Stoke-on-Trent North

2015 Result:
Conservative: 10593 (27.8%)
Labour: 15429 (40.4%)
Lib Dem: 1137 (3%)
Green: 1091 (2.9%)
UKIP: 9542 (25%)
Independent: 354 (0.9%)
MAJORITY: 4836 (12.7%)

Category: Safe Labour seat

Geography: West Midlands, Staffordshire. Part of the Stoke-on-Trent council area.

Main population centres: Burslem, Tunstall, Kidsgrove.

Profile: Stoke-on-Trent is actually an amalgamation of six towns, heavily associated with the industrial pottery industry. The most famous British pottery brands such as Wedgwood and Spode are all based in or around Stoke. This is also a former coal mining area, with the last coal mine in Stoke closing in the 1990s. Stoke-on-Trent North covers the northernmost two of the six towns, Burslem and Tunstall, as well as the town of Kidsgrove.

Politics: Stoke is a city that is solidly Labour and Stoke-on-Trent North has been held by Labour since its creation in 1950.

Current MP
RUTH SMEETH (Labour) Educated at Birmingham University. Former Deputy Director of Hope not Hate and trade union officer. Contested Burton 2010. First elected as MP for Stoke-on-Trent North in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 9580 (24%)
Lab: 17815 (44%)
LDem: 7120 (18%)
BNP: 3196 (8%)
Oth: 2485 (6%)
MAJ: 8235 (20%)
Con: 6155 (20%)
Lab: 16191 (53%)
LDem: 4561 (15%)
BNP: 2132 (7%)
Oth: 1721 (6%)
MAJ: 10036 (33%)
Con: 5676 (19%)
Lab: 17460 (58%)
LDem: 3580 (12%)
Oth: 3399 (11%)
MAJ: 11784 (39%)
Con: 7798 (20%)
Lab: 25190 (65%)
LDem: 4141 (11%)
MAJ: 17392 (45%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
BEN ADAMS (Conservative)
RUTH SMEETH (Labour) Educated at Birmingham University. Deputy Director of Hope not Hate and former trade union officer. Contested Burton 2010.
PAUL ROBERTS (Liberal Democrat)
GEOFF LOCKE (UKIP) Contested Stoke on Trent North 2010.
JOHN MILLWARD (Independent)
CRAIG POND (Independent)
Comments - 121 Responses on “Stoke-on-Trent North”
  1. Presumably a top UKIP target seat for 2020, along with Hartlepool and a few others in the West Midlands and the North.

  2. I see that this seat is now Number 58 on the Conservative target list. I don’t know where it is on the UKIP target list – it would be nice to have one!

    Of course, the 2015 figures are not so important given the likelihood that this seat will be redistributed. Does anybody know how this seat might be changed – e.g. what was proposed in 2013?.

    A particular issue is whether the Conservative and UJIP votes are likely to be reasonably equally split between the two succesor seats or is one likely to have more UKIP votes and one more Conservative votes?

    Labour has well under half the votes here and if the opposition to Labour ceases to be so equally split it is quite conceivable that Labour could lose both sucessor seats.

    I have posted on several occasions that the three Stoke seats have for many years had abysmally low Labour memberships. Ruth Smeeth needs to work her socks off to build up at least a reasonable Labour Party membership here as well as to develop a high profile at Westminster.

    She can at least hope for a first-time incumbency effect.


    Target no. 11 and about as vulnerable as Grimsby on existing boundaries (where UKIP also came third)

    I think UKIP has the largely maximised the amount of votes it can take/will take directly from Labour and it remains to be seen whether the EU referendum will rally lots of non voters and ex tory voters to their cause. A significant amount of UKIPs support coming from voters who became disillusioned with Labour by/after 2005.

    On balance Labour ‘s fortunate (for now) in terms of how the UKIP/tory opposition is split in these sorts of seats and Hartlepool is probably the only one which is any real danger.

  4. Thanks for pointing out the list of UKIP targets to me, A. Brown.

    One very striking feature of this list is that in 36 of these 50 seats UKIP is in third place, which will make it all the more difficult for them to make a breakthrough.

  5. I agree with the above analysis from both posters. I think Labour will definitely have to work hard here to recover the votes they’ve lost in the last few general elections as all three seats in Stoke look very precarious for them right now. I think they might potentially have a battle on their hands in Stoke-on-Trent South, as that seat is getting better for the Tories I think and is the most marginal out of the three seats in the city. Here Labour really have to get defectors to UKIP back voting for them, and they need to start now I would think.

  6. Great video of Labour campaigning with Ruth Smeeth and Tristram Hunt in Stoke –

    Suffice to say most of the voters featured were Out.

    Caveats: the bit at the start is only a few streets, a very WWC area, in the city centre Remain seemed to be doing a bit (not much) better.

  7. It is an absolutely superb video. John Harris is the best thing about the Guardian, unlike the dozens of other left wing journalists he actually gets out of the metropolitan liberal Islington bubble to see what is going on in the real world.

    What really struck me was the total disconnect between the MP and her constituents. A middle class young woman with a southern accent who has never worked outside politics, selected from an all woman shortlist, knocking on doors and patronising people on their own doorsteps. And the students campaigning with her were if anything even more patronising.

    My guess that there are a lot of places like this, and that’s one of the big reasons Leave looks likely to squeak it.

    The flipside, and perhaps Harris will do a video on this too, is the much lower than expected support for Remain in stockbroker belt seats, as Tim and I discussed yesterday.

  8. But people overwhelmingly think that Osborne is “for the rich” as well – Labour voters especially – so his intervention will be just as ignored as all the others have been

  9. Back to the superb video of Stoke-on-Trent.

    Ruth Smeeth, a 36 year old who has never worked outside politics and wouldn’t know a pot from a pan, was filmed walking around a pottery lecturing workers who had been there for decades all about the economics of pottery. Well what on earth could be patronising about that? It couldn’t backfire at all could it?

    I have worked in the white collar end of the mining industry for 18 years and have visited more mines, smelting plants and steelworks than Ruth Smeeth has had hot dinners. But would I ever lecture a horny handed mine worker all about mining, or a steel worker about steelmaking? No I would not, and nor would anyone else who has any common sense.

    That video is a perfect illustration of how Labour have become totally ignorant of the people who they rely upon to elect them for election after election.

  10. Well the PM at least brings with him an air of authority. And that kind of behaviour is generally expected of a Tory Toff. But Labour MPs used to start off their careers working in factories and many WWC voters are old enough to remember those days.

  11. Stoke voting out is hardly a massive surprise. Like Hemmelig, I’m a massive fan of Harris. We had a good long chat when he came to Hallam (alas, the only bit of me in that video is a fairly lame joke) and he’s got his head screwed on.

    I’m in one of those weird inter-class bubbles (mum with a degree but a manual job, dad self employed artist) but grew up in a fairly poor rural, former industrial area so a lot of my experience of people is reflected in his work.

    That having been said, his recent output has become a wee bit samey, though perhaps that’s not his fault. “Working class people are often quite illiberal and don’t much like Europe” is a message worth heeding, but I’m not sure the Stoke video told us anything his previous efforts haven’t.

    A video exploring the Leave vote in wealthy suburbia, as Hemmelig suggests, would be very good, as would more exploring the rural/urban divide in British politics, as well as just the class divide. Go to one of the rural constituencies Labour holds, and an urban Tory seat, and compare the two. You’d find some interesting contrast.

  12. HH – you’re absolutely right.

    Amazingly Polly Toynbee doesn’t even understand that disconnect. She in fact pens today in disbelief that these eager young graduates she was on the ‘phone with can’t persuade older poor voters in these Northern seats! As if it’s the fault of the stupid voters with ‘crap jobs who swear down the phone at them.’

  13. Well as far as I can see having middle class Guardianistas up in northern WWC seats to try to persuade them on the EU may well have the opposite effect. One thing people absolutely hate is being patronised.

  14. Having activists in from around the country is usually okay from what I’ve found, with the caveat that it’s best to send someone local round with them to provide local knowledge and a stern bollocking if they do anything stupid.

  15. How on earth did the Labour Party get so out of touch with its core voters in places like Stoke-on-Trent? I suppose because they could afford to lose enormous numbers of voters without the seats being threatened because of the lack of credible opposition. One argument in favour of proportional representation I suppose.

  16. And they systematically forced Oxford-educated Islington human rights lawyer types into these safe seats, many via all woman shortlists and/or the dark arts of people like Mandelson, destroying the ambitions of local working class candidates, many of whom presumably became disillusioned and gave up on the party. After four or five elections since this policy first began, a majority of safe seats have been filled this way, and the result is the enormous disconnect visible in this film.

    Watching that video of Tristram Hunt trying to look like he’s enjoying himself in Stoke city centre, my first thought was “what a prick”, I’m sure many of the locals thought that too and worse.

  17. “A video exploring the Leave vote in wealthy suburbia, as Hemmelig suggests, would be very good”

    I just emailed John Harris suggesting he do this in his next man-on-the-spot video….let’s see if he takes up the idea!

  18. I actually thought Smeeth came across as quite likeable, but of course I inhabit the same class as her, or at least am much closer to her culturally than most of her constituents are.

    Campaigners like Smeeth are in a very difficult position. Trust in the political class has been eroded, particularly in areas like Stoke, and particularly in the Labour Party within those areas. And unfortunately for Smeeth, trust trumps truth. You can have all the passion, all facts and figures, all the scaremongering, you want but years of negligence mean you have lost the argument before it’s started.

  19. HH – you’re right. That’s PRECSELY what happened in Stoke. It led to former Labour PPCs and Cllrs standing against Labour. Some even went to the BNP, CAP and Inds over the past decade.

    It really is staggering how low the Labour vote and membership now is in some of these seats. But Stoke is the best example and worst scenario for Labour HQ.

    Polltroll – being from the area always helps. Not just because a local address gains more votes, but you’ll know people and know the issues locally and that means they’ll be more likely to listen to you. I’ve seen MPs have to get an A-Z out just to do a leaflet drop!

    It doesn’t mean you have to be born there, of course. An MP such as Eric Heffer knew all of the roads – and where they were – off the top of his head, as he’d often helped people there get a council house and so on from his weekly surgeries.

  20. I only just spotted that this MP’s employer was Hope Not Hate – that really says a lot.

  21. Just watched the video! Labour should be grateful to John Harris and The Guardian for broadcasting this report.

    Tristram Hunt and Ruth Smeeth = chalk and cheese!!

    Have their ever been two MPs in the same city or area that are in the same political party polls apart in terms of background and personality?

  22. It’s important not to exaggerate how bad things are in Stoke-on-Trent. The area around Trentham Gardens in the south of the city is relatively prosperous.

  23. Yes, of course all cities have a nice area, in Stoke I guess this is where most of the teachers, doctors etc live. There is still a bit of heavy manufacturing left, not just the potteries but a couple of foundries too.

  24. “Have their ever been two MPs in the same city or area that are in the same political party polls apart in terms of background and personality?”

    John Cryer and Stella Creasy have neighbouring constituencies. Prior to his death, Harry Harpham and Angela Smith would also have been a good call.

  25. @MrNameless


    Can’t believe a cockney lady and a Hooray Henry are both in the same party and both represent seats in Stoke! I

  26. Dennis Skinner and Don Concannon

  27. Christian – both would just be considered Southern/outsiders here, of course. Although I realise a Birmingham graduate isn’t as posh as the Hon Tristram.

  28. Re Smeeth/Hunt

    The MPs they replaced weren’t particularly local either

    Joan Walley: a local government officer and then surcharged Cllr from Lambeth who got Stoke North after the de-selection of the sitting MP

    Mike Fisher: the Eton educated son of Sir Nigel Fisher and Lady Gloria Vaughan, herself daughter of the 7th Earl of Lisburne.

  29. MP-R – yes, I see what you mean. It did used to be more of a Labour tradition, in the North West.

    Although there are also countless examples of useless locals who held no surgeries too (Bob Wareing, Bob Parry). Indeed Labour Cllrs told me they only selected them as PPCs in order to get rid of them as Cllrs! Wareing succeeded at the 3rd attempt in Lpool WD after losing in Crosby & Lpool Edge Hill) and Christine Russell gained Chester.

  30. Not being local shouldn’t prevent you being an MP if you’re willing to put in the work and make yourself basically local. I’d have a hard time as a Labour candidate in any of the seats I’ve lived in, which include only one even reasonably marginal (North West Leicestershire), though I suppose nobody would complain too much if I stood in Leicester or Derby.

  31. Hear, hear Mr Nameless.

  32. Ruth Smeeth tried to launch the anti semitism report into Labour today. Instead she was accused of colluding with the Telegraph by a Labour member and left in tears.

    Corbyn was present and did nothing.

    Complete and utter shambles really.

  33. @JamesRoudriguez

    Just seen it on Sky News!

    Labour’s in complete and utter disarray at a time when they should be tearing the Tories to pieces considering the current internal machinations in that party!

    I feel sorry for Smeeth! I’d be upset too if I were accused of something that serious in public too!

    Labour’s in a mess! The party’s been hijacked by fruitcakes mainly in the form of Momentum!

  34. Labour would probably do better if the mainstream section of the party would reflect on why they find it so difficult to attract members who share their own views, and actually do something about it, rather than just dismissing everyone who disagrees with them as nutters and demanding that control of the party is returned to them immediately.

  35. Disgusting way to treat an MP. Why on earth would anyone want to go into politics, honestly.

  36. @Simon

    The reason Labour’s failing to attract moderate supporters in substanial numbers is because they’re turned off by the extreme left fringe which currently dominates the party! Why do you think the Socialist Party, the TUSC, the Workers Revolutionary Party etc, etc don’t have a single parliamentary seat between them? The vast majority of the British public don’t vote or support far-left parties!


    It just proves you need a lot of resilience to survive in the world of politics!

  37. CHRISTIAN -Nonsense. Labour numbers have been in decline for years, and Corbyn has inspired a re-birth. I’ve read the Ruth Smeeth account of this incident, but haven’t seen it. However, what did she think he should do? Remonstrate with someone in a crowd? It is clear that the new labour attempts to smear Corbyn as an anti-semite are increasingly desperate and disengenuous. What message does this send to people (including Jewish people) who suffer discrimination when Labour MPs disengenuously cry ‘racism’? They are an utter disgrace.

  38. Labour now have MPs who don’t represent their movement, and the only way forward seems to be deselections. Hopefully they will only need to deselect some of the worst offenders to put the rest back in their prams, or there will be a split, and the Blairites will hand the tories power for at least another decade.

  39. I would start with Danczuk, Spellar and John Mann to begin with. See how many will still be making all this noise then.

  40. ‘Labour now have MPs who don’t represent their movement, and the only way forward seems to be deselections’

    It’s the other way round isn’t it

    It’s the Labour Party that were infiltrated by a band of hard Left Trotskyites and if they do go down the road that Militant tried to go down in the early 1980s (I don’t know how old you are Eco) by de-selecting anyone on the sane wing of the party, history will repeat itself and the Tories are likely to win the next election by a landslide – even led by the arrogant, dislikeable and charismaless Gove

    Labour need people like John Mann more than ever – because he is one of an ever-diminishing band of Labour MPs who actually understand working class voters

    Jeremy Corny has every right to feel hard done but surely for a man of his staunchly socialist convictions, a Tory landslide would be the worst-case scenario – and that’s the likely result if he stays in his post – and Labour MPs know it

  41. John Mann is very popular with the public and in Worksop.

    It’s Labour Party members who can’t stand him.

    But good luck with deselecting 85% of Labour MPs who don’t represent the £3ers.

  42. Tim J – true.

    Although given JC & JMc’s record, I think they hold to the position that their convictions rate more highly than a silly thing like winning GEs.

  43. @Christian That’s exactly the head in the sand approach that’s got the Labour Party to its present mess. Nobody in the moderate wing of the party seems to have considered why Corbyn did so much better than previous leftist candidates, and it’s not all to do with the three pounders. He would have won regardless.

    I don’t think he’s the answer, and I think that, in many ways, he’s doing a very poor job. You do have to give consideration to why people, knowing what Corbyn was like, chose him over the other three moderate candidates. As long as the answer is that everyone who supports Corbyn is a mad Trot, Labour’s never going to solve its problems.

  44. Firstly, I don’t think labour would be justified in deselecting MPs en masse, and certainly not just because they are on the other wing of the party. But the MPs I’ve mentioned have gone way beyond that, openly undermining a democratically elected leader, and in some cases deliberately trumping up fake stories of anti-semitism to actually hurt labours performance in may. I’m afraid that is much more serious than a disagreement, and I think those local parties would be well advised to seek alternative candidates.

  45. John Mann briefed the press and made a ludicrous public attack on Livingstone in the run-up to may, with the express intention of worsening the election resulylt for labour to unseat Corbyn. He should have had the whip removed and been deselected.

  46. “Labour numbers have been in decline for years”

    Labour membership went up 50% under Ed Miliband.

    Given you aren’t a member of the party, I’m not sure why you think it’s your place to tell us what we should be doing. My MP today sent a long and considered letter laying out his position, and has been called dreadful things in response by party members. It’s unfair, and long term it’s dangerous if someone given to violence is whipped up into a hatred of their MP.

  47. “Don’t criticise us, some angry person might realise how appalling we are and get violent”?

    Isn’t that allowing terrorism to silence free speech?

  48. As a labour member, didn’t you have any reservations about John Mann’s behaviour? If anyone was encouraging extremists, then surely it was him?

  49. Anyway, I’m sure that plenty of people in his local party agree with me, so we’ll see what happens.

  50. MPR?

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