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. I canot see Boris Johnson as being Foreign Secretary.

  2. With some of his past comments, Boris would be about as likely a candidate for Foreign Secretary as Prince Philip.

  3. Emily Thornberry is, according to today’s “Times” (page 6) coming under attack for saying that the purpose of Trident could defeat the purpose of an underwater nuclear deterrent based on a new generation of the submarines. Trident might be, for instance, detected by future underwater drones. This opinion is attacked in a letter to today’s “Times” by a past Director of Nuclear Policy, Rear-Admiral Phillip Mattias. who implies that Trident is undetectable (he would say this, wouldn’t he, rightly in that we do not wish to make public any weaknesses our defences may have)..

    I have previously expressed the opinion on this site that Trident may well be detectable now. Even if I am wrong about this, and I am no expert, in my view Emily Thornberry is on this occasion right. Spending £30 plus billion on the assumption that Trident-style submarines will rmain undetecatble for at least the next thirty years is a hair-raising bet, and not one I would as an elector wish to be taken.

    Having raised the question of drones in relation to underwater nuclear submarines, surely we should follow through the implications. Firstly, should we not build any Trident replacement unmanned and remotely controlled by, very very, secure computer systems? Removing the need for the submarines to be habitable by a human crew would reduce the needs for the submarines to be pressurised. This would mean that they could dive deeper and therefore be less detectable. Of course, if even such systems become detectable, we might wish to retreat to an airborne, or sea but surface based, deterrent, if we have one at all.

    Secondly, if our nuclear deterrent were located on unmanned drones we should be able to build more of them, albeit each with fewer missiles. It is inherently unsatisfactory to have a weapon system based upon a single launching platform (submarine) being available at any given time. Such a system is inherently vulnerable to accident as well as enemy attack.

    In addition, all defence policy is a race between attack and defence. If we have £30 billion (or even £100 billion) to spend on building Trident, would it be better to send the money on detecting foreign submarines and on being able to destroy them by conventional means before they can launch an attack on us?

    One thing we must NOT do is buy a missile system just because the United States (or anybody else) wishes to boost their defence exports.

    Perhaps this post goes into a lot of detail, for this site, on technical matters. However, from a psephological point of view we should be asking about processes that back politicians and voters into positions where they promote policies, in this case the expenditure of huge amounts of money on a Trident replacement, on the basis of political prejudices and alliances rather than sensible examination of the facts.

    In the “Times” article, Andy Burnham says that “scrapping Trident would be a step into the unknown.” Well, any major defence procurement policy is a big step, one might say leap, into the unknown, and I suspect that replcation of the previous generation of weapons is unlikely to be the least risky or most effective option.

    Emily Thornberry is drawing up options for Labour’s future policy on Trident. It seems to me that she is doing her job on this.

  4. I instinctively believe that a drone tracking & destroying is possible, if not now, then certainly in the near future.

    After all, an Israeli company have recently unveiled a new, autonomous unmanned surface vehicle that can wage antisubmarine missions by firing small torpedoes, as well as detect and blow up submerged mines by sending robots and interceptors deep underwater.

    The Seagull autonomous multi-mission USV is a two-vessel system that has been developed over the past three years.

    An overview – Trident not needed 30 yrs ago and isn’t necessary now. We can spend the savings on schools, housing, police and hospitals.

  5. Unfortunately, given the current state of the world, we may need to spend the money on more effective and usable defence equipment, and on troops.

  6. Rumours of Emily Thornberry possible standing in the next Labour Leadership election are spreading on social media after her odds on being next labour leader fall from 500-1 to 100-1 in just a few days. Personally I cant see it through if Corbyn resigned she would easily get enough nominations to stand being soft left but still loyal to Corbyn.

  7. If Thornberry were made Labour leader you can say goodbye to them winning anywhere north of Enfield.

  8. A soft-left candidate has been mooted as a possible compromise solution to the ongoing conflicts within Labour, but Emily “I love white vans” Thornberry? Really? To be honest I’m not sure the one who always seems to get suggested, Lisa Nandy, is perfect either but she’s still be a hundred times better than Lady Nugee.

    Of course, Labour arguably had a soft-left leader in Ed Miliband. And of course, he lost the general election “because he wasn’t left-wing enough”, and so “people voted for the Tories in protest”, apparently.

  9. Compared to the likes of Emily Thornberry and Angela Eagle, Lisa Nandy may not be a bad call.

  10. I’ve never really got why Lisa Nandy gets talked up so much by people on the left. To me she just seems a fairly standard recent intake Labour MP. She is from a charity background like so many Labour MPs and has political views not dissimilar to Ed Miliband’s, like most Labour MPs. I don’t think her leadership would get Labour much closer to winning a general election. But things have got to a stage where the bigger, longer-term question of winning elections is now secondary to getting rid of Corbyn and somehow preventing a split. Due to her popularity on the left she might be best placed – but seems to have ruled herself out. An advantage over Eagle (who seems the likeliest challenger at the moment) might be that though their political views are similar she doesn’t have the baggage of having served in government and voted for things like Iraq and tuition fees.

  11. I have heard Lisa Nandy’s name bandied about too! N.B- There is a by-election going on in this constituency with the Tories putting on an okay show. It is in Barnsbury ward where Emily’s constituency office is. They won’t win but don’t be surprised if they start to make even more inroads in this seat. Soft Lib Dem vote still lingers here from two successive elections they came close in.

  12. Thornberry accused Sky News of sexism after she was asked in an interview who the French Foreign Minister (who she’s supposed to be meeting sometime soon) is.

  13. How pathetic.

  14. I watched the interview, and didn’t see where she accused him of sexism. I think that bit’s been invented by the media.

    She still looked pretty foolish though. She really ought to know who the French foreign minister is.

  15. According to the Sky News website it was when they moved on to anti-semitism that she accused Sky News presenters of sexism.

  16. Yes she should of known their names but I couldn’t understand what the relevance of their names were to the conversation.

  17. It seemed like the interview was being worked around to ask those questions

  18. Even if the pre-ordained aim of the interview was to reveal this person as a vacuous fool, there is nothing wrong with that. It’s a public service.

  19. I’ve never heard of a foreign sec being asked names of ministers. A public service would be to challenge her politics not make her look stupid

  20. The “ask a public figure obvious sounding questions” tactic has been used frequently as an aide to humiliation of the unprepared – famously George Dubya when running for President was asked similar, e.g. “Do you know who is the President of Paraguay” (or similar) to which Dubya replied “No…do you?”

    If he had asked who the Foreign Secretary of Djibouti was, I could understand, but this was FRANCE. The Shadow Foreign Secretary should know who their French potential counterpart is, especially if they’re meeting them next month.

  21. I don’t see the Tories strengthening up to any significant extent in Islington. The very desirable neighbourhoods that form the image many associate with Islington in fact form only a small part of the borough, and are in any case very popular with the often Labour voting liberal establishment – academics, journalists (many on The Guardian, given its proximity to their offices), others working in the arts/creative industries etc. There remains much poverty, especially in the north but also in parts of the south, and there are also a lot of young private renters – another group that tends to lean to the left despite often being relatively well off.

  22. Test.

  23. @Matt I don’t think Lady Nugee needs anyone’s help in making her look stupid she does perfectly fine on her own. If she had replied to the interview in a more intelligent way this wouldn’t have been a story at all. Apparently she wasn’t bright enough to do this and lashed out with the sexism card thus blowing this into a media storm and again making herself look line an idiot.

  24. I don’t dispute that she should know who the foreign minister of France is. I want to know what Emily Thornberry’s positions are on the agreement between Russia and America in the Syrian airstrikes, and the nuclear tests in North Korea. Instead I know she doesn’t know who the president of Korea is. That is very little help to me and Twitter is now a better source of finding that information. If I didn’t use social media as some people don’t, then I would have little idea of what her views are but I do know what ministers she doesn’t know. I’d rather the frontbench looked stupid on policy than trivial pursuit.

  25. That she didn’t know who the foreign minister of France’s name wasn’t the main issue (although she should do given her position) it was her response which was the main problem which made her look really bad.

  26. I think she was right to call the interviewer out for pub quizzing her

  27. Matt

    I would suggest that if Thornberry doesn’t know the names even of her opposite numbers in large countries that are either close to us or main allies, she’s even less likely to know about the pressing and more complex issues you mention – and certainly people are not going to accept her judgement on such issues are they?

    I understand and respect your politics but you’re choosing to defend the indefensible here.

    With due respects, whether we can find out the names of foreign ministers on Twitter is an irrelevant straw man. No-one is suggesting that our source of information on such matters should be infrequent live TV interviews with senior Parliamentarians. 🙂 rather than Twitter or google . . .

  28. Also – unlike Peppermint T I think that not knowing the minister’s name was a key point – although her reaction was terribly babyish and defensive as well.

  29. @Matt you seriously think it’s right that her ‘calling him out’ is wailing the first attack line that comes into her head. There are clever ways to call someone out and there are playground name calling ways a la the Shadow Foreign Secretary. Plus using sexism a ‘get of a jail free card’ is a terrible thing to do and undermines the severity of real cases of gender discrimination when they happen. It’s kind of unbelievable that she is even in the cabinet let alone Shadow Foreign Secretary but then again you could say the same about the majority of the Shadow Cabinet.

    @BT I agree it is a key point though I would argue her reaction was the much more serious thing. Using false sexism to cover up your own inadequacies really should be a sackable offence.

  30. I meant finding out what her views on Russia and Americas agreement on Syria, and the nuclear test in North Korea on Twitter not the ministers names. I’m not defending her lack of knowledge concerning these ministers. In my opinion this is bad journalism and I think it should be said, rather than putting up with it. I’m clearly not getting what I’m trying to say over this medium

  31. I think Thornberry has the habit of rubbing people up the wrong way with her patronising and snobby persona, and therefore they are inclined to judge her more harshly for her mistakes than they would someone who is less that way inclined.

    Should she know who the French foreign minister was? Probably. It isn’t a crime not to, but she ought to have been prepared for a working over from someone like Murnaghan, rather than the stock answer of the Islington Dinner Party crew of accusing someone of an ism or a phobia.

    She seems desperate to be in the shadow cabinet and given that JC struggles to fill the spots I suppose the inconvenient marriage works to a degree.

    She does seem as far removed from what you’d expect an MP of the party for the working class as one could possibly be. The arrogance she displays at times is breath taking.

  32. Questions that Jeremy Corbyn can ask at next PMQs :
    1. What is the square root of 529?
    2. What was Shakespeare’s year of birth?
    3. What is the name of the Jamaican prime minister?
    4. What is the current homeless figure in Buckinghamshire?
    5. Who is the PPS to the Energy secretary?
    6. What is the biggest (most students) grammar school in UK?

  33. “Emily from Islington has tweeted…what is the square root of 529?”

  34. This shows how the PLP’s mass resignations have seriously damaged the quality of opposition. Both through the need to double-up portfolios and the awful quality of people with very senior roles. Furthermore it just shows how Labour MPs right to the very top are totally fixated on internal matters at the moment and not bothering to brief themselves on the rudimentary basics of their policy areas.

    Think of the better shadow foreign secretaries of the relatively recent past and try to imagine them not knowing the French foreign minister’s name – Robin Cook, William Hague, Hilary Benn.

  35. It’s something they would have made sure they were briefed on, if going into an interview announcing they would be meeting the person in question.

    Strange as it seems today, Miliband’s front bench team expected to be in government and took their briefs seriously.

  36. I think Thornberry momentary loss of memory is understandable. It was a Sunday morning – it is likely that it was the first occasion of thinking abound her job since Friday evening. It was really amongst the lowest form of journalism that – I repeat that I believe that she did know his name (Ayrault for those of you who don’t know ) but momentarily forgot it and as we all know in that situation if your further pressurised it very very tough to turn it round and remember.

    Certainly it pails into insignificance compared to the education secretary Nicky Morgan refusing to say what 7 x8 was while appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain to announce a new maths test for 11-year-olds. Labour schools minister Stephen Byers also could not recall what 7×8 is.

    And under pressure and tricked by a TV presenter, Barack Obama agreed that Austrian is a language.

  37. It is also difficult to not make the connection of Sky (a big seller of sports to white van man) and her unfair treatment over THAT photo/tweet.

  38. Yes, I still don’t get how that photo was condescending. I guess it was a case of her reputation preceding her.

    Anyway presenters trip politicians up with questions like this all the time. Nothing that noteworthy really.

  39. Thornberry puts her foot in it yet again:

    This is why I really don’t understand the Corbynistas. The leader of the opposition, the shadow chancellor, the shadow home secretary and the shadow foreign secretary are (putting their political views to one side) walking gaffe machines and objectively terrible politicians who never fail to generate negative headlines and give the government a reprieve. How intelligent left wing people think it is a good idea to have these people heading up their party really mystifies me.

  40. True believers in the cause who do not prioritise image and electricity over their sincerely held beliefs peppermint tea

  41. I’m amazed that Thornberry is still on the front bench.

    She’s gaffe prone and has that snobbish, patronising aura, as well as giving you the impression she’d turn whichever way the wind blows in order to maintain or enhance her position within the Labour Party.

    She’s pure gold for the Tories. She is lucky that she’s in a safe Labour seat.

  42. It may amaze some that I think this but I agree with all that’s been said.

  43. She was pretty awful on QT last night (which was quite some effort given that it was a very underwhelming panel). If you can’t look good next to a rather subdued Damian Green and a woefully shrill bimbo like Isabel Oakenshott, you’ve got no hope.

  44. ‘She was pretty awful on QT last night (which was quite some effort given that it was a very underwhelming panel).’

    She was so poor, I almost felt sorry for her –

    ‘a woefully shrill bimbo like Isabel Oakenshott,’

    To be fair, Oakeshott ran circles round Thornberry last night and she’s definitely the most coherent and convincing of all the new breed of ulta right-wing female political commentators (Phillips, Hopkins, Epstein et al)

  45. I’m not a huge fan of Emily Thornberry

  46. I’m surprised at how right-wing Isabel Oakeshott has become since the Brexit vote. Her appearance on Question Time last night confirmed that she has now morphed into a more attractive version of Katie Hopkins. I guess that’s working for The Daily Mail does to you!

  47. I agree that oakeshott has shifted signficantly to the Right of late, like so many of her colleagues who have done a stint at the Mail

    Still I agree with Tim that she certainly is convincing and unlike the likes of Hopkins who put people off, will be a usefull assett for the hardline Right in these Brexit times

  48. Oakeshott is apparently writing a new book with Ashcroft, but is refusing to give any hints on it. It’s got to be a stitch up job on Osborne surely?

  49. I’ve just watched QT and I thought Emily Thornberry did very well to hold on to poise and dignity while under fire from the Daily Mail woman and the other guy who kept interrupting; alienating the audience and made a right fool of himself

  50. @Deepthroat the Emily Thornberry and the words poise and dignity are an oxymoron.

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