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Copeland

2010 Results:
Conservative: 15866 (37.08%)
Labour: 19699 (46.04%)
Liberal Democrat: 4365 (10.2%)
BNP: 1474 (3.44%)
UKIP: 994 (2.32%)
Green: 389 (0.91%)
Majority: 3833 (8.96%)

Notional 2005 Results:
Labour: 19218 (49.1%)
Conservative: 12390 (31.7%)
Liberal Democrat: 5145 (13.2%)
Other: 2354 (6%)
Majority: 6828 (17.5%)

Actual 2005 result
Conservative: 10713 (31.7%)
Labour: 17033 (50.5%)
Liberal Democrat: 3880 (11.5%)
UKIP: 735 (2.2%)
Other: 1396 (4.1%)
Majority: 6320 (18.7%)

2001 Result
Conservative: 13027 (37.5%)
Labour: 17991 (51.8%)
Liberal Democrat: 3732 (10.7%)
Majority: 4964 (14.3%)

1997 Result
Conservative: 12081 (29.2%)
Labour: 24025 (58.1%)
Liberal Democrat: 3814 (9.2%)
Referendum: 1036 (2.5%)
Other: 389 (0.9%)
Majority: 11944 (28.9%)

Boundary changes: Copeland ceases to be coterminus with Copeland council, taking in the wards of Crummock, Dalton, Derwent Valley and Keswick from Allerdale.

Profile: Seat on the remote west coast of Cumbria. The constituency is a mixture of hill farming countryside, impressive Lake District wilderness, including Scafell Pike itself, and somewhat economically depressed former mining or iron working towns. The main town is Whitehaven. Historically a coal mining town and commericial port, mining ceased in the 1980s. The Marchon chemical factory also closed in 2005 leaving the nearby Sellafield nuclear power complex as the most important source of local employment. Keswick, to the north of the constituency, was the first palce to produce graphite pencils and remains the base of Derwent, the manufacturers of fine art pencils. Other towns include Cleator Moor, Egremont and Millom.

Copeland is the first area to fully switchover to digital television. Analogue television signals in the area will cease between October and November 2007.

portraitCurrent MP: Jamie Reed(Labour) born 1973, Whitehaven. Educated at Whitehaven school and Manchester University. Former press officer for Sellafield and Copeland councillor. First elected as MP for Copeland in 2005. PPS to Tony McNulty. (more information at They work for you)

2010 election candidates:
portraitChris Whiteside (Conservative) . Educated at St Albans school and the University of Bristol. Economist, working for BT Global Services. Currently a St Albans councillor, standing down in May 2007 having re-located to Cumbria. Contested Copeland in 2005.
portraitJamie Reed(Labour) born 1973, Whitehaven. Educated at Whitehaven school and Manchester University. Former press officer for Sellafield and Copeland councillor. First elected as MP for Copeland in 2005. PPS to Tony McNulty. (more information at They work for you)
portraitFrank Hollowell (Liberal Democrat) born 1959, London. Educated at Spencefield Secondary. Mental health nurse.
portraitJill Perry (Green) Jam maker and former teacher.
portraitTed Caley-Knowles (UKIP)
portraitClive Jefferson (BNP)

2001 Census Demographics

Total 2001 Population: 79416
Male: 49.7%
Female: 50.3%
Under 18: 21.8%
Over 60: 23%
Born outside UK: 2%
White: 99.3%
Asian: 0.2%
Mixed: 0.3%
Other: 0.2%
Christian: 85.4%
Full time students: 1.5%
Graduates 16-74: 16.6%
No Qualifications 16-74: 32.9%
Owner-Occupied: 68.2%
Social Housing: 21.8% (Council: 12.5%, Housing Ass.: 9.4%)
Privately Rented: 6.1%
Homes without central heating and/or private bathroom: 8.7%

NB - The constituency guide is now archived and is no longer being updated. The new guide is at http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/2015guide

248 Responses to “Copeland”

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  1. That’s almost sensible by US standards H.Hemmelig. Behold the gerrymandered wonder of my personal favourite, the Illinois 4th district…

    here

  2. I very much agree with HH on this one.
    I’m really tired of hearing politicians, including many Tories,
    say how they successfully or unsuccessfully lobbied for this or that boundary.
    It’s appalling – and should be set independently. Although
    perhaps indepenent can mean the gerrymandering goes underground,
    if you’re not careful who does it.
    Also, local sensitivities are important – and I suppose this is where the political interference becomes too great.

  3. It’s just like the Isle of Wight: of course, it would probably help the Conservatives to two seats on the island, and the Commission would probably grant it if they were pushed. but there’s no demand locally for such an arrangement.

    On Copeland, I now think it is within the Tories grasp.

    I’d disagree: I still think that Cumbria tends to be fairly stable in terms of vote share, and Conservative chances of success here will depend on a Labour collapse in Whitehaven, which we didn’t see in 2007 (as an all-out council, it won’t be fought next until 2011).

  4. The system we have for setting boundaries works fairly well most of the time. It is important that the process is seen to be transparent and open to public contribution which makes it impossible to exclude politicians and political organisations. The boundary commission doesn’t always get it right and in many cases there are clear choices (e.g. the boundaries of Bromley & Lewisham seats) that would result in very different outcomes. Simply going for electoral advantage usually looks that way and gets (rightly) short shrift from the Commissioners. For those who want to make representations or make proposals (especially on redrawing of local ward boundaries) there are just three pieces of advice I can give having dome it successfully for a large metropolitan authority: 1) Changes should aim to be as small as possible to achieve (as close to) the objective of electoral equality; 2) Existing anomalies should be corrected; 3) A real basis for determining ‘natural communities’ should be used. Party advantage can be achieved if these rules are adhered to but you will fail if they are broken too often.

  5. The problem with redistribution of seats is that the new constituencies are based on the populations at a historical point (the recent changes are based on the electorate as it was in 2000). This perpetuates a situation which us disadvantageous to the Conservatives. The big cities are still losing population – and country and suburban seats are gaining population. It is the young aspiring people who are leaving the cities. These tend to be more likely to support the Conservatives, but their votes count proportionately less as they are moving into expanding electorates.

    The boundaries would be fairer if the commisiion took into consideration the numbersof electors in the latest electoral roll.

  6. I agree that it’s right that political parties make partisan representations but it is esential that the relevant boundary commissions don’t get into the thrall of one parties reccomendations so much that they ignore all other considerations. By & large our system works well certainly better than a system that creates this monstrosity:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:VA_3rd_Congressional_District.png

    I agree that Copeland is a potential Tory gain. The demographics of the place are similar to that of where I think they will do well in places in outer areas against Labour in England. It will be interesting if the BNP contest this seat & what effect that would have.

  7. Anthony, I just tried to post on here but it hasn’t come through.

  8. “It’s appalling – and should be set independently. Although
    perhaps indepenent can mean the gerrymandering goes underground”

    It was the re-distribution of Scottish Regional Council wards in 1995 which ultimatly was to Labour’s benefit –

    The Edinburgh Central seat lost the New Town – Stockbrige and gained Moat – Steinhouse though major ward boundary changes making it impossible to re-assemble the original wards.

    The same was the case with Glasgow Hillhead which lost Kelvinside, Kelvindale and Jordanhill to Glasgow Garscadden and gained Glasgow’s city centre.

    Renfrew West & Inverclyde (Renfrewshire West) lost Gourock and Inverkip and gained Port Glasgow.

    Ayr lost most of South Ayr due to new Regional Council Ward boundaries.

    Then in 2005, although South Ayr was returned, Prestwick and Troon were replaced by Cumnock and Doon Valley.

  9. My prediction for this seat;

    Labour 17000
    Cons 15000
    Lib Dem 4000
    Others 2000

  10. Interesting comments about the way boundary changes work (in general).
    Thanks for the link about the Virginia monstrosity -( I think posts with links don’t come up immediately as they get moderated.)

    Jack Cunningham’s support for nuclear power, and being quite a right wing Labour man, probably kept this in the Labour column through the 80s, and as Tangent says, this is probably more Labour than the raw figures suggest, although there probably is now potential for a Tory gain.

  11. Matt, your post would be more meaningful if you explained what assumptions you are making about the national position and about the impact of boundary changes.

    If you applied a national swing to the “notional 2005 result” quoted on this site you are effectively assuming that the wards represented on Allerdale council by the Conservative leader of the council and three other very prominent Allerdale Conservative councillors are safe Labour wards.

    If there were a swing back to Labour such that they were the largest party in a hung parliament, you might get a result in Copeland not too dissimilar to Matt’s figures.

    But if the overall result is anything remotely like the 20% Conservative lead shown by most of the current opinion polls, the Baxter projection for Copeland showing a clear Conservative win is almost certainly right.

    Jack Cunningham only held on by the skin of his teeth in 1983 and 1987, and would probably have lost on the new boundaries which apply next time. And there has been demographic change since then.

    If there is a modest swing back to Labour leaving the Conservatives as the largest party in a hung parliament or with a small majority, Copeland could be very close indeed.

    Tangent’s view that Cumbria tends to be fairly stable in terms of vote share has sometimes been right, but not every time. In 2001 Copeland had the sixth-largest Labour to Conservative swing in the country.

    Speaking as a councillor for a Whitehaven ward where the Conservatives gained two Labour seats in 2007, I can assure Tangent that there is a clear swing from Labour to Conservative here since the 2005 election. I wouldn’t describe it as a Labour collapse but the Conservatives do not need a Labour collapse to win Copeland.

    If you take into account an accurate view of the impact of boundary changes – e.g. the move into the constituency of three safe Conservative wards and one three way marginal ward with the Lib/Dems possibly first and Labour probably third – the swing required is between 6% and 7%. (See previous posts.) That really does leave everything to play for.

  12. I do tend to agree with Matt’s prediction in thta I think a narroW Labou hold is the moat likely outome/. I made some reference to Jamie Reed on the Stalybridge& Hyde thread and as it turns out i trhink i m ya have been unfair to him (but this is the fault of the Tines guide).
    I have some fami;ly connectoins with this seat as it happnesd in that myt grandfather ws involved in the building of the nuclear plant at Seacsclae (also a second cousin working as a park ranger in the area). My mother speaks often of her pleaure at living in this area.
    I have spoken elsewhere of this area (not just this contiuency but west Cumbira generally) as exibiting the traits sdimilar of west Virginia and that I expect to see a long term swing to the right, as the Labour party becomes increasingly identifeid with a metroplitcan left wing Guardianisata element. I have gt into trouble with H. Hemmelig amongst others for supposedly overplaying the West Virginia card, but I do beliebve thre are important parqallels to be dra\zwn between US oting behavioour and the situation in this country.
    It will be interesting to seee the outomce of the county council elections in this area next year. There are not alot of marginal diviosns within this seat (though Millom was Conservative held by majority of 2 votes). If Coinsservative canidates mange to win Bransty and Keswick within this constituency then I shall believe that they ahve a reasonalble chance of winnin this parliamentary seat.
    I shall add that I know Chris Whiteside, because I was somewhat active in the Young Conservati9ves in Hertfordshgire in the 1980s and he wa a ‘leading light’ amongst this body. He probably does not know me becuase i was, and remain, a nonentity but I was aligned with the nMonday Club faction which was decidedly in a mionority anonsgt the lewft wing Heathite majority in the Eastern region at that time, at least until Andrew Tinney swept them away.
    I suggested earlier in the therad that he may not be to the taste of the elctorate here, but he has a good track record in Sandirdge (St albans).
    We were discussing at Rochester the merits of candiates trying again in seats that they have fought unsucessfully in the past and it is very mcuh to Chris’s credit IMO that he has moved to this area in order to have another crack at it. The reasons why the Conservatibe vote fell in 2005 are well rehearsed and do not reflect badly on Chris whiteside.
    Thi sseat is eminently winnable and while, as indicated above , I would bet on Labour to hold on here next time, I wixh Chris Whiteside the best of luck

  13. The ICM Poll today (03/10/08) of marginal seats is interpreted by Tony Wells as implying that, as things stand, the Conservatives are predicted to gain 164 seats from Labour at the next election. Tory target 165 is the special case, because of the by-election, of Crewe and Nantwich, and Target 166 is Gower in Wales. So, in theory this is the most marginal seat Labour would save in England “if there were a General Election tomorrow.”

    My suspicion is that this seat is a worse Conservative prospect than others with a similar Labour percentage majority. Firstly, the swing between Labour and the Conservatives in the North of England tends to be comparatively small, and all the indications are that this will be the case next time. In addition, Copeland, with its heavy dependence on employment in the nuclear energy industry (whatever you think of that), is comparatively protected against the current finanical crisis which is probably the major factor at present determining whether people change their votes.

    All the same, this seat looks likely to have a small majority next time unless the political climate changes substantially.

  14. Frederick

    About 24% of the working population of Copeland are directly employed in the nuclear industry. For those people your argument may have a grain of truth. For the other three quarters of people or working age it does not apply. And the impact of house price changes is affecting people in Copeland much the same as the rest of the country, whether they work at Sellafield or not.

    Judging by the comments people make to me, many residents of Copeland are very worried indeed about the danger of a recession.

    Cumbria has in various elections produced both above average and below average swings. As mentioned, In 2001 Copeland had the 6th highest Labour to Conservative swing in the country.

    My other issue with your argument is that, as explained in comments above, Anthony’s current estimate of the notional 2005 Labour majority in Copeland is about four to five percentage points too high.

    I agree that the majority is likely to be small – I think the seat is too close to call.

    Pete – thanks for your kind comments.

  15. Chris

    I’m sorry if you didn’t like my prediction, but I do try and be objective, rather than just predict Conservative gains all over the place. I have had a look at Electoral Calculus for the ward results of the 4 wadrds that have been added to Copeland, and see that 2 were uncontested Conservative wards, one was a straight fight between Lib Dem and Conservative (won by the Conservatives) – only in Keswick did Labour even stand in 2007. The way Electoral Calculus have dealt with this is to assume a 100% Conservative vote in Crummock and Dalton, and 55% Conservative vote in Derwent Valley (with the rest going to the Lib Dems) – overall, the 4 wards (according to Electoral Calculus) voted 59% Conservative and just 9% Labour in 2005. I would question the accuracy of this – it may be that the correct notional majority is somewhere between the 2 ie around 5000 or so.

    I also do not believe that the Conservatives will be anywhere near 20% ahead when it comes to the election – I would say more like 7-11%, in which case I would consider my prediction plausible,

  16. Conservative councullor Robin Pitt has defected to Labour .

  17. Matt

    Thanks for clarifying that. It wasn’t so much a case of not liking your post as being interested to know what your assumptions were, so as to make a discussion possible. You have now explained them.

    Your suggested notional Labour majority of 5,000 in 2005 is within the range that a person who knows the area could find reasonable – while in my humble opinion, 6,828 is not.

    If the Conservative lead is in the range of 7-11%, rather than the twenty percentage points where it was at the time of your post, then I agree that your predicted Labour majority is within the range of plausible outcomes for that assumption. I would put it at the upper end of that range, but agree that it’s inside rather than outside.

    I was disappointed by Robin Pitt’s decision to change parties. However, on the basis of the comments he has made on the subject, his reasons for doing this appear to relate to Copeland Council issues and local development issues in Millom rather than national politics. I do not expect his defection to have a material impact on the parliamentary election.

  18. I think the Conservatives could win this seat actually.

    But the balance does remain in Labour’s favour.

  19. Yesterday’s CCC by-election result in Kells and Sandwith.

    Labour 42% of the vote
    SNP 40% ” ” ”
    Con. 18% ” ” ”

    What on earth is going on here?

  20. It was the BNP – not the SNP

  21. Oooooops! Whata mistaka to maka. of course I should have said BNP – thankyou Pete.

  22. What can we learn about likely voting intentions at a General election (if anything).? Would these people come back to Labour (I’m assuming that these are traditional Labour voters) ow will they stay at home?

  23. I think you will also find that the town of Keswick is fertile ground for all three of the main Party’s. Not only that, although the size of Copeland has increased substantially, the number of voters – excluding Keswick will be small, albiet very Conservative.

    The GE result here will, I reckon be too close to call.

  24. My previous post was menat to say that the Three Safe Conservative wards I suspect contain a very small number of electors compared to the total for the Copeland constituency.

    Would Chris Whiteside – or someone else – enlighten us as to how many electors reside in the Three safe Tory wards and the Keswick ward which was transferred? To know would be very helpful!

  25. I just discovered two things:

    the Labour majority in this Council seat was 1010 votes at the last Council elections – so it would be fair to say that winning by 16 is not too clever.

    The previous incumbent passed away in July – which begs the question;why did it take so long to have the by-election?

    Like James, I’m hoping that Chris or someone else can provide info on this.

  26. I can certainly give you help with some of those questions.

    First, in answer to James, the increase in the electorate will be something over 8,400 and probably close to 16% allowing for population changes since the most recent data I have to hand.

    I have not yet had full details of the 2009 register, but at the time the Boundary Commission inspector’s report was written, as you can read at

    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pbc/review_areas/downloads/Cumbria_AC_Report.pdf

    the change in the electorate of Copeland as a result of what were then the recommended boundary changes, now implemented, was an increase from 54,071 to 62,517 (about 15.6%).

    Of this about half, e.g. around four thousand, live in Crummock, Dalton, and Derwent Valley, which are safe Conservative wards, and the other four thousand or so live in Keswick ward, where James is quite correct to say that there is some support for all three major parties.

    So the boundary changes will not on their own eliminate the Labour majority of 6320, but they will almost certainly put a dent in it (and certainly will not increase it by 508.)

    The Kells and Sandwith by-election was fought in difficult and unusual circumstances with polling day a week before Christmas at a time when most electors and party activists were thinking of other things.

    Kells and Sandwith is normally a rock-solid Labour ward and probably the worst county division in Copeland for the Conservatives.

    It’s a bit difficult to obey Anthony’s rules about being non-partisan where the British National Party are concerned but I will try. Hopefully it is within the rules to say that we have good reason to think that they deliberately called the election at this time in the belief that this timing would give them a relative advantage compared with the Conservative and Labour parties.

    Turnout was pretty low at about 26%.

    Given that the Conservative vote share actually went up slightly, while Labour’s dropped by some 24 percentage points, and given where the votes were coming from, I think TAM is right to assume that the BNP voters were mostly traditional Labour voters, I think there were also some who don’t normally vote.

    Some of this was a protest vote and will return at a General Election. But not all of it.

    Add up the awkward timing, poor weather, low turnout, and the fact that the BNP bussed in people from all over Cumbria to campaign, and you have some explanation for the election result. Nevertheless, for the BNP to crack 40% was. to put it politely, towards the upper end of anyone’s expectations, and is being seen as cause for concern. None of the mainstream parties can afford to be complacent about what happened.

  27. There are about 8,000 voters coming into this constituency from Allerdale, about half of whom are in Keswick.
    The Keswick & Derwent CC seat was a LD gain from Conservative in 2005. Labour had won the old Keswick & St johns in 1997 so James is entirely correct that all three parties can count on support in Keswick.

  28. Chris’s reply wasn’t there when I wrote mine – presumably awaiting moderation due to the link included therein, hence my seemingly repeating the reply he has given in rather more detail.

  29. “for the BNP to crack 40% was. to put it politely, towards the upper end of anyone’s expectations, and is being seen as cause for concern. None of the mainstream parties can afford to be complacent about what happened”

    As it is Chris’s view that the BNP overwhelmingly took votes from Labour, it seems to me that this should be a cause of concern for Labour and actually a cause of some encouragement for him. If, as would seem likely, the BNP stand in this seat, it is likely they could take between 5-10% of the vote and if this comes mostly at Labour’s expense then that takes a couple of thousand off their majority before there is any Labour to Conservative swing.

  30. I think at the next election we will (sadly) see the BNP stand in many seats they have never stood in before – this being one of them. I don’t however think they will win any seats (although are likely to get a strong second place in Barking).

  31. I think Chris has managed to be pretty non-partisan in his reply, which was very helpful. I don’t know English council rules as well as I do Scottish obviously, but why were the BNP allowed to call the by-election? Or more accurately, why didn’t the Labour Party call it after five months? In Scotland the convention is that you must call it within 3 months as Will P or Peter Cairns will vouch for (unless there is another election looming within a reasonable period).

    Matt – I presume that the BNP wouldn’t do that well in a General Election, althugh i’d be interested to hear if anyone knows of any seats where they’ve held their deposits at parliamentary elections.

  32. “i’d be interested to hear if anyone knows of any seats where they’ve held their deposits at parliamentary elections.”

    1997

    Bethnal Green & Bow
    Dewsbury
    Poplar & Canning Town

    2001

    Barking
    Burnley
    Oldham E & Saddleworth
    Oldham W & Royton
    Poplar & Canning Town

    2005

    Ashton under Lyne
    Barking
    Batley & Spen
    Birmingham Hodge Hill
    Birmingham Yardley
    Blackburn
    Bradford N
    Bradford S
    Bradford W
    Burnley
    Dagenham
    Dewsbury
    Dudley N
    Halifax
    Hyndburn
    Keighley
    Morley & Rothwell
    Normanton
    Oldham W & Royton
    Pendle
    Pontefract & Castleford
    Rotherham
    Rother Valley
    Sheffield Brightside
    Stoke C
    Stoke N
    Stoke S
    Thurrock
    Walsall N
    Walsall S
    Warley
    Wentwoth
    West Bromwich E
    West Bromwich W

  33. I think in 1983, 1987 and 1992 the BNP didn’t save their deposit in any seats.

  34. I think for some of us posting on the thread, we’re interested in the fact that the BNP came from no where to take 40% of the vote. Following on from that, we’re also interested in the rise of the BNP’s fortunes in the General Election.

    Anthony – I wonder if you might be able to shed some light on how the BNP are olling nationally and in local elections across England & Wales (for whatever reason the BNP are making absolutely headway in Scotland thankfully).?

    Chris – Is the BNP result a one-off in Cumbria, or have there been other significant results for them? I ask because, I wouldn’t have thought that Cumbria would have been natural breeding ground for them, it strikes (from afar I admi) that Cumbria is quite different in its make-up from say Lancashire or Yorkshire.

  35. On calling by elections: for county council and Borough/District vacancies arising when the councillor who resigned or died had at least six months of his/term remaining, and two registered electors in the ward can call a by-election at any time. (For Town/Parish vacancies the figure is ten electors.)

    There is an anomaly in that the limit on when it is too late to bother with an election is based on when the vacancy arises, not when the election is called. This can have bizarre consequences. When I was Leader of the Conservative group on St Albans council, an Independent councillor in a three-seat ward died with ten months of his term of office left. None of the three parties thought it was a good use of public money to call a by-election – the other two councillors could deal with any ward casework and the one seat would not make a significant difference to the control of the council.

    But the following February, two ordinary members of the public submitted a request for a by election, which took place all of six weeks before the winner’s term as a councillor expired.

    The Kells and Sandwith situation has some similarities. Joe McAllister, the previous county councillor, died in July. There has been a convention in Copeland that in such circumstances the party which held the seat has first call on whether and when to hold a by-election. Labour thought it was a waste of money and the Conservatives didn’t challenge them.

    In fairness to the BNP they were not a party to that convention, which probably goes back to before they existed in their present form.

    At the time the vacancy occurred, the BNP’s Cumbria organisation was busy with a by-election in Barrow. As soon as that was finished, they threw a major effort into an Allerdale Borough Council by-election in Workington.

    And then, a week or so after the Workington by-election, and about four months after Joe McAllister died, the BNP asked two of their supporters in the ward to submit a letter requesting a by-election. The date that letter went in would, on normal timescales, have resulted in an election on Christmas Day. The Returning Officer thought this would be a bad idea and used every legal means to bring it forward a week.

    In response to the question about BNP support in the county: the BNP have stated that in their opinion a low level of support for them in Cumbria cost them a European parliament seat in 2004 and they are very determined to do something about this.

    They BNP have not made much impact in Cumbria in the annual May council elections, because they just don’t have the resources to fight over the county as a whole. But they have thrown the kitchen sink at half a dozen by-elections in almost every part of the county in the past two years, including Carlisle, Barrow, and Workington (as mentioned above) and now two by-elections in Copeland.

    We know for a fact that in all of these by-elections the BNP have had people from all over Cumbria and in some cases from other parts of the North West. As I live in one of the wards concerned and was heavily involved in the Conservative campaigns in both seats, I can compare the change in the BNP campaigns between the by-election in Whitehaven’s Harbour ward in Summer 2007 and the Kells & Sandwith election last week.

    And although their politics may be completely different, what these guys have basically done in that time is discover for themselves and learn how to apply the Lord Rennard Lib/Dem by-election campaign manual.

    And although the BNP have not won any district or county seats in Cumbria, their impact in by-elections has been increasing. In fifteen months we’ve gone from “How the **** did they get a quarter of the vote?” in a seat where they came third to “How the **** did they come within 20 votes of taking a safe seat?”

    Mostly this impact appears to have been at the expense of Labour, but possibly not in the recent Workington by-election where they came a strong third and may have damaged the Conservatives, who lost the seat to Labour.

    I still don’t think the BNP would have any chance at all of taking a Westminister seat, and the tactics they have been using in council by-elections probably will not work as well in June when the whole county council comes up. But the evidence suggests that none of the other parties can afford to be complacent about them.

  36. Totally agree with your post Chris, but if the BNP do stand in Copeland (as I suspect they will), how will you deal with them? Some say that talking about them gives them the “oxygen of publicity”, others say ignoring them is more dangerous.

  37. Quite apart from purely electoral considerations, I’m of the opinion that it is necessary to oppose the BNP implacably and strongly. It is not right that their prejudices masquerading as policies should become firmly implanted in the public mind. When the BNP have been opposed effectively, they have almost always receded after a short time, although there are now areas where they are in danger of becoming somewhat more deeply-rooted.

  38. I totally agree Barnaby – I guess places like Sandwell and Burnley where the BNP have lost nearly all of their council seats, are cases in point.

  39. Agree with both Matt and Barnaby – To allow simplitic policy solutions to complex problems go unchallenged is a no-no. The BNP are only a repository of dissaffection areas where the traditional party structure has either failed or withered on the vine. You will find that money has flowed into deprived areas but the failure of government has meant that more often than not created a vacuum which the BNP have sought to fill.

  40. ‘Quite apart from purely electoral considerations, I’m of the opinion that it is necessary to oppose the BNP implacably and strongly. It is not right that their prejudices masquerading as policies should become firmly implanted in the public mind. When the BNP have been opposed effectively, they have almost always receded after a short time, although there are now areas where they are in danger of becoming somewhat more deeply-rooted.’

    The stupidity and general ignorance of the average BNP member makes it very easy for their opponents to run rings around them – much like George Galloway ran rings round the US senate 4-5 years ago – and the BNP’s essential problem (in simplest terms possible) is that there simply aren’t enough out-of-order racists in this country to provide them with an electoral base

    Barnably is absolutely right – it is not right that the BNP’s prejudices masquerading as policies should become firmly implanted in the public mind – and whilst you have to question the intelligence of those who are receptive to their message – given that their grand plan is to create a race war in the UK, I would have thought our secret/special services would have viewed them as a serous threat to national security and one than can only be defeated by being destroyed, whatever that might entail

    Common criminals aren’t the only type of scum that this country doesn’t have the stomach to deal with effectively

  41. I dislike the BNP a great deal, and am somewhat to the left of the average elector on this.
    I think we should be proud of this country and say so more, and have a greater sense of unity across different races and backgrounds in Britain.

    Immigration also gives white British layabouts a much needed dose of competition, and I’m generally sympathetic to asylum seekers and the trouble they have getting accepted in.

    But I also dislike the sanctimonious tut tutting against the BNP and the idea that they shouldn’t be allowed to put their case.

    An old democracy should be at least as resilient as a double decker on the skid pan. Something you or I think is terrible – awful – should be allowed to be said – that’s the test.

  42. ‘I dislike the BNP a great deal, and am somewhat to the left of the average elector on this.
    I think we should be proud of this country and say so more, and have a greater sense of unity across different races and backgrounds in Britain.

    Immigration also gives white British layabouts a much needed dose of competition, and I’m generally sympathetic to asylum seekers and the trouble they have getting accepted in.’

    I couldn’t agree more with those two paragraphs – very well said

  43. I think the last paragraph was the salient one but is lost on Tim. I
    nteresting that this self-proclaimed ‘Liberal Democrat’ on top of wishing to create vigilante lynch mobs from convicts to second guess the decisions of the courts, now wants secret policemen to go about bumping off those with political views he dislikes. An interesting version of Liberal Democracy that Tim Jones subscribes to indeed – perhaps he was thinking of the Russian party of that name when he chose his political allegiance ?

  44. “Immigration also gives white British layabouts a much needed dose of competition”

    I disagree. The underclass don’t care if immigrants get jobs as they don’t want to work themselves. It also gives them someone else to blame for their failures.

    What immigration does do though is show the underclass up for the layabouts and parasites they are. I must say I’ve been astonished at how many Eastern Europeans are now living in above average areas.

  45. Interesting points,
    Please give some examples of places Richard.

  46. Joe

    This is purely anecdotal and I don’t have any figures to back up what I’ve seen and heard but in recent (last ten years) ‘yuppie’ developments in Doncaster and Rotherham there are quite a few Eastern Europeans. I would expect that the houses/apartments they’re living in are privately rented and cost between £500 and £800 a month (which is expensive for the area).

    It certainly feels different to the initial wave of Poles who lived in the cheapest areas in multi-occupancy houses and appeared to be here for the higher wages whereas these new people are living in much better areas, in numbers of 1/2/3 per residence and drive pretty nice cars too. I get the sense that whereas the first immigrants were working class there are now significant numbers of middle class immigrants who are used to a higher standard of living and so want to live in better areas. It’s possible that these new immigrants plan on staying here permanently too.

    As I say it’s only an anecdotal and my part of the country might be different to elsewhere. Certainly traditionally immigrants to mining areas have often been middle class eg Asian doctors.

  47. I sometimes think of Copeland as Labour’s Beverley & Holderness of the 1980s, eg. small majorities but never quite changing hands.

  48. ladbrokes:

    8/11 Lab
    Evs Cons

  49. I find it slightly surprising that it’s the same as Gloucester. (?)
    I don’t quite understand these bets – how can it be 8/11 Labour if the Conservatives are evens?

    My own view is Labour are probably favourites here, but bow to local knowledge about how things are going, whereas Gloucester is about 50-50.

    I’d appreciate it being converted to a %. How do you do the above example as a %?

  50. JJB, I think it’s the reverse of Gloucester – IIRC it was Labour at evens and the Tories slightly odds-on there

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