2015 Result:
Conservative: 12330 (28%)
Labour: 8468 (19.2%)
Lib Dem: 13652 (31%)
Green: 1230 (2.8%)
UKIP: 7429 (16.8%)
Others: 992 (2.2%)
MAJORITY: 1322 (3%)

Category: Marginal Liberal Democrat seat

Geography: North West, Merseyside. Part of the Sefton council area.

Main population centres: Southport.

Profile: The northern part of Sefton borough council, following the coast up west of South Ribble. Southport is an up-market seaside tourist town, with the second longest pier in Britain and six golf courses. Less brash and more genteel than nearby Blackpool, it has also become a commuter town for Liverpool and Preston.

Politics: A Conservative seat for most of the time since the First World War, it was finally won by the Liberals in 1987 (Ronnie Fearn having previously contested the seat four times) and has since been a marginal Lib Dem/Conservative contest, returning to the Tories in 1992 but being won back by Fearn in 1997.

Current MP
JOHN PUGH (Liberal Democrat) Born 1948, Liverpool. Educated at Prescott Grammar School, Maidstone Grammar School and Durham University. Former RE and philosophy teacher. Sefton councillor 1987-2001, former leader of Sefton councillor. First elected as MP for Southport in 2001.
Past Results
Con: 15683 (36%)
Lab: 4116 (9%)
LDem: 21707 (50%)
UKIP: 2251 (5%)
MAJ: 6024 (14%)
Con: 15255 (37%)
Lab: 5277 (13%)
LDem: 19093 (46%)
UKIP: 749 (2%)
Oth: 827 (2%)
MAJ: 3838 (9%)
Con: 15004 (36%)
Lab: 6816 (17%)
LDem: 18011 (44%)
UKIP: 555 (1%)
Oth: 767 (2%)
MAJ: 3007 (7%)
Con: 18186 (36%)
Lab: 6125 (12%)
LDem: 24346 (48%)
Oth: 571 (1%)
MAJ: 6160 (12%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
DAMIEN MOORE (Conservative) Born Cumbria. Educated at University of Central Lancashire. Supermarket manager. Preston councillor.
LIZ SAVAGE (Labour) Born 1973, Liverpool. Educated at St Bedes RC High School and Bradford University. Teacher. West Lancashire councillor since 2011.
JOHN PUGH (Liberal Democrat) See above.
Comments - 441 Responses on “Southport”
  1. PT

    “It’s almost as if people don’t want more layers of government”

    There were referendums on this in 2012 in many northern cities (although not Liverpool). With the exception of Doncaster they all voted by large majorities to reject elected Mayors,_2012

    However it seems that only votes in certain referendums “must be respected for ever” since George Osborne responded by making increased funding conditional on having a Mayor, and Theresa appears to have continued those policies. I always find this hypocrisy rather amusing…

  2. Doncaster had an elected mayor before 2012, it was Bristol that voted in favour that year

  3. Southport’s low turnout for the metro mayor doesn’t surprise me, the people of Southport are offended at being a part of Sefton let alone some greater Liverpool authority.

  4. I think Southport has more to do with the Ribble than the Mersey.

  5. Have spent several hours helping the LDs up in Southport today (not my own patch). The remarkable thing is that if I hadn’t known better, I would have assumed that it was a LD/Lab marginal. In the whole time I was there I didn’t see a single Tory poster or flyer – and they’re supposed to be winning this seat (according to some pundits anyway)! Talk about shy Tories; they’re almost invisible here. The Tories seem to rely on direct communications from CCHQ and expensive wrap-arounds in the local rags.

    Experienced local LD activists I spoke to seem to be quietly confident of holding this seat now, though it’ll certainly be close again. Apparently the momentum in the last few days has been going our way, and we’re buoyed up by the awful weather forecast for tomorrow. Our polling day ground game is by all accounts vastly superior to theirs, which actually seems hardly to exist anymore. The only worry is that the strong and visible Labour campaign here may split the anti-Tory vote, but as I said there is quiet confidence here that the LDs will once again hang on in Southport.

  6. Conservatives have a habit of coming out of the woodwork. Pollsters such as YouGov are not holding out great chances for the LibDems here.

  7. But what polling have YouGov ever done in Southport? They use complex modelling based on national voting patterns, which simply ignore local realities, one of which is that Southport isn’t typical Merseyside. With one of the oldest populations in the country, Southport would never be LD according to the modelling techniques YouGov uses, but they always seem to hang on. I put it at 60/40 LD.

  8. I don’t know. I freely admit I have absolutely no local knowledge at all for this seat, but that beefy 17% UKIP vote does start to look very friendly for the Tories…

  9. It seems the UKIP vote is splintering several ways here, and some may stick with the re-standing UKIP candidate, who apparently is quite well known locally. Some of it may also go back to Labour. There’s not much tradition of working-class folk here voting Tory.

  10. I’ve been guessing Tory gain, but good to have the some local input. I actually don’t think I’ve been to this seat in my life… Apart from the Lake District and some of the big cities, the Northwest is pretty foreign to me.

    I haven’t been able to form a strong opinion on either candidate. How’re they performing, MerseyLib?

  11. Merseylib – “but they always seem to hang on” – except when they lost the seat such as in 1992 (and that was with an incumbent).

    Normally I’d agree with you and you’re correct in org terms but I just can’t see almost any way the LDs can hang on here – against the UKIP>Con tide – and just looking at the result from last time tells you that.

  12. MerseyLib – I absolutely refute that assertion of yours (“there is not much tradition of working class folk here voting Tory”) as I interviewed the Lpool-born Tory PPC in 2010, as well as a skinhead bouncer who stood for the Tories here in the locals and is well known locally.

    I accept the LDs are hard working here but some of their Cllrs here really do live up to the bearded middle class stereotype and the poshest people I ever met were all LDs.

  13. Lancs Observer – Not sure about the UKIP/Con tide. Didn’t see any posters for either. All I can say is that having spent some time up here and spoken to very experienced observers of the local political scene, I think the LDs do have a good chance of holding on. For one thing their candidate is a popular long-standing local councillor, while the Tories are fielding someone from Preston with minimal local profile.

  14. And I would add that even if the UKIP vote is splintering as you claim, the LDs will certainly not be the beneficiaries and it will only take a little bit of that vote to flow to the Tories for it to be lights out.

  15. Didn’t see a single beard in the crowded LD HQs!

  16. Is there actually a discussion right now over which party attracts most bearded people? Really? This is what we’ve come to? God, I’d rather have the “straw polls” and Gloy Plopwell.

    My tendency is to lend local observers some credence. If MerseyLib has gotten the sense from locals/having been up there him(her)self, then I don’t doubt s/he is seeing something we and the national polls may be missing. That said, we do know from 2015 that the Lib Dems may not be as good at surviving against national tides as it was once thought.

  17. The number-crunchers here tell me that 36% will probably be enough to win and are confident the LDs will get at least that. I’m told the campaign has gone quite a bit better than in 2015. Anyhow, we’ll find out soon enough!

  18. Merseylib – or to put it another way the Tory PPC stood last time and the LD is a fairly new Cllr so his name will at least have had a freepost out across the whole seat in 2015, unlike hers.

    Well as 2 of the Cllrs have beards I can only assume they were absent.

    As for posters, they appear to be a thing of the past and certainly in Merseyside. All Parties have far fewer than any previous GE and you certainly can’t go by that here. After all the Tories won the poster war here in 2005 from memory.

  19. Mr Pitt – although his posting name may have led you to think otherwise, Merseylib’s first post above in fact admitted that this isn’t his own patch, so his only knowledge is from the Southport LDs.

    They’re hardly going to tell a volunteer from outside that they’re going to lose it today!

  20. Sue Maguire has been a councillor for 11 years and is leader of the Lib Dem group on Sefton. She has a much higher profile here than the Tory. As I said earlier, it’s the vastly superior ground game of the LDs (especially if it pours with rain tomorrow as forecast) that could in the end be decisive. Anyway, as I’m intending to be part of that ground game, I think it’s time for bed! Good night…

  21. Lancs: No, I know he’s not a Southport native. My point was just that, since he’s talking to people more in the know and has actually been here, I credit him a bit more than a poster, like myself, who hasn’t been to the seat.

    We’ll know in, oh, 25 hours, perhaps? 26? 27? I forget when Southport usually declares.

  22. Last time it was 4:41 a.m. BST on the Friday

    Should be earlier this time with no local elections

  23. Well, we’ll know in 27 or so hours, then. A bit less, probably.

  24. Con gain. Lib Dem 3rd

  25. Mr Pitt – Merseylib “since he’s talking to people more in the know” – he clearly wasn’t!

    As I worked in Southport for a year I knew that Pugh standing down alone was enough for the LDs to lose here, even without the UKIP>Con surge which took place yesterday.

  26. Some very interesting results across the NW, with Woodcock being the luckiest man in Barrow.

    There was definitely a polarisation and a return to 2 Party politics, with the LDs, Greens & UKIP losing deposits.

    Even in safe seats (eg there was increase in the Tory vote & % in every Merseyside and Greater Manc seat, with the 155,000 votes on Merseyside being the most since 1992).

    It’ll be hard for both Labour and Tory MPs/HQs to reconcile the Con>Lab gains in Kensington and Battersea with the Con gains from Labour for the first time in 80 years in Mansfield & Stoke. But then that is politics post the EU Referendum.

    I hope other UKPR posters won their bets. I won 11 of my 14.

  27. I wonder if Labour will gain this within the next couple election. Would Boundary changes – which are not that likely to get through the new commons- help or hinder Labour’s chances.

  28. With a Con majority of 3,000 and Labour moving into second, next election could see no non-Labour MPs on Merseyside.

  29. Re betting – I know that this is sounding wise after the event (and I could easily have lost badly had the polls in general been reflective of what was going to happen) but I was so tempted to back Labour in Hampstead & K, Ealing Central, and for some reason Chorley.

    I did a tenner on the Tories getting 325-349 with Corals (10/1, placed 22 May) which I lost. I put a fiver on Lab holding Westminster North at 7/2, and a fiver on Labour gaining Bedford at 7/1. So overall up £47.

    There really was money to be made in this election.

  30. A friend of mine put £200 on Labour holding Scunthorpe, at 4/1.

    That’s his holidays sorted.

  31. John Pugh has just attacked the LibDem 2nd Ref strategy on BBC NW News and said that cost them here.

    I bet £50 on the Conservatives unseating Alex Salmond in Gordon and made £500.”

    Did that cover all of your other losses? 🙂

  33. Yes but if you had done it on all of those type of ones you’d only have won one out of every 10-15 . . .

  34. I lost £5 on a bet that Labour would get more votes losing Hallam than winning Heeley – completely wrong in every respect.

  35. Shambolic result for the Lib Dems here. Complacency, basically.

  36. I always thought that Lab would one day be competitive here but I didn’t think it would be quite so soon, it looks like Pepps earlier prediction regarding this seat might come true. For those that don’t recall he said that it would probably be best for Lab if the Tories won this seat with Lab taking second and the Libs pushed into third, that way Lab can position themselves as the clear anti Tory challenger and that’s exactly what has happened.

    This will be hard for the Cons to hold, I’d guess most of those 12,000 Lib Dem voters will be more amiable to Lab than the Cons, indeed I’d hazard a guess most of them were only backing the Libs strategically, I actually have a friend that lives here in Ainsdale (a Lab supporter obviously) and my advice to him was to vote Lib Dem to keep the Tories out since Lab have no chance here. Its not hard to imagine that sentiment being strong amongst the remaining Lib Dem voters.

  37. Agreed with the above, Cons will only hold this if they’re heading towards a majority of at least 50 next time – otherwise it’s very likely that Labour will do here what they’ve done in Portsmouth South, supplant the Lib Dems as the ABT option and then win the seat.

  38. The only caveat I can really add to that is that Damien Moore will have first-time incumbency at the next general election, even if it is only around the corner. Whether or not that will mean he increases his vote share by a further couple of percent, or only loses a couple of percent, is harder to say.

  39. And I speak as someone who knows this seat extremely well as my own father lives in Birkdale.

  40. Take a result like this next time here perhaps for argument’s sake, as the Lib Dems will probably continue to fall back here now John Pugh is no longer around-
    Labour- 41% (+8.4%)
    Moore (Conservative)- 40% (+1.3%)
    Lib Dem- 19% (-7.4%)

    Yes, that’s right. I’m actually predicting an INCREASE in Moore’s vote share next time round. Why? Because I think the Lib Dem vote will continue to fall a bit here and some more of it will probably go to the Conservatives. But Labour are likely to gain this whenever there is another general election in the next five years because if the majority of the Lib Dem decrease goes to Labour again they will probably take it from Damien Moore.

  41. Or alternatively, Moore could completely turn Southport into something closely resembling a Conservative fortress once again for the first time in generations since the 1960s, with a result like this, however Plopwellian-
    Moore (Conservative)- 50%
    Labour- 34%
    Lib Dem- 16%

    There’s a possibility of course that a good deal of the Lib Dem support here for John Pugh was always naturally Tory merely voting for him purely on a personal basis and that the only reason why their vote share decrease with a new candidate was just 4.6% must have been because she was a local councillor. Had Pugh not stood down, I think he might have slightly increased his vote share and narrowly held on like this-

    Pugh (Lib Dem)- 36%
    Moore (Conservative)- 35%
    Labour- 26%
    UKIP- 3%

  42. Or alternatively if the Lib Dems get their act together locally, they could produce a result like this next time with a dynamic new candidate (!)-

    Lib Dem- 40.4%
    Moore (Conservative)- 39%
    Labour- 20.6%

    They could realistically take this back but they’d need to squeeze the Labour vote mercilessly which, judging by this seat’s current demographic trends, seems highly unlikely…

  43. One thing I will say is that Damien Moore best be prepped for a serious fight next election. This is the only Lab target seat within the vicinity of Liverpool and with the strengthening of Labs position across Merseyside (Sefton Central is now very safe Lab, Wirral South and Chester are now pretty much safe, Wirral West looks comfortably secure) he’s going to face the full weight of the Merseyside Lab machine which includes some very well organised CLP’s, Liverpool’s multiple universities respective Labour societies and one of the largest and most active regional Momentum groups outside London.

    To say he’s going to be outgunned is frankly an understatement.

  44. If the Lib Dems are indeed squeezed hard enough here, a result like this could be possible maybe-

    Labour- 46% (+13.4%)
    Moore (Conservative)- 43% (+4.3%)
    Lib Dem- 11% (-15.4%)

  45. Now that would be a REAL collapse in the Lib Dem vote. If you’re being serious with that prediction, the vote share changes would be-
    Labour- +12.5%
    Moore (Conservative)- +5.5%
    Lib Dem- -19.8%
    Others- +1.7%

  46. forgot the whole of Merseyside he must be worried that Rivers10 will come a knocking Tories don’t stand a chance

  47. There will certainly be Labourites kicking themselves for voting “tactically” for the Lib Dems. Rivers’s friend will be one of them.

    Conservatives in Berwickshire made the same mistake in 2015.

  48. ”forgot the whole of Merseyside he must be worried that Rivers10 will come a knocking Tories don’t stand a chance”

    Who are you referring to? Just Rivers10?

  49. For anyone more knowledgeable, what triggered such a collapse in the the LD vote? Was it the retirement of John Pugh having a personal vote?

    Is Southport still regarded as upmarket, as the seat description above mentions or has it changed in character?

  50. I’ll try to answer your questions Neil. Firstly, I do genuinely believe Pugh standing down basically cost the Lib Dems not only this seat, but even a respectable second place- he’d been the MP for 16 years and must have had a considerable personal vote, notwithstanding the Lib Dems’ local strength throughout Southport. The new candidate wasn’t as well known even though she is a local councillor, indeed she was chosen to succeed Pugh quite late on.

    To answer your second question, Southport is definitely nowhere near as upmarket as it once was- in fact in common with most seaside towns it’s suffered a lot over the last 25 years or so, with the economic decline and fall in tourism that goes with it sadly. Therefore, on paper you’d expect Labour to be even stronger than they already are, and I very much believe they’d be in the driving seat here locally were it not for the extremely well-run and popular local Lib Dem party. So in conclusion, the Tories regaining this after twenty years may turn out to be a mere intermission between Southport completing the journey of electing its very first Labour MP via the scenic route.

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