Leeds North West

2015 Result:
Conservative: 8083 (18.6%)
Labour: 13041 (30.1%)
Lib Dem: 15948 (36.8%)
Green: 3042 (7%)
UKIP: 2997 (6.9%)
Others: 246 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 2907 (6.7%)

Category: Marginal Liberal Democrat seat

Geography: Yorkshire and the Humber, West Yorkshire. Part of the Leeds council area.

Main population centres: Leeds, Otley, Yeadon, Bramhope.

Profile: Only around half this seat is actually made up of Leeds itself, the rest is the rural hinterland to the north of the city, including affluent commuter towns and villages like Bramhope, Otley and Yeadon and the Leeds-Bradford International Airport. The part of the seat in Leeds proper is very much the the city`s student quarter. The seat contains Leeds Metropolitan University and while Leeds University's campus lies outside the seat to the south-east, Headingley is also popular residential area for its students. Together well over a quarter of the seats voters are students, making it one of the ten seats with the highest proportion of students in the country.

Politics: Including what were traditionally some of Leeds nicer residential suburbs, Leeds North West was for many decades a reliable Conservative seat before falling to Labour in their 1997 landslide. Like many seats with a high student population the 2005 election saw a significant shift towards the Liberal Democrats on the back of Iraq and student fees and the party successfully won the seat from third place, holding it at the 2010 and 2015 elections.

Current MP
GREG MULHOLLAND (Liberal Democrat) Born 1970, Manchester. Educated at St Ambrose College and York University. Former promotions manager. Leeds councillor 2003-2005. First elected as MP for Leeds North West in 2005.
Past Results
Con: 11550 (27%)
Lab: 9132 (21%)
LDem: 20653 (47%)
BNP: 766 (2%)
Oth: 1382 (3%)
MAJ: 9103 (21%)
Con: 11510 (26%)
Lab: 14735 (33%)
LDem: 16612 (37%)
GRN: 1128 (3%)
Oth: 726 (2%)
MAJ: 1877 (4%)
Con: 12558 (30%)
Lab: 17794 (42%)
LDem: 11431 (27%)
UKIP: 668 (2%)
MAJ: 5236 (12%)
Con: 15850 (32%)
Lab: 19694 (40%)
LDem: 11689 (24%)
Oth: 818 (2%)
MAJ: 3844 (8%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
ALEX STORY (Conservative) Born 1974. Film and documentary producer, former Olympic rower.. Contested Denton and Reddish 2005, Wakefield 2010, Yorkshire region 2014 European election.
ALEX SOBEL (Labour) Educated at Leeds University. Manager of Social Enterprise Yorkshire. Leeds councillor.
GREG MULHOLLAND (Liberal Democrat) See above.
JULIAN METCALFE (UKIP) Director of a construction company.
TIM GOODALL (Green) Educated at Leeds University. University officer.
BOB BUXTON (Yorkshire First) Physics teacher.
MIKE DAVIES (Alliance Green Socialism)
MARK FLANAGAN (Above and Beyond) Born 1974, York. Journalist, author and media consultant.
Comments - 471 Responses on “Leeds North West”
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  1. This is a weird seat. The incumbency effect, local factors and national politics is at play here. It was a Tory seat, then a Labour seat, then a Lib Dem marginal now a Lib Dem safe seat. It is very possible for Labour to take it BUT that will mean exposing Greg Mulholland’s record as a Lib Dem, a Simon Hughes like campaign. UKIP will grow in a seat like here, peeling off some of the Tory vote and if we capitalise on the Lib Dem swing and take Tory voters too it is a possible gain. But this one will be very hard work.

  2. I see it is listed as one of Labour’s target seats, although I would have thought Labour would focus more on Elmet & Rothwell and Pudsey.

    Labour would be in landslide territory if they won this seat back

  3. No, it would be in a 60-seat majority territory. Elmet and Rothwell and Pudsey are getting resources and money.

  4. This is one of the hardest target seats to win and was only every Labour during 2 landslide election wins.

    I also wouldn’t underestimate the Lib Dems – whilst I think they will do badly in many seats, I suspect incumbency and a strong local party (like in Portsmouth S for example), could see them do considerably better than their overall performance across the country.

  5. They will do better against Tories, but look at Eastleigh. They had a massive 14% downfall in a safe Lib Dem seat, strong local party, popular Lib Dem council and well-known good local candidate. They could have lost their seat to UKIP and they will lose their seat to UKIP if Farage stands in Eastleigh. That was against the Tories. This is why I think Labour should be very confident of taking seats directly from the Lib Dems, even harder seats like Leeds NW.

  6. Eastleigh has never been a safe Lib Dem seat, at best I think they were about 10% ahead in 2001. As for Farage, I wouldn’t be surprised if he went for Buckingham again, or possibly Thanet S (he stood there in 2005 I think, Conservative MP is pro-European too). UKIP have a couple of county councillors here now (1 of which I think is an ex-Lib Dem councillor), so logically would make sense to select him.

  7. Eastleigh is notionally a safe Lib Dem seat, not because of the amoutn of votes but because of their local popularity and other factors – they have almost all the council seats! And they got as 14% drop in their vote share! If Farage stands in Thanet S, then Labour will win in that seat so let him stand in Thanet S.

  8. I could easily see this being a tight three way marginal in 2015 with each of the main parties on around 30% (providing the UKIP effect doesn’t last).

  9. I don’t see this as particularly fertile territory for UKIP, especially not Headingley. They may do rather better further out of town.

  10. Lord Ashcroft’s poll of marginal constituencies in March 2013 put Leeds North West as a (surprise)Labour gain.


    While I doubt whether 2013 will produce the 84 seat majority which the poll anticpated, the pattern of Labour getting larger swings against the Lib Dems is consistent with all the polling of the past 3 years.

  11. I expect the Lib Dems will hold this seat if only by a majority half as big as that of 2010. The Labour Party will be focussing the majority of its resources in the Leeds district in the Elmet and Rothwell and Pudsey constituencies.

  12. Labour shortlist

    Paul Drinkwater
    FBU Leeds Division Chair

    Cllr John Eveleigh
    Leader of Otley Town Council

    Cllr Alex Sobel
    Moortown Cllr since 2012

    Dr Mike Winter
    Chair of Leeds West CLP

  13. Why did the Lib Dems advance so well here on their 2005 victory yet remained so static in Manchester Withington?

  14. Alex Sobel selected by Labour in Leeds NW.

  15. I think this will be close but this is one former Labour constituency that the Lib Dems can hold.

  16. All three main parties could get about 30% here. I think the Tory vote may still be a bit depressed by a feeling that this seat was essentially a Lab/LD battleground but coming second last time could change that.

  17. Labour won’t mind that really – if the Tory vote goes up it’ll be far more at the expense of the LDs than anyone else. But Labour would then have to secure a lot of former LD votes to stand a chance. It’s a very tall order.

  18. 2015 IMO:

    LD 37
    Lab 29
    Con 22
    Green 5
    Others 7

    The LDs only narrowly lost Headingley in 2012.

  19. LD HOLD MAJ : 4%
    LD 33
    LAB 29
    CON 22
    UKIP 9
    GRN 6
    OTH 1

  20. This is probably a Labour gain given the turnover of the student vote. It will be interesting to see how sticky Lib Dem support is in this seat.

    I think many Lib Dems are doomed to defeat at the next election and we are likely to see the joke about the number of MPs fitting into a taxi resurface. Yellow Taxi Time!

  21. Labour gain MAJ : 3%

    LAB 31
    CON 28
    LD 25

  22. That isn’t going to happen.

  23. Really only Headingley is studenty. The rest of the constituency is clearly LD first, with perhaps second place fairly well-contested but the Tories more likely to be ahead. Since Labour only narrowly won even Headingley in 2012, it doesn’t bode well for the party’s chances of beating Mulholland. I’m convinced that this will be an LD hold.

  24. I too am convinced that Mulholland will hold this one. Seems like a pretty good MP. Labour should do well in Headingley but not so much in other parts.

    Moreover the majority here seems too much of a tall order for Labour to chop down in what doesn’t look to be a landslide year in 2015.

    Labour’s prospects in other seats where there are large numbers of student residents that the Lib Dems hold will vary IMO. I have no doubt that they’ll take Manchester Withington and Norwich South. Very much on the fence about Cambridge (they’ll push the Tories into third place though) and the Bristol West majority seems too large to knock down.

  25. Mulholland is an odd character; he seems to be a popular local MP but, according to two sources (who both told me this independently), there was huge joy among Leeds City Council’s Lib Dem group when he won in 2005 primarily as it meant he would no longer be a councillor – he was not well liked by his colleagues for some reason.

  26. There are student Halls of residence further out than Headingley – Weetwood and Boddington Halls . The latter is in Adel and houses 600+ students.
    In 2005 Labour managed 33% here whilst polling 36% nationally.. On that basis, if Labour can manage 35% next time – say 37 – 38% nationally – they must surely be in with a shout!

  27. 600+ may sound a lot, but a ) not all of these will vote at all, b ) some will vote in their home constituencies, and c ) of those who do vote in Leeds NW, only a certain proportion will vote Labour. In a parliamentary seat, a council estate of 600 people will make little difference, the same goes for a student halls of residence with 600 people. In fact, there aren’t that many constituencies where the student vote constitutes anything like a dominant percentage. Even Cambridge is nothing like dominated by the student vote, though it is important.

  28. I basically agree with Barnaby re- the student vote – though would add that the total student population in the Adel area must be 1000+..
    To win here Labour essentially needs to reverse the switch of votes from Labour to LibDem that occurred in 2005 and 2010.. On the basis of national polls that certainly seems to be happening – particularly in the north of England. Indeed c,ompared with 2005, there has been a significant swing fron LibDem to Labour and the question to be answered is ‘Will it be different here in Leeds NW?’ Whilst the LibDems might to offset their loss of votes to Labour with some gains from Tories, a sharp fall in their vote share has to be likely . At Eastleigh they lost almost one third of their 2010 vote, and were that to happen here they would be in trouble.

  29. ‘I think many Lib Dems are doomed to defeat at the next election and we are likely to see the joke about the number of MPs fitting into a taxi resurface.’

    No we won’t. Whilst the LDs will take a big hit, they’re not going to be reduced to the kind of level the Liberals had when that joke was last in vogue.

    Also, am curious, the description here says this is ‘one of the ten seats with the highest proportion of students in the country’. Anyone know which has the highest?

  30. Not sure why you’re wasting your breath arguing with Rum & Coke. It’s a waste of time trying to argue sense with someone who’s deliberately posting like a fuckwit.

    Before the 2010 election there was a prolific poster on here and politicalbetting.com called Martin Day, who kept going on and on about all this yellow taxi stuff. He was found to have severe mental problems and disappeared. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s posting again as Rum & Coke, though if it is him he was much more entertaining before.

  31. You know, when I first started posting here, I used to think a few too many people here were unfairly hostile in general to new members.

    Now after being here a few months and seeing the contributions an average new member here makes, I understand the hostility alot more now. Still don’t condone it, but I get rather tired of dealing with some of the comments I have, and I can only imagine what older hands here have gone through.

  32. There is a general problem in that websites of this kind tend to attract exhibitionists/troubled people. Quite a challenge for Anthony and other site owners/moderators.

  33. I think the annoyance only starts if they ignore posts giving them a gentle friendly prod in the right direction.

  34. ‘I think the annoyance only starts if they ignore posts giving them a gentle friendly prod in the right direction.’


  35. To hold this seat in the face of a Labour surge the LibDems may need to squeeze the Tory vote. How likely is that , given that for most of their voting lives people will recall having had a Tory MP? It surely won’t be easy to peddle the line that ‘ A Tory vote is a wasted vote’!

  36. But they don’t need to squeeze the tory vote particularly do they – just not lose a large number of voters. Labour are more likely to get 3rd than 1st tbh.

  37. As a tactic they are far more likely to claim labour can’t win and paint as a ld tory battle and try to squeeze the labour vote. Obviously that’s not really true but we all know the lib Dems.

    Posters should remember that this is emphatically not the Leeds version of Withington and contains lots of areas where one would not forecast a larger than average labour recovery.

  38. But Labour voters will know full well that until a few years ago they had a Labour MP – which makes it difficult for a ‘Labour can’t win here’ message to have much credence! Moreover, why should anyone who voted Labour here in 2005 now be inclined to vote for a party that has supported a Tory-led Government? I would have thought that Labour to LibDem switchers from 2005 /2010 will feel betrayed.

  39. But the lib Dems won in 2005. Therefore labour need to win voters who deserted them after the landslides of 1997 and 2001 – granted probably a few studenty types might, but labour aren’t doing that well nationally.

    This seat is landslide territory for labour. They would need a majority of 50-100 to win. Not impossible in 2015, but a very tall order given current polling.

  40. It’s the type of seat where Labour will surely be fighting very hard on the theme ‘A LibDem vote is a vote for another Tory Government’. I would expect that to be pretty effective with former Labour voters who had switched to the LibDems.

  41. Current polling would suggest that if replicated, Labour would have a majority of 50-60 (I think, someone correct me if I’m wrong). But that doesn’t factor in the incumbency of current MPs, no uniform swing across the nation (some greater than others) and the changing nature of opinion polls.

    There’s no indication that 2015 will be a landslide year for either of the two largest parties. For Labour to gain Leeds NW in a non-landslide year, Mulholland’s majority would have to be very marginal.

  42. I lived in the constituency back in the mid 70s when Donald Kaberry was the MP and Keith Joseph was in neighbouring Leeds North East. At that time this was viewed as a better Labour prospect than North East.

  43. Didn’t the constituency exclude Wharfedale & Otley, but include Kirkstall, in those days? Clearly a seat of that composition, if that is correct, would be a very good prospect for Labour these days.

  44. Indeed so but of course at that time the boundaries of Leeds NE were also more favourable than now as the seat included Harehills. Leeds NE on those boundaries would be an absolute Labour banker even in a poor year

  45. ”There are student Halls of residence further out than Headingley – Weetwood and Boddington Halls.”

    Graham- Boddington Hall closed down about 2 years ago because Leeds University want all student accommodation to be located close to the university campus (according to my friend who works in the accommodation office, many students complained Boddington was too far from the campus and was very unpopular with prospective students when deciding where to live during their first year).
    Boddington has now been replaced by Central Village which is located next to the Leeds University campus and is located in the Leeds Central constituency.
    Whether, the removal of Boddington (which had about 1000 students) from the Leeds North West seat has an impact on the results in 2015 remains to be seen.

  46. Leeds North East got worse and worse for Joseph, even when the Commission kept moving the boundaries northwards. Am I right in thinking that in 1982 the Commission came close to creating an ultra-safe Leeds North East with Harewood and Wetherby in it?

  47. Christian – I am surprised and rather saddened to hear of the closure of Boddington. Back in the 1970s new students were invariably relieved to get a place there rather than find themselves in lodgings or self-catering accommodation. I wonder why tastes have changed?

  48. Barnaby- wasn’t Otley in the Ripon constituency back in the mid-70s?

  49. yes, it was I believe. I remember seeing some surprisingly detailed analysis in the Guardian in 1983 when the new boundaries took effect, in which it was shown which old seats had donated to which new or altered ones. One of the donor seats to the redrawn Leeds NW (which hasn’t changed hugely since) was indeed Ripon, which I remember surprising me at the time.

  50. And of course Keith Hampson moved from Ripon to Leeds NW in 1983, Donald Kaberry having retired.

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