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. I’m afraid I cannot believe any of this – why would there be a hidden conspiracy within the scrupulously neutral boundary commission to gerrymander Tory seats in north Lancashire? Or indeed anywhere?

  2. Dr John
    This isn’t reserved to North Lancashire I just happened to make my first post (on this subject) here.

    As for a conspiracy as I said I’m reserving judgment on the BC’s neutrality until I see what they propose this time but the last set of proposals had some really dodgy proposals in it all of which just happened to benefit the Tories in some way.

    All I’m doing is posting (prior to the commissions proposals)on seats where the new LOGICAL boundaries should either be beneficial to Labour or politically mute (neither party benefits) If when the BC give out their proposals and in the seats I’ve commented on there is a reasonable mix of outcomes great my suspicions evaporate.

    BUT if the BC start consistently proposing weird stuff like here for example splitting Lancaster into two seats, crossing the mouth of the Lune, breaking their own rules on cross county seats etc that just so happens to benefit the Tories you must admit it would look dodgy.

  3. To accuse the boundary commission of political bias is totally daft.

    Where the political parties can have an influence is the persuasiveness of their submissions to the commission, especially in terms of reviewing preliminary proposals. In that respect the Tories perhaps did a better job on the 2010 review than Labour. However in the 1997 review it was certainly Labour which came off best, with the Tories distracted by their collapsing majorityless government at the time.

  4. H.Hemmelig
    I’m not accusing anyone of anything as of yet. Maybe I came across a bit strong in my earlier posts but all I’m saying is the last review looked a bit dodgy at times, now its obviously easy to say that with hindsight and maybe/possibly/probably the commission had little to no choice but to propose what they did.

    This time though I just want to be ahead of the curve. there are some areas (North Lancashire being one) were in my mind a gerrymander would stick out like a sore thumb, I’m simply courting opinion from others who know their stuff on whether they agree with me on what the SENSIBLE and in many cases only possible boundaries are.

    Here I threw out the possibility of a Morecambe and Lancaster seat, would you or anyone else disagree that such a seat is not only sensible but pretty much a necessity?

    If so would you then agree that if the BC don’t propose such a seat and instead propose one of the earlier mentioned oddities it would look very suspicious and add some credence to my (currently very unsubstantiated) suspicions?

  5. I’m not sure that going purely on the basis of your opinion or my opinion can be evidence of bias

  6. ‘However in the 1997 review it was certainly Labour which came off best, with the Tories distracted by their collapsing majorityless government at the time.’

    I thought the new consensus was that the Tories actually did a good job in the 97 review, by creating quite a lot of new stronger Tory seats that were able to withstand the Labour landslide, whilst accepting that most of their marginal seats in 92 would fall

    Under the pre-97 boundaries, Labour would have won seats like Hertfordshire North, Eddisbury, Norfolk South West and even Tatton, that they narrowly missed out on

  7. “I thought the new consensus was that the Tories actually did a good job in the 97 review, by creating quite a lot of new stronger Tory seats that were able to withstand the Labour landslide, whilst accepting that most of their marginal seats in 92 would fall”

    That might be the new consensus – the view at the time was that they had been outgunned at most of the public enquiries by a very professional Labour operation. It’s inevitable that boundary changes give extra seats to the Tories but Labour minimised their losses much more effectively than in 82/83. It would be interesting to compare notional versus actual Tory majority in 1979 with the same calculation for 1992.

  8. Tim Jones
    Labour didn’t stand in Tatton in 97, there was that cash for questions scandal and Lab and the Libs stood aside to give an independent a shot.

  9. H.Hemmelig
    I’m not asking whether or not you think any other boundaries would be evidence of bias I’m asking whether you can come up with any alternate boundaries for the area. I’ve played around with the boundary assistant a lot and I can’t but maybe I’m missing something?

    Maybe there was some long forgotten consultation that found that folks in Morecambe didn’t want to be paired with Lancaster (though I can’t find any such evidence)

    I’m pretty much just stating that we’re probably going to see a Morecambe and Lancaster seat and if we don’t…well make your own conclusions, my own conclusion though would be gerrymandering.

  10. I defer to you as I don’t know the area well

  11. ‘the view at the time was that they had been outgunned at most of the public enquiries by a very professional Labour operation. ‘

    That’s certainly how I saw it at the time – until I was corrected by Barnaby and Pete Whitehead

    ‘Labour didn’t stand in Tatton in 97, there was that cash for questions scandal and Lab and the Libs stood aside to give an independent a shot.’

    I’m well aware of that

    The pre-97 Tatton contained Northwich, which at the time was stauncly Labour, and didn’t contain the very wealthy Alderly Edge

    If the election took place without the cash for questions scandal, Labour might have had a chance of winning it – but not under the new boundaries which have made it arguably the Tories safest seats in the North West

  12. They could pair Morecambe with Lonsdale as per 1950-1983- it’s all part of real Lancashire.

    That said, I think the least worst solution is a Lancaster & Morecambe seat plus a large rural division called ‘North Lancashire’ to cover Carnforth, Garstang etc.

  13. Was Lonsdale part of Lancashire? You learn something new every day. I suppose that would have knock on ramifications for seats in Cumbria though which probably rules it out.

    We agree that a Morecambe and Lancaster and some kind of rural Lancashire seat (Wyre and Lunesdale?) Would be by far the best (of very few) option(s). This is obviously one area where the new review will be a godsend for labour. Cat Smith looks to have gone from an unwinnable seat in the last proposals to one that’s hers as long as she wants it.

  14. I just did a bit of research about the profile of this seat. I had no idea this seat contains a significant part of the Forest of Bowland!

    The Forest of Bowland looks stunning from the pictures I’ve seen on Google. Absolutely beautiful countryside! Definitely a contender for the most picturesque Labour seat in the country.

    Might book a weekend away there before the inevitable happens in 2020 when it becomes a Tory seat again! Haha!

  15. Christian
    My uncle lives in Lancaster and he goes walking in Bowland every weekend, sometimes I go with him and I can confirm the area is delightful.

    As for the prize of Labs most picturesque seat nearby Copeland is surely a contender? The mountains in the east of that seat are great. Has to be said though that the pretty areas of both seats are not the parts that tend to back labour.

  16. Rivers 10- yes Lonsdale and Barrow are Lancashire and the highest point in real Lancashire is in fact the Old Man of Coniston.

    The precise make-up of North Lancashire would require some thinking about. Some might want to include some Ribble Valley territory whereas I would start from Fulwood and work north. Neither solution is ideal but the fall in Morecambe & Lunesdale’s electorate is such that the 1997-2010 solution of having Morecambe & Lunesdale plus Lancaster & Wyre won’t work.

  17. @Rivers10 – Thanks for your post. Yes, Copeland is a picturesque Labour seat too as well as many parts of the North East Derbyshire seat which has contains many pretty villages.

    Yes, as soon as I saw the pictures of Copeland and the Forest of Bowland, I immediately assumed they’re fairly Tory-leaning.

    Out of all the parties, Labour must hold the most eclectic array of seats – from rural Copeland, Forest of Bowland, affluent urban Hampstead to deprived inner-city Peckham!

  18. Maxim
    Ross, Skye and Lochaber most definitely, followed by Inverness then Argyll and Bute.

  19. High Peak? Or if the south coast is more your thing, Totnes?

  20. The number of Labour rural seats is small and diminishing. NE Derbys, Copeland, Clwyd South and others all very much viable Tory targets in 2020. Though unlikely LAB will be completely eliminated from rural areas the near future due to seats like North East Durham. On the flip side, as has often been discussed, the one type of seat the Tories have failed to regain post-1997 are the seats they used to hold in cities north of London. Though they do now have Plymouth Moor View and Southampton Test south of London.

  21. The Tories don’t regain city seats North of London largely because of their ethnic mix. The ethnic mix in Lancaster and Fleetwood does not match this pattern.

    The large number of students here is probably a significant factor here. There is a substantial middle class left-wing Labour vote.

    By the way, I ahve heard that the Conservatives here are in difficulty over their treatment of the disabled in that one of their activists is resigning from the Conservative Party. Can anybody post more information about this?

    The Judges’ Lodgings in Lancaster have as I understand it a stay of execution until September; but this is another issue adding to an image of central Government neglect of the interests of seats like this.

  22. * Of course I mean they have Southampton Itchen, not Test.

  23. We should remember that Labour is likely to lose seats in places like Durham, Derbyshire etc. because of the disappearance of undersized constituencies as much as because of seats changing hands.

  24. Maxim. Agreed.

    Looking back to the 2015 election here. I havejust gone to the calculator on my mobile phone and find that the quota for a candidate to save their deposit was 2087 (or 2068.9) votees, and that the Green therefore saved his deposit by 6 votes.

    For anoraks, lookng nationally, was this the smallest number of vote by which a candidate save his or her deposit?

    And who and where was the “unluckiest” candidate who lost their deposit by the fewest votes? Also, were their actually any recounts requested by a candidate trying to save his or her deposit?

    I have a sneaking suspicion that if a candidate were literally one or two votes short of 5.0% the Returning Officer might find a vote from somewhere, e.g. by changing the adjudication on a doubtful vote, rather than go through all the hassle of a recount.

  25. P.S. Excuse the typos as usual.

  26. Cat Smith has been one of the few Labour MPs who have been very vocally supportive of Corbyn (apparently she previously worked for Corbyn).

    I wonder if this will hurt her re-election chances here or in the successor seat?

  27. Her campaign in the town prior to the GE was very heavily pitched at suppressing the Green vote (a giant billboard comes to mind, in the town centre with two even blue and red bars next to a tiny Green sliver). Corbyn might help there and with the significant student population. Whether that’ll offset damage elsewhere I couldn’t say.

  28. Maybe I’m betraying my own allegiances here but I really like Cat Smith, from what I can tell she seems really rooted in her constituency, I follow her on twitter and a few months back during the floods she was constantly tweeting messages of support, pics of her help9ing in the clean up, it wasn’t even the typical “politician photo op” type of thing it seemed genuine, one that springs to mind was a message of support for a local bakery that was able to re-open and she tweeted something about being able to go get some of her favourite flapjacks from there, I found it really charming.

    Consequently I imagine she’ll develop something of a local following (particularly amongst young folks) regardless of how left wing she is. Its pretty irrelevant though anyway because as was being discussed earlier in the thread the boundary changes will be a real case of make or break for her. Last time the BC’s proposed “Lancaster and Wyre” would have been near enough unwinnable. This time it looks likely Lancaster will be paired with Morecambe which would be near enough unlosable.

  29. Don’t know anything about this area so can’t really say what effect it will have in 2020 but Cat Smith seems one of the more sensible ‘Corbynistas’. I suspect she’s only so pro-Corbyn because she used to work for him, but it’s helpful to him to have some relatively sane supporters to potentially promote later in the parliament and to wheel out in the media when he’s in trouble.

  30. Jack Sheldon
    You might be right but I think no illusions can be made that she is definitely on the far left of the Lab party. She is the one quoted as saying the Corbynistas new favourite line

    “The Tories can always find money for war but never for the poor”

  31. “The Tories can always find money for war but never for the poor”

    Jesus Christ on a bike.

    You do realise that the last Labour government spunked tens of billions on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo? Far more than the relatively small military operations Cameron has undertaken in Libya & Syria. You people must think the public are total fools.

  32. I’m not promoting the line I’m simply quoting her to demonstrate where her allegiances clearly lay.

  33. “I’m not promoting the line I’m simply quoting her to demonstrate where her allegiances clearly lay.”

    But I’m not sure the line makes her view very clear at all.

    The idea that Labour isn’t willing to spend vast billions on war is demonstrably false if you look at their record 1997-2010.

  34. Well, I suppose as far as Corbynistas are concerned New Labour are fall within the category of ‘Tories’.

    But unless a Corbyn government would slash the defence budget – which he hasn’t indicated he’s going to do, and if he did would be a massive vote loser – that line makes no sense.

  35. I’m not going to defend the line but Cat Smith is clearly one of the MP’s who think New Labour’s military escapades were a catastrophe and what Jack Sheldon says is also probably largely true, she’s clearly one of the MP”s who don’t see much of a difference between New Labour and the Tories.

  36. Cat Smith strikes me as extremely intellectually challenged, a token bag carrier that wormed into a nomination.

  37. It is clear that a Labour government would maintain the level of expenditure on defence if elected any time in the forseeable future.

    Perhaps a more effective question would be to ask when on earth any party will ensure that the money allocated to defence will be spent efficiently.

  38. Robert Swipe
    Well we’re all entitled to our own opinion but I struggle to see how you come to that conclusion.

  39. Cat Smith gained her seat in a General Election where Labour were losing seats as well as gaining them. So I doubt if she is a complete dumbo.

  40. Frederic
    Agree, I don’t want to be presumptuous and if Robert would like to explain his reasoning great but I feel there is a tendency for some people to hate MP’s who hold views polar opposite to their own. I’ve noticed that many of Labs far left MP’s who by any reasonable standards have been at worst average yet there seems to be a constant slew of people lining up to claim how stupid/ineffectual/useless they are. The same applies to far right Tory MP’s who many on the left are quick to say the same things about.

    Its an understandable flaw really, if someone is making a point you strongly believe to be wrong them making said point in a very eloquent and precise manner only highlights how wrong you think they are. When it comes to judging a politicians effectiveness you need to largely ignore what they’re saying and instead focus on how they say it.

  41. Rivers10. Your post seems to relate to this week’s dilemma in Virginia Ironside’s excellent “Independent” agony aunt column -presumably the last one for which the answers will appear in a newspaper..

    We know from the philosopy of science that the way too make intellectual advances is to look for things which disconfirm our beliefs. But psychologically people prefer to take in evidence which confirms their beliefs. In addition, it appears to be a sad fact that many people often find it easier to attack the person rather than the policy. And I plead guilty that I myself am sometimes guilty of this fault (most of us are).

    If we could find ways of improving at a practical level the processes by which we form and maintain our politicial opinions, the country would be a better, and not least more prosperous, place.

    The problem for Labour is that they repeatedly select from a small demographic group of potential candidates who play to the prejudices of party members rather than to the needs of the whole constituency. It is not unfair, although it may be unkind, to say that Cat Smith, whilst probably intelligent as an individual, is yet another female Labour MP working in or for a select part of the public sector.

    Whilst Labour keep to this ghetto mentality, which appears unlikely to change whilst Corby is leader, theywill be fighting with one hand behind their back when it comes to trying to win the next election. And they risk losing MPs like Cat Smith in marginal seats even if they turn out individually to be good MPs.

  42. P.S. The psychological process I referred to in my last post is called “Confirmation bias.”Apparently the term was coined by Wason in 1960. There is a substantial article on this effect on Wikipedia.

  43. Well I seriously doubt Cat Smith is a complete idiot. She’s not my favourite person by any stretch and I probably don’t agree with her on much but she’s not the most dreadful by any means. The one who I do think is really awful of the new Labour intake is Clive Lewis – a Corbynite hack, with a massive chip on his shoulder and seemingly lacking in the brains department.

  44. Again probably betraying my own allegances but I 5hink Clive Lewis is brilliant.

  45. Can I make the same point about Clive Lewis as about Cat Smith? A Labour MP who gained his seat in 2015 is unlikely to be a complete dumbo. And one does actually need some intelligence and ability to hold down a high profile job as a television journalist.

  46. Let’s not forget he did two tours in Afghanistan, I always thought it was sacrilege to insult a service person in this country? XD

  47. We should respect veterans who have served in Afghanistan, but that does not give any such MPs licence to physically threaten other Members.

  48. Assuming you took the threat seriously and didn’t think the recipient was kinda asking for it…

  49. MPs have parliamentary privilege within the Palace of Westminster; but they should normally obey the law. And they should certainly not hit anybody except where there is an immediate need for self-defence. The proper course of action is to report matters to The Speaker, if necessary by raising a point of order on the floor of the House.

    Of course, MPs might wish their party’s whips to deal with matters but in the past the Whips have, unfortunately, been amongst the worst offenders against order in and aorund the Commons.

  50. Wait are we talking about the same incident? I heard about the incident were he told Woodcock to f**k off but can’t find anything on Lewis hitting somebody.

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