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”
  1. With an 11% majority this one might be in jeapordy but I expect McGovern to hold on (and perhaps more comfortably than she won in 2010) while MPs with larger majorities are defeated.

    Something in the region of:

    Lab – 45%
    Con – 42%
    Lib – 9%
    UKIP – 3%
    Oth – 1%

  2. Following on from my Wirral West post here is the word from Wirral South.

    The team are apparently cautiously optimistic, Alison (unsurprisingly being chair of Progress) has went nuclear and have pretty much disowned Corbyn. That being said returns show that there appears to have been a shift to the Tories but not a strong one. Most of Labs vote is sticking with us, the issue is their are a fair few 2015 Lab voters who now say they are unsure. I encountered a fair few of these myself this afternoon in Bebington but one important caveat is they don’t seem enthusiastic about the Tories at all, by all accounts a great many have said they won’t vote for the Tories under any circumstances but they cant vote for us either. How these people will vote on the day is key assuming they vote at all. The consensus is (something I concur with when reading people on the doorstep) is most of these waverers will either not bother voting or begrudgingly vote Lab.

    My guesstimation is another below average swing to the Tories here and not one big enough for them to win it. I imagine Alison will have a majority of around 5% or so here.

    One spanner in the works though is who the Tories select. Word is that (like in Wirral West) they are selecting a moderate rather than a hard right head banger, a local councillor who’s name escapes me but was an ardent Remainer, ex public sector, left of the Tory party so much so he called the Daily Mail a racist haterag. If he is selected and is as moderate as the rumours go he might be able to allay the fears of some of the aforementioned Lab waverers and sneak this. My guess though is this will be a Lab hold.

  3. I’ve never stepped foot in the Wirral in my lifetime, but that is broadly what I was expecting, since it seems that the Labour vote here is of the public-sector, middle-class variety, which hasn’t abandoned them like working-class voters have.

    It is nice to have on-the-ground confirmation of my expectations. I’d like to ask, how on-board are some of the more radical Labour canvassers with Alison McGovern’s “don’t mention Jeremy” strategy? The stereotype is that they have a tendency to sing the praises of St Jez whenever possible – but stereotypes are not always right!

  4. I can’t imagine Labour holding Gedling this time, certainly not if the Tory majority is approaching 100.

  5. Polltroll
    “I’d like to ask, how on-board are some of the more radical Labour canvassers with Alison McGovern’s “don’t mention Jeremy” strategy?”

    Funny you should mention that since they didn’t even get that far. Of the 30 or so people we had out in Wirral West campaigning for Greenwood about 25 of them made it to Wirral South since most of the hard left members refused to campaign for McGovern for obvious reasons. I actually found myself thrust into the fray since being on the left myself I had to try and convince them they were being stupid (a Blairite Lab MP is better than a Tory etc) but to no avail. Thus the “don’t mention Corbyn strategy” never even reached the ears of his biggest fans. Probably for the best…

  6. I admit that I have no personal knowledge of the seat and unless McGovern has a big personal vote, using the national polls this looks more likely a CON GAIN than a LAB HOLD.

    I can see significant amounts of casual Labour voters not sticking with them (not necessarily voting vs but abstaining) partly they see their MP as well as many others is/are against their own leader.

    Also remember that the polls have a fifth (about 22%) of people undecided. We know from experience that the undecideds break for the safe option / status quo so the polls are PROBABLY worse for Labour than it currently appears.

  7. Alex
    “using the national polls this looks more likely a CON GAIN than a LAB HOLD”
    National polls have this literally right on the wire using universal swing and we need to consider that this seat is drifting Labs way so its not too outlandish to expect a below average swing to the cons here.

    “Also remember that the polls have a fifth (about 22%) of people undecided”
    Polling companies re-allocate the undecided and their methodology for doing so very much favours the Tories.

  8. I think Ms McGovern will be ok here. She is very representative of a good many of her electors (i.e. Wirral-born, middle-class, public sector worker) and I think even Conservatives would have to accept that she is a well-intentioned constituency MP.

  9. I would say (from a distance, and not for a minute doubting that Rivers’ account is accurate) that the Cons are slight favourites here. But McGovern is really very good and, together with the demographics here, it makes a hold very possible.

  10. These are my figures based on 6 polls(all 6 of them post 19Apr)
    CON NET GAIN 5% from LAB
    CON NET GAIN 6% from LD
    CON NET GAIN 40% from UKIP
    LD NET GAIN 3% from LAB
    LAB NET GAIN 10% from UKIP

    There are others to take into account but are not significant…so using just the above gives the following results in WIRRAL S:
    LAB 18700
    CON 18200
    LD 2800
    UKIP 1600
    GRN 500

    However when you factor in what I think will be a bigger LAB>LD vote and the abstentions from Labour coupled with the stick ability of the CON vote, means a likely CON GAIN. So it’ll be a notable achievement if the local can hold onto her seat.*

    The other thing that can help is if there is a bigger participation of younger vote. Poll are showing nearly twice as many over 75s will certainly vote compared to under 25s.
    *A similar situation is in Harrow West where the Lab MP Gareth Thomas- maj 2300- was born and schooled in the seat. I think also he will lose his seat.

  11. @Alex F

    You’re making the mistake of being too influenced by the polls and assuming that every Labour marginal will fall with the national swing. That will almost certainly not be the case. While I don’t doubt that many of Labour’s vulnerable seats are likely to go Tory next month, there’s bound to be some that remain in the Labour column. I think this will be one of them. Remain voting areas with a significant middle class public sector vote such as this one are less likely to be hostile to Labour under Corbyn than must other areas. The incumbent MP also seems to be well respected which will also help.

  12. Rivers10 – you’re again making the mistake of stating that a Tory you’d be more happy with is one which the electorate would be here. There is simply no past evidence either for that or indeed any eg centre/LD vote to go Tory to knock Labour out. The UKIP vote by contrast was more than double the LD vote in both seats. [Whereas right wing populist Barry Porter MP – who no doubt you would have deemed ‘a headbanger’ – held this seat throughout the 1980s and ’90s until his death in 1996]

    I happen to agree with your assessment re the Wirral by and large – but for the opposite reasons.

    If the Tories fail in either Wirral seat it will be because of their wet PPCs, their late selection, being non-local, their greenness as well as the lack of activity from the Associations over the past 2 years.

  13. The seat I grew up and first cast my vote in, though it was Tory in those days. While I don’t have much local knowledge now, would note the following;

    MP is local and reasonably high profile. She achieved a significant swing in her favour at the last election.

    While the seat is not as pro-remain as Wirral West, that was the majority view in the referendum, so I’m unsure selecting a Brexit candidate would help the Conservative cause greatly here.

    There is a Lib Dem enclave in Eastham and think one of the councillors is their candidate this time, so there might be a small element of some disillusioned LDs who voted Labour rewinding.

    My prediction would be a Labour hold but with a margin closer to 2010 than last time.

  14. She is indeed very popular and well known a good mp by all accounts and quite pretty but that’s by the by

  15. Labour hold. The Merseyside effect should save McGovern, even whilst ‘safer’ Labour seats are probably going to fall.

  16. I hope I can be excused a brief moment of self adulation but I am SO EFFING PLEASED with the results in Wirral South and West. They bore the brunt of my campaigning efforts and I was in one or the other most every other day over the six week campaign. On polling day I was in Wirral South from early morning to about an hour before polls closed at 9 and I’m so glad the effort appears to paid off, almost doubling our majority in Wirral South and sending Margaret Greenwood back with a healthy 5,000 vote majority in Wirral West, feels good to know all the effort wasn’t a waste.

  17. Congratulations Rivers.

  18. Seconded. Though I mostly disagree with Rivers’ politics, the hard work of people like him has re-engaged the young in the electoral process, and no longer will politicians be able win elections solely by bribing the retired at the expense of the under 40s. A very positive development which means that both parties are going to have to take intergenerational issues very seriously from now on, for the first time. Well done.

  19. Would be interesting to see ward breakdowns here, its likely Clatterbridge would have been narrowly Tory in 2015, but has now voted Labour. Labour would probably got 65%-70% of the vote in Bebington and Bromborough.

  20. Well done Rivers10. I did all my work in Brentford & Isleworth and in Ealing Central & Acton, but if I’d foreseen how easy Labour’s victories would be in those seats I’d have done something in Putney, Battersea or both. Or indeed Kensington (last did any election work in that borough when Michael Portillo won his by-election).

  21. I was in Hornsey and Hampstead for most of my time. Had I know just how comfortable those were going to be i’d have gone to Enfield a bit more perhaps. Knew we’d won Hampstead when the Tory candidate was telling on the morning of polling day. I started at 8 in Hampstead ward and finished at 930pm in Wood Green. It’s an excellent feeling when you work so hard for a candidate/seat and it comes through.

  22. The Conservative vote share did actually increase slightly here.

  23. That’s hardly surprising. The Tory share increased in most seats.

  24. Yes but it didn’t in Wirral West next door.

  25. I agree with HH about the inter generational issue. The Tory manifesto did mention this in a vague academic kind of way. Labour actually had policies to deal with it. Still can’t believe how bad the Tory manifest was. There was no “offer” . It read like a policy report written for an emperor or dictator. Very worthy and fluent without any sense of needing to attract voters. Real arrogance.

  26. “Would be interesting to see ward breakdowns here, its likely Clatterbridge would have been narrowly Tory in 2015, but has now voted Labour. Labour would probably got 65%-70% of the vote in Bebington and Bromborough.”

    Possibly Eastham too which returns Lib Dems locally. I guess continued Tory strength Heswall is what keeps their vote in the 35-39% region while the rest of the seat moves to Labour.

  27. Heswall seems to be the most resistant part of the Wirral to Labour doesn’t it.

  28. So, is the Wirral trending inexorably towards Labour, or was this rather a case of Labour going after Wirral Woman at the election while the Conservatives completely abandoned her? Or a bit of both, maybe?

  29. Well as said previously upthread I’d blame W West on the Tory PPC. Indeed I’m sure in hindsight the Con Assoc can see it was illogical to bar Esther but then choose Caldeira (who spearheaded her failed campaign in 2015). I assume they’ll select the other Tony C – the local Cllr next time. Indeed I even hard an amusing anecdote that one lady voted for the wrong Tony C resulting in the selection, but perhaps Wirral Observer or others can confirm this.

    W South is down to the Labour MP more so, but the Tory PPC was also poor (again).

  30. I think that’s right yes. Caldeira being the candidate in Wirral West obviously didn’t work and backfired on the local Conservative association by the looks of it if the result there is anything to go by.

  31. When was he selected, out of interest? Was it soon after May called the election? If so, perhaps the Conservative Association thought Caldeira wouldn’t be a major problem given Labour and Corbyn’s low ratings at the time.

  32. Good point. Maybe they didn’t at all suspect the shift that would take place before too long, something I suspect all too endemic throughout Conservative associations up and down the country in seemingly winnable nailed-on gains…

  33. The Results – very true.

    In fact I make it that Caldeira’s result was one of only 71 seats where the Tory % fell and WW was the only seat on Merseyside to do so!

    Clearly, ‘a millionaire from St Helens who spends a lot of time abroad & didn’t even vote in the EU Referendum’ were all open goals for Labour and none of which would inspire 2015 UKIP voters to turnout for him.

  34. I’m sure a safe seat will be found for Mr. Caldeira somewhere one day.

  35. It happened for the previous Tory MP…

  36. Neil – it was a relatively late selection in the circumstances in that it went to a members’ vote (after Esther was apparently barred from even applying). Hence it wouldn’t surprise me if a couple of old dears did vote for the wrong Tony C on the night!

    There was also an amusing letter in the local paper criticising Caldeira for leafleting on Easter Sunday. I didn’t think it would alter many votes, but perhaps it just added to an image of an outsider rubbing people up the wrong way and who was just after a seat at any cost.

    I have no knowledge as to whether the local Tories backpeddled due to the polls. But Wirral West Assoc are well known on the old site for being useless at fighting both local and GEs, compared with successful Wallasey over the past decade and more. I did hear that some Merseyside Tories refused to go and help Caldeira. This was in sharp contrast to Labour where all of their Merseyside CLPs came to both seats as Rivers10 and others can testify.

  37. The Results – I very much doubt that. As I’ve said previously on here and as I think Merseymike recognised, Caldeira was just one of several on Merseyside around 2006 who was attending dinners with the then Labour Party Chairman. He was essentially an entrepreneur devoid of any political views, I’m told.

    Miraculously he then became a Tory activist in 2007 onwards, as did the infamous tranny whose name escapes me. Equally 5 LD cllrs went Labour locally when they saw the tide turning the other way.

    Of course there’s always defections, but the number of sheer opportunistic ones must have been on the increase over the past decade. I recall when the banking crisis led to the queues outside Bradford & Bingley the polls actually improved for Brown around the time of the Tory Conf of 2008 and a couple of Tory PPCs in the area (ex-Bootle, Brighton PPC Judith Symes rings a bell?) defected to Labour in the hope of a snap election.

    PT – indeed, but Esther got lucky with GO stepping down.

  38. Thanks for that Lancs. I must confess I was not aware of that extent to Caldeira’s backstory.

  39. It does seem to be a particular feature of Merseyside politics (as well as Stoke, Tower Hamlets etc).

    So much so that I sent a new journo who now covers Lpool etc a list of people he should ‘be aware of.’

    As you’re probably aware West Lancs’ MP Rosie Copper was a LD Cllr & PPC for over 30 years before being offered a seat if she defected.

    I think the most infamous ‘character’ is a Paul Woodruff (know known as Palbrien Woodruff) who was – take a breath – a LD City Cllr in the 1990s for Anfield (after gaining the seat from Lpool Labour not Labour) ’til he resigned after being caught drink/drug drive speeding through the Mersey Tunnel with a teen rent boy performing a sex act! [Now you can see why I said infamous as the arrest is now even referred to by police and some lawyers in training re simultaneous offences]

    Anyway, he reappeared as a Liberal [not LD] Cllr having gained the neighbouring Clubmoor ward from Labour. He then defected again to form his own Lib Group with 2 other Cllrs ie a rival to the Radford Liberal Group on the City Council. From memory following a civil dispute he simply stood down. He then defected again and now stands for the Green Party in the locals after having become a druid or pagan.

  40. I’ve disagreed with lancs on this exact point before but I have to emphasise (with even more certainty in hindsight) that the Tory PPC’s in both Wirral West and South are not to blame for the results, indeed they were probably assets.

    In my time campaigning in both seats I came across more than one ex Lab voter who said they had seen and liked the look of the Tory candidates. I had one man (an NHS Dr apparently) tell me that he’s normally worried about Tories cos of their views on the NHS but Calderia (being a moderate) convinced him be could be relied upon and in Wirral S I had another man tell me that he normally wouldn’t dream of voting Tory but (having been canvassed by Sykes) that the most Tory thing about him was his rosette and thus he was going to take a punt. Many of th3se people I was able to talk back round but the fact they were even talking along these lines showed the two candidates moderate views hardly tanked.

    I’m sorry to say this but on most any issue Lancs seems to always spin it as a victory for the right particularly re the Wirral. He’s refused to acknowledgedthe evident pro Lab drifts in the Wirral, refused to axkowledge McVey’s unpopularity and her part in losing Wirral West and now he’s trying to claim that a pro brexit right winger would have done better in two pro remain very public sector oriented constituencies, it’s plain silly frankly.

  41. Sorry for the typos, wrote that on my phone

  42. I think Alison McGovern has this seat for as long as she wants it now to be honest. It’s near enough safe, but I’m sure the local Labour Party will still continue to treat it as at least a semi-marginal for the timebeing at least.

  43. I think Alison is likely to lose out in the next boundary change

  44. If it goes through. If it does I agree she will be in trouble then.

  45. As is repeatedly being emphasised the boundary review is stone dead, at least for the foreseeable future many a Tory MP have openly admitted as such. I doubt the gov will even bother putting them to a vote.

  46. Yeah I know but Matt raised the possibility and it has to be said that the MP here may only really begin to worry in a few years time if new boundary proposals really are considered. Like you say I agree really- I can’t see the current review happening for the reasons you refer to, and also surely more importantly because of the untenable constitutional position the government, Parliament as a whole and the entire country has to suffer with at present- this current sitting may well be abandoned within months. I predict a second election in the Autumn, a la October 1974.

  47. It requires a 2/3 majority of MPs to support an early general election. This only happened because May and Corbyn were both extremely optimistic about their prospects and obviously one was right.

    I really don’t both leaders will be as optimistic about their prospects now.

  48. The current proposals are most certainly dead there is no way the DUP wouldn’t oppose reducing their own seats to 7 and giving SF 3 more. However, that doesn’t mean a future draft will not be visited.

  49. Sorry Rivers10 but it is plain false of you to claim that I:

    * “refused to acknowledge McVey’s unpopularity”

    Frankly, as I suspect I am the only UKPR poster who has interviewed her, I in fact detailed her shortcomings on here over 4 years ago and pointed out that Esther loves to promote herself a lot, but simply was not up to speed policy-wise or held any strong viewpoints. Indeed EcoWirral agreed with my assessment of her. Tory members told myself that Esther and Caldeira were – like Grayling – not good on the doorstep.

    What is plain silly, is to assert from two or three voters that from a 5 week campaign you somehow believe that many of the 60,000 voters here were aware that the Tory PPC was a) a moderate and b) that was a positive.

    It is simply a fact that Caldeira admitted on air that he failed to vote in the EU Referendum and so I believe it’s self-evident therefore that there was no reason to believe 2015 UKIP voters would turn out for him.

    I would have thought Rivers10 would be pleased that Labour’s attacks on him were so easy and effective. This would not have been so easy had the PPC been the local Cllr or indeed any other Merseyside Tory PPC.

    Incidentally Wirral West voted fairly evenly as did the rest of the Country. But of course we are comparing the 2015 and 2017 results in both seats and asking the question why Caldeira underperformed compared with the other 20 seats in the city region.

    So yes, I do claim that any other Tory PPC would have performed better, given that Caldeira’s performance was in the bottom 10% of all 630 Tory PPCs. Although my main points were that he was a non-local millionaire and so yes, the other Tony (Cox) a normal local would have performed better – and in line with all of the other seats in Merseyside where the Tory % rose in 2017.

    [The only element where Rivers10 may have a point is that I have twice referred to the fact that a rightwinger, Barry Porter, held his seat throughout the 1980s and 1990s. But again it remains a fact, irrespective of whether it does not fit in with how Rivers10 believes voters behave.]

    It is also a fact that there were thousands more 2015 UKIP Voters in both seats than LDs and I hardly think it’s controversial to point out that a TRG Tory here is not likely to garner the former’s widespread support.

  50. Lancs
    Re McVey if you have stated before that she was a drag on the doorstep in 2015 then fair dues and I can only apologise, I must be getting you mixed up with somebody else on that issue. Re the other points though…

    “What is plain silly, is to assert from two or three voters that from a 5 week campaign…”
    Not just me other canvassers reported similar things, we just couldn’t deploy the “Tory candidate is crap” technique, this was particularly frustrating in West since that formed the bedrock of the campaign in 2015. As for them being moderates it makes total sense. A very large % of the electorate in both seats (particularly the wealthier areas) are your typical middle class liberal that would probably vote for a Ruth Davidson Tory party without question but keep getting driven away by the “nasty party” perception. I found it noteworthy that multiple people reported reservations about May but liked the Tories PPC’s

    “Incidentally Wirral West voted fairly evenly as did the rest of the Country”
    Its estimated to have been 60% Remain

    “Although my main points were that he was a non-local millionaire and so yes, the other Tony (Cox) a normal local would have performed better”
    Then why didn’t Sykes do better in South? Yes his vote rose but the swing against the Cons in South was only slightly lower than in West.

    ” I have twice referred to the fact that a rightwinger, Barry Porter, held his seat throughout the 1980s and 1990s”
    As you well know the Wirral has changed a lot since those days. I’d hazard a guess that most of the Tory vote in the Wirral from back then has long since passed on.

    “It is also a fact that there were thousands more 2015 UKIP Voters in both seats than LDs”
    I never said otherwise but I have pointed out to you before that the turnout in both seats was well up and there are very few students in the Wirral to attribute that to, this doesn’t suggest that there were thousands of abstaining kippers otherwise turnout would have fell or at best remained static.

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