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”

    It’s bizarre. Still the highest owner occupation, 98% white, Christian, prof/managerial, low unemployment, etc. The number of pensioners has gone up significantly, to one of the highest in the country. You’d think that might make it even more Tory!

    In the 1981 census, Crosby was categorized as one of a select band of just 28 seats – “Very High Status Areas”, along with Croydon South, Beaconsfield, Wokingham, Sevenoaks, Henley, Reigate, Mole Valley, etc, almost all in the South East… It’s now the only seat of that group to be held by Labour.

    Nothing has changed dramatically in 30 years, except perhaps it has just got more “Scouse”, though even that is not terribly marked…

  2. LibDem leaflet today, on matte paper.

    Saw my first sign, in the garden of a large Edwardian house. Labour.

  3. RodCrosby – yes, it’s certainly a lot more Scouse in the past 30 years. It always was a heavily RC seat (which aided Shirley Williams), but the Tory vote increased in 1987, so the rapid decline has been since 1997.

    Incidentally I just drove through Ainsdale and posters and signs in gardens have gone up there in the past few days. Not scientific, but I counted 4 Tory, 3 LibDem, 2 UKIP and 1 Southport Party board.

  4. For reference, the others of the 28 Very High Status Areas (all Tory in 1983) which subsequently slipped from their grasp, although some were regained, were.

    Cheadle (LD)
    Wirral West (Lab)
    Solihull (LD)
    St Albans (Lab)

    Stayed True Blue…
    Croydon South
    Altrincham & Sale
    Sutton Coldfield
    Windsor & Maidenhead
    Chesham & Amersham
    Brentwood & Ongar
    Hertfordshire SW
    Chertsey & Walton
    Surrey E
    Mole Valley
    Surrey NW
    Surrey SW
    Sussex Mid

  5. I seem to recall that Education played a big part in the By election campaign of 1982.

    At that time there were two Grammar Schools (one all girls and one all boys) Merchant Taylors Boys, and Merchant Taylors girls; and two Roman Catholic schools (Seafield and St.Pauls) Cherie Booth was a high flyer at Seafield. Plus Secondary modern schools.

    I was born in Crosby. If the boundaries had remained the same as in 1979 I wonder whether it could still have remained conservative?

  6. Not St. Paul’s
    Seafield (now Sacred Heart), and St. Mary’s (my alma mata)

    Williams could conceivably have held on in 1983 without the boundary changes. In which case the Labour revival might never have happened, or been blunted.

  7. Population movement may be one explanation.

    Commuting distances may be another factor. A lot of Crosby residents may have worked in Liverpool City centre, in Finance, Insurance, Shipping, Civil Service, Manufacturing etc.

    Harold Wilson represented Huyton, His Government built big civil service buildings in Bootle (the Triad?)

    He created Giro Bank at Bootle.

    Many senior Cunard employees lived in Crosby.

    In fact two senior Cunard people lived in my road.

    As people were prepared to travel further to work and commute, perhaps they moved further out to rural Lancashire.

    At times in its history over the last 175 years, Liverpool and its port have been one of the top three financial cities in the UK. There was a branch of the Bank of England in Liverpool until fairly recently.

    The Chairman of the White Star Line lived in Crosby.

  8. Sorry about my earlier mistake.

    I went to Waterloo Grammar.

  9. Yes, all true. Liverpool was the second city of the Empire and could print money a century ago.

    Sadly, the former Bank of England building on Castle Street is being occupied by anarchists (Liverpool Echo), although they’ve been served with Court papers.

  10. Yes, I did the research on the Titanic connection (and Lusitania/Empress of Ireland/Britannic) and created a website detailing the addresses of Ismay, Smith, etc. Using a 1908 directory, I determined that at least 1 in 4 male Crosby householders held senior positions in shipping; masters, officers, owners, agents, brokers, etc.
    It’s had a few interesting inhabitants over the years. During the American Civil War, Confederate Spy Dunwoody Bulloch plotted the Southern States naval strategy from the Liver Hotel (he lived in Waterloo). After the war, his nephew 11 year old Teddy Roosevelt came to visit, and had a fight with Jefferson Davis’s son on the Waterloo shore (they also lived in Waterloo – sent here to be privately schooled!). The nutjob who founded the Wicca religion, Gerald Gardner, was born in the house next to mine…

  11. AT ONE point maybe 100 years ago The Custom House Liverpool raised more revenue than any other Revenue office for the UK government.

    And I suspect that during WW2 government offices in Liverpool paid for WW2.

  12. yes. I think the master of the Lusitania lived within about 100 yards of me. You will be able to deduce which Avenue I once lived in, I guess.

    A retired Chief Engineer lived next door to us

  13. Liverpool was bombed to buggery in 1940/41, far more intensely than any other UK city, including London (although the capital was bombed for far longer). You can still see on today’s satellite photos the area that was completely flattened (the huge area around the modern Law Courts, Liverpool One, and Canning Place Police HQ). One of the jewels in the crown to be lost was the 1820s Custom House – fire-gutted, it could have been restored, but was demolished after the war as a “job-creation scheme”.

    Churchill said that the only thing that frightened him during the war were the U-boats, and Liverpool led the battle against them, with the control centre deep underground. Well worth a visit if you’re ever in the ‘Pool.

  14. Yes. I know I once worked in Derby House.

    But, IIRC even though HQ Western Approaches Bunker was in our building, at that time when I worked there, about 40 years ago, it was still something of a “secret” I think.

  15. ”Liverpool was bombed to buggery in 1940/41, far more intensely than any other UK city, including London.”

    I thought Birmingham was the most bombed UK city in WWII.

  16. Birmingham was probably third, although the raids went on for a little longer, into late 1942.

    Liverpool’s wartime casualty rate was twice Birmingham’s, and the Germans dropped a far higher proportion of heavy (1-ton) bombs on Liverpool. During May 1941 the city was bombed for 8 consecutive days, in a determined attempt to obliterate it.

    What Churchill described as “the worst single incident of the War” had earlier occurred in Liverpool, in late 1940, when the Durning Road shelter took a direct hit, killing 166, mostly children.

  17. I thought it was Hull.

    Sheffield Hallam wasn’t on the ‘very high status’ list of 1983.

    Presumably because it contained the studenty and inner urban areas of Broomhill and Nether Edge back then.

  18. Thanks Rod!

  19. By a strange quirk of fate, the last bombs to fall on Liverpool, on 10 January 1942, did relatively little damage other than to destroy a row of houses on Stanhope Street, including Number 102.

    Hitler’s brother, and his family, had resided in this house 1910-12. Young Adolf once paid a fraternal visit, according to some sources…

  20. @ Richard

    Hallam was described as “Conurbation White-collar”, along with the likes of Cambridge, OxWAb, Finchley, Withington, Edinburgh S, Edgbaston, Twickenham, Leeds NW, etc.

  21. That was a very interesting group actually. Of the 25 seats, the Tories held every single one of them in 1983, and went on to lose all but one (Beckenham) in subsequent years!

    Today they hold 9
    Brentford & Isleworth
    Finchley & Golders Green
    Richmond Park

  22. They had Fire Watchers in the lofts or on the roof of city centre offices, to watch for Incendiary bombs coming through the roof. and then extinguishing them, if they could.

  23. Ted Heath commanded an Ack-Ack battalion (on the Wirral) in the defence of Liverpool. In his autobiography he said he was haunted by the scenes he saw in the aftermath in the city centre.

    One little-known fact is the contribution of Liverpool to the development of the A-bomb. Most scientists, including Einstein, had though the weapon to be impractical, requiring tons of uranium which might only be deliverable to its target by ship.

    But the experiments of Chadwick and Rotblat using the Liverpool University cyclotron eventually proved that only a few pounds of uranium-235 would suffice.

    These experiments took place under the German Blitz, with the Physics Department taking a direct hit on at least one occasion. Fortunately, the cyclotron, in the basement, was undamaged.

    Chadwick stated that he stopped going to the shelter, since the raids were so heavy and frequent, he would otherwise wind up doing nothing but “coming and going.”

    Scarily, after every raid, he would tour the rubble-strewn streets of Liverpool, geiger-counter in hand, curious to see if Hitler had managed to weaponize uranium first…

  24. Prediction-
    Esterson (Labour)- 48%
    Allen (Conservative)- 29%
    Power (UKIP)- 13%
    Keaveney (Lib Dem)- 6%
    Melia (Green)- 4%

  25. Rod, I have a slight suspicion that some work on Atomic development may have been transferred out to Rhydymwn, near Mold. Which they say was used for the manufacture of Chemical weapons.

    There were a lot of “shadow” factories as a precaution against the main factory getting hit and damaged.

  26. Although most people aren’t religious these days I still think it has an indirect impact on voting, with people from a Catholic background being less likely to support the Tories than people from CoE backgrounds.

  27. I think that could be an Urban Myth.

    Or, it is a sweeping generalisation

  28. @AJS

    Historically, especially in Liverpool, whose Tory city-bosses fomented sectarianism on a scale only rivalled in Belfast.

    Ramsay Macdonald in 1907 bitterly remarked to Tory Alderman Salvidge:
    “It is astonishing how in Liverpool, whatever the issue appears to be at the start, you always manage to mobilise the full force of Orangeism. We will never do any good here until that power is broken…”

    And so it proved. Liverpool was the last major city for Labour to gain a parliamentary foothold in, and the Tories still held the council up to 1955.

    It was, ironically, only the Tory-inspired slum clearances after the War which weakened their grip over the Protestant working classes.

  29. “I think that could be an Urban Myth.”

    Possible evidence in favour of the theory: the eastern side of England, for example, has been swinging away from Labour for decades. There are very few Catholics in East Anglia; in fact it’s famous for being where many of the American Puritans originally came from. The only part of England where Labour has done relatively well with white voters in recent years is the North West where the Catholic population is highest. Most of Labour’s other gains in England have come about due to an increasing ethnic minority population, (although female public sector workers are also a factor).

  30. RodCrosby – although as Jeffrey Donaldson pointed out, people often accuse patriotic Englishmen (including Orangemen in Liverpool, Corby etc) of being sectarian and yet not Irish Republicans.

    DD – it’s certainly not a myth, there’s polling evidence. It’s even stronger than Andy JS suggests. RCs overwhelmingly vote Labour and CEO are more likely to be Tory than the population as a whole. Archbishop Cramer site also refers to several polls. Catholics only makeup 10% of the UK population though so it tends not to make the difference in many seats, especially as most are in seats such as Bootle, Manchester, Glasgow, West Belfast etc.

  31. Crosby is interesting as it sits at the confluence of two strong but independent Catholic strands.

    There are probably some 30 Catholic churches in the constituency, although religion is a far weaker factor than it was even 30 years ago.

    The village of Little Crosby is the oldest extant Catholic village in England with “neither an alehouse, a beggar or a Protestant in it” (from 1610, but little changed) – the squires were the recusant Blundells.

    Matched with that are professionals descended from the Irish immigrants (including my lot), who by dint of ambition and hard work extricated themselves from the slums of Scottie Road, and slowly migrated north, first to Bootle, then Crosby, Formby establishing themselves in the professions, law, medicine, etc.

    I’m just wondering whether the golden Tory years for Crosby were partially due to that. “Ugh, that (increasingly) basket-case city to the south, which we have recently escaped. We’ve gone up in the world and should vote accordingly.”

    Now the equation is a bit different. Liverpool is certainly on the up, cool even, and the future looks far brighter. Class has ceased to have much meaning. Tories are extinct pretty much everywhere on Merseyside. Crosby feels more and more closer to Liverpool and is adopting its voting patterns. And why not?

  32. @Lancs Observer

    I know, Liverpool is a strange place, the only place outside the island of Ireland to elect an Irish Nationalist MP – unopposed, usually, for 40 years…

    But we should be careful about the meaning of “sectarianism.”

    There is literally no evidence that Irish Republicanism is sectarian – indeed its most cherished heroes and leaders were Protestant, and the imposition or defence of a particular religion was never one of its aims.

    Unfortunately, the sectarianism was almost exclusively – but not universally – from the other side, which sought to portray, falsely, Republican aims as merely another demonic plan of Satan’s representative – otherwise known as the Pope, and therefore a mortal threat to Protestantism.

    The fact that most Catholics happened to be Republicans was portrayed as proof of this proposition….

  33. I wonder if anyone has tried to correlate election results to this DNA map of Britain:

    The red grouping in the map looks very much like the Conservative heartland.

  34. ” Hallam was described as “Conurbation White-collar”, along with the likes of Cambridge, OxWAb, Finchley, Withington, Edinburgh S, Edgbaston, Twickenham, Leeds NW, etc.

    That was a very interesting group actually. Of the 25 seats, the Tories held every single one of them in 1983, and went on to lose all but one (Beckenham) in subsequent years!

    Today they hold 9

    Brentford & Isleworth
    Finchley & Golders Green
    Richmond Park
    Hove ”

    An indication of how much public sector professionals have swung against the Conservatives during the last thirty years.

    Only the influence of the City allows them to win these sort of seats in London.

    OxW&A would have been safely LibDem without its non-conurbation voters.

  35. Labour Hold. 8,000 majority.

  36. Half a dozen more Labour posters spotted, all on leafy properties, strategically placed, near station and main exit/entrance routes to the town.

    Nothing else.

  37. The result here more or less cements what has been said about it on here for ages. Labour majority now stands at just under 12,000.

  38. Spectacular result for Labour here!

  39. I knew since he was first elected Esterson would have no problems defending here. A majority of 11, 846 and a vote share increase of 11.9%.

  40. In the Sefton Council elections in May, Labour received 24, 211 votes in the 7 wards that make up this constituency. In the general election on the same day, however, Bill Esterson got 26, 359 votes- That indicates a personal vote for him by my reckoning of 2, 148 votes!

  41. Did the Tories get more votes in the local elections?

  42. Believe it or not, it was actually the other way round!

  43. I guess independents got a few votes in the locals. I’ll have to have a look for myself at the detailed results.

  44. That’s pretty much it Andy- I forgot to mention the presence of Community Action Not Party Politics candidates in a few of the Formby and Maghull wards possibly having an effect. What is also intresting to note is that the Green votes were very different for the constituency and the wards combined at the council elections in Sefton- In the constituency the Greens got 1, 184 votes, while in the locals they got 2, 688 votes in the wards that make up this seat, suggesting that a good many voters opted for the Greens at a local level, while favouring Esterson as the incumbent Labour MP for the general election.

  45. Given this seat’s demographics and what happened nationally, this has to go down as labour’s best result in 2015 – along with winnng Ilford north

  46. Given this is very nearly my own seat Tim (I’m JUST out of its boundaries, as Victoria ward is right on the edge of the seat) so therefore I technically live in the Bootle constituency, I would certainly agree with your view. I think given the seat’s demographics you would have to say a lot of it is clearly down to the Merseyside Effect continuing to change the seat’s politics beyond all recognition, and the increase seen here was pretty much uniform across the Liverpool seats, as well as a few on the Wirral. Bill Esterson has clearly been an extremely effective constituency MP these last five years, and Sefton Central can almost certainly now be described as being a very safe Labour seat, and will never go back to the Tories. I think also despite Formby still being a town of affluence, and the Tory vote holding up here as a result, Crosby isn’t the town it once was and therefore I am not at all surprised to see the figures we now have here. Also Maghull votes heavily Labour nowadays, so I think that town has changed a bit in their favour in the last 20 years as well.

  47. I think Esterson is from Kent originally although I’m not sure about it…

  48. I should add also that the demographics are what they are in this seat mainly because of the profile of places like Formby, Hightown, Aintree, Blundellsands, Little Crosby and Ince Blundell. The rest of the seat isn’t quite the same and I would have thought this seat has a split personality, when you consider that Crosby, Thornton and Maghull are nowhere near as well-off as they once were, so the latter three places have largely contributed to the Labour rise here since the 90s.

    In other words, a combination of the rural nature of the villages and affluence in enough areas in this seat is what is just keeping the Tories in second place, and even now they look incapable of clearing 30% across the constituency. This isn’t anywhere near as evident in say Southport for example, which is deceptively closer for them to take in 2020 despite the vote share being lower, but there they still manage to enjoy the comfort of having a few councillors, whereas in this seat it’s really only Harington ward in Formby that’s sparing their blushes in terms of local representation.

  49. My dad regularly attended the Count in the Old Crosby constituency from about 1959 to 1979, and he reported that the graph of the conservative majority steadily declined over that period.

  50. Well it did between 1959 and February 1974 but the boundary changes for that election proved helpful and the 1979 majority was a healthy 31.6%.

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