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
2010
Con: 15404 (36%)
Lab: 15071 (35%)
LDem: 8167 (19%)
GRN: 1888 (4%)
Oth: 2171 (5%)
MAJ: 333 (1%)
2005*
Con: 22266 (43%)
Lab: 18095 (35%)
LDem: 8453 (16%)
GRN: 2278 (4%)
Oth: 969 (2%)
MAJ: 4171 (8%)
2001
Con: 22075 (42%)
Lab: 22556 (43%)
LDem: 5383 (10%)
GRN: 1595 (3%)
Oth: 741 (1%)
MAJ: 481 (1%)
1997
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

Demographics
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.
MATTHEW ATKINS (UKIP)
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.
Links
Comments - 294 Responses on “Lancaster & Fleetwood”
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  1. In a better seat someone like Ollerenshaw might actually stand a chance of holding against the odds, but NOT these kinds of odds.

    Definitely a Labour gain!

  2. Agreed- Labour should win this very straightforwardly. Lancaster and Fleetwood is not a terribly good combination for the Tories, even when you factor in the intervening rural areas.

    I wonder if we’ll ever see a Lancaster and Morecambe seat? It would be far more logical geographically.

  3. Presumably Lancaster and Morecambe and the hinterland between them are too big to fit into one constituency, or your idea would surely have happened already.

    I think I’m right in saying some of the outskirts of Lancaster have been in Morecambe & Lunesdale in the past, not sure whether they are now.

  4. A Lancaster and Morecambe seat in fact falls easily within tolerance (that surprised me). I can only think the Commission has avoided it because the corresponding rural seat would be rather unwieldy (it would probably go from the northern tip of Fulwood, through Garstang and Lunsdale before curving north-west to Carnforth. Still, I’ve seen worse seats and there would at least be a consistent character.

  5. As Tory says, I think you can. The problem is you then have to have a huge monstrosity of a rural seat surrounding it, called something like “Valleys of Ribble and Lune” (looks round for DoktorB…)

  6. Valleys of Ribble and Lune was a curious proposal. I don’t actually think it was all that necessary either. You could have a comparatively sensible rural seat seat starting at the northern end of Fulwood and moving north along the M6 through Wyre and then north-west in the terms I’ve just described. You could call it ‘Garstang’ or ‘North Lancashire’. It would sit adjacent to Ribble Valley quite easily.

  7. But yes, I accept it would still be fairly unwieldy (though one can also say that of Lancaster and Fleetwood as Anthony points out in his profile of the seat).

  8. I wonder how safe the combined Valleys seat would be? Would it be safer than Richmond I wonder?

  9. Well my hypothetical seat would be one of the safest Conservative constituencies in the country. Ben Wallace would have cleared 60% in 2010 and would probably have got a majority of >20,000- probably up there with Richmond.

    The combined Valleys seat wouldn’t have been quite as safe because (bizarrely) it included bits of Hyndburn, but I would still have thought the Tories would have cleared 55% without much difficulty.

  10. The Skerton area of Lancaster remains in the Morecambe & Lunesdale constituency as it has for some time. Morecambe & Lancaster were united in one constituency (Lancaster) until 1950, though both towns were a lot more Tory then than they are now, especially Morecambe.

  11. When the 1972 Local Government Act was going through parliament, some of the councils in the area campaigned for Morcambe to be included in Cumbria, but the government insisted on keeping it in Lancashire.

    Also, I think it was opposition from the far north of the county that killed of the much talked about (at the time) proposals for Lancashire to be a Met county).

    I personally think a two non-met county split for Lancashire on an east-west basis would have been better. The current Ribble Valley, Pendle, Burnley, Hyndburn, Blackburn and Rossendale districts would have formed East Lancashire (with Whitworth in Greater Manchester) and Preston, Chorley, South Ribble, Wyre, Fylde, Blackpool and Lancaster would have formed West Lancashire. I would have had the modern West Lancashire district forming part of Sefton in Merseyside.

  12. Hello everyone!

    A lot to discuss….

    1) Lancaster and Fleetwood

    I agree this should be a Labour gain. It’s a rather fake and forced seat, and the two parts are going to fight against each other in good years. Fleetwood is going to be strongly Labour as much as Lancaster isn’t, and as such reminds me of West Lancashire insofar as Ormskirk and Ske(l)m(ersdale) are concerned.

    2) Lancaster and Morecambe/Valleys of Ribble and Lune

    At the Sixth Periodic Review (long may we mourn its passing), the Labour Party and us LibDems both suggested a new seat of Lancaster and Morecambe.

    What we proposed “outwith” this seat shows how hard that proposal is to justify, although Lord knows we tried.

    As is said above, the numbers didn’t quite work for a Lancaster and Morecambe seat, as some of the communities to the north of Morecambe had to be excluded (either that or you split Lancaster at the Lune, which is something we wanted to avoid.)

    Our proposal, Valleys of Ribble and Lune, would have taken the Ribble Valley north to the Cumbrian border and south to Hyndburn. The Labour proposal was, IIRC, Garstang and Carnforth, which actually dipped into western Preston, a sort of “Lancashire North and Central”.

    Both proposals indicate how difficult it is to create a compact urban seat without also creating a mammoth rural one.

    I still believe, however, that it would have been acceptable to ask an MP to represent the Valleys seat, and wonder if Nigel Evans will ever mourn the missed opportunity.

  13. I think that not having a Local Government Act in the first place would have been rather better!

  14. Doktor B: nice to see you on here. The Labour proposal was presumably similar to my own idea. In my view, if you are going to pair Lunesdale/Carnforth with another portion of Lancashire, it should be the Wyre/Garstang area rather than Ribble. This is because Wyre/Garstang and Lunesdale/Carnforth have the M6 connecting them. But you’ve put your case with panache so thank you for that.

  15. “Both proposals indicate how difficult it is to create a compact urban seat without also creating a mammoth rural one.”

    Of course, the only reason they were trying so hard to create a ‘compact urban seat’ was to fiddle the boundaries as much as possible in Labour’s favour in at least one seat even if the mammoth rural one was safely Tory.

    What they didn’t want was any suggestion that there could be two seats containing a more equalised urban-rural mix that would BOTH be probably strongly Tory.

    And interesting that-as usual-the Lib Dems default position in these matters is to naturally take Labour’s side in any dispute.

  16. “What they didn’t want was any suggestion that there could be two seats containing a more equalised urban-rural mix that would BOTH be probably strongly Tory.”

    It’s impossible to configure the two northernmost Lancashire seats to be strongly Tory these days, because even including as much of the surrounding rural areas as possible and excluding Lancaster city, the Morecambe seat is always going to be at best very marginal.

    The best configuration for the Tories was 1997-2010, with a pretty safe Lancaster and Wyre seat together with a Morecambe and Lunesdale seat that was winnable in the average year.

    On the current configuration both the Morecambe and Lancaster/Fleetwood seats are likely to be Labour if they have a slightly better than average election in 2015.

  17. Shaun – as it happens, we supported almost (and I repeat, almost) everything the Conservatives proposed in Cumbria, whilst disagreeing with almost (and I repeat, almost) everything they had to propose in Lancashire. We remain, as we always have, independence from both other parties.

    The issue with northern Lancashire is electorate size. It’s fine with the rurals but one urban ward too much and you’ve broken the quota. We did our best (and indeed a Tory Councillor spoke very passionately at the public meeting in Preston against our suggestion that Morecambe should be attached to Lancaster for parliamentary purposes).

    We disagreed with Labour’s “north Lancashire” seat because it stretched from the Preston border with Fylde up to Carnforth without stopping

  18. Doktorb

    Do you think Labour will regain Morecambe & Lunesdale in 2015?

  19. Is that Geraldine whatshername still around, the one with the reet sownd northn accunt that’d blo t’head of y’pint?

    I think it’s likely. We’ve got the County Council elections coming up so it should be a known known by May. It’s the kind of marginal seat which rarely defies the polls so I’m going to put it in the Labour Gain column….

  20. “It’s fine with the rurals but one urban ward too much and you’ve broken the quota.”]

    That’s the fault of the local government boundary commission and there is a simple answer:

    SMALLER wards and single member seats in local government!
    Its remarkably easy when ward sizes are smaller and more locally based.
    But when the trend is towards the sort of ridiculously sized wards we tend to see in unitary and metropolitan authorities, its going to become more difficult over time.

    Fortunately, here in Stoke we have now almost entirely abolished oversized multi-member wards in favour of small, locally based single member ones.

  21. Shaun – Lancaster City Council is not a met borough.

    As it happens, by the way, the Local Government Boundary Commission is currently reviewing the local wards of Lancaster, and neighbouring Wyre.

  22. “I think that not having a Local Government Act in the first place would have been rather better!”

    Well, I’m gonna have to disagree. There was wide consensus in the early 70’s that local government needed to be reformed and the Recliffe-Maud proposals were very unpopular. I think the 1972 Act largely got the balance right, although I disagree with the way some of the exact boundaries were drawn.

    Like I’ve already said, Lancashire should have been split east/west, and I think a few other major changes should have been made such as: district boundaries in Merseyside and Greater Manchester and their borders with Cheshire, Humbershide should not have been created, Coventry and Meriden should have been kept in Warwickshire and Avon should have been a Met county.

    On the subject of boundary reviews, are we now working on the assumption that if Labour win the next election they will repeal the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 almost straight away and a review will begin in early 2016 using the December 2015 electorates and using the rules as state in the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986?

  23. Adam, the Scottish Commission is already talking about “The Seventh Periodic Review” so they seem to be getting ready for exactly the situation you describe.

  24. Well in that case Lancashire is still set for a reduction of 1 seat. So a Valleys of Ribble and Lune seat may happen.

    My own plans are slightly different however and has the Ribble Valley district split between Mid Lancashire and Pendle and Bowland seats.

  25. Hold yourself Adam, I fear if Labour get back in (for the love all things Holy, no), they will gerrymander the process something rotten. Population rather than electorate, huge variation in quotas, maybe even banning urban areas from being split, there’s all sorts of terrible things they’re set to do to cement their place in marginal seats.

    The rules now, as wonky as they were, had fairness to them at least.

  26. There is a real need for the boundaries to be created entirely independently with no-input from government.

  27. If they did that DOKTORB, I dread to think how they’d get around the accusation of gerrymandering. Anyway, I thought Labour opposed the 2011 Act because they thought the 1986 Act worked well, and I agree with them on that,

    I also think that if the 2011 Act is repealed, a future Tory government wouldn’t want to waste any more political capital on the boundaries issue, thus settling it for good.

    And how do you think they’d changes the rules to stop urban areas from being split? How would that work in the big cities or in towns that have had more than one MP for generations.

  28. “If they did that DOKTORB, I dread to think how they’d get around the accusation of gerrymandering.”

    They’d get around it because the general public couldn’t care less about electoral boundaries.

    The recent review was stopped because it lacked enough support in the commons (a few Tories as well as Lib Dems voted against), not because the public were up in arms about gerrymandering.

    If Labour get a good overall majority then a lot of what Doktorb speculates about is likely to happen, certainly the point about taking population into account as well as electorate. High levels of immigration especially from the EU mean that we are going to have to address that point sometime in any case, otherwise an increasingly large proportion of the population will be disenfranchised and MP workloads will become very uneven.

    Over time the bias in the current system against the Tories might start to lessen, as rising population is now building up in urban areas to a greater extent than in the Tory suburbs and rural areas (partly due to lack of new housing).

  29. “Over time the bias in the current system against the Tories might start to lessen, as rising population is now building up in urban areas to a greater extent than in the Tory suburbs and rural areas (partly due to lack of new housing).”

    But wouldn’t that give Labour a reason to simply go back to the old system?

  30. Yes apparently Labour feels there isn’t enough bias already built into the current system (which gave them a majority of 66 with 36% of the vote and a 3% lead in the popular vote, while denying the Tories a majority with 36% of the vote and a 7% lead) and now they are clamouring to have apportionment based on population rather than registered electorate, which would give a huge bias in favour of urban areas (especially London) with large populations of non-eligible foreign nationals. Of course these people won;t have a vote, so it will give extra voting power to those people in those areas who are eligible. We would probably see electorates of around 40,000 in places like Chelsea and Kensington, but Labour supporters obviously calculate that the greatest effect will be in other areas like Newham and Brent.

  31. Shaun: I totally agree about the desirability of smaller wards. As an experiment, I tried coming up with boundary proposals for Cheshire on the new (smaller) Cheshire E and Cheshire W wards rather than the old ones the Commission used. It was much less hassle and it meant that creations like Mersey Banks could easily be avoided.

  32. “We would probably see electorates of around 40,000 in places like Chelsea and Kensington, but Labour supporters obviously calculate that the greatest effect will be in other areas like Newham and Brent.”

    Most third world immigrants eventually become citizens so will end up being counted in the electorate anyway (and those from the commonwealth will be in the electorate immediately).

    However many EU immigrants don’t become citizens even if they stay permanently….same for many other white immigrants – Americans, Canadians, Australians, Saffas, Russians etc.

    I agree with Pete, it makes no sense to count people who are not eligible to vote. I am in favour of allowing EU citizens to vote in general elections.

  33. Pete, I still don’t believe that the old rule were biased towards Labour because Labour had to fight a losing battle with the commission at every review to stop the Tories being allocated extra seats.

    But the rules were drawn up in the 1940’s and worked well for 60 years and were respected by all (unitl recently) as being the fairest way of doing boundary reviews. I still believe the current boundaries get the balance right between numerical equality and meeting local needs, and it was unwise of the Tories to make this a political issue.

    I agree that constituencies should be based on electorate rather than population and that EU citizens should be able to vote in general elections.

  34. Tory, there are various different arguments for and against single member wards. I’m generally in favour of them as a matter of fairness. Parliamentary constituencies have been single member since 1950, so why can’t the same principle apply to council seats.
    I also think it’s unfair that some people who live in non-met districts that are elected in thirds and also live in two member county divisions can vote in local elections every year and be represented by 5 Councillors, whilst someone in a unitary authority that’s elected whole council can only vote in local election once ever four years and is only represented by one Councillor.

    But the main argument against is that what do you do if you live in a single member ward and you have a lazy Councillor?

    My answer to that would be to look at ways of improving public engagement with and interest in local politics so that Councillors can become more high profile members of the community and therefore there is likely to be a larger public backlash if their accused of neglecting the needs of their constituents.

    That’s one of the reasons why I’m in favour of a wholly unitary system of local government in England with all councils elected on a whole council basis every 4 years with all Councillors representing single member wards unless there are exceptional local or geographic factors to justify the existence of larger two member wards.

  35. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Labour and the LibDems team up to repeal the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 altogether and to bring back the previous method of drawing boundaries. Personally I am in favour of equalised constituencies.

  36. Adam,

    That’s a somewhat romanticised view of boundary reviews of the past.

    The rules haven’t been set in stone since the 1940s, there has been all sorts of buggering about with them (particularly in terms of timing, and realistically, despite everyone getting all excited about the 5% margin, the main cause for malapportionment in seat size has been the time between reviews and the delay between starting reviews and implementing them, so the biggest impact from the aborted 6th review would actually have come from always having seats based on electorate figures only four and a half years out of date, rather than ten or fifteen years out of date). The rules were written in the 1940s, but amended in 1958, 1972, 1986 and 1992.

    Neither were they particularly respected by all sides – the 5th review that was implemented in 2010 was, if anything, extremely unusual in how smoothly it went, how all parties respected the process and how there was a relative lack of attempts to undermine or prevent it. Compare and contrast with the 3rd review, which Michael Foot took to court in an attempt to delay its implementation beyond the 1983 election (ironically on the grounds that the Boundary Commissions had not produced seats equal enough in electorate) or the 2nd review which the Labour government sought simply not to implement and, when threatened with a judgement of mandamus got their own backbenchers to vote down.

  37. “Pete, I still don’t believe that the old rule were biased towards Labour because Labour had to fight a losing battle with the commission at every review to stop the Tories being allocated extra seats”

    It is not that the old rules were biased, except in as much as they give over-representation to Wales. I am quite happy to go back to the old rules and if there were a single quota across the UK this would actually deal with most of the inequalities. A large part of the ‘bias’ in the system is not down to unequal electorates but is down to differential turnout and a more efficient distribution of the Labour vote. The only way of course for a system to properly reflect votes cast is some form of PR.
    I don’t see why any foreign nationals should have a vote in UK general elections. Far from extending the right to EU citizens I would remove it from citizens of Commonwealth countries and the Irish Republic.

  38. I agree with Pete W on the latter point, Commonwealth nationals voting in UK elections is an anachronism – and Irish nationals even more so.

  39. At least we are also allowed to vote in Ireland, with most commonwealth countries we can’t. Certainly not in Australia

  40. “At least we are also allowed to vote in Ireland”

    Thats’ a fat lot of use to me

  41. I entirely agree with you Pete about the need to end over-representation in Wales. The 20% extra seats for Scotland and Wales was justifiable pre-1999, but not now.

    I also agree with ending the voting rights of commonwealth citizens, but the franchise should be extended to EU nationals who are habitually resident here. If they have the permanent right to live and work here, then they should be able to vote and participate in civic society. It would also remove an anomaly because EU nationals can vote in local elections.

    But I also fully understand why Pete as a UKIP supporter would disagree with that.

  42. “Shaun – Lancaster City Council is not a met borough.”

    I know that Doktorb. I said the tendency towards the large ward sizes of them, not that this was actually one of them.

    “I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Labour and the LibDems team up to repeal the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 altogether and to bring back the previous method of drawing boundaries. ”

    But of course they will.
    Just as they will team up to abolish the requirement to force government to ho,d a referendum on the EU if there is a significant treaty change.

    And they will go further, eventually introducing votes for 14 year olds and then even lower still, and working to increase the overall size of the electoral roll in other ways for their political purposes.

  43. The anomaly is that EU citizens can vote in any elections. If they wish to, they should take out UK citizenship. Nor is there any reason why they should be treated any differently from other foreign citizens ‘habitually resident’.

  44. Shaun, you do realise a Labour/Lib-Lab government in 2015 would probably have more important things to do than implementing measures specifically to annoy you, right?

    And that there’s zero evidence for any of the things you raise the spectre of and in some cases specific statements to the contrary?

  45. I think Labour will indeed repeal the 2011 Act, Community links and population totals will be part of the consideration too

  46. So, Merseymike, “gerrymandering”, then?

  47. No, but I think constituency boundaries should take account of those things. Its ridiculous to split natural communities. Two Crosby wards are in Bootle, whereas we really shouldn’t be.
    And look at the caseloads of some of the MP’s where registration is low and population high.

  48. It shouldn’t be done purely on electorate, and I’ve got to imagine we’d at least amend the bill to create a little more leeway and abolish cross-county seats. A 7.5% variance either way would make things a lot easier and avoid some of the more hideous creations, and whilst I understand the logic behind cross-county seats, I think very few people actually like the examples the Sixth Review proposed. Those are both things the Tories could support if they were in a mood to be a constructive opposition.

    I suspect there would also be pressure to fix numbers at 650 instead of 600. The calculus determining whether that would happen would presumably be related to how much the government needed the support of Labour backbenchers versus how much the government feared giving the tabloid press something to demagogue about.

    As for Bootle, those two wards were put in at a review where population constraints did not take automatic priority over community links. Bootle is just too small these days to form a seat without wards from elsewhere, and part of Crosby just drew the short straw there. Given the direction of change in the electorate there, I suspect it’s more likely Bootle will get the third Crosby ward than that it will pull out of the town.

  49. I’m not convinced by your argument.

    Sometimes geography doesn’t help you. That shouldn’t be a reason for you to fix and fudge the system to suit. Bootle being split is as much to do with the manner in which the ward boundaries were drawn up as it is the rules of parliamentary seat creation, after all. You can’t legislate for each and every street or each and every population centre.

    Some of the rules do need changing, and I accept that there’s a need to make the quota more generous. But trying to justify changing the rules to keep towns and cities together? Not a goer.

  50. It doesn’t really matter if its not a natural area. No-one cares who they are sharing their MP with. I wouldn’t support a decrease in the strictness of quota to 7.5% apart from cases with unusually large wards.

    I would prefer PR to FPTP though.

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