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”
  1. even when compared to nearby seats that have seen a steady erosion of tory support over the past couple of decades – the wirral seats for example – labour’s dominance here still sticks out a little

  2. It does Tim you’re correct but I think the demographics in Crosby have clearly changed radically over the last 25 years at least, which have conspired to turn this seat’s political makeup on its head. The town of Crosby is no longer like Formby really TBH, it’s becoming more like Bootle in the long-term I suspect, as a lot of people moving in are young families from there, as well as smaller areas surrounding it, such as Netherton, Litherland and Seaforth for example- these people will be highly likely to be Labour voters, without wishing to stereotype. The old Tory vote is continuing to die out in Crosby quite literally, as a lot of their supporters from the days of Malcolm Bullock and Graham Page will no longer be alive. The Merseyside Effect has, in short, changed a lot of this seat beyond all recognition.

  3. The Results- would you say Crosby and Maghull are going downhill socio-economically?

  4. Sorry I reread your post and your answer is clearly yes.

  5. Don’t worry about it Tory. I agree the answer clearly is yes. I would say Crosby and Maghull have suffered, while Formby have continued to benefit socio-economically, perhaps explaining why the Tories are holding up there, unlike in Crosby where they’re continuing to decline longterm and in Maghull where they’re now nowhere.

    But Crosby clearly dominates this seat whichever way you look at it I would argue, though not all of it is included in Sefton Central- I am in the Bootle constituency and live in Waterloo, which I would argue is independent of Crosby to a large extent, but is obviously extremely close and many others would say it is part of the town and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that argument- but the same thing could be said about Blundellsands and Thornton I suspect.

  6. Absolutely fantastic result for Labour here which goes against the grain of seats outside the cities / major towns where Labour did badly in the GE.

    Is the result mainly due to the Merseyside effect or has Esterson built up a popular vote here as he seems to come across as a nice guy.

  7. Christian – Well Sefton Central can very much be considered part of the Liverpool conurbation and as such I don’t think it is a ‘small town’ seat and therein may well lie your answer. The Results’ posts on the seat are also well worth reading as he has local knowledge.

  8. Its not so much that Crosby is ‘going down’ but its certainly different. There used to be a lot of retired people particularly in Blundellsands ward, but because the schools are pretty good here a lot more families are moving in, and they seem far more likely to be Labour.
    We held Blundellsands with ease this year and didn’t really expect to. And we also won two seats in one of the Formby wards.
    The two Crosby wards in the Bootle constituency – where I live – returned Labour majorities as large as those in Bootle proper, and they both have a mixture of areas

  9. Sefton Central is no different to Liverpool.

    The Conservatives had 2 seats Liverpool in 1979 and had a majority of approx. 6500 in Liverpool Wavertree.

    Its also not true that the Conservative seats disappeared under the 1983 boundary changes. The new Liverpool Broad Green would have had a Conservative majority of around 300 and Liverpool Mosley Hill would have had a Conservative majority of over 9000.

    While there was a huge swing to Labour in Liverpool in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, Sefton (bar Southport) and Wirral relatively swung heavily to Labour in the late 1990’s and 2000’s.

  10. A belated response to Tory- thanks for the positive comment about my thoughts on this seat- I just share what I think about the demographics and trends TBH and I have tended to do the same for my own Bootle seat next door regularly as well.

  11. It is my guess that Bill Esterson may enjoy a bit of a personal vote here, given he polled more votes than his own party did in the local elections held on the same day- He got 2, 148 more votes.

  12. I disagree with The Results that “the demographics have really changed”. They have hardly changed at all.
    What has changed is the voting pattern of that demographic, on Merseyside at least.

  13. ”Bill Esterson may enjoy a bit of a personal vote here”

    Not if Corbyn is Labour leader and fights the 2020 GE. Sefton Central is the type of middle class seat where many voters would be happy with Blair, Brown or even Miliband as PM but would run a million miles away from Corbyn and his policies.

  14. Disagree. This is a safe Labour seat now even if a three-legged donkey is elected Labour leader.

  15. Does anyone know who Merseymike is supporting in the leadership contest? Presumably Corbyn or Burnham? He hasn’t posted here recently.

  16. Merseyside and surrounding areas contains one of the last clusters of seats where it appears the majorities can be weighted rather then counted. However, Merseyside has a history of volatity. At the beginning of the twentieth century there was a considerably Protestant Unionist vote, religion then being an important factor in politics. More recently, the Liberals made headway in hte 1960s.

    I can’t see seats in this area ever supporting the likes of Cameron, but this does not mean that some other radical party might not jump up to oust Labour within one or two elections. .Safe seats need competent and hard-working MPs who will not overlook the needs of their constituents.

  17. I would hardly say Crosby as a whole is as affluent as it always was TBH. And I think the seat is undergoing some demographic change in the longterm that will only make the seat safer for Labour- I think we’re looking at more than just a simple change in voting patterns here…

  18. Was in response to Rod Crosby.

  19. I have no idea why South Crosby (two wards) is now included in Bootle (hence the constituency being re-named Crosby Central) when Bootle could have instead have annexed two of the Maghull wards.

    Maghull was part of Knowsley North & Sefton East and if Maghull was simply added top Bootle, there would be no need to have had any major boundary changes to Crosby at all.

  20. Dalek
    I see your point but is it any better to split Maghull into two seats than Crosby? Besides the only people who likely care about parts of Crosby being in the Bootle constituency are the highly pompous types who like to think of themselves as better than the residents of Bootle. Crosby and Bootle have largely grown into each other and its near impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins, the transport links between the two areas are good, they share infrastructure and facilities, they are very much twins. Pairing Bootle with parts of Maghull though? The links aren’t great, the two areas are very much independent, it just doesn’t really make sense.

  21. Very true, Rivers10.

    The proposed addition of Vauxhall in Liverpool in the aborted Review annoyed them too. Ironic as many are ex-Scousers in Crosby.

    Plus both have good transport and family connections and all are from Irish RC stock.

    Indeed, Crosby & Vauxhall in the same seat is no stranger than Mossley Hill & Vauxhall both being in Lpool Riverside or Woolton & Speke both being in Garston & Halewood.

    Lots of seats have such contrasts from Crewe & Nantwich to many London seats and its what makes elections interesting rather than monolithic Glasgow N/S/E/W which don’t even have names of the areas.

  22. Regarding the aborted Bootle and Liverpool North seat I do wonder why they couldn’t just call it Bootle and Aintree?

    While I prefer using place names in constituencies I don’t mind compass points, what irks me is that we mix them, its not like its even based on the size of the city when small cities like Brighton or Plymouth get proper names (Pavilion/Kemptown, Moor View/Sutton, Devonport) but large cities like Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol Wolverhampton, Nottingham get lumped with compass points.

    The worst though is when cities use a mix of place names and compass points like Sheffield. I mean what on earth was stopping them from naming Sheffield Southeast something like Sheffield Shirebrook?

  23. True. I wouldn’t even mind Liverpool Seaport of Freeport for the new seat here, but not Lpool NW.

    I think a few seats are protected by Act of Parliament ie they have to retain Plymouth Devonport in a name (as an historic Royal Naval dockyard presumably).

    Rivers10 – Aintree was never going to be in the proposed new Bootle seat.

    There was going to be a Kirkby & Croxteth cross borough seat which I suppose could contain the Racecourse though. Although if you did that it’d be crossing Sefton, Knowsley and Liverpool boundaries.

  24. Some interesting results in Merseyside.

    Here, 2 Inds came from nowhere to gain seats from Labour in Maghull and Lydiate.

    Indeed, the latter’s Description was “Pat from Lydiate.”

    Labour lost over them wanting to build on the Greenbelt etc.

    A third ‘Indy’ (FRAGOFF now CAP) also gained a seat from Labour to form a group of 2 in that ward.

    LibDems easily regained Woolton, Allerton & Hunts Cross wards in Liverpool and held Church very comfortably. The Greens held St Michaels convincingly and the Liberals romped home in Tuebrook & Stoneycroft, with the best % of any winning candidate.

    Essentially, where there was an obvious challenger to Labour they lost. [But Labour easily won 20 of the 30 wards in the city, where there were just paper candidates opposing them]

    There were also v strong LibDem & Green votes in Mossley Hill, Princes Park wards, so it’ll be interesting in the next year or two if voters work out the best way to defeat Labour in 2 or 3 wards, as there’s now a seam of anti-Labour support from the South of the city to the city centre.

    In the Lpool Mayoral, Joe’s support fell 6% but he still won on the first ballot with 52% of the vote.

    It could have gotten interesting on 2nd Prefs as I imagine most Green/Indy/Con/etc would have plumped for Kemp although Joe would still have won by over 60:40. There was very little of a camping this year, with even Labour only releasing their Manifesto 3 days ago!

    In Knowsley, the Libdems made 3 gains in Prescot.

    First for Kirkby missed out taking a seat from Labour in Kirkby by 100 votes.

  25. I am a bit confused by the notional result for the new Sefton Central that increases the Labour majority from 11846 to 15469.

    All that has been added is the Crosby ward of Victoria from Bootle. Bootle’s other Crosby ward (Church) has been retained in Bootle.

    How can the addition of the Victoria Ward possibly increase the Labour majority by nearly 4000?

  26. Cos its a very safe Labour ward, seriously look at the results from the 2015 locals which give some indication of how it might vote in a GE.

    Lab 4237 (55.2%)
    Con 1191 (15,5%)
    Lib Dem 925 (12.1%)
    UKIP 694 (9%)
    Green 632 (8.2%)

    Crosby obviously isn’t what it once was yet you’d still expect the Tories to be semi competitive in what is a decidedly MOD area, yet the Merseyside effect is felt in force here.

  27. Dalek – just spotted what you said upthread.

    That’s not quite accurate either.

    1 of the 2 Tory seats in Lpool was Garston (not Mossley Hill). This was indeed abolished in its current form and the Tory MP, Malcolm Thornton (who had gained Lpool Garston in 1979) did a chicken run to stand in Crosby in 1983 instead.

    The victor in the new Mossley Hill seat was the then current Liberal MP, David Alton (who himself had gained Edge Hill at the By-election). So we’ll never know who would have won a Thornton v Alton fight in the new M Hill seat, but I imagine Alton would have done. He then, of course, continued to hold the seat despite Labour efforts to unseat him in both 1987 and 1992. In fact, conservative LibDem Alton increased his majority in 1992.

    Thornton increased the Tory vote in Crosby in 1987 and the rest is history.

    Broadgreen was the more famous fight in 1983 where a local Scouse Tory Wet went head to head with Militant Terry Fields. Although the 1992 Fields v Kennedy fight received more publicity (including a tv documentary which is still on YouTube).

  28. When I described the last two Conservative seats I included Broad Green and Mossley Hill as 1979 notional Conservative seats. The former being knife edge and the latter being safer than the abolished Wavertree.

    The 9000 plus 1979 notional Conservative majority in Mossley Hill was hidden by the large shift to Labour.

  29. Call me mad but I can potentially see the Lib Dems doing fairly well here in 2020. I think they might come second and cut the Labour majority to about half of what it is now. But if Bill Esterson continues to enjoy good support locally, he may not be under threat.

  30. The reason why I have this feeling the Lib Dems could make good progress here in the future is because I don’t think the Tories can threaten Labour in this seat, and given Esterson enjoyed such a strong result last time with incumbency, I believe that if the Lib Dems worked hard enough here they could realistically build up a strong second place here in the coming general elections.

  31. I know this seat very well (probably better than any other except my own seat of Liverpool West Derby) and while I can certainly see the Libs improving here (they did use to have a very solid collection of councillors) they will probably struggle to take second and will not come anywhere close to threatening Lab (save unforeseen events)

    Seriously Esterson (or any other Lab candidates) majority will continue to grow here. This is prime Liverpool commuter territory and the Merseyside effect is being felt stronger here than anywhere, the collective non Lab vote is rapidly dying off and being replaced by young Liverpool families. Give it a few cycles and this will have a Lab majority pushing 40% What remains of the Tory vote is (for the most part) of the very elderly little Englander variety and will probably vote Tory come what May. The Lib Dems just don’t have a niche here anymore and they’ll be too busy trying to hold onto Southport to bother with this seat.

  32. I think I actually agree with most of that analysis. I myself live extremely close to this seat, in the ward of Victoria south of Crosby which is included in the ultra safe Bootle. It is fair to assume I think that Esterson may hold this seat for as long as he wants it in future general elections, largely by dint of continuing Tory decline and the Lib Dems as yet too far back to present anything even resembling a realistic threat.

  33. I agree. I think the Tories will have fallen to third place here by 2025 at least. Their remaining support is the absolute core.

  34. This is among the top 10 safest Tory seats in 1992 to fail to elect a Tory MP in 2015
    Sefton Central
    East Renfrewshire
    Westmorland & Lonsdale
    Ilford North
    Wirral West
    North Norfolk
    Sheffield, Hallam

    Surprised about the omission of the Leeds seats – North East and North West – where I’m sure the Tories had bigger majorities than Hallam and Ilford North

    The Tories have little chance of winning those back any time soon

  35. WOW !!

    Not even I’m that optimistic…

    Neither is it a Conservative Estimate……

  36. Or is it ?

  37. @NTYUK – Not in my case – I’ve been a member on this site since 2010, but not posted very often (you might see a couple of posts calling for Conservative Estimate to be barred when he had his recent meltdown on the Stoke Central thread I think). I do read most posts on here.

    It just annoys me when posters say they expect us to be in Government for 30 years – I mean what a ridiculous thing to say !!

    I imagine Labour posters may have thought that too in the late 90’s when they were riding the crest of the wave.

    Things can change very quickly in politics as we all know.

  38. Agreed and it certainly doesn’t help the Tories that Esterson is very well liked locally.

  39. Daniel Lewis= The Liberal Democrats’ candidate. Southport councillor who previously stood in West Lancashire in 2015.

    Jade Marsden= The Conservative candidate. Member of the Liverpool branch. Previously stood in Bootle in 2015.

  40. Bishop Auckland may well stay this election. Labour will cling on at least once more. Also it’s fairly ridiculous to forecast 30 years into the future. The only thing you can say for certain is that Margaret Beckett will still be an MP.

  41. I am far from familiar with Merseyside so am genuinely bemused by this seat.

    Massively owner occupied, over 95% White British, only 8% in higher education and seemingly affluent (extremely so in some places) – and yet a thumping Labour majority.

    I know the Conservative brand has long been a hard sell in this area but even so, the profile suggests a seat where they should be at the very least competitive.

    I note some references above to “social change” but not much specific. So can anyone with local knowledge explain to me what I am missing.

  42. stephenpt
    “So can anyone with local knowledge explain to me what I am missing”

    After my own seat I know this one the best having went to secondary school here and with most of my family and friends living in this seat. The issue for the Tories in Sefton Central is as follows.

    Firstly one must understand that this is prime Liverpool commuter territory, for many Cheshire and rural South Lancashire is too far afield and the Wirral comes with the added expense of the toll on the Mersey tunnel thus for most moving to a leafy burb in Crosby, Maghull or (if they really do well for themselves) Formby is the dream. It is with this in mind that the following two issues arise.

    First their is the much discussed edge of conurbation drift that has plagued the Tories in a lot of seats in the Midlands/North. What was once the home of the major cities professional managerial class has instead become the home primarily of middle class public sector professionals (teachers, doctors, university lecturers, civil servants etc) who despite their affluence are not very well disposed to the Tories.

    However what distinguishes this seat from similarly affluent seats like Gedling where the Tories are still competitive is the much touted “Merseyside Effect” which is screwing the Tories even with affluent private sector workers in this part of the world. I often explain this with the real life example of my own sister and her fiancée. Both are professional private sector managers, they live in a 5 bedroom house in Formby that they own outright, and indeed if my sisters fiancée gets the promotion he’s looking for he’ll fall under Labours new 80k “wealthy” tax bracket. Both should be prime Tory voters but their not, they like many others here are tribally Labour cos that’s how they were raised. Both my sister and her fiancée were raised in Liverpool and like most people in Liverpool born during or post Thatcher they were raised to under no uncertain terms HATE the Tories. Thus despite them moving up in the world, leaving Liverpool proper and becoming exceedingly middle class they have taken their Scouse hatred of the Tories with them. Their story won’t be at all unique here and it acts as a further blow to Tory prospects in the seat.

  43. Rivers,

    The big increase in Lab majority in 2015 was mainly due to collapse in LDs.
    To what extent may LDs recover in a seat like this – in particular with the demographic of your sister and her fiancée?

    Btw – best wishes to your sister and her fiancée. When is the big day?

  44. Rivers,

    Thanks for the reply. Take your point about the long established “Merseyside effect” exacerbating the trend of established suburbs drifting away from the Conservatives. Still seems to be notably more pronounced here than in the Wirral seats though.

    Does Sefton have an unusually high level of public service professionals (A factor which is often cited when explaining the political trajectory of Sheffield Hallam)?

  45. Paul
    “Btw – best wishes to your sister and her fiancée. When is the big day?”
    Yet to be determined, they’ve been engaged nearly two years now and they haven’t made a decision on anything, I don’t think their in any hurry.

    “Does Sefton have an unusually high level of public service professionals”
    Pretty sure its in top 10 nationwide for pubic sector employment but don’t have the exact figure at hand.
    “Still seems to be notably more pronounced here than in the Wirral seats though”
    Cos there are a lot more folks from Liverpool in this seat than anywhere on the Wirral, Sefton Central is basically Merseyside Effect ground zero.

  46. Rivers10 is on the whole correct.

    The other thing that makes Crosby (and West Lancs) easier for Labour and harder for the Tories is that both are very Roman Catholic areas. ie Catholics only make up 10% of the UK, but account for around 60% here. Indeed one small hamlet is (or was) famously 100% RC.

  47. What’s the origin of the “Merseyside Effect”? Why are the Tories still so despised in Liverpool?

  48. Tough to say. Probably the battle between Liverpool Council & Margaret Thatcher is the main driver, just as the miners’ strike has had the same effect in South Yorkshire. Hillsborough is probably a contributing factor too (especially since it means the country’s most popular Conservative-supporting newspaper is barely sold here).

    I know this was all thirty years ago, but then of course many people inherit their politics from their parents.

  49. “The only reason the Tories have representation on Glasgow City Council is surely STV.”

    The Conservatives won a FPTP ward in Maxwell Park right up to the multi-member STV wards were created in 2007.

    Had the FPTP wards continued the Conservatives would have won Maxwell Park in 2007, 2012 and 2017.

    Of the FPTP wards abolished in 2007, I think that the Conservatives would have won Kelvindale and Jordanhill. They may also have won in a few of the following wards…Langside, Mount Florida, Mount Vernon, Victoria Park, Hayburn, Tollcross, Strathbungo, Newlands, Cathcart, Kings Park and Carmunock,

  50. Rivers10 is right.

    I have family members living in this seat (and I would be in it myself but for the lack of boundary changes – so still in Bootle for now).

    The level of tribalism is horrific. Even Corbyn could not stop my family turning out in droves to vote Labour. They don’t like him, but they are still out, campaigning for Bill and campaigning for ‘Labour’. And all of them, from their current lifestyle choices, should be natural Conservative voters.

    Additionally, if ‘The Sun’ says Vote Conservative, that’s pretty much a guaranteed way to prevent it round here.

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