Plymouth Moor View

2015 Result:
Conservative: 16020 (37.6%)
Labour: 14994 (35.2%)
Lib Dem: 1265 (3%)
Green: 1023 (2.4%)
UKIP: 9152 (21.5%)
TUSC: 152 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 1026 (2.4%)

Category: Marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South West, Devon. Part of the Plymouth council area.

Main population centres: Plymouth.

Profile: A maritime seat in Devon. Plymouth is home to the largest naval base in Europe and while the local economy is no longer dominated by the naval base, maritime industries remain important with electronics, engineering and boat building having primary roles. Plymouth Moor View is the northern part of the city and the more working class, containing many council housing developments to the north of the city.

Politics: Plymouth Moor View is the successor to Plymouth Devonport, renamed in 2010 after boundary changes removed the Devonport council ward and the naval base within it. As such it has had several distinguished past MPs - Leslie Hore-Belisha, Michael Foot and David Owen. David Owen stood down in 1992, by that time an Independent MP, and between 1992 and 2015 the seat was held by Labour. UKIP candidates have done well in both the Plymouth seats, holding their deposits in 2005 and 2010 even before their 2015 breakthrough.

Current MP
JOHNNY MERCER (Conservative) Born Kent. Educated at Sandhurst. Former army officer. First elected as MP for Plymouth Moor View in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 13845 (33%)
Lab: 15433 (37%)
LDem: 7016 (17%)
UKIP: 3188 (8%)
Oth: 2044 (5%)
MAJ: 1588 (4%)
Con: 10509 (25%)
Lab: 18612 (44%)
LDem: 8000 (19%)
UKIP: 3324 (8%)
Oth: 1568 (4%)
MAJ: 8103 (19%)
Con: 11289 (27%)
Lab: 24322 (58%)
LDem: 4513 (11%)
UKIP: 958 (2%)
Oth: 637 (2%)
MAJ: 13033 (31%)
Con: 12562 (24%)
Lab: 31629 (61%)
LDem: 5570 (11%)
Oth: 716 (1%)
MAJ: 19067 (37%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Plymouth, Devonport

2015 Candidates
JOHNNY MERCER (Conservative) Born Kent. Educated at Sandhurst. Former army officer.
ALISON SEABECK (Labour) Born 1954, Dagenham, daughter of former MP Michael Ward. Educated at Harold Hill Grammar School and North East London Polytechnic. MP for Plymouth Devonport 2005 to 2015. Partner of Nick Raynsford MP.
STUART BONAR (Liberal Democrat) Public affairs advisor. Contested Plymouth Moor View 2010.
BEN OSBORN (Green) Sound designer and composer.
LOUISE PARKER (TUSC) Jazz singer and former nurse.
Comments - 173 Responses on “Plymouth Moor View”
  1. But hopefully she would just preside over the continuing meltdown of the party.

  2. It depends whether terrorism gets so bad that large groups of people are prepared to vote on that issue above the normal issues of NHS, the economy etc.

    Unless moderate Muslims start to seriously get to grips with extremism a backlash is inevitable at some point, and as you say it will have the vocal support of a substantial minority, and the quiet support of many many more.

  3. I agree with Bill – I expect all do – in that national socialism is more dangerous; but, of course that sort of politics has never had much success in the UK.

    Indeed apart from Moseley and a couple of NF Cllrs in (I think West Mids) in the Tyndall days, I can’t even think of them even bothering to stand much over the past 35 years. Indeed Griffin and Brons who did hail from that era only got elected (plus under PR) when the BNP went in less for marches and ethnic purity and more for just patriotism or anti-PC policies on leaflets.

    UKIP seem to have had 10 leaders, only one of whom was successful and I doubt even Farage would have much success after we’ve left the EU in 2019.

  4. The National Front never won any council seats. They did have a defector from the Tories on Wandsworth council, but that woman redefected to the Tories shortly afterwards. The NF’s offshoot, the short-lived National Party, did win 2 seats in Blackburn many decades ago.

  5. The BNP were more effective than UKIP at local campaigning.

    Their leaflets used to contain things about bin collections, dog poo, the lack of a St George’s Day parade, or a memorial service if there wasn’t one in November.

    Plus their leaflets were snazzy with the colours and got people’s attention.

    UKIP talked about leaving the EU and more latterly controlling immigration, on council leaflets. Now… if you stumbled across an electorate dumb enough to believe you’d control immigration as a Cllr when the PM has his/her hands largely tied due to FOM, they’ll be sorely disappointed and you’d surely be booted out in four years time.

    Some of the people didn’t really get the concept of knocking up on Election Day either, even on referendum day, which they politically had been living and breathing for.

    Most of the candidates who did well were well known in their districts for doing things like coaching kids at football, being school governors, or small businessmen etc, especially if the candidate they were up against didn’t live in the area, and more so if they lived as far as possible from the area whilst still being within the district and eligible.

  6. Barnaby – thanks. I’ll look it up tomorrow; but, I’m pretty sure Betty Boothroyd referred to the NF having had a couple of Cllrs in the West Mids (Sandwell perhaps?) and I assume she’d know as the far Right polled quite highly in her West Brom seat on a few occasions over 3 decades. I suppose they could have been defectors though and so we’d then both be right in that they had them but were never elected as NF.

    Luke S – yes, the impression I got from the BNP I saw at Counts is that they made a GOTV effort and a lot were ex-military who seemed to like planning leafleting rounds and so on, whereas UKIP (unless a local pavement LD type) seemed not to and only picked up seats largely on the back of the national upswing top them under Farage.

  7. “the impression I got from the BNP I saw at Counts is that they made a GOTV effort and a lot were ex-military who seemed to like planning leafleting rounds and so on, whereas UKIP (unless a local pavement LD type) seemed not to and only picked up seats largely on the back of the national upswing top them under Farage.”

    I think the BNP had a significantly younger membership profile than UKIP. They were stronger on pavement campaigning than UKIP but, much more than UKIP, their candidates were often their Achilles heel locally. In my home district of Ashfield, where the BNP did very well for a time, their candidates were often people who were well known locally for being violent yobs in their teens/20s and that cost them a lot of votes.

  8. So being yobs in their teens did more damage than the islamaphobia and anti-Semitism?

  9. @Barnaby Marder: there were in fact two Conservative councillors in Wandsworth who defected to the National Front. So long ago that I suspect the internet has little trace of them! I don’t know the circumstances, but today, it’d probably be more shocking that a few weeks later, the Tories let them rejoin.

    1969: seems a very long time ago.

  10. Lancs Observer – a valuable source of information is Martin Walker’s book The National Front. Although this was written just as the NF was about to pass its peak, it may be that they won an election immediately after that, but I have no recollection of it. What I do know is that Labour once held the Deptford constituency in a GLC by-election only because the NF & NP split the ultra-right vote between them. These days, of course, such a result is inconceivable in that area.

  11. “So being yobs in their teens did more damage than the islamaphobia and anti-Semitism?”

    Both of those factors were a net positive in Ashfield, the islamophobia certainly. The BNP is not vocally anti-Semitic any more, less so than certain elements in the Labour party in fact. I’m sure very many ordinary voters these days don’t even know what the term means (it would have been different for the WW2 generation).

  12. ‘The BNP is not vocally anti-Semitic any more’

    Good point

    Muslims have overtaken Jews as the bogeymen for those on the far Right

  13. Agree with tim jones. Muslims have certainly supplanted Jews as the bogeymen for the far right.

    probably due to the fact that the number of muslims in the UK is 3 million, while that of Jews is about 250,000. In 1960 the Jewish population of the UK was about 400,000, that of Muslims about 50,000, if that.

  14. Oh absolutely.

    The worst thing most people (other than the hard left) have to say about the Jewish community is an accusation of loving money. Don’t we all.

    The ugly elements of the Muslim community (the anti western, pro Shariah bigots) are far worse than anything we’ve seen from Jewish people, and give the extremists the ammo they need to tar ‘normal’ (for want of a better word) Muslims with the same brush.

  15. David W & Barnaby – thanks.

    Prof Matt Goodwin has a book out on the far Right that covers in detail the electoral fortunes of the various Parties particularly in the ’70s. I think part of it is viewable for free online (for research purposes).

    HH – yes both are true. I recall an ex HM Forces skinhead who stood as the BNP’s only candidate back in around 2003 up here; but, by around 2008 when they fielded a dozen from memory they were all aged 50 – 70 (and some wore military blazers and medals at the Count), with I think one exception: a student activist who stood.

    Re Anti-Semitism, I think there always was that divide ie Tyndall & Richard Edmonds was vehemently so, whereas the Tommy Robinson ilk even contained some Jewish members (and a female BNP Cllr), although most were still of the thug variety even if they did support Spurs!

  16. Luke S – true.

    Indeed even what many would deem far Right ie NI Loyalists fly the Israeli flag. I don’t know how recent that is. I know the long time leader of the UUP, Molyneaux’s belief in Israel was very strong, akin to the Christian Right in the USA.

    Equally Sinn Fein/Republican marches often carry a PLO flag, but that is less surprising and I assume goes back decades.

  17. All true. I think this is what the rest of us need to tackle, in order to ensure that the Muslim community can integrate long term in our society in mixed areas and not find themselves living in solitudes, like parts of Bradford (for example are).

    The left needs to stop making excuses for racism/bigotry, as well as homophobia and the treatment of women… and the right needs to stop making blanket accusations against all Muslims.

    Anyone would think that the bible had no controversial/out of date content…

  18. You just implied that Jews love money, & then say the left needs to stop making excuses for bigotry?

  19. But that isn’t bigoted, Barnaby.

    You can argue it’s a generalisation; but, many Jewish people have said the same – although success or entrepreneurialism would be a politer description.

    Indeed the Jewish Telegraph listed around a dozen stats showing that eg a higher % of Jews owned their own homes, shares, second homes, worked in finance and so on than the general population.

  20. Barnaby – it would arguably have been say 70 years ago, however.

    A recent history of the Jewish population of Liverpool noted that 70% worked in manual occupations back then (including the haberdashery industry of London Road), whereas less than 10% do so today.

    Incidentally – as you seem to know of a lot in Lpool & Manc – the frontage of Galkoff’s butchers has been saved and moved to the Museum:

  21. @ Barnaby

    If that’s what you took from it, that’s unfortunate, that wasn’t my intention.

    I was making reference to a view that lots of people hold of the Jewish community, the belief that they like money. Politics of envy and all that.

    Now, if people are fortunate enough to have plenty of it, good for them, regardless of faith. They shouldn’t be disliked for that reason.

    I’ve seldom heard people outside of the hard left say anything worse than what I’ve outlined above, about Jewish people, as a blanket criticism.

  22. Labour win Plymouth Council – their only pickup of the night so far.

    Not a bad result in an area where defence remains a big issue.

  23. I like Johnny Mercer, but after the last couple of days I wonder if he’s losing it a bit. First, the interview yesterday in.which he called the current government a ‘shitshow’, and seemed to admit regretting becoming a Tory MP. Then today, he accused several people online of insinuating that his wife was/ is a prostitute. He has since deleted the Tweet, understandably.

    Of course, it could just be that Mercer is cracking up like any sane, normal person would, and it’s the rest of them who are robotic oddballs.

  24. Re: nice people not being suited to politics, see also HH’s comments regarding IDS.

  25. Also, senior military people like Mercer, and business tycoons, can be similarly unsuited. They are used to barking orders and everybody around them doing as they are told. In politics people constantly have to be persuaded, flattered, cajoled and bribed to do what you want them to do, and the straightforward ethics which still exist in the military and much of business (word is my bond, gentlemens agreement etc) are not present at all in politics today.

    I don’t think the grassroots will take kindly to Mercer’s comments at all, and in any case it will be hard for him to defy gravity in this very Labour leaning seat for very long.

  26. You’ve got to remember Johnny Mercer really is a political outsider. By that I don’t mean he has anti-establishment views so much as he never really had any political views outside of his own area (defence).

    This makes him a different case from the likes of Anna Soubry. Soubry may be pretty disgusted with the current government (and not just about Brexit), but she is tribally, emotionally and ideologically a Tory, albeit her particular tradition is somewhat out of vogue. Johnny Mercer is just a former soldier who happens to be a Conservative MP. I wouldn’t be surprised if he resigns the whip or even his seat at some point over the next few years. His heart doesn’t really seem in it. Politics is a tough game, and it requires masses of belief, ideally both in yourself and in your principles. Not having those things doesn’t make you a bad person, most people aren’t particularly self-confident or ideological, it just means Parliament isn’t the career for you.

  27. Yup, agree with both of you. It’s a shame as Mercer is the type of person who the public apparently want to see more of in politics.

  28. Also while Plymouth is a navy city are there more than average amount of service personal in this seat which doesn’t cover the naval base? Veterans seem the portion of the electorate he most understands and is interested in.

  29. In politics you have to behave like a wanker or you will not be successful. I met Michael Portillo when he was still an MP and Hague’s shadow chancellor, and he was an extremely nice and warm person in private. That shines through today if you watch his TV shows but if I’d have told you that when he was in the cabinet / shadow cabinet you would have thought I was mental. Portillo tried too hard to be a tough guy with that SAS speech etc but it just wasn’t him and so it looked very ungenuine.

    Portillo and IDS are much much nicer than Hague in private but their public image was very much the opposite.

  30. “Also while Plymouth is a navy city are there more than average amount of service personal in this seat which doesn’t cover the naval base? Veterans seem the portion of the electorate he most understands and is interested in.”

    This is by far the more working class of the two Plymouth seats and almost certainly has far more naval residents than Sutton & Devonport, which though it contains the naval base is a much more middle class and studenty seat.

    This is one of those seats almost certain to return to Labour once the UKIP and Brexit effects wear off.

  31. In some ways that is Theresa May Problem. I imagine she is very nice and polite in private and usually tries to show this in public but then out comes the posturing like Citzen of No where and it doesn’t really work with her image.

  32. Whilst Mercer’s comments won’t win any awards for wisdom, it’s not hard to see why an outsider like him with his military background is the exactly the type of person the Tories need to win WWC seats like this one – which Mercer did extremely well to hang onto in 2017

    To be fair there are some first-class Conservative MPs amongst the 2015 intake and I always thought Mercer might have been one of those although his last comments seem to have hammered a death knell into any ambitions he might have had in his political career

    He wouldn’t be the first to find that a career in politics isn’t for him

  33. PollTroll is 100% right. Mercer had never voted. He had no idea which party to join. I have met some Tories who want to be a Cllrs and join the Tories to do so. But Mercer must be the first Tory to join the party to be an MP

  34. Johnny Mercer has posted online a rather leadership style video. Is he going to run?

  35. He’s in the awkward position where he appreciates that the current Conservative Party is rotten, but he has no idea of what he wants it to look like. You can’t be an effective change candidate without a vision for the change you want to see.

  36. Johnny Mercer did recently win a poll. Unfortunately, that poll was me and three friends discussing which MP we would most like to…um, well anyway. He has no chance but is quite pleasant, if rather lightweight

  37. I must agree that he is quite pleasant on the eye.

  38. That’s my boy.

  39. Loling at the prediction from Jim Davidson that Johnny Mercer will be Pm soon, with Gove as the chancellor, Javid as Foreign secretary and Boris at the Home Office.

  40. I’ve always really valued Davidson’s input regarding such matters.

  41. It’s nice of him to give us something cheerful to look forward to in these difficult times!

  42. Johnny Mercer has tweeted how old contacts of his have been aproached by the whips office looking for dirt on him.

  43. And a scandal about Johnny Mercer appears. Funny that.

  44. It’s the kind of scandal which an MP for a stockbroker belt seat could easily weather, but it is much more likely to cause problems in a poor and marginal seat like his.

    I imagine the whips were looking for sexual scandal – probably not that difficult regarding someone good looking who served in the commandos.

  45. The whips are playing a dangerous game, though. Seats like this look incredibly vulnerable for the Tories. However difficult the whips find it to control Mercer, he’ll be infinitely easier than a Labour MP…

  46. Is there much interest in consensual sex scandels? But clearly that was what the whips were looking for.
    I have a feeling at least one leadership contender will be forced out due to a personal scandal at a crucial point – comments about motherhood will look a little tame.

  47. A lot of people on these forums seem to think this person will be Matt Hancock…

  48. Possibly – but others have rumors and it could something never rumored until now.

  49. Through with Mercer it is fatal for any leadership ambitions he has – talking about new politics and appealing to lower income people while getting more than his MP salary for a few hours a week work.

  50. Yeah, it’s not a good look. He hasn’t done anything wrong or illegal clearly, but 85k for a little sideline job (when you already have an important and- allegedly- time consuming full time job) is a terrible look in a constituency that is far from wealthy. This will be surely be damaging for him.

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