Portsmouth South

2015 Result:
Conservative: 14585 (34.8%)
Labour: 8184 (19.5%)
Lib Dem: 9344 (22.3%)
Green: 3145 (7.5%)
UKIP: 5595 (13.4%)
TUSC: 235 (0.6%)
Independent: 716 (1.7%)
Others: 99 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 5241 (12.5%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Hampshire. Part of Portsmouth council area.

Main population centres: Portsmouth.

Profile: Portsmouth is a densely populated city on the south coast, technically situated on a island though the numerous causeways mean it is effectively a peninsula. It has a strong naval history as the home of the largest Royal Navy base, with defence the main local employer. Portsmouth South contains the main naval base, the docks and shipyards and many of the post war council estates like Buckland and Portsea. It also contains Portsmouth University, and is the more student heavy of the two Portsmouth seats.

Politics: Historically a Conservative seat, Portsmouth South was first won by Mike Hancock as the SDP candidate in the 1984 by-election following the death of Bonnor Pink. Hancock was not able to hold it at the subsequent general election, but continued to fight the seat, becoming leader of Portsmouth council in 1989, unsuccessfully standing again in 1992 and finally regaining the seat in 1997. He remained the MP until 2015 but ended his career in disgrace, suspended from the Liberal Democrats and standing against them as an Independent after allegations he had made inappropriate sexual approaches to a constituent. The Conservatives regained the seat.

Current MP
FLICK DRUMMOND (Conservative) Educated at Hull University. Former insurance broker. Former Winchester councillor. Contested Southampton Itchen 2005, Portsmouth South 2010. First elected as MP for Portsmouth South in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 13721 (33%)
Lab: 5640 (14%)
LDem: 18921 (46%)
UKIP: 876 (2%)
Oth: 2106 (5%)
MAJ: 5200 (13%)
Con: 13685 (34%)
Lab: 8714 (22%)
LDem: 17047 (42%)
UKIP: 928 (2%)
MAJ: 3362 (8%)
Con: 11396 (29%)
Lab: 9361 (24%)
LDem: 17490 (45%)
UKIP: 321 (1%)
Oth: 647 (2%)
MAJ: 6094 (16%)
Con: 16094 (31%)
Lab: 13086 (25%)
LDem: 20421 (40%)
Oth: 465 (1%)
MAJ: 4327 (8%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
FLICK DRUMMOND (Conservative) Educated at Hull University. Former insurance broker. Former Winchester councillor. Contested Southampton Itchen 2005, Portsmouth South 2010.
SUE CASTILLON (Labour) Educated at Burton on Trent Girls High School and Brunel University. Family group worker.
GERALD VERNON-JACKSON (Liberal Democrat) Born 1962, Hampshire. Portsmouth councillor since 2003, Leader of Portsmouth council since 2004.
STEVE HARRIS (UKIP) Born 1948, Aldershot. Former US Navy officer. Contested South East 2009 European elections.
IAN MCCULLOCH (Green) Delivery driver.
DON GERRARD (Justice and Anti Corruption) Born Southampton. Educated at Cambridge University. Retired solicitor. Contested East Hampshire 2010, Hampshire Police Commissioner election 2012.
MIKE HANCOCK (Independent) Born 1946, Portsmouth. Engineer. Portsmouth councillor since 1970, originally elected for the Labour party he defected to the SDP in 1981 and subsequently joined the Liberal Democrats. Leader of Portsmouth council 1989-1997. Hampshire county councillor 1973-1997.Contested Portsmouth South 1983 for the SDP. SDP MP for Portsmouth South 1984 by-election until 1987. Contested Portsmouth South again 1992 for the Liberal Democrats, Isle of Wight and Hampshire South 1994. MP for Portsmouth South 1997-2015. A colourful figure, Hancock had a four year affair with an aide who MI5 suspected of being a Russian spy and was arrested for indecent assault in 2010 over accusations that he had behaved inappropriately towards a constituent. The charges were subsequently dropped, but the constituent began civil action against Hancock in 2013. Hancock resigned the Liberal Democrat whip in June 2013 to contest the claim. Awarded the CBE in 1992.
SEAN HOYLE (TUSC) RMT organiser.
Comments - 462 Responses on “Portsmouth South”
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  1. The Conservatives have selected Flick Drummond (who contested the seat in 2010).

  2. Despite his idiosyncracies, Mike Hancock is popular locally.

    I wonder how many former Labour voters who voted LD tactically will be put of by the coalition. These voters are not going to turn to the Conservatiives but could help the Tories by voting Labour.

  3. Reselecting the same candidate as 2010 could prove to be as much of a death knell for the Conservatives here as it has done in Eastleigh.

    While Drummond may be a competent campaigner and while she did increase the numerical vote in 2010, with Hancock’s decisive personality actually holding up reasonably well locally I can’t see the Tories gaining this come 2015.

  4. The electoral dynamics would seem similar to Eastleigh, albeit with the addition of a large student population.

    The LDs might well suffer a backlash for their u-turn on tuition fees, but Hancock is locally popular, and this is the kind of seat where UKIP might well taking votes from all parties as they did in Eastleigh.

    When the Con candidate appeared on my doorstep in 2010 she came across as very much a Cameroon Conservative which really might not be the best approach to galvanise the Tory vote in this seat.

  5. “First elected as MP for Portsmouth South in 1997”

    No he wasn’t, he was elected MP for Porstmouth South in the 1984 by-election.

    SDP–Liberal Alliance (Social Democrat)

    Mike Hancock



    Patrick Rock



    Sally Thomas


  6. Ramped up rumours of a “for health reasons” resignation here.

    Don’t believe them myself but…

  7. You mean a mid-term resignation (forcing a by-election), or just standing down at the next election?

  8. Perhaps he wants to spend more time with his family

  9. Rather than someone else’s


  10. boom boom

  11. Labour should be getting on their marching shoes, here, in case MH does have to go. In the event of his resignation/ sacking, it’s likely that the Lib Dems, having learnt their lesson from Eastleigh, will move the writ quickly in order to consolidate their advantage.

    That large f/t education portion of the pie chart makes it naturally more promising territory for them.

  12. Labour don’t stand a chance in Ports South, and they’d be daft to try, at least until Ports North is a safe Labour seat.

  13. Now MH has been put under investigation by PCC are we one step closer to another south coast LD held seat by-election?

  14. Looking at the seat though it certainly doesn’t look like a Tory seat. Run down blocks of flats, rows of small terraces, and sport. Looks just like Bootle . Yet the politics of the seat are so different.

  15. @ Mike Homfray

    “Looking at the seat though it certainly doesn’t look like a Tory seat. Run down blocks of flats, rows of small terraces, and sport. Looks just like Bootle . Yet the politics of the seat are so different.”

    The presence of the Navy and its big support for the Cons (particularly after the Falklands and Mrs Thatchers support in naval wage rises) is a factor to consider here.

    Plus there are pockets of wealth right throughout Southsea which certainly is NOT like Bootle.

  16. Well, Bootle has the two former Crosby wards which certainly have their smarter houses – but yes, I think you are right.

    Those two wards are much weaker for the Tories than would be expected elsewhere

  17. This could be a good bet for the first ever UKIP by-election win.

    If he stood himself, Farage would be a good fit with the constituency.

  18. Not sure about that – he strikes me as someone who would fit more in a stockbroker belt seat or one with a very high retired population.

    As for UKIP winning here, the Lib Dems (like in Eastleigh) have a very strong local party, almost all the councillors, and I would put them as favourites to hold on – but narrowly. UKIP would probably get 2nd.

  19. HH, that’s a very odd comment. In what possible way do you think that Farage is a ‘good fit’ with this constituency?

  20. Lib Dems get very tetchy don’t they, when anyone suggests that some other party might be in with a chance in an area they hold. Its kind of like having a sense of ownership over local voters that is just the kind of thing they attack the other parties for

  21. Quite- we’ve had to suffer this in Richmond for a long time and when they start to lose
    they behave as if it’s their property taken away.

    One silver lining in all this is the Lib Dems are in a tailspin because this other party has emerged with diametrically opposed views to theirs.

    But I don’t under-estimate the – net – damage it could do to the Conservatives,

    and a 33% strategy for Labour looks entirely feasible

    unless we get the good people of middle England back.

  22. Personally I’d like to see the end of the Lib Dems
    Con v Labour
    with UKIP , the Greens and the Nats strong to put pressure on us.

    But it’s not for me to decide as if it’s my property – it’s for the public.

  23. To make it clear, I strongly support Con at all times.

  24. I think the most likely result of a by-election here would be a narrow LD hold over UKIP, in other words a similar result to Eastleigh. Labour of course would do slightly better, nearer 20% than 10%.

  25. Pete, yet again you’re misunderstanding me (one might think this is starting to become a wilful habit). I would like to know from HH why he thinks that Farage would fit this constituency. Is it a personality reason, is it demographics (in which case, while there are useful demographics for UKIP in parts of the constituency, in others they are probably as difficult as it gets for UKIP) , is it something else? Without that we can’t really discuss what he’s put forward.

    As a brief idea, UKIP would take votes from all three parties in this constituency should there be a by election, proportionally w

  26. …would take most from Labour (having experienced Bedhampton and Leigh Park county division in Havant, and looking at demographic polling evidence) but there would of course be churn with the Labour vote as in Eastleigh, with there being specific sections of the Lib Dem and Tory support (not the same ones) susceptible. It is not outside the realms of possibility for UKIP to win a by-election if they managed to harness all of that potential vote and the Lib Dem and Tory vote goes down enough, but to say that would be done by Farage himself requires a little more explanation.

  27. Andy. Labour’s problem is that, as in Eastleigh, their core support in Portsmouth South is largely susceptible to UKIP’s message, but the Lib Dem/Labour swing vote away from the council estates isn’t (thus the churn that you would expect). Those two groups of voter are pretty even so you could get Labour stymied on about 15% if UKIP made the expected inroads.

  28. To add to KHUNANUP’s sound analysis from earlier in the month. (And I don’t see anywhere where is he is suggesting the LD’s cannot lose this seat) the biggest factor here IMO would be the student vote.

    MH increased his majority between 2005 and 2010 by getting more of the local student population to vote for him. There were local stories in 2010 of students lining up out the doors of the registration offices in a desperate scramble to get on the roll following the first televised debate.

    Obviously this is all before the LD woes with tuition fees as part of the coalition government.

    To me it seems unthinkable that these students will vote for the LDs again….BUT stranger things have happened…. and I can imagine in 2015 there will be at least some student discussion about the possibility of a
    Con or UKIP win because of a split opposition.

    However we simply don’t know the exact numbers involved, we don’t know whether or not they would vote for Lab, or not at all, or even whether they will be hostile
    to the idea of a Con or UKIP win.

    However its safe to say it will have an impact.

    IF I was to make a guess as to result of the 2015 GE I would suggest the following:

    LD – 12,600
    Con – 10,400
    UKIP – 9,500
    Lab – 7,900
    OTH – 500

    This is a GE result but I would swap the Cons with UKIP in a by election.

  29. Michael Crick on Twitter:

    “Lib Dems to issue statement on Mike Hancock within next few minutes”.

    “I asked Mike Hancock if he’d stand down as an MP if Lib Dems withdraw the whip. “Am I the type?” he replied, before confirming he wouldn’t”.

    “”It’s news to me,” says Mike Hancock in response to stories he’s about to lose Lib Dem whip after Carmichael inquiry into sex allegations”.


  30. GRHINPORTS: “To me it seems unthinkable that these students will vote for the LDs again”

    This comment illustrates one of the problems with talking about a ‘student vote’ following a pattern. It is misleading to think that students will vote ‘again’.

    Those (full time) students who voted in the 2010 general election are mostly long gone from the Portsmouth South area having completed their courses and graduated. The vast majority of students who will vote in the next election in Portsmouth South were elsewhere in 2010 and many of them will have been too young to have had a vote in 2010. A significant proportion of the ‘new’ student vote will be getting a much larger debt on graduating as a result of the new tuition fee of up to £9k per yearr for those entering university from September 2012. We don’t yet know from opinion polling whether there will be a significant change in their voting behaviour from their predecessors, as nationally they represent a very small part of the electorate (about 1% of the electorate currently).

    However, by the time of the next election (assuming it is 2015), the students on the ‘old’ regime of £3k fees will have graduated and the totally ‘new’ students to Portsmouth South, who will be looking forward to their debts of £40k plus, will represent above 20% of the electorate in the constituency.

  31. Whist I did dream of a possible Labour victory here if there’s a by-election the helpful local knowledge provided after I flew my kite, Labour’s poor County Council results and UKIP’s surprisingly good performance have convinced me a Labour victory would be as likely as me winning the 100m final at the Rio Olympics (and believe me if even if I trained everyday until 2016 that’s still virtually zero chance). Amazing that Labour’s 2010 vote was half of the ’84 by-election vote.

    Could be interesting though if Lib Dem voters leak to Labour (not enough for them to win the seat) and Tory voters leak to UKIP. Probably a Lib Dem hold with a much reduced vote and majority?

  32. Mike Hancock has resigned the Liberal Democrat whip while he defends a civil court case brought against him over an alleged sexual assault.

  33. There has got to be a by-election in this seat soon…surely? He cannot hold on to the seat for much longer now.

  34. Arguably it would be in the Lib Dems’ interests to have a snap by-election now, before all the lurid details come out in court and before UKIP get organised on the ground. But I suspect Hancock is more interested in saving his own skin than the party’s best interests.

  35. Also during the long summer holidays. Those in full time education make up 25% of this seat, and although students aren’t the most reliable of voters they could be a fertile ground of anti-coalition sentiment if there were an organised campaign to channel it.

  36. He’s not going to make himself unemployed while he is fighting a civil court case.

    Even if he loses I suspect he will only resign if he really has to. He will probably hang on until the next general election then stand down. I doubt the Lib Dems will reselect him now anyway

  37. Mike Hancock gives the public yet another reason not to like politicians

  38. I suspect Hector is right, sadly.

  39. Funny in retrospect to think that had Bonner Pink not died while he was the MP here that Hancock may never have even got in here.

    This seat probably would have been very much like its North neighbour, and would perhaps have elected a Labour MP in 1997.

  40. Maybe the Labour MP elected in 1997 would have been Mike Hancock.

  41. All things considered however, it really must be said that Hancock has done very well in this seat.

    If you look at his electoral record in this seat, you will see why that is the case-
    1983- 12, 766 (25.43%, +12.21%)
    1984 by-election- 15, 358 (37.6%, +12.1%)
    1987- 23, 329 (42.9%, +17.5%, +5.3% against by-election)
    1992- 22, 556 (42.0%, -0.9%)
    1997- 20, 421 (39.5%, -2.5%)
    2001- 17, 490 (44.6%, +5.1%)
    2005- 17, 047 (42.2%, -2.4%)
    2010- 18, 921 (45.9%, +4.2%)

    I would say that the above electoral record is one that Hancock can be proud of- Unlike some other Liberal Democrat MPs, he has managed to increase his vote share more times than he has presided over a decrease.

  42. I remember Mike Hancock telling the press that he was p****d off after losing by 200 odd votes (2 GE’s on the bounce) at the 1992 GE.

  43. Any new news on Hancock? I’m hearing mutterings, but nothing confirmed as yet.

  44. Well we’ve heard nothing for quite a long time so perhaps there is no news.

    I can’t really predict this seat – I have a fear it’s another Eastleigh
    but a slide in the Lib Dem vote (about as much as if you went down a slide on a skateboard) towards Labour could let the Tories through.

  45. An internal enquiry has now passed on a dossier to Portsmouth Council’s Governance, Audit and Standards Committee. Quite a number of Liberal Democrats have reportedly expressed a lot of concerns about Mr Hancock’s behaviour and Cllr Vernon-Jackson (LD leader of the Council) has backed off from his strong support for Mr Hancock.
    I cannot believe that Mr Hancock will ever choose to step down, but if he does, I think the LDs locally will have some questions to answer about the often vociferous support they have offered to him.
    Without a byelection, the LDs are favourite to hold on, but this is a long-term target for Labour and without the sitting MP, the LDs will have a fight on their hands.
    I reckon the Tories will be a close 2nd and Labour a decent third.

  46. Hancock is still in the Portsmouth Cabinet, isn’t he?

  47. LD HOLD MAJ: 3.5%
    LD 33
    CON 29
    LAB 20
    UKIP 9
    GRN 6

  48. That Green vote looks rather high, and possibly UKIP a touch low (it really does depend if people really do make the switch to UKIP in the general). If UKIP did got up 7% or so I very much doubt Labour’d make it back to 20% as there wouldn’t be enough churn from the everyone else to compensate for the loss of 2010 Labour voters to UKIP (possibly numerically more than from the Lib Dems due to the hardcore Labour demographics in their remaining ‘stongholds’).

    Still, not outside the realms of possibility re the majority.

  49. Seems odd to me to talk of ‘the loss of 2010 Labour votes to UKIP’.

    YouGov’s figures typically show around 4% of Labour’s 2010 voters currently intending to switch to UKIP – compared to 8-10% of LDs and 16-20% of Cons.

    In this seat, that would cost Labour about 0.5%.

  50. Would ordinarily be a comfortable LD hold. If Hancock is re-selected that could make things rather tight as he is turning into something of a Lembit.

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