Normanton, Pontefract & Castleford

2015 Result:
Conservative: 9569 (20.8%)
Labour: 25213 (54.9%)
Lib Dem: 1330 (2.9%)
UKIP: 9785 (21.3%)
MAJORITY: 15428 (33.6%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

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

Main population centres: Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford, Knottingley.

Profile: Consists of the three eponymous towns, along with the town of Knottingley and village of Ferrybridge, the location of a series of coal-fired power stations. It is a forming coal mining area, though the only remaining deep mine is now just across the North Yorkshire border at Kellingley. The area is now a mix of commuter areas for Leeds and Wakefield and manufacturing, with remaining industry including confectionary and the Burberry factory at Castleford.

Politics: Created in 2010 by the merger of two safe Labour seats - Normanton and Pontefract & Castleford - which were at the time represented by husband and wife, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper. Ed Balls would instead be selected for the new Morley and Outwood seat.

Current MP
YVETTE COOPER (Labour) Born 1969, Inverness. Educated at Eggar`s School and Oxford University. Former political advisor and journalist. First elected as MP for Pontefract and Castleford in 1997. Under-seretary at the department of health 1999-2003 and the office of the deputy Prime Minister 2003-2005, Minister of State in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 2005-2007, Minister of State for Housing 2007-2008. Chief Secretary to the Treasury 2008-2009, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 2009-2010. Shadow foreign secretary 2010-2011, Shadow Home Secretary 2011-2015. She is married to Ed Balls, the former MP and Shadow Chancellor. Unsuccessfully contested the Labour leadership in 2015, she declined to serve under Jeremy Corbyn.
Past Results
Con: 11314 (24%)
Lab: 22293 (48%)
LDem: 7585 (16%)
BNP: 3864 (8%)
Oth: 1183 (3%)
MAJ: 10979 (24%)
Con: 5727 (17%)
Lab: 20973 (64%)
LDem: 3942 (12%)
BNP: 1835 (6%)
Oth: 470 (1%)
MAJ: 15246 (46%)
Con: 5512 (18%)
Lab: 21890 (70%)
LDem: 2315 (7%)
UKIP: 739 (2%)
Oth: 935 (3%)
MAJ: 16378 (52%)
Con: 5614 (14%)
Lab: 31339 (76%)
LDem: 3042 (7%)
MAJ: 25725 (62%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Pontefract & Castleford

2015 Candidates
BETH PRESCOTT (Conservative) Born West Yorkshire. Parliamentary caseworker.
YVETTE COOPER (Labour) See above.
EDWARD MACMILLAN-SCOTT (Liberal Democrat) Born 1949, Cambridge. Former public affairs consultant. Contested MEP for York 1984-1994, North Yorkshire 1994-1999, Yorkshire 1999-2014. Originally elected as a Conservative, defected to the Liberal Democrats in 2010.
Comments - 134 Responses on “Normanton, Pontefract & Castleford”
  1. The old site gives the 2001 housing tenure as:

    63.5% owner occupied
    30.7% council/social
    4.0% private rented

    So it seems that this is an area where home ownership has increased.

    Despite the national level having fallen for the past 8 years.

    Could someone do a list of constituencies with the largest increases / decreases in home ownership?

    It might make interesting correlation with electoral trends.

  2. Does anyone imagine a scenario where Yvette Cooper becomes party leader after 2015? The next election will be so wildly unpredictable for a whole host of reasons and Ed Miliband blows hot and cold with such alarming regularity that I can see anything being possible after the next election.

  3. Cooper is probably one of the stronger contenders at the moment. There is a bit of a succession vacuum in both main parties though.

  4. “There is a bit of a succession vacuum in both main parties though”

    Completely agree. While Cameron, Miliband and Clegg are hardly Thatcher, Atlee or Churchill…I’m struggling to think of serious leadership contenders in all the main parties.

  5. I think Andy Burnham has slowly become a favourite amongst Labour members…certainly judging by the polls on Labourlist. According to Damien McBride analysing the intake year of successive Labour leader, there is an interesting pattern and if this was to be repeated the next leader will be from the 2005 intake. Personally think Ed has done a good job, considering the circumstances of New Labour in government for 13 years and presiding over a recession (global or otherwise) and even being in pole position to be at least the biggest party at the next election after just 1 term and having a Press who seriously dislike him.

    The Tories have David Davis and I think he could more than Cameron. especially with his back story which is a big contrast to say the least.

    Lib Dems – Tim Farron is the obvious one but personally like Vince Cable.

    In my opinion, when you have MPs from such narrow pools, this is what you get – fairly uninspiring, managerial types.

  6. Damian McBride’s analysis suffers from an extremely small dataset. The likelihood that the pattern is anything more than random is extremely small.

    You’d have to assume that in the event of a leadership vacancy in 2015 Cooper would be the favourite if she stood (and might well have been in 2010 too). Though it’s not clear what her unique offer might be, I think there’s a widespread feeling that electing a female leader would be no bad thing from a cultural point of view.

    That said, leadership contests are inherently difficult to predict. It’ll have to be somebody who is in the Shadow Cabinet by the end of this year, but there are plenty of MPs who meet that description who could plausibly make a go of it.

    For the Lib Dems, Farron evidently wants it but I wouldn’t entirely discount Steve Webb and it’s likely that somebody from the right of the party might also want a crack at it.

    For the Tories, it’s going to depend how the vacancy occurs. Decapitation this Parliament looks unlikely, simply because they’re rapidly running out of time. If it’s the result of a heavy defeat in 2015, there’s no way a right-winger doesn’t get the nod, and it’s probably the only way Davis gets to be leader. If it’s a narrower defeat, you could have a much more open contest and a more moderate candidate might be able to argue they’d have a better shot come 2020.

    If Cameron retires voluntarily after 2015, on the other hand, it’d have to be a Cameroon succeeding him. Even if the economy takes off like a rocket, Osborne isn’t going to meet the bill, but nobody else has staked an unquestionable claim yet.

  7. My 2015 forecast here

    Lab 55
    Con 20
    UKIP 16
    LD 6
    Others 3

    It will be very interesting to see if UKIP destroys the Tory vote in Wakefield next year after what happened in May 2012.

  8. There is no electoral evidence that UKIP takes many Lab votes either here or in Barnsley. Rotherham is a different matter.

  9. I have a very strange feeling that Robert Halfon will be the next Tory leader in 2015.

  10. That does seem very strange. It would be interesting though. If Labour wins the general election, Halfon wouldn’t survive in his constituency by all that much. It would be the first time that a Tory leader will have had a credible challenge in his/her constituency since Heath in Bexley in 1966. If Labour formed a minority government, the Tories elected Halfon as leader, then Ed Miliband, ahead in the polls, went to the country after a short period, Halfon could easily lose his seat.

  11. I don’t see Halfon being anywhere near the leadership – as I’ve said before, one of the big problems for the Tories is that they don’t have a significant number of good candidates to take over from Cameron.

    I suspect that it would be either Teresa May (who like her or loathe her does seem to have been at least broadly competent at the Home Office) or Phillip Hammond. Neither would appeal far beyond the Tories’ traditional voter base (perhaps May might improve the Tories’ fortunes with female voters somewhat) but neither would likely to be a catastrophe.

    Longer term, I suspect that the Tories would do well to identify a moderate, ‘likeable’ leader – someone like an Ed Vaizey, Sarah Wolllaston etc. I’m about to contradict myself as I’ve never favoured active selection or ‘positive’ discrimination, but it would probably be a good idea if the next Tory leader wasn’t from Eton and had done a ‘proper job’ for at least some period of time.

  12. Very much in agreement with Chris K.

    The next Tory leader should not be from Eton/Oxford. We need the complete opposite to have any chance of reconnecting with normal folk on a large scale.

  13. If Sarah Wollaston becomes party leader, I am leaving to either the Lib Dems or back to UKIP.

    I think Halfon will have a large personal vote and do very much better than the tory average in 2015 and comfortably retain his seat. Leadership material – no.

  14. If I correctly understand your reasoning for wanting to leave if Sarah Wollaston were leader, I can’t understand why you would join the Lib Dems. For the most part they are every bit as bad or worse in terms of being nannying fusspots (most support plain packaging, minimum alcohol pricing etc)

  15. how did this curious debate end up on this constituencies discussion board? did someone put something in the water??

  16. ‘one of the big problems for the Tories is that they don’t have a significant number of good candidates to take over from Cameron.’

    They don’t have any – including May and Hammond

    You are right to say that May has been a competent Home Secretary and has been willing in the past willing to tell the Tories things some of their membners didn’t want to gear (the ‘nasty party’ speech) but she comes across as dislikeable

    Hammond strikes me as a Mitt Romney type of figure – totally unable to connect with the type of people the Tories need voting for them to win a majority

    ‘Longer term, I suspect that the Tories would do well to identify a moderate, ‘likeable’ leader – someone like an Ed Vaizey, Sarah Wolllaston etc’

    Definitely – but Vaizey hasn’t made much impact since being elected in 2005 and Sarah Woolaston, whilst she might not know it at the moment, is in the wrong party

    People forget that David Cameron was a relative unknown until he gave that hugely overrated speech in 2005 and then became leader

    Everyone in the party knows that Osbourne wants the top job – perhaps he did some kind of Blaoir.Brown deal with Cameron. Fortunately for them, the Tories also know how unpopular he is and that electing him as a leader would be electoral suicide – although this is a party that thought Hague and IDS were their best answers to elecotoral annailation, so never say never

  17. Sarah Woolaston is the product of the primary system by which somebody’s connection to the party can be rather tenuous. I find it strange that she is a Conservative MP and she might eventually come to that conclusion herself.

  18. You are probably right Pete.

  19. Theresa May and Philip Hammond are clearly the only plausible candidates in the Cabinet.

    Theresa May is a bit like the British version of Angela Merkel.

  20. Hammond is simply not inspiring enough. A solid reliable cabinet member yes, PM no.

  21. Candidates are thin on the ground. What do folks think of someone like Grant Shapps? He has a bit of that Tony Blair air about him to me (whether that is good or not is a moot point, that’s why I raise his name as a comment not an opinion!)

  22. Grant Shapps is a joke, and as a lot of lobby journalists seem to have cottoned on to this (look at coverage of his summer attack on Labour), he’s not got any hope.

    It’ll have to be somebody who’s occupied a reasonably significant post in the Cabinet. I suspect the plausible contenders are May, Hammond and Gove, although more implausible contenders might very well be able to win a leadership contest.

  23. Perhaps…
    LAB 52
    CON 21
    LD 12
    UKIP 12
    GRN 2
    OTH 1

  24. I only just spotted that the voters here really did swing any which way but Yvette. Is she unpopular locally? I know she seems to annoy some politicos and journalists, but she doesn’t strike me as annoying, unlike many MPs.

  25. Re Shapps – I don’t think he’s anywhere near being a contender. I don’t think he’s a liability but he seems to struggle whenever debates/discussions venture beyond the superficial.

    It’s a problem for the Tories – I know this is a cliche but I genuinely know quite a few nice, intelligent, professional but not rich people who vote Tory fairly consistently (and I’d hubristically number myself among that group). The challenge for the Tories is to get more people like that joining the Tory party – increase the pool of people that there are to choose from and this will eventually improve the choice of candidates for high office.

    At the moment they seem to appeal to a narrow band of people, certainly in terms of actual party membership and those seeking to become MP’s, and this isn’t helping them at all.

  26. Both Hague and IDS got the job by not being Ken Clarke. That was it really. Remember that at the time the Euro and europe were even bigger issues than they are right now and an openly Europhile leader was totally unacceptable to the party membership.

    From the viewpoint of my own political opinions I’d have liked to see Liam Fox as leader, though again I don’t think he’d have the broad appeal the party needs.

    Philip Davies (Shipley) would be entertaining as leader.

  27. Chris K – this may come as a surprise, but the Tory voters and members I have met in Merseyside and Lancs are normal, but you are absolutely right that their PPCs aren’t. Even here they tend to be public school non-locals. I think the Tory Party used to allow local candidates to be added by Assocs throughout the ’80s and ’90s, but since around 2000 all have to first apply to HQ to be on a national list. This as well as the lack of a majority may explain the lack of working class candidates and MPs unlike the ’80s and early ’90s.

  28. Lancs Observer – I never thought that Tory voters in Lancs and Merseyside aren’t normal! 🙂 It’s just that many Tory voters seem to be characterized as either rich or low-educated WWC – I think there is a vast swathe between!

    I agree with you entirely that all parties should encourage more local candidates from typical backgrounds. I can understand the desire of senior party officials to ‘vet’ candidates to ensure that local party groups (who may be quite small in some cases) can’t simply put forward totally inappropriate candidates. But it seems to have led to a culture where the candidates are stereotypical and sanitized.

  29. I can’t disagree too much with the analysis RE: Tory Leadership Candidates. They need someone who can appeal beyond the rural/suburban South and actually looks like they are in tocuh with the concerns of most voters, which Cameron/Osborne are failing to do.

    I agree that electing Osborne as leader would be an act of collective hara-kiri by the Tories, and it does seem to me that Boris is happy to just tease the party faithful. Perhaps he knows he wouldn’t be suited to actually governing (while he can win elections through his personality, he hasn’t really done much as Mayor) that’s why he hasn’t been forward about what he will do in 2015.

    If we only look at the current Cabinet, then May, Gove, Hunt and Osborne would be wanting to throw their hats into the ring if a vacancy arises. Osborne wouldn’t be successful for the reasons already noted above and while I sense Gove is liked by the party, that enthusiasm may not exist out in the country.

    Which leaves Hammond and May. Both are quietly competent and neither would be a disaster for the party. Depending on the scale of any Tory defeat in 2015, either would be useful to lead the party in 2020 before the next generation (Raab, Patel, Truss anyone?) comes to the fore for 2025.

    My feeling is May is hungrier for the leadership and if 2020 is winnable for the Tories after 2015, then she would be more likely of the two to confidently set out her stall as a future PM rather than merely a party leader. Unlike Hammond I also sense she has more name recognition, meaning she is able to cut through to the public more easliy.

    But that’s just my view.

  30. I would give William Hague another chance at being leader, he has some northern roots and generally seems more sensible than anyone else in the cabinet.

  31. I think something which gnawed away at Cooper’s vote in 2010 was local controversy over the nighttime closure of the A&E department at Pontefract General Infirmary (now reversed). This is my home seat and I remember much local annoyance that Cooper only seemed to kick up any fuss about the closure after it had gone ahead. An anecdotal proposal I know, but something I feel might’ve affected Cooper’s vote on a personal plane.

  32. Also, for what it’s worth, I think UKIP could do well here, and perhaps have their best performance of the three seats in Wakefield district. In the 2012 locals I believe they outpolled the Tories in the constituency and got respectable scores in several wards, especially in Castleford and Knottingley.

  33. The 2012 local election results in the constituency:

    Labour 13,726 (61.7%)
    UKIP 3,841 (17.3%)
    Conservatives 3,593 (16.2%)
    Liberal Democrats 122 (0.5%)
    Green 103 (0.5%)

    The rest went to an Independent and a TUSC candidate, both in Pontefract North ward. UKIP beat the Tories by 248 votes to claim second place. A pretty significant result within this election, but something that probably won’t be reflected in the Westminster election – I reckon UKIP will take a similar share of the vote in this seat as they will in seats with similar demographics etc. in 2015.

  34. Local lad Nathan Garbutt has been selected as the UKIP candidate here for 2015 general election, he has stood in the Castleford & Glasshoghton local by-election 2013 and is the local election candidate for Pontefract North 2014.

    I think he will come a good second here in 2015 humiliating the conservatives, as UKIP have in Rotherham and Barnsley and many other Yorkshire Labour seats. Infact I think UKIP are the new opposition to Labour in the Wakefield District,

  35. I wouldn’t say that 248-vote (or more appropriately, 1.1%) margin is sufficient to be interpreted as a forewarning of UKIP overtaking the Tories here at the general election. Voters are canny enough to know that voting UKIP in local elections is going to create more of a stir (at least in this seat/area) than voting UKIP for Westminster. The Tories will easily take second here in 2015 but UKIP will undoubtedly have a good showing – they should quite easily keep their money and perhaps beat the Lib Dems into fourth. I also still think UKIP could have their best result here out of all the Wakefield seats, as I commented just up-thread. (Oh, the shame…)

  36. 2014 election: UKIP came second in every ward it contested in the constituency except one, they polled over 1000 votes more than the conservatives across the Wakefield District despite only putting up 14 candidates to the Conservative 21.

    Next year could be interesting…

  37. UKIP candidate for NPC

  38. What is everyone’s thoughts on a UKIP victory here? According to the Torygraph today this seat is number 12 on UKIPs target list. Can it really happen?

  39. No, that is why Labour is 1/100 with the bookies. Put £100 on to win just £1 if they win. I very much doubt that Mr Farage would be putting his money in to this seat.

  40. The Torygraph is plain wrong on this. There are far more than 11 seats which are more winnable for UKIP than this one.

  41. Of course this seat isn’t number 12 on UKIP’s target list. I’d be surprised if it were even number 112. People are so gullible. Parties have been known to leak misinformation about where they are targeting….a fact lazy journalists don’t seem to acknowledge.

  42. I would expect it to be more 212, 312 or even 412 on their list. It should be far below Rochester & Strood (which was 253??). Unless UKIP puts loads of money in (which it won’t) they can just pat themselves on the back with a good second place if they beat the Tories

  43. Presumably UKIP will come a distant 2nd here. according to this site, they are the only other party who have a candidate. a bnp vote of 8.4%, on top of an independent on 2.6% in a seat where ukip didn’t stand in 2010 must be encouraging for ukip.

    someone else said here that one of the significant developments of the election could be the supplanting of the tories by ukip as the main opposition to labour in large parts of the north. This has mega implications for the tories’ capacity to form majority governments under FPTP.

    A 25% vote for the tories in 2010 is something that they sans dave, with a more “man/woman of the people” leader, the tories could have built on. Nigel F is obviously the main beneficiary of very patrician, heavily london centric, privileged and young tory leaders.

  44. Apparently this seat is the 12 most UKIP friendly Labour seat in the country.

  45. LibDem PPC is Ed McMillan-Scott…

    Yorks & Humber MEP 1984-2014. Cons, then LibDem from 2010.

  46. Not sure about him as the candidate for this particular seat.

    In fact I think it’s a pretty horrendous choice, in all honesty.

    He better learn the rules of rugby league pretty quickly if he wants to have any joy campaigning in Castleford.

  47. Interesting that former long-time latter-day Lib Dem defector MEP Edward McMillan-Scott is to be his party’s candidate here- I would imagine he’s decided to do it because no one else does?

  48. Perhaps so.

    He’s just all wrong for this area, saying that, Labour parachuted Cooper in easily enough…. but the vote was already there already.

  49. Something like 4% for the Lib Dems here?

  50. My gut instinct would be slightly higher, perhaps 6%.

    It’s not an area where you’d fancy their chances too much – I can see some of them staying at home, the rest going to Labour.

    UKIP will squeeze the Tories badly, and take some off Labour, and mop up much of that 8% from the BNP.

    I can see a scenario where the Labour MP holds comfortably but with the main opposition being from UKIP, between 20-30%, in a lot of the seats in West Yorkshire.

    The Tories and Lib Dems will all but melt away in many of them.

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