2015 Result:
Conservative: 3367 (6.6%)
Labour: 39628 (78.1%)
Lib Dem: 1490 (2.9%)
Green: 1270 (2.5%)
UKIP: 4973 (9.8%)
MAJORITY: 34655 (68.3%)

Category: Ultra-safe Labour seat

Geography: North West, Merseyside. Part of the Knowsley council area.

Main population centres: Kirkby, Huyton, Knowsley.

Profile: Knowsley consists of depressed and run-down council estates, almost exclusively white working class and built to decant the residents displaced by post -war slum clearance in Liverpool. It includes Huyton (once the seat represented by Harold Wilson) to the south and Kirkby to the North, between them is the green space of Knowsley Hall and Park, the ancestral home of the Earls of Derby and the site of a Safari park. In the 2011 census it had the highest proportion of people describing themselves as Christian of any seat in England.

Politics: Knowsley is overwhelmingly and monolithically Labour. The parliamentary seat is ultra-safe. The local authority is uniformly Labour, in Kirkby they regularly have councillors returned unopposed, a rarity in metropolitan councils. In the 2005-2010 Parliament there were some Liberal Democrat councils returned in Prescot, but by 2012 the Labour party held every council seat in the borough.

Current MP
GEORGE HOWARTH (Labour) Born 1949, Merseyside. Educated at Huyton Secondary school and Liverpool Polytechnic. Former engineer, teacher and Chief Executive of the Wales Trades Union Congress Centre. Huyton councillor 1971-1974, Knowsley councillor 1973-1986. First elected as MP for Knowsley North in 1986 by-election.
Past Results
Con: 4004 (9%)
Lab: 31650 (71%)
LDem: 5964 (13%)
BNP: 1895 (4%)
Oth: 1145 (3%)
MAJ: 25686 (58%)
Con: 4492 (12%)
Lab: 24820 (68%)
LDem: 7132 (20%)
MAJ: 17688 (49%)
Con: 4250 (12%)
Lab: 26071 (71%)
LDem: 4755 (13%)
Oth: 1514 (4%)
MAJ: 21316 (58%)
Con: 5987 (13%)
Lab: 36695 (77%)
LDem: 3954 (8%)
MAJ: 30708 (65%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Knowsley South

2015 Candidates
ALICE BRAMALL (Conservative) Educated at Dame Alice Harpur School and Durham University. Milton Keynes councillor since 2012.
GEORGE HOWARTH (Labour) See above.
CARL CASHMAN (Liberal Democrat)
LOUISE BOURS (UKIP) Educated at Mountview Conservatoire for the Performing Arts. Singer and actor. Former Congleton councillor. Contested Cheshire Police Commissioner election 2012. MEP for North West since 2014.
VIKKI GREGORICH (Green) Accountant.
Comments - 144 Responses on “Knowsley”
  1. A fine achievement, though wiki lists her birthday as 12th January.

    There are, incidentally, currently no living former MPs over the age of 100. The oldest is Ronald Atkins, MP for Preston North from 1966 to 1970 and February 1974 to 1979. He will be 100 if still alive on June and only retired as a councillor aged 93 in 2010.

    The House of Commons Library have published a full list of living former MPs here –

  2. A report from the BBC reveals (among other things) that pupils in Knowsley have the lowest GSCE pass rates anywhere in the country.

    Since this is also one of the most deprived parts of the country, it’s a prime example, I guess, of the education “postcode lottery”.

  3. Yes, it’s been the worst every year in league tables.

    There’s no grammar school and around 20% of parents here send their children to schools in neighbouring Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Halton instead.

  4. Is it?

    I strongly suspect that it is not that Knowsley schools are far worse than average, but that bright people don’t tend to reside in Knowsley.

  5. I suppose these stats are an interesting guide to affluence if you see the map here – Though affluence clearly isn’t the only factor.

  6. despite all the problems all of which would point to the election of a Labour MP, it’s still a staggeringly good result for George Howarth who I’m told is held in very high regards in these parts

    Unless I’m much mistaken, this is the first time in history where Labour’s best constituency result has been outside the valleys of South Wales

  7. Rhondda with Chris Bryant was Labour’s best result at 68% in 2005 but the Labour vote has collapsed quite heavily in the Valleys over the past two elections with Labour only winning 58% of the vote in Blaneau Gwent in 2015.

    Labour’s highest vote share in 2010 and 2015 was Liverpool Walton (the only English seat where the Tories lost their deposit in 2015) closely followed by East Ham and here.

    Merseyside is the only area where Labour has performed better in 2015 than 1997 with turnout recovering strongly to Labour’s benefit.

  8. easington in county durham is another seat with a recent history of a monolithic labour vote

    whilst i’m surprised labour did better in merseyside in 2015 than 97, it’s always gone against the grain being I think the only area in england to show a tory to labour swing in 1983

  9. I’m not sure I believe in some mystical ‘Merseyside effect’ that will keep going forever. Why have Labour done well there? A combination of the Tories becoming toxic in and around Liverpool in much the same way as in Scotland, a few seats with very high levels of deprivation and a high amount of public sector employment in the ‘nicer’ parts. In 2015 LAB picked up a lot of votes from the LDs here. Nobody seems to want to win Southport – Labour picked up votes this time, but they’re still not even on 20%.

  10. I’m not sure Corbyn’s brand of politics will have great appeal in deprived parts of Merseyside, though the result of that may just be even lower turnout rather than anybody else taking advantage.

  11. Yep, the Tories have done badly in Southport for some time. I don’t know enough about it to say why. Maybe the decline of coastal tourism is an issue, perhaps there could be a Brighton and Hove-like effect with Tory-voting retirees and lower middle class families being priced out and younger, trendier types moving in. It could be a bit of both. Whatever it is nobody looks very likely to me to get more than 30-odd % next time when John Pugh could well stand down.

  12. I have just looked up the Knowsley Borough Council website. I notice that there are currently three vacancies on the council. Why and for how long have these seats been vacant and when are the local by-elections due to take place?

  13. 1) Why and for how long have these seats been vacant

    Shevington – Cllr died in September 2015
    Page Moss – I don’ttknow. It’s Cllr Dave Tully who disappared.
    St Bartholomew – Cllr died on September 2015

    2) when are the local by-elections due to take place?

    Never. The whole council is up for election in May as rewarding (and cut of number of Cllrs) took place.

  14. Yes, there’s always vacancies in Knowsley.

    Due to a lot of OAPs on the Council plus a lot dying in their 60s here.

    Been vacant for 6 months from memory.

    As no two residents called for a contest, I assume they’ve been held over ’til May.

    Labour hold all of the seats. Although in a good year for them Tories can win Roby ward and LDs in Prescott and Halewood wards. There were a couple of Indy Lab Cllrs in Kirkby in the 1990s before the law changed meaning Parties had to be Registered or stand as Indy.

    I’d expect 1st 4 Kirkby to win a ward or two in May.

    They came within about 30 votes of winning 1 in 2014.

  15. 2 Cllrs died in September. I can’t find the reason or timing of the third vacancy (Moss Page)

    There has been a complete rewarding in Knowsley with number of wards reduced from 21 to 15 and number of Cllrs from 63 to 45. Therefore the whole council will be up for election in May.

  16. Thanks for the replies to my recent post.

  17. Just a quick heads up that BBC Parliament are showing the entire 1966 election night and next day coverage from 8.20am today.

  18. Jeremy Corbyn visited Merseyside today.

    In Knowsley there were empty seats. In fact the Liverpool Echo said only 24 people were present, half of whom were Cllrs.

    This certainly shows the lack of depth of membership in some safe areas. Indeed most Labour candidates don’t live in the wards they’re standing in.

    However, Merseymike will be pleased to hear that his visit to Bootle was packed out. He may have even been there?

    His visits to Liverpool (Vauxhall’s Eldonian Centre) and the Wirral were also well attended.

  19. Labour is already guaranteed of 12 seats in the new Knowsley council because of lack of opposition. However, all wards are at least contested by 1 non Labour candidate

  20. FWIW I tried to book a ticket to the Corbyn event in Liverpool but apparently it was massively over-subscribed so I missed out AGAIN the first time being when he visited Liverpool Uni student union and the event booked up in minutes. Quite striking how you can see such huge engagement in one area and just down the road complete disinterest.

  21. The state of democracy in Knowsley is pitiful by most standards.

  22. George Howarth has declined to comment after it was revealed by the Liverpool Echo that he claimed £3,000 in First Class train fares for a 6 week period.

    Bill Esterson was the other Merseyside MP who regularly claims First Class travel on the taxpayer.

  23. Eddie O’Hara has died, aged 78.

    He was MP here until 2010.

    Unusually for the ’90s era of Merseyside Labour MPs (such as Bob Wareing, Terry Fields, Bob Parry & Eddie Loyden), O’Hara went to Oxford and taught Latin & Greek at public school before entering politics.

    He was also a big supporter of the Greek Cypriot cause.

  24. Being a Scouser & a classical scholar, he also translated some Beatles songs into Latin.

  25. Knowsley has voted Leave.

  26. I think Liverpool and possibly Wirral will go Remain.

  27. Knowsley – which already had the worst GCSE results in the Country – scored the worst again, with a further fall of 1% to just 36% of pupils achieving 5 GCSEs Grade A-C.

  28. Labour Cllr David Williams (Prescot S) has said his constituents live “sad lives” after they pulled him up over the local area.

    It’s a year since another Knowsley Labour Cllr said people campaigning were, “little sh*ts.”

    The Cllrs & Officers of Knowsley MBC really do hate opposition or any questioning – it’s truly astounding.

    It reminds me of when they sacked a Council employee 3 years ago who happened to be interviewed by NW News and said something semi-critical about the state of the area. He won his Employment Tribunal case for unfair dismissal, of course.

  29. In reply to Neil, Knowsley voted 51.6% Leave.

  30. I think Merseyside was expected to be more Remain than average for England outside London.

  31. Lab Cllr David Williams is in the news again.

    This time for a full monty strip for charity. That of course would not be problematic, until photos emerged of him hanging the mayoral chain of office over his genitals.

    Whilst both Knowsley & St Helens are pretty monolithic politically, they do provide more than their fair share of items for the regional news. I think between them they’ve had 9 sex offenders, 6 other Court cases and even the Rev Flowers was picked up hiding in Knowsley just n the past 3 years.

  32. Dear God.

  33. LibDem Group Leader Cllr Carl Cashman has said he’ll be voting Green next month and they have a local pact in Knowsley.

  34. Knowsley Council Leader Andy Moorhead has been ousted by the Labour Group.

    He had said he’d continue – after Labour lost seats to LibDems and Greens over the parks’ issue.

    In other news, Labour Cllr Ray Halpin (Shevington ward) has appeared in Court charged with benefit fraud totalling £25,000.

    There are other Court cases pending in the region with Cllrs charged with GBH, child abuse and theft, but I’ll await any convictions before listing them.

  35. I was about to say that Mary, Lady Wilson dying at the age of 102 was the last of ‘that generation.’

    That is, until I spotted there’s a list of former MPs and spouses.

    Amazingly, there are actually 68 older than Lord Tebbit (87) and Betty Boothroyd (88) who are still with us.

    They include:

    Jack Dunnett (ex-Nottingham MP) – 96 in a fortnight.

    Dame Jill now Baroness Knight – 95 next month.

    Sir Michael now Lord Shaw (30 yrs @ Scarborough), 98.

    James Ramsden – (Harrogate 60 yrs ago) – 95 this year.

    Dick Taverne – 90 this year.

    Sally Oppenheim – 90 next month.

    [None have reached a century however – former Leominster MP, Sir Clive Bossam came closest: he died last year, aged 99.]

  36. George Howarth MP is Knighted and Jacqui Foster MEP becomes a Dame in HM Queen’s Birthday Honours.

  37. Top 50 Christian seats (based on 2011 census)

    Knowsley is #1. 81.5% listed their religion as Christian. It appears that the census doesn’t differentiate between Protestant and Catholic. Both have historically been prominent in Merseyside, I believe.

    1. Knowsley
    2. Sefton Central
    3. Makerfield
    4. Liverpool, West Derby
    5. St Helens South and Whiston
    6. Wigan
    7. St Helens North
    8. Liverpool, Walton
    9. Bootle
    10. Ribble Valley
    11. Copeland
    12. Workington
    13. Garston and Halewood
    14. Halton
    15. West Lancashire
    16. South Ribble
    17. Leigh
    18. Chorley
    19. Wyre and Preston North
    20. Bishop Auckland
    21. Easington
    22. Stone
    23. Inverclyde
    24. North West Durham
    25. Na h-Eileanan an Iar
    26. Wirral South
    27. Fylde
    28. Houghton and Sunderland South
    29. Jarrow
    30. South Staffordshire
    31. Sedgefield
    32. Wirral West
    33. Eddisbury
    34. Ellesmere Port and Neston
    35. Thirsk and Malton
    36. Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill
    37. South Holland and The Deepings
    38. Bolton West
    39. Mid Worcestershire
    40. Warrington North
    41. Penrith and The Border
    42. Staffordshire Moorlands
    43. Warrington South
    44. Congleton
    45. Southport
    46. Selby and Ainsty
    47. Richmond (Yorks)
    48. Brigg and Goole
    49. Sleaford and North Hykeham
    50. Bassetlaw

  38. Interesting there’s no southern seats in the mix – or, more surprisingly, seats from South Wales – where belief in God, voting Labour and following rugby is the lay of the land

  39. It’s interesting that the whole Top 20 Christian seats, except for number 20, were in the North West.

    The highest Welsh seat was Delyn at 110. However, bear in mind that at that point, 542 seats had a Christian majority, so seats which were less than 50% Christian were a minority. Wales was 57.6% Christian in 2011. Delyn was 67% Christian so it was way above average.

    Top 10 Welsh Christian seats
    1. Delyn (110)
    2. Alyn and Deeside (148)
    3. Clwyd West (160)
    4. Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South (165)
    5. Ynys Môn (167)
    6. Aberconwy (191)
    7. Wrexham (201)
    8. Vale of Clwyd (211)
    9. Dwyfor Meirionnydd (242)
    10. Monmouth (266)

    Oddly, they seem to be more Tory-leaning on the whole – so, more affluent? Gower is at 291, but the highest South Wales Valleys seat is Neath at 382. Perhaps the Labour heartlands aren’t as God-fearing as we might have thought. In fact, Blaenau Gwent and Rhondda are both less than 50% Christian.

    The most Christian seat in London is Hornchurch and Upminster (119). No coincidence it’s one of the whitest seats in London. New Forest West (117) is the most Christian seat in the South East. However, Brentwood and Ongar is probably more of a commuter belt seat, and that’s at 92 (despite being famous for TOWIE).

  40. It occurs to me that, as with so much in the demography of British politics, age is the confounding variable. Most of those red wall seats will have fewer people in the 18-49 age bracket as they will have gone to look for work elsewhere. To use Robert Ford’s terminology, they are seats full of “somewheres”, because the “anywheres” have gone to live elsewhere.

    This doesn’t really explain Merseyside which dominates the top ten, I imagine this is due to Catholicism, via the region’s links to Ireland, being part of the regional identity in a way it isnt eslewhere in England.

  41. I spent 3/4 of my formative years in Delyn, growing up in a religious household my father was a clergyman – and I have to say it never struck me as a particularly religious place – most of my classmates didn’t go to church I recall.

  42. From Wikipedia:
    “The constituency encompasses the communities of Mostyn, Flint, Mold, Northop and Holywell.”
    Maybe other parts were more religious than where you lived, Tim.

  43. I know the entire constituency extremely well – we used to live in Mold – which despite its name is arguably one of the nicer towns in Delyn

    My grandmother used to live in Holywell- where there are plenty of churches – but of all the places I’ve lived – and this includes Brighton – as an area it’s no more religious than any of the others – if anything I’d argue less so – certainly than rural Cheshire or East Surrey – where I spent many years.

  44. I would imagine somewhere named Holywell had a surfeit of churches. It could be that Delyn has changed since then, or simply that more people identify as Christian than do in those other areas. Doesn’t necessarily mean they wear it on their sleeve or are regular churchgoers.

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