Southampton, Test

2015 Result:
Conservative: 14207 (32.5%)
Labour: 18017 (41.3%)
Lib Dem: 2121 (4.9%)
Green: 2568 (5.9%)
UKIP: 5566 (12.8%)
TUSC: 403 (0.9%)
Independent: 770 (1.8%)
MAJORITY: 3810 (8.7%)

Category: Semi-marginal Labour 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 western of the two Southampton seats, covering the western and more affluent northern suburbs of Southampton. The seat is named after the river Test, which runs through Southampton and forms part of the western boundary of the seat.

Politics: Both the Southampton seats have traditionally been marginals, but Test was seen as the more Conservative of the two, having been won by the Tories at all but 2 elections between 1955 and 1992. By 2010 election, however, had become the more marginal seat and in 2015 Itchen fell to the Tories while Test stayed Labour.

Current MP
ALAN WHITEHEAD (Labour) Born 1950, Isleworth. Educated at Isleworth Grammar school and Southampton University. Former Professor at Southampton Institute. Southampton councillor 1980-1992, Leader of Southampton council 1994-1992. Contested Southampton Test 1983, 1987, 1992. First elected as MP for Southampton Test in 1997. PPS to Baroness Blackstone 1999-2001. Under-secretary of State for local government 2001-2002.
Past Results
Con: 14588 (33%)
Lab: 17001 (38%)
LDem: 9865 (22%)
UKIP: 1726 (4%)
Oth: 1007 (2%)
MAJ: 2413 (5%)
Con: 10827 (26%)
Lab: 17845 (43%)
LDem: 10368 (25%)
GRN: 1482 (4%)
Oth: 1261 (3%)
MAJ: 7018 (17%)
Con: 10617 (26%)
Lab: 21824 (52%)
LDem: 7522 (18%)
UKIP: 792 (2%)
Oth: 820 (2%)
MAJ: 11207 (27%)
Con: 14712 (28%)
Lab: 28396 (54%)
LDem: 7171 (14%)
Oth: 765 (1%)
MAJ: 13684 (26%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
JEREMY MOULTON (Conservative) Educated at Exeter University. Pensions manager. Southampton councillor since 2002. Contested Southampton Test 2010.
ALAN WHITEHEAD (Labour) See above.
ADRIAN FORD (Liberal Democrat) Businessman.
ANGELA MAWLE (Green) Chief Executive of UKPHA and former nurse. Former Southampton councillor for the Labour party. Contested Romsey and Waterside 1992 for Labour.
CHRIS DAVIS (Independent) Born Southampton. Educated at Glen Eyre school. Awarded the MBE in 2009 for services to charity.
Comments - 112 Responses on “Southampton Test”
  1. TUSC won’t manage anywhere near that. 1% is a good night for far left parties in this country and the only reason they did well in the locals was because they have one incumbent councillor here, who stood as an independent and is a defector from Labour with a personal vote.

    If Morrell stands, TUSC might break 1% but otherwise I think they’ll be nowhere.

  2. Labour will certainly win Southampton Test by more than Robbie seems to think. Probably by about 10% or so with UKIP ahead of the Lib Dems. Itchen is definitely one to watch though. Probably the most likely Con gain from Labour next year.

  3. Test could become more secure for Labour with gradual demographic change. There’s already a sizeable Asian population which is likely to increase in the future. Itchen is definitely on a knife edge. Even if Labour holds in 2015, there’s no guarantee of its future.

  4. This constituency is yuppifying with the evolution of Ocean Village and thereabouts.. this must be an erosion of (or better put a numerical rebalancing against) the Labour base here… the seat is also becoming something of a university seat as the students are fanning out farther for their accommodation and one of the campuses (Solent) is right next to the downtown and is further expanding.

  5. Prediction for 2015-
    Whitehead (Labour)- 42%
    Conservative- 31%
    UKIP- 13%
    Liberal Democrat- 12%
    Green- 2%

  6. Main Party Candidates:
    Labour Alan Whitehead
    Conservative Jeremy Moulton
    LD David Callaghan
    UKIP Pearline Hingston
    Green Angela Mawle

  7. Labour main reason for performing better in Test than Itchen these days is 2 successive boundary changes in 1997 and 2010 that have effectively removed the most Conservative parts of this constituency. The Conservatives would have won the pre 1997 Test in 2010 while Labour would have won the pre 1997 Itchen by a wider margin.

  8. Amendment to my earlier post – Adrian Ford is the LD candidate.

  9. Here is the missing information for our southampton test candidate .
    Adrian Ford has lived in Southampton Test constituency for the last 25 years, and lives with his family just off the inner avenue in the heart of the city. For the last 17 years he has run his own business also located in the city centre. He has a degree in business studies from Southampton Solent University, and city and guilds in furniture design and crafts. He is chairman of his local trade association and a member of the Federation of Small Business.

  10. You all forget about the untapped young vote. Only Greens are engaging with my age group in a non-patronising way. Politicians have to realise there electorate is not stupid. The Greens have done that, they will tap into students and I hope ex-Labour voters. Labour is weak now, Greens are growing.

  11. “Politicians have to realise there electorate is not stupid” I beg to differ. Look at your sentence. The education system is down the drain.

  12. Labour Hold. 4,000 maj

  13. Pretty good prediction: actual figure was 3,810.

  14. I haven’t visited this seat for 16 years when I went for a weekend away in the New Forest so I don’t know it well but does anyone think this seat was the student vote (particularly in the student area of Portswood) which saved Labour / Whitehead here?

  15. Most of the students are in Romsey & Southampton North Though a few of the students of Solent University would be in Southampton Itchen.

    Many are not registered in the constituencies anyway AND Southampton University has a very high proportion of foreign students…

  16. “Most of the students are in Romsey & Southampton North”

    Really? I thought Portswood was the main students’ area for those studying those studying at the University of Southampton.

  17. Don’t forget th

  18. Sorry -typing error. I was begiining to say that this city has two universities – Unversity of Southampton and Southampton Solent University.

    The student vote appears high here, enoguh to swing a marginal seat. However there are oher seats such as Lancaster, Durham and Canterbury, and city seats in e.g . Leeds and Sheffield, which have higher student votes.

    The UKIP vote at 12% was not insignificant here and may have split the Tory vote…

  19. We should not overlook that Alan Whtiehead has been a very hard-working and competent MP with very considerable knowledge of political processes at constituency level e.g because of his background as an academic specifically in the field of politics.

  20. He looked crestfallen at the joint declaration at which his fellow Labour candidate was unable to hold the other Southampton seat.

  21. The voters of Southampton Itchen – surely the most working class constituency on the South Coast – robbed the House of Commons of what would have been very rare breed of politician – a genuinely attractive female MP

    To be fair I don’t think selecting a candidate from Portsmouth would have helped Labour there, although as I remember the Southampton seats – Itchen is considerably more grim than Test

  22. ”The voters of Southampton Itchen – surely the most working class constituency on the South Coast – robbed the House of Commons of what would have been very rare breed of politician – a genuinely attractive female MP”

    Liz Kendall’s not bad or is it just me that thinks this?

  23. Attractiveness is an advantage4 in politics, but surely the key factor is that the candidate should have the ability to do the job. Too many recent Labour candidates have lacked this in the voters’ judgement.

  24. I thought politics was show business for ugly people…

  25. Increasingly less so. I’d say three of the current Labour leadership challengers are attractive to some degree. The Lib Dems had Charlie Brown standing against a chemistry teacher, admittedly.

    But it’s hard to imagine Kinnock/Hattersley again for example.

  26. I don’t think your argument is strong at all. Labour is just about to elect a 66 year old beardy weirdy with a landslide. And if you think Hague or IDS were attractive you need your eyes testing.

  27. Alan Whitehead has been the Labour candidate here since 1983. I wonder whether the seat might be in serious danger for the party if he decided to retire. I know personal votes are usually exaggerated but this could be an exception.

  28. Quite possibly because it was a very good result for Labour compared with next door and Portsmouth/Plymouth.

  29. Whitehead has a sizeable personal vote so Andy may well be right.

    In the late 90s I met someone high up in Southampton Conservatives who said that both the Tories and Labour were upset at how the 92 election turned out in the city….there was a cross party consensus that Christopher Chope was a far better MP than James Hill, and that Alan Whitehead was considered to be much better MP material (and less of a shit) than John Denham. There was a cross party regret that the Tories hadn’t held on to Itchen with Labour winning Test (ironically, the situation we have today).

  30. I’m not convinced that Labour would lose this seat if Alan Whitehead stood down in 2020. The seat has a higher public sector presence than the other Southampton constituency and also has a larger non-White population. Then there’s the university factor of course.

  31. Under normal circumstances you’re right, but this surely must be near the top of the list of potential Tory gains if Corbyn is leader at the next election.

  32. I’d have thought seats like Newcastle Under Lyme, NE Derbyshire, the Cumbria seats or various North Wales marginals would be more vulnerable than this one. Or indeed many of the more middle class Labour seats like Westminster North, Chester, Hampstead, Birmingham Edgbaston or Brentford & Isleworth.

  33. I’d put this seat in the top 10/15 and probably ahead of some London seats with smaller majorities. Labour’s vote here must surely contain a significant WWC element which is much less present in Westminster North, for example.

  34. Which Labour seats do you think would be vulnerable under Corbyn’s leadership apart from this one?

  35. I know you weren’t asking me but the answer has to be any seat with a small Labour majority not located in a major metropolitan area, so seats like Barrow, Bishop Auckland, NE Derbyshire, Clwyd South, Wrexham, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stoke South, Scunthorpe, Copeland. Of course boundary changes will change the situation in some of those areas.

  36. Top of the list will be Barrow-in-Furness, already only just hung on to in May and now with Labour not committeed to Trident must be a very likely Tory gain. That may also have an impact in Copeland.

    The Midlands looks to be going in the Tories direction so the few remaining seats outside the big cities that are currently in the LAB column must be at risk – Dudley N (24% UKIP vote in 2015), NE Derbyshire, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Walsall N and Mansfield (25% UKIP vote) in particular. On a really dreadful night for LAB they could be under pressure in Stoke, particularly if the UKIP vote breaks down.

  37. Labour’s prospects will probably be correlated to some extent with the number of voters in full-time education. Many of the seats Andy JS mentions have below average numbers of students.

    I cannot understand why Labour don’t pull their fingers out in Stoke and its surrounding areas. They have been doing badly there for many years but they have never addressed their problems, which are serious.

  38. I fancy Labour in Stoke will always be complacent until they actually lose a seat.

  39. “Alan Whitehead’s Southampton Test would have a 4% Tory majority on paper (Southampton Itchen would flip to Labour… but Whitehead doesn’t have the right to go there under Labour rules)”

    This seems to be an odd rule indeed. A Labour MP has to gain a notionally Tory constituency while the new notionally Labour Itchen that includes a ward from the current Test can’t be contested by Whitehead.

  40. The rule is to stop chicken running but chicken running is when an MP sees their majority of say 6000 being turned into 1000, not a negative majority.

  41. Sounds a sensible rule to me, Labour have much better chance of winning the new notional Tory seat with the guy who is the sitting MP for much of that seat than starting with someone new. Whoever stands in Itchen would be ‘new’ in that sense, even Alan Whitehead to a significant degree.

  42. Yes, but you would wouldn’t you? 🙂

  43. I’m sure I read somewhere that under the new boundaries itchen would be Labour notional and test conservative notional, bizarrely the MP here won’t have enough of Test in Itchen to run for the notional Labour seat unless he resigned and stood for Itchen

  44. The current proposals won’t be the final proposal.

  45. If Pat Glass’ amendment passes through parliament then the boundaries will stay at 650 and we may just see a couple seats merged or vanish while more seats will probably split to make two. Beverly and Holdnerness is unchanged they might break that in two for instance.

  46. @Matt it would be a bit more substantial than that. Wales will still be losing a lot of seats even if the total number is kept at 650 (given how chronically undersized they are) so some regions like the South East would gain one or two seats under this scenario which would cause some fairly significant shifts in boundaries in parts of the country.

  47. “I’m sure I read somewhere that under the new boundaries Itchen would be Labour notional and test conservative notional, bizarrely the MP here won’t have enough of Test in Itchen to run for the notional Labour seat unless he resigned and stood for Itchen.”

    Test was always more Tory historically. It was only been the recent boundaries where Shirley and Bassett were included in Romsey and a ward that is naturally Itchen was included in Test that had changed that situation.

    Even on the new boundaries I think that Itchen will be a notional Conservative Gain from Labour.

  48. “Worth remembering the majority on these boundaries was 18.6% in 2005, so I think this is still a high swing seat.”

    No it isn’t.

    Using your own figures the Lab>Con swing here has been just under 5% since 2005, which is right in line with the national swing. The same it true if you compare 1997 to 2015.

  49. I would expect Jeremy Moulton to stand here again in 2020 and win. Obviously this will be a notional Conservative Hold but the demographics are still moving towards Labour but not enough for Labour to win on the new boundaries of a 1983 scale of Labour national defeat.

  50. Can’t see Labour holding this seat despite its high number of student residents. It was one of those southern large towns/cities that voted Brexit so I expect this seat to turn blue in June.

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