correct that Sked’s party would have not the slightest appeal to me.
    I think Kilroy-Silk’s departure from centre-left policies took place a lot more than 10 years ago. He left Parliament in 1986 & it wasn’t long after that that he started writing a column in either the Mail or the Express which showed that his sympathies were no longer with his erstwhile party. It was however many years after that that he became involved in organized right-wing politics.

  34. ‘Kilroy’s sympathies clearly seemed to lie on the side of the immigrants and was quite rude with many in the audience arguing against immigration.’

    I find that surprising.

    One of my most vivid memories of his show was in the early 90s when they were discussing bullying, and Kilroy, getting the wrong end of the stick as he so often did, started confusing the victims with the bullies and ended up attacking the former.

    Apparently he wasn’t having any of it once the error of his ways was explained to hom after the show had finished

    I wasn’t aware that his column in which he described Arabs as ‘limb amputators’ came out of nowhere and I thought he’d disowned his former leftish views in favour of in your face, American-style, right wing populism years before

  35. An interesting historical note. Robert Kilroy Silk signed Tony Blair’s nomination paper when he was Labour candidate in the 1882 Beaconsfield by election.

  36. On reflection maybe I was wrong.

    I’m sure though that Kilroy never strayed far out of the mainstream until his limb amputators article.

  37. @ GT

    “….the 1882 Beaconsfield by election.”

    Presumably that was caused by the death of Benjamin Disraeli?

  38. ‘An interesting historical note. Robert Kilroy Silk signed Tony Blair’s nomination paper when he was Labour candidate in the 1882 Beaconsfield by election.’

    I just can’t imagine Tony Blair making a case for the far-left policies the Labour Party advocated in the early 1980s particularly convincingly

    I wonder if he even believed in it himself

  39. I remember reading that when he was running for the nomination in Sedgefield back in 83, he told the selection panel that, whilst he would run on the party’s manifesto, he personally didn’t believe in the pledge to withdraw from the EEC.

  40. Documentary on Islington Council from March or April 1983:

  41. According to the IMDB the programme was broadcast on Friday 15th April 1983:

  42. A closer look at the result here in 1992-
    Smith (Labour)- 20, 586 (51.11%, +11.05%)
    Jones (Conservative)- 9, 934 (24.66%, +4.08%)
    Pryce (Liberal Democrat)- 9, 387 (23.30%, -14.8%)
    Hersey (Justice From British Rail)- 149 (0.37%, N/A)
    Avino (Loony)- 142 (0.35%, N/A)
    Spinks (Natural Law)- 83 (0.21%, N/A)

    Majority- 10, 652 (26.44%)

  43. Runnymede – true, although there are certainly plenty of old Trots, ex Cllrs and Union branches who are active and anti-EU in Liverpool etc. I realise their slate performed woefully as always in the 2009 Euros. I think they were called ‘No2EU?’

  44. Was the Lib Dem candidate Vicky Pryce? No wonder the Lib Dem vote collapsed. She must have had high hopes of winning, given that Labour only won the seat by a few hundred votes in 1987. Had she won the seat I wonder if Chris Huhne would have gone into politics.

  45. Not Vicky Pryce, but Christopher Pryce – her first husband’s brother, who worked closely with Huhne until Huhne’s election to Parliament.

  46. …so rendering my post redundant. Thanks for clarifying. Did Pryce leave her first husband to be with Huhne or were they already divorced?

  47. what was the point of the justice for british rail candidate

  48. A discussion of the 2012 GLA elections will give a good inside of latest ward level voting.

  49. Another ‘guess’ prediction for 2015

    Lab 53 (+11)
    LD 17 (-17)
    Con 16 (-3)
    Green 9 (+7)
    Others 5

  50. Would hope that we would increase in this part of the world – particularly as its obvious that the lib dems no longer have a hope.

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