North Shropshire

2015 Result:
Conservative: 27041 (51.4%)
Labour: 10547 (20.1%)
Lib Dem: 3148 (6%)
Green: 2575 (4.9%)
UKIP: 9262 (17.6%)
MAJORITY: 16494 (31.4%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: West Midlands, Shropshire. The northern part of the Shropshire council area.

Main population centres: Wem, Whitchurch, Ellesmere, Oswestry, Market Drayton, Shawbury, Baschurch.

Profile: A mainly rural seat on the English border with Wales. North Shropshire consists of the former district councils of North Shropshire and Oswestry, now both subsumed into Shropshire unitary council. The biggest town here is Oswestry, but most of the seat is made up of small rural towns and villages.

Politics: A solid rural Conservative seat. Taking into account its predecessor seats it has been held by the Conservatives almost continually since 1835, the only gap being a Liberal by-election win in 1904, regained by the Tories at the next general election.

Current MP
OWEN PATERSON (Conservative) Born 1956, Whitchurch. Educated at Radley College and Cambridge University. Former director of a leather company. Contested Wrexham 1992. First elected as MP for North Shropshire in 1997. Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary 2007-2010. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 2010-2012, Secretary of State for the Environment 2012-2014.
Past Results
Con: 26692 (51%)
Lab: 9406 (18%)
LDem: 10864 (21%)
UKIP: 2432 (5%)
Oth: 2475 (5%)
MAJ: 15828 (31%)
Con: 23061 (50%)
Lab: 12041 (26%)
LDem: 9175 (20%)
UKIP: 2233 (5%)
MAJ: 11020 (24%)
Con: 22631 (49%)
Lab: 16390 (35%)
LDem: 5945 (13%)
UKIP: 1165 (3%)
Oth: 389 (1%)
MAJ: 6241 (13%)
Con: 20730 (40%)
Lab: 18535 (36%)
LDem: 10489 (20%)
MAJ: 2195 (4%)

2015 Candidates
OWEN PATERSON (Conservative) See above.
TOM THORNHILL (Liberal Democrat)
Comments - 82 Responses on “Shropshire North”
  1. If anything I think Barnaby and Alex are a little guilty of understatement. The Conservatives had a very good result here in June, hitting 60 pc for the first time since 1955 (if one regards Oswestry as being it predecessor seat) and suffering a below average swing to Labour. The % majority was also higher than in 1992 when the Conservatives were further ahead nationally. North Shropshire not a hugely well off part of the world so Labour will probably always have a respectable base here but it won’t be enough to put Labour into serious contention.

  2. The Results: What are your thoughts behind this becoming a Labour seat in the distant future?

  3. @WJ
    A few different factors if I’m honest- I know it’s a very rural seat on the whole but it’s never really been overwhelmingly safe Tory territory to the extent they’re always guaranteed well over 50% of the vote here- the main towns here should on paper really be a lot better for Labour than they are and I genuinely believe that if Oswestry, Whitchurch and Ellesmere were not a million miles away in say Merseyside for example this would now resemble something along the lines of Wirral South in terms of its results. Also, on the whole although North Shropshire is indeed mainly rural and not at all urban it is also not very affluent, in fact in many ways even less so than the likes of Chester or indeed the two county seats on the Wirral. If it wasn’t for the isolated sprawl of endless villages I think Labour would be a lot better organised in this area- they’re limited right now because although there are towns for them to do well in the real problem for them comes in the form of there not being one clearly defined urban centre- sad to say a lot of the area is insular and remote, and I don’t see how most could possibly identify with a Conservative agenda. For now, it’s the agricultural factors that will keep this safe for Owen Paterson but Labour got fairly close in 1997, suggesting that in a really good year they can get the votes together but maybe they can never win here. All I’m suggesting is that when you strip away the rural nature of this seat, you could struggle to see how Labour only enjoy the vote share they do at present- the Tory strength here appears to be scattered amongst the many villages as is massively common for a classic county constituency of this nature but it’s not exactly the epitome of Middle England- also considering the fact that it’s close to the Welsh Border meaning for example Wrexham and Clwyd South are there to use as precedents for Labour always holding the seats- perhaps if North Shropshire was in North East Wales it would have similar voting patterns?

  4. The Welsh and Scottish borders may not have barbed wire or customs officers, but politically they’re very real borders. In England, Labour’s worst performances were predominantly in the coalfield, in Scotland the party’s strongest performances tended to be (Edinburgh South, I’ll grant you, isn’t noted for its coalmining, though it’s very close to the coalfield as it happens!). In Wales too Labour did perfectly well in the coalfield, though a little patchily – Aberavon & Llanelli for example were strong results, Wrexham was much shakier.

  5. Not sure the stats really support you on that…the biggest remaining area of active coal mining in the UK is South Ayrshire which was a Con gain. There is however also a bit of mining left in the Welsh valleys, mostly on the west side to the north of Swansea. Places like Mansfield and NE Derbyshire aren’t coalfields any more because every tonne of coal mining there disappeared years ago.

  6. Does it not make sense that Labour perhaps underachieve here a bit? Am I on to something here?

  7. Very interesting thoughts, thank you for sharing. I’m not entirely sure that I buy them though.

    While it’s true that the constituency borders South Clwyd, much of it also borders Montgomeryshire, which arguably has more of a connection to the constituency given the livestock market in Oswestry. Additionally, any mining vote has long since gone from the area, even if it was a strong force to begin with. Coupled with that, Wrexham and South Clwyd are Labour only by their fingernails, I don’t see them staying red for much longer.

    I agree that the size of the constituency makes organisation hard. Market Drayton looks more to the Potteries or Crewe; Whitchurch to Chester, Oswestry to nowhere in particular and the rest to Shrewsbury or Telford. None of those places are exactly bastions of Labour strength any longer, if they ever were. Essentially, this seat is a more rural and remote version of Eddisbury.

    Finally you mention Ellesmere and Whitchurch as possible sources of Labour strength. As far as I’m aware, neither have ever had Labour councillors.

  8. I think you’re right with all that to be fair. If I’m honest, the border with Montgomeryshire is if anything even more pervasive than with Wrexham and Clwyd South because Glyn Davies’ seat is similarly large and sprawling rurality like North Shropshire is. Interesting what you say about whom the few towns in this constituency look to most- sadly Oswestry seems to be quite a remote place which is telling in that you say they don’t look to anyone in particular- They’re sort of a bit in the middle of nowhere because of the vast countryside immediately surrounding them. At least Market Drayton and Whitchurch are a bit further out.

  9. Well Eddisbury is somewhat better for Labour than North Shropshire because of the former salt mining town of Winsford. However, Eddisbury too has trended to the Conservatives since 1992 and Labour got a swing of only 2% there in May, which was weak compared with how they did in other parts of Cheshire.

    North Shropshire is pretty much the antithesis of the kind of Conservative seat that may soon become viable for Labour.

  10. I just feel that Labour could do a lot better here in the long-run if they sort their organisation out locally.

  11. TBH The Results I think you’re devoting more time to this constituency than it deserves. It’s a safe Tory rural seat with a tiny ex-coalfield section. Other seats deserve more analysis & attention.

  12. I agree with Barnaby (even if it is interesting to hear other people’s thoughts on one’s home constituency). This is the sort of seat that will continue to plod along as a safe Tory seat, only vaguely swinging in line with the rest of the country.

  13. Owen Paterson has been thrown from his horse and is currently in hospital, with three broken vertebrae.

  14. I think this is one of a very small umber of seats that has voted Tory in every general election since 1835

  15. Other than a brief Liberal by-election win in 1904, as it says in the seat politics section in the description.

  16. Yes, he’ll be away from Parliament on sick leave for 3 months (that makes 7 MPs who are).

  17. Which parties do the 7 MPs belong to? How will this affect key votes do we think?

  18. I would guess James Brokenshaw after his recent lung operation

  19. Brokenshire*

  20. I imagine Nick Bowles would be one if he is still in remission

    He seemed to be looking relatively well considering what he’s been through

  21. I think Nick Boles is officially back, but he’s still visiting hospital quite a lot.

  22. Is Jared O’Mara back yet? I guess there might be a few on parental leave too.

  23. I believe O’Mara is back – officially an independent but in reality LAB in all but name

  24. He’s officially back in work. There have been four days when votes have taken place and he’s only been present on one of those four days:

    (where he took part in nine out of a possible ten divisions)

  25. Isn’t it odd and terribly old fashioned to have rule that says that you physically have to be in a place to execute an action – such as take part in a vote in Parliament.

  26. I think it’s terribly old fashioned to not have electronic voting.

    Voting in the division lobbies is slow and disruptive (to both debates and committees).

    As for Hallam’s MP he’s announced he’s back in work but clearly isn’t. Poor constituents.

  27. Alex F – not odd at all. It prevents fraud being the most necessary reason.

    Barnaby – from memory it was 3 Labour, 1 SNP, 1 LD, 1 Tory before this MP’s equine injury.

    I don’t think it affects results too much. Whips usually try to pair ill MPs.

  28. Cons Cllr Claire Aspinall has defected to the Brexit Party.

  29. Sad news here. Owen Paterson’s wife has taken her own life.

  30. North Shropshire by election. Apparently it’s very close. Lib Dems they say are favourites to win. That’s surprising. 23,000 CON majority here two years ago.

  31. rediction:
    CON 41%
    LIBD 38%
    LAB  13%
    GRN  4%
    REFuk 4%
    OTH 1%

  32. Result
    LDEM: 47.2% (+37.2)
    CON: 31.6% (-31.1)
    LAB: 9.7% (-12.4)
    LD GAIN from CON
    Stunning result. Huge pressure on the PM. He’s on the canvas, can he get up?

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