Stoke-on-Trent South

2015 Result:
Conservative: 12780 (32.7%)
Labour: 15319 (39.2%)
Lib Dem: 1309 (3.3%)
Green: 1029 (2.6%)
UKIP: 8298 (21.2%)
TUSC: 372 (1%)
MAJORITY: 2539 (6.5%)

Category: Semi-marginal Labour seat

Geography: West Midlands, Staffordshire. The southern part of the Stoke-on-Trent council area.

Main population centres: Longton, Fenton.

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 South covers the two most southern of the six towns, Longton and Fenton, as well as the Mier Park estate (built on the site of old aerodrome) and Trentham, the most middle class suburb of Stoke.

Politics: Historically Stoke-on-Trent South has been the least safe of the Stoke seats for Labour, but that is by the standards of a city that is solidly Labour. Stoke-on-Trent South has been Labour since its creation in 1950, and Robert Flello retained a ten percent majority at the last election..


Current MP
ROBERT FLELLO (Labour) Born 1966, Birmingham. Educated at Kings Norton Boys School and University of Wales. Former tax and financial advisor. Birmingham councillor 2002-2004. First elected as MP for Stoke on Trent South in 2005. PPS to Bob Ainsworth 2009-2010.
Past Results
2010
Con: 11316 (28%)
Lab: 15446 (39%)
LDem: 6323 (16%)
BNP: 3762 (9%)
Oth: 3005 (8%)
MAJ: 4130 (10%)
2005*
Con: 9046 (24%)
Lab: 17727 (47%)
LDem: 5894 (16%)
BNP: 3305 (9%)
Oth: 1848 (5%)
MAJ: 8681 (23%)
2001
Con: 8877 (25%)
Lab: 19366 (54%)
LDem: 4724 (13%)
BNP: 1358 (4%)
Oth: 1703 (5%)
MAJ: 10489 (29%)
1997
Con: 10342 (22%)
Lab: 28645 (62%)
LDem: 4710 (10%)
Oth: 1436 (3%)
MAJ: 18303 (40%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
JOE RICH (Conservative) Barrister.
ROBERT FLELLO (Labour) See above.
PETER ANDRAS (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Babes

Comments - 166 Responses on “Stoke-on-Trent South”
  1. I’m not sure I understand AKMD’s point as, at least in the past 4 decades, Staffordshire has always been stronger for the Conservatives than Derbyshire and it remains the case today.

    At the Tories’ nadir in 1997 they held only 1 seat in Derbyshire but held 3 in Staffordshire.

    There are 2/3 seats in Derbyshire which the Tories will most likely never be able to win – Chesterfield, Derby South, and probably Bolsover. In Staffordshire there are no comparably difficult seats for the Tories with the exception perhaps of Stoke Central.

    Despite the presence of the Peak District I think it’s true to say that Staffordshire is overall a more agricultural county, with (as AKMD says) much less of a mining and industrial heritage. And though I know Kieran W will disagree, I think there is probably a bit of anti-Tory spillover from Sheffield / South Yorkshire which infects the three seats around Chesterfield.

  2. You know little about the Labour party of the 1980s if you think Benn was “parachuted in”. Local members dragged him in, more like. Benn was the messiah.

  3. They didn’t but they still did better than in neighbouring Staffs for the reasons given by myself and HH. I made my initial post in response to Richard saying that Derbyshire has moved to the right along with Staffs. While that might well be true (further swing to Tories in NE Derbyshire and no progress for Labour in the county’s marginals), it’s not happening at the same rate as in Staffs. Nottinghamshire is probably in a similar position to Derbyshire for much the same reasons.

  4. Nottinghamshire is much more complicated than Derbyshire, with several countervailing trends. IMO only two seats are unambiguously following the pro-Tory trajectory seen in Staffs and Derbys (Newark and Sherwood). Metropolitan Nottingham and its surroundings have trended quite rapidly to Labour, consisting of the three Nottingham city seats plus Gedling and to a slightly gentler extent Broxtowe. Rushcliffe has been a mix of the two, with the northern suburban bit trending to Labour (West Bridgford) and the rural south and east of the seat moving to the Tories as with Newark and Sherwood.

    The remaining three seats (Mansfield, Ashfield and Bassetlaw) are probably in the same category as Bolsover…ie it is quite unlikely that the Tories will ever win them despite the fact that a very high UKIP vote by default has brought them closer to Labour.

  5. Deepthroat has kindly posted figures on the Oldham West thread about the numbers of voters to be removed from the register because they don’t meet the criteria for Individual Electoral Registration. According to Deepthroat this will result in 9,000 fewer voters in Stoke.

    I am assuming that the electorate of each of the three Stoke seats will be reduced by 3,000. Deepthroat actually says that in most cases the numbers of seats refer to pairs of seats, which would make things in Stoke even worse.

    It will be readily appreciated that as the majority in this seat is 2539 the removal of inelegible voters here could easily have changed the result.

    Stereotypically, some of us have suspected that problems with the register have occured in constituencies where there have been large numbers of immigrants from countires which do not share the traditional respect for democracy in Britain. However, such prejudice is hardly likely to hold water in Stoke, which is overwhelmingly White.

    I have several times on this site referred to the poor state of democracy In Stoke. When I belonged to the Labour Party in a West MIdlands constituency we rarely heard anything from Stoke, even though it was apparently overwhelmingly Labour, At times Labour held every seat on the local council. With such support, you would have expect the Labour Party in Stoke to be very influential in the West Midlands. But in fact the Party memberships in the Stoke seats were about the lowest in England.

    I am not saying that this is actually the case, but the state of affairs in Stoke would be consistent with the Labour Party having run the area as a rotten borough for many years, and now having been found out by the Conservative tightening up of registration rules. I think that the Labour Party ought to hold a national inquiry into their Party in Stoke to ensure that the party here is being run efficiently, fairly and with integrity.

    Of course one answer to such questions would be that the MPs and other party members are working flat out to recruit new members. If they are not doing so, what have they got to hide?

  6. I can’t see a post on that subject in the Oldham West thread. Stoke lost about 3,000 voters according to my spreadsheet:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-H4eqc43aDRvF9V_VOjTQRh-rPmNifYJom-yaJ79Rpg/edit#gid=0

  7. Frederic – the fact that you have decided that IER has shown up a huge problem in areas where there are large ethnic minority populations doesn’t mean that there actually is such a problem. If there was a problem with widespread electoral fraud, why would the new IER process stop that from happening?

    Also, re: the Stoke party, it’s not uncommon for there to be safe seats where the CLPs are actually fairly moribund. I see no reason why that means the Labour Party need to hold an inquiry.

    It’s ludicrous to suggest that an area that has regular elections at all levels, with, as far as I know, no significant complaints being made by any party, is run as a rotten borough. You might not like the way it’s run, and you might think the people of Stoke should vote differently, but that doesn’t mean that there’s something scandalous going on.

  8. Simon – are you serious?

    How about 2 Mayors being convicted and hence its abolition.

    Or 8 Cllrs with convictions.

    Why do you think there were 6 Parties on the Council here until the locals held elections on the same day as the General?

    Incidentally if the Cllrs themselves don’t complain that isn’t automatically a good thing. Quite the opposite can be the case as it was in Rotherham, Liverpool, Sefton with recent child safeguarding and financial scandals. They sadly ‘go native’ and choose not to rock the boat.

    Obviously Shaun B from Stoke can provide more evidence as a local as to why Stoke was rotten in terms of the Council’s administration, oversight and transparency. The Pits n Pots blog became famous and was quoted in Parliament by MPs for raising issues which the local Cllrs had failed to do.

    I realise it isn’t quite Doncaster or Tower Hamlets where 28 Cllrs and 17 ended up with/had criminal convictions, but Stoke is renowned for its dysfunctional Council and poor local Parties (both Labour & Tory), hence we had Ind, BNP, Community etc groups and something like 20 defections in a 6 year period a decade ago from memory.

  9. PS Just holding elections doesn’t legitimise something per se otherwise we’d recognise Zanu-PF and Mugabe’s regime.

    The nearest we have is probably Knowsley in both numerical terms and Officers’ authoritarianism [Knowsley MBC sacked an employee who was interviewed as a member of the public about the state of Kirkby. Needless to say he won in Court, so thankfully we have those checks and balances here.

    Knowsley also voted to exclude a LD Cllr just because the Labour Group wanted to. Amazingly the Officers concurred, which is I suppose crowd syndrome/’hang him’ mob mentality]

    I’d argue the 10-20% turnouts we see eg in the Locals in Merseyside makes it very difficult to argue Cllrs have a mandate and very easy for disreputable/ill educated people to be elected and be (mis) lead by Officers.

  10. Erm, we do recognise Zanu-PF and the Mugabe regime

  11. Not as an example of a democracy we don’t.

    We recognise N Korea and Vatican City exist.

  12. Election fraud is not necessarily related to areas with a high ethnic minority population. Individual Electoral Registration may have pointed to past problems in Stoke; but the area does not have a large proportion of people with non-European backgrounds.

    Making people sign up for a vote individually is unlikely to eliminate electoral fraud but it does make such crime harder to commit.

  13. I don’t know what effect people joining the Labour Party to vote for Corbyn has recently had in Stoke. However, over the longer term Stoke has had a long history of low numbers of Labour Party members. One does not have to allege wrong-doing to point out that the Labour Party ought to be taking action to rectify this problem.

  14. FS – those convicted say it is. Plus the Electoral Commission listed areas with concerns and all had high % of Asian electorates from Tower Hamlets to Pendle.

    Although convictions for both personation (Rochdale) and actual postal/proxy vote factories (Birmingham) are rare and tended to need campaigning MPs such as John Hemming to ask the CPS to prosecute.

    I recall a case in Liverpool where the ERO admitted the Candidate was ineligible (due to his conviction for fraud); but, until Cllr Steve Radford turned up with the evidence and a Liverpool Echo journalist, the City Council weren’t going to do anything about it!

    It seems all too often EROs just take it on good faith that Candidates and Agents understand and obey the law. But I know of many Candidates who stood whilst ineligible (as they worked for the very local authority in which they were contesting a ward).

  15. Having worked in local government myself, I wonder how far local government officers and Councillors acting to aqdminister elections can be relied on to follow up on electoral wrongdoing. Given that people committing electoral fraud may well be nasty types up to various other types of crime as well, there must be a danger that local officials will turn a blind eye and take an attitude of “live and let live.”

    Perhaps we need a review as to the role of local officials, as opposed to civil servants employed by central government, in running elections.

    Both personation and postal vote factories imply a deliberate intention to commit an electoral offence, and as a result there should be a “zero tolerance” approach to prosecuting such actions.

  16. Other than Leed’s Morley & Outwood, this must be one of the few examples of a city constituency outside London becoming more Tory over time.

    This constituency had a 9,260 Labour majority in 1959, 7,105 in 1983, 6,909 in 1992, 4,130 in 2010 and then 2,539 in 2015.

    There has been a long term drift to the Conservatives here but its also possible that this is the kind of constituency where UKIP may have taken more Labour votes than Tory votes in 2015.

  17. This may well be a tory gain in the next election. For a start infighting in the CLP is said to be riffe here and a Corbyn government is unlikely to appeal that much to Labour voters who don’t detest UKIP.

  18. Dalek: that’ll be the closure of the coal mines. All former mining seats are now trending to the Tories.

  19. The former ultra safe Labour seats of Don Valley and Stockbridge & Penistone looked quite marginal after 2010 but Labour recovered somewhat in 2015…perhaps aided by UKIP.

  20. I don’t know anything about him, but I imagine a barrister called Rich wasn’t the best idea for a Tory PPC to win a seat in Stoke.

    A Local (perhaps Shaun B himself?) might be able to win it in 2020 though.

  21. I thought I’d play with some quite dodgy maths to semi prove a point. There’s been a lot of discussion of late re the UKIP vote and if it collapses how that will supposedly hand the Tories seats like this. I disagree arguing that the UKIP vote would break quite evenly nationwide and in seats like this its collapse would probably primarily benefit Labour.

    But I’ll semi humour the notion for the time being that most of these UKIP votes will go to the Tories, lets look at some figures.

    The combined UKIP/BNP vote in 2010 was 13% and I can’t see this budging from UKIP and if it does its more likely to probably not vote or lean Labour (see pre 2010 research which shows most BNP voters are ex Labour)

    So that leaves us with the 8% “new” UKIP vote. Already you can probably see the flaw in these claims about UKIP’s collapse handing the Tories scores of seats but anywho.

    Taking EC’s figures apparently voter migration between 2010-2015 was as follows. For every 1 Lab voter that went to UKIP the Lib Dems lost 2 and the Tories lost 4. Now I find those figures laughable personally, the notion that the Lib Dems lost twice the votes to UKIP as Lab did is frankly silly, also that’s nationally the idea that those same figures apply in a seat like this is even sillier but I’ll still humour it.

    I’ll also even assume that those Lib Dem to UKIP switchers will ALL flow to the Tories instead of back to the Libs or to Labour.

    In this frankly ridiculous scenario the Tories gain 2,749 votes and Labour gain 458 meaning a net gain for the Tories of 2,291.

    Even in this ridiculous scenario that stacks everything in the Cons favour UKIP’s collapse still doesn’t automatically hand them seats like this.

    Now I’m not dismissing the potential of a UKIP collapse to have effects that might be beneficial to the Tories in some areas but I think people need to be realistic, consider the seat in question, the nature of the UKIP voters there and thus where those votes might go and then make a reasonable prediction.

  22. Rivers the huge problem with your argument is that the political situation has changed. Labour has a leader that is an anathema to most UKIP voters even ones who came from Labour in the first place. Thus if UKIP collapses it is highly likely a significant chunk of voters who switched from Labour to UKIP will switch to the Tories (and a lot won’t vote). There will be very few people switching back from UKIP to Labour with Corbyn in charge. This is the problem with Momentumesque thinking, just because people once voted Labour it doesn’t mean they will automatically start voting Labour even if their current preffered option fades. Times have changed these people largely have fallen out of love with their old party and are being pushed even further and further away by the party’s current trajectory.

  23. IMO in a lot of these post industrial places Labour is on borrowed time, their organisation has been completely hollowed out and they are only really propped up now by historical loyalties which is a very precarious position to be in. Their saving grace at the moment is that there is a lack of a credible alternative, UKIP are probably a bit too right wing economically to sweep all before them in these kind of places and obviously the Tories are not going to be able to compete unless the area has significant middle class areas (like Stoke South but not like Stoke North/Central). A economically centre-left version of UKIP could seriously spell the end of the line for Labour in places like Stoke. The Welsh Valleys are another Scotland waiting to happen as well.

  24. Pepps
    I’ve spoke to many such UKIP to Lab switchers personally.

  25. Also and I really can’t emphasise this enough no matter how much a kipper might hate Corbyn or even hate Labour many many MANY also equally hate the Tories particularly in ex mining seats where UKIP draw big support and the memory of Thatcher still burns. Presuming these people will break for the Tories too is highly optimistic bordering on fanciful.

  26. Maxim
    Not Merseyside Warrington primarily, (and the bits of Runcorn in Weaver Vale)

  27. Maxim
    “I think this is more likely to turn blue than Birmingham, Edgbaston and that Newcastle-under-Lyme is a more promising prospect than Wolverhampton SW”

    I do agree totally with that.

  28. “The Welsh Valleys are another Scotland waiting to happen as well”

    Very possible if Lab doesn’t stop taking them for granted. These days I’d say Lab has got metropolitan urban Britain locked down but everywhere else it needs to look very carefully at how it can appeal and be relevant.

  29. Maxim
    I can think of much better examples than that, all the seats Lab gained of the Tories in 2015 for example.

    I’m not saying UKIP only hurt Labour, far from it. I’m just saying its very dangerous from your parties perspective to presume all these kippers are just waiting to vote Tory cos I can almost guarantee a sizable chunk probably never will and I’d hazard a guess that they can mostly be found in seats like this.

    As I said in another thread look at the local election results in seats like this, UKIP generally do best in the traditionally rock solid Labour wards, while in the Tories best wards they got their worst results.

  30. But the Lab (and UKIP) voters in Makerfield are the exact same type of people as in Stoke South by and large. WWC, less well educated small C conservative patriotic types. The very same people who you admit are unlikely to go Tory in Makerfield but are convinced will go Tory in Stoke South.

    The only difference is in Stoke South the Tories have a strong base that means when the Lab vote is weakened it pushes the Tories into contention but that base comes from Stokes middle class wards not the WWC inner city wards where UKIP thrive..

  31. But as has been pointed out before Stoke South isn’t really trending Tory rather its trending away from Labour which inadvertently makes the Cons competitive. the Tories are below their 92 result, only difference is Labour are WELL below their 92 result cos they’ve haemorrhaged votes to the far right. People there have had every opportunity to vote Tory in opposition to Labour but they instead chose to back far right smaller parties because

    1) Those parties represent their views better than the Tories do, these people are not economically right wing.

    2) The Tories have baggage in a lot of seats like this which means certain people just won’t vote for them.

  32. @rivers I never said all UKIP voters love the Tories. But the type of Kipper that is by far most likely to return to their ‘natural’ party’ if UKIP collapse (which is still a big if as full Brexit max is unlikely to happen) are the Tory leaning ones. The ones who hate the Tories have nowhere else to go at the moment and will likely either carry on voting UKIP or simply stop voting. Either way this coupled with the Tories getting a handful of direct switchers from Labour puts seats like Stoke-on-Trent South in serious trouble. Plus this has the double edged whammy of putting seats like Chester and Harrow West in danger as the UKIP vote in those seats would have almost all come from Tory leaners.

    As for the Welsh Valleys I think it will be Plaid as opposed to UKIP who will destroy Labour there (which will eventually provide the Tories with an opening in the Plaid strongholds of north/west Wales a la what we are beginning to see in NE Scotland now). The fact that Leanne Wood, who is hardly Nicola Sturgeon level impressive, managed to beat Labour in Rhondda of all places was telling to say the least. Also in the Ogmore by-election there was actually a drop in the Labour vote share which is extremely bad result for an opposition.

  33. Pepps
    I think its a bit early to be predicting Lab wipe out in the valleys, it could happen but there isn’t really any evidence of it yet. UKIP are making inroads but they’ll inevitably hit a ceiling, the real danger is as you say Plaid but their only chance is in the aftermath of a Indy affair were they can unite all independence supporters like what happened in Scotland. I find that unlikely at present since there is absolutely no prospect of a Welsh independence referendum and even if there was one evidence is that Wales is massively less Indy inclined than Scotland is.

    Plaids problem is that they are perceived as the party of Welsh speakers and in many valley seats the proportion of Welsh speakers is very low indeed. Consequently in all bar two I believe Plaid aren’t even in second place.

    As for Ogmore and Rhonnda I wouldn’t read too much into either. In Ogmore Labs vote fell by less than half a percent, its hardly a terrifying situation. As for Rhonnda its the one valley seat I can actually see Plaid winning of Lab as things currently stand, sufficiently big Welsh speaking population, terribly matched incumbent Lab MP in Chris Bryant etc
    As for the Rhonnda result in 2016 the seat does have a history of being weird, Plaid won it in the 99 Welsh elections and its always been far more marginal than the Westminster seat at assembly level.

  34. UKIP could eat into the Labour vote in English speaking areas splitting the non Plaid vote and allowing Plaid to take formerly safe Labour seats on lower than necessary swings.

  35. I’m surprised the Tories are considered toxic in the potteries, though I suppose North Staffs has its coal mining history that could explain it

  36. They can’t be that toxic here – they came within 2500 of representing the seat.

  37. 2500 was suprisingly close considering how nasty the tories are

  38. The Tory’s are not as toxic here, but they are certainly toxic amongst a sizable proportion of the electorate here, consequently I think the Tories would really struggle to get over 40% in this seat. however they could very much win the seat on that vote share but it would be down to a classic case of split opposition.

  39. Lab got 40% in North but regardless there is quite a difference in a party dipping below 40% in an election they lose having previously consistently hit around the 50% mark and a party having never hit above 40% as far back as the 70’s I believe.

    Lab are clearly at a low ebb in Stoke but one would have to be delusional to deny that a very sizable chunk of the UKIP and Tory vote is clearly open to voting Lab in “some” circumstances while a significant proportion of the UKIP and Lab vote in Stoke won’t vote Tory in ANY circumstances.

  40. 39.9% in Central I believe, 40.4% in North.

    If Labour loses most of the Leave voters in Stoke then yes there certainly could be trouble, its something we as a party must seek to avoid.

  41. I don’t believe so, Stoke has literally been treated appallingly by Labour in recent years. Lab have hoisted god awful parachutes onto all three Stoke seats multiple times and its naturally totally alienated their WWC support base and led to the decline in the local party which feels disenfranchised and powerless and is consequently by far the most sclerotic local Labour party anywhere in urban Britain, all of which has led to the situation we’re in now. If it was down to me I’d de-select all three Stoke MP’s and replace them with locals chosen in an open primary.

  42. That’s a bit unfair to blame the MPs solely though.

    The Labour Council and corrupt Labour Mayors will have been the main reason.

    After all we had Lab Cllrs defecting to BNP, CAP, Indy etc because the local situation was that bad.

    Indeed you could fairly blame the Labour membership here – it’s been so low for the past decade or more that it’s as laughable as the once great Labour CLP of Liverpool Walton which declined to 230 members a decade ago despite being one of the safest seats in the Country.

    Rivers10 – you may be too new to remember, but local here Shaun Bennett documented all of the Labour woes in Stoke on the old site.

  43. But I do also agree that Smeeth & Tristram Hunt are very mismatched here.

    Indeed those vox pops of them walking around in Stoke during the EU Referendum were laughable.

    It was like they were meeting locals for the first time and consequently were astounded by the views they held.

  44. It will be hard – but ultimately former coal-mining areas are gradually trending away from Labour as the mines’ ex-workers slowly succumb to the soot in their lungs.

    I’m not sure how the Tories will run an effective campaign though – I doubt they have a big membership here.

  45. “If they came close to winning under Miliband, then they have a chance of actually crossing the line under May.”

    I know Ed Miliband wasn’t the best of leaders, but to suggest that he was a Tory plant is surely stretching reality 😉

  46. The Tories don’t need a big membership to take seats like Bishop Auckland and North East Derbyshire. All they have to do is sit back and wait for the inevitable demographic change, the dying off of the old mining vote and the subsequent change of the pit villages into middle class commuter villages.

  47. Maxim,

    What is the point in making predictions now for 2020?

    Is that based on existing boundaries or the new ones which will likely be in place then?

    Given that the new Stoke South is only about half the existing seat plus most of Stoke Central, this seems a very odd time to be making that prediction.

    If Paul Nuttal is successful on Thursday, it is probable that he will be standing in Stoke South as the incumbent in a large part of the seat. But Robert Flello will also be able to make the same claim.

    If he fails, then it will be quite different.

  48. Con Est – I understand that you are trying to make a contribution to this thread by that post, but it is just pie in the sky to predict that far in advance. By the next election, you’ll most likely have changed your prediction anyway, so what’s the point of making it now ?

    A week is a long time in politics, let alone 3 yrs…..

  49. Maxim,

    My point is that there is unlikely to be an election on the current boundaries in 2020. Therefore, what is the point of predicting what the result might be based on those boundaries.

    If on the other hand, you are suggesting what the result might be if there were a general election called tomorrow (*), then that may make more sense. But, in that case, why would your assessment be markedly different from the detailed calculations produced by electoral calculus? (Who, incidentally, also predict this seat going blue on current boundaries – albeit by a fractionally smaller margin than you predict – but most definitely not on the revised boundaries.)

    (*) Technically, under FTPA, there cannot be another GE called for at least 2 weeks even if there were a vote of no confidence tomorrow. The GE would then be in at least 6-7 weeks.

  50. According to Guido there is some controversy over the candidate selection here for the Tories, with CCHQ wanting Stoke Central by-election candidate Jack Brereton instead of Joe Rich, the 2015 Stoke South candidates.

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