Luton South

2015 Result:
Conservative: 12949 (30.7%)
Labour: 18660 (44.2%)
Lib Dem: 3183 (7.5%)
Green: 1237 (2.9%)
UKIP: 5129 (12.1%)
Independent: 900 (2.1%)
Others: 158 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 5711 (13.5%)

Category: Safe Labour seat

Geography: Eastern, Bedfordshire. Part of the Luton council area and part of the Central Bedfordshire council area.

Main population centres: Luton, Caddington.

Profile: Luton was historically a manufacturing town, originally for hats, and more recently for Vauxhall cars and Electrolux. The Vauxhall car plant closed in 2002 and the fast growing London Luton Airport across the boundary in Luton South is becoming a far more important part of the local economy. The constituency has a high proportion of ethnic minorities, in the 2001 census over a quarter of the population was non-white and there is a large Muslim population that could have a political impact.

Politics: Until it was retained by Labour in 2010 this had been one the most reliable bellwether seats in the country, having been won by the party that went on to form the government in every election since 1951. The former MP, Margaret Moran, announced she was stepping down after being criticised for the Daily Telegraph for claiming 22,000 pounds in expenses to treat dry rot in her second home, but not before provoking a wide range of anti-sleaze candidates, including TV personality Esther Rantzen. Moran was later charged with fraud, but found unfit to plead due to mental health issues.

Current MP
GAVIN SHUKER (Labour) Born 1981, Luton. Educated at Icknield High School and Cambridge University. First elected as MP for Luton South in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 12396 (29%)
Lab: 14725 (35%)
LDem: 9567 (23%)
BNP: 1299 (3%)
Oth: 4229 (10%)
MAJ: 2329 (6%)
Con: 10960 (28%)
Lab: 16610 (43%)
LDem: 8778 (23%)
UKIP: 957 (2%)
Oth: 1613 (4%)
MAJ: 5650 (15%)
Con: 11586 (29%)
Lab: 21719 (55%)
LDem: 4292 (11%)
GRN: 798 (2%)
Oth: 956 (2%)
MAJ: 10133 (26%)
Con: 15109 (31%)
Lab: 26428 (55%)
LDem: 4610 (10%)
Oth: 832 (2%)
MAJ: 11319 (23%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
KATIE REDMOND (Conservative)
GAVIN SHUKER (Labour) See above.
ASHUK AHMED (Liberal Democrat)
PAUL WESTON (party name) Born 1964, Malaysia. Educated at Fosters Grammar School. Contested Cities of London and Westminster 2010 for UKIP, South East region 2014 European elections.
ATTIQ MALIK (Independent)
Comments - 130 Responses on “Luton South”
  1. 2015 will be the judge of Cameronism.

  2. Joe James B – yes you recall correctly. However, Bright along with so many of his colleagues must have known that he would lose, and presumably come to terms with it by polling day. I remember Malcolm Rifkind smiling broadly as he lost Edinburgh Pentlands to Labour, too. Tony Benn did the same when he lost Bristol E in 1983, though perhaps he would have though he might have had at least a chance of holding on on that occasion.

  3. The funny thing was that in a lot of the seats (though not all) Labour very nearly gained from the Tories in 1992, when these seats were gained by them in 1997 they were taken in some cases with five figure majorities and have been held by them ever since.

  4. By coincidence several of the seats the tories just held in 1992 were already changing demographically so this could have been a contributory factor in their massive labour majorities in 1997 and holds in 2010. Partly related to that is the tories were too weary to fight in 97 I suspect. Came through luton today.

  5. The effects of demographic change are evident in that the Conservative vote was numerically smaller here in 2010 than in 1997 in both absolute and percentage terms.

    How many other constituencies does that occur in.

  6. There’s no question that the Tories looked pretty weary on the ground in 1997 in the areas where I was working. They visibly gave up early in Mitcham & Morden on polling day & looked irritable. I hardly saw any meaningful knocking up either. At least Labour by & large tried pretty hard in 2010 & the actual organization wasn’t that much worse than it had been in the landslide victories.

  7. @Richard

    “…..the Conservative vote was numerically smaller here in 2010 than in 1997 in both absolute and percentage terms.

    How many other constituencies does that occur in.”

    I haven’t checked the actual numbers of votes, but there are a fair number of constituencies where the Conservative vote share was down on 1997.

    There are are many in Scotland ,London, Birmingham and Liverpool where voters have increasingly turned against the Tories, or the rising BAME vote has affected the demographics. I think this group is well-understood.

    There are also a number where the rising LibDem vote has hindered the tories and they’ve gone backwards: examples are Norwich S, Cambridge, Manchester Withington, Southport, Torbay, Leeds N, and Watford (albeit that the LDs didn’t quite win Watford). I think there must be other Labour held seats where the Tories are out of contention and have been squeezed by a Lib Dem challenge.

    The Tories have gone backwards in Brighton Kemptown, Brighton Pavillion, and only advanced by a tiny % in Hove. Bit of a common theme there.

    One truly odd one I’ve found is Rochford and Southend East. This might be the loss of Teddy Taylor’s personal vote, but could also be part of the wider trend away from the Tories and both seaside towns and larger conurbations.

  8. Well it can be hard to stay cheerful if you have had doors slammed in your face 70 times in an hour.

  9. Only joking

  10. Declaration for this seat in 1992-

  11. GIven demographic change in this seat over the last few decades, the Tories probably would have been unable to hold this seat from about 1993 onwards, even if the national situation hadn’t changed since April 1992. In fact maybe even just six months after the 1992 election enough Tory voters might have moved out of the seat to have made it impossible for them to win again.

  12. Safe to say Luton is one of the few parts of the Eastern region that is trending strongly towards Labour and away from the Tories. Shuker’s majority should go up in 2015. The drop in vote was fairly obvious in the events prior to the 2010 election.

  13. Thanks for that declaration – I remember it at the time.

    The last ever Con victory in Luton South I would have thought – unless the seat is cut up by rural re-drawing
    but with 2 heavily Labour seats it’s hard to see that happening,

  14. JJB- by the way, I managed to come with more exceptions on the Hornchurch and Upminster thread- Luton North was one of them interestingly enough.

  15. The thing is Luton South is boxed in in the south-west corner of Bedfordshire which means that it’s almost impossible to add any rural acreage without crossing county boundaries.

  16. *south-east*

  17. Tory – thanks – yes I saw your interesting list – sorry didn’t reply.
    Perhaps the answer to this is there were a number of seats which were easily Tory in 1983 but Labour second
    they tended to be former marginals in decent sized towns. Perhaps Barnaby was thinking of majorities above about 22-23%.

    If one went down to about 15% you would bring in Gravesham etc

  18. JJB- yes indeed, or in the case of seats like Wolverhampton SW, once-safe seats that were moving Labour long-term.

  19. Yes – I can’t quite recall what happened in wolverhampton sw in 1987 though – I think c may have put up share a bit, but a big labouir swing and drop in lib dem vote in 1992

  20. Joe has correctly worked out what I was getting at.
    With regard to Wolverhampton SW, I can actually remember what happened in 1987. There was a swing of something like 1.6% to Labour, i.e. pretty much in line with the national average, and Nick Budgen’s majority went down from about 23.3% (give or take .1 of a per cent) to almost exactly 20%. Then as Joe said there was a sharper swing in 1992 which made it a proper marginal. I think it’s true to say that Labour were helped by the 1983 boundary changes in the seat; however, rather remarkably Enoch Powell used to win the seat with great ease, even though (correct me Pete or someone else if I’m wrong) it didn’t even include the heavily Tory area of Tettenhall at the time.

  21. As I understand it you are broadly right, Barnaby. Tettenhall did not join Wolverhampton SW until 1974. Before then, it was part of Brierley Hill, which was a very populous constituency by the time of its abolition. Therefore, Powell wouldn’t have represented Tettenhall in his days as a Conservative MP.

  22. Wolverhampton SW:

    1979: Con 26587, Lab 15827, Lib 6939, Oth 1313
    1979 notional: Con 26722, Lab 16661, Lib 6966, Oth 1347
    1983: Con 25214, Lab 13694, All 10724, Oth 201
    1987: Con 26235, Lab 15917, All 9616
    1992: 25969, Lab 21003, LD 4470, Oth 1237

    Interesting how stable the Tory vote is in all of those.

  23. Barnaby- incidentally, my list on the Hornchurch thread was not intended to undermine your point about 1983. The exceptions I listed proved the rule and as I said, one can question how far they were exceptions. The only seat with a Tory majority of >30% with Labour second on my list was Croydon Central.

  24. From his comments at PB Sean Fear seems increasingly depressed about the future of the Conservative party.

    Despite his defection to UKIP he is still very well connected to the Conservatives in the Bedfordshire / Hertfordshire area.

  25. “Therefore, Powell wouldn’t have represented Tettenhall in his days as a Conservative MP.”

    The addition of Tettenhall in 1974 explains why there was still a big Tory majority despite a huge swing to Labour.

  26. Many of the Conservative voters in Tettenhall would have been living in the more inner parts of Wolverhampton SW in the 1960s and 1970s – or perhaps their parents would have been.

    As in so many urban areas Conservative voters are now in the outer suburbs or exurban areas rather than in the old ‘West End’ posh parts or 1930s/1950s/1960s middle suburbia.

  27. Can anyone name a ‘middle suburban’ ward which is more Conservative now than it was a generation ago?

    I guess there might be one or two in south-west London. Possibly for different reasons some in Havering, although that’s more outer suburbia.

    Perhaps we should define ‘middle suburban’ as a predominantly private sector housing built during the 1950s.

  28. You could probably find examples in some of the new towns like Milton Keynes, Harlow, Swindon, etc.

  29. There would be some places in SW London – in Wandsworth, Hammersmith, and Richmond Park where the C share of the vote may slightly exceed what it did in 1992 or 1987 – but as you’ve both said, that is not the kind of place you are looking for – that area is essentially an extension of a high property price area extending from Central London towards the Thames Valley.

    Possibly some parts of the West Midlands – particularly Walsall (Pelsall for example) – but not Sutton Coldfield.

    I don’t think New Towns can count – surely what you are looking for is Metroland and equivalent in larger conurbations or near to them.

    I don’t really know whether that type of housing exists in Elmet and Rothwell – I think not. I doubt the actual C share of the vote is above 1992 although it could be – more like Labour is lower.

  30. I don’t know whether Erdington would qualify.

  31. Do you think the tories are actually doing better there than in 1992 Andy?

  32. I suspect this seat will see the single largest Lib-Lab swing of all Con/Lab marginals.

    Partly because of the obvious local reasons behind Labour’s performance in 2010, and partly because the ‘domestically Labour, but Iraq changes everything’ element of the LD vote was as large here as anywhere in England. There are lots of seats where Labour stand to be the net beneciaries from a LD collapse, but few where the proportion of direct Lib–>Lab switchers will be as high. In other seats where the LDs were a sizeable third, those moving away from the LDs will do so in a somewhat more scattered way.

  33. l strongly suspect that this will be a permanently safe labour seat from now on.

  34. Chris Hornet,

    Derby North has a good chance of winning that award as well.

  35. Seems an equally good shout, though the impression I get from that page is that he’s a bit of a marmite figure.

    On the particular measure we’re talking about vanilla is probably a better way to go.

  36. Labour Hold. 8,000 maj.

  37. Still waiting for a result after 14 hours of counting.

  38. The total number of valid votes cast fell in 168 constituencies. In Luton South the total was exactly the same as 2010: 42,216 votes.

  39. Gavin is lucky…he has a local airport where he can take a nice holiday after losing his seat…Conservative win

  40. Gavin is lucky…he has a local airport where he can take a nice holiday after losing his seat…Conservative win by 3 or 4 percent

  41. The Torries must have a fair chance here in June despite the demographics.

  42. Before looking at the figures, I’d have said that even if nationally there is a 10% swing, I’d still have expected Labour to hold this.

    But while the 2010 election result was down to expenses rather than a shift against Labour, they clearly have a low enough floor here for it to be in play. Current national polling needs to hold up completely to justify the Tories being favourites, and while there’s a good chance of that, the watermark is so high that their lead is more likely to narrow (though still be enormous) than to widen.

    Therefore I’m going for a narrow Lab hold.

  43. Yes, if Labour fall to 35% again, like in 2010, then maybe it could go. It’s probably fairly safe though, due in no small part to the ethnic demographics

  44. I’ve met Gavin he’s a great MP

  45. Conservatives have selected Dean Russell to be their candidate for GE2017.

  46. Dean Russell contested Luton North in 2015.

  47. BBC Daily Politics’ mood box on national security showed all but one ethnic minority voter in Luton choose Labour and every white voter bar one chose the Conservatives.

  48. A Motion of no confidence was passed a few weeks ago against Gavin Shuker by his CLP.

  49. Gavin Shuker has resigned from the Labour Party.

  50. This is the saddest. I invited Gavin to speak in St Albans about being a young member of parliament to inspire young members. I feel sick now

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