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 Conservatives hapless handling of parking permits, charities and budget issues in the south of the city is gifting the seat to Mr Vernon-Jackson and his Party; the Lib Dems are mobilising a big local campaign machine. Portsmouth Labour’s support for UKIP and Conservatives is driving votes towards the Lib Dems and the charges for parking sees Tories (who loathe tax rises) in revolt. Lib Dems are building a big tent here.

  2. Besides Khunanup and Milton the comments on here come from people a million miles away from the very peculiar nature of this city and its politics….

    As I have said before this is the closest thing to US inner urban politics a la New York, Chicago and New Jersey that I have seen in the UK..

  3. Just about the only thing one can say about this seat is that the winner will struggle to get 35%.

  4. “Besides Khunanup and Milton the comments on here come from people a million miles away from the very peculiar nature of this city and its politics…”

    …and from people who, unlike Khunanup and Milton (and yourself), are not biased Lib Dem hacks. Peculiar or not, Ashcroft had the Tories clearly ahead here so predicting a narrow Tory win is not so absurd as I might have thought a year ago.

    “As I have said before this is the closest thing to US inner urban politics a la New York, Chicago and New Jersey that I have seen in the UK..”

    I think you need to take a trip to Glasgow, or Tower Hamlets. Portsmouth is hardly “inner urban” either.

  5. I thought Antiochian joined the Continuing Liberals? Unless they’ve moved back.

  6. With a high profile of ISIL recruits coming from here and a look like this:


    I am a monkey’s uncle if this is not inner urban.. Cotswold village it is not..

  7. Surely you can’t compare it to the inner city of a metropolis like London, Manchester or Glasgow?

  8. “With a high profile of ISIL recruits coming from here and a look like this:”

    ISIL recruits have come from all over the place. Plenty from both Brighton and Crawley, to take two examples in my own county. That doesn’t make either of those towns “inner urban” or anything like Chicago.

  9. CON 11,000
    LD 10,000
    LAB 7,000
    UKIP 5,000
    GRN 900
    Hancock 155

  10. Has there been any news about whether Hancock will stand? Surely it would be very hard for him to stand against Vernon-Jackson, given how indulgent the Lib Dems on the council have been to him in the past few years.

    I don’t disagree with Antiochian that this is a very difficult seat to call, especially from afar. We ideally need to hear from a local who is not a partisan activist.

  11. Hemmelig, I think Antiochian’s posts are generally quite unbiased. He is not a “hack” in any way.

  12. Well I do try to be unhackish when it comes to this seat and, while not trying to give too much away for obvious reasons, have tried to give info that might be of use to people to make predictions and understand the context of this seat.

    It is interesting for example that while the Tories are still favourites here, they are still at Evens as they were immediately after the Ashcroft poll with the Lib Dems at 6/4. It’s also most likely that Labour will be fourth behind UKIP, their votes being inextricably linked in parts of the seat (while being diametric opposites in others).

    HH, it’s widely expected that Hancock will stand. He regards the local Lib Dems (and Gerald Vernon-Jackson in particular) as having betrayed him due to not backing him after he admitted having the ‘inappropriate relationship’. The fact that he’d consistently told everyone publicly and privately that there was no truth in the allegations seems to be irrelevant to him.

  13. HH ‘We ideally need to hear from a local who is not a partisan activist.’

    Amen to that!

  14. I have voted Conservative and Lib Dem here and consider myself to be objective. The fact is the Lib Dems have Ms. Drummond on the ropes already over her antecedents and ‘poor’ record in public office (lack of they are saying in a huge number of leaflets). The south Conservatives have a record of in-fighting with only two councillors holding out of 21 city south council seats, both seem to dislike for Ms Drummond. The Lib Dems hold 16 council seats, UKIP 2 (1 independent ex-Lib Dem); at the next local elections UKIP will likely go up to a total of 4 – (they are stronger in the north of Portsmouth with 4 already likely to double to 8) – at the expense of Lib Dems in Charles Dickens and probably Fratton. With the ‘lift’ of the GE – the Lib Dems will (on balance) hold on everywhere; this is mostly because the Conservatives are so weak on the ground, whilst the Lib Dems are already flooding the seat with leaflets, letters and calling on local homes. With 12 council seats afet May UKIP are likely to have an approach from Conservatives – who have demonstrated they want to keep running the city at a local level … they will likely drop to 11 seats (losing Copnor ((in the north)) to UKIP) from 12 now. Labour are likely to lose Paulsgrove (in the north) and drop to 3 from 4 – last time they were beaten by UKIP in all 14 city council seats (city votes in thirds) and face a survival test here. In Baffins (a north seat) Lib Dems have selected a current councillor to stand – he also stood last time, so incumbency and profile may win for them there; however they face a fight with UKIP in their other Portsmouth North council seat ‘Nelson Ward’ where Labour will wish to win, but UKIP won last time by a few votes; this time Labour’s former Council Leader of the City (now Lib Dem) elected as a Lib Dem 4 years ago is re-standing and has a record of making it through. Overall the Lib Dems are strengthening their prospects with a strong start to 2015, but it is close – as it always is here.

  15. UKIP select Stephen Harris (former US Naval officer) as their candidate for Portsmouth South http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/local/portsmouth-ukip-candidate-wants-to-bring-more-defence-jobs-into-the-area-1-6517234 Seems quite sane, UKIP could do well with him.

  16. Milton, I would be amazed if the coucnil sests fall the way you describe. Last May caught the main parties unawares but this is unlikely to be the case this May, not least with a General Election turnout. I think it very unlikely that Labour will lose Paulsgrove this May.
    To suggest that the UKIP seat tally will double, based on what they won last year, is brave of you but, I wou.d suggest, unlikely.
    As for Mike Hancock, I am not the only person who would doubt the credibility of Mr Vernon-Jackson’s claims that he only believed that Mr Hancock was innocent on his say so; even before the final denouement, Mr Hancock’s admitted behaviour towards the complainant would be considered entirely imappropriate, a position held by many members of the Lib Democrats, including in Portsmouth.
    I believe the Lib Dems are favourites to hold in in Portsmouth South, their campaign machine is legendary and, after last years shock, will be firing on all cylanders. It will be very close though.

  17. Thats a very canny choice by UKIP.. pity he is not up against Mordaunt.. would run rings around her on Navy knowledge..

    Is he a UK citizen still? Says he was born in Aldershot…

  18. An interesting choice, not from the city but from next door. Naval background will go down well with a certain proportion of UKIP facing voters but can’t see the reach going much beyond those who were at least considering UKIP anyway. His ‘immigrant’ status, plus the fact he’s never lived in the city may put a few off.

    Interestingly one of the candidates in the selection was the Conservative candidate for Central Southsea in the last local elections. That makes it two Portsmouth South Conservative 2014 local election candidates who have switched parties since May, one to UKIP, one to the Lib Dems. That kind of gives you the idea of the malaise the local Tories are suffering from, no local candidates selected for this year yet for example.

    I know it’s Portsmouth North CL but I’ve talked privately to members from all local parties and most expect UKIP to win Paulsgrove. It fits the party like a glove and the kind of place where there will be much UKIP/UKIP voting in May regardless of how much work Labour do in the ward. Port Solent is their Achilles heel in the ward as they get no vote out of there anyway which didn’t matter as long as the rest of the ward went heavily Labour. Now Port Solent is trending UKIP so voting in a similar way as the rest of the ward did.

  19. These comments do of course assume that Mr Harris is STILL the UKIP candidate by 7th May which – based on UKIPs recent record – is not a given.

  20. Would be amusing if the unsuccessful ex-Tory candidate re-ratted back to his original party.. we might see more of this generally if UKIP poll support starts to flag..

    the arrival of UKIP as a force definitely gave a chance for frustrated Tory councillors who could never achieve PPC status to jump ship and be considered as potential candidate material at UKIP..

    At 66, Harris would not have been a contender for PPC in any of the major parties

  21. @ Khunap
    You’re assuming that UKIP people wouldn’t vote for immigrants? The question then becomes how he was selected in the first place. The local candidate factor doesn’t really work here as none of the serious people appear to have many links (like him or not Hancock is right about that).
    The previous candidate was ousted by head office probably for his dodgy views on Homosexuality , that’s happened before. It was nothing to do with head office wanting to cherry pick a seat, it’s notable that Neil Hamilton was not on the candidate’s list as expected.
    There will be strong results from UKIP, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats here , but I’m not going to be masochistic enough to predict the result , “too close to call” springs to mind.

  22. Thor. No, I’m not saying that. What I am saying is that for some potential UKIP voters in the constituency it might be a deciding factor in why not to vote for him as might his having never lived in the constituency. I’ve actually come across a few of these types of voters on the doorstep. As for e local candidate factor actually they all have local links apart from the Kipper. Obviously Hancock is from Pompey (though lives outside the city and has done for 30 odd years), Vernon-Jackson has lived in the constituency for 13 years and has been a councillor in the constituency since 2003 (plus the Vernons are an old Naval family), Drummond has lived in the city since she was selected for the last election (c. 2008) and both the Green and TUSC candidates live in the constituency. So as I said not a bad choice for UKIP but I’d say not as stellar one either.

    Oh, and this may not help either: https://twitter.com/markerjparker/status/554950293574914048

  23. @Thorshammer3

    My earlier comment was not directly specifically at this seat. There seem to be a number of places , including those where UKIP are thought to have a reasonable level of support, where candidates been replaced. (Camborne and Basildon South are 2 examples which spring to mind). Makes you a little sceptical that any currently selected candidate will last till the election. I do however agree with you that this seat is at least a 3 way toss up.

  24. “I think Antiochian’s posts are generally quite unbiased. He is not a “hack” in any way.”

    Lol srsly? Well you would say that.

    “I believe the Lib Dems are favourites to hold in in Portsmouth South”

    And we have yet another seat to put on the big list of Lib Dem seats where their vote will stay the same whilst they lose deposits in others around it, and the arse falls out of their national vote share.

  25. @Khunanup , as you can probably tell I’m not a local activist (but I am a UKIP member) , and sorry I forgot about the Liberal Democrats and then contradicted myself in the comment above (it happens considering the Lib Dems can normally be discounted in most areas) . A Councilor being lost is always annoying , but it happens to the other parties as well (given not in this seat). Still it would I agree have been nice to have a fully local candidate.
    Again Camborne and Redruth had a candidate that needed to be got rid of (as he had lied to us about not having court cases , in this case involving animal cruelty) , he was replaced with a far better candidate though, who works in the medical profession. We haven’t as yet to my knowledge forced someone out of candidacy without defection, death or bringing the party into disrepute (all of the examples you gave have those caveats ) .

  26. “PORTSMOUTH South MP Mike Hancock has said he remains undecided on whether he will stand in May’s General Election.”


  27. If the LibDems in Pompey covered for him so solicitously for so long then just imagine what they know….. Hancock desisting would not be surprising in the least… leaving the public decision until nomination day probably causes more grief for UKIP and Tory strategists than it does for G V-J if he already knows what is going down..

  28. Hancock is very ungrateful to the local Lib Dems in that article. I bet they wish they’d hung him out to dry much earlier. I can see this being a very bitter campaign won on a very low vote share. How about:

    Con 28%
    LD 25%
    UKIP 20%
    Lab 15%
    Grn 5%
    Hancock 5%
    Others 2%

  29. I found out something very surprising yesterday. Perhaps this is widely known, but it was news to me.

    Mike Hancock would be entitled to a £38k “resettlement grant” when he leaves parliament, but he will only qualify for that if he stands and is defeated.

    Bizarre, and quite surprising that more retiring MPs don’t just stump up the £500 and stick their names on the ballot paper to qualify. I suppose the inevitable criticism wouldn’t be worth the hassle for most.

  30. Willie Hamilton famously did this in 1987. He was deselected in Fife Central and stood in South Hams. Two more different constituencies are difficult to imagine.

  31. It’s only post-expenses scandal that the rules changed so that an MP now has to be standing again to be eligible for any resettlement grant – previously the grant applied if they stood down/retired without being defeated, i.e. if 2015 was 2005 then Hancock would get the money even if he didn’t stand. So the potential for MPs standing with the intention of losing (either in their own seat or moving to a dead loss option) to ensure they get redundancy pay is actually a new one.

  32. Anyway, I suppose it means Hancock is very likely to run here. I don’t know anything about his personal finances, but I assume the money would come in handy.

    Latest Odds:
    Evs Cons
    6/4 LD
    6/1 UKIP
    16/1 Lab
    50/1 Hancock
    100 Green
    200 TUSC

  33. Is Mike Hancock still a Portsmouth councillor?

  34. No, he lost his council seat to UKIP.

    I’d put this down as a certain conservative gain, but it doesn’t look so clear cut.

  35. Don Jerrard is standing for the Justice and anti-Corruption party. He was previously ukip candidate for Fareham.

  36. This story was plastered over the front page of the local paper on Thursday:


    Possibly not the wisest move…

  37. Can see this finishing up a 3 way marginal. There is scope for UKIP to get competitive and assuming Labour score at least 10%, then 30% could be a winning share. Could see Hemmelig’s prediction above not being too far out.

  38. Portsmouth South
    C gain from LD
    Rifkind (C) 9,036
    McGuinness (LD) 8,880
    Meldrew (UKIP) 7,574
    Butler (Lab) 6,913
    *Hancock (Ind LD) 474
    C maj 56

  39. LOL Joe love that prediction. Nice you’re back on here.

  40. I fancy the Conservatives to just nick this one from the Lib Dems

    Con 32
    Lib Dem 30
    UKIP 15
    Labour 15
    Oth 8

  41. Gerald Vernon-Jackson must have been dreading this development. Its just made his task so much harder – although Flick Drummonds comments about UKIP may cause her difficulties as well.

    More on the spot postings from Khunanup please!

  42. One can only assume this is to do with the renumeration for a sitting MP losing a bid for reelection. He cannot hope to win and is no more than a spoiler now. I am not going to rehearse my feelings about his behaviour and just hope he is as heavily beaten as he was in Fratton.

  43. I believe the severance payment for losing a seat does not restrict him to standing here. Willie Hamilton, the Republican Scottish Labour MP, stood down in Fife and moved to stand in a Devon seat in 1987. Hancock could go somewhere less bothersome to the Lib Dems. This looks like bloody-mindedness, which is odd given the support shown to him by his local party, long after he was tainted.
    The winner in Portsmouth South could poll less than 30% in this crowded field.

  44. Its partly financial but also probably Ego. I think he was first elected as a councillor in Fratton in 1971. His local links undoubtedly helped him win the 1984 by election and stay competitive in the 2 subsequent general elections. In many ways his political activity predates the Lib Dems. After 44 years however he seems , like many politicians, to be unwilling or unable to recognise that his behaviour is the reason for his political demise.

  45. CL has hit the nail on the head re the motivation for this, plus the ego side of it.

    As to the impact of it on the election, as it was so widely expected it’s been factored in pretty much already. Hancock’s name is so incredibly tarnished that his vote will likely be derisory. It would be a mistake to think that all people who will vote Hancock would otherwise vote Lib Dem too.

  46. “Hancock could go somewhere less bothersome to the Lib Dems.”

    Yes but then his reason for standing would self-evidently be greed. By standing here he at least has a fig leaf of an honourable excuse about having been deselected.


    Given that Hancock has slapped you in the face, do Portsmouth Lib Dems now regret indulging/covering up for him for such a long time? Vernon Jackson in particular must be quite upset at Hancock standing against him, given that he was exceptionally loyal to Hancock through his scandals and still covertly helped him as an independent council candidate.

  47. HH. Speaking for myself (I after all am not the Local Party) on Indulging Hancock, yes I think that too much was done to keep him within or near the tent when distancing ourselves would have been the better thing to do. Others also felt that way, more in hindsite.

    I will not countenance the ‘cover-up’ allusion though because there wasn’t one. Hancock lied to us all within the party because he said time and again that there was nothing in the allegations against him and that he would clear his name. No-one within the Lib Dems was told the truth. Nor was he helped by Gerald or the Lib Dems in his election campaign last year. No resources, money or people were given to Mike Hancock’s campaign from us.

    So surprised at the slap in the face. Not at all. He’s not cared for the Lib Dems for years and this behaviour just cements that view.

  48. FWIW I live in the constituency and am seeing a fair few orange LD posters around the place but at this stage next to no Con equivalents save for two big temporary billboards attacking Lab (one of which is mostly a large picture of Alec Salmond).

    The LDs have twice been round to our front door something that never happened during the Hancock years and we’ve yet to receive the Cons when usually they would have knocked by now.

    All anecdotal evidence for sure but not sure I would count the LDs out here just yet.

  49. Spent a lovely few days in Portsmouth recently, and as a special treat my partner Derek took me up the Spinnaker. It was really quite magnificent!

    Now, this seat does on paper look like a Conservative gain. But I don’t think we should ignore the traditional Liberal resilience. Things will be close here, but I’m expecting a narrow LD hold.

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