2015 Result:
Conservative: 20978 (47.2%)
Labour: 15525 (34.9%)
Lib Dem: 1487 (3.3%)
Green: 1043 (2.3%)
UKIP: 5415 (12.2%)
MAJORITY: 5453 (12.3%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: North West, Lancashire. The whole of the Pendle council area.

Main population centres: Colne, Nelson, Earby, Barnoldswick, Barrowford, Trawden, Foulridge, Brierfield.

Profile: The seat is named after the local authority. There is no town called Pendle, rather it is the name of a prominent hill and the Forest of Pendle - the hilly landscape in the south eastern part of the seat. It is a Pennine seat, straddling the traditional boundary between Yorkshire and Lancashire and mostly consisting of former mill towns that grew up along the route of the Leeds-Liverpool canal. The textile industry is long gone, leaving small towns of terraced Victorian housing that are now commuter and tourist towns.

Politics: A marginal between Labour and the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats also used to have significant strength here - they had an overall majority on the council until 2008, but in 2015 lost their deposit.

Current MP
ANDREW STEPHENSON (Conservative) Born 1981, Manchester. Educated at Poynton High School and Royal Holloway College. Macclesfield councillor 2003-2007. First elected as MP for Pendle in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 17512 (39%)
Lab: 13927 (31%)
LDem: 9095 (20%)
BNP: 2894 (6%)
Oth: 1617 (4%)
MAJ: 3585 (8%)
Con: 13070 (32%)
Lab: 15250 (37%)
LDem: 9528 (23%)
BNP: 2547 (6%)
Oth: 737 (2%)
MAJ: 2180 (5%)
Con: 13454 (34%)
Lab: 17729 (45%)
LDem: 5479 (14%)
BNP: 1976 (5%)
Oth: 1094 (3%)
MAJ: 4275 (11%)
Con: 14235 (30%)
Lab: 25059 (53%)
LDem: 5460 (12%)
MAJ: 10824 (23%)

2015 Candidates
ANDREW STEPHENSON (Conservative) See above.
AZHAR ALI (Labour) Born 1968. Consultant. Lancashire county councillor, former leader of Pendle council 2001-2003.

(Liberal Democrat) Engineer. Pendle councillor since 2007.
Comments - 141 Responses on “Pendle”
  1. The BNP have lost their last councillor. He represented a ward in Pendle and will now sit as an independent.

    Heard the news on the radio on the way home – could someone find an online source to back this up?

  2. Epic result for the Lib Dems there

  3. Well to be fair to them it’s not the kind of place you would expect them to do well. Having said that they did hold neighbouring Burnley up until 2015 and that is not the kind of place you’d expect to embrace liberalism. The Lib Dems tend to be far more local campaign/personality cult driven than they are ideologically driven giving them the potential to pop up almost anywhere. It’s when they get too far into ideology and actual policy that they get unstuck which is why having the Greens delivering ‘progressive alliance’ leaflets in Richmond is a very bad idea for them.

  4. There is an old-fashioned Liberal tradition in parts of Lancashire, based around non-conformism.

    But it’s dying out rapidly, and indeed where Lib Dem successes do occur it now generally has more to do with highly localised ‘winning here’ troublemaking and sh*t-stirring efforts which are by their nature pretty ephemeral.

  5. Burnley is indeed a slightly odd one. Looking at the seat’s history it seems as if the LDs take a lot of votes that might otherwise be Tory if they did not have a presence there. In the EU ref 66% voted Leave in Burnley despite it being a Lab/LD marginal in GEs.

  6. Selective reporting out in force again I see…

    Also for the record this was a Tory gain in the last set of locals in 2016 so not a huge surprise they picked this up, disappointing for Labour nonetheless though.

  7. Changes since May 2016
    Con 1267 (51.1%; +5.7)
    Lab 1156 (46.6%; +6.7)
    LD 57 (2.3%; -3.7)

  8. 4 ex-LibDem Cllrs here have joined the Tories.

    I think all are Asian and this MP does have a history of courting Asian defectors here.

  9. Gordon Prentice rumoured to want to make a comeback here.

    His views on N Ireland etc are certainly more in line with this Labour leader than any previous one.

  10. Good luck to him is all I can say.

  11. L/D’s polled less than 1500 here last time, coming 4th behind UKIP, with the Tory’s winning by 5.5k…Neighbouring Burnley’s L/D’s have a decent chance of ousting Julie Cooper, with six-time Candidate Gordon Birtwistle, I suggest there may be some ” Informal Discussions “…

  12. There was a very good article about Nelson in the New Statesman recently
    I was reminded of it by the Wycombe thread comments about Asians defecting to other parties – excerpt:
    When I first met Sajid, however, he was outside a polling station doing a stint as a teller and laughing merrily along with his blue-rosetted counterpart, Arshad Mahmood. Yet things were not quite as they seemed. Mahmood was part of a mass defection of Pakistani Lib Dems to the Conservatives which appears to have nothing to do with Brexit, extra taxes for the NHS or Maymania. What it does have to do with remains elusive even to local politicians: “clan politics” and “personal ambition” were mentioned. It may be even more complicated than that. “So you’ll be voting for Theresa May next month?” I asked Mahmood. “Oh, no, I like Jeremy Corbyn. Very good policies.”

    Labour came fairly close to regaining the seat this time.

  13. The Conservatives have suspended Cllr Rosemary Carroll after an unpleasant racist “joke” she made on social media.

  14. I thought this was a surprisingly good result for Labour here. I live in Hyndburn and Andrew Stephenson seemed to spend a lot of time campaigning there so obviously felt confident about his seat, so the result probably took him by surprise.

  15. Well the presence of Nelson means that the Conservative ceiling has always been on the low side here. The fact remains that this is now a more pro-Conservative division than it was in 1992- the same is true of Rossendale & Darwen.

  16. Stephenson was on the A-list and seemed destined for great things when first elected in 2010, with the blessing of his mentor Osborne. Yet he sank into obscurity and stayed there while other friends of George like Matt Hancock zoomed up to cabinet. I wonder what went wrong for him.

  17. @ PJDM

    I’d agree that this was a surprisingly good result for Labour. It was a 5% Con>Lab swing in a seat which voted around 2:1 for Leave. There were many seats which had similar referendum results which produced swings to the Tories.

  18. The last BNP councillor is stepping down:

  19. Actually, I think he is currently sitting as an independent, but he was ex-BNP. So he is “the last BNP councillor” even though he’s not a BNP councillor.

  20. No, he’s still BNP.

    He did post that he was going to sit as an Ind but changed his mind the next day and never notified ERO.

    That leaves just 3 BNP parish cllrs IIRC.

  21. Funny goings-on at Pendle. The result here left the Tories one seat short of a majority – at which point the Tory group leader felt it would be a great idea to reinstate a former Tory who had been suspended and then re-elected as an independent.

  22. ‘The result here left the Tories one seat short of a majority – at which point the Tory group leader felt it would be a great idea to reinstate a former Tory who had been suspended and then re-elected as an independent.’

    Makes sense though from a political point of view

    With the demise of UKIP and the BNP electorally, people who supported them with have little choice than to return to the Tory fold and attempt to move the party further to the Right.

    The Tories need to appeal to such voters – and given that they seem to be losing the few BME voters they do have, as well as high-earning liberals who prior to Brexit were willing to vote Tory, albeit through gritted teeth – such comments are unlikely to harm them electorally

  23. I agree that the people who are outraged at this are the ones who were never going to vote Tory anyway, but on the wider point, there’s only so many sections of the electorate you can write off before you become unable to win elections. It’s not even as though being relentlessly bigoted is guaranteed to lock in the white working-classes. (It’s all very well for Tory strategists to say “screw Battersea, we’ll just win Bishop Auckland”, but they do actually have to work out how to win Bishop Auckland.)

  24. I think both parties are guilty of unashamedly writing off/ taking for granted big sections of the electorate. Having said that, the 2017 election is hardly going to encourage them to stop doing it (biggest share of the vote for the two main parties for many a year).

  25. ‘there’s only so many sections of the electorate you can write off before you become unable to win elections. It’s not even as though being relentlessly bigoted is guaranteed to lock in the white working-classes. ‘

    I don’t think it’s a great strategy and I’m sure there will be many thoroughly decent Tory MPs who will try and convince their party not to go down that road – but electorally I don’t see such things doing the Tories much harm

    The Brexit vote has woke the reactionaries up to the fact that they might actually have a majority in this country – something a liberal like me was certain wasn’t the case prior to the vote

  26. They always were a majority in the Country (just look at any polls on crime, immigration etc).

    It’s just that all Party Leaders for almost 30 years represented the liberal supposed ‘middle ground’ which has never had a majority in the Country.

  27. I’m inclined to think it’s a relatively new phenomenon and if it shows anything it shows how successful right-wing media outlets like associated newspapers and news international have been in setting and shifting public opinion

    Crimes a tricky because as a liberal even I feel our criminal justice system is waaay too lenient

  28. Untrue (recent phenomenon).

    Polls in 1993 showed 56% wanted to repatriate immigrants.

  29. ‘Untrue (recent phenomenon).

    Polls in 1993 showed 56% wanted to repatriate immigrants.’

    You need more than that – which I would question anyhow

    Back in 93 the bulk of population were more in favour of staying in the EU, progressive taxation, spending more on public services (especially the NHS) and less supportive of Israel

    Young people in particular are now more right-wing and authoritarian in their views than previous generations. Research using British Social Attitudes Survey data taken from 1985-2012, found greater appetite among young people for right-wing policy-making on issues including wealth redistribution, welfare and crime.

    Those aged 41 – 58 today, who grew up while Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, or ‘Thatcher’s Children’, as they became known, were found to have more right-wing views than the generation before.

    Subsequently, those aged 27 – 40, or “Blair’s babies”, who came of age while New Labour were in power, were found to have moved even further to the right.

    Evidence showed that the proportion of the electorate agreeing that “governments ought to redistribute income” had fallen from 45 per cent in 1987 to 36 per cent in 2009, while the proportion saying “government ought to spend more on benefits” fell from 55 per cent in 1987 to 27 per cent in 2009.

  30. The poll was taken given the rise of the BNP at the time. in 2 London boroughs.

    Whereas the public are far less critical of immigrants in almost each decade since the 1960s, as evidenced by the British Social Attitudes surveys. Only a recent blip – and resultant rise in hostility occurred – due to the 4 million Blair let in and the terrorist attacks across Europe.

    ‘less supportive of Israel’ (again untrue)

    As Michael Portillo pointed out on This Week, last month – “A generation ago the British were more supportive of Israel given the post-WWII history. But not just on the Left today the majority are critical of Israel.”

    He was talking of the public of course, whereas the FCO has always been full of liberals critical of Israel.

    Boris is probably the first Foreign Sec in years to actually speak up for Israel’s right to self defence after years of people like Straw and Hurd.

  31. “The Brexit vote has woke the reactionaries up to the fact that they might actually have a majority in this country – something a liberal like me was certain wasn’t the case prior to the vote”

    A couple of weeks ago I was reading a ConHome thread on the Windrush scandal on which Shaun Bennett, formerly of this site, made a pretty vile post basically saying that all undocumented Windrush immigrants should be deported without delay and that this was the overwhelming view from the streets of Stoke on Trent.

    Some years ago I’d have doubted that but today I don’t. Today we have an ultra polarised politics where gigantic errors made by either side which would have been fatal a few years ago make hardly a dent in the polls.

  32. ‘ Today we have an ultra polarised politics where gigantic errors made by either side which would have been fatal a few years ago make hardly a dent in the polls.’

    That’s definitely true – and thus the normal rules that have governed British politics for decades no longer apply, and that’s a bad thing

    There’s no way a cabinet minister could emerge unscathed after a describing a policy his own government had discussed at cabinet level as ‘crazy’ – especially considering how staggeringly incompetent the culprit has been in his current brief as foreign secretary.

    Certain people can get away with murder although personally I think May should heed Dominic Grieve’s advice and call Boris Johnson’s bluff. His performance as foreign secretary seems to have convinced most of the public that his detractors were right about him all along and he’s no longer that Tory who can reach parts of he electorate that other Tories couldn’t

    On the Left there’s been similar scandals – most notably the antisemitism row – and that too has had a minimal effect on Corbyn’s fortunes, which were starting to wane a little way before it became headline news

    Even during Thatcher’s heyday, the Left could always console themselves that despite not being in power the majority of the countrymen felt the way they did about the government of the day.

    The right-wing majority does seem to have come from nowhere, and the only way to explain it would be if UKIP voters in 2015 are people who previously didn’t vote, but turn out figures reveal that that’s isn’t the case at all

    The other explanation of course is that voters take very little notice of such Left/Right policy positions mostly vote for whichever candidate or party they feel deserves a crack at running the country. Sometimes that might be Farage, other times it might be Corbyn, so maybe we overdo this divided nation stuff, although the stagnation in the polls and the fact that the news is set to be dominated by Brexit – the most divisive issue of the day – for decades, it’s something that will only get worst

  33. I read something recently about how recent research into American attitudes showed that the increasing polarisation in that country’s politics was driven entirely by partisans’ increased hatred of the other side, rather than increased love of their own. Which is why Trump hasn’t been washed away on a tide of broken promises – however bad it gets, in the eyes of his supporters he will never be as bad as those coastal-elite Democrats with their kowtowing to Chinese propaganda about global warming, their sinister plans to introduce socialist deathcamps into healthcare, or whatever crazy fuckwittery Alex Jones happens to spouting on any particular day.

    I suspect the same is true here. I don’t think there have ever been as many people as there were in 2017 who voted Labour/Tory to keep out the Tories/Labour. And Hemmy’s right – it means that complete howlers can go totally unpunished.

  34. I agree with all that.

    The smear/fake news thing comes in to play for sure.

    Neither side really knows how to criticise the other in an effective way, social media doesn’t help much, because it is constant, just a deluge.

    I must admit, working on the local elections with a candidate insisting on focusing entirely on local issues, and no negative stuff about the opposition was refreshing.

    I’ve been guilty of Labour bashing before and by the end was sick of hearing my own voice by the end. Goodness knows what other people thought.

  35. Agreed we had a great campaign talking about the issues what really mattered to people and it paid off double

  36. We made four gains in Wakefield, two from UKIP and two from Labour.

    Labour were especially bruised not to have won one of the previously UKIP seats, as they hold the other two in that ward currently.

    It’s a bit of a boost for us in the Morley & Outwood constituency, after a bad defeat in a local by election last year. We now have a sitting Cllr, out of fifteen.

  37. Andrew Stephenson has been made a junior Business Minster.

  38. A few problems with the Voter ID system being reported in Pendle – several pensioners being ID less (due to not driving or flying) being unable to vote. Pendle is one of the trial areas trialing the more strict version (compared to Craven where a bigger variety of ID are being accepted.).
    I believe in Northern Ireland free basic ID is offered for those without it.

  39. ~ That might be something that has to be introduced in the rest of the UK. It would satisfy the reasons why the government wants to bring in ID and solve the biggest problem against it. The UK is in a minority of European Countries without some form of state ID which is purely ID – not a travel document or driving license or has some other purpose.

  40. Having achieved a Conservative majority on Pendle Borough Council last time around for the first time in the local authority’s history, the Tories shoot themselves in the foot by disenfranchising their core voters.

    Their ineptitude really is something else, isn’t It? Wouldn’t it have made much more sense not to trial this in marginal councils?

  41. Tbf there’ve been fewer errors today than in normal elections across the North West. We often have polling stations opening late or closing early, or ballot paper errors and so on.

    In Pendle & Woking, anyone without photo ID can apply for a postal vote (including today) – or free elector card upto a fortnight ago.

    Most without the valid ID in 6 other councils returned to vote, as they did last year. I think 2 forms of non-photo ID will suffice in the other councils trialling today.

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