Lancaster & Fleetwood

2015 Result:
Conservative: 16378 (39.2%)
Labour: 17643 (42.3%)
Lib Dem: 1390 (3.3%)
Green: 2093 (5%)
UKIP: 4060 (9.7%)
Independent: 174 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 1265 (3%)

Category: Marginal Labour seat

Geography: North West, Lancashire. Parts of Wyre and Lancaster council areas.

Main population centres: Lancaster, Fleetwood.

Profile: A rather forced pairing, Lancaster is the historic county town of Lancashire, long associated with the monarchy and now very much a university town (Lancaster University is in a campus to the south of the city, and unusually has a council ward consisting solely of the university - meaning it has the lowest average age of any ward in the country and a permanent population of almost zero!). To the east of Lancaster the seat stretches up into the desolate moorlands of the Forest of Bowland, to the west into the marshy Over Wyre area to the south of Morecambe Bay. There is no road link to Fleetwood inside the seat, one would have to drive south and through Blackpool, but there is a seasonal ferry link across the mouth of the river Wyre. Fleetwood meanwhile is a far more compact and urban area on the peninsula to the north of Blackpool, a fishing and tourist town that has suffered much deprivation with the decline of the fishing industry.

Politics: The current seat was created for the 2010 election, previously Lancaster had been paired with Wyre making for a relatively easy Conservative gain at the 2005 election. The new seat was much more challening for the Tories, Fleetwood is Labour voting and there is much Labour (and Green party) strength in Lancaster. In the event the Conservatives managed to win the seat by only the narrowest of margins in 2010 and lost it to Labour in 2015.

Current MP
CAT SMITH (Labour) Born Barrow in Furness. Educated at Lancaster University. Former campaigns and policy officer for British Association of Social Workers. Contested Wyre and Preston North 2010. First elected as MP for Lancaster & Fleetwood in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 15404 (36%)
Lab: 15071 (35%)
LDem: 8167 (19%)
GRN: 1888 (4%)
Oth: 2171 (5%)
MAJ: 333 (1%)
Con: 22266 (43%)
Lab: 18095 (35%)
LDem: 8453 (16%)
GRN: 2278 (4%)
Oth: 969 (2%)
MAJ: 4171 (8%)
Con: 22075 (42%)
Lab: 22556 (43%)
LDem: 5383 (10%)
GRN: 1595 (3%)
Oth: 741 (1%)
MAJ: 481 (1%)
Con: 23878 (41%)
Lab: 25173 (43%)
LDem: 6802 (12%)
Oth: 1493 (3%)
MAJ: 1295 (2%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Lancaster & Wyre

2015 Candidates
ERIC OLLERENSHAW (Conservative) Born 1950, Ashton-under-Lyme. Educated at LSE. History teacher. Member of the ILEA 1986-1990, Hackney councillor from 1990, Joint leader of Hackney council 2000-2001. London Assembly list member 2000-2004.Contested Heywood and Middleton 1992. MP for Lancaster & Fleetwood 2010 to 2015. Awarded the OBE for public service in 1990.
CAT SMITH (Labour) Born Barrow in Furness. Educated at Lancaster University. Campaigns and Policy officer for British Association of Social Workers. Contested Wyre and Preston North 2010.
ROBIN LONG (Liberal Democrat) Particle physicist.
CHRIS COATES (Green) Carpenter and project manager. Lancaster councillor since 2003, Lancashire councillor 2005-2013. Contested Morecambe and Lunesdale 2010.
HAROLD ELLETSON (No description) Born 1960. Communications and public affairs consultant. Contested Burnley 1987. Conservative MP for Blackpool North 1992-1997.
Comments - 291 Responses on “Lancaster & Fleetwood”
  1. It was the main story on BBC North West News, but I think it’s only made the regional so far.

  2. Lancs Observer
    Jeez allegations over one seat make headline regional news yet multiple seats don’t get a mention anywhere…

  3. It is perhaps telling that only the SNP have brought the issue up in Parliament thus far. Are Labour concerned that there might be blood on their hands too?

  4. I think it was always likely that, if there has indeed been widespread breaching of the rules, it wouldn’t be limited to one party. In elections small margins in marginal seats matter and if they have the resources and think they will get away with it bending the rules is always going to be very tempting. In reality I expect there is a tendency to spend the money first and then worry about how to account for it later.

    Of course, if anything becomes of these investigations (relatively unlikely, I think, though I’m not an expert in these matters) it will be the Tories who are damaged most – simply because they won most of their target seats last year whilst Labour lost almost all of theirs.

    The Guardian ran a good explainer on why it hasn’t got more media coverage (the headline looks like Corbynista re-tweet clickbait, but actually it is an informative and balanced piece) –

  5. Polltroll- ‘blood on their hands’?!! Calm down dear.

  6. Rivers10 – I’ve no idea why people say this. The alleged Tory fraudulent Returns’ have been covered on the BBC News several times.

  7. Of course, the SNP haven’t managed to escape completely unscathed either. There are some questions being asked about Nicola Sturgeon’s “battle helicopter.”

  8. Nor the Lib Dems, who have been doing the most complaining in the first place (e.g. Adrian Sanders and now Tessa Munt).

  9. It never is with Guido

  10. “Nor the Lib Dems, who have been doing the most complaining in the first place (e.g. Adrian Sanders and now Tessa Munt)”

    Unless I’ve missed something Sanders seems to be about the most high-profile Lib Dem to be making a fuss of this, kinda surprising given the huge number of seats they lost. Is the comparative silence from more senior figures in the party an admission that the yellows aren’t entirely innocent either?

  11. I expect so. That Guido have just called up various Labour, SNP and Lib Dem returns and been able to highlight several potential issues suggests that it is probably widespread.

    They also found that Rupa Huq hadn’t declared the visit of the ‘Labour Express’ –

    NB These accusations are so far not quite the same as those being levelled at the Tories. The non-Tory cases seem to be just about using transport accounted for nationally, whilst the Tory cases were also about providing accommodation to the people travelling. I’m not sure whether the other parties did bussing in whole teams of activists to spend multiple days in marginal seats.

  12. I’m confused why would the bus be costed in local spending?

  13. To be honest it seems like the rules aren’t clear on these sort of things. If the rules aren’t clear then it would seem unfair to penalise parties for interpreting them to their own advantage.

    Who writes election spending laws by they way? Is it parliament, or is there some independent body, as with IPSA which controls politicians’ wages, to prevent a conflict of interest?

  14. Lancs Observer
    Yes it was reported, after weeks of the issue being publically known. Also there’s been a constant slew of updates on the story (more police forces opening investigations, more Tory MP’s being roped in, extension of the investigative period etc) but the BBC didn’t report any of this yet decided to report a single Lab MP being investigated. Also I think you’ll probably find (though I stand corrected if wrong) that BBC news North West or any of the other regional news channels didn’t make it their main story like they have done with Cat Smith.

  15. MikeinSDevon – I think it’s probably more a LD view that if re fought they’d struggle to win hardly any of them, so why bother.

    Incidentally, I got around to watching the Queen’s Speech and I see Tim Farron walked on his own from the Commons to the Lords. I realise most Lab & Tory MPs hate the LDs and the Alliance lost their sole MP but this was bad form.

  16. Polltroll – yes Parliament enacts all of the laws, but the Electoral Commission did recommend most of the new election offences which came in almost a decade ago.

    Most of these were re postal vote fraud, forging signatures and so on rather than expense returns, however.

  17. Lancaster CLP 70 votes for Corbyn 30 for Smith i think in tonight nomination meeting. Cat Smith is of course one of the realtively few true Corbynite.

  18. This CLP nominated Andy Burnham in 2015 can’t find the numbers but Cat Smith reported Corbyn only lost by 1 last time

  19. I imagine the local CLP saw a lot of new (Corbyn friendly) members since Corbyn’s election. Lancaster is a very trendy place, big student population etc Corbyn would go down a treat there.

  20. University & Scotforth Rural by election December 2016 (Lancaster) result:
    LAB: 34.9% (-0.5)
    GRN: 28.1% (-4.4)
    CON: 24.2% (+0.5)
    LDEM: 12.8% (+4.4)

    LAB Hold

  21. The turnout was pitiful.

    The winner polled 98 votes in total.

  22. Alexn
    I reported all of these on the Telford thread days ago

  23. ”Corbyn would go down a treat there.”

    Maybe in Lancaster but he would go disproportionately badly in Fleetwood and the rural areas of this seat. As I have said many times before Corbyn is a net electoral liability except in hipster type inner city seats with large Green votes like Hackney South and Shoreditch, Bristol West, Liverpool Riverside etc. unfortunately Labour hold all these seats except Brighton Pavilion…

  24. Pepps
    Lab cant really slip any further in the rural areas of this seat.

  25. ”Lab cant really slip any further in the rural areas of this seat.”

    Rivers I’m not 100% sure that’s true the way things are going we could well be heading for a situation where Labour does about as well in rural, picturesque villages and farming communities as UKIP do in inner London i.e. sub 5%.

  26. “I’m not 100% sure that’s true the way things are going we could well be heading for a situation where Labour does about as well in rural, picturesque villages and farming communities as UKIP do in inner London i.e. sub 5%”

    I would profoundly disagree, what little vote Lab gets in such paces is likely extremely robust. These peeps have voted Lab when they have literally been making no overtures towards them, most of the issues Lab raise are not relevant to the lives of people who live in such communities. The fact that a small amount of these people proceed to vote Lab anyway demonstrates they are ideologically very sympathetic to Labs message and vote for it regardless of what effect it has on them. Corbyn will be no more damaging to these people than any other Lab leader. Think of it the same way as the Tory vote in the deprived Liverpool wards, it really cant sink any lower, those who still vote for them probably always will.

  27. The Cat’s out of the bag…Conservative win

  28. Predictions anyone?

  29. Article in the Guardian said that Cat Smith is working this hard and getting a good response but will be close

  30. I imagine the Greens will stand aside here. If they do, it’s fifty-fifty.

  31. Clear tory gain for me.

  32. Seat also appears to be trending away from the Tories

  33. In a sense this seat will be the acid test of the Corbyn led Labour party.

    Cat Smith has been one of his most loyal and prominent supporters. So no issues about not supporting the leadership here. She may also benefit from the usual first term incumbency boost.

    But will all the disengaged voters who have stopped voting for Labour return to it now there is a real left wing alternative, as Corbyn supporters claim? Its always been a narrative I have been deeply sceptical of. We seem to have entered an era where, however close the political contest is, a third of the electorate do not vote. And I feel that it is easier to persuade of someone who does vote regularly to alter their vote than persuade someone who has got out of the habit to start voting again.

    Lancaster itself looks like an area where the approach might work : the rest of the seat far less so. On present polling this is a clear Conservative gain, though the margin of victory may be less than other equally marginal seats.

  34. No chance Labour will hold on here, Tory majority 6%

  35. An easy CON GAIN IMO. Smith winning will be one of performances of the night and a endorsement of the leader.

  36. StephenPT – indeed.

    I think there are a dozen MPs who voted Corbyn who could well lose their seats, so they’ll have no-one else to blame but themselves.

  37. Lab majority of just under 15% here.

  38. And to be fair to both Cat Smith and Jeremy Corbyn , they passed the acid test (April 27th) with flying colours and confounded my scepticism.

  39. Two by-elections here, caused by the death of Conservative Cllr Viv Taylor, 56, who was the Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing.

    Wyre Rural Central, 11.01.18:

    Cons 1,745 60% (-11%)
    Lab 925 32% (+14%)
    Green 237 8% (-3%)

    Preesall ward, 11.01.18:

    Cons 930 55% (-10%)
    Lab 753 45% (+10%)

    (A Liberal last stood here since 1976, just beating the NF)

    I had thought we’d now have very few if any local by-elections, but I see there’s 9 due in the next few weeks just in the North of England.

  40. I believe this is now the largest seat by area still held by Labour.

  41. Lancaster is becoming a strong city for Labour considering the Tories probably won Fleetwood by 10% or more.

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