West Bromwich East

2015 Result:
Conservative: 9347 (24.9%)
Labour: 18817 (50.2%)
Lib Dem: 751 (2%)
Green: 628 (1.7%)
UKIP: 7949 (21.2%)
MAJORITY: 9470 (25.3%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

Geography: West Midlands. Part of the Sandwell council area.

Main population centres: West Bromwich.

Profile: The eastern part of Sandwell, in the centre of the West Midlands conurbation and seperated from Birmingham to the east by the Sandwell Valley country park. This is mostly a gritty, working class area with high unemployment and a significant number of ethnic minority voters (most notably the Sikh community, one of the largest in the country). The south of the seat is made up of West Bromwich itself, to the north east there are some more middle-class areas around Charlmont and Grove Vale while at the far north are a number of large municipal housing developments like Yew Tree and Friar Park.

Politics:


Current MP
TOM WATSON (Labour) Born 1967. Educated at King Charles I School Kidderminster and Hull University. Former National Political Officer for the AEEU. First elected as MP for West Bromwich East in 2001. Government whip 2004-2006, Under-Secretary of state for Defence 2006. Parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office 2007-2009. Deputy Chair of the Labour party 2011-2013. Deputy leader of the Labour party since 2015. Watson was seen as a key supporter of Gordon Brown, and resigned from government in September 2006 in order to call on Tony Blair to step down as leader, in what was seen as an abortive Brownite coup. In recent years he has led the criticism of News International over the phone hacking scandal, writing a book on the scandal called Dial M for Murdoch. He served as Labours campaign head under Ed Miliband, but resigned in 2013 during controversy over Unite`s intervention in the Falkirk candidate selection.
Past Results
2010
Con: 10961 (29%)
Lab: 17657 (47%)
LDem: 4993 (13%)
BNP: 2205 (6%)
Oth: 2134 (6%)
MAJ: 6696 (18%)
2005*
Con: 8089 (23%)
Lab: 19741 (56%)
LDem: 4386 (12%)
BNP: 2329 (7%)
Oth: 967 (3%)
MAJ: 11652 (33%)
2001
Con: 8487 (26%)
Lab: 18250 (56%)
LDem: 4507 (14%)
UKIP: 835 (3%)
Oth: 585 (2%)
MAJ: 9763 (30%)
1997
Con: 10126 (24%)
Lab: 23710 (57%)
LDem: 6179 (15%)
MAJ: 13584 (33%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
OLIVIA SECCOMBE (Conservative)
TOM WATSON (Labour) See above.
FLO CLUCAS (Liberal Democrat) Former teacher. Liverpool councillor 1986-2012, Cheltenham councillor since 2014. Contested Crosby 1992, Liverpool Garston 1997, Knowsley North and Sefton East 2005, Knowsley 2010.
STEVE LATHAM (UKIP)
BARRY LIM (Green)
Links
Comments - 176 Responses on “West Bromwich East”
  1. @Peppermint Tea It’s strange that the Lib Dems are already offering the same sort of programme that Labour moderates want but are getting nowhere at all, despite the disarray of others. Just maybe that could be because the market for that sort of politics is smaller than you think.

  2. Simon
    I’ve said the exact same thing. Blairism and the “third way” was very much a product of its time. Before the crash the country broke down primarily into two groups, those that thought (economically) everything was going peachy and those that thought everything was moistly peachy but there could perhaps be little bit more re-distribution. The Tories took the voters from the former and Lab took those from the latter.

    Post crash though things have changed, the group of people who think everything is still mostly peachy still vote Tory but the other group has shrank massively (almost into irrelevance) and has clearly been usurped by a group that thinks things are clearly not working and we need big, bold change. Labs problem is uniting that group (since it is currently fragmented amongst multiple parties) but pitching the third way again is destined to fail since they have literally nothing to offer.

  3. @rivers10 but as you say times change the only reason Labour hasn’t collapsed into the low 20s is that the Lib Dems are still tarnished by their association to the Tories (if Cameron had won outright in 2010 believe you me you would be doing far, far worse now). But that will gradually be forgotton and with Labour lurching off to the left their more moderate voters will eventually give up hope of the party ever returning to a more centrist position and will turn either the Lib Dems or some party that doesn’t exist yet. Thus when the Tories do fall it will be a hung parliament after which PR will almost certainly come in which will effectively end any chance of the hard left (or the hard right for that matter) gaining any meaningful power in Britain as the only possible governments will be coalitions of the centre-left, centre or centre-right.

  4. You might be right had the Tories won outright in 2010 but they didn’t and we are were we are. Like I said the other day had the Tories won in 05 they would be doing much worse than they are at present since the entirety of the blame for the 08 crash would have fell on them and their main electoral card at the moment (economic competence) would be removed. If, buts and maybe’s we are were we are.

    Your predictions are predicated on a lot of big ifs though, who says the Libs will ever recover? Also you may fervently disagree with me on this and I haven’t got much evidence to prove it but I’m 99% sure that Lab voters are way further to the left than most people seem to think. Some might drift to the Libs but if one thinks its anything close to a majority, hell even a quarter… I speak to Lab voters most every week, I’m not saying they love Corbyn but the one thing I don’t hear is “Corbyn’s a dirty commie, he’ll destroy the economy by overtaxing the wealth creators” people don’t think that way least of all Lab voters. As Simon said there just isn’t any big desire for a moderately left wing party in the UK. Most Lab voters are happy to tack to the left, this might putt off swing voters but it probably wont put off Labs core supporters.

    Side note on PR you’d be surprised how often the main centre left or centre right parry gets dragged to the extreme by a more radical party. Happens more often than them pairing with the centrist party put it that way.

  5. While I wouldn’t necessarily agree with everything Rivers said, it’s clear that to form a Government you need both the centre-left and the more radical left. You see what happens when there’s two separate parties in Spain, where both the mainstream socialists and Podemos get about the same vote/ That fits fairly well with the recent polling on what would happen if there was to be a split, which had one group on around 20%, and the other around 15%, depending on who left the Labour Party.

    Maybe in 1997 or thereabouts, you could get away with ignoring the radicals, because then there was nowhere else for them to go, but that doesn’t work any more. One of the big things for Labour in 2015 was that, with the exception of ex-Lib Dems, they lost support in all diirections – some to the Tories and UKIP, but also to the Greens and the SNP.

  6. ‘Like myself, Clarke just isn’t a Tory in any real sense by current standards and he should perhaps have acted on that a long time ago.’

    By current standards being the key word as throughout the 1970s and 1980s, there were plenty of pro-European, One Nation Tory MPs – quite a few of whom held prominent positions in the party – Hurd, Walker, Heseltine, Prior, Carrington, Gilmour – who shared Clarke general range of beliefs

    There aren’t many today – and often even those who enter Parliament as old fashioned wets, quickly become more right-wing – Michael Ancram and more recently Richard Fuller

    Having said that there seem quite a few centre-leftist Tories amongst the 2010 and 15 intakes. They don’t like to identify themselves as on the Left, or even as One Nation Tories – but the Tory Party as a whole isn’t yet the US Republicans, where anyone who isn’t a staunch right-winger just isn’t welcome

  7. Simon
    “they lost support in all diirections – some to the Tories and UKIP, but also to the Greens and the SNP”

    And here lies something that many commentators outside Labour (and unfortunately a good deal within) don’t understand. UKIP while obviously being a right wing party are part of the “radical” group you mentioned and the group I mentioned above of voters who think the status quo is broken and we need big bold change. Unfortunately these voters have taken to blaming immigration, the EU and establishment politics in general. There not all closet Tories like the media would have people believe.

  8. @rivers10 well a good deal of UKIPs vote are closet Tories or at least Tories who are upset with the status quo re. things like immigration. They are at the very least the plurality of UKIP’s vote. The smaller minority who do lean towards Labour are very likely to be repelled by Corbyn for many resons but most basically he fails the patriotism test, miserably…

    ”BUT I fervently believe that Labs core vote is robust enough and with the Tories (despite all the fellava often spoke about them) not exactly loved by the electorate these days”

    I would normally agree with any other leader but Corbyn is literally one of the worst possible people Labour could have as leader, and if he has a tumultuous 3.5 more years plus a car crash of an election campaign he could be the one to finally break the ‘I vote Labour because my granddaddy did’ mentality which constitutes a large chunk of Labour’s core vote that has been starting to look a bit shaky of late. Plus all it would take for the Tories to beat you by 15% would be for Labour to fall into the mid 20s and the Tories to rise to 40 odd. I know the Tories aren’t overly loved either but the public usually picks the lesser of two evils and it is blatantly clear at the moment the public’s fears about Corbyn’s Labour are far stronger than their grievances with the government.

  9. ‘Unfortunately these voters have taken to blaming immigration, the EU and establishment politics in general. There not all closet Tories like the media would have people believe.’

    It’s hardly a uniquely British phenomenon

    Populist parties on both the Left and Right have been springing up all over the Western world – it’s been the most notable effect of the 2008 recession and some would say the Iraq War – as people have completely lost faith with the political establishments/elites within their own countries

    The only way of ‘nipping it in the bud’ is, perversely, electing these people to office – where they have a tendency to become unstuck very quickly for their inability to do any of the things they promised to and through their general sheer incompetence

    It’s a passing fad that is bound to appeal to the ever-increasing number of people whose sense of entitlement leads them to claim they’ve been ‘shafted by the system’

    And those taken in by such populism don’t tend to be very bright

  10. “And those taken in by such populism don’t tend to be very bright”

    Here we go again, stereotyping and looking down on the WWC.

    Even if their actual IQ (rather than their education / opportunities in life) is lower than yours – which I doubt on average – their viewpoints are equally valid. Because you believe you have a greater knowledge of facts, and have read more information, you think their viewpoint (and therefore vote) is of a lower value. Consider this: it may just be, that in spite of those points their view is ‘equally bright’ and more perceptive than yours. Or maybe not. But it is not inferior, their reality is no more of a myth (or a truth) than your reality.

    You yourself illustrate well the underlying, sub-conscious attitude of the ‘elite’ that many ordinary people have had enough of.

  11. @Tim so if Corbyn was elected he would be such a catastrophe that he would destroy the hard left for good? Almost sounds tempting except I dread to think the damage Corbyn could do even in 5 years…

  12. Look at this another way: in a capitalist meritocracy, the “not very bright” do indeed get shafted. These people may be more receptive to populism, but this is not directly due to their intelligence or lack thereof – it is because the status quo genuinely is failing such people, rather than because they are easy to hoodwink.

  13. Populists from both Left and Right become popular because they offer simple solutions to complex problems and promise things they have absolutely no prospect of achieving – so I think to say that some of the people taken in by them don’t seem to be very bright is a fair comment to be honest

    I wouldn’t describe Corbyn as a populist at all and its largely due to his and his colleague’s failure to connect with what was once Labour’s core vote which partly explains why the populists are on the up

    But it’s a worldwide thing as we’re seeing with the ludicrous candidacy of Donald Trump in America and the National Front topping the polls ion France

  14. Tim, it’s desperation, not stupidity. Many of these people feel they have nothing to lose – so even if they are not all that convinced by an outsider’s message, it has to better than the status quo. It’s the same reason that George Osborne’s threats of economic devastation cut so little ice during the referendum campaign.

  15. Also, in response to Jeremy Corbyn not being a populist, there’s a now-famous clip (maybe someone could dig it up on YouTube) of JC in the 1980s saying:

    “These are socialist problems, requiring socialist solutions, and the answer, at the end of the day, is socialism”.

    Sounds a lot like “simple solutions to complex problems” to me!

  16. Re populism these days did it occur to anyone that the thing people are rebelling against in neoliberalism? Out of touch government, lack of economic opportunities, declining or stagnating living standards and pretty much feeling left behind…. all this could be rectified (in theory) by modifying our economic system)

    I don’t make predictions very often these days but I guarantee that this flux will last until the global economy is radically reformed, that may take decades but its plainly obvious that’s the only solution.

  17. Tom Watson’s public attack on Momentum and UNITE [Len Mc] is interesting.

    I realise the recording of the Momentum guy was his main reason, but to go public was quite extraordinary.

    It’s fairly obvious that Momentum would want to reduce the 15% threshold to protect ‘the succession’ in the event JC loses/goes/passes away in the next 3 years or so.

    Incidentally, Momentum are advertising for an organiser on £35k+ pa. London-based and they welcome ‘working class, BAME, disabled, LGBTQ+…’ applicants.

  18. I don’t think the average working class person would appreciate being described as if they are some kind of weird minority species….after all, they make up roughly half the population compared with (to be generous) perhaps 5% if you add all the letters of LGBTQ together…wonder what the + means by the way.

  19. True.

    A colleague actually had to find this out (to cover a Gay Pride event), but gave up in the end as there are apparently between 4 and a dozen letters depending which group he asked.

    I don’t even know what Q stands for, but from memory I is intersex and + was for HIV+ people.

  20. I believe QUILTBAG is the new acronym:

    Queer or Questioning
    Undecided
    Intersex
    Lesbian
    Transsexual, Transgender or Transvestite
    Bisexual or Bestial
    Asexual
    Gay

    Its much easier to remember than LGBTTQQIAAP, LGBTQIAPK, LGBTQQIP2SAA or the ones that have various + or ! signs.

    I notice none have a D for the dogging community – surely that counts as discrimination.

  21. For simplicity just call them the Heterophobic Alliance

  22. the + is to signify all the other letters after LGBTQ to include gender fluid/pan/poly/intersex/asexual people etc

  23. God help us.

    How ridiculous can you get.

    Ann Widdecombe and the Pope would be classed as LGBT+++ on those definitions….I think that illustrates how stupid they are.

    PS I hope Richard was joking about B meaning bestial.

  24. I recall googling “Queer” a while back and I think it meant somebody who isn’t gay, but perhaps someday if the right person of the same gender came along then they could potentially, be open to the possibility that they might , maybe find this person attractive.

  25. It seems my comments are now being moderated – not for the first time 😉

    Hopefully AW will let this one through.

    Replying to HH I’ll just say that Wikipedia gives some surprising facts and its not an issue I specialise in but merely something I read on the Political Betting site.

  26. With the High UKIP Vote here this could be the Portillo moment of the night despite the demographics.

  27. Torries think they could just snatch this. Labour however do not think the seat is in danger.

  28. Torries still thinking they will win this and I suspect it is possible. The west Midland will have a massive swing away from Labour and they could be down to just seats Warley, 3-4 Birmingham seats and one in Coventry on a bad bad night.

  29. In the WM mayoral Lab held up okay in Sandwell so I think the West Brom seats are real long shots for the Cons

  30. People on the ground thinks it’s much worse for labour than the polling suggests. The real killer for labour isn’t the UKIP to Tory switchers but the extent to which labour 2015 voters switch directly to the Tories without needing the gateway drug of UKIP to do vote for Tory.

    Mays image as a kind of grand national primary school headteacher and Corbyn s portrayal as a mad eccentric triotskyite uncle is lethal for labour. I think it will be grim for labour, had thought the Tories would be limited to about 30 gains but revising that view.

  31. I’m interested to hear that. Certainly it’s becoming clearer there is no real evidence for the gateway drug theory but most people I’ve been speaking to and from my own personal expression the suggestion is that there is very swing to the Tories and if there is any changes it will be down to turnout and/or natural churn but so far the vote is holding up. Most people also agree that the polls are wrong but I don’t see them underestimating Labour simply because the raw data shows a closer contest before the undecideds votes are redistributed.

  32. Clearly “the view from the ground” is hugely different in different places, especially in such a polarised environment.

    Most of the Labour activists on here like Rivers and Matt and MrNameless are in strongly Labour cities, where I have no doubt that Labour will probably hold up quite well. But I have no doubt that if they were on the doorsteps in Barrow or Blackpool or Bolton or Bishop Auckland the level of Labour switching would be very different indeed.

    Labour are also clearly wasting resources on totally hopeless seats. There were Labour activists leafleting at East Grinstead station yesterday (Mid Sussex constituency, 24000 Tory majority). I was flabbergasted. Why weren’t they in Croydon or Brighton?

  33. The point about this from the ground view is that it is specific. Obviously the view form a place like Exeter is going to be different from the anecdotal evidence in Walsall, for example.

    There is a view that May’s no nonsense, ronseal PM, act, however confected, is a clear break with the Blair/Cameron slick Public school PR man image. She doesn’t even need to spell this out. The contrast is there and palpable. Throw in comrade Corbyn, his weak and numerically challenged frontbencher, the hostility of the media, Brexit etc., and you have a perfect anti labour storm.

    All this is leading people to think that the election could be a real nightmare for labour. I think a 200 majority far more likely than one of 50. I wouldn’t have said this three weeks ago.

  34. “There is a view that May’s no nonsense, ronseal PM, act, however confected, is a clear break with the Blair/Cameron slick Public school PR man image.”

    And, those who prefer the ‘slick public school PR man image’ have no-one to vote for this time. Last time they had a choice of 3!

  35. Thing is, the slick Eton/Fettes/Westminster/ tick as appropriate/ public school salesman routine never really took on in the midlands and North.

    The fact that the Tories are nearly always polling over 45% is not often enough remarked on. No party has hit 45% in a national general election since 1970. If the Tories were to do so in 2017, this would be an impressive achievement for which Mrs May deserves some credit. She is reaching parts of the electorate that no Tory has done in 50 years.

    I doubt whether even Boris would have been as popular as PM, despite brexit, the UKIP collapse and Corbyn. The class thing, Eton bullingdon etc, was always a drag. I think the Tories would be on abt. 42/3 % under him.

  36. Peter

    Do you expect the Tories will get 48%, as many of the polls indicate?

    That would be their highest vote share since the 1950s.

  37. I don’t buy the argument that Lab are in risk here, I have no doubt there will probably be a substantial swing to the Tories but not nearly enough for them to win. We really need to putt aside anecdotal evidence from Tories who supposedly think they have a shot (remember only the other day we were canning them for thinking Westmoreland was in play)

    The facts are as follows…
    1) In the West Midland Mayoral election Lab won Sandwell by a margin of more than 2;1 over the Tories and contrary to popular belief Labs lead INCREASED in the second round suggesting more than a few kippers were happy to back Lab.

    2) As far as I can tell Watson hasn’t visited his own seat once during the campaign and believe me he’s been campaigning most everywhere else. So either he’s being very complacent or his info is there is no real danger.

    3) Even if we give the Tories every single UKIP voter here (a silly presumption) they still don’t win.

  38. HH,

    I don’t think the Tories will get anything like 48%. I tend to be quite historicist, looking at data from the past. I don’t think the Tories have got 48% since the 1950s when there was a rigidly two party system. The Tory Vi in 1970 was 46.4%… Given the blues lost in 64 and 66, 70 was the highest note share the Tories got between 1959, almost 60 years ago, and 2017.

    The Tories popularity in 1970 remains something of a mystery to me, and though I was not alive then, I have read that the result itself rather like 1992 and 2015 was a bit of a surprise.

    2017 is easier to understand for me than 1970. I get the primary school headmistressy reassurance of Mrs May to a large section of the electorate, the post brexit reunion, however fleeting, of the right, and the toxicity of Corbyn are all easy concepts to grasp driving Tory success…

    I think the Tories will do well to get 45%, but that would be remarkable, given the electoral patterns of the last 50 years.

  39. Peter
    Out of curiosity if you predict the Tories will be doing well to get 45% what do you predict Lab achieving?

  40. Rivers10,

    Your third point is moot. Tory success is also being positively affected by direct labour to Tory switchers. If enough people switch from labour to conservative, labour loses regardless of what happens to the UKIP vote. In this specific case, I think Watson is probably ok, but there will be seats where labour 2015 voters will switch to voting conservative, if only as a means of ensuring the defeat and political demise of the corbynistas. Have heard a lot of “this ain’t my party” from traditional small c conservative labourites,

    I am highly sceptical that labour retain their vi from 2015, though a few polls are suggesting this to be the case.

  41. About labour vi, I can’t see them getting a higher vote than miliband in 2015. I suspect the vote will hold up better than we expect, so 28/9%

    Expect the election to be something like;

    Con 44%
    Lab 29%
    LD 10%
    UKIP 6
    Etc…

  42. Peter
    Fair enough re Lab to Con switchers but as has been pointed out there doesn’t seem to be a lot of it going on, I can confirm what Matt says about canvass returns showing our vote holding up remarkably well and your right to point out most of the latest polls have Lab polling at or higher than our 2015 vote. The one thing that has struck me on the doorstep is that while people don’t like Corbyn they don’t like May either. We’ll have to just wait and see how this develops.

    As for your prediction that’s actually very much in the same ballpark as my own prediction but such a result wouldn’t even grant the Tories a 100 seat majority let alone the 200 seat one you were talking about earlier. Now of course that’s on universal swing and one could speculate that in heavily Brexit seats like this one the swing might be higher but then one must also account for very Remain seats (mostly in London) that do fall on such a swing. For example on that national vote I imagine Lab would hold Tooting, Hampstead and Westminster North despite all falling on paper

  43. “but such a result wouldn’t even grant the Tories a 100 seat majority”

    Is that right though? Peter’s forecast is somewhere in between the 1983 and 1987 results, implying a Tory majority between 100 and 140.

  44. Rivers10,

    Not sure what model you are using but the Baxter model on electoral calculus gives the Tories a 114 majority if you put the % figures I gave earlier, if you adjust for 5 Tory gains in Scotland you get a majority of 124 . The figure in pure seat terms is Tories on 387 or so, labour 185…

    So 100+ majority is very much on the cards, the betting is at the moment on an even bigger majority if you look at spread betting sites, betfair etc.

  45. That’s in line with my post above yours.

  46. Peter
    Not sure how accurate it is but I’m just using the advanced swingometer on this site and like you giving the Tories 5 seats in Scotland. Such a result gives the Cons a majority of 94 (assuming as it does they don’t lose anything to the Libs and actually pick up Carshalton and Southport)

    I’d take anything Martin Baxter is involved in with a truckload of salt, he more often than not can’t tell a poll from his elbow.

  47. Bit unfair on Baxter I like reading his articles. On HH point about having a selective view from the ground; sure Leicester and Derby are good places for Labour but St Albans isn’t naturally.

  48. obviously 94 isn’t that different from 100, rivers10. If you said your predictions led to a 50 majority, that would be interesting and significantly different. anything between 90 and 110 is more or less the same kind of thing. anything more than 150 is an entirely different thing.

    for the sake of argument. my background is in stats and economics, though I did history at school. I would have 4 bands of likely outcome

    50- 90 ( 350 to 370 tory seats) reasonable result

    90-130 (370 to 390) good result for May

    130-170 (390 to 410) excellent result, but roughly where expectations are at the moment

    170+ (over 410 seats) blow out.

    Arbitrary I know, but the point is that whether we say it’s 90 or 110 is not really that material. there is of course a huge difference between 50 and 180.

  49. Peter
    Sorry for any apparent nit-picking, I was comparing the 94 majority to your earlier speculation on a 200 seat majority, your right that for the sake of argument “around 100” encapsulates both 94-114

    As is my gut tells me its going to be in the 370-390 range. I personally don’t see anything like a 200 seat majority on the cards.

  50. I don’t think so. I put some numbers up, check previous page! Those numbers equated to a roughly 120 majority. You agreed with my percentages but disputed the actual outcome of the election in seats. You said baxters model wasn’t great. That’s what this discussion was about.

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