Morley & Outwood

2015 Result:
Conservative: 18776 (38.9%)
Labour: 18354 (38%)
Lib Dem: 1426 (3%)
Green: 1264 (2.6%)
UKIP: 7951 (16.5%)
Others: 479 (1%)
MAJORITY: 422 (0.9%)

Category: Ultra-marginal Conservative seat

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

Main population centres: Morley, Outwood, East Ardsley, Wrenthorpe.

Profile: A pair of small towns between Leeds and Wakefield, both former industrial towns turned into residential dormitories. Morley was once a textile and coal mining town, now a hub for new housing development. Outwood was a former pit village, but has seen a massive expansion of new build housing over the last few decades. The area is also, perhaps somewhat incongrously in this post-industrial landscape, a centre for growing forced rhubarb. The area between Morley, Rothwell and Wakefield has for centuries been the centre for rhubarb growing and in 2010 won Protected Designation of Origin status.

Politics: Morley and Outwood was previously the seat of Ed Balls, Gordon Brown's ally and the Labour shadow Chancellor under Ed Miliband. After boundary changes in 2010 the Tories ran an energetic campaign hoping to defeat Ed Balls and provide a "Portillo moment" of the election, but fell tantalising short. In 2015 the situation was the opposite, no one expected a Tory victory here given the polls were pointing to Labour gains, but Balls was the most high profile casualty of the surprise Conservative victory.

Current MP
ANDREA JENKYNS (Conservative) Born Beverley. Former business development manager, music teacher and singer. Lincolnshire councillor 2009, 2009-2013. First elected as MP for Morley & Outwood in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 17264 (35%)
Lab: 18365 (38%)
LDem: 8186 (17%)
BNP: 3535 (7%)
Oth: 1506 (3%)
MAJ: 1101 (2%)
Con: 8227 (19%)
Lab: 20570 (48%)
LDem: 6819 (16%)
BNP: 2271 (5%)
Oth: 4608 (11%)
MAJ: 12343 (29%)
Con: 9829 (26%)
Lab: 21919 (57%)
LDem: 5446 (14%)
UKIP: 1248 (3%)
MAJ: 12090 (31%)
Con: 12086 (26%)
Lab: 26836 (58%)
LDem: 5087 (11%)
Oth: 529 (1%)
MAJ: 14750 (32%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Morley & Rothwell

2015 Candidates
ANDREA JENKYNS (Conservative) Born Beverley. Business development manager, music teacher and singer. Lincolnshire councillor 2009, 2009-2013.
ED BALLS (Labour) Born 1967, Norwich. Educated at Nottingham High School and Oxford University. Financial journalist and advisor to Gordon Brown as Shadow Chancellor and Chancellor. MP for Normanton 2005 to 2015. Economic Secretary to the Treasury 2006-2007, Secretary of State for Children and Schools 2007-2010. Shadow home secretary 2010-2011, Shadow Chancellor 2011-2015. A close ally of Gordon Brown throughout the last Labour government. Balls was elected as MP for Normanton in 2005, but saw his seat abolished in the boundary review, despite legal attempts to have the boundary commission recommendations overturned. In March 2007 he was selected to fight the Morley & Outwood seat in place of the retiring Colin Challen. Unsuccessfully ran for the Labour leadership in 2010. Balls is married to Yvette Cooper, the MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford.
REBECCA TAYLOR (Liberal Democrat) Born 1975, Todmorden. Educated at Leeds University. Contested Rotherham 2010. MEP for Yorkshire 2012-2014.
DAVID DEWS (UKIP) Wakefield councillor since 2014.
MARTIN HEMINGWAY (Green) Teacher and former archeologist. Leeds councillor 1990-2002 for the Labour party. Contested Leeds North West 2005, 2010, Yorkshire and Humber region 2009, 2014 European elections.
ARNIE CRAVEN (Yorkshire First) Born Leeds. Educated at Leeds University.
Comments - 687 Responses on “Morley & Outwood”
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  1. A new site with new descriptions and demographic details – great stuff AW.

    But less us not forget some comments from the old site.

    Here for example are a four comments from 2007.

    Anyone want to suggest which regular posters made them?


    “I think Labour will win here but suspect it could be closer than expected – say 2000 majority.

    Balls strikes me as something of a cold fish and will struggle in an area like this filled with ambitious, independently minded working class voters.

    Long term this will be won by the Conservatives the next time they win an overall majority.”

    “Sounds like wishful thinking on a very grand scale to me. There is no way Ed Balls will get anywhere losing here.”

    “A 2,000 majority sounds like wishful thinking to me. I don’t think it will be any closer than 5,000.”

    “Yes, I agree. Balls is very irritating [I very rarely think that about Labour people] who thinks he’s very clever, and has little to be proud of with regards to his ally Gordon Brown heaping taxes on those who get up in the morning to do the work, but I doubt the majority would go much below 20%, and may well be about the same as the notional majority if the Independent vote of 2005 disappears.”

  2. The last comment is almost certailny JJB and I expectt he first is your own. The two ‘wishful thinking’ comments are presumably from Labour supporters but could be anyone really. I’ll guess Barnaby and Merseymike

  3. 3/4 Pete

    The middle two are Barnaby and Andy.

  4. The point I should emphasise is that Labour are going to win in 2015 so the Conservatives should be planning strategically for 2020.

    They need to study the political, economic and demographic trends to get ahead of the game and shape their policies accordingly, in a way they didn’t do when last in opposition.

    For the Conservatives to get a majority in 2020 they will need to win this constituency (disregarding possible boundary changes) and perhaps half a dozen other wwc industrial constituencies in Yorkshire alone which they have previously not won before.

    In 2020 it will be Don Valley or bust for the Conservatives so to speak.

    Not a message the Cameroons will want to hear.

  5. I like this one

    “I think a lot of hype has built up in relation to the Tories gaining this seat simply because Balls is the incumbent. This is reflected in the betting with Antony Calvert as short as 10-11 with Paddy Power, which I feel is too short.
    To me anyone looking for Labour seats that will fall on a larger than average swing to the Tories would be better off looking towards NE Derbyshire and Bassetlaw. I am particularly sweet on our chances in the latter seat. “

  6. “The area is also, perhaps somewhat incongrously in this post-industrial landscape, a centre for growing forced rhubarb”

    Forced rubarb isn’t grown in flowery meadows with fluffy bunnies, cheery yokels and dry stone walls.

    Its a sour tasting weed grown in pitch dark sheds heated by fiery furnaces.

    Its an image out of William Blake rather than William Wordsworth.

  7. Richard – I have always respected your opinions & forecasts, but I was unaware that you knew anything about forced rhubarb. Is there any limit to your knowledge?
    I intend to grow ordinary rhubarb on my allotment, which I managed to secure in December. However, it’s not a major priority.

  8. Barnaby

    I have a mind filled with a variety of bizarre knowledge.

    I suspect many among us here have likewise.

    As to forced rhubarb Portillo visited a farm on one of his railway journeys.

    Regarding rhubarb more generally it is a plant which produces a high amount of oxygen during photosynthesis.

    For this reason it has been suggested that it will be used as a terraforming aid in future planet colonisation.

  9. I believe, Peter, the comment you highlight was mine. Cheers for providing a reminder of my disastrous performance in individual constituency betting at the last GE. The best that can be said about my take is that on this seat I was right but nearly wrong, while on NE Derbyshire I was wrong but within hailing distance of being right. On Bassetlaw I have absolutely no hiding place.

    My betting on the Eastleigh by-election was every bit as dismal as on the last GE. Fortunately those two events bookend successful punts on Barack Obama and Boris Johnson to be re-elected (the former the largest political bet I have ever placed) and the SNP to win the last Scottish election.

  10. Don’t be too hard on yourself Kieran. I think Bassetlaw made fools of many of us. Certainly I expected it to be close if not a Tory gain and I suspect Richard likewise

  11. Bassetlaw was in some ways the most baffling result of the election.

    But it does mean that there will be good odds on a Conservative victory there in 2020.

  12. Presumably, Richard, you consider the Tories not having a Cameronesque leader by 2020 to be an essential prerequisite for the party to taste victory in Bassetlaw.

  13. Labour’s good performances in Bassetlaw have very much continued since 2010 & it looks as secure as it has for many years. (East) Retford is the key area in that seat. If I were a Tory I’d be wary of being optimistic for even longer than Richard suggests, even though times can repidly change.

  14. Bassetlaw was a shockingly poor con result in 2010, I think I did expect labour to hold it with a big cut in majority. On the other hand, there was quite a list of seats in south yorkshire with largeish con increases – perhaps some of them are the tory seats of the futiure. Then we can just leave the wet metropolitan liberals to it – they are already exposed as a rather small group by the av referendum. This seat I think will depend on national circumstances, but the risk is a wakefield 1987/92 where even if cons continue to move up, labour gets lib dem and bnp votes to push their majority up to about 4000

  15. I can only see John Mann increasing in popularity as result of his various spats with rich and powerful individuals and would have though this seat if his until he decides to stand down – that’s presuming of course something doesn’t happen to him beforehand

    Morley & Outwood and Derbyshire North East seem more viable long-term targets for the Tories – although I’d be surprised if they won either in 2015

  16. NE Derbyshire has been trending Conservative for many years now, but very slowly. In fact the Tories aren’t really any better off there than they were in 1987 – I think Dronfield saw a big improvement in Tory fortunes years ago, but not much of the rest of the seat has followed it. Yet. Morley & Outwood however did see a large swing in 2010 & looks a better medium term bet despite the celebrity of its MP.

  17. I would agree with you there – although of the two seats, I only know NE Derbyshire quite well, and know next to nothing about Morley & Outwood.

    NE Derbyshire is a strange blend of Old Labour-inclined post-industrial towns and traditional Tory-inclined Peak District borders, together of course with some Chesterfield suburbs and the town of Dronfield which *ducks from Kieran W* has at least some influence from south and west Sheffield.

    It’s like an average of Bolsover and Derbyshire Dales, with hints of Chesterfield and Sheffield Hallam.

    The Old Labour towns may be trending Tory along a slow path in a similar way to Bolsover, and the Peak District border towns such as Ashover are safe Tory already. But as I said you then have bits of Chesterfield suburbia and Dronfield to consider, which don’t really fit into this pattern. It is not really a “motorway man” kind of seat with lots of potential aspirational swing voters, as you would find further south in Amber Valley or indeed in Morley & Outwood.

  18. I’ve never actually been to Bolsover itself – I onky know it from its elegant castle – but have passed the towns of Creswell and Clowne

    I couldn’t imagine many Tory votes in either town

  19. Though the constituency contains a lot of nice countryside (the borough of Bolsover even more so – some of the nicest bits being in NE Derbyshire constituency). There is a lot of good quality new housing springing up turning old industrial villages slowly into middle class commuter villages.

    This is slowly eroding the Labour vote base but as you say there’s a long way to go yet. The southernmost bit of Bolsover, consisting of Pinxton and most of South Normanton, is still generally pretty nasty.

  20. Joe – what South Yorkshire seats were you thinking of? The only increases that were comfortably above the national increase were Doncaster Central, Doncaster North and Penistone & Stocksbridge. The latter is competitive but probably not trending in the right direction, whilst in the former two the Tory ceiling is unlikely to be high enough to win the seat, even in the worst Labour year.

    I don’t think that the Tories can expect to do well in South Yorkshire until the area is doing well enough economically for its mining history and the aftermath to be nothing more than a historical curiousity.

  21. Edward

    My comment up-page:

    “In 2020 it will be Don Valley or bust for the Conservatives so to speak.”

    If the Conservatives don’t win Don Valley in 2010 they will not get an overall majority.

    The mining tradition of South Yorkshire (and mining areas generally) is fading with every day.

    Specifically with every death and with every incomer.

  22. Could someone explain to me the options available for Ed Balls to do a runner under labour party rules?

    Clearly this seat is needed for a tory overall majority (unless the LDs do terribly) so long term he must get out of here or will lose sooner or later

  23. There will probably be a boundary review before the 2020 election, which would give Balls an excuse to change seat (unless this seat is made safe for him).

  24. No matter how much I’d love to see Balls lose his seat, his best hope would be to cross his fingers and pin his hopes on possible future boundary changes in time for 2020. He could breath a sigh of relief if the commission decide to recreate the old Morley and Rothwell or Batley and Morley seats.

  25. Balls only represented around 40% of this seat prior to 2010, and given how quickly he was promoted to ministerial office and how safe the old Normanton seat was, it’s doubtful he did as much constituency work as most first-term MPs.

    That will no doubt have changed, so the only reason to believe he’d be in any danger would be if there was reason to believe he was incredibly unpopular locally. He had a bad swing against him in 2010, but not notably worse than seen in several other West Yorkshire seats (and not the worst in the county, either.) So the evidence that he’s incredibly unpopular (as opposed to just not particularly popular) isn’t there. There’s certainly no chance of him rat-running to an entirely new seat, as much as it might make Tories smile.

  26. Anyone know how different this seat is to the Leeds South & Morley constituency which existed before 1997 and was reasonably safe for Labour?

  27. Didn’t the Tories make a great deal of noise accusing Ruth Kelly of wanting to abandon Bolton West before the 2005 election and find a safer seat?

    In the event she proved them wrong and went on to defend her seat with a 2,000+ majority.

  28. That was always ridiculous and was against the party rules anyway, given that there was no boundary change (except in Scotland) in that election. I don’t think a Conservative could do that nowadays either.

  29. But Edward, the alternative is that sooner or later (probably the latter) he will lose here. That would make us smile rather more!

    In the event of an even a minor boundary change is he permitted to do a runner under labour party rules?

  30. “Anyone know how different this seat is to the Leeds South & Morley constituency which existed before 1997 and was reasonably safe for Labour?”

    Leeds South & Morley included Leeds South whilst Morley & Outwood includes Outwood.

    Both include(d) Morley.

    To be more precise Leeds South IIRC referred to Leeds wards – Hunslet, old industrial and inner city, and Middleton, edge of conurbation council estate.

    Outwood referrs to two Wakefield wards based on the small towns of Outwood, Wrenthorpe and Stanley, which are mixture of ex-mining and commuter settlements.

  31. And given the size of the wards involved, the actual difference between the two seats is so large as to make the seat completely different from Leeds South and Morley. I don’t think there is any real heritage here between the two seats. As Richard has said, the only real similarity is that Morley is the common base.

  32. The Ardsley & Robin Hood ward is almost entirely drawn from the old Middleton and Morley South wards (a small part came from Rothwell) so pretty much all the Leeds part of the seat (which is the majority) was in the old Leeds South & Morley

  33. Quite correct – essentially, the depopulation of southern Leeds has meant that Leeds South’s linear successors have moved further & further outside the city, until they no longer include any part of Leeds proper, as is the case now.

  34. Word on the streets is that the Tory Open Primary will be held very soon. I’ll try and get some details but it appears as though we will have a candidate before long.

  35. Thanks for answers on Leeds South and Morley.

    The ‘Morley Independents’ who have been around for some years are an interesting phenomenon. They hold five of the six Morley seats on Leeds City Council, with the final seat held by Labour. I had a quick look at recent local election results and it appears they hold their seats easily against the main parties.

    They didn’t stand against Ed Balls, but did contest the former Morley & Rothwell seat against Colin Challen in 2005 polling 4,600 votes. My guess would be that in 2010 almost all of their vote went to the Tories.

  36. It was pointed out in today’s Racing Post that although Ed Milliband is odds on at 4-5 to become the next PM Ed Balls is at best price 7-2 to be the next Chancellor. To me there seems to be something of a discrepancy there. Surely if Milliband becomes the next PM then the chances are Balls becomes the next Chancellor.

    All that can stop that happening is Balls losing this seat, Milliband replacing Balls before the election, Cameron replacing Osborne before the election or Milliband replacing Balls after a GE that saw Labour return to government. All of those eventualities I would think are pretty unlikely. The two prices should be closer together than they are.

  37. Id have Miliband about 5/4 and Balls 7/4. Agree the Balls price is very long and a good bet.

  38. “All that can stop that happening is Balls losing this seat, Milliband replacing Balls before the election, Cameron replacing Osborne before the election or Milliband replacing Balls after a GE that saw Labour return to government. All of those eventualities I would think are pretty unlikely.”

    You are forgetting another very plausible scenario – a Lib-Lab coalition with the Lib Dems insisting on Vince Cable as Chancellor. Miliband might jump at that opportunity to get rid of Balls.

  39. I don’t rate the chances of Lib Dems winning enough seats to be in a position to insist on holding one of the top cabinet jobs. They will almost certainly not be in a stronger a bargaining position than they were in 2010.

  40. If Miliband had any Balls he’d get rid of him now.

  41. The opportunity to form a majority government even if the Libs are only on 35-40 seats or so would be hard to resist, and I think Labour wouldn’t mind having VC as chancellor with the opportunity to get rid of Balls.

  42. I don’t agree with that. Relations between Balls & Ed Miliband may not be perfect, but they’re clearly better than they were between Gordon Brown & Tony Blair. Cable is seen as at best a loose cannon, and at worst a traitor, within the Labour Party.

  43. they’re clearly better than they were between Gordon Brown & Tony Blair

    That isn’t setting the bar very high…

  44. lol. fair point. But so is mine. 🙂

  45. It can be stopped

  46. Can we stop the partisan comments please? Do it somewhere else.

  47. Andrea Jenkyns has been selected by open primary to stand for the Tories in Morley & Outwood

  48. What are Balls chances of holding on here in 2015.?

    Love him or hate him, fair play to him for not chicken-running and fighting this seat 2010.

  49. Pretty certain I would have thought.

  50. I agree with Hemmelig here- Balls will hold.

    However, if Labour forms the next government and becomes unpopular, this seat could be one to watch in 2020. As Richard and others have mentioned, seats like this, Wakefield, and Don Valley are key to the Conservatives’ chances of an electoral breakthrough after decades of failure. Whether or not such a breakthrough will materialise is a different matter of course.

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