Sefton Central

2015 Result:
Conservative: 14513 (29.6%)
Labour: 26359 (53.8%)
Lib Dem: 2086 (4.3%)
Green: 1184 (2.4%)
UKIP: 4879 (10%)
MAJORITY: 11846 (24.2%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

Geography: North West, Merseyside. Part of the Sefton council area.

Main population centres: Formby, Maghull, Crosby.

Profile: Sefton Central is a suburban seat stretching along the Irish sea coast north between Southport and Liverpool, covering the northern part of Crosby, Maghull and Formby. It is a relatively affluent seat with some of the most desirable areas of housing in Merseyside such as Blundellsands and Freshfields and the highest proportion of owner-occupation of any seat in the country. Mostly residential in character, it is also a popular with tourists in the Summer. Crosby beach is the site of Antony Gormley`s sculpture another place - consisting of 100 upright, cast-iron, life-size figures, scattered for 2 miles across the beach.

Politics: Sefton Central was created in 2010. It was notionally a Labour seat, but at the time didn`t contain a single Labour councillor and looked like a potential Conservative gain. In the event Labour held on with only a small swing against them, and the Conservatives have gone into steep decline in local elections here. The seat is a successor to Crosby, a Conservative seat for most of the post war period and the site of Shirley Williams` famous 1981 by-election victory.

Current MP
BILL ESTERSON (Labour) Born 1966. Former training consultant. Medway councillor 1995-2010. First elected as MP for Sefton Central in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 16445 (34%)
Lab: 20307 (42%)
LDem: 9656 (20%)
UKIP: 2055 (4%)
MAJ: 3862 (8%)
Con: 11623 (32%)
Lab: 17463 (48%)
LDem: 6298 (17%)
UKIP: 454 (1%)
Oth: 356 (1%)
MAJ: 5840 (16%)
Con: 11974 (32%)
Lab: 20327 (55%)
LDem: 4084 (11%)
Oth: 481 (1%)
MAJ: 8353 (23%)
Con: 15367 (35%)
Lab: 22549 (51%)
LDem: 5080 (12%)
Oth: 332 (1%)
MAJ: 7182 (16%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Crosby

2015 Candidates
VALERIE ALLEN (Conservative)
BILL ESTERSON (Labour) See above.

(Liberal Democrat) Lecturer. Former Liverpool councillor. Contested Liverpool Garston 2001, 2005, Garston and Halewood 2010, Merseyside Police Commissioner 2012.
Comments - 302 Responses on “Sefton Central”
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  1. Like Southport, I think the Conservatives will slide backwards here quite substantially. Something like:

    Lab – 50
    Con – 27
    LD – 12
    UKIP – 11

    I would expect UKIP to select Alf Doran, who was a former Conservative councillor here.

  2. I saw the 1983 result Crosby on the BBC Parliament Channel at the recent Bank Holiday and it is amazing that Labour polled just 6611 votes to the Tories 30604.

  3. How times change.

    Most of the former SDP vote went to Labour from 1992 onwards, and the big Lib Dem collapse came in 1997, which party allowed Labour to gain Crosby by the margin that they did.

    Having lived in the constituency for most of my life I couldn’t know the politics of this seat better. Though because of boundary changes prior to 2010 I now technically live in the next-door seat of Bootle.

  4. Pete W did a 2010 reconstruction and I think it was 23k lab and 16k con on the same seat which used to exist

  5. More classy people with political brains lived in Crosby during the 70’s and 80’s, the dross started moving in mid 90’s, and believe me some of them are pond life – they’d vote Labour if the candidate was a horse, quite sad how much its gone down the tubes Crosby – the people anyway

  6. The Tory Government wasn’t actually all that unpopular in 1981 – except for the end of the year.

    But their share held up well in the Nov 81 by-election in Crosby.
    To fall from 34,000 to 22,000 is a pretty good result these days.

  7. Was the comment above really made by the same Bob as we’ve come to know on other threads?

  8. Why was Crosby divided in two in 2010? Could Bootle not instead have taken in the three Maghull wards (that effectively were Sefton East), leaving Crosby together?

  9. Dalek: that was the plan which had most local support – but it was opposed by the local Tories who thought this way of doing it would help them hold on to Sefton Central. I think its daft – a unified Bootle and unified Maghull in one seat, a unified Crosby in the other does make more sense

    Maybe we will get it back some time in the future

  10. Can’t see how this would make a huge political difference. I would have thought that Maghull was as mixed as South Crosby.

  11. I think you are right! Neither area are at all promising for the Conservatives. Indeed, the Tories come third at best in every one of those wards. Maghull is far less Conservative than it might appear on the surface.

  12. Which wards in Crosby are the ones where they used to win huge majorities until 1997?

  13. Referring to the Tories…

  14. The Formby wards (Ravensmeols and especially Harrington) and Blundellsands

  15. Also Victoria ward used to be fairly safely Tory, and in the early 80’s Church managed to elect a Tory as well.

    Manor ward was always more marginal, but as I think Cherie Blair once said, there was only one safe Labour ward on the old Crosby Urban District Council

    The Harington ward is still pretty safe Tory – a sitting councillor switched to Ukip and let Labour through last year – but Ravenmeols is a marginal now and has been for a while, and Blundellsands has been going the same way and was won by Labour for the first time last year. The ‘elderly lady’ vote which provided the Tories with their majority there is literally dying off.

  16. Regarding these 1983 election films,
    and the way the Gang of Four results were all quite close together – it is still interesting to speculate what would have happened after June 1983
    if all 4 of them had lost their seats,
    even if the result across the country had otherwise been very similar.

  17. If Owen and Jenkins hadn’t held their seats, I think it would have been the end of the SDP five years earlier than in reality.

    I think the death knell for them was certainly sounded once it was just Owen and a couple of them left (Barnes and Cartwright as well).

  18. One oddity noted by Robert Waller in his lamented Almanac of British Politics was that the last SDP councillors were elected in Aberavon (which is alphabetically the first constituency in the country) and Yorkshire East (which if rendered in that fashion is the last).

  19. Their only other big hitter was ian wrigglesworth in stockton south. If those 3 had not been elected one suspects the alliance fall out of post 1987 could have arrived earlier, but it may not jhave brought labour to their senses so there couild jave been a stalemate.

  20. “If Owen and Jenkins hadn’t held their seats, I think it would have been the end of the SDP five years earlier than in reality.”

    The SDP didn’t “end”. It merged with the Liberals to become the Liberal Democrats.

    Are you saying the Liberals “ended” because the people who refused to join the official merged party faded away?

    “I think the death knell for them was certainly sounded once it was just Owen and a couple of them left (Barnes and Cartwright as well).”

    No it didn’t. The death knell for the continuing SDP, by definition, was when the party voted to merge with the Liberals. The official SDP did not die, it became half of a new party with a new name.

  21. You are of course correct, but to all intents and purposes I think what the Results means (and I agree on this one) is
    that the SDP people who joined the Liberal Democrats did basically become Liberals.

    I suppose what happened is SDP was revealed as not being a real party – some of them were Liberals who saw it as a staging post
    and others were of a very different tradition like Owen who belonged all along on the right of the Labour Party or could have just about joined forces with Mrs Thatcher.

    So once this issue was forced, it did effectively mean the end of the party.

    Whether this would have happened in 1983 rather than 1987 is a difficult thing to answer.
    The Alliance was only thrown into disarray because Labour recovered enough to show they couldn’t be replaced,
    which wasn’t entirely clear in 1983
    although some people say the 1983 Labour result was actually a relief and things could have been even worse.

  22. I wonder whether Andy could please russell up the 1981 by election for the SDP here?

  23. Shirley Williams spoke about breaking the mould at the 1983 declaration but was jeered “On yer bike”


    I really do wonder what would have happened if the SDP had been reduced to 1 seat in 1983.

  24. I don’t have any videos myself but I’ve found this on ITN Source. (I haven’t been able to play it myself because of technical problems):

  25. Thanks Andy. I’ll see if I can get anywhere with it later

  26. I could play the clip – it’s an interview with Shirley Williams after winning, rather than the declaration – I’ll try again though.

    I was slightly struck by the way she calmly said, without blinking, that “we’ll form the next government.”

    What a deluded world these Lib Dem types live in.

  27. She wasn’t alone though. Many of them (and even of their opponents for a time) didn’t think their bubble would burst as it did – but they were ahead in the opinion polls for quite a time & were given a very easy ride by the media. During the by-election campaign, David Alton said “I not only look forward to Shirley Williams winning this seat, I look forward to serving in government with her!”. The automatic assumption that he would take office in such a government caused some surprise, and one journalist said at this press conference to a colleague “he’s clearly suffering from pre-ministerial tension”.

  28. But when you look back, their lead in the polls was quite short, around late 1981. Maybe these thgings seem longer at the time becauise they are unusual. I’ve seen it mentioned elsewhere that the alliance went straight from infancy in 1981 to menopausal problems in early 1982. Labour’s vote did also start i£prpving to low mid 30s in late 82 but were undone by their. 83campaign.

  29. Btw barnaby, what do y think of my reply to hh and the results, a few posts up? Which do you agree with most

  30. “I think you are right! Neither area are at all promising for the Conservatives. Indeed, the Tories come third at best in every one of those wards. Maghull is far less Conservative than it might appear on the surface.”

    Was the inclusion of Maghull for 13 years in Knowsley North & Sefton East beneificial to Labour, perhaps by destroying traditions?

  31. Its more demographic shift, but there are other Merseyside areas which have gone the same way

    Labour only started working the area in earnest after Bill Esterson’s election

  32. 2015

    Lab 23500
    Con 15000
    Lib Dem 5000
    UKIP 4000

    Lab Maj 8500

  33. I love watching the 1983 election declaration here.
    The Tories look rather threatening on the platform.
    I remember watching it at the time – on ITN, and I pictured it from a different angle. Strange how the brain pictures things in the memory slightly different to what one saw.

    I didn’t recall the lady Mayor reading the result when seen at the time – as discussed before – Tory Mayor of Sefton, Cllr Jenny Kemp. I think Dalek could be correct but it’s only the 2012 results which showed the Tories falling back markedly – as they would in mid term.
    2011 wasn’t so bad.

  34. The ITN footage is also on my YouTube channel now.

  35. The BBC got the Crosby result better than ITN – the build up and the reactions – but in most cases I preferred the ITN coverage in 1983 – more cut and thrust, more atmosphere.

  36. Don’t know what all that row was at Glasgow Hillhead.
    I’d have loved to see a sanctimonious liberal like Jenkins go down as much as anyone
    but the slobs from the SNP or Glasgow WRP (Might aswell have been) make it all much of a muchness.

  37. The Glaswegian historian Norman Stone memorably once described Jenkins as ‘a masterpiece of reproduction furniture’. He was even ruder about Mary Warnock! 😛

  38. On the old site, someone posted the 1988 Sefton council election results. Very interesting reading.

  39. Must be a pretty awful feeling losing a seat like this after a by-election, for some new venture, because you must know there’s little chance of a return.

    A bit different if it’s somewhere like Portsmouth South were results were close on either side over quite a long period.

  40. I don’t think the Tories used the phrase Decapitation Strategy here in 1983.
    I often wonder why Mrs Thatcher looked angry at the 1983 declaration – perhaps it was because she wanted Tony Benn to be leader of the Labour Party.

  41. If you combine the 67598 electors from Crosby (as they voted in the by election) and the 12615 electors from Ormskirk (as per the way the voted in 1979) the the Conservatives must have been ahead. Its quite possible that Shirley Williams could have held on were there no boundary changes.

    I also think that Margo MacDonald would have held Glasgow Govan in Feb 1974 had there been no boundary changes. She only lost by 500 despite the constituency (that had around only 25000 electors) gaining over 15000 votes from the most Labour parts of Glasgow Gorbals and Glasgow Craigton.

  42. The notional 1979 result for the revised Crosby constituency in 1983 showed almost no change in the percentages for any of the parties – in fact a fractionally tighter Tory majority.

    So unless there was some argument that
    i) the existing seat compared to 1981 would have stayed closer to the by-election
    ii) the 1982 elections favoured the SDP particularly in the existing seat
    then I strongly suspect – even if those 2 apply – that it would have made very little difference.

    The old site details this more.

    There was an absolutely enormous thunderstorm just before the 1983 election – perhaps it was something to do with the landslide impending.

  43. So when Shirley Williams said that the new seat probably added a few thousand to the Tory majority she was talking nonsense.

  44. Every time Shirley Williams opens her mouth she talks nonsense so its a safe bet she was on that occasion

  45. I recall her rather petulantly calling the 1983 result a moral victory.

  46. I loved it when someone shouted “on yer bike” when she said that.
    I thought there might be a slow hand clap aswell.,.

  47. But that bloody idiot returning officer at Stockton North who ruined the whole spectacle
    although it was hilarious to see the Tory candidate and I think Bill Rogers glancing over his shoulder – maybe I’ve done it afterall

  48. Rodgers said he had probably failed to take any Tory votes and the change on the notional result backed that up since the Conservative vote was up a bit.

  49. Yes, an astonishingly poor performance in relative terms against the Tories there in 1983.
    But Rogers was rather a non entity.
    The whole SDP thing had it’s roots in Jenkins being estranged from the Labour Party since about 1971/2 and looking for a new role.
    Williams was I think closer to Labour but personally close to Jenkins who was a liberal as I said before.
    Owen belonged on the right of the Labour Party or if not with the Tories – or perhaps, more on his own.

    Rogers was the weakest of the 4 who would have followed.

  50. Does anyone think the Alliance would have hit the buffers in the 1983 Parliament (rather than in the aftermath of the 1987 election) if the 1983 General Election result had been as follows

    Con 44.1% 392 seats
    Lab 29.1% 215 seats
    Alliance 24.6% 22 seats (1 seat less than they got – with Jenkins defeated).

    Con majority 134

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