Southampton, Itchen

2015 Result:
Conservative: 18656 (41.7%)
Labour: 16340 (36.5%)
Lib Dem: 1595 (3.6%)
Green: 1876 (4.2%)
UKIP: 6010 (13.4%)
TUSC: 233 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 2316 (5.2%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, Hampshire. Part of Southampton council area.

Main population centres: Southampton.

Profile: Southampton is a large container and cruise port on the south coast. This is the eastern of the two Southampton seats, covering the city centre itself and the post-war council and private housing developments in the east of the city. The seat is named after the river Itchen, which runs through Southampton and forms part of the western boundary of the seat.

Politics: Both the Southampton seats have traditionally been marginals, but Itchen was traditionally seen as the more Labour of the two, only having been won by the Conservatives at the height of their power in the 1980s. In recent years the position has reversed, Itchen was the more marginal seat in 2010 and in 2015 it fell to the Conservatives.

Current MP
ROYSTON SMITH (Conservative) Former PR consultant and RAF engineer. Southampton councillor since 2000, former leader of Southampton council. Contested Southampton Itchen 2010. First elected as MP for Southampton Itchen in 2015. Received the George Medal in 2012 for disarming a gunman on board HMS Astute during a visit.
Past Results
Con: 16134 (36%)
Lab: 16326 (37%)
LDem: 9256 (21%)
UKIP: 1928 (4%)
Oth: 768 (2%)
MAJ: 192 (0%)
Con: 11569 (27%)
Lab: 20871 (48%)
LDem: 9162 (21%)
UKIP: 1623 (4%)
MAJ: 9302 (22%)
Con: 11330 (27%)
Lab: 22553 (55%)
LDem: 6195 (15%)
UKIP: 829 (2%)
Oth: 466 (1%)
MAJ: 11223 (27%)
Con: 15289 (28%)
Lab: 29498 (55%)
LDem: 6289 (12%)
Oth: 1122 (2%)
MAJ: 14209 (26%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
ROYSTON SMITH (Conservative) PR consultant and former RAF engineer. Southampton councillor since 2000, former leader of Southampton council. Contested Southampton Itchen 2010. Received the George Medal in 2012 for disarming a gunman on board HMS Astute during a visit.
ROWENNA DAVIS (Labour) Born 1985, Lewisham. Educated at Hampstead School and Oxford University. Journalist. Southwark councillor since 2011.
ELEANOR BELL (Liberal Democrat) University administrator.
KIM ROSE (UKIP) Jeweller. Contested Southampton Itchen 1997 for Socialist Labour Party, 2001, 2005 for UKIP.
JOHN SPOTTISWOODE (Green) Educated at Bristol University. Former Suffolk councillor. Contested Southampton Itchen 2010.
Comments - 364 Responses on “Southampton Itchen”
  1. I’d like to think the pollsters will take a really big hit from all this but I have a sneaking feeling they won’t. The desire for poll info, even if it is rubbish, seems insatiable.

  2. I think it’s a shame if Ashcroft gives up on constituency polling as a result of this. Given the questions about the best methodology for constituency level polls, the national polling issues, the fact that some polls were done some time ago, and the difficulties in ensuring your sample is representative at a constituency level, there were always going to be some howlers in there.

  3. Police moving in here due to some uber-machiavellian Tory-UKIP moves?

    Not sure how illegal it is though… if at all….

  4. Fabulous result for the Lib Dems here

  5. Whether the canvass information could be regarded as protected by the Data Protection Act?

  6. Is this really semi-marginal? Or is it just marginal? Either way it’s going to be an uphill task for Labour. They’re lucky that at least Test is a bit more secure for them.

  7. Antiochian is well aware that candidates do this all the time. It’s especially hypocritical for Lib Dems to be complaining about it, given that they had this kind of relationship with Labour in very many places at the height of the Blair years.

  8. Labour and the Lib Dems even used to lend each other activists at times in the past.

  9. Yes exactly. In the 10 years or so between John Smith’s death and the Iraq war, the two parties were virtually the same entity in many of each other’s target seats. It is a sad sight to see the LDs reduced to half baked sniping at the other parties; it isn’t going to help their recovery.

  10. They’ve got nothing left now.

  11. Bargate ward which includes Southampton city centre was in Test from its creation in 1950 until 1983 since when it has been in this constituency

  12. Motion of confidence in Corbyn passed by the CLP here last night. More interesting was that it is said many people strongly criticised the Labour MP in Southampton Test and called for his removal. Could be interesting if boundary changes move many of this seat into the Test seat.

  13. Not good signs for Labour’s sustainability as a party if a long-serving and respected MP like Alan Whitehead, generally considered to be somewhat to the left of the party, is being strongly criticised by members (presumably due to his resignation as energy spokesperson).

  14. It is a major problem. Two CLP’s last night are said to have passed motion of no confidences in their own sitting MP’s. Haven’t been able to find out which ones yet. And Abarvon CLP passed some sort of motion against Stephen Kinnock a few days ago as well. An Election this autumn or next spring could see a fair few trigger ballots being lost and MP’s having to fight not to be removed.

  15. Fortunately for Labour the prospect of an early election is now quite slim. But hard to see how these differences are amicably resolved before 2020.

  16. It seems funny that Labour in opposition have aped what the Tories did when they were in opposition post-97 – up until now

    After heavy defeats after many years in government – the parties went for uncharismatic youngsters who were more or less the centrist candidates in the leadership campaigns, and who just never looked ;like PMs in waiting – Hague/Milliband

    After that didn’t work out, they retreated even more to their core vote by electing figures on the extreme fringes of the party – IDS/Corbyn – and who history tells us will not win a general election

    At least in the case of the Tories IDS knew his time was up.I suspect Corbyn does too, but he’s being bullied into staying by the far-Left groups that got him elected who have spent the past year establishing their control of the Labour Party

  17. What finally finished IDS off was the Betsygate scandal. Surely Labour MPs have some smear scandal brewing against Corbyn.

  18. Not sure a smear scandal would work with the ordinary members. Corbyn has enough scandals on his past associations to last a live time and he was still elected with 60% of the party vote.

  19. ‘What finally finished IDS off was the Betsygate scandal.’

    Combined of course with that horrendous speech he gave at the party conference – “the quiet man’s turning up the volume” – which literally had me and a Tory-supporting friend in stitches

  20. For a smear to work, it would need to be something which would counter Corbyn’s persona. So far, attempts to smear him have been scattergun and broadly unsuccessful as they either involve things which he’s happy to defend (e.g. things he’s said around terrorism), things which are pretty transparent misinterpretations (e.g. claiming he equated Israel and ISIS), and things where there’s a lack of clear evidence (e.g. claiming he undermined the Labour remain campaign).

    “…he’s being bullied into staying by the far-Left groups that got him elected who have spent the past year establishing their control of the Labour Party”

    I keep hearing this; I don’t know which far left groups are supposed to have this influence on Corbyn, but it’s a load of rubbish. Corbyn places great value on the support of the trade unions, not far left groups. If the leading trade unions called on him to quit, he might well do so – possibly why Watson has belated brought them in to try to provide some sort of resolution to the coup attempt.

  21. ‘I keep hearing this; I don’t know which far left groups are supposed to have this influence on Corbyn, but it’s a load of rubbish.’

    I’d argue that Momentum – the left-wing campaign group – played just as big a part in winning Corbyn the leadership in the first place as the trade unions

    It’s they who are currently taking to the streets demanding that Corbyn stay on, and it’s they who are engaged on a mission to change the Labour Party more in their own image

    A split seems inevitable

  22. Momentum didn’t exist at the time of the leadership election, although it was an attempt to group together supporters of his leadership campaign, and Jon Lansman was the key figure in the leadership campaign who founded Momentum.

    I’m quite doubtful that Momentum has much influence on Corbyn, rather than supporting whatever he’s doing anyway.

  23. I think one of the reasons Corbyn is so keen to carry on is because were he to go that would likely to represent the defeat of not only his own leadership but of his wing of the party full stop. If he resigns then any Momentum candidate for the leadership would need to get 35 nominations and it is highly unlikely they’d be able to again. He’d probably see that as letting down his ‘comrades’.

    Given how much the left worship trade unions it would be hard for him to carry on if they told him to go, which I expect is why Watson has brought them into the talks. But remember that they no longer carry anything like the institutional power they once did in the party. EdM’s reforms severely weakened both MPs/MEPs and unions at the expense of members/supporters, and Blair’s reforms had already weakened them somewhat compared to the 70s and 80s. In any leadership election who gets more £3 sign ups is far more important than who Len McLuskey backs.

  24. Having attended Momentum/Jeremy4Leader meetings and involved in some of their campaigns.

    I think as an organization, it’s a really effective campaign tool. Clearly as Corbyn was lifted from the backbenchers to leader of the Party with much help from social media, phone banking and rallies. Also busing up to 150 activists to campaign in several of the by elections. Locally they’ve been encouraging people to engage with the residence committees the council organise, etc.

    However, beyond that from my experience Momentum hasn’t developed into a pressure group which has any influence on the leadership.

  25. I just read Antiochian’s link upthread.

    I’d be more bothered by the UKIP candidate’s consistency and sanity, given that it says he’s a Jewish Jeweller who previously stood for Socialist Labour, gave out sausage rolls to voters and quoted Mein K!

  26. Split very likely but don’t think it will be down Momentum-Progress lines. Opposition to Corbyn in the PLP stretches far beyond people involved in Progress. And even among the MPs furthest to the right of the Labour party there is a deep commitment to Labour values and the Labour brand that there wasn’t in the different context of 1981. 1981 was seen by the main supporters of the SDP as an exciting new opportunity to re-align British politics, not as a very reluctant and deeply painful split as any split today would be.

    Possible road map to a split:

    1/ Corbyn wins leadership election. Calls for unity, offers to give people back front bench jobs they resigned. Puts the resigners in a very difficult situation.

    2/ After much consideration the bulk of the PLP concludes that nothing has happened that causes them to have confidence in Corbyn when they didn’t previously. But they concede that the leadership election means that Corbyn has the right to lead the party.

    3/ In the interests of strong opposition the PLP form a mainstream Labour group of MPs that appoints spokespersons and and develops policies of its own. 150 or so MPs join, despite the likelihood that many will face a tough time with their local parties for it. They remain Labour MPs and don’t attempt to be recognised as the official opposition.

    4/ Things settle into this holding pattern for a couple of years but as the GE approaches the unresolved problems of candidate selection and how mainstream Labour MPs can stand for election under Corbyn’s leadership comes into view. It is clear another leadership challenge would again return Corbyn.

    5/ Mainstream group come to the reluctant conclusion that they have no option but to announce their intention to stand on their own platform, under their own leader/prospective PM in 2020. Withdrawal of whip/suspension from party inevitably follows. Tories well ahead in polls at this stage so not much to lose from taking the risk of splitting.

    6/ Mainstream Labour Party (or similar, not sure what the name would be) formed as an organisation. They have enough MPs to immediately be designated the official opposition. Labour are now only the 4th biggest party in the Commons.

    7/ A deal is done with the Lib Dems that means they won’t take each other on in held/target seats.

    8/ And there you have your split. Like with the SDP and Libs a merger becomes inevitable in time. The rump Corbyn party wins under 30 seats.

  27. ‘I’d be more bothered by the UKIP candidate’s consistency and sanity, ‘

    A nutter running for UKIP – whatever next?

  28. Jack Sheldon
    Interesting but highly unlikely

  29. Tom Watson has called off talks with unions due to Jeremy’s clear statements he won’t stand down. Leadership challenge will – really – happen this week.

  30. Watson: “Jeremy has publicly declared his intention to continue as leader come what may. This means there is no realistic prospect of reaching a compromise that satisfies the majority of colleagues in the PLP.”

    Interesting definition of “compromise,” that.

  31. Yes, the ‘compromise’ talks have been doomed to failure from the off because one side’s red line is that Corbyn stands down and the other’s red line is that Corbyn stays. There isn’t really much room for a compromise between those two positions!

  32. “At least in the case of the Tories IDS knew his time was up.”

    And that was even though he was polling better than his predecessor and as well as his successor, who never received the same flak. It would be interesting to know how well IDS would have actually polled if his party had stuck with him / got behind him. He was starting to move onto quite interesting, traditional Labour, ground – looking at sustainable models in Europe that could be used for the NHS, and taking what seemed a genuine interest in lowbrow estates in places like Glasgow.

    He was a poor communicator, particularly compared to Blair, but I think the above type policies / noises made in those areas, partly mitigated this in the eyes of the electorate – hence he didn’t poll that terribly all things considered. However, his more socially liberal colleagues decided he must go as there was a vocal minority of the public/celebrities generating a lot of negative publicity for his socially conservative stances (which he was too OTT with, insisting on 3-line whips for votes on civil partnerships that he was never going to defeat anyway).

    I always felt he might have done better at the 2005 election than Howard – but it’s also possible that Blair might have wrong-footed him in the campaign more than Howard, and caused his poll numbers to fall a lot more at the last hurdle I suppose.

  33. Probably more relevant on the Chingford thread, I’ll move it there.

  34. Well yes, I do think some different seats would have been won or lost in 2005 compared to what actually happened, with IDS being more socially rightwing than Howard (although Howard was regarded as hardline on eg law and order etc.).

    They may have done even better in Essex and a few random other socially rightwing or military-supporting places anywhere, about the same in Devon and Cornwall, and a bit worse elsewhere – on the same Lab / Con vote shares as happened under Howard I mean. Obviously my main point was whether he would have got higher or lower vote share than Howard.

  35. Possibly on North Kent – but remember Howard was from Kent so I’m not sure that IDS would have done better.

    The others you list are actually seats where I think he would likely have done worse than Howard in the main (relative to Tory national vote share – so yes, they might have won them if they were polling higher anyway under IDS – but gains elsewhere would have been more likely imho).

  36. This was surely one of the results which ultimately kept Theresa May in power. There were three recounts.

    Conservative 21,773 46.5% (+4.8%)
    Labour 21,742 46.5% (+9.9%)
    Liberal Democrat 1,421 3% (-0.5%)
    UKIP 1,122 2.4% (-11%)
    Green 725 1.5% (-2.6 )

    Con Maj 31

    Swing of 2.5% to Lab was slightly above the overall average, but rather less than in most city seats.

  37. As with Plymouth, its interesting that the Tories did better in the more working class of the two seats although in the case of Moor View I’m sure the incumbent had a lot to do with the Tory vote holding up so well

    So too Bristol – where the two more middle class seats saw a strong swing to Labour, whereas the Tory vote held up much better in the more working class Kingswood and Filton

  38. Filton and Bradley Stoke was still a good result for Labour, with their vote rising by 15% against a 3% increase for the Tories.

  39. ‘Filton and Bradley Stoke was still a good result for Labour’

    It was but it wasn’t as good as the two seats Walt mentions – which I presume are Bristol West and Bristol North West – which contain most of Bristol’s desirable areas

    Personally I think much of this must be a result of Brexit given that outside London Bristol had one of the highest Remain votes in the country

  40. The question of how much of a factor Brexit was in this election is fascinating. You can make arguments for it being both pivotally important to the result and of little importance to the result.

    My own preliminary view is that whilst Brexit will have had a direct effect on some voters – mainly switchers to Con in heavily Brexit seats, Con to LD switchers in London and some other places – in fact this was mostly a values election. The correlation between Brexit vote and swing can be explained, I think, mostly by the fact that the same values that led people to reject Brexit led the same people to reject the Tories 2017 agenda, which had been designed to appeal to Brexit voters.

  41. I think in places like Canterbury and Kensington the remain con<lab switch was crucial

  42. “The question of how much of a factor Brexit was in this election is fascinating…”

    On that point this article concludes that “…this was a Brexit election up to a point, but it helped the Conservatives much more than it harmed Labour”.

    It goes on to point out though that age and level of education were also influential factors in determining where the major parties performed well.

  43. “I think in places like Canterbury and Kensington the remain con<lab switch was crucial".

    I don't think that's true re Canterbury. The Conservatives gained votes and vote share relative to 2015. Labour won because they gained more from the increased turnout.

  44. Re Canterbury

    Labour were fortunate that Julian Brazier is so easy to characterise as a hard right bogeyman….anti gay, anti abortion, anti European, killed a motorcyclist…

    In what is now becoming more and more of a university seat, that was sooner or later bound to galvanise the university vote and encourage an alliance of tactical voting.

    I imagine a more moderate Tory candidate able to do a bit better in the city itself is the best chance they have of winning it back.

  45. Apparently the student population of Canterbury has doubled over the past decade:

  46. I was in Canterbury attending a conference at the Uni of Kent for a couple of days last week. The city centre itself doesn’t (yet) really have the hallmarks of a student town, as compared to say Oxford or Cambridge. But the university completely dominates the west of the city, plus there are the two other unis. 40,000 is a massive number of students, even if you consider that a good portion will be international/EU and therefore non-voters.

  47. My sister was a student in canterbury i text her immediately when the result came in shecwas shocked

  48. Canterbury nearly had me choking on my lemonade when I saw it flash up on the screen!

  49. Alan Little has visited Southampton as it’s where he began his career as a reporter (and as HH said, pointed out that many Leave voters are in the South and well off), although he does also feature Stoke in his Brexit road trip:

  50. When I was last in Southampton, I was surprised by the amount of anarchist/communist graffiti I saw – though i suppose I was in the student quarter.

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