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. “as a special treat my partner Derek took me up the Spinnaker. It was really quite magnificent!”

    At your age?? I thought you were in your 90s?

  2. I’m incredibly sprightly HH

  3. My grandmother is still with us and a pretty good 91, but I doubt you’d be able to take her up the Spinnaker these days

  4. I expect a Lib Dem hold here due to their substantial local strength and organisation, and the influence of the university.
    Although the students and academics may not be enthused by the Lib Dems, they’ll be even less excited about a potential Conservative MP.
    I think a LD majority of 500-1,500.

  5. Has Hancock produced a Freepost leaflet?

  6. Lancs Observer. Yes. It’s missed the bulk of the postal votes though as it’s only just started landing on the doormats.

  7. Conservative Gain. 2,000 maj

  8. Labour possibly in a position to challenge here in future?

  9. Labour might be a position to challenge in a lot of places in the South if it got its act together… operative word being “if”…

  10. This constituency will be an excellent test of what happens when incumbency is lost for the Lib Dems and how well they’ll be able to retain a challenging position in seats like this when (as is fairly likely) they get squeezed out of the national picture.

  11. We have not even vaguely been squeezed out of the local govt picture here.. with a “coalition from hell” running the city council, it will be interesting to see what impact that has over time..

  12. The Lib Dem performance here was pretty respectable given the circumstances.

    Mike Hancock’s vote was a total humiliation.

  13. Our lot here are an organised bunch (unlike Labour, from what I’ve heard)

    Also, Mrnameless, we had already lost incumbency here – indeed the incumbent stood against us!

  14. Cllr Steve Hastings has defected back to the Tories from UKIP.

    Portsmouth seems to have a bit of a thing for Cllrs defecting. I think there’s been 15 in as many years.

    I don’t have my lists to hand, but it mustn’t be far behind Tower Hamlets, Stoke and Liverpool (my top 3 in England from memory).

  15. Will the Lib Dems ever be in contention here again?

  16. Goodness – the Lib Dems lose a seat with their vote share more than halving and this is a ‘respectable performance in the circumstances’. Extraordinary.

  17. True. Or look at it another way – Hancock’s vote went from 19,000 to below 1,000 !

    The worst performance ever and by far of any MP standing as an Independent.

    His expenses must be something like £10 per vote.

  18. Runnymede- I was thinking that myself. I have to say I am somewhat baffled by the demeanour of some people on this site. If they are not trying to argue that the Lib Dems did respectably when they have lost half their vote, they are endlessly documenting what are frankly inconsequential council by-election gains.

  19. I should add that I consider a Lib Dem recovery of one sort or another a perfectly plausible scenario in 2020. My issue is with those who refuse to acknowledge how terribly the party did in 2015 and who now seem to be clutching at every straw going.

  20. ’twas ever thus, Tory.

  21. I think this must be one of the most obvious (and few) Lib Dem targets for 2020. No Mike Hancock, 20% Labour vote to squeeze and an opportunity to build on a local government base.

  22. Indeed, it could be a close one in 2020.

  23. Assuming, of course, that they can retain their local government base. They’ve done pretty well in by-elections since the election for whatever reason so they probably should do.

  24. By-election hypothesis for the Lib Dems.

    1) Former Lib Dems going “alright you’ve taken your medicine” and voting for them again.

    2) Former Labour tactical voters realising the situation is more desperate against the Tories than was realised and gritting their teeth.

    3) The ever-vague “local factors”.

  25. I think the Lib Dems will take this back on a huge swing in five years time!

    …Only joking.

  26. Lancs Observer, Steve Hastings’ seat is in Portsmouth North not this seat and there haven’t been anywhere near 15 councillor defections in the last 15 years in Portsmouth. I don’t think it’s been any more than ten councillors who have left the council not in the same party as they joined it in (and half of those were people going Indy rather than proper defections between parties and obviously some of those were expulsions). Conversely, there’s been no council by-elections here since January 2008 which is quite unusual and none in this constituency since 2007.

  27. Defections revolving door has just spun out an anti-Corbynista Labour cllr in Portsmouth.. Gone independent.


    Too many more of these and LibDems will take back the city…

  28. A few queries re the wards of this constituency over the years: What was the equivalent of Charles Dickens between 1955 and 1983, and which seats was it in? Ditto for St Jude before 1955 and for Eastney and Craneswater before 2010. St Thomas of course has been in this seat ever since 1918

  29. Antiochan – the Lib Dems will not be taking back the city any time soon. Of the remaining 14 councillors 8 are up next year, including the last Lib Dem councillors in Charles Dickens, St Jude, St Thomas and Eastney & Craneswater

    Eastney & Craneswater at least seems a very likely loss.

    There are only two others wards the Lib Dems have ever won, Cosham and Nelson.

    Cosham is technically a Lib Dem defence, but the councillor defected to Labour and the Lib Dems weren’t close in either 2014 or 2015, finishing a poor fourth both times.

    Nelson would be a possible gain, but the party here will surely be focusing far more on defence. The Lib Dems lost their last two seats in 2014 by 44 votes to UKIP, and then in 2015 when they were fourth, but only 139 votes (3%) behind the winning Tories.

  30. My mistake – St Thomas is also actually held by a Tory defector (won as a Lib Dem in 2012), with the Lib Dem councillor up in 2018.

  31. Quite an amazing story on Tory actions here:


    shows that politics in Pompey is some of the weirdest in the country..

  32. Though the main person Cllr Harris wanted to smear lives in Portsmouth South this article (or the one from the Independent, Guardian or even Morning Star if you like a bit of variety) actually needs posting on the Portsmouth North page as he is a councillor in Hilsea.

  33. Have either of the MPs distanced themselves from him yet?

  34. No seats for the Conservatives in Portsmouth South in the elections last Thursday. Six Lib Dems and one Labour were returned.

    This last happened in 2012. Like 2012 there weren’t any particularly close results for the Tories either (the two wards where they were second had Lib Dem majorities of 321 and 401). They were third in two wards and fourth in three.

  35. Will Vernon Jackson stand again?

  36. Yes he is the LD candidate.

  37. I suspect the Tories will easily hold on but there could be some pretty radical swings in this seat, lots of votes to squeeze from all angles.

  38. Always amusing re-reading comments upthread. I particularly like LD Khunanup saying no no Lancs, there’s been nothing like 15 Cllr defections in Portsmouth – there’s only been 10, [so Portsmouth isn’t as strange politically as Lpool, Stoke or Tower Hamlets.]

  39. I think this constituency will be close here. Unlike Portsmouth as a whole the Remain vote was 49%…larger than the national average and much larger than the 35% Remain vote in Portsmouth North.

    In contrast to Portsmouth North it has a university, liberal Southsea and Portsmouth Old Town.

    This infers that much of the Labour vote is more likely to go to the Lib Dems. UKIP to Conservative switchers will allow the Conservatives to retain the constituency.

  40. It’ll be a straight Con/LD fight, and it could be close, but I expect a Con hold.

  41. Crucially the students will have gone home by election day. Con hold, reduced majority.

  42. UKIP Cllr Alicia Denny has defected to the Conservatives.

  43. Denny is a councillor in Portsmouth North so should be on that thread. Perhaps check what constituency a ward is in before posting (you did the same thing on the Fareham thread about Chris Wood when it should have been in Gosport and someone earlier on this thread posted about Scott Harris who is also a Portsmouth North councillor).

  44. The You Gov model predicts a Labour gain in Portsmouth South but a convincing Conservative hold in Portsmouth North?

    If there was any challenge to the Conservatives in Portsmouth South…I would expect it to come from the Lib Dems.

  45. If report of the unusual queues of youngsters at polling stations are to be believed, it IS happening Ploppy.

  46. I have always been of the opinion that there is likely to be an increase, but certainly NOT in the right seats for Labour nor in sufficient numbers to actually alter the result substantially.

  47. “The You Gov model predicts a Labour gain in Portsmouth South but a convincing Conservative hold in Portsmouth North?

    If there was any challenge to the Conservatives in Portsmouth South…I would expect it to come from the Lib Dems.”

    The results in Plymouth and Portsmouth are interesting because each has one constituency that is more middle class, more educated, Remain, cosmopolitan, student and another constituency that is working class, white British, less educated, Leave and fewer students.

    In both cities both constituencies have flip flopped compared to what would have been the traditional situation.

  48. Quite remarkable result here, a doubling of the Labour vote. Seems like what we’re seeing is death of tactical voting in seats with little Lib Dem prospect.

  49. Just one of the Labour gains in South England which coincides with a strong student vote – see also Canterbury, Reading East.

  50. This result has been little commented on but was in historical context was at least as remarakable those in Kensington and Canterbury – Labour hadn’t even come second since 1979.

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