Manchester, Withington

2015 Result:
Conservative: 4872 (9.8%)
Labour: 26845 (53.7%)
Lib Dem: 11970 (24%)
Green: 4048 (8.1%)
UKIP: 2172 (4.3%)
Independent: 61 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 14875 (29.8%)

Category: Safe Labour seat

Geography: North West, Greater Manchester. Part of the Manchester council area.

Main population centres: Withington, Didsbury, Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

Profile: A residential area in the southern part of Manchester, Withington was once a desirable middle class area area and a safe Conservative seat, but demographic changes have seen the area decline as much of the middle classes moved out into Cheshire and family homes were converted into rental flats for students. In 1987 Labour took the seat and by 2001 Keith Bradley had a five figure majority. The area still has a large student population but is also attracting increasing numbers of young professionals.

Politics: Manchester Withington was a surprise Lib Dem gain in 2005, won from Labour with a 17% swing on the back of a Liberal Democrat local government base, the student vote and opposition to the Iraq war. The Liberal Democrat local councillor base has been rapidly eroded since the beginning of the coalition (the Liberal Democrats lost all the seats they were defending in 2011 and 2012) and they were convincingly ousted at the 2015 general election.


Current MP
JEFF SMITH (Labour) Born Withington. Educated at Manchester University. Former events manager and DJ. Manchester councillor since 1997. First elected as MP for Manchester Withington in 2015.
Past Results
2010
Con: 5005 (11%)
Lab: 18216 (40%)
LDem: 20110 (45%)
GRN: 798 (2%)
Oth: 902 (2%)
MAJ: 1894 (4%)
2005*
Con: 3919 (10%)
Lab: 15205 (41%)
LDem: 15872 (42%)
GRN: 1595 (4%)
Oth: 867 (2%)
MAJ: 667 (2%)
2001
Con: 5349 (15%)
Lab: 19239 (55%)
LDem: 7715 (22%)
GRN: 1539 (4%)
Oth: 1208 (3%)
MAJ: 11524 (33%)
1997
Con: 8522 (19%)
Lab: 27103 (62%)
LDem: 6000 (14%)
Oth: 1323 (3%)
MAJ: 18581 (42%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
ROB MANNING (Conservative) Educated at Manchester University. Professional services consultant.
JEFF SMITH (Labour) Born Withington. Educated at Manchester University. Former events manager and DJ. Manchester councillor since 1997.
JOHN LEECH (Liberal Democrat) Born 1971, Hastings. Educated at Manchester Grammar and Brunel University. McDonald`s manager and call centre worker for the RAC. Manchester councillor 1998-2008. MP for Manchester Withington 2005 to 2015.
MARK DAVIES (UKIP) Businessman.
LUCY BANNISTER (Green)
MARCUS FARMER (Independent) Runs a waste recycling business. Contested Manchester Withington 2010.
Links
Comments - 248 Responses on “Manchester Withington”
  1. Here’s a blog collecting Withington election leaflets. If leaflet frequency is the determinant of success, it looks like the Lib Dems are well out in front at the moment.

  2. Wintergreen leaflet frequency is at best marginal. Ashcroft had labour up by 34% back in june. Game over

  3. Labour are obviously going to win this but it’ll be interesting nonetheless to see how much of a personal vote Leech has. If he can restrict the Labour majority to say 5,000 it would be a creditable performance.

  4. Bentheelectionjunkie – my comment was tongue-in-cheek; I agree there’s not much doubt Labour will win this one (see my previous posts). Having said that, the Lib Dem ground game is clearly strong in Withington and it may end up closer than current polls are predicting.

  5. Sorry Wintergreen. When i read your comment i was so focused on the cheek of it i missed the tongue

  6. Lib Dems have just set up a new campaign office in Chorlton cum Hardy. Frankly I think this is a waste of their resources. I think Chorlton will go strong to Labour with Greens in a reasonable second

  7. Leech should have enough of a personal vote to finish second. I agree this will be an easy Labour gain in May. Greens and Conservatives will be in battle for third.

  8. meant specifically in the Chorltonb wards not constituency as a whole

  9. I guess the LD’s know they are going to lose this.

    However in terms of working the seat as with some other seats in addition to whatever they hold (my best guess is 30 or just under but I guess the plausible range is anywhere between just over 20 and just under 40) they’ll want to stay competitive in most, though not all, of the 2010 seats they won for when performance possibly improves in the future.

    Leech will have a reasonable personal vote; so if they can keep the Labour majority to say 5,000 it looks a more plausible target in 2020 or future elections, whereas if Labour won by 10,000 say (my guess is majority will be somewhere in the middle) it looks out of LD range for future elections.

  10. Believeitornot – I can’t see the Greens coming second in Chorlton. There’s no sign of them on the ground at all. Unless there’s saving their pitch for the campaign proper? I don’t think that leaves enough time to establish themselves though.

  11. Me, my mates and a huge section of Manchester Uni students voted Lib Dem when we lived here in 2010 on the back of Nick’s free tuition fees pledge. We couldn’t believe what happened next. I don’t think today’s student vote will be as naive. This will be a labour win.

  12. Not seen a single Libdem leaflet or canvasser. I think they gave up a long time ago. Libdems have been utterly slaughtered in every single council election since the Coalition – it will be the same on May 7th. Also, Jeff Smith goes to the pub.

  13. Labour by 11,000. LD still 2nd

  14. Labour Gain. 9,000 majority.

  15. I was rather impressed by Layla Moran’s 500th poster going up in OxWab until I saw today that John Leech is up to 3,000..

    There seems to be no lack of money going into this campaign either… the gigantic vehicles with signage and matching shirts for canvassers and other kit are rather impressive..

  16. Lab gain 10,000 majority

  17. Good example of just how much we underestimated how badly the Lib Dems would do. Normally, a governing party will do better at a general than during its mid-term locals. Certainly my prediction here was based on that. Instead, the Lib Dems achieved a worse share of the vote here in 2015 than even at all the proceeding locals, which were themselves pretty catastrophic.

  18. Labour majority 14,875. Underestimated by most above, this is now listed again as a “safe Labour seat”. The swings in Lab-Lib marginals were quite remarkable. Brent Central was another.

  19. In the local paper John Leech has said he wants to have another attempt at winning back this seat (if his party selects him) – and also contesting a seat on the City’s council.

  20. If he can get all the posters and t-shirts to vote for him next time, as well as actual people, he may be in with a shout 🙂

  21. Runnymede- don’t forget the gigantic vehicles with signage 🙂

  22. Every penny Labour spent in this constituency was probably unnecessary. They would have won it without any campaigning. But whether sending activists and resources elsewhere would have helped is not certain.

  23. ‘Every penny Labour spent in this constituency was probably unnecessary. ‘

    It’s easy to say hat in hindsight but like many Lib Dem MPs who lost their seats on huge swings, Leech was regarded as a hard-working, constituency-focussed MP who one would would assume would have had a strong personal vote

    As was the case with so many of his colleagues, there was scant evidence of that on polling day, but this did always look like one of Labour’s easier gains

  24. I’ve no real idea about this seat but it strikes me as archetypal muesli belt, could the greens mount a challenge here in the future?

  25. Possible as the Lib Dems melt, a la Sheffield Central. Students aren’t always as pro-Green as is often imagined though – I met plenty at the election hostile to the party. They’ve got a high bottom, but a low top (ooh-er).

  26. If Leech doesn’t stand again I think a heavy proportion of his votes could go to the Greens. I’d be surprised if they don’t come second or close to it next time.

  27. Given the precedent of defeated MPs fighting again, Leech should probably call it a day and look back on his ten years as MP as glorious days in the sun. Though as I have said I do like when politicians come back to fight again.

    As for students and the greens you’re very right mrnameless. I didn’t have an inbuilt lust to support the GP which dissipated once they handed me my degree parchment, but then again student votes are not as much of the electorate as they’re sometimes cracked up to be.

  28. I recall that during the 2005 General Election Leech ran a campaign on the threatened closure of a local hospital which afterwards turned out never to have been at risk. A very typical Lib-Dem tactic.

    I agree with Robberbutton, Leech should call it a day. I think many voters in Withington probably now regret their flirtation with the Lib-Dems.

  29. “which afterwards turned out never to have been at risk”

    Sigh. You can’t just assert something as fact because it suits what you want to say. If something is at risk of happening (and I’m making no comment as to how serious or not the risk might have been in this case) and then that thing does not happen, it does not mean that there was no risk.

    It’s a bit like people who complained in 2000 “we spent all this money on preparing our computer systems for Y2K and the Millennium Bug, but nothing happened so people we’re just lying about the risk!”. Might be that they wasted money or it might be that doing something about the risk stopped the unwanted outcome happening.

  30. *were

  31. OK then. We had something similar happen in Richmond Park in the 2010 election. The defending LD candidate Susan Kramer ran with a story that services including maternity were at risk at Kingston Hospital (which is in that constituency). In fact, there was to be a routine examination into the services provided there, which was just as likely to recommend expansion of such services as to recommend any closure or contraction. The result? The Labour, Conservative (Zac Goldsmith) and Green candidates had a joint letter (almost unheard-of in a general election campaign) published in the local paper condemning this as a scare story, even though the Tories could easily have joined in in what was basically an indirect attack on the then Labour government. So forgive me if l tend to associate myself more with James’s version of events than Matt’s one.

  32. Boundaries:

    1918-1950: The County Borough of Manchester wards of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Didsbury, and Withington.

    1950-1955: The County Borough of Manchester wards of Rusholme and Withington.

    1955-1974: The County Borough of Manchester wards of Barlow Moor, Burnage, Levenshulme, Old Moat, and Withington.

    1974-1983: The County Borough of Manchester wards of Barlow Moor, Burnage, Didsbury, Old Moat, and Withington.

    1983-2010: The City of Manchester wards of Barlow Moor, Burnage, Chorlton, Didsbury, Old Moat, and Withington.

    2010-present: The City of Manchester wards of Burnage, Chorlton, Chorlton Park, Didsbury East, Didsbury West, Old Moat, and Withington.

  33. FYI all, the campaign to Save Christie Hospital was not a lie. Google the article. The MEN reported it BEFORE John Leech picked it up as a campaign.

  34. Former Lib Dem MP John Leech is nominated for election to Manchester City Council for the Didsbury West Ward.

    A bit surprising really so soon after his crushing defeat that presumably he’s setting himself up for another.

  35. I think if you’re a Lib Dem at the moment you have to be a bit of a masochist. This #LibDemFightback isn’t going to create itself…

  36. John Leech may well see a similar result to that of Adrian Sanders in Torbay.

    Didsbury West, after Charlton Park is the council seat with the second highest Lib Democrat vote in 2015 (28%) and bearing in mind that John Leech is standing, if there is any seat which is going to break the Labour monopoly in Manchester this will probably be it.

  37. Couple of people on Twitter suggesting John Leech might actually have won in Didsbury West

  38. Can confirm the above. John Leech has broken Labour’s monopoly of Manchester Borough Council.

  39. My sister lives in Didsbury. I don’t know whether she voted for him, but she did vote Lib Dem at the last GE.

  40. Manchester has an opposition!

  41. *City Council.

    Yes, Leech won quite easily, although it struck me there were no other close contests.

    Either the LDs threw everything at this one ward and ignored the rest; but, there wasn’t much anti-Labour movement back here in other wards. Unlike Liverpool, this is a far more Labour city.

  42. JAMESRODRIGUEZ – Didsbury West is also largely the same ward John Leech represented as a Councillor prior to becoming an MP. Former Coucnillor Norman Lews was in Chorlton Park.

  43. Maxim – No, Trafford Councillor Jane Brophy was selected. Leech didn’t put in.

  44. Maxim
    About as likely as it is me voting Tory I’d say. Leech more so than any other Lib Dem MP sneaked wins with a magical coalition of students, liberally inclined professionals and middle class Tory leaning voters who happen to live in a seat the Tories have no hope in. This seat has enough of said demographics for Leech to win in 05 and 10 but not enough for the seat to at any point be deemed secure like Hornsey and Cardiff Central once were.

    That the first two groups are now not at all likely to vote for him and that the Tories here are not only increasingly dying off or moving further afield but those that remain will likely just back their primary candidate in a GE from now on.

    This is Smiths seats as long as he wants it, the Lib Dems will probably have to fight just to hold second place ahead of the Tories and/or Greens.

    A lot of attention was placed on Leech gaining Didsbury West at the last locals on a impressive swing but folks ignored that there were swings to Labour in every other ward in the seat.

  45. John Leech is running again this time: https://twitter.com/johnleechmcr/status/856095495571296256

  46. If Leech repeats the swing he had in 2005 he will win by over 2000. Last time it was the Gulf War. If it happens again it will be Brexit.

  47. Lib Dems seem to be throwing a strangely high amount at this seat, probably more than Hazel Grove or Cheadle. I wonder if they think they have a shot?

    Personally, I think it’ll run closer than expected but they’ll fall well short. Something like Labour in the mid-40s, LDs in mid-to-high 30s.

  48. Very sad to have to report that Cllr Sheila Newman of Chorlton ward has died suddenly.

Leave a Reply

NB: Before commenting please make sure you are familiar with the Comments Policy. UKPollingReport is a site for non-partisan discussion of polls.

You are not currently logged into UKPollingReport. Registration is not compulsory, but is strongly encouraged. Either login here, or register here (commenters who have previously registered on the Constituency Guide section of the site *should* be able to use their existing login)