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. Ok, I what ward was that?

    I was thought thus be going down to just one councillor nationally (the seat they hold in Charnwood), but as it turned out they’ve still got 2 seats and I’ll have at least 1 until 2018. Still a long time to go until the BNP are completely wiped out.

  2. The BNP’s Brian Parker beat the Conservatives by just 7 votes in Marsden ward. We came ever so close, but just fell short.

    But 339 votes does seem very low for a winning candidate, even in a ward with an electorate of just 2,600. We’re there any special circumstances that we know about? I thought the intervention of a far right candidate usually increases turnout amongst supporters of the main parties.

    Labour finished third and UKIP fourth by the way.

  3. LibDem hold here in Old Laund Booth ward. LibDem 427 (up 10%), Cons 266 (down 11%), UKIP 27 (up 4%), Blue 13. No Labour candidate this time.

  4. Thanks to Andy JS who posted the following figures on the last page for 2014:

    Lab 9,375 (39.13%)
    Con 7,099 (29.63%)
    LD 4,701 (19.62%)
    UKIP 1,758 (7.34%)
    BNP 493 (2.06%)

    However, to provide some context, I should point out that there were no elections in four rural wards (Old Laund Booth, Higham & Pendleside, Blacko, and Foulridge) where the Conservatives traditionally lead Labour comfortably. Had there been, I suspect Labour’s lead would have been below 1000.

  5. This will be very close…i think if labour win this next may, you’re looking at a slim labour majority…

  6. James Peel- agreed that this will be very tight- though I think Labour could win it while just missing out on a majority.

  7. yes…technically it’s 58 on the labour target, but in reality there are easier pickings for labour lower down their target list…the lib dem seats like cambridge, hornsey, redcar and cardiff central.

    I can’t see how labour will win pendle without winning those lib dem seats too. there are more vulnerable tory seats lower down than this one too.

  8. James is making a shrewd comment about the way seats are likely to fall…a world in which labour win pendle is touching on lab. majority territory… I think labour have a slightly better chance in places like Norwich North and even Watford

  9. I think the reason people look at seats like this as Labour gains is that there is no obvious reason why the Lib Dem vote would hold up as well here as at the local elections, given the higher turnout at a GE (the lazy assumption being that the benefit to Labour from such a collapse will be uniform and national). Furthermore, based on the national polls it’s difficult to see Labour’s share failing to rise.

    Do however agree that there is lower hanging fruit further down Lab’s target list, partly because while I expect UKIP to be distant, this does seem like the sort of seat where they could hit Labour at least as hard as the Tories.

  10. I think this could be tight yes – a collapse of Lib Dem support (like in 1992).

  11. the thread was boosted by comments by andy js and tory on the local election results…it’s not just a question of eyeballing the 2010 result and lopping off 35% of the lib dem vote and giving it to labour. labour won the local elections quite comfortably…so unless the lib dem voters go blue, they’re in ok shape…still think stephenson is a good local champion though…the outlook would be pretty bad for the blues nationally if they fail to retain this seat.

  12. The Tories used to win this seat in the 80s as well. If they hold it next time, we’re in for a very long and uncertain night- it wouldn’t necessarily mean another Tory government.

  13. The swing was tiny in 1979 (1.3% in Nelson & Colne, and the first Tory gain of the night). But Labour’s vote rose substantially aswell.
    The Tories did well in 1983 with an increase in vote share of about 1%.
    They lost 3% in 1987 but stood firm in 1992 despite a near 5% swing to Labour.

    Local elections here do seem quite weird. Less so than they used to be, but they are not predictors and Labour are up against a majority of 3,585.

  14. yes, the results, labour can get 300 seats and still not win this seat…it is no. 58 on their target list after all, and I’m expecting the reds to pick up at least 4 lib dem seats which are lower down on the target list than this one…so labour can pick up 42 seats and still lose this seat by 1500 or so.

  15. Yes indeed Joe that’s right. It’s possible that AS might hold because of first time incumbency which might stop Labour about 1-2000 short, but you never know exactly what might happen.

  16. Sorry James not Joe.

  17. Lord Ashcroft poll

    Con 36
    Lab 33
    UKIP 17
    LD 11

    I can’t say I’m terribly surprised- this is exactly the kind of seat where a Miliband-led Labour party will struggle (at least outside of Nelson). UKIP will probably deprive Labour of considerable support in Colne. I don’t rule out a Labour victory by any means but I am continuing to call this as a narrow Conservative hold.

  18. From Ashcroft:

    All respondents, no constituency prompt:

    Con 20%
    Lab 25%
    LDem 5%
    UKIP 14%
    Green 3%
    BNP <1%
    Other 1%
    Would not vote 11%
    Refused 6%
    Don't know 14%

    DK breakdown:

    Con 21%
    Lab 8%
    LDem 13%
    NOTA 57%

    Excl. DK/WNV/refused. Weighted by turnout and past vote:

    Con 32%
    Lab 36%
    LDem 6%
    UKIP 20%
    Green 3%
    BNP <1%
    Other 1%

    Reallocating DK:

    Con 34%
    Lab 36%
    LDem 7%
    UKIP 19%
    Green 3%
    Other 2%

    Constituency prompt:

    Con 25%
    Lab 25%
    LDem 8%
    UKIP 13%
    Green 1%
    Other 1%
    Would not vote 11%
    Refused 4%
    Don't know 11%

    DK breakdown:

    Con 24%
    Lab 11%
    LDem 6%
    NOTA 59%

    Excl. DK/WNV/refused. Weighted by turnout and past vote:

    Con 36%
    Lab 33%
    LDem 11%
    UKIP 18%
    Green 2%
    BNP <1%
    Other 1%

    Reallocating DK:

    Con 36%
    Lab 33%
    LDem 11%
    UKIP 17%
    Green 2%
    Other 1%

  19. A little updating..

    Euro-Elections May 2014..

    Labour 30.4%
    UKIP 26.3%
    Con 25.3%
    Others 7.0%
    L/D 6.5%
    Green 4.6%

    Ashcroft Polling Dec 2014

    Con 36%
    Lab 33%
    UKIP 17%
    L/D 11%
    Green 2%
    Others 1%

    In addition to the three confirmed Candidates, UKIP’s Mick Waddington and the Green Party’s Laura Fisk have declared their Candidature….

  20. Ashcroft poll:

    Con 41%
    Lab 37%
    UKIP 10%
    L/Dem 8%
    Green 4%

    Swing to Lab 2%

    Given the Ashcroft poll in Colne Valley in Feb – published in March, I was anticipating this would be very tight too: but it seems that the Conservatives still have a clear lead. Disappointing for Labour.

  21. This is easily the most disappointing result for Labour – all the other results are either okay for Labour (Harrow East, Hove ) good for the Tories but already factored in (Gloucester, Kingswood ) or a dead heat with relatively favourable local factors favouring the Tories (Pudsey).

    But Pendle? What on earth is keeping this seat so good for the Tories?

  22. Valid question – and more to the point is it a one off or are the other “Pennine marginals” also going to show only a small swing to Labour.

  23. It’s a small town constituency and Labour are not doing as well in such places compared to big urban areas.

  24. The sizeable Asian vote in Nelson should keep Labour competitive, but it doesn’t make up for the rest of the seat.

    Labour’s vote isn’t shrinking from the previous Ashcroft poll as such, rather the falling UKIP support is aiding the Conservatives. Labour need to ensure that any drop of what’s remaining of the Lib Dem vote in marginals go their way if they want to stand a chance. In Pendle LD CVI is 8% although I accept they have a local base there and finished strongly in 2010.

  25. Neil,

    Given how active the Lib Dems have been in local politics in this area for many years, I would be surprised if Labour could squeeze their vote any lower than the 8% in the Ashcroft poll.

    The UKIP vote may well go lower – all this batch of Ashcroft polls show it falling away sharply. Given that some of it must have come from Labour, whose to say it might not return there.

  26. Con hold 1100. Labour is not going to have things all its own way in the Pennine marginals.

  27. Postal vote harvesting has been alleged in this seat. BBC North West Tonight had it as their lead story today.

  28. The new security measures should be able to counter act that, I think.

  29. Couldn’t be in certain parts of Nelson by any chance, could it?

    This fraud issue in Pendle has been live for years and I am afraid the local Labour party are complicit it in.

  30. When you say Postal Vote harvesting above, did the BBC explain how the actual alleged fraud was organised?

  31. Conservative Hold. 2,000 majority.

  32. Living in an adjacent seat, this could actually come down to how many votes UKIP attract from the Tories ( In the rural farming areas & Villages ), and also from Labour ( Older Labour voters in the towns of Nelson,Colne,Brierfield etc, ) who’s towns have changed beyond recognition in the last 30 years..

    The issue will be who’s vote is hit most but I see 10-13% UKIP vote, trebling what they got in 2010 !!

  33. Labour managed to win here quite comfortably in 1992. Why does it appear to be struggling this year?

  34. Cons 47.8 (+8.3)
    Lab 34.9 (+4.0)
    UKIP 12.2 (+8.9)
    LD 3.3 (-16.8)
    Gre 2.3

    Con majority 5453

  35. Labour must have absolutely bombed outside Nelson to lose this one so badly. Tories all but 3% points up on 1983.

  36. I suspect that the Conservatives have got a very clever computer programme which records voting intentions from canvas returns. Then they reinforced that intelligence by sending “blue letters” to arrive just before Polling day.

  37. Almost 60% for Tory + UKIP is a horrible result for Labour. I hadn’t noticed that before.

  38. I think it is because of marginal seats like this having swung further to the Tories this year that will prevent Labour from making substantial gains in 2020…

  39. 47.2% is a phenomenal achivement for the tories here. Clearly the LD vote in local elections in and around Barnoldswick was tory leaning.

  40. Yes this seat was often considered to be somewhat polarised, with a lowish ceiling on the Conservative vote especially given the large Asian population. So getting almost 50% is indeed a strong result.

  41. An Asian PPC would harm Labour’s prospects with a chunk of the electorate here though.

    6% have been voting BNP here for the past 15 years.

    0.7% GDP Growth in Q2 may also explain the result which surprised many in Bury N, Warrington S, Weaver Vale etc.

  42. The Labour vote was also higher than Gordon Prentice managed in 2005, so it also shows that its the first time since 1992 the ‘Others’ [LibDem & BNP voters] have been almost forced to make a straight choice between a Tory and Labour Govt.

  43. What interactions are there in this seat between age group and ethnic group? I am thinking that in certain areas of Lancashire and Yorkshire large numbers of Asian were imported as cheap labour in the 1960s, but were then stranded when the mills closed, particualrly in the 1980s.

    Observation has been made about the high proportion of voters who chose either Conservatgive or UKIP in 2015. The low percentage, 3.3% , of electors who voted LibDem is also almost incredible given the past hisotry of this seat.

    One also wonders whether this seat is one where Labour, who also had a very bad result, is looking in on itself. Labour will not regain this seat unless they can reach out to a broad range of voters, including the rising group of commuters.

  44. I refer to previous posts on this thread, e.g. by Lancs Observer and Runnymede, concerning electoral fraud in this seat.

    There was mention on Today In Parliament tonight about Law Commission proposals to update electoral law, specifically in relation to the very widespread practice these days of taking “selfies” on cameras and, more usuall, mobile phones. To my mind incredibly, they are thinking of giving Returning Officers (and presumably their staff) discretion concerning allowing people to take selfies.

    Given what is already happening in this and similar seats about elctoral frraud, and the lamentable failure of police and election staff to take breaches of the secret ballot laws anything like seriously enough, the Law Commissions proposals are completely inadequate. The only practical law is to make it totally illegal to photograph or otherwise copy or reproduce a ballot paper, either blank or completed. Breaches of this law should be prosecuted except in very exceptional circumstances. The penalties should be severe.

  45. Frederic- the Liberal Democrat vote in the West Riding parts of the seat (Earby, Barnoldswick etc) was clearly right-leaning and will have swung massively behind the Conservatives in 2015. The Tories will also have dominated the smart commuter villages running parallel to Nelson and Colne and may well have led Labour in Colne too where there is a tradition of wwc Conservatism.

  46. Nelson is the remaining bastion of Labour strength in this seat – and quite strikingly so – with most of the rest of the seat being comfortably Conservative

  47. Nelson was 40% Asian in 2011, probably a higher share now

  48. What is the proportion of ethnic minority voters in Nelson, and in Colne and other parts of the seat?

    And let’s be lunt, how many of the ethnic minority voters are Muslim as opposed tobeing from other ethnic minority groups?

    But most of all, please could people read my previous post about electoral fraud. Ther is not a lot that those of us who live at the other end of the country can do about as we cannot easily gather proof, as opposed to havng suspicions. But undermining democracy is very very serious and we do rely on the relevant people, the police and election officials, to take it correspondingly very seriously. At present, they appear not to.

  49. Frederic- Nelson’s Asian community (which is composed almost entirely of South Asian Muslims) makes up 40% of the town’s population. Colne’s Asian community is much smaller (about 5%) and in the rest of the seat, the Asian population will be smaller still.

  50. Can I return to the question of election fraud in this seat. Is it still in time for the police, the returning officer or others to bring prosecutions if there is good evidence of such offences.

    Eolectoral fraud is to any democrat a very serious offence, and it is usually committed deliberately. If the relevant people know of such offences they should almost always prosecute.

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