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 - 294 Responses on “Lancaster & Fleetwood”
  1. The LGBCE has merged University with Scotforth Rural in its recent review of Lancaster boundaries.

  2. Prediction for 2015-
    Labour- 43%
    Ollerenshaw (Conservative)- 34%
    Liberal Democrat- 9%
    UKIP- 8%
    Green- 5%
    Others- 1%

  3. Ashcroft constituency poll:
    Lab 41%
    Con 27%
    UKIP 18%
    Green 10%
    LD 4%

  4. Surely random sample variation. It is highly unlikely that in an actual general election Labour would be 14% ahead here yet only 3% ahead in neighbouring Morecambe & Lunesdale. I suspect that Labour in reality are less far ahead here, but rather further ahead there. It’s a good illustration of how cautious we need to be of constituency polls.

  5. Again, here local knowledge helps a bit… there’s a significant university vote (students, dons, university workers, technicians etc.) in the lancaster & fleetwood seat…this was a a left lib-dem intellectual vote which has decisively moved in labour’s favour… this explains the slight variation between this seat…

    just looking at numbers gets you somewhere near the truth

    in 2010, conservatives 36.1% labour 35.3% and lib dem 19.1%

    M & L
    in 2010, conservatives 41.5%, labour 39.5% and lib dem 13.3%

    so clearly a bigger lib dem for labour to squeeze in L&F and a lib dem vote- students/lecturers et al- which, anecdotally at least, is more likely to have switched from labour than their counterparts in the neighbouring seat.

    Not that hard to explain the difference, actually.

  6. Oh I agree with you – there is a difference between them, and like the polls I see Lancaster & Fleetwood as being a very strong likelihood of a Labour gain & Morecambe & Lunesdale going closer to the wire. But I don’t think the difference between the seats is quite as great as the polls say – I’d suggest a 3% lower Labour lead here & about a 2% higher lead in Morecambe would be about right, even though this is perhaps a gut feeling rather than all that scientific.

  7. I have to admit I’d be amazed if Labour weren’t able to take back both L&F and M&L, though stranger things have happened.

    Here looks to be straightforward enough for them, especially with the Lib Dem vote to squeeze. Next door it will be more difficult, the majority is a bit bigger, the Lib Dem vote is a lot lower so they’ll have to keep working to get it back- Both Eric Ollerenshaw and David Morris will also have first-time incumbency next time, so while that might mean EO doesn’t lose by a lot, it could well narrowly save DM in Morecambe and Lunesdale if he holds on to enough votes to stop Labour, but if he did it would probably be only by about 50-100 votes.

  8. This is an example of a seat I’d be pretty concerned about.
    I don’t know the likely result though.

  9. The bookies think this is a labour dead cert practically… but one guy told me they set prices to fool gullible punters so you shouldn’t take their odds seriously!!

    I sometimes think we’re living in the 15th century, the way people have zero clue about odds, statistics and data.

    Anyway, just for a laugh

    paddy power have labour 1/7
    while ladbrokes have them at 1/5

    but hey, they know nothing,. ..My personal gut feel is just as valid an indicator: Tory hold! definitely.

  10. I have no reason to doubt this one at present. I see it as a fairly straightforward Labour gain. Certainly more so than Morecambe & Lunesdale.

  11. The student vote will see them home without difficulty.

  12. Labour by about 6-8 for me.

  13. If Labour don’t win here, there’ll be problems nationally for them.

  14. I would be very surprised indeed if the Conservatives held this seat in 2015. Labour has a significant advantage in both of the main settlements and there isn’t really enough intervening countryside to prop up Ollerenshaw. Put in Garstang and its environs and it may be a different story but on its current boundaries, Labour should gain this easily.

  15. Incidentally, I know I am not the only one who considers this a ludicrously drawn constituency. The boundary changes in Lancashire before 2010 were abysmal in my view.

  16. This seat is much better for Labour than Lancaster and Wyre was.

    That seat was marginal, even in their landslide years, and mainly consisted of the old Wyre seat which was held for a long time by the Conservative MP Keith Mans. He lost L&W in 1997 to Labour’s Hilton Dawson by 1295 (2.2%) votes, and there was a recount I think.

    This is more like the old Lancaster seat for Labour, and is less rural- The Wyre parts went in to the new Wyre and Preston North seat, which is where Ben Wallace went, who had gained Lancaster and Wyre in 2005 from Labour.

  17. I’ve always wondered actually why the Green Party do so well in Lancaster?

    Is it a protest vote, something to do with the university, the demographics of the city itself, or a combination of these factors and more?

  18. The university is the main reason. Lancaster is not a large city, but it has quite a large & generally fairly radical student body, so in local elections the Greens do very well compared with other university towns, in which students represent a smaller percentage. Also, the most heavily working-class, non-student areas are in some cases in Morecambe & Lunesdale, and not this seat.

  19. Ah, yes, Barnaby, Skertons East and West- part of Lancaster but in M & L.

  20. I would say it’s actually more the graduates, university staff, etc more than the students. If you think about it, it doesn’t add up that it would be the students having that kind of impact in lower turnout local elections

  21. The Greens have made this seat a long-term target. However, they will be looking at the next election to save their deposit, which should not be too difficult, and then to get above 10% of the vote, which I would describe as a hard but achievable target for them. They might also hope to catch the LibDems.

    With its big university population, Lancaster does not look like a particularly good UKIP prospect, particularly as it is outside their core areas further South.

    if UKIP eats into the Tory vote more than Labour, this actually looks like a good prospect for a Labour gain, probably on an actually reduced share of the vote, even if Labour are doing pretty abysmally nationally. If I recollect rightly, even in 1983 Labour notionally gained three seats!

  22. If they’re looking to make it a long-term target, doing shit like this probably isn’t helpful:

  23. @frederick

    I’d say it’ll actually be quite easy for the Greens to beat the Lib Dems this time around. I reckon the Lib Dems are looking at a 5th place finish – even if Labour successfully squeeze the Green vote to say 5-6%, I reckon Lib Dem collapse to deposit losing territory is on the cards.

  24. The younger vote appears to be swining to the Greens at present, which could be good news for the Greens in this seat.

    Iain Dale predicts that Labour will gain this seat. Any comments?

  25. This was posted on the Exeter thread:
    “The Lancaster University campus currently has 22 registered voters out of 6500 students. What’s incredibly bad about this is that the University campus is its own ward. Lancaster University Labour club and their PPC Cat Smith are working on it, and I understand the city council are too, but still.”


  27. I see this MP is 65 so will receive 3 pensions if he loses. Not bad for being an MP 5 years (although he has been a politician for 30).

  28. Ok. But Exeter can’t have anything like 6500 freshers.

  29. Tough scrap this one. Good Tory MP hardworking decent labour women, Green stronghold on the parts of the council – 10 councillors out of about 18 in this part of Lancaster, Tories, strong in Wyre, Lab stronger in Fleetwood. Ukip will get aa few but think LIBs will collapse from 9,000 to a couple of thousand , no councillors and few activists.

  30. Living in the constituency, the Students Unions of both universities and the local council have been making substantial efforts at registering students. A recent figure has been 3000 signed up.
    Labour has been campaging in the constituency since the end of the last election. A tactic they have learnt from the US Democrats.
    The Conservatives are strong in the South of the constituency and the rural areas between Lancaster and Fleetwood. The Liberal Democrats lost control of Lancaster City Council in 2011 and all their councillors.
    The Greens always do well here due to a large number of students and staff from the local universities.
    UKIP really have a tiny presence due to the Universities and student population who have actively campaigned for the major parties.
    A safe bet is Labour victory by a large margin. The Conservatives will come second whilst the Greens should pick up third place. The Liberal Democrats will I predict lose their deposit.

  31. Do you have a prediction for the neighbouring seat of Morecambe & Lunesdale?

  32. look at earlier posts on ukpr…nobody has ever seriously suggested that this was anything other than a labour gain.

  33. Neigbouring seat of Morecambe and Lunesdale is up for grabs, On paper a marginal Tory Labour seat. The Tory MP is really pretty seriously unpopular, UKIP have addecent candidates and will likely get 15-20%. The Labour campaing is alledgedly off the rails due to internal disputes (apols if that is false rumour). Excellent Green Candidate maybe surprise a few. He is 200/1 on paddy power – should be 20-1

  34. Labour gain 1800 to 2300 the greens will play a large part in how large the majority is.

  35. I reckon a Labour gain with a 2-4k majority

  36. Labour Gain. 4,000 majority.

  37. Probably Labour gain. the LIb surge lost if for them last time but those votes may win it for them this time. Tory’s will lose a lot in Fleetwood and some in Wyre to UKIP. Greens will win lots from Libs and and some of their strong local support in Lancaster and through anti fracking policy in Wyre. Probably a Labour win but by about 2,000 but pretty close. Must be said, both Tory and Labour have spent so much money here, must be getting on for half a million each in the last year .i have collected 22 letters and had four phone calls from labour. Most of these have been through the post, I can;t work out how much that alone costs over 40,000 homes. add in their office, billboards, full ads in newspapers etc this is some going. Not so many Tory leaflets in my area – I’m a low brow sort of person

  38. Who won this in the end?

  39. Labour by 1,265 votes.

  40. Pretty good effort by the Tories. I thought they’d lose by at least 3,000 votes.

  41. The narrowness of the majority was what did for Ollerenshaw here in the end, and he did very well to increase his vote share even in losing.

  42. Cat Smith was on Newsnight earlier this week, arrogantly gloating her gain, evading questions and playing up the “ey oop I’m a northerner” act. This is far too small a swing to boast about, for a labour seat like this. I hope she turns out to be a terrible mp and is sent packing at the next election after boundaries are redrawn.

  43. Well she was one of Jeremy Corbyn’s MP nominators. So her victory and subsequent actions may just be a pyric victory.

    Any MP elected to a marginal seat will gloat because it is such a vote of confidence in themselves. Look at Tories who have gloated in the past i.e. David Amess post 1992 election. Though his gloating was subdued when he went to a safe Southend seat in 1997!

    The point is a candidate in a marginal seat might equally have been road kill and sunk without trace after being defeated. It is the victors time in the sun!

  44. Coould I point out that in a seat like this with a high student vote many of the people being added to the register this Autumn will have graduated and moved elsewhere before 2020.

    A key issue for Cat Smith (and come to that her opponents) will be to gain the alliegance of the undergraduates arriving here from 2017 onwards. Which of course does not mean that existing electors should be overlooked or neglected.

  45. Cat Smith has a regular column in SCAN, the Lancaster University paper (my ex girlfriend does their layout). As it’s a campus uni and therefore a relatively captive audience that can’t hurt her.

  46. Conservative Cllr George Askew, 31, has died.

    He represented Carnforth Ward here.

    He was a Lancs County Cllr as well as being a Pendle Cllr previously 2010-2012 (he resigned after taking a job as an asst at Westminster).

  47. 31 is no age to go. Do you know what happened to him?

  48. Tragic news for his family and friends.
    Particularly so for his girlfriend who, as is quoted in the media, had her father’s funeral just three weeks ago.

    I’m 29. It does make you think about your own mortality.

    He was formerly Andrew Stephenson’s election agent in Pendle.

  49. Indeed. Not heard anymore yet – I assume there’ll need to be a post mortem.

    Cllrs aren’t known for being healthy and there’s far too many by-elections due to the deaths of those in their 60s, but this Cllr was young and fit/athletic judging by his photo.

    [Suicide is the highest cause of death for males under 35 in the UK, but there’s no suggestion of that here.]

  50. I should warn folks that with the boundary commission doing their work I may make a few posts of this variety on various seats but anywho the proposals for the area should be interesting. I noticed that in the past review the boundary commission seemed to go to extreme lengths (often resulting in some frankly ridiculous seats nationwide) to preserve or create Tory seats while no such courtesy was extended to Labour.

    Now I know many of you will say “boundary commission is independent etc” and yes it supposedly is and the past is the past, I’m focusing on the new proposals and will make judgements on the BC based off them.

    The reason I post here is because the proposals for North Lancashire last time were terrible for Labour (the creation of a pretty much unwinnable Lancaster and Wyre and a slightly more Tory inclined Morecambe and Lunesdale) but on the new electoral figures such an amalgamation isn’t possible this time.
    Given the inability to cross county lines into Cumbria the only logical solution as I see it (please correct me if you disagree) is to implement the rather obvious but for some reason avoided pairing of Morecambe and Lancaster.

    However given such a seat would be very reliably Labour I can’t help but feel that the boundary review will come up with some bizarre proposal like splitting Lancaster into two seats, crossing the mouth of the river Lune or breaking their own rules about crossing country lines and jutting up into Cumbria all just to create Tory inclined seats here.

    Can anybody think of any SENSIBLE proposals for the area that are not bad for the Tories? If not and yet the BC still manage to carve out seats to Labours detriment here…

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