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
2010
Con: 13721 (33%)
Lab: 5640 (14%)
LDem: 18921 (46%)
UKIP: 876 (2%)
Oth: 2106 (5%)
MAJ: 5200 (13%)
2005*
Con: 13685 (34%)
Lab: 8714 (22%)
LDem: 17047 (42%)
UKIP: 928 (2%)
MAJ: 3362 (8%)
2001
Con: 11396 (29%)
Lab: 9361 (24%)
LDem: 17490 (45%)
UKIP: 321 (1%)
Oth: 647 (2%)
MAJ: 6094 (16%)
1997
Con: 16094 (31%)
Lab: 13086 (25%)
LDem: 20421 (40%)
Oth: 465 (1%)
MAJ: 4327 (8%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
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.
Links
Comments - 456 Responses on “Portsmouth South”
  1. To be fair, Wellingborough has been a safe Tory seat for many decades, with the exception of the landslide defeats of 1997 and 2001.

    Kettering and Loughborough towns are not Tory strongholds. The constituencies bearing their names have been Tory strongholds only when a lot of rural area has also been included, as is presently the case in Kettering but not Loughborough, which accounts for its marginality.

  2. ‘To be fair, Wellingborough has been a safe Tory seat for many decades, with the exception of the landslide defeats of 1997 and 2001.

    Kettering and Loughborough towns are not Tory strongholds.’

    Maybe they weren’t the best examples – although Wellingborough was Labour as early as 1918 – and stayed with them until the 1931 landslide – and going through it on the train a couple of weeks back it wasn’t hard to see why – but I think my general point stands

    The Left do have a habit of simply ignorring things they don’t agree

  3. Perhaps its apt that a ward named after Charles Dickens is just about the most abject shit hole of a ward in the whole of Southern England (outside London)

  4. Even considering Luton?

  5. Don’t let the trees fool you…

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/Council_flats_backing_onto_the_M275%2C_Portsmouth_-_geograph.org.uk_-_499765.jpg

    This one from the other angle looks like a pre-WW2 prison complex in Berlin..

  6. There are obviously regional differences between areas in terms of voting. But overall, strongly working class seats return Labour MP’s.

    The South-East is more middle class overall than the national picture
    But there are clearly seats in the areas you mention which are disproprtionately Tory in comparison to the rest of the country, and this has becaome more marked since the late seventies.

    Of course, there are also seats outside the south-east which now appear safe Labour but used to be marginals. Leicester South, for example. And marginals which used to be safe Tory – Sefton Central, Morecambe and Lunesdale

  7. Labour used to have lots of seats in the South post-War though, and upto the ’60s and ’70s. As Tony Benn has noted, Labour failed to garner the working class vote where Thatcher/Tebbit succeeded, from Ayr to Essex (or from Bebington to Maghull in Merseyside). Since then Merseyside has ceased to be electorally significant as the population has halved, of course.

  8. Antiochian I think that estate you linked to is just over the border in Nelson ward. Plenty of other horrors in Charles Dickens though

  9. Lancs Observer – it became rapidly clear that you were more interested in polemic than in reality when you claim Ayr as a working class town, but even your point about Labour’s earlier southern success is somewhat debatable.

    Taking 1959 as an example, because it was our worst defeat between 1945 and 1979, Labour was not exactly thick on the ground in southern England. In the counties that now make up the Eastern, South Eastern and South Western regions (more or less – this is pre-Greater London, which complicates it a bit), we won 15 seats, which is only 5 more than we got in 2010.

    Undoubtedly Labour does struggle with certain sections of the southern working class. But frankly we struggle with them as much because of the section of the working class they belong to (skilled, relatively well-off, likely to be self-employed and unlikely to be unionised, homeowning etc.) as much as because of where they are – and to the extent that there is a regional effect, it’s often better explained by organisational weaknesses on the part of Labour than by regional explanations.

    We win fewer southern seats because their working classes are different from the working classes of northern, Scottish or Welsh seats (and because we perform better with the northern middle classes). It may be slightly more noticeable these days, but that’s merely a difference of extent.

  10. Its interesting how few of those 15 seats held in 1959 are in the same areas as the 10 held now. They didn’t then, as now, have seats in Luton, Oxford, Exeter or Plymouth but of course they still retained rural seats in Norfolk as well as Falmouth & Camborne and West Gloucestershire none of which areas they look likely to be competitive again in the near future – likewise Dartford and Faversham. There were of course other areas like Swindon, Ipswich and Thurrock where they very much are.
    I think only four seats are in the same areas in both election years – Slough, Southampton Itchen and two more or less equivalent seats in Bristol.

  11. Its also worth remarking that in 1959 the Conservatives won such seats as Sundeland South, Hartlepool, Darlington, Doncaster, Hull North, the Prestons, the Stockports as well of course as numerous seats in Liverpool and Manchester (not all of which were primarily middle class by any means). It does seem that while there was always a North South divide based on the fact simply that the North has a larger industrial working class, the working class of the North and South were not at that time markedly different in their propensity to vote Tory (if anything they were more so in parts of the North particularly with the Orange vote in Liverpool, while some of Labours strongest seats were the likes of Dagenham). It is fair to say though that the divergence has been caused only in small part by a decliine in Labour support amongst the southern working class and in greater part by a decline in Tory suppurt amongst the Northern working class

  12. The Conservative decline in those places has perhaps more to do with changing patterns within the middle class.

    Although their working class support in those days would have had a strong nationalist and social conservatist underpinning. **

    Something which the Cameroons seem now happy to concede to UKIP.

    ** The Orange Protestant Unionist vote merely being the most extreme variety.

  13. Which ‘working class’ seats in the midlands and north would have been Labour in 1959 but Cosnervative in 2010.

    The likes of Sherwood, Amber Valley and Cannock etc.

    How would Colne Valley have voted in 1959 on its 2010 boundaries and in 2010 on its 1959 boundaries?

  14. Yes there are plenty of those of course, but in many cases they are less working class in character now than then, Colne Valley being a good example. I reckon the result on Colne Valley on the old boundaries would not have been very different to the result on the current boundaries (Tory slightly higher, Labour slightly lower, LD about the same). The current seat would have been Labour in 1959 I’m sure but quite narrowly over the LIberals who had a majority of nearly 10,000 in Huddersfield West then, much of which would have been in the wards which are now in this Colne Valley

  15. Interesting discussion this – Pete what were Doncaster’s boundaries like in 1959?

  16. In terms of the current wards it covered Balby, Bessacar & Cantley, Central, Town Moor, Wheatley and the unparished part of Finningley ward

  17. ‘Undoubtedly Labour does struggle with certain sections of the southern working class. But frankly we struggle with them as much because of the section of the working class they belong to (skilled, relatively well-off, likely to be self-employed and unlikely to be unionised, homeowning etc.) as much as because of where they are’

    Aspiration is certainly a factor but the main reason Labour struggles with working class Southerners is because they have increasingly become a party dominated by ultra liberal middle class urbanites, who views of things such as immigration, crime and the EU couldn’t be more polar opposite

    Such voters have found the charms of UKIP hard to resist at the momeny but even when they begin to see UKIP for the party the rest of us know they are, they won’t be returning to Labour any time soon

    It’s quite clear from reading what supporters on this site are saying, that Labour hasn’t really got a clue about how to even try and win such voters back.

    It’s their Marxist ideology which likes to pidgeon hole working class voters as Left Wing Labourites – when in this part of the world that couldn’t be further from the truth

  18. Thanks Pete – it seems remarkable that was once a Conservative seat as essentially it was the urban core of the current seat? Only Finningley has a Conservative presence now.

  19. I wish the Labour Party did have Marxist ideology, Tim, but it really doesn’t. Even in the class-conscious days of Keir Hardie, Labour has always been opposed to Marxist ideology, even though it has always contained a number of Marxists within its ranks.

  20. Tim Jones clearly hasn’t got a clue what Marxism its not just shorthand for something you don’t like…

  21. it tends to be that AM. For example in the 20s & 30s the Nazis lumped the Communists & Social Democrats (who were nothing like Marxists) into the generic term of “Marxists”. It doesn’t help however that occasionally very soft-left social reformers describe themselves as such too.

  22. “Yes there are plenty of those of course, but in many cases they are less working class in character now than then”

    But that’s directly connected to the Conservative decline in former urban constituencies.

    Namely private sector middle classes moving from urban areas to exurban developments with good transport links.

  23. “the unparished part of Finningley ward”

    Which consisted of what? The outer parts of Bessacarr and Cantley at a guess?

    In which case they would have been fields in 1959.

  24. ‘I wish the Labour Party did have Marxist ideology,’

    Not so much with regards to policy Barnaby – but many Labour supporters still see society through a Marxist prism – working class people vote Labour, middle class people vote Tory etc, and take issue with anyone who challenges that notion

    Fact is, working class southerners are as far away poloitocally from today’s middle class Labour Party as at any time before – and explanations such as regional weaknesses within the party just don’t cut it

    It gpes far deeper than that but today’s PC Labour Party just doesn’t get it at all

  25. I don’t tend to bother to read anything with “PC” or “politically correct”, or its variants, in it. I think it’s a stupid expression & grossly overused, Fortunately Tim you put it at the end of your post so I did read it. I repeat, a basic class consciousness is NOT the same as Marxism. Marxism is far more than that, and the great majority of Labour Party members & supporters are simply not Marxists. For me, what is correct politically is a transition to socialism; the idea of so-called political correctness seems to come originally from the USA, which has less support for socialist or social democratic parties than any other major democracy, and thus the idea is meaningless from where I’m coming. OK, I’ve said my piece – by all means other contributors can put the expression in their pieces, but don’t expect me to read them or take them seriously. Especially if you add “gone mad” at the end.

  26. The term that Barnaby takes such offense to is used in the US in reference only to statements that people might make that offend against the general vibe of the day…

    These might be comments that are racist, sexist, body shape related, ageist or religiously “biased”. They have nothing to do with any ideology.. what you can get away with saying on a huntin’ & fishin’ trip in the Louisiana bayous and what you can say at an Upper West Side dinner party can be poles apart… there is no standard. In fact the person making the comment in the bayou or at the dinner party may vote for one and the same party!

    The farther you get away from the liberal elites in the US, the more you can “let her rip” with what you really feel..

  27. A few weeks ago I chaired the opening session of a mining conference in Spain, and one of the speakers was an Indian who spoke for half an hour about how the growth of Indian stainless steel consumption was being driven “by the Indian housewife in her kitchen” (through growing demand for stainless steel pots and pans etc).

    I found the experience both extremely uncomfortable and extremely funny, in equal measure. We do sometimes forget the positive side to PC and the fact that many countries are yet to pay any attention to it.

  28. The notion that there is such a thing as a working-class voter is obviously untenable. There are voters who are working-class, and there are voters who identify as working-class (not necessarily the same thing, by a long way). But they are not a uniform mass and they can easily be broken into several different and frequently distinct groups. Labour struggle with certain of these groups, particularly in the south (partly because they’re more prevalent in the south and partly because our outreach to them is worse there). But that’s a long way from Labour doing badly with the southern working class in general.

  29. ^Precisely that. You hear commentators like Owen Jones or Ken Loach speaking of the working class in this extremely romanticised way, with assumptions that they’re all left wing and/or active trade union members. The nature of the British working class has changed significantly in the last 30 years and there’s differences between those in the north, south and Midlands.

    Jones’ book Chavs, for example, would be disowned by a lot of people who identify as working class (typically C1 and C2 voters). They don’t like to be tarred with the same brush and have quite strong views on the ‘lifestyles’ synonymous with chavs.

  30. HH makes an interesting point. An example is that when you visit China the first thing the guides do is give you their “Western name” on the assumption that you won’t be able to pronounce their real name properly, which is pretty politically incorrect by our standards.

  31. Returning to the electoral changes since 1959 there is also the issue of housing.

    The middle suburban semis built in the 1930s and 1950s would have been highly desirable in 1959 and would have contained a large number of Conservative voters.

    Now they often appear very run down with the more affluent residents having moved on.

    This is perhaps less of a problem in southern England because of the higher property prices and population density but in much of the north these issues do not apply.

    In my experience the desirable parts of the north are regarded as either ‘pretty villages’ or ‘new developments’. Middle suburbis is certainly not regarded highly at all anymore.

  32. C1 is definatley not working class. Its lower middle class. See Romford

  33. I’m C1.

  34. ‘In my experience the desirable parts of the north are regarded as either ‘pretty villages’ or ‘new developments’. Middle suburbis is certainly not regarded highly at all anymore.’

    Good observation- and perhaps part of the reason why the Tories have gone far backwards in middling suburban areas like Davyhulme, Bebington, Sale, etc.

  35. they still win in Davyhulme as it happens, but don’t do well in Urmston as they used to. They also still win in western Sale but not the east of the town, mostly. The western portion of the town is still pretty prosperous in a rather nondescript way; I have a q

  36. whoops – I have a quite close friend who grew up in Sale, and when I visited him he showed me the rather nice house in a nearby road where the famous chief constable, James Anderton, lived.

  37. Barnaby- well I don’t think they’re as strong as they used to be in Davyhulme. They’d have barely carried the constituency in 2010, which represents a decline from 1992 and that can’t all be down to Urmston.

    You’re right about eastern Sale- I suspect Labour will have carried Sale Moor and Priory even in 2010. I don’t think the Tory leads in west Sale are that strong anymore. That Brady’s position has held up well is surely because of Hale and Bowden and perhaps the improving Tory position in Altrincham itself.

    I think the Tories will have carried Bebington by 1500 as late as 1992- Labour will have carried it in 2010 (if I recall Pete Whitehead’s estimates correctly).

  38. … though I don’t deny there has been Tory decline in Urmston. The last time they carried it was in the high watermark of 2008, and that was only 40-33.

  39. Tory you seem to know the borough of Trafford quite well – my visits to it have tended to be to see Manchester United, or to see my aforementioned friend & his family in days gone by, though I did have a drink with my zany cousin in a bar in Altrincham once. I don’t remember where you come from – perhaps you can fill us in? I don’t know the Urmston part of the Stretford & Urmston constituency at all, though I did visit once to pick someone up from her house in Urmston itself to take her for a sort of college reunion drink in Didsbury. (She was a great admirer of Mrs Thatcher.)

  40. The difference in housing tenure might have been an influence on Cameroon strategy.

    The solid 1930s/1950s middle suburban semis were always associated with Conservative voting.

    But in the north many of these Conservative voters have departed to pretty villages and new developments and in London have departed for Kent , Essex etc.

    Unless you have a personal knowledge of these areas or an interest in demographics and election results you wouldn’t know this.

  41. My road in West Sussex is very similar to what Richard describes. It is part new-development and part quite large old houses (we live in the new build half). Almost all of our neighbours are recent emigrants from suburban south London, including of course ourselves.

  42. ‘I think the Tories will have carried Bebington by 1500 as late as 1992- Labour will have carried it in 2010 (if I recall Pete Whitehead’s estimates correctly).’

    It’s an odd one Bebbington.

    Whilst it’s near places like Rock Ferry and Ellesmere Port – which are about as far from nice as one can imagine – Bebbington itself is very leafy and picturesque and looks like the sort of place that would be rock solid Conservative – as I’m sure it would be were it not in Merseyside

  43. Tim: clearly there are still some working class voters in the south who vote Labour.

    But I think they don’t vote Labour because they don’t agree with Labour ideology – which is fair enough. We shouldn’t alter what we believe to be right simply to catch a specific demographic – particularly when voters much more likely to support us would be opposed to such changes

    The South has never been good territory for us – yes, the divide has become wider, but thats the same for the Tories in much of the north

  44. ‘We shouldn’t alter what we believe to be right simply to catch a specific demographic’

    Isn’t that exactly what Blair did with his New Labour project?

    And to be fair it worked

    I was happy to vote for him in 97 but would never have voted Labour under any of their previous leaders – except Atlee

  45. Attlee was the maddest of the lot. How you can claim to be a moderate and support that government is beyond me.

  46. Sorry that was partisan – substitute most left wing for maddest.

    My apologies.

  47. I have to say I am intensely proud of the fact that I never ever voted for Tony Blair, despite being the kind of middle class centrist Tory who defected to New Labour in their droves.

    Ever since he became party leader there was just something about his insincerity and smarminess that I just couldn’t stand. Though widely ridiculed at the time, the Tories’ “Phoney Tony” and “Demon Eyes” poster campaigns were proved right in the end.

  48. I can’t claim that, obviously, but never had any illusions about Blair & can at least claim that I voted against his bid for the leadership of the Labour Party. I have never voted against the Labour Party in a public election.

  49. “Attlee was the maddest of the lot. How you can claim to be a moderate and support that government is beyond me.”

    A large amount of hyperbole there, me thinks.

    Churchill liked and trusted Attlee enough to be happy with him as deputy prime minister.

    Whichever party had won the 1945 general election would have had to enact sweeping socialist reforms; the war-weary electorate simply demanded them as their reward for enduring the years of depression and war. That of course explains why the Tory front bench officially supported most of Attlee’s programme, though admittedly many a backbench knight of the shire did not.

  50. The debt was totally crippling though. If we had waited 10-15 years it would be have been much easier on the public purse.

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