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. 3 council by-elections here last night. The contests in Prescot were close enough, though held by Labour, the 3rd saw a Labour hold with just under 86% of the vote.

  2. One of the safest Labour seats in the land. My only question here is will Labour be knocking on the door of 75%?

  3. I have a sneaky feeling Labour could lose a bit of support to UKIP here.

  4. I don’t know how well they’ve been doing locally here in the council elections, but as you say Andy if they strike the right chord with people in safe Labour seats in the North like this one, they could manage at least third place.

  5. UKIP should, at very least, come distant 2nd in seats like this. The Lib Dem and Tory votes are just so low that it probably can supersede both. Ditto in the safest of Tory seats where Labour and Lib Dems are weak.

  6. There aren’t really any tory seats where both Lib and Lab are as weak as LD and tory are here though.

    Labour’s safest seats tend to be rather safer than ours, somewhat counter-intuitively given there more efficient vote spread.

  7. Knowsley has the worst GCSE results in the country (again), accnording to figures published yesterday. Neil – I don’t think UKIP have ever stood in any wards in Knowsley. The BNP came 2nd in Knowsley in the last European elections, so there’s potential, or for an Ind to be 2nd as in Lpool’s Mayoral race. 1st 4 Kirkby come 2nd in most wards there in the locals.

  8. The old Knowsley North was a seat of much prominence back in the days of Robert Kilroy-Silk when he was the Labour MP before resigning in 1986.

    Interestingly, both of the old Knowsley seats had by-elections within just under four years of each other, but both for very different reasons.

  9. does anybody find monothically labour seats boring

  10. ”does anybody find monothically labour seats boring”

    You could ask the same question about monolithically Conservative seats. I happen to think they’re not boring at all- If anything intriguing as to why they are actually as safe as they are.

  11. The 80s band China Crisis came from Kirkby in case anyone is interested- The guitarist/vocalist Eddie Lundon I think still lives in Crosby.

  12. ‘The 80s band China Crisis came from Kirkby in case anyone is interested- The guitarist/vocalist Eddie Lundon I think still lives in Crosby.’

    I will look into that.

    Anyway here is my 2015 forecast for Knowsley:

    Lab 75
    UKIP 8
    LD 7
    Con 6
    Others 4

  13. Ha ha are you genuinely interested to research about them A Brown?!!

  14. They were managed I think by Walter Becker of Steely Dan. As a pretentious Jewish musician, I naturally am extremely fond of Steely Dan.

  15. I think you are correct Barnaby. He produced at least one of their albums, I know that for certain. They are clearly one of the more notable cultural landmarks for the town of Kirkby, and probably Knowsley as a whole. China Crisis incidentally had 5 UK Top 40 hits, including their only Top 10 single ‘Wishful Thinking’ in 1983.

  16. Amongst older people, Kirkby is famous as the setting for Z Cars.

  17. Of course, yes. Other things Kirkby is known for is Macro, Alan Bleasdale, Tricia Penrose and Stephen Graham.

  18. Former Mr Universe, Liverpool nightclub owner and Tory Cllr here, Terry Phillips has died, aged 73. From memory, he was a Tory Cllr in Roby til 1996, before defecting to Labour.

  19. In one of Peter Hitchen’s books he describes the way in which this area was used as an experiment for the new style of policing in the 1960s, which involved replacing the bobby on the beat (patrolling the streets in order to deter crime) with police cars hyperactively zooming about responding to crimes that had already been committed. In his opinion it was an abject failure which facilitated an increase in crime, and reading the book it’s difficult not to disagree with him. I’d recommend it to people of all political persuasions – I think it was “The Abolition of Liberty”.

  20. The 2011 Census shows that Knowsley has the highest % of residents with no qualifications in the UK. Over 25.4% of working age residents here possess 0 GCSEs/O Levels/CSE/BTECs.

  21. What an awful statistic. These days, with no GCSEs whatsoever you stand almost zero chance of a job. It would be interesting to see how that statistic splits out by age group. Even in such a deprived area you might expect most people with absolutely no qualifications to be in the 50+ age group.

    On Andy’s excellent point above yours, I haven’t read Peter Hitchens’ book, but my uncle (a retired policeman) never tires of making the same point. In his view, the rot set in in the 1960s when policemen were first allowed to live in their own houses rather than in a police-owned house located on their beat. To a certain extent it is an old-fashioned view now, but there’s little doubt that police these days have less sympathy with more challenging areas, partly because they do not have to live in them. My neighbour in West Sussex is a PC in Brixton and commutes there from 40-odd miles out every day.

  22. My girlfriend’s dad is a PCSO and for a long while commuted from the chocolate box town of Belper in Derbyshire (literally – Thorntons was founded there) to Coalville, the crappier end of North West Leicestershire (he now has a nicer beat).

    However, he has enormous sympathy for the residents there and although it’s not nearly as deprived as somewhere like Knowsley, it’s not just geographical location that makes the difference. In his case, he grew up in the Nottinghamshire coalfield in the 1980s, a turbulent area to say the least.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Coalition parties lose their deposits here, especially if UKIP stand.

  23. Sympathy was the wrong word, empathy is better. You cannot know an area as well as a beat policeman ideally needs to without living in it, a challenging inner city area particularly. A symptom of the London property market is that this problem is getting worse.

  24. HH – true and sadly still true (see my post further above that Knowsley has the worst GCSE results in the country). Yes, that’s also true of teachers, doctors, JPs. Whole swathes of urban wards have none living in them but work in them.

  25. Yes. The point extends to the other professions as well. I went to a pretty bad comprehensive school in a Nottinghamshire coalmining village. Almost all our teachers commuted in from the poshest suburbs of Nottingham – Wollaton and West Bridgford. It does not engender respect from the community they are serving.

  26. At my old secondary school I was extremely friendly with my form tutor for the two years I had him- I knew he came from Carlisle originally, and he was living in a flat in the centre of Liverpool I think and he would get off the station not far from where I lived- I knew this because I once saw him down a road right by where I live making a bank withdrawal. That sort of interpersonal relationship is something I don’t think I ever had with any other teacher.

  27. Longview ward By-election Result (20.03.14):

    Labour 670
    Independent 327
    Conservative 37

  28. That was a Labour hold (in case it wasn’t obvious).

    Turnout was 16%.

  29. That’s:

    Lab 64.8%
    Ind 31.6%
    Con 3.6%

  30. Carl Cashman selected by LDs.

  31. 37 votes is dire.

    It reminds me of the episode of Rab C Nesbitt when there was a by-election in Glasgow Govan. The Tory candidate bribed Rab to vote for him with a crate of lager and ended up getting only 1 vote.

  32. HH – I remember the episode where Rab and his wife went to ask the only Tory Cllr in Glasgow for help ha. Incidentally, a Militant (“Liverpool Labour”) candidate received 0 votes in a ward in Liverpool about 5 years ago.

  33. H.Hemmelig. It’s a free bit of carpet if I remember correctly – tis here:

    I think the loony candidate is a young Rob Brydon, isn’t it?

  34. LOL, that’s my memory playing tricks again. Carpet is a bit of an odd bribe….was the Tory candidate Lord Harris?

  35. Total number of Tory votes in the 7 Glasgow seats at the last general election: 17,432. That’s less than Bolsover + Chesterfield = 18,026.

  36. 1st 4 Kirkby [yes that’s a Party] came within 100 votes of knocking out 2 Labour Cllrs here. There’s certainly an anti-politics/politicians mood about.

  37. This seat contains one of the main print sites of the sun newspaper.

  38. I thought the scousers refused to have anything to do with The Sun, on principle?

    I take it all the workers apologise regularly?

  39. Can’t imagine there would be very many workers given that the printing industry hardly needs people at all these days.

    But the dislike of the Sun in these parts is genuine enough and few people read it

  40. I guessed you would take the bait Mike 🙂

    I find it genuinely incredible that Hillsborough and the evils of The Sun in the 1980s continue to obsess Merseyside to such an extent.

    The Sun’s journalism ruined many lives in the 1980s, and there were indeed many other appalling disasters in that decade caused by similar incompetence of the authorities (the Kings Cross fire and Clapham rail crash both good examples). Why have we moved on from all these other disasters but not Hillsborough? Do you not think the failure to move on is a very damaging thing for Liverpool, long term?

    (this is not a snide nor political point in any way)

  41. I suspect it’s the nastiness of the aftermath. I don’t believe the Kings Cross fire or Clapham crash saw passengers blamed for what happened, or had MPs making claims of that nature.

    Liverpool also suffered a lot during that decade (from Militant’s idiocy as well as the Thatcher government) and the way Hillsborough was reported and evidence falsified or covered up seemed like another kick while they were down.

    Just my thoughts, I wasn’t born at the time. If anyone with superior knowledge wants to set me straight feel free.

  42. You’re undoubtedly right, but I’m not satisfied with that explanation. 25 years is a hell of a long time to be obsessed by something like this. A large proportion of Liverpool’s current population will have no personal memory of Hillsborough, therefore the natural state of affairs is for the event to gradually fade into the past as it resonates with fewer and fewer people.

    I grew up in a coal mining village and have vivid memories of the miners strike (I was 8 in 1984, roughly Billy Elliott’s age). All serious social and political historians would rank the suffering and nastiness caused by the miners strike to be way higher that of Hillsborough, with far more government smearing and underhandedness, yet even in the deepest red former mining communities it is now only a dwindling band of pensioners who have any interest in the issue. And to be honest it is a good thing not to revel in the bitterness of the past. I recall The Sun being highly partisan against striking miners but it is still widely bought in Yorkshire. Why is Hillsborough so different?

  43. HH – it’s because it took that long for the truth to be recognised in law and the Coroner’s verdicts overturned. Only those under 30 would have no memory, not a large proportion. 96 miners were not killed unlawfully, so they did not suffer more. Incidentally, in Yorkshire, many opposed the strikes and voted Tory to answer your point.

  44. “96 miners were not killed unlawfully, so they did not suffer more.”

    But the only people in Liverpool who really suffered were the close families of the 96 – a few hundred people at most.

    The miners strike caused massive and lasting suffering to hundreds of thousands of people. Rightly or wrongly it killed the British coal industry and left a legacy of industrial collapse in the areas concerned which is still felt today and will be for decades to come.

  45. “Incidentally, in Yorkshire, many opposed the strikes and voted Tory to answer your point.”

    You’re thinking of Nottinghamshire. There were very few dissenting miners in south or west Yorkshire, which is why I used it as an example.

  46. While we’re on the topic I’ve just realised I took a Journalism Ethics exam in Hillsborough Stadium. The Journalism department has a sense of humour if nothing else.

  47. HH: its difficult to explain unless you live here. Liverpool is, in many ways, different from most of the UK. Its not really very English. Its very collective-minded….and so there is less individualistic an outlook here. So an event like this, marked by straightforward lies, is something which is part of the collective experience of the city and people will simply not let it go.

    Now – I would actually say that is not necessarily a bad thing. Because justice is something worth demanding and in these days of extreme individualism when history is so easily forgotten, so many injustices are simply allowed to be passed by.

    I think the other thing is that Liverpool has a very strong sense of its own identity. I am an outsider but I do feel accepted here – but thats because I actually like the place, I like the values and the attitudes. I think it was Angela Eagle who said that Scousers are very welcoming and open to outsiders, but they have to absolutely love Liverpool and say so. Its back to that sense of collective identity. The fact is that if that wasn’t real then the Sun’s circulation would have returned to what it was.

    If I had to choose between Liverpool’s collectivism and the extreme individualism of the south – for me there is no contest. I left the south , its obsession with work and money and success, and I would never even consider going back.

  48. HH – no, those who suffered were the tens of thousands who were at the match and witnessed children having the life crushed out of them, as well as those Liverpool fans watching on television. Don’t forget that LFC fans aren’t just Scousers or people in Liverpool. Re Yorkshire, you spoke as if its whole supported the miners – they didn’t, unlike Liverpool as a city supported the Hillsbrough victims. Maybe you’ll think again once the prosecutions begin. You simply cannot compare a miner being made redundant and compensated with a child being killed, having blood alcohol levels tested, defamed and having no investigation due to the time of death due to a false cut of time and police statements tampered with etc.

  49. Thanks both. I was not stating a personal opinion. Mike is undoubtedly right that Liverpool is a different animal not well understood by outsiders. I can see what Mike means about the individualism of the south but in my personal experience it was far more visible when I lived in London than after we moved to Sussex. It’s actually pretty neighbourly here.

  50. Though of course neighbourly is certainly not the same thing as collectivist.

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