Walsall North

2015 Result:
Conservative: 12455 (33.8%)
Labour: 14392 (39%)
Lib Dem: 840 (2.3%)
Green: 529 (1.4%)
UKIP: 8122 (22%)
TUSC: 554 (1.5%)
MAJORITY: 1937 (5.3%)

Category: Semi-marginal Labour seat

Geography: West Midlands.

Main population centres: Bloxwich, Willenhall.

Profile:

Politics:


Current MP
DAVID WINNICK (Labour) Born 1933, Brighton. Former advertising manager. Willesden councillor 1959-1964, Brent councillor 1964-1966. Contested Harwich 1964, MP for Croydon South 1966-1970. Contested Croydon Central 1974, Walsall North 1976 by-election. First elected as MP for Walsall North in 1979.
Past Results
2010
Con: 12395 (34%)
Lab: 13385 (37%)
LDem: 4754 (13%)
BNP: 2930 (8%)
Oth: 2723 (8%)
MAJ: 990 (3%)
2005*
Con: 9350 (28%)
Lab: 15990 (48%)
LDem: 4144 (12%)
BNP: 1992 (6%)
Oth: 1952 (6%)
MAJ: 6640 (20%)
2001
Con: 9388 (29%)
Lab: 18779 (58%)
LDem: 2923 (9%)
UKIP: 812 (3%)
Oth: 410 (1%)
MAJ: 9391 (29%)
1997
Con: 11929 (28%)
Lab: 24517 (57%)
LDem: 4050 (9%)
Oth: 1376 (3%)
MAJ: 12588 (29%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
DOUGLAS HANSEN-LUKE (Conservative) Born 1970. Educated at Oxford University. Investment consultant.
DAVID WINNICK (Labour) See above.
NIGEL JONES (Liberal Democrat)
ELIZABETH HAZELL (UKIP) Educated at Brownhills Community School. Electrician. Contested Walsall North 2010.
MIKE HARRISON (Green) Teaching assistant.
PETE SMITH (TUSC)
Links
Comments - 82 Responses on “Walsall North”
  1. Noticed an interesting difference in the Walsall North and Walsall South constituencies in terms of the 2012 local election vote – at least when you consider how similar their 2010 election results were.

    Walsall North in 2010 was 37% Lab, 34% Con, 13% LD. In the 2012 locals Labour got 51%, Con 16%, LD 14% and an Independent got 12%

    Walsall South in 2010 was 40% Lab, 35% Con, 14% LD. In contrast the Conservative vote held up in 2012 locals at 35%. Labour got 48% and the LDs 4%.

    The Conservatives won 3 wards in Walsall South, but nothing in Walsall North. Given how close they got in 2010, and with the possible retiral of Winnick at the next election – you’d have thought this might be a plausible target if the Tories were going to win any seats from Labour – but those locals dont seem to inspire much confidence.

  2. I don’t think that’s particularly surprising. The Conservatives have never been particularly successful in Walsall North in local elections – they only took one ward in 2010, and that only by around 5%. Whereas Walsall South as two strongly Tory wards and only where they look to be notably well-organised.

    I think the similarity of the results in the two constituencies last time was coincidental. The Tories can get a decent score in general elections in most parts of Walsall North, but have no strongholds. Whereas in Walsall South they have strongholds, but they’re much weaker in the rest of the seat.

  3. I’m not sure the Conservatives carry Paddock and Pheasey Park Farm all that decisively in general elections. Pheasey Park Farm probably does fall under the heading ‘safe’ but I doubt the Tories led Labour by more than two-to-one there in 2010.

  4. Paddock was until not too long ago one of the safest Tory wards anywhere (they got over 80% of the vote there in 2000 for example) but two things have altered that. Firstly ward boundary changes removed a strong Tory area to Pheasey (which made that ward stronger) and added some Labour voting ‘inner city’ territory. Secondly there has been an increase in the Asian population in the middle class areas. You could say a third factor is that UKIP have done quite well and in doing so split the Tory vote which has helped Labour come relatively close to winning, but they achieved 40% in 2012 so clearly the ward has moved heavily in their favour due to the first and second factors.
    Edward correctly identifies important differences between the two constituencies which can be masked by occasional superficial similarities in the election results. Walsall South has three distinct parts: A predominanlty (still) middle class Tory suburban East (Paddock and Pheasey). A very strongly Labour working class West (Darlaston and Pleck) and a central (Palfrey and St Matthews) area which is dominated by Asian politics – probably quite strongly Labour still in general elections but where the Tories are able to do well locally with the ‘right’ sort of candidates.
    Walsall North is a far more homgeneous seat, being pretty uniformly white working class and while the Tories have had some success in the years prior to the last general election in Bloxwich, they can equally do appalingly there. Basically it is full of swing voters. Before those successes that area was for quite a long time a battleground between Labour and Independents. Another issue for the Tories in local elections in North is that the Western wards (Willenhall and SHort Heath) have for a very long time now (over 30 years) formed one of the strongest LD local areas in the West Midlands. Undoubtedly this area is one the Tories can carry in a good general election year such as 2010 and those in the 80s but they have never made serious progress in local elections. Basically Walsall North is (unusually for the Black country) an area where the Tories perform far worse in local elections than in generals while South is the opposite (and more typical of the pattern seen in Wolverhampton and parts of Sandwell)

  5. Excellent- many thanks for that, Pete.

  6. Bearing in mind how strongly Tory Paddock & Pheasey were at the time, Labour’s Bruce George really did extraordinarily well to hold on in 1983 & 1987. He had a rather individual campaigning style, and some rather odd hobbyhorses for a Labour MP, but it clearly worked in his constituency.

  7. Needless to say, Pete’s analysis is excellent. I must say I had remembered the Tories winning some pretty unlikely wards in Walsall N, but for once I think my memory has been playing tricks with me. I think they’ve struggled to win almost anywhere except the 2 Bloxwich wards (themselves areas which really ought to be pretty safe Labour), but Labour has itself struggled to win most of the other wards in the constituency at one time or another, and still is struggling to beat independents in some of them at the moment. Indeed, Labour’s weakness in Walsall N has cost them overall control of Walsall council, at least for the time being.

  8. It is interesting how Tory neighbouring Pelsall has become in recent years, especially given the strikingly above average numbers of intermediate and routine/semi-routine residents.

  9. My forecast for 2015:

    Lab 42
    Con 27
    UKIP 17
    LD 5
    Others 9

  10. The others might not poll as high as 9% (especially not the BNP), Alexander, but otherwise that is a good prediction for 2015, especially about the predicted fall in the Liberal Democrat vote in seats like this. They could possibly lose their deposit here-the core Liberal/Liberal Democrat strength in many West Midlands seats is pretty poor.

  11. David Winnick MP reselcted.
    (twitter)
    Daniel Wainwright ‏@wainwright_star ·50 mins
    Walsall North MP David Winnick has been re-selected to stand as Labour’s candidate next year. He’ll be nearly 82.

    BR

  12. You can’t fault Winnick’s stamina. He’s obviously going for 40 years as MP for Walsall North.

  13. He’s been around for decades at Westminster. Even before he was MP here, he was from 1966 until his defeat in 1970 the MP for Croydon South, losing it back to the Conservative Richard Thompson who had lost it to DW in 1966.

  14. I’ve always admired Winnick as a constituency MP, he’s certainly very hard working.

    I did think that he would stand down next year though, You don’t get many Octogenarian MP’s these days, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing if he’s still committed to his constituency and prepared to put the work in. I saw him on a train from Birmingham to Walsall not too long ago, the only time I’ve recognised and MP in a public place.

  15. I think he’s an effective questioner on select committees.

  16. Labour are now going to make a formal bid to take over control of Walsall council. However, a Labour councillor representing the Birchhills and Leamore ward died over the weekend, and this seat being vacant could be a factor when the vote takes place. But even without a vacant seat, a minority Labour administration will still have to use the mayors casting vote to approve council business.

  17. The current composition of the council is :

    Labour: 29
    Conservative: 21
    UKIP: 3
    Lib Dems: 3
    Independents: 2
    Democratic Labour: 1
    Vacant: 1

    Whilst it’s highly likely Labour will form a minority administration, nothing can be taken for granted. It all depends on how the Lib Dems, UKIP and the 2 Darlaston independents vote when it comes to choosing the council leader.

    The Labour councillor who died at the weekend was a former leader if the Labour group on the council. Labour will be almost certain to win the by-election in Birchhills and Leamore, it’s one of their safest wards in the borough.

  18. Walsall North, local election votes:

    Lab 6,905
    UKIP 6,090
    Con 4,181
    LD 1,675
    No Descr 629
    Eng Dem 130

  19. This was one of the Labour seats a recent study found would be fertile ground for UKIP, but they weren’t able to top the poll in the local elections, unlike in places Great Grimsby and Dudley North.

  20. Ashcroft polling figures:

    Lab 37
    UKIP 30
    Con 21
    LD 8

  21. That’s buggered Tory chances here then. Also presents a bit of a threat for Labour in future if UKIP stick around after 2015.

  22. An update on Pete’s comment about the Liberal enclave in Willenhall. UKIP took both Short Heath and Willenhall North wards off the Liberals last June.

    Another illustration if needed that in many places the Liberal vote has been at least 40% “none of the above”. All of this vote will be lost (and would be lost regardless of which party the Liberals were aligned with, or whatever their policies might be) at the next General Election.

  23. It is interesting that David Winnick should seek to stand again for Labour, and be re-selected. It occurs to me to wonder whether Labour wish to avoid a new candidate firstly because the selection might be very contentious and secondly because they may feel they want the loyalty factor to hold off UKIP.

    For different reasons, Glenda Jackson staying on in Hampstead and Kilburn has some similarities. From the other side of the spectrum, one might also point to Sir Roger Gale in Thanet North.

    David Winnick will have to retire some time though, and if the next parliament runs its full term there must be a substantial chance of a by-election in this seat, which might not be a comfortable event at all.

  24. “For different reasons, Glenda Jackson staying on in Hampstead and Kilburn has some similarities.”

    Erm, Glenda Jackson is standing down…

  25. and it also seems to have escaped some that David Blunkett isn’t standing in Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough.

  26. A very interesting analysis by Andrea, on the Doncaster North thread, suggests that this may be the Labour held seat with the smallest Labour Party membership.

    Given the marginality of Wallsall North, this cannot be good news for Labour.

    And JS reported figures in the Summer suggesting that UKIP and 7% behind here. They were also close behind Labour in the local elections. After the Heywood and Middleton by-election one wonders what the position is now.

    A lot may depend on which of Labour and UKIP, or even the Tories, manage to put up a sustained campaign in this constituency between now and the General Election. But sustained I mean groups of local members and activists campaigning door to door at least every Saturday morning, with leafleting during the weeks.

  27. if UKIP campaign hard on the “only party that can beat labour” slogan then they have a real chance here. The Ashcroft poll put them close and they’ve only gone from strength to strength here! However if UKIP get close here in 2015 but just lose out, then this will be a seat which could likely fall to them in 2020 if there is an unpopular labour government in power, watch out for this seat as it could quite easily be a surprise UKIP gain if they put the work in.

  28. Walsall South had a bigger UKIP vote last time so they both give opportunities to finish a strong 2nd or 3rd in May.

  29. These factors help UKIP in LAB seats:
    * high numbers of C1/D/E
    * high numbers of WWC
    * high numbers of the elderly
    * low numbers of university graduates, BME, professional and economically secure occupations
    *on or near East Coast

    But UKIP find themselves up against a formidable LAB majority in almost all of LAB seats selected on the above basis.

    So:
    The seats UKIP have realistically (IMO) of winning from LAB are:-

    G GRIMSBY
    WALSALL NORTH
    DUDLEY NORTH
    ASHFIELD

  30. ASHCROFT NOV14 – weighted with DNK redistributed
    27% Conservative
    34% Labour
    3% Liberal Democrat
    34% UKIP
    2% Green
    1% Other
    Dudley North Poll CATI Fieldwork : 20th-27th November 2014

  31. This year 2015 the May General Election will see Walsall North get its first Green Party Candidate – certainly since having the party name of The Green Party anyway – in Mike Harrison.

    And he is not the only first for the Green Party in the borough, as there will be a Green candidate in all three constituencies, which has never happened before either.

    Walsall North – Mike Harrison
    Walsall South – Charlotte Fletcher
    Aldridge-Brownhills – Martyn Curzey

  32. Does anyone still believe this seat is a 3 way marginal between Labour, the Tories and UKIP?

    Have there been any recent Ashcroft polls here?

    I still can’t see this as being anything other than a fairly straight forward Labour hold, although with a lower than average swing.

  33. I have always been somewhat bemused at David Winnicks inability to get a really strong hold on this constituency. He lost the 78 by-election, won the seat in the 79 election – only to struggle mightily in the two 1980’s elections, and in 2010 seemed to be in difficulty again. By most measures this is a very working class constituency (albeit with a small non white vote) and you would think it should be much safer for Labour. Though it is worth noting that they have historically struggled at council level as well.

  34. I think it’ll be a nervous night for Labour in Walsall North. If the BNP don’t stand there’s 8 percentage points to be reallocated.

  35. At 82, Winnick may not last the 5 year Parliament. A H&M style UKIP By-election would ensue.

  36. ‘I have always been somewhat bemused at David Winnicks inability to get a really strong hold on this constituency.’

    It is a little strange – being a long-standing and respected MP

    He’s not from the area (being a Londoner) although that hardly stands him out amongst Labour MPs in the West Midlands

    You’re right though in that this is a very working class seat, which didn’t go Tory in the 1980s, and which Labour only held on a knife-edge majority in 2010 – with an alreay sizeable vote for the Far Right – so should be one to watch in 2015

    It’s perhaps surprising that given Mr Winnick’s age, Labour haven’t felt it time for new blood

  37. Considering it’s already a marginal, I thought the Tories would have most to gain from a by election here, not UKIP.

  38. It may be Winnick’s manner. I’m a fan, but if he’s as argumentative and pedantic with constituents as he is raising Points of Order with the Speaker, he may put off some at surgeries. I recall both Straw and F Field saying they tell voters when they’re wrong. That’s fine in a safer seat and if they respect you.

  39. Surely the finest example of this was when Bob Marshall Andrews – who always gave good value – told one of his constituents that he was racist and was not to vote for him. There followed an entertaining exchange with the voter saying he could vote for whoever he wanted and BMA demanding that he vote for another candidate!

  40. Some might say Winnick is being slightly selfish in staying on at his age.

  41. he’s described himself as an unclubbable loner. he almost certainly doesn’t have an enthusiastic personal vote, but l suspect he is at least respected by most voters.

  42. I like David Winnick personally. At least he is completely honest which is a great quality for any MP to possess.

  43. Labour hold – majority 3,500.

    I think the Tories will beat UKIP to second place, not by a massive margin but it’ll be enough for them to still claim they’re the main opposition to Labour here.

  44. There was an article about the Tory campaign in this seat in the Walsall express and star the other day. It looks like they’re putting a reasonable effort into trying to win votes on the council estates in Leamore. It’s never struck me as a particularly tory inclined area, so I’m not entirely sure why they’re doing much campaigning there. Maybe it’s just to look good for the local papers.

  45. The Tories have always done better than you’d expect in this constituency given the demographics. I think one of the reasons may be an anti-Birmingham effect where voters are saying we’re different to Birmingham and since the equivalent type of voter votes Labour in Birmingham we’re going to vote Conservative. I think you do sometimes get that dynamic going on in various places.

  46. The Lib Dem candidate is Nigel Jones, who previously stood in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 2010.

  47. Tory candidate has been deeply embedded here for more than 2 years and has been working it like crazy. Seriously the most intense campaign from any PPC that I’ve ever seen.

    Still likely to be a Labour hold but by far less than most would imagine, locals are impressed with DWs challenger but I don’t think he will quite manage it.

    Expect far better future candidacy for Douglas Hanson Luke as his reward for his efforts.

  48. The Black Country has long been a stronghold of working class Conservatism even where it has died out in other cities. The very high percentages of manual workers, and low educational achievement has something to do with this, and there are similarities with South Essex. It’s not a reaction to Birmingham.

    No surprise therefore that the Black Country and South Essex are the strongest areas for UKIP. However I read UKIP support here as being lower than in South Essex and expect no more than a string of strong second places in the Black Country, while wins are possible in South Essex.

    The run down coastal towns are rather different in their demographics and the basis of UKIP support.

  49. I think that’s a good analysis, John. It should also be said that the Black Country has also been a very weak area for the Lib Dems for some of the same reasons.

    I remember in the 1970s and 1980s that seats like Brierley Hill and Dudley West stayed stubbornly in the Conservative fold, sometimes with very substantial majorities, whereas to behold they looked like strong Labour territory. The anti-immigration mood often also skewed Black Country seats to the right as in 1970 when Enoch Powell was in his pomp and very large swings were recorded across the whole of the Black Country.

  50. I think people are underestimating the support for UKIP in Walsall North, From talking to different people in the Walsall north area a lot seem to edging towards UKIP.

    Saying that I could be wrong.

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