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. I agree with Lancs Observer but would challenge Merseymike’s mythical description of Liverpool. Liverpool is no different from any other Northern city in its sense of welcome and pride. What is different is the fact that many people seem to think that it is unique to Liverpool – it isn’t, never has been and is unlikely ever to be so.
    MM says that it is very-unEnglish – as opposed to Manchester, Birmingham, London, Cardiff, Leeds? This is not unique either. Many cities have a proud history of collectivisim, look at the labour and co-operative movement. Other cities have suffered worse in terms of the loss of life during outbreaks of one kind or another in the past.
    Please remember, I am not challenging the unique horror of the treatment of the Hillsborough victims and their families which needs to be finally addressed; my challenge is to the mythical aspects MM describes.

  2. If it was mythical, then the different reactions of Liverpudlians and the strongly collective response of the city to what, in outsiders view, is a relatively small incident, wouldn’t be under discussion.

    The fact is they do and did react differently. Or perhaps there aren’t any direct comparisons?

    I use ‘un-English’ in the sense of following some English traditions – restraint, stiff upper lip and all that. Its not like that here. This is ‘heart on your sleeve’ territory and some really don;t like it as they view it as undignified emoting and self-pity.
    Some of the traditions are Irish and started here – such as having shrines of flowers on the roads where accidents have happened – that came very much from Ireland

  3. Having flowers on the side of the road by fatal accidents is something that’s done all over England, and it has been for as long as I can remember.

  4. As long as you can remember perhaps isn’t that long? It certainly was not common where I grew up in the 1980s.

  5. It started relatively recently – when I was a child I can never remember it. In Liverpool it goes further – football shirts, photographs etc, and thats very much a tradition from Ireland

  6. I remember it from the late 1990s, and as you say my memory doesn’t go back particularly far. Nevertheless, I grew up in an area with pretty much no Irish or Liverpudlian population, so if it spread from there it had had time to go through several intermediaries on its way. Personally, I suspect its propagation had more to do with Diana’s death than with Liverpool. The idea of using the place of death as the site of commemoration in the period before there is a grave is hardly so unusual that it could only have a single genesis.

  7. Catholicleft – I agree and disagree with Merseymike’s description, but I can see what he meant. It’s a stereotype, but true that people are more chatty in Liverpool than the South. Though the roadside memorial thing is seen as common by my (working class) relatives in Liverpool. As Mike says, it may be more of an Irish/Traveller import, as gangs/criminals who die in RTAs in Liverpool do it and put beer bottles at the spot.

  8. I have friends in the South African Free State.

    Rather than leave memorials by the road side, they obsessively photograph the dead and injured in road accidents, and display the extremely graphic pictures in places of honour in relatives’ houses (they do this for funerals as well).

    I found it somewhat weird entering my friend’s house in Welkom for the first time to see pictures of his grandmother in her coffin on the wall, next to a picture of his niece bloodied up and hanging out of a smashed up Volkswagen Polo.

  9. If you’ll excuse the manner of questioning, why the bloody hell do they do that?

  10. My manner of questioning was exactly the same….apparently just the done thing in the Free State, which is certainly the most Afrikaans dominated part of the country (quite hard to speak English to most ordinary white people there).

    From other people I know in SA it isn’t done elsewhere in the country.

  11. “Having flowers on the side of the road by fatal accidents is something that’s done all over England, and it has been for as long as I can remember.”

    Older people have told me it wasn’t done until about 30 years ago and that many people at the time would have found it vulgar.

  12. Yes exactly

  13. Current prediction for 2015-
    Howarth (Labour)- 75%
    UKIP- 14%
    Conservative- 5%
    Liberal Democrat- 4%
    Others- 2%

  14. BBC Parliament are replaying the 1974 October election on Friday, It is amazing to think Wilson almost lost this in the1950’s.

  15. He actually increased his already enormous majority in 1970 against the national swing, making him first of a long line of losing party leaders to do very well in their own constituencies.
    I met someone the other day who knows Lady Wilson. It seems I can put the myth that she’s a Tory to bed. She lives in a very expensive flat quite close to the Palace of Westminster. She recently said to him “Everyone else in the building is a Conservative. (After a slight pause) I never speak to any of them.”

  16. There was in fact a small swing to the Conservatives in Huyton in 1970 but the numerical majority increased due to a large increase in the electorate (up almost 20,000 since 1966). I’d guess most of this increase came about from the construction of council housing, as of course most of the increase during the 1950s was. The closest Wilson ever came to losing Huyton was when it was first contested in 1950, before Kirkby and various other overspill estates were constructed. I think Cantril Farm may have been built between the elections of 1966 and 1970

  17. Amazing that Baroness Wilson is still alive….it’s not as if she was any younger than Harold – they were the same age, and she is 98 now. I bet she can tell a story or two.

  18. I’m surprised there haven’t been interviews with her recently, given that the 50th anniversary of Wilson’s first victory will be next week.

  19. Yes, and numerous other surviving Labour grandees from that era were also interviewed when Benn died (eg Denis Healey).

    I hope I’m lucky enough to still be living in my own home if I reach 98.

    The Wilsonian theme is especially appropriate as the 2015 election could well resemble 1974 (sorry for keep repeating this). And in some ways Cameron and Miliband resemble Heath and Wilson. Cameron has Heath’s prickly and aloof relationship with his backbanchers, and his unforgiving approach to those who cross him. Miliband has Wilson’s wily approach to party management, valuing “keeping the party together” above all else, even if it frequently makes him seem inconsistent and shallow.

  20. In 1950 this was more Tory than Dartford. That’s something to ponder.

  21. Harold Wilson’s results at Huyton. Note the huge jump in electorate from 52000 in 1950 to 107000 in 1970.

    Lab 21536
    Con 20702
    Lib 1905
    Com 387

    Lab 23582
    Con 22389

    Lab 24858
    Con 22300

    Lab 33111
    Con 27184

    Lab 42213
    Con 22940
    Com 899

    Lab 41122
    Con 20182
    Other 585 (David Sutch)

    Lab 45583
    Con 24509
    Democrat 1232
    Com 890

    Major Boundary Change

    1974 F
    Lab 31767
    Con 16464
    Lib 7584
    Oth 234

    1974 O
    Lab 31750
    Con 15517
    Lib 4956

    Lab 27446
    Con 19939
    Lib 5476

  22. Mr Wilson’s majority and the swing

    1950 839 (1.9)
    1951 1193 (2.6) 0.3 to Lab
    1955 2558 (5.4) 1.4 to Lab
    1959 5927 (9.8) 2.2 to Lab
    1964 19273 (29.2) 9.7 to Lab
    1966 20940 (33.8) 2.3 to Lab
    1970 21074 (29.1) 2.4 to Con
    —– Boundary Changes——-
    1974F 15305 (27.3) BBC Coverage has 5.8 to Lab
    1974O 16233 (31.0) 1.9 to Lab
    1979 7510 (14.2) 8.5 to Con !

    So Mr Wilson increased his majority at every election until 1979 and he recorded 5 consecutive pro-labour swings. His result in 1970 was rather better than the average swing too.

    I would have thought the 1979 swing would be due to his failing health and him leaving the limelight. It is a bit strange a Merseyside constituency would swing so heavily to Mrs Thatcher.

  23. The Tories polled around 20,000 votes in Widnes and 30,000 in the albeit oversized Newton, and achieved a 9.3pc swing in Ince(Makerfield) in 1979. They did less well in the larger conurbations in the NW although that was partly boundaries.

  24. They still have a safe ward in what was the Newton constituency (at least I’m pretty sure it would have been in that seat). That being said, it’s one of only 2 safe Tory wards left anywhere in Merseyside north of the Mersey, the other being a long way in Southport.

  25. Countydurhamboy – it’s often forgotten, but Thatcher also gained Liverpool Garston in 1979, so not that surprising. The Tories also won Liverpool in the European elections later that year. Remember, the Tories won seats in Manc, Newc, Anglesey and lots of places that people forget.

  26. Knowsley Council again has the worst GCSE results in the Country, with just 33.2% obtaining 5 GCSE passes (A-C).

  27. ‘but Thatcher also gained Liverpool Garston in 1979, so not that surprising. The Tories also won Liverpool in the European elections later that year. Remember, the Tories won seats in Manc, Newc, Anglesey and lots of places that people forget.’

    With the exception of Anglesey, the Tories had been strong in the places you mention that they won in 79 and 83 way before Thatcher

    Prior to Thatcher, the Tories had always been competitive in Liverpool – Wavertree and Garston – and parts of Manchester – Withington, and less believably Moss Side

    It’s undeniable that such places fell off the Tory radar permanently as the Thatcher years took their toll

  28. My point was that Liverpool Garston was gained in 1979 – the decline occurred previously, as it had been lost in 1974. Depopulation of the cities led to the changes afterwards, although Lpool ceased to be electorallly significant (ie 4.5 seats now compared with 9+). 100,000 voted for Thatcher in Liverpool in 1979. It’s often overlooked, but it’s a fact that that’s more than ever voted for Hatton across Liverpool in the 1980s. Clearly, Tories left the city and died out but there’s been no surge in Labour vote numerically. Rather, apathy has been the winner since the late ’90s, with 9%-15% turnouts in the Locals. [When people are given a real choice they turn out. As they did in Scotland.]

  29. I was Chairman of Huyton Young Conservatives in 1979 an the PPC Garnet Harrisons ADC We achieved the swing because we tirelessly worked the seat for 3 years solidly getting out on the doorsteps in EVERY part of the Constituency.Wilson was not universally popular and had been seen as an absentee MP when he was PM and after he stood down.
    We also used a lot of different new campaign tatics that i latter used to good effect when i became a Conservative Councillor in Roby Ward in 1984

  30. Labour Hold. 25,000 majority.

  31. As expected UKIP came second.

    Labour almost hit 40,000 votes. They got 39,628. Majority: 34,655.

  32. They also won the votes of just over 50% of the entire eligible electorate in Knowsley-the first time this has occurred for Labour (or indeed any other party) in any seat since 1997.

  33. It looks like Labour have fallen just short of the record for the largest majority ever given to a candidate in a general election. I think the record is majority of 36,000 John Major got in Huntingdon in 1992.

  34. There were at least 2 majorities in October 1974 which were in that region. Rother Valley & Hemsworth if l recall.
    Stephen Timms in East Ham did actually achieve 40,000 votes in this year’s general election – he has had the largest numerical vote in Britain in both of the last 2 general elections.

  35. Did Harold Wilson stand for election in 1979?

  36. Yes, 1979 was his final election as a candidate. His majority was cut substantially in Huyton.

  37. ” I think the record is majority of 36,000 John Major got in Huntingdon in 1992.”

    An often quoted piece of fiction.

    In 1959 the Unionist Party secured a majority of over 50,000 over Sinn Fein in North Down.

  38. The huge jump in electorate between 1950 and 1970 could be due to the construction of Kirkby New Town for one thing, moving people out of “slums” in Liverpool. And construction of new housing estates in other parts of the constituency.

  39. Barnaby, Hemsworth had a Labour majority of over 37,000 in 1950, so bigger than what I thought the record was. And there was an unopposed by election in that seat in 1946!

    I think Northern Ireland seats back in the days when the province only had 12 constituencies and war time by elections are a bit different though.

  40. Is there any other seat in 2015 in which the cons candidate has got LESS than 10% of the winning candidate?

  41. The Conservatives lost their deposit in Liverpool Walton

  42. I always thought they’d lose at least 1 deposit in Merseyside.

    Just had a look on the election records Wikipedia page and it looks like we now have a few more interesting records.

    For the first time ever, a winning candidate has got less than 25% of the vote (Belfast South) and the DUP’s William McCrea has now lost his seat for a third time. I think he’s the only MP since the war that this has happened to.

  43. Do not forget that the Party affiliation was not printed on the Ballot Paper in 1950. Was it in the 1980s that it was permitted to have your party printed by your name?

    That could have been tricky in those seats were both candidates had the same second name.

  44. I think part names were first printed on ballot papers in 1970, and party logos were first included in 1983.

  45. In how many Lancashire seats is it still the tradition to sing “The Red Flag” after the speeches at the Count?

    I remember it happening in the Makerfield count in 1983.

  46. What is the name of the seat near to this one which includes Rainhill, please?

  47. Rainhill is in St Helens South

  48. whereas Rainford is in St Helens North.

  49. Huyton (Harold Wilson’s old area) has been in

    Widnes 1885-1950
    Huyton 1950-1983 (obv)
    Knowsley South 1983-2010
    Knowsley 2010-present

    Knowsley Safari Park (opened in 1971) has been in

    Huyton 1971-1983 (in the then Prescot Urban District – wonder if Wilson attended the opening?)
    Knowsley North 1983-1997
    Knowsley South 1997-2010
    Knowsley 2010-present (therefore Howarth has been its MP for non-consecutive periods)

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