Wirral South

2015 Result:
Conservative: 15566 (37.2%)
Labour: 20165 (48.2%)
Lib Dem: 1474 (3.5%)
Green: 895 (2.1%)
UKIP: 3737 (8.9%)
MAJORITY: 4599 (11%)

Category: Safe Labour seat

Geography: North West, Merseyside. Part of the Wirral council area.

Main population centres: Heswall, Bebington, Bromborough, Eastham.



Current MP
ALISON MCGOVERN (Labour) Born 1980, Bromborough. Educated at Wirral Grammar School and University College London. Former communications officer for Network Rail. Southwark councillor 2006-2010. First elected as MP for Wirral South in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 15745 (39%)
Lab: 16276 (41%)
LDem: 6611 (17%)
UKIP: 1274 (3%)
MAJ: 531 (1%)
Con: 13168 (33%)
Lab: 16892 (43%)
LDem: 8568 (22%)
UKIP: 616 (2%)
Oth: 460 (1%)
MAJ: 3724 (9%)
Con: 13841 (35%)
Lab: 18890 (47%)
LDem: 7087 (18%)
MAJ: 5049 (13%)
Con: 17495 (36%)
Lab: 24499 (51%)
LDem: 5018 (10%)
Oth: 315 (1%)
MAJ: 7004 (15%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
JOHN BELL (Conservative) Born Liverpool. Educated at Keele University. Teacher and lecturer.
ALISON MCGOVERN (Labour) See above.
ELIZABETH JEWKES (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Newark Girls Grammar and University of East London. Businesswoman. Contested Ellesmere Port and Neston 1992, Vale of Clwyd 2005, City of Chester 2010.
DAVID SCOTT (UKIP) Educated at Quarry Bank High School and Aberdeen University. Teacher and lecturer. Contested Wirral South 2005, 2010.
PAUL CARTLIDGE (Green) Former police officer and teacher.
Comments - 224 Responses on “Wirral South”
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  1. The Conservative Party have selected John Bell as their candidate for 2015.

    Bell has previously stood for election in Clwyd South (2010) and Alyn & Deeside (2005), and lost both times. He has also stood twice to be a Welsh Assembly Member, and again lost twice. He stood in a local council by-election in 2011, for Wrexham County Council, but unfortunately lost again.

    Born in February 1947, he was one of the oldest Conservatives to contest a seat in 2010, and in 2015 he will be 68 years old ( http://conservativehome.blogs.com/goldlist/2009/07/the-oldest-conservative-candidates-bidding-to-enter-parliament-at-the-next-election-.html )

  2. Well, he faces an uphill battle. Wirral South is clearly trending Labour, like a lot of outer conurbation seats with relatively high proportions of middle-class public sector workers.

  3. Oh dear. Poor John Bell. With an electoral record like that, one has to fear for his prospects of winning here…

  4. If the Conservatives had any strategic sense they would be planning for 2020.

  5. If the Conservatives had any strategic sense, they would not have allowed the Lib Dems to make Lords’ reform a quid pro quo for boundary revisions. That way, the two best wards in this constituency would have been matched with the best wards of Wirral West to create a reasonably safe Tory seat. As it is, we now have another Sefton Central on our hands.

  6. PS- in your case, Richard, I know I am preaching to the converted (even if the gospel is of party self-interest!).

  7. What baffles me is the lack of ‘vision’ among the Conservative leadership.

    Having for years planned on the LibDems being ‘our future coalition partners’ they seemed to have no plans to deal with the electoral reform issues which would be an inevitiable consequence.

    Resulting in either electoral reform on LibDem tems or the status quo.

    The lack of movement on the English democratic deficit is particularly shocking as that is something which would be to the Conservatives direct gain.

  8. All academic but interesting to consider what might have been had the Coalition government agreed only to strict equality in constituency electorates (i.e. no plan to cut the number of seats to 600). Whilst this wouldn’t have benefited the Conservatives to the same extent – my rough calculation is that it would still have meant around 8 fewer seats for Wales, 3 less for Scotland and a seat less for each of the North East, North West and the West Midlands. The South East would gain 5 seats and East England would get 3 extra seats. Obvioulsy cant know overall what that would have meant without seeing detailed proposals – but it would still have been a pretty handy bonus for the Conservatives – in the context of a possible tight fight with Labour in 2015. I dont see how the Lib Dems could have justified voting against the new equal boundaries if the house of Commons wasn’t cut in size.

  9. “I dont see how the Lib Dems could have justified voting against the new equal boundaries if the house of Commons wasn’t cut in size.”

    It wouldn’t have made any difference. The Lib Dems would still have voted it down citing lack of Tory support for Lords reform.

  10. I still struggle a little to see it. What would have been the justification for voting against boundary changes which only sought to equalise electorates and hence the value of each vote? (but not to cut the Commons relative to the House of Lords)

    Im not necessarily disagreeing… but Nick Clegg would have at least needed a better public excuse than saying ‘in revenge for lords reform I’m going to vote to keep unequal boundaries’ – I think that would have been far more difficult to sell.

  11. Nobody but a few political obsessives cares about parliamentary boundaries. The public have no interest whatsoever in the debate, and the media has very very little. Clegg wouldn’t have needed an excuse as nobody would have been interested.

  12. Re the earlier comments about John Bell – it should be pointed out Alyn & Deeside has always been Labour, and Clwyd S (and its predecessor Clwyd SW) was only Conservative once before in 1983, and then largely thanks to the SDP doing very well.

    So I think the comments are a bit harsh – his performance was decent in 2010 and 2011.

  13. Would guess Hilary or Laurence Jones will stand here for UKIP.

  14. ‘it should be pointed out Alyn & Deeside has always been Labour, and Clwyd S (and its predecessor Clwyd SW) was only Conservative once before in 1983’

    But a large chunk of Clywd South and most of the old Clywd South West seat used to be in the old Denbigh seat, which was Conservative for all of the post-war period

  15. Tim

    I think you’ll find a large part of Clwyd South West came from Wrexham….at least that’s what David Dimbleby said on the 1983 election results programme.

  16. I suppose the issue is that Bell’s chances of winning here are minimal. Its a seat trending Labour, and if it wasn’t won in 2010 I can’t see it going blue in 2015

  17. ‘I think you’ll find a large part of Clwyd South West came from Wrexham’

    That’s right – but I think the bulk came from Denbigh

    In 1979 Wrexham had an electorate of 78,771, which was reduced to 60,707 in 1983, meaning at least 18,000 voters from Wrexham were moved to Clwyd South West, which had an electorate of 55, 792.

    The rest would have come from Denbigh

  18. Then I would guess that the bits coming in from Wrexham – being old mining villages – were very strongly Labour, whilst the most Tory bits of Denbigh went in to Clwyd North West.

    I’m pretty sure Clwyd SW was notionally Labour in 1979.

  19. Clwyd SW had a large element from Denbigh, but as HH correctly says the parts which arrived from Wrexham were very Labour indeed, essentially coalfield areas. I think Chirk & Ruabon were amongst these, and I think they’re part of the existing S Clwyd. Thus neither the present seat nor SW Clwyd bear any real political resemblance to Denbigh. However, that seat, if it still existed today, would surely be far stronger for Labour than it ever was when it existed.

  20. Why has the area covered by the old Denbigh seat been trending Labour? Any ideas?

  21. Well at least part of the old Denbigh is still a Tory seat (the bits now in Clwyd West).

    Your question is perhaps more appropriate for the neighbouring West Flintshire, which was the predecessor seat of Delyn. West Flintshire was Tory even in difficult years like 1974, whereas Delyn was won by Labour even when they lost the general election as in 1992 and 2010. There must have been a big shift to Labour there.

  22. ‘Your question is perhaps more appropriate for the neighbouring West Flintshire, which was the predecessor seat of Delyn. West Flintshire was Tory even in difficult years like 1974, whereas Delyn was won by Labour even when they lost the general election as in 1992 and 2010. There must have been a big shift to Labour there.’

    Whilst that’s undoubtedly true, about half of today;s Delyn seat was in the reliably Labour Flintshire East – mid-sized Labour-leaning towns like Mold, Holywell and I think Flint itself – which I imagine would account for a fair few voters

    Of course prior to 1997, Delyn contained Prestatyn – once a strong Tory town – which evened things out a bit, but North Wales as a whole has definitely been swinging against the Tories since the 1970s

    The Vale of Clwyd for example would have certainly been Tory back then

  23. It seems as if the Tory decline has been less pronounced on the west side of north Wales….they still hold Clwyd West relatively comfortably and Conwy/Aberconwy has always been marginal going back 50 years.

    However I fully agree that on the east side of North Wales, on the coast especially, they really seem to have lost out.

    Just as Manchester and Liverpool have moved strongly away from the Tories, this seems to have naturally impacted the places where Mancunians and Scousers retire to as well – North East Wales, Wirral, Crosby, Southport, Blackpool, Morecambe.

  24. Actually Clwyd SW probably got more from Wrexham than the 18,000 you mention as IIRC Wreham gained areas such as the Maelor and Marford and Hosely that had originally been in Flint East. So, Clwyd SW probably got quite a bit over 20,000 and they would have been very Labour areas indeed.

    A significant part of Denbigh’s population and the vast majority of the Tory vote went into Clwyd NW.

    Most of the decline of the Tory vote in NE Wales can be explained in one word: Rhyl – a place I recently read described as “a place where even the seagulls fly upside down because there’s nowhere even worth shi***ng on”. And actually, the Tories still have a respectable vote in Alyn and Deeside for example and have even strengthened there over recent years.

    The west (Aberconwy & Clwyd West) was always far better than Rhyl and Prestatyn and has kept a relatively Tory demographic in contrast to those towns – though Colwyn Bay has declined badly in certain areas.

  25. I had thought that Holywell was in W Flint, and Mold too, though perhaps I am mistaken. I’m not sure that those towns would have been that Labour-leaning back in the late 70s, though they clearly are today. Flint however looks the part as a Labour stronghold.

  26. Rhyl really does have to be seen to be believed and the Tory drop here has been very stark, although i definitely think Hemelig is right about the Merseyside effect as we’ve seen it not just in North Wales but in North West Cheshire and South Lancashire too

    Mold is a curious case as it’s actually quite middle class in parts – certainly more middle class than the likes of Flint, Buckley and Holywell, but being a county town I imagine you get plenty of public sector employees, whose loyalties are certainly not with the Tories these days

  27. Have we seen it in North West Cheshire? There was perhaps a gentle trend to Labour in Chester but no change since ’92 as far as I can see. Meanwhile, the Tories got a very big swing in Weaver Vale in 2010 to take the seat. I very much agree with you about South Lancashire though.

  28. If by North West Cheshire you mean Wirral, then I agree with you, Tim (Wirral still being geographically Cheshire).

  29. Mold is not overly affluent and despite being the county town is still a fairly normal small market town, with outsized public buildings. It would always have had a decent Labour vote as it was surrounded by quite industrial villages and was quite Welsh speaking long after other areas of Flintshire had been totally anglicised, meaning it would have been less Tory even into modern times.

    Holywell again is a fairly ordinary market town these days, but is at the head of the Greenfield Valley, which was one of the cradles of the industrial revolution and would have had a good Labour vote because of the small-scale industry that survived into more recent years.

    Flint is a grim and gritty town and despite its small size (14,000 odd) had some of the worst slums in Wales, as evidenced by its bizarrely city-like high rise council estates.

    The countryside further in around Cilcain etc, is still quite Tory and the Conservative Party does well in local elections there.

  30. I know that the Mold area is quite popular with middle-class people working in Chester and Wirral, such a teachers. You can get a very good house for reasonable money in North Wales. As Tim suggested, that no doubt helps Labour.

    The exception to the rule is Alyn and Deeside, which looks to be trending Tory.

  31. ‘If by North West Cheshire you mean Wirral, then I agree with you, Tim (Wirral still being geographically Cheshire).’

    I most certainly do

    Runcorn backs up the theory too. As Pete Whitehead has quite correctly pointed out many times, the old Runcorn seat had different bloundaries to the current Halton seat (which is Runcorn with the equally-industrial Widnes) but it was a safe Tory one where the party enjoyed a majority over 5000 in 1966, for example – one of their worst years.

    In 2010 – one of Labour’s worst years – the party enjoyed a 15,00 majority, making it one of the safest Labour seats in England. That’s still some turnaround

    The Tories didn’t do well in Cheshire as a whole in 2010. They only scraped back in Wirral West, Chester and Warrigton South – with the first two having been Tory-held for decades prior to 1997

    the two very stark exceptions were crewe & nantwich – which notwithstanding a good tory mp can be put down to the by-election and weaver vale – which despite containing a nice swathe of affluent cheshire countryside in its centre, is dominated by the eastern spread of runcorn and the industrial town of northwich – both of which you would imagine to be labour voting

    the tories did well to win there

  32. ‘The exception to the rule is Alyn and Deeside, which looks to be trending Tory.’

    i find that rather hard to explain – although results there suggest that – unlike its neighbouring seats in the region – it’s following the pattern of white working class post-industrial seats in england in tending tory

    the main towns are Queensferry and Connh’s Quay, which sound a lot nicer than what they are. You’d expect both towns to be very labour leaning

    I spent the first four years of my life in Buckley – one of the other towns in the seat – which I remember as being very grimey, and there’s the ex steel works town of shotton

    i imagine that inexpensive property places would make this an ideal commuter base for affluent professionals working in the likes of Chester, Liverpool and Manchesrer, but still i find it hard to fathom why labour are in such a precarious position here

  33. Cheshire was patchy in 2010, yes. The results in the two Wirral constituencies were awful and we effectively had to rely on the Lib Dems to win Warrington South. Chester wasn’t great either but we had already clawed back a lot of ground since 1997. The two Winterton constituencies also saw dips, perhaps unsurprisingly.

    Saying that, the Weaver Vale and Crewe results were excellent, so too Eddisbury, which is now considerably safer than it was in 1992 and on only fractionally more favourable boundaries.

  34. 2012 council election results for this constituency:

    Labour: 8,811 (40.5%)
    Conservatives: 7,280 (33.5%)
    Liberal Democrats: 3,110 (14.3%)
    UKIP: 1,686 (7.8%)
    Greens: 850 (3.9%)

    Total votes: 21,737

    Compared to the 2010 council results here:

    Conservatives: -2.4%
    Labour: +9.7%
    Liberal Democrats: -12.8%
    UKIP: +4.4%
    Greens: +1.9%
    BNP: -0.8%

    Swing from Con to Lab: 6.1%

  35. Con 36/ Lab 30….one of these seats like Westminster N or Edgbaston that voted Labour nationally and Tory locally at the same time. How many other examples are there?…Tooting?

    Were there any constituencies that elected a Tory MP but voted Labour in the locals?

  36. I don’t think so, although Enfield N elected a majority of Labour councillors on general election day (12 to 9).

  37. In Wirral South, the disparity will have been caused by the Lib Dems, who carried Bromborough and Eastham in that day’s council election. A decisive majority of those who voted Lib Dem will have switched to Labour for the general election. Furthermore, there will have been a lot of Labour supporters who simply didn’t vote in the council election. None of this is especially surprising in the case of Bromborough but I am sure that the Tories will have been very disappointed to be c 2000 behind Labour in Eastham in the general election. Eastham is middling suburbia with home ownership at 80%. And yet it seems Tory weakness there isn’t all that new- Pete Whitehead said that the last time the Tories will have carried Eastham will have been 1979 or 1983. Obviously, it is emblematic of what is happening to the Tory vote in the area.

  38. The only constituency I know of which voted Labour in the local elections but did not elect a Labour MP was Brent Central. There were of course many examples of the reverse (Bolton West is another example besides those listed).
    I’m thinking Carlisle may be possible but can’t be bothered to do the math

  39. I think you’re right. The wards of Carlisle constituency which voted in 2010 gave Labour a majority of 1,509 over the Conservatives. However, Burgh ward didn’t vote. It would have given the Tories a clear lead, but even on a general election turnout it wouldn’t have been quite enough to overturn Labour’s lead in the rest of the constituency. So it could be Carlisle is the only one, though we can’t prove it 100%.

  40. ‘Con 36/ Lab 30….one of these seats like Westminster N or Edgbaston that voted Labour nationally and Tory locally at the same time. How many other examples are there?…Tooting?’

    I worked out Birmingham Northfield is another example. There’s something about certain parts of Birmingham where they will vote Tory locally but Labour nationally. Incidentally, Northfield and Edgbaston are two constituencies where the Tory local vote has not only failed to decrease, but has actually increased. Labour, on the other hand, have been more than supported by deserting LD voters.

    The difference between those kind of Birmingham seats and Wirral South, however, is there’s clear numerical evidence from my calculations that there are a significant number of voters in those Birmingham seats who voted Tory locally, but then voted Labour nationally. In Wirral, on the other hand, the Labour victory came entirely from LD and Green voters. The LDs got 27% of the local vote in 2010, but got 17% nationally.

    And in response to Tory’s point, differing turnout wouldn’t have been a major factor. Only 101 national voters neglected to vote locally.

  41. Van Fleet- my apologies, I was using the 2008 figures by mistake so no wonder I thought there was differential turnout! Silly me. Just to clarify, Labour did carry Bromborough in 2010 council election, though with the Lib Dems in a decent second. The Lib Dems carried Eastham. As you recognise, my main point still stands- those who switched from the Lib Dems in the general election, switched decisively to Labour over the Tories.

  42. PS- note that the same happens in Wirral West- the reasonably strong Labour vote in the Pensby and Greasby wards has often been camouflaged by the tendency of anti-Tories to vote Lib Dem in council elections.

  43. Alf Bates, Labour MP for Bebington & Ellesmere Port from 1974 to 1979 when he was defeated by the Tories’ Barry Porter, has died aged 69.

  44. Wirral South local election results.

    The Conservatives carried Heswall and Clatterbridge. Labour carried Bromborough and Bebington. The Lib Dems carried Eastham with a new candidate (an excellent result for them). UKIP finished second in Bromborough (within a thousand of Labour) and Heswall (distantly).

    Lab 7233 (34.7%)
    Con 6260 (30.0%)
    UKIP 3812 (18.3%)
    LD 2372 (11.4%)

    Lord Ashcroft’s poll has Labour carrying Wirral South 43%-26% over the Conservatives with UKIP third.

  45. How does Eastham vote in general elections?

  46. I’m guessing Labour based on most recent general election results. Perhaps not in 2010 though.

  47. The LD vote has gone through the floor in this seat.
    We’ll have to see how that splits.

  48. Eastham votes Labour in general elections, yes. IIRC Pete Whitehead said that the Tories may have carried it in 1979 and 1983 but not thereafter. The Tories would probably do better were it not for the Lib Dems being well-entrenched locally (which presumably has something of a spill-over effect at general elections). After all, it’s a relatively nice area- not nearly as posh as Heswall etc but a cut above Bromborough and 80% owner occupied.

  49. There’s a bit of a Wirral theme developing on here- Wonder if it’s got anything to do with recent events maybe?

  50. I heard UKIP are not going to place a candidate here. Is this true?

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