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. Most of the comment here seems to paint the Portsmouth powers that be in a light of incompetence.. Frankly they are coming up trumps in any Machiavellian assessment of the situation..

    Hancock is being accommodated as an independent in the Rotten Borough of Fratton.. the locals don’t have to vote for him.. but most pundits say they will. He is out of the cabinet (that should have been propelled faster.. but what they lost in face, he saved..).. and now next step will be him playing nice with the selection of the next PPC for the seat in Westminster.

    The LibDem group in Pompey seem intent on having their cake and eating it too.. there is a prevailing view that LD politicians are some sort of naifs let loose upon the British body politic.. the party at Westminster could certainly do with some Machiavellian DNA in its composition.. whether they should be as Tammany Hall as Portsmouth’s crew remains a matter of conjecture..

  2. Except it’s not just a ward issue. Hancock may be able to ride out the storm in Fratton – we don’t know what feeling on the ground is like there yet, but it’s possible. But the Lib Dems are defending a lot of wards in Portsmouth this May, most of which are much less safe than Fratton. Historically the Lib Dems have had a very efficient vote distribution in Portsmouth, allowing them to win a lot of wards very narrowly. That makes them very vulnerable if the electorate across the city decide to punish them for their handling of the issue.

  3. This city looks to me like a US urban political machine rather than anything over here… (I lived 11 years in New Jersey… so have seen that up close and personal)..

  4. I think that the Pompey Lib Dems are a remarkable political outfit, managing to win seats out of proportion to their vote share by brilliant targeting and a first-rate get out the vote strategy. They managed to get a constant stream of defections from both Labour and the Tories, despite the defectors having significant political differences.
    They are the closest we have to a US political machine. The problem for this sort of machine comes when the electorate senses arrogance, which I believe is the case with the whole Mike Hancock situation.
    We shall see what May brings.

  5. I now read that Mr Hancock is allowed to attend the Lib Dem group meetings as a non-voting member. Apparently this, along with not putting a candidate up against him in Fratton, was agreed with the national party, or at least that is the claim of the chair of the Portsmouth Lib Dems.
    I feel really sorry for the many decent Lib Dems in Portsmouth whose heads must be absolutely spinning with how utterly crass and hamfisted the local (and national) party leadership appear in the way they have dealt with Mr Hancock.

  6. Catholicleft – yes, it’s all getting even more interesting. It’ll be interesting what description he uses – if any – and if LibDem members sign his Nomination paper and if a leaflet goes out by him or them with named LibDems supporting him. Wasn’t Portsmouth the place where rowdy anti-paedophile protests took place a decade ago?

  7. It is, in Paulsgrove (in Portsmouth North). I think it could also be there where some idiots couldn’t tell the difference between a paedophile & a paediatrician.
    The word “paedophile” incidentally literally means “a lover of children”, and the classicist in me finds the word problematic. Perhaps the use of the simpler term “child abuser” should be encouraged in its place.

  8. Ah yes, you’re right Barnaby. Portsmouth had protests in both 2000 and 2006.

  9. I understand that Mike Hancock is in Southampton General for heart surgery.

  10. I wish him well and will keep him in my prayers.

  11. Is it planned or emergency? I know he has had heart surgery in the past.

  12. Another twist…

  13. @Lancs Observer
    “Catholicleft – yes, it’s all getting even more interesting. It’ll be interesting what description he uses – if any – and if LibDem members sign his Nomination paper and if a leaflet goes out by him or them with named LibDems supporting him.”

    No doubt about it, he’s still a Lib Dem in all but name.


  14. I was in Southsea yesterday and could not believe how run down it was.

    The pier is closed and boarded up and many of the Victorian seafront terraces opposite have been demolished following lack of maintenance.

    Portsmouth South would now seem better territory for Labour than Portsmouth North as it is compacted onto a small part of Portsea island.

    On the other hand…Portsmouth North seems to becoming more gentrified…particularly on the part on the mainland off Portsea Island.

    I think that much of the Liberal vote may be more Labour inclined now and were it to collapse then Portsmouth South could become a better Labour prospect than North. Local election results show the Liberals stopping their left of centre vote going to Labour however than in other places.

  15. The mainland part of Portsmouth surely is dominated by Paulsgrove which is Labour’s strongest & sometimes only ward in the whole of the city. I suspect some of the areas Peter refers to are not within the city, or North constituency, boundaries & are in the neighbouring seats of Havant & Fareham.

  16. Yes, Paulsgrove will probably have been the only ward that Labour carried in the Portsmouth North division in 2010.

    I wonder if Peter is talking about Drayton and Cosham? Those areas are also on the mainland and are pretty strongly Tory, especially Drayton.

  17. There are three mainland wards in Portsmouth: Paulsgrove, Cosham, and Drayton and Farlington. They make up three of the seven Portsmouth North wards. Paulsgrove is traditionally Labour although the Conservatives won in 2004 and 2008. They were 130 votes behind Labour in 2010. It is also the ward that saw the rioting and could be a seat UKIP do well in. A long serving Labour councillor is retiring this year and the UKIP candidate is related to some of the leaders of the protests.

    Drayton and Farlington has been Conservative (boundaries varied only slightly on the mainland) since the mid-70’s. In 2012 the Conservatives polled over 60% here. In fact it accounted for a fraction under 30% of their total vote in Portsmouth North in 2012.

    Cosham is much more interesting. It has swung around over the last 25 years. At one point in the 80’s it had three independent councillors. In 2012 it was safe Conservative, with their candidate winning 47.8% of the vote but a year later they were in third with 30.2%. The Lib Dems won a narrow three way fight, although the winner subsequently joined Labour.

  18. As someone who lives in Southsea I certainly don’t agree it is run down as a whole. In fact it has well above average shop unit occupancy and a growing cafe culture. However, the area around the pier does look bad. The building on the site opposite was not demolished due to lack of maintenance but because the buildings were gutted by fire. The site belonged to a Harry Redknapp led consortium whose development plan fizzled out. The site has been sold and likely to be developed later this year.

    The pier was once owned by the council but sold when the council was NOC with a Labour leader back in the 90s. It has changed hands since with the last owners not having the money to invest in it. The council forced closure on safety grounds and there was storm damage earlier this year. A local trust and private investors have been fighting to buy it and it looks like the later have won. The council is threatening repair orders if the new owners don’t act quickly.

  19. Mike Hancock has been in The Priory for the past 3 months. His salary as an MP and allowances as a Cllr should cover it.

  20. The people of Portsmouth must be thick as pigshit to vote for this perverted shyster. It would be absolutely beyond belief if the Lib Dems re-adopted him for 2015, especially as he is standing in the local elections as an independent, ie. campaigning for a candidate other than from his own party, which gets you expelled from the party in most cases.

  21. They’re proceeding with the selection while he is an independent, as I understand, which essentially means that he is deselected.

  22. That’s something I suppose. He should have been pressured to resign.

  23. Hancock is of course standing for election in the locals in Fratton, and the LDs have stood aside for him in that ward.

  24. He seems like the sort where the smart thing to do is simply shove him to the side of the caucus and wait quietly for him to leave, I think. Probably the party had some way of knowing that he wouldn’t resign anyway.

  25. Mike Hancock’s agent is a sitting Lib-Dem Councillor and another is quoted on pretty much all of his expensive election literature. He is spending a lot of money, including it appears paid delivery teams although some Lib-Dem members are known to be manning polling stations for him on the 22nd.

  26. UKIP has gained Fratton from Mike Hancock.

    UKIP 31%
    Lab 26%
    Hancock 22%
    Con 17%
    Others 4%

    UKIP is now on 6 seats and the council NOC.

  27. His use-by date had been reached and now is definitely expired… his forcefield has dropped (to mix a metaphor) and now even better reason for Gerald Vernon-Jackson to make a run at the PPC role..

  28. The wife was out too…

  29. Labour actually lost a seat here..

  30. For what they are worth the aggregate figures for the votes of the four main parties in Portsmouth South were: Lib Dem 6895, Con 5965, UKIP 4833 and Lab 4040. As there was no Lib Dem candidate in Fratton Ward I have included Mike Hancock’s vote in the Lib Dem total. It is possible, of course, that had the Lib Dems put up an official candidate he/she might have gained more votes than Mike Hancock.

  31. H Hemmelig says that campaigning for a candidate other than your own party usually gets you expelled. This may be true in England but it is not uncommon for party members to stand as ‘Independent’ in Scotland. One famous case was David Steel’s election agent. It tends to happen in areas where most Councillors are Independents.

  32. Very interesting figures posted by John OGilvie above. For a long time I have had this seat down as a four way marginal and those figures would tend to support that idea.

    Actually the chances of the LDs would IMO be stronger were UKIP ahead of Con at this stage. There is definitely a core “well off” “metropolitan” “liberal elite” in Southsea that would be appalled at the idea of being represented by UKIP and would probably coalesce in behind the LDs to stop this.

    As it is the Con PPC is absolutely the type to appeal to the “metropolitan elite” but she is not exactly Pompey….something of course Mr Hancock clearly had in his favour.

  33. 2015

    Con 12000
    Lib Dem 8000
    Lab 7500
    Lib (Hancock) 6500
    UKIP 3500

    Con Gain from Lib

  34. lol
    Would Hancock get more than 700 votes without the LIb Dem umbrella/parachute?

    If Helmer stood, it could be about 7,000 for UKIP.

  35. Why would Helmer stand here, of all places? That doesn’t even remotely make sense.

    And I’m with JJB on the other thing. If Hancock broke 1,000 by himself, it’d be a miracle. His harass-y problems would get the better of him. That said, the Lib Dems need to select a candidate. Soon.

  36. I’d still be surprised if the LDs lost here, despite the current chaotic situation.

  37. Depends on which vote will be damaged most by UKIP here in Portsmouth South, Barnaby. Also, there might be a rare Lib Dem-Conservative swing here, even if not by much.

  38. How would that be rare? That’s happening all over the country, partly because of direct swing & partly because of LDs switching to Labour & other parties. Whether the swing is enough to defeat them here is another matter. Certainly Hancock’s antics are giving the Tories a better chance than they would otherwise have had.

  39. (when I say “direct swing”, that is partly political but also down to tactical voting by former LD supporters who want to beat Labour, or even UKIP in some seats).

  40. It would only take a two-party swing of about 6.5% to turn the Lib Dems out here. Must be touch and go.

  41. This would be a comfortable hold if they hung Hancock out to dry and selected a local boring councillor who talked about dogshit.

    The longer this is talked about, the more feasible a gain is.

  42. The Lib Dems are the truly schizophrenic party, on occasion indecently quick to hang some out to dry (Kennedy, Ming), yet inexplicably slow in respect to others (Rennard, Hancock, Huhne).

    Like Barnaby I just don’t think the Tories have the strength to win here. Hancock surely won’t be the LD candidate, perhaps they are just handling him with the kiddest of gloves to prevent him standing as an independent. Having seen how well that went down in his council seat perhaps he’s less likely to do so.

  43. Mike Hancock’s son, Dean, 37, has been convicted of ABH and criminal damage, after headbutting a reporter 67, punching him 7 times and smashing his camera outside the family home. Sentencing on June 25th.

  44. And are we supposed to get upset about that? The behaviour of ‘reporters’ means that I don;t frasnkly care what happens to any of them. Leveson should only be the start – thank goodness their ‘craft’ is being made technologically redundant

  45. Do bear in mind some of us are journalists before advocating punching and headbutting us, Mike! Fortunately in the field of games journalism we don’t get that much unless we say there probably ought to be the odd extra female character.

    I’m not sure what the behaviour of the reporter was and I understand it’s easy to lose one’s temper, but that was the wrong way to react whatever it was. This antipathy towards journalists is caused by certain idiots in the profession, but certainly not the majority and it’s not warranted for almost any of them.

  46. I don’t totally agree with that. Obviously some reporters are intrusive & behave in a frankly disgusting fashion. But many journalists are good trades unionists & have a totally honourable record exposing wrongdoing by those in power, and I don’t think we can make such a blanket condemnation. Knowing what we are starting to know about Mike Hancock, it seems reasonable enough for some of his actions to be investigated – assuming that this was in some way linked to Dean Hancock’s father.

  47. I don’t even think Merseymike’s comments merit a response, but in case others are in any doubt – the reporter had taken an agreed photograph with Mike Hancock MP, who shook his hand before he left. The MP’s wife (and presumably Dean’s mother) sped off up bumping Dean, who then attacked the pensioner in a sustained unprovoked attack. It seems the entire family may be somewhat unhinged and psychiatric reports have been requested. Maybe one day we’ll find out everything that went on with this MP.

  48. Mike Hancock has issued a statement of apology for the inappropriate and unprofessional relationship he had with a constituent. He has also agreed to pay damages in order to settle the civil action. The statement came via his lawyer, as the MP is likely to remain as a patient in The Priory for many months.

  49. How can he serve his constituents in The Priory?

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