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. The LibDems will have a nicer candidate than Hancock next time so should win pretty handily

  2. Bad news for the LDs in the Ashcroft poll:

    CON 30
    LD 25
    LAB 20
    UKIP 17
    OTH 7

  3. I think that big 7% oth vote is a vote for Hancock. It should comeback to the LibDems once voters realize he isn’t a LibDem candidate and the LibDems ought to be able to keep this one

  4. 7 seems quite par for the course, given the tally was 5 in 2010 that’s not unreasonable. If the Lib Dems are to win here they need to really get heavily stuck into suppressing the Labour vote in their favour and trying to win some left-leaning UKIP voters back – which I think will be a tough ask in both cases. Just looks like the Tory vote has held up more solidly here, which is hardly surprising.

  5. 5% of that 7% was for the Greens according to the poll.

  6. Hancock will be lucky to get 3%. The Greens will certainly beat him.

  7. Yeah. This will probably be an LD loss.

  8. So the Lib Dems need to persuade a quarter of the remaining Labour voters to switch to them in the next five months. That’s doable if they get the campaign right.

  9. I think it’s possible – but it’s now very much an uphill struggle, by the looks of things. They needed UKIP to make more inroads into the Tories and few inroads into them, one suspects.

  10. 13% between 4 parties in an English constituency. The only potential longshot of an English 4 way marginal.

  11. Norwich South, maybe? I suppose Wyre Forest has always had the potential, too. Brighton Pavillion hasn’t, but more because the LDs are inexplicably weak in Brighton.

  12. It has been closer here. In 1922 in Portsmouth Central (most of which is now in this seat) only 5.5% separated the winning Unionist candidate and the fourth placed Labour candidate with the sitting (official) Liberal coming third and a National (ie Lloyd George) Liberal coming second ( 7 votes behind the winner)

  13. Bemused by the comments here about the LibDem prospects because none of them drop the name of the LD candidate… vis a vis the faceless and in some cases still unchosen candidates of the other parties… Gerald Vernon-Jackson is enormously well known as the Leader of the Council for 10 years.. done more for Portsmouth than Mike Hancock ever did…. I predicted that this would play out this way last year and it has… next, do not be surprised if Mike Hancock does not run..

  14. Also rather bemused by the assessment of the Tory prospects when everyone knows it was them that sunk the shipyards..

    The Tories have been the worst thing for the Royal Navy since the Germans launched their first U-Boot

    There are several thousand voters here, in Gosport and Portsmouth North whether they be current workers or retired shipyard workers who will be sharpening knives for Mordaunt, Dinenage or whoever the Ports South candidate for the Tories is… and they wont have a figleaf to hide behind..

  15. You’re bemused? Just look at the poll.

  16. Gerald Vernon-Jackson, as well as being well-known in Portsmouth, is also well-known for covering up for Hancock for years isn’t he? Certainly Private Eye has put the boot in if I recall correctly.

    Some of the threads I’ve read in the past couple of days have taken on almost Glopwellian status. I’m half expecting “stupendous momentum” to rear its head.

  17. Jason. I’m sure Mr Jackson has a huge personal vote which will carry the day.

  18. Absolutely true Jason… if one takes it for granted that Portsmouth is the closest thing to Tammany Hall currently extant in US local politics.. then if G V-J was helping cover up Hancock (and I would not challenge you on that) then why is Hancock going to stand against him..? I think Hancock et al are just letting the opposing parties think the type of stuff that I read above.. that mist wont have cleared until candidate applications for the real ballot have closed.. then we shall see..

    As usual I am not making any predictions of who is going to win what… I am just pointing out that name recognition-wise G V-J is streets ahead of the others.

    Private Eye is widely read in Dickens ward?

  19. I wouldn’t write this off from a Lib Dem perspective, as our Portsmouth lot appear to be pretty organised.
    Idle speculation on my part, with absolutely no evidence, but it is possible that people may not have said LD for the ‘in your constituency’ question, thinking that Hancock would be our candidate.

  20. I actually do wonder if Iain has a point about people assuming Hancock would be the candidate. I assume not, simply because this whole affair has been quite publicized, so I imagine most will know that he won’t be standing. Who knows, though.

    I do appreciate the arguments for a Lib Dem hold here (and it’s certainly within the realm of possibility), but I tend to think that won’t materialize. Narrow Tory gain on the back of a scandal, simply put.

  21. I am a lifelong Labour supporter living in this constituency, who has tactically voted Liberal Democrat in previous general elections in order to keep out the Conservatives. I will probably be returning to Labour in 2015, and I know others who intend to do the same.

    It’s nothing to do with Hancock – it’s all about the Lib Dem participation in the coalition government.

    If the Lib Dems want my vote back, then only a cast-iron guarantee about not propping up the Tories would suffice!

  22. Uncle S – would you really prefer to have a Conservative than a Liberal Democrat MP then? Or do you see it more as a “one-time kick the Liberals in anger” reaction vote to the coalition?

  23. I can’t speak for Uncle S but as a Labour supporter I would in most cases rather have a Conservative MP than a Liberal Democrat. It’s much clearer what they stand for.

  24. Mm, that’s interesting. I guess sit sort of uncomfortably on the left-wing-edge fringes of the Liberals/liberal-edge fringes of Labour and can’t imagine going for a Tory over one of the other parties (I’m not sure I’d even vote Tory in a UKIP/CON marginal, though I wouldn’t vote UKIP either). The fact people think in the way you’re doing does very much hammer the point home that Clegg’s Liberals have had a serious problem in terms of direction and perceptions though, I guess.

    I guess it may also be reflected in where individuals politically grow up etc, too – MrN, IIRC you’re in Sheffield, so presumably you’re mainly fighting Clegg’s Liberals? Whereas in my case I grew up in safe Tory SW Norfolk and currently live between there and Cambridge (where the local LD MP is pretty close to my own political viewpoints on many issues). My family have had a histor of being roughly leftish in Conservative rural areas, so anti-Tory voting I guess comes very naturally to me.

  25. I would never as far as I can imagine vote Tory (except in some extreme circumstance like in a WWII by-election with only a Tory candidate and a fascist). But I would not in most cases be uncomfortable about voting Labour in a seat where they patently had no chance or risked splitting the leftish vote.

    I became politically aware in the East Midlands, in a corner of Leicestershire where the Lib Dems don’t exist in any meaningful way. The Greens don’t even stand, so the only left-wing party in my area was Labour, who were helped further in recruiting me by counting among their number the wonderful David Taylor MP.

    It was a bit of a shock to me when I came to Sheffield and discovered how right-wing a lot of Lib Dems are. Were it anywhere else in the country I am sure Hallam would be a solid Tory seat rather than a Lib/Lab marginal, but the Tories never recovered from the loss of Irvine Patnick and now have no prospect of any victory at any level within the seat.

  26. Yes, I think the Lib Dems do have an odd sort of issue there – in some areas they’re relatively rightwing, in others relatively left (the Lib Dem vote here in Cambridge is by comparison very socially liberal and, I’d imagine, really quite well to the left of that in Hallam, a place where I definitely would not vote Lib Dem). It would be interesting to use some sort of crude political positioning measure (political compass for example) to get the spread of viewpoints in representative samples of each party, particularly if you could break it down by region. I suspect you’d find all parties far more spread/overlapping than one might expect – with the Lib Dems their emphasis on the strongholds/followings of individual MPs and their relatively small total numbers presumably proportionally exacerbate that issue.

  27. Yes, Mrnameless, like Caroline Dinenage….

  28. As stated before, I am unquestionably going to continue to vote Labour in Richmond Park. There are those who think that there is a legitimacy problem in the case that a party (almost certainly Labour in current circumstances) could form a government as the largest party despite polling fewer votes than another (the Conservatives). I think it’s quite important for Labour to get more votes than the Tories nationally if possible, so will enthusiastically vote for our young candidate here. In any case, the LDs have absolutely no chance of beating Zac Goldsmith in my seat, and we in the Labour Party will tell the electorate that too – payback for their perennial “Labour can’t win here!” leaflets.

  29. Yes I think it would be difficult for Labour to form a coalition if they were behind on both seats and votes, although of course technically possible.

  30. Whereas I am a centre-right classically liberal-minded individualist, meaning I am in almost 100 percent agreement with the likes of David Laws and Jeremy Browne, but find many Lib Dems to be quite loathsome. I can’t imagine voting for a Farron-led Lib Dem party, for instance, but I actually quite like Clegg.

    I generally vote Tory (partly based upon where I live), but I would never consider voting Labour and I find many of the Greens’ positions quite detestable (although I often agree with their environmentalism). I actually supported the SNP in one Edinburgh local election based upon issues there (I don’t live there anymore), and I have no qualms about supporting minor parties.

    For that reason, I consider myself a primarily practical voter. I tend to support the candidate who I think has the best chance of winning with views I consider to be closest to my own. That usually means picking a Lib Dem or a Tory (typically the latter) over a Labour candidate, but I’m not especially partisan. I would probably be described as a Tory voter, however; the last time I supported a Lib Dem for parliament was in ’97.

  31. Which constituency do you live in, if you don’t mind me asking?

  32. I am on the liberal right of the Cons. Voted LD locally in Newcastle on the basis of knowing the candidate and his firmly right of centre views and the fact it was previously a very marginal LD/Lab ward with no tory vote.

    That was a perfect storm. Thats what it takes to make vote LD. I would find it pretty hard to vote ukip. If it were only ukip and labour/bnp/greens on the ballot I would do so.

    I wouldn’t vote labour ever against anybody, including if it was only them on the ballot against trots, greens, bnp etc. Thats spoiling your ballot territory.

  33. Andy, I transition around a lot due to work. I lived in Edinburgh Pentlands in the early ’00s, and I’m from North Yorkshire originally. I also lived in the States for some time as well and am currently in Beckenham, but I haven’t been for long and will likely move within several months. I can’t say I’m up to date with it, both since it’s so safe and because I have little connection to the area.

  34. I’d be voting Labour if I lived in Brighton Pavilion, and probably in whatever seat George Galloway decides to stand in next. Those are the only conceivable reasons I can really think of.

  35. I might’ve been convinced to vote Labour in Barking last time around, I guess.

  36. Ah, Portsmouth, the town that inspired Jonathan Meades’s extraordinary novel, “Pompey”. Warning: it is not for the faint-hearted. Can’t help feeling that some of the politicians associated with Portsmouth would fit in quite well with Meades’s cast of characters.

  37. Given the current standing of the Liberal Democrats in the opinion polls and the “colourful figure” of the MP here, I would have thought this seat to be a very probable Conservative gain next time.

  38. The high student vote here also points to the likelihood of an above average swing against the LibDems.

  39. The Conservatives need a swing of over 6% from the Lib Dems here, so it’s possible they could get an above average swing and still fall short.

    Given the messiness of the situation and probably confusion among the electorate about Hancock’s present position, and uncertainty about whether he’ll stand as an independent, I think there will be considerable churn in this seat — Ashcroft was only a snapshot.

    Remember that the Conservatives won Watford despite their former PPC’s criminal problems.

    Right now, I call this dead even between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. It will take some recovery in the national polls for the Lib Dems to hold here, but not necessarily very much. The national strength of the Conservatives will also be a factor.

  40. I’d roughly agree with that, although I’d say the Tories are favored about 60/40 here.

  41. Just seen the comment from December 9th. That chap Russell is clearly clueless regarding this seat.

  42. Lib Dems can afford to come second in every Council seat here in May and still win the Parliamentary seat. They have bucked the polls in every election here so far and are out-working the Conservative campaign, which is being run from London CCHQ; meanwhile the UKIP campaign is coming off the rails as the Party breaks up locally. Portsmouth GMB refuse to support Labour’s campaign here as that Party is in coalition with UKIP and Conservatives to run the Council and the Lib Dems are working hard to let voters know it. Looking more and more like a Lib Dem hold as they hold their nerve – even after the Hancock debacle.

  43. According to the Portsmouth News, Portsmouth South is the latest winner of the UKIP Find A Seat For Neil Hamilton raffle. Shortlist January 12th.

  44. Well at least Hamilton has some links to the area, as Mr Hancock pointed out in the article he’s got as much local knowledge as many of the candidates already announced…I somehow doubt he’ll be selected though.

  45. Hamilton’s “local knowledge” would hardly be the most pertinent aspect of his candidacy, which would most likely gift the seat to the Tories.

    By selecting so late UKIP have probably already ensured their performance will not be so strong here as it could have been….I’d had this down as a likely LD hold but I now agree with PT Richards that the Tories must be narrow favourites now.

  46. UKIP disarray is good for everyone else in this seat not just the Tories. This is one of those places where most aspects of the UKIP ‘coalition’ live and they vote different ways. I fear HH that you’re falling into the trap of thinking that UKIP always hurts the Tories most wherever they are.

    There are also a lot of anti UKIP voters in the seat who might be even more galvanised if the likes of Hamilton were selected (just to make sure…).

  47. Yes, I still think a narrow Tory gain is to be expected with a decent second place finish by the LDs. Labour and UKIP should both have a solid vote.

  48. I am not willing to make a prediction yet, but I believr that UKIP have done themselves no favours with its deselection of the UKIP candidate. Mr Hancock’s appalling behaviour, and Mr Vernon-Jackson’s support of him beyond that which was rational, will make this a tougher battle for the Portsmouth Lib Dems than one would have believed a year ago.
    I think even Cllr Winnington would go along with that. I dread making Council predictions for Portsmouth this year.

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