St Helens South & Whiston

2015 Result:
Conservative: 7707 (15.9%)
Labour: 28950 (59.8%)
Lib Dem: 2737 (5.7%)
Green: 2237 (4.6%)
UKIP: 6766 (14%)
MAJORITY: 21243 (43.9%)

Category: Ultra-safe Labour seat

Geography: North West, Merseyside. The southern part of the St Helens council area and three wards from the Knowsley council area.

Main population centres: St Helens, Prescot, Clock Face, Rainhill, Whiston.

Profile: St Helens is a white, working class industrial town. The towns coal mines are now now gone, with the final mines closing in the early 1990s, but the glass industry remains in the form of the Pilkington glass factory. The seat also contains the former mining town of Whiston.

Politics: St Helens South and Whiston is a very safe Labour seat, with the Labour party normally managing in excess of fifty percent of the vote and majorities in excess of twenty per cent. Between 2001 and 2015 it was the seat of Shaun Woodward, a Conservative MP who defected to Labour and was parachuted into St Helens South at the last minute after the previous Labour MP Gerry Bermingham announced his retirement. As the husband of a wealthy heiress Shaun Woodward faced political opponents dressed as butlers and fringe socialist candidates in the 2001 election, but was returned with a greatly reduced, but still substantial majority. His replacement as MP, Marie Rimmer, is from a far more traditionally Labour background - a veteran local councillor of thirty years service, former council leader and former shop steward at the local glass factory.

Current MP
MARIE RIMMER (Labour) St Helens councillor since 1978. Former leader of St Helens council. First elected as MP for St Helens South & Whiston in 2015. Awarded the CBE in 2005 for services to local government.
Past Results
Con: 8209 (18%)
Lab: 24364 (53%)
LDem: 10242 (22%)
BNP: 2040 (4%)
Oth: 1226 (3%)
MAJ: 14122 (31%)
Con: 4602 (13%)
Lab: 19345 (55%)
LDem: 10036 (28%)
UKIP: 847 (2%)
Oth: 643 (2%)
MAJ: 9309 (26%)
Con: 4675 (14%)
Lab: 16799 (50%)
LDem: 7814 (23%)
UKIP: 336 (1%)
Oth: 4180 (12%)
MAJ: 8985 (27%)
Con: 6628 (15%)
Lab: 30367 (69%)
LDem: 5919 (13%)
Oth: 179 (0%)
MAJ: 23739 (54%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from St Helens South

2015 Candidates
GILLIAN KEEGAN (Conservative)
MARIE RIMMER (Labour) St Helens councillor since 1978. Former leader of St Helens council. Awarded the CBE in 2005 for services to local government.
BRIAN SPENCER (Liberal Democrat) Former electrician. former St Helens councillor and leader of St Helens council. Contested St Helens South and Whiston 2010.
Comments - 80 Responses on “St Helens South & Whiston”
  1. The right sees his defection as dishonorable and the left sees him as a secret Tory.

  2. Rimmel’s trial is set for March. She pleaded not guilty

  3. Ah, I wondered what had happened to Marie. Was she suspended when charged, as Oliver Martins was? Although kicking a Scottish Nationalist probably won’t harm any English politician, electorally!

  4. The St Helens Star quoted a Labour spokeperson saying “We’re looking at this closely and take it very seriously, but whilst there are ongoing legal proceedings we can’t comment any further”

  5. The Rimmer’s trial has been postponed to August 13th.

  6. Labour Hold. 17,000 majority. Tories 2nd.

  7. The Judge ruled that the prosecution could not proceed as “Glasgow” had been omitted from the charge sheet and even through only a technicality it meant it wasn’t clear which Court had jurisdiction.

  8. This seat is indeed very safe for Labour. At present the main question seems to be whether UKIP or the Conservative come second.

    One caveat, with Labour in its current parlous position its MPs have no room to do silly things. There are plenty of Labour majorities elsewhere in England which have drifted away.

  9. The CPS have confirmed that they still intend to prosecute Marie Rimmer for the assault outside a polling station on Scottish Referendum day.

    Marie Rimmer denies the charge, but agrees that the two women did get into a heated argument.

    The complainant alleges that Rimmer ‘got in her face, kicked her in the shin and then smirked again.’

    The complainant thought Rimmer had mental health problems when she insisted she used to be a Council leader.

  10. Rimmer is to appear in Court on Thursday 20th August.

  11. More details about Rimmer’s trial –

    If convicted, will she have to stand down as an MP?

  12. She would if sentenced to more than a year in prison.

  13. Has there been any case where an MP has gone to prison for a few weeks and remained an MP?

  14. Marie Rimmer is to appear in Court in Glasgow on October 29th.

    She has yet to enter a plea and is said to be consulting her lawyers.

    Dalek – yes, several. I think the most recent was Terry Fields (Liverpool, Broadgreen) in 1991.

    I’m not counting a night in custody/in the cells as I think a few MPs did so in the 1990s.

  15. Thatto Heath Ward By-election Result:

    Labour 964
    UKIP 182
    Con 167
    Green 62

    The Cllr died in September and the Leader of the Council wanted to wait ’til May. 2 residents therefore triggered the By-election.

  16. Marie Rimmer appeared in Court today charged with assault.

  17. What an absolute farce. It’s great to know the CPS have got their priorities right by wasting what must be huge amounts of public money and court/police time on 2 years prosecuting someone for allegedly kicking someone else’s shin. Money and time which could have gone into catching burglars and muggers and rapists. In days gone by the two ladies would have been told to shake hands and say sorry to each other, end of story.

  18. Interestingly, the woman allegedly kicked didn’t want to pursue matters further, but the police insisted that there was zero tolerance etc and the MP would be charged (unless I read the report today incorrectly). That, coupled with the fact that the MP is pleading ‘not guilty’ indicates that this is really a rather minor matter and should not have got this far.

  19. That makes a mockery of the idea that we are all equal under the law. When two women are brawling in the street and there hasn’t been any serious injury the standard police response is to separate them, tick them off and send them home. That Rimmer is an MP should make no difference. It is a really bad thing that such obviously politically motivated trials are pushed ahead with these days even if the plaintiff doesn’t want to prosecute. If deliberate shin kicking really is a prosecutable offence, half the footballers in the country should be in court. I’ll be amazed if she gets anything more than a fine or slap on the wrist. A total waste of time and money.

  20. Totally agree. If she gets found ‘not guilty’ then it will be even more pathetic.

  21. Fully agreed that this is an utter waste of time and money. It has now been adjourned again until August, so even if it is concluded then it will have been almost two years since the alleged kick.

  22. The Court backlog is largely due to defendants pleading not guilty (65% of whom end up being convicted).

    Although in this case, the delay was due to an error by the authorities in Scotland, omitting the word Glasgow from the charge sheet.

    She wasn’t an MP at the time, although members of the public did witness the fracas outside a polling station, hence the public interest. A couple of Leaders of Councils in Merseyside are known for being a bully, but this is the first prosecution since 2 Labour Cllrs in Liverpool punched each other a decade ago.

  23. I think the ‘Glasgow’ thing was the cause of the previous delay. It’s certainly referred to in the link upthread from last year. Given that the issue was spotted after the trial had begun previously, both sides should have been ready to go this time round. It seems very odd that the case has been adjourned again.

  24. It hasn’t been adjourned again.

    The MP has finally entered a plea and as it’s not guilty the case can now proceed.

  25. Former Cllr John Beirne has been charged with 14 historic sexual offences against boys, including 3 boys aged under 16 and one aged under 14 years of age.

    He was a St Helens Cllr from 1990 – 2012 and Mayor of the Borough in 2008.

    The offences apparently took place in the 1970s.

    The LibDems were not available for comment.

  26. The assault charge was found to be ‘not proven.’

    [This is a third option available in Scotland.]

    The Sheriff said he didn’t believe her evidence or that of the complainant.

    Unfortunately, Marie Rimmer MP stated outside Court that “not proven means not guilty” and so she has been reported for the same.

    I assume she’ll just have to apologise to the Court or the Sheriff rather than face a re-trial.

  27. A total waste of time and money.

  28. Yes, the Sheriff almost said that.

    He suggested a caution should have been sufficient.

    Although I assume – as that involves accepting guilt – that wouldn’t have been acceptable to the MP, so there still would have been a Trial.

    A civil action is likely next apparently.

  29. Former LibDem Cllr and ex-Mayor John Beirne has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing several young boys aged between 8 and 12.

    He was a St Helens Cllr for 22 years and as Mayor appeared on the BBC’s Weakest Link.

    He also ran a gospel choir and produced a charity record.

  30. The Greenbelt issue – I mentioned on the Wigan thread – certainly seems to the one worrying Labour candidates in all Merseyside boroughs, with a few Inds tipped to do well:

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