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. Held deposit here for the Lib Dems would be like winning the seat.

  2. At a guess, I’d predict:

    LAB 54
    UKIP 19
    CON 17
    LD 7
    GRN 2
    OTH 1

  3. A guess of:

    LAB 50
    UKIP 19
    CON 19
    LD 8
    GRN 3
    OTH 1

    Obviously Yvette will win but it won’t shape the HoC. The marginals/Scotland are so much more instructive.

  4. Tragic that half of voters in a solid, working class area still vote Labour.

  5. Why tragic? It would be what they want if they vote that way.

  6. Besides, a comparison to 1992 shows the long term trend quite clearly.

  7. I nearly made a partisan reply to Luke but stopped myself. Luke I , know you are a candidate for UKIP but kindly refrain from making such partisan comments. Those of us who contribute here who support the Labour & Conservative parties mostly avoid such comments, as do most of your UKIP colleagues, some of whom make an extremely valuable contribution to this site (none more so than Pete Whitehead of course, though his visits here are rarer than many would like). This site is not for canvassing for your own party, or making partisan comments.

  8. Thanks, Barnaby. You put that very well.

  9. I would expect nothing less from a supporter of a vile, wicked, nasty party like UKIP

  10. Luke, I can understand what you are saying from your point of view.
    The reason you see it as being tragic is that they can’t be persuaded to share your point of view. I personally would disagree. People should vote the way they wish and if that is Labour, so be it.
    As a UKIP candidate it is your priority with campaigning to try and persuade them to your point of view. If you are successful they will follow.
    I know you firmly believe in UKIP’s policies, after all you are standing in Leeds Central, but I have my own Labour views which won’t change. Unfortunately they cannot be discussed on a polling report website.
    I obviously support Labour (H Benn?) in your seat, but I wonder how you are finding campaigning there. Can UKIP take second?
    Lastly, I live in Morley, on the bird estate if you know it. This seems to be the most Conservative place in Morley!

  11. “Lastly, I live in Morley, on the bird estate if you know it. This seems to be the most Conservative place in Morley!”

    Well that isn’t exactly surprising is it, given it’s one of the largest estates of executive style homes I’ve come across in West Yorkshire.

  12. Sorry all – I apologise for the previous comment, I won’t stray in future.

    Our campaigning is ticking along, we’ve been pretty well received when out and about but not taking anything for granted. The Tories aren’t particularly strong in Leeds Central and the local election results for them were awful, way behind ours, so we feel fairly confident of overtaking them.

    Benn is a strong candidate and I’m looking forward to taking him on – I met him briefly a month or so ago when he was the speaker at the Beeston forum, seems a nice chap actually.

    I know the Bird estate well, I’m up near what was the White Bear, formerly of Beeston.

    There’s always been a Conservative vote in LS27, which is strange considering the lack of it in neighbouring suburbs.

  13. Ah, the White Bear, always a good place for a meal and a drink on a Friday! Anyway, enough of the distraction, how well do you know David Dews(I think I’ve spelt his name correct). Is he likely to be:
    a) a paper candidate
    b) a lone campaigner
    c) a group campaigner
    d) campaigning with some of Stuart Wheeler’s money.

    At this point we have only received anything from Labour and Tories through the letterbox. Any news on anything coming?

    There will be a lot more Labour people out this weekend – trying to increase the vote. You never know what might happen between now and polling day.

  14. PS We should be talking on the Morley & Outwood page.

  15. Very surprised to see that Edward McMillan-Scott has put himself forward for this seat. A very experienced politician who might find his Party a handicap. There are many less capable people likely to make it to the Commons.

  16. Labour Hold. 17,000 majority.

  17. UKIP’s only 2nd place in West Yorkshire (and from a standing start)

  18. I’m starting to think Cooper will win the Labour leadership contest due to second preference votes. Supporters for Burnham won’t vote for Kendall as a second preference and vice-versa.

    However, will Cooper be able to achieve the very difficult task of winning seats like Loughborough and Watford as well as Glasgow East and Ochil and South Perthshire?

  19. Interesting point from Christian. I believe Yvette must focus all her effort on Liz to ensure she gets second (she won’t beat Andy unless he makes a major blunder). Unless Andy is above 45% or so then Yvette stands a very good chance with 2nd preferences.

  20. None of them look currently like they have any idea how to simultaneously make progress in seats like Loughborough and Watford and the Glasgow seats. Someone like Kendall may (or may not) help in the Loughboroughs and Watfords of the world, but would go down atrociously in Glasgow East. It’s a very long road for Labour to win an overall majority without recapturing a good chunk of their Scottish seats, and if they don’t work out a way of making progress in Scotland, they’ll have to find an answer to the Tories repeating the whole “SNP will ruin everything” campaign again and again.

  21. Someone on another blog posted that Liz Kendall reminds them of a second rate Blue Peter presenter. I have to say I agree. I don’t think we can take it for granted that she will do any better in the Watfords and Loughboroughs than Miliband did.

    At this moment in time Labour needs someone with experience, a Howard figure to steady the ship and at least make some steady progress in 2020 even if they are unlikely to win. None of the candidates is ideal from this perspective but Cooper is probably closest to that.

  22. While Labour have a huge way to go to win an overall majority, It should be noted that they don’t have to make that much progress against the Tories to make a right-based Government very difficult indeed. Without a Lib Dem resurgence, if the Tories are below about 305 it becomes virtually impossible for them to command a majority in the Commons.

  23. I personally like what I’ve seen of Liz Kendal, and while as a middle-class, liberally minded, aspirational floating voter, I may not speak for everybody but I am the sort of person who decides elections (well except that I live in a seat with a 60% Tory vote share).

    As others have said though, Labour have to fight on several fronts. They must fight back in their former Scottish heartlands, they must win back the white, working-class voters in Northern England who deserted them for UKIP, they must appeal to Green-voting hipsters in London, and they have to persuade a whole generation of disenfranchised twentysomethings to even turn out at the ballot box for them. Even Tony Blair would struggle to do all that, though I feel like Yvette Cooper would be the best at appealing across a wide spectrum.

  24. “While Labour have a huge way to go to win an overall majority, It should be noted that they don’t have to make that much progress against the Tories to make a right-based Government very difficult indeed”

    very good point. the numbers haven’t changed. labour need to make 28 net gains, all other things being equal to reach the point where they can block a tory led government…the snp + labour figure for MPs actually went up from 264 to 288 in the election.

  25. Whoever wins the Labour leadership could find themselves facing a perfect storm in their first big electoral test. The Scottish parliament elections look like being another bruiser for them (are there council elections as well or are they not until 2017?) and 2012 was quite a good year for them in the English local elections so there’s potential to go backwards. They could mitigate all of that by winning the London mayoralty but if Goldsmith is the Tory candidate then even that is far from a given.

    Waking up in May 2016 to the press telling them they did even worse than Ed can’t be an appetising prospect.

  26. I think Labour do have real problems going ahead. I think the priority will be to minimise the losses in the local elections next year, then take it from there. It’s going to be a very long five years for them though…

  27. Would they be likely to lose seats next year?
    Too early to say.
    As you say it’s effectively one year out of scinc with the GE cycle, so the Tories may still be quite popular next year as in 2011.

  28. @Joe James B

    Could be a mixed bag for Labour although I don’t think the losses will be too huge.

    I think Cannock, Nuneaton, Dudley, Tamworth, Crawley and Swindon might be Labour’s main worries but could be alright for them elsewhere.

    The LDs also did well in Stockport, Portsmouth and Watford in 2012 (all outs next year) where they could be in for a drubbing in those areas next year.

  29. Following the resignation of Cllr Paula Sherrif MP a council by-election has been called for Pontefract North ward here, which should be interesting.

    Pontefract North 2014 election results:

    Lab 48%
    UKIP 36%
    Con 14%
    TUSC 2%

    I suspect more parties will contest the by-election though,

  30. YC gains a bit of momentum.

    Ladbrokes & PaddyP shortened its odds on Cooper to become the next leader, from 10/1 to 5/1, in second place to frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn at 2/7, with Burnham has fallen behind at 6/1.

    The betting at the moment suggest a CORBYN -COOPER 1 & 2.

    And I see Mike Smithson on twitter talking about “shy non Corbyns”

  31. The question is whether UKIP can use a by-election here to concentrate on a small area and pick up a seat. But reports on this site about by-elections elsewhere suggest that on the contrary UKIP are falling back.

    The Leadership election may use proportional representation but in the end it is “winner takes all”.

  32. Mike Smithson spends a lot of time on Twitter suggesting reasons why candidates he doesn’t personally approve of will do badly. There’s rarely much substance behind it.

  33. I think Corbyn will still win in any case, even if it is somewhat closer.

  34. Hi Frederic – it will be interesting for us UKIP members too.

    I’m not far from there so hoping to get across and help campaign tomorrow.

  35. I’ve just looked up the most recent, 2014, elections for Wakefield Council, of which this seat is part.

    I notice that whilst UKIP gained its first two seats on Walefield Council in 2014, they were both taken frolm the Conservatives. In this area, the Conservatives have also been losing a substantial number of seats to Labour. They are down from 20 seats in 2011 to 6 in 2014.. Conversely, the Conservatives are up from 40 seats to 54.

    n Pontefract North, UKIP are in a good second place, but they have a substantial amount to do to win. As the by-election is “voluntary” because the previous councillor is resigning after she has become an MP., my guess is that Labour are confident that they will hold on. Whether their confidence is justified we will see.

    Perhaps the real question is whether the Tories will be able to hold onto their vote or whether their supporters will desert to UKIP. in a by-election where the Conservatives have no realistic chance.

    The Tories have never done well in this area and it looks like their support is getting significantly worse than it used to be.

  36. Some more historical information. The Normanton part of this seat has been Labour continuously since 1909, when the then LIb-Lab MP, who had been first elected in a 1905 by-election, became specifically a Labour MP. This is the longest that Labour have held a seat with the possible exception of parts of the Wigan area, where there have been major boundary seats.

    Pontefract was Labour from 1`922 – 1924 and 1929 – 1931. It has been Labour continuously since 1935

    Gower in Wales was Labour from 1910 to 2015, the Labour candidate in 1910 having been Lib-Lab since 1906. However, the Tories won Gower by 21 votes in May. This was the first time the Tories had ever held Gower, as before 1906 it was always a Liberal seat.

  37. I have been looking up the records further and have found seat which has been Labour for longer. Ince, which became Makerfield after the 1983 boundary re-organisation, has been Labour since 1906.

  38. As has Chester-Le-Street, latterly North Durham. Also, Frederic, Gower was won by 27 votes, not 21.

  39. My apologies, Alan. Thanks for the correction.

  40. Yvette Cooper has just received an online death threat against her, her children & grandchildren (though l’m not sure she has any of those) specifically for campaigning in favour of Remain. Whether it’s a credible threat I’m obviously not in a position to say.

  41. ‘Yvette Cooper has just received an online death threat against her, her children & grandchildren (though l’m not sure she has any of those) specifically for campaigning in favour of Remain’

    It seems that now many are thinking Remain might just clinch it, the more extreme Brexiters have decided to show their true colours and have reverted to threats of intimidation, violence and death threats now it looks like they won’t get their way

  42. Absolutely disgusting and I hope the person is caught and punished!

    I heard that many residents in her constituency were angered that she’s supporting REMAIN, however, that’s no excuse for such disgraceful threatening behaviour towards her!

  43. Speculation on Guido that Yvette Cooper will replace Keith Vaz as chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

  44. A good way of avoiding being dragooned back into the shadow cabinet whilst not looking like she’s sulking

  45. There were reports Chuka was taking over

  46. Nominees for chair of home affairs select committee (to be elected tomorrow):

    Yvette Cooper
    Chuka Umuna
    Caroline Flint
    Paul Flynn

    Very reminiscent of the line-up which contested the 2015 Labour leadership. Lightning couldn’t strike twice, could it? 😉

  47. @Polltroll

    Ha. I reckon Cooper will win quite comfortably, although Flint may be a dark horse. I’m not sure Chuka’s as popular as he thinks he is. There are reports the Tory whips are telling MPs not to vote Cooper but I doubt they’ll take much notice

    Three other committee chair elections also take place tomorrow:

    Culture, Media and Sport: Damian Collins, Helen Grant (Collins will probably win)
    Brexit: Hilary Benn, Kate Hoey (Benn win win)
    Science and Technology: Victoria Borwick, Stephen Metcalfe, Dan Poulter, Derek Thomas, Matt Warman (this one is wide open but Poulter maybe the favourite).

    Angus Brendan MacNeil is unopposed for International Trade. He was previously chair of the now defunct Energy and Climate Change Committee.

  48. Round I

    Cooper 216 votes
    Flint 149
    Umunna 111
    Flynn 65.

    Final Round

    Cooper 281
    Flint 196

  49. At least we’ve been saved from another arrogant lawyer being an MP:

    29-year-old Labour town Cllr Thomas Longstaff is now helping British Transport Police with their enquiries.

    According to a legal blog he had ambitions to become an MP, since he began working in the City.

    Quite why he’s a Cllr in Yorkshire when he works in London is another matter.

  50. Remarkably Labour Uncut are predicting the torries could gain this seat. Personally I cant (and 100% dont want ) it to happen.

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