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”
  1. I’m a councillor in the constituency James so I have knowledge where that 2010 Labour vote was. I thought it might be useful to give an idea of who stuck with Labour 2010 and that they are disproportionately susceptible to UKIP when you take into account their demographics. This is not a seat that follows national trends…

  2. You are right to say that this seat does not follow national trends but there is a strong anti-politics strand among the electorate, hence the relative success of the EDP and TUSC in the past. When it comes to the UKIP to Labour swing, I am not sure how you are able to quantify this as a rise to 20% is more than feasible for Labour in this seat. UKIP haven’t had a candidate in Portsmouth Council elections since 2008 (in Milton) and the small percentage of votes that UKIP got in 2010 is not really too indicative of them attracting Labour voters at such a significant level.
    If you are transposing them with the EDP votes in the past, you may well have a point but that is only a guess. We don’t know where the UKIP vote will come from in 2015 and it’ll be interesting to see.
    Your share of the vote is likely to be significantly reduced (not disasterously, your party machine in Portsmouth is far too impressive for that) at the GE but I would see you holding on here – especially if you get shot of Mr Hancock, who is fast becoming electoral poison.

  3. Prediction for 2015-
    Liberal Democrat- 36%
    Conservative- 30%
    Labour- 22%
    UKIP- 7%
    Others- 5%

  4. Y’our share of the vote is likely to be significantly reduced (not disasterously, your party machine in Portsmouth is far too impressive for that) at the GE but I would see you holding on here – especially if you get shot of Mr Hancock, who is fast becoming electoral poison’

    The electorate seem to disagree and with no Mike Hancock the Lib Dems would never have won this seat in the first place

    Whilst there might be ‘anti-politics strand’ in this seat it’s almost atypical to the type of places where Lib Dems do well – being working class, urban and with a strong military vote

    If the Loib Dems do dotch Hancock they will need to find an extraordinarilly good candidate to hold on here in 2015

  5. I do not doubt that Mr Hancock was the main reason behind the Lib Dems taking this eat and has had a strong personal vote, but it is becoming increasingly evident that he is being seen as a liability to the party locally and those who have defended him in the past are turning against him now. The behaviour he has admitted to is grossly unprofessional; the recommendations of the recent investigation, leaked by Lib Dem councillors,are devastating for him and, if he stands for the Lib Dems again, the local party.
    I believe that they have a very good chance of holding the seat without him. In fact, I would go so far as to say that he has become a poisonous asset and could lose them the seat if he stays.

  6. Unprofessional cerfainly but ultimately i think the allegations will be seen for the ‘small beer’ that they are

    There were MPs in the last Parliament whose personal misdiscretions did them no long term harm come election day, and I suspect the same would be the case here

  7. 2015

    *Hancock (LD) 13,218
    Mountshaft (UKIP) 13,662
    Squire (Con) 13,414
    McCarthy-Fry (Lab) 8,865
    Parkin (Green) 1,451
    McGuinness (SF) 290

    LD maj 56

  8. error – still LD 56

  9. Ha ha ha I’d love to see that fantasy generic declaration of yours in one of your dreams Joe!

  10. Portsmouth is probably the most patriotic town in the UK.

    I doubt you could find 290 SF voters

  11. Ha ha imagine the thought of Sinn Fein standing in Portsmouth!

    Gerry Anchors and Maritime McGuinness…

  12. CL, the idea about the interchangeability of UKIP and Labour vote comes from three sources: canvassing specifically change we have found among WWC Labour voters in part of the constituency, extrapolation of the nature of the successful UKIP campaign in Leigh Park in Havant and the similarity to parts of this constituency (bearing in mind that a significant number of people who voted in Leigh Park are former residents of this constituency as Leigh Park is largely Portsmouth City Council tenants and ex tenants), where Labour work hard and have the capacity to do so, especially when they are in contention, UKIP suffer more and in Portsmouth South there isn’t likely to be more than a token campaign over most of the constituency.

  13. To put Khunanup’s comments into context, YouGov’s cross-breaks show that only around 4% of the 2010 labour vote intends to swith to UKIP nationally, while within this constituency, fewer than 1 in 7 voters chose Labour in 2010.

    To determine accurately the relative local level of such a small sub-group would require an astonishingly large and detailed level of canvassing.

  14. I think I’ve covered the national context in a previous post and in the post above I’ve said that my analysis is based on three factors, not just the canvassing. Take it for what you will but don’t just chuck national voting intention at me just to try and say I’m talking bollocks.

    Labour’s vote in this constituency will undoubtably rise and there will be some level of churn within that vote. To what extent there is outward churn will depend largely on what UKIP do.

  15. Khunanup,when you say: ” where Labour work hard and have the capacity to do so, especially when they are in contention, UKIP suffer more and in Portsmouth South there isn’t likely to be more than a token campaign over most of the constituency”, do you mean that Labour will work hard or that there will be a token campaign – or does that refer to UKIP?
    I’m guessing the latter as, although Labour will undoubtedly be concentrating on rebuilding the Labour challenge in Portsmouth North, they will certainly be wanting to put on a good show in Portsmouth South.

  16. I’m guessing that in every election up to and including 2010 a lot of Labour voters didn’t particularly mind the LDs winning the seat if it stopped the Tories from doing so, although of course they would have preferred to win themselves in a perfect world. But in 2015 there will be a fair number of Labour voters who will regard the LDs as being as bad as the Tories for going into coalition with them.

  17. CL, it’s actually the former. This is dependent if the favourite John Ferrett gets the Portsmouth North nomination for Labour. He’s the only Labour candidate who could possibly win it and has good support across the local party (he lives in the South constituency and is a councillor in the North). If that happens they will go hammer and tongs for North and their main campaign in South will be confined to Charles Dickens, Fratton and Central Southsea because that’s all their resources would allow, with a token campaign elsewhere. If anyone else gets North, my hunch is that there won’t be so much willingness of Labour activists to work it because a) they done think they could win it then and b) any other candidate wouldn’t have John’s pull. So there would be more activists in South for a labour to call on and their reach would be wider. As for UKIP, I expect their campaign in South to be reasonably even for the very reason they haven’t stood candidates in the city for ages, however, knowing who has designed their campaign for Portsmouth South I’m sure it will be targeted to some extent using local knowledge as a guide.

  18. Thanks for that bit of local insight. I assumed that John Ferrett would get the nomination but we shall see. I would advise them to concentrate on Portsmouth North whilst targeting the voters in the their target wards in the South which, as it happens, you have described happening. I would have thought some effort might be exended in Milton as well.
    We shall see, I would have thought Labour activists from the wider area would be heading into Portsmouth North as well, despite the decision not to ‘offically’ target the seat.

  19. *officially

  20. Portsmouth S 2015 –

    LD 34 (-12)
    Con 30 (-3)
    Lab 20
    UKIP 10
    Others 6

  21. Declaration of Portsmouth South in 1992-

  22. That was long before my time in Portsmouth but the 1992 result has been described to me as ‘traumatic’ for the local party, even more so than 1987.

  23. Sue Castillon selected for Labour for this constituency. She just missed out on Hilsea this year and is based, as far as I can see, In Paulsgrove.
    I would have thought she’d want to put in a good battle in this seat but I agree that all efforts will now be aimed at getting John Ferrett elected in the North.

  24. The LDs completely failed to squeeze the Lab vote in 1992 which they really should have done.

  25. Sue Castillon is the Labour candidate for Paulsgrove next year (the long serving Labour councillor is standing down) so she will be a councillor by the time this election takes place (and ward colleague of John Ferrett). As long as Ferrett was selected in North, their candidate in South won’t change how they approach the election, though I was expecting it to be Rob Smith (2010 Havant candidate).

  26. This was arguably one of UKIP’s worst results in 2010. Getting just 2.1% in a seat like this with strong patriotic associations was pretty poor.

  27. LD 13457
    CON 11803
    LAB 8568
    UKIP 3602
    GRN 2472
    OTH 1,362

  28. It will be interesting to see what effect today’s announcements will have.

  29. Indeed. I think Mike Hancock may well run as an Independent. He’s never been a particularly important figure in the LD parliamentary party and his social democratic leanings haven’t endeared the coalition to him

  30. He would get a derisory vote.

    In today’s climate an old man with certain allegations regarding his behaviour (true or not) is not going attract many votes.

  31. Depends what you mean by derisory. He could manage 5-10% of the vote I expect, and perhaps ruin the Lib Dems’ chance of holding the seat.

  32. You think the tories have a chance here?

    I am more optimistic than you most of the time, but I would be very surprised if we won even if Hancock stood as an Independant.

    The one situation where we might have a chance is if Hancock was selected by the LDs.

  33. it is important to recognise that people have a pride in their area and in this constituency the long link with ship-building is something that even a Northerner like me is aware of and was taught to believe as significant in English (let alone British) maritime history.
    It is important that the Aircraft Carriers will still be maintained here but 500+ years of shipbuilding coming to an end will surely be heartbreaking for Portsmouth.
    It’ll be interesting to see how individual councillors react, putting aside Mr Hancock.

  34. There must be a slim chance yes, if Hancock were to take 5-10% of the vote as an independent then I couldn’t see the Lib Dems getting over 30%.

    It’s all speculation though. I do see a Lib Dem hold as most likely here as I think it is unlikely circumstances will transpire to provoke Hancock to stand as an independent. He might well stand down of his own accord. He is always complaining of bad health.

  35. I suppose if he is sufficiently peeved with the LD’s he may well do so for that reason alone.

    UKIP are certainly getting in quickly with regard to the defence spending issue.

    Labour wouldn’t ever win here, though – its too right wing an area, and noone believes Labour would spend more on defence – and neither should they

  36. I think the Tories are likely to gain this seat whether the current MP contests the seat or not. Unless the Lib Dems see a dramatic surge in their vote I just cannot see such an unpopular party hanging on whatever people say about incumbency.

    The next election is a sea-change election from the Lib Dem point of view. BY this I mean the tide is going out a long way.

  37. HH – he looked fine on tv today, although he has now cited health on three occasions to postpone hearings into the allegations.

  38. Mike, you are mistaken to believe that Labour would never win here. The demographics would disagree – an area including Fratton, Charles Dickens and Central Southsea wards should always be in Labour’s sites. It is arguable that without the 1984 byelection, Labour would have taken the predecessor of this seat in 1997.
    As it happens, it is unlikely that the Lib Dems will lose it but it must be a long-term target for Labour.

  39. *sights

  40. CL: I said earlier that demographically this would be a Labour seat if you shifted it up here. But I think the values and views appear to be right-wing – affected by the military presence, perhaps?
    The LibDems appear very bedded in and active locally. Its certainly possible that if they lost their seats they would quickly disappear but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence at the moment. Also, this seat has never actually fallen to Labour before, and voting tradition does make a difference

  41. MM, I agree with you about the ‘voting tradition’ and I can’t see the Lib Dems disappearing here.

  42. I’m inclined to agree with Mike. This seat could conceivably have gone Labour in 1997 only because New Labour had completely neutralised their 1980s left wing history, including on defence matters. Under an Ed Miliband leadership and in the direction Labour is heading, this is very unlikely to be a seat which could vote Labour.

  43. Agree HH. Frankly, there are so few seats like this which Labour are anywhere near winning it just doesn’t make sense to try and skew our appeal to doing so.

  44. Can anyone with local knowledge tell me why Charles Dickens ward is so solidly Liberal Democrat? Is it just local activity which has won it for them? It must be the seat with the highest percentage of social housing in England not to be held by Labour. I remember an old edition of Robert Waller’s Almanac of British Politics saying that the transfer of “the solidly Labour Charles Dickens ward” from Portsmouth North to Portsmouth South had significantly reduced Labour’s chances in the North constituency. Not any more it would seem. Surely Labour must have a chance of taking this again, but they seem to be stronger in far more middle class wards like Hilsea than this one.

  45. WV. Laziness and complacency was why Labour lost the ward in the first place (it’s not as if they weren’t warned though, before 2002 they’d lost it on the odd occasion twice previously). Since then it’s been through sheer hard work we’ve held the seat, assisted by poor Labour campaigning/targeting and in the case of last year, not knowing how to capitalise on an unexpectedly close result in 2011. We have left Labour with little room to maneuver in the ward and as you mentioned it’s again a little way further down the target list again (and of course it’s in Labour hopeless Portsmouth South, compared to other targets).

  46. Before last week’s Question time which was held in Portsmouth’s Guildhall there was a protest held against the closure of the shipyard and Ukip were handing out leaflets so they will try exploit the job losses.

    I was in the Question time audience. I made a comment in the last minute of the programme about renewables not just combatting climate change but also providing energy security if there was conflict in the Persian Gulf and about costs being renewables more stable than oil prices.

    I spend a lot of time in Portsmouth and to me it feels like a Labour seat. It’s is certainly the poorest area in Hampshire and Dorset.

  47. I would agree on the look of Portsmouth but Labour didn’t serve the city well and were bundled out and seemingly find little traction since that happened.

    LibDems councillors can provide the same level of attention to working class voters without the patronising while also be cognizant to middle class voters concerns.

    Some might argue that the monstrosities of the public housing complex in front of the ferry terminal are a constant reminder of what Labour “did” for Portsmouth.

    Labour and Tory attrition of the Royal Navy certainly hasn’t helped..

  48. This is an area with a working class Tory tradition, though – remember Labour have never actually won the seat.

    LibDem councillors can be largely ideology-free in a way that Labour councillors can’t, and shouldn’t – here they have just filled the populist space in an area which isn’t Labour-minded in terms of views but wouldn’t be an obviously Coinservative area either. Its essentially what their approach is all about in my view – take tbhe politics out of politics and talk about dogsh*t.

    Of course Labour’s ludicrous cabinet and strong leader structures have encouraged this sort of approach, where most councillors have nothing to do other than give bad, unqualified advice which should be given by trained advisers and take credit for things which have nothing to do with them.

    Havant and Gosport are more working class than the average Tory seat as well.

  49. “Havant and Gosport are more working class than the average Tory seat as well”.

    I agree totally, that makes the chunky Tory majorities even more anomalous. The Labour parts of Havant (Leigh Park) have woeful turn-out.

  50. Havant and Gosport are more working class than the average Tory seat as well”.

    I agree totally, that makes the chunky Tory majorities even more anomalous. The Labour parts of Havant (Leigh Park) have woeful turn-out.’

    Why the surprise

    Working Class pewople in the South East in particular vote Tory

    Hampshire isn’t the only Southern county to have plenty of working class Tory seats.

    Kent and Essex have plenty of such seats, even the Sussex coast too

    I don’t understand why left-wingers cannot get their heads around the fact that in today’s world, working class voters that live in the South East (outside London) are more likely to vote Tory than Labour or Lib Dem

    Besides whilst this would not be the case herew, the South East is probably the only part of the country where there are just as many middle class voters as there are working class voters and obviously enough of these voters still vote Tory to make the area such a bastion of Conservative strength

    It’s even spread to the East Midlands – with gritty and unattractive post-industrial towns like Wellingbourough. Kettering and Loughborough, becoming Tory strongholds

    It’s such voters who seem most attracted to UKIP

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