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Meriden

2010 Results:
Conservative: 26956 (51.68%)
Labour: 10703 (20.52%)
Liberal Democrat: 9278 (17.79%)
BNP: 2511 (4.81%)
UKIP: 1378 (2.64%)
Green: 678 (1.3%)
Others: 658 (1.26%)
Majority: 16253 (31.16%)

Notional 2005 Results:
Conservative: 23485 (47.5%)
Labour: 15717 (31.8%)
Liberal Democrat: 8477 (17.2%)
Other: 1721 (3.5%)
Majority: 7767 (15.7%)

Actual 2005 result
Conservative: 22416 (48.2%)
Labour: 15407 (33.1%)
Liberal Democrat: 7113 (15.3%)
UKIP: 1567 (3.4%)
Majority: 7009 (15.1%)

2001 Result
Conservative: 21246 (47.7%)
Labour: 17462 (39.2%)
Liberal Democrat: 4941 (11.1%)
UKIP: 910 (2%)
Majority: 3784 (8.5%)

1997 Result
Conservative: 22997 (42%)
Labour: 22415 (41%)
Liberal Democrat: 7098 (13%)
Referendum: 2208 (4%)
Majority: 582 (1.1%)

Boundary changes:

Profile:

portraitCurrent MP: Caroline Spelman(Conservative) born 1958, Bishops Stortford. Educated at Herts & Essex High School for Girls and Queen Mary College. Prior to her election worked for the NFU and the Centre for European Agricultural Studies. Contested Bassetlaw 1992. MP for Meriden since 1997. Shadow Secretary of State for International Development 2001-2003, environment spokesman 2003-2004, shadow secretary of state for local government 2004-2007. Served as Chairman of the Conservative party from 2007 to 2009, the latter part of this being overshadowed by allegations that she wrongfully paid her nanny from her Parliamentary allowance. Shadow secretary of state for communities and local government since 2009 (more information at They work for you)

2010 election candidates:
portraitCaroline Spelman(Conservative) born 1958, Bishops Stortford. Educated at Herts & Essex High School for Girls and Queen Mary College. Prior to her election worked for the NFU and the Centre for European Agricultural Studies. Contested Bassetlaw 1992. MP for Meriden since 1997. Shadow Secretary of State for International Development 2001-2003, environment spokesman 2003-2004, shadow secretary of state for local government 2004-2007. Served as Chairman of the Conservative party from 2007 to 2009, the latter part of this being overshadowed by allegations that she wrongfully paid her nanny from her Parliamentary allowance. Shadow secretary of state for communities and local government since 2009 (more information at They work for you)
portraitEd Williams (Labour)
portraitSimon Slater (Liberal Democrat) Solihull councillor.
portraitElly Stanton (Green)
portraitBarry Allcock (UKIP)
portraitFrank O`Brien (BNP)
portraitNikki Sinclaire (Solihull and Meriden Residents Association) Former UKIP party secretary. Contested Medway 2001, Halesowen and Rowley Regis 2005 for UKIP. MEP for the West Midlands since 2009, originally elected as UKIP.

2001 Census Demographics

Total 2001 Population: 105114
Male: 48.5%
Female: 51.5%
Under 18: 25.3%
Over 60: 19.4%
Born outside UK: 4.6%
White: 95.4%
Black: 1.3%
Asian: 1.3%
Mixed: 1.6%
Other: 0.5%
Christian: 77.9%
Full time students: 2.2%
Graduates 16-74: 17.8%
No Qualifications 16-74: 30.9%
Owner-Occupied: 72.6%
Social Housing: 22.8% (Council: 19.5%, Housing Ass.: 3.3%)
Privately Rented: 2.8%
Homes without central heating and/or private bathroom: 3.6%

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

147 Responses to “Meriden”

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  1. This seat combines the very affluent rural parts of Solihull borough with some quite deprived Birmingham overspill estates in the ‘spur’ at the constituency’s northern end, which explains the relatively solid Labour vote – all of the borough’s seven Labour councillors represent this area and the seat was only held by the Tories by around 600 votes in 1997. Caroline Spelman is quite well-regarded though (I say as a non-Tory) and has made this seat relatively safe again, as it will remain next time.

  2. This seat is not the same as the vast marginal seat which existed in 1979 where Labour polled 33,000 votes but still lost by over 4,000.
    That included a large area of the North Warwickshire seat which has existed since 1983.
    The core Labour support remaining is mainly from Chelmsley Wood towers, although turnout has often been wretched there in recent years.
    This explains why the seat called Meriden generally went to the government up until 1979, but remained Conservative from 1979 onwards.
    Meriden also includes the section of Solihull less infiltrated by the Liberal Democrats. Caroline Spelman has a pretty safe seat, and should win by over 10,000 next time.

  3. Correction – I mean to say “…..remained Conservative from 1997 onwards”. [I.e. why it stayed Conservative after they lost power, when until ’79 it was generally with the government party].

  4. A comfortable hold for Caroline Spelman in 2009/10 seems a sensible prediction

  5. The Chelmsley Wood area which is noted for its Labour support returned a BNP councillor in the May 06 elections. I suspect the Labour vote will drop but will still stay at quite a reasonable level. Spelman will definately increase her majority, she is highly regarded and Meriden also contains Knowle which is Birmingham’s equivalent of Virginia Water.

  6. Interesting comments from Sasha.
    I’ve heard of Lady Byron Lane!

  7. Surprisingly, this is one of the most socially divided seats in the country. In 2002, the property research company Experian calculated an index of financial hardship for each constituency, and this was the Conservative seat with the highest percentage, with 25.4%, (although that was still only no.196 in the country as a whole)/

    On the one hand, it includes Knowle, which is one of the wealthiest places in the West Midlands, as well as other comfortable areas like Meriden itself.

    On the other hand, the northern section of the seat includes a collection of large Birmingham overspill estates, which make up the wards of Castle Bromwich, Chelmsley Wood, Kingshurt&Fordbridge, and Smith’s Wood, where the BNP has been doing well recently.

    I can’t understand why this latter section is in the borough of Solihull. It should really be part of Birmingham City Council.

    Obviously, the low turnout in that section is why this has a fairly large Tory majority now. The Tories were luckly to hold on by 582 votes in 1997.

  8. “In 2002, the property research company Experian calculated an index of financial hardship for each constituency, and this was the Conservative seat with the highest percentage, with 25.4%,”

    Interesting – I thought it was somewhere like Gosport or Havant. Is the list online anywhere?

  9. That is surprising, but I understand Chelmsley Wood is a very deprived estate.

  10. The inclusion of Chelmsley Wood in Solihull borough gives it an odd geographical shape, as it juts out to the north to wrap around the edge of east Birmingham, incorporating the overspill estates.

    Here’s a ward map (pdf): http://www.solihull.gov.uk/upload/public/attachments/19/Electoralwardsmap.pdf

  11. I think that most people in the Chelmsley Wood area regard themselves as Birmingham residents (not least because many of the families on the estate originate from inner Birmingham), although the council have been quite aggressively marketing it as ‘North Solihull’ to tie in with its regeneration projects there.

  12. Funny Borough –
    Lib Dem in the South West, Conservative in the South East, Labour in the North,
    with touches of BNP for colour.

  13. I’d love to know exactly which mandarin or quango decided to include the Birmingham overspill estates as part of Solihull borough. It must have been some kind of strange joke.

  14. I got the Experian financial hardship figures from the Almanac of British Politics, by Robert Waller & Byron Criddle, 7th edition. I don’t know if it’s online anywhere. This book also includes other interesting information, such as the top and bottom 20 number of university admissions by constituency.

    Here are the financial hardship figures for the 2 seats mentioned:
    Gosport – 13.4%
    Havant – 21.0%

    Actually, some of the figures are a bit misleading to my mind. For example, Hornchurch is given a rate of 8.5%, but Richmond Park is 6.6%, which doesn’t properly convey the differences between the two seats, I think.

  15. To be fair i dont think that is misleading. The figures are what they are, namely the percentage of people living in financial hardship. Hornchurch doesnt contain alot of people in financial hardship obviously or the figures would refelct that. In order to convey the differences between Hornchurch and Richmond park you would need to look at other statistics such as proportion with degrees, proportion of AB and income leveles etc. The experiam financial hardship figures dont try to refelct all those other factors which make up a constituency profile, they do just what it says on the tin

  16. Financial Hardship %
    I am basically agreeing with Pete Whitehead.

    It is what it says on the tin.
    It is about the % of financial hardship only – not any other indicator about the finances of the rest of the population in the seat.

    It is perfectly possible that Richmond would have a similar % as Hornchurch. Indeed, Castle Point in Essex has very low financial hardship – but is not particularly wealthy overall.

    I can’t speculate why Chelmsley Wood was included in Solihull other than to say it is an overspill estate as is common around several cities and was outside the Birmingham boundaries anyway.

  17. The last Labour MP was John Tomlinson until he lost to Iain Mills in 1979. I think there has been a long-term swing to the right in this part of the world here – as well as the obvious boundary changes. Caroline Spelman only won narrowly in 1997.

  18. The seat as it existed before 1983 included the Labour-voting Warwickshire coalfield area around Atherstone, which was removed to form the new North Warwickshire seat in 1983 (and then unexpectedly won by the Conservatives).

  19. As this MPis conservative party chairperson perhaps I can comment on her site. It does appear the Conservatives are having major problems selecting candidates in winnable seats. Why is this?

  20. I think this constituency name must take the title for ‘constituency name coming from the smallest village’. Meriden itself is tiny!

  21. Meriden is even smaller than Westbury and Leominster, both constituencis which have been renamed in the last review, but what else could this seat be called?

    West Midlands Central or Outer Birmingham South Central are considerably worse

    There has definitely been a long-term swing to the right here as part of this seat at least used to be in the Labour/Tory marginal of the same name

    I think there’s an incumbancy factor here too – Caroline Spellman seems to have built up her majority as the years have gone by

    I’d like to think it’s because she’s on the moderate wing of the party but other seats which the Tories won narrowly in 97 have swung back to the Tories with similar majorities

  22. This seat is interesting. One half is extremely affluent suburban and countryside the other half is extremely poor, urban (attached to Birmingham) and generally Council or ex Council occupied. My view is that the Tories are helped out in holding this by the fact that turnout is much much higher in the wealthy area than in the poorer area. I would be interesting to see what would happen if turnout levels were the same accross the board. This would make it marginal.

    At present it will stay Tory unless there is another repeat of the 1997 level of support for Labour (which is not forseable for the short or medium term). Even then the Tories may well cling on as they did in 97.

  23. I’m glad you like her Tim.
    So do I. Spoke well yesterday at the conference, and has some very good ideas about increasing the supply of housing whilst protecting green belt and green space.

    This seat does have sharply differential turnout, but should be secure for the Tories now.

  24. Knowle or Dorridge, could be potential constituency names,or Outer Solihull prehaps. Castle Bromwich, one of the council/ex-council estates, has full Conservative representation on Solihull Borough council.

  25. castle Bromwich has always been entirely owner occupied. Its also always been a safe Tory ward – even in the mid 90s, although the LD vote seems to be creaping up there lately – just like in Solihull ‘Inner’

  26. Castle Bromich is a funny place really. It certainly isn’t particularly high status. It seems to be almost a besieged owner occupied area surrounded by Shard End to the South, Castle Vale to the north and Smiths wood (chelmsley wood) to the east. It was always though at least as safe for the Tories as the far more upmarket wards in the southern part of this seat.

  27. CB’s political status is also funny, as it is surrounded on three sides by Birmingham, eating into it on the eastern side.

    This seat is very difficult to name because as mentioned above, it represents an odd geographic area. If not Meriden (which I like, but which is unrepresentative) I would favour “Solihull North and Rural”. I imagine that might break some rule or other.

  28. It would certainly breach good taste!.
    Meriden is a perfectly good name and has over 50 years lineage now

  29. Tragically not Simon. The Boundary Commission moves in its glacial and wondrous way, untouched by consistency or the slightest grasp of either concision or euphony.

    If its approach to nomenclature at the recent review is anything to go by, next time this could all too easily be “Knowle, Dorridge, Castle Bromwich and Birmingham South”…

  30. Castle Bromwich and Chelmsley wood should really be part of Birmingham, but that authority was already overlarge and I suppose it would have left Solihull borough as too small for a metropolitan borough. All of this is a consequence of forcing Coventry into the West Midlands county and therefore having to include the bits in between. As Warwickshire was so small there was a case for leaving Coventry in that county along with the rural parts of this seat.
    A solution, if one is needed (and it must be admitted this is a rather bizzarely drawn seat) would be to split both Solihull seats in two and have a Solihull North including Bickenhill northwards from this seat together with Elmdon, Lyndon and Olton from Solihull, and a Solihull South containg the remainder of Solihull with Shirley and the four southern wards from this seat. Solihull South would be a rock solid Tory banker, Solihull North possibly a Labour seat in 1997 and 2001 and potentially three way marginal now.

  31. If it had Solihull added to the name I suppose we could partly gloss or spin the fact that we hadn’t really lost Solihull.

    It’s a bit like saying after Black Wednesday that we hadn’t devalued because we’d left the ERM system anyway.

    Such is presenation. How different from reality.

    I agree with Pete. Meriden is a symbolic and very long standing name. I very much hope it stays.

  32. Completely agree with JJB – it’s a long standing and blessedly succinct name. Long may it remain so.

  33. Knowle and Bickenhill?

  34. I should emphasise that I like Meriden as a name too and certainly agree it should be retained. I was just trying to think of a viable alternative

  35. I think the boundary commission should always be encouraged to come up with a name as against county and compass points even if the name is not always fully representative of the area it covers. Some counties seem to be completely dominated by the county name and compas points ie Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Norfolk while others seem to have a little more character such as in Northumberland, North Yorkshire (except York Outer) or Nottinghamshire.

  36. Although this is perhaps not all that relevant, I’d say that if the constituency were renamed its name should really include Chelmsley Wood which I think is the largest population centre – although it is a very anomalous part of the constituency.

  37. I can imagine the response of the residents of the rural part of the seat to that suggestion!

  38. Proir to 1983, this was a much better seat for Labour.

    It was a Labour seat in 1966 prior to falling in a by election on a huge swing.

    I think more of the old pre-1983 Meridan constituency is now ‘North Warwickshire’, and it would have returned a Labour MP in 1997.

  39. Had Iain Mills succumbed to alcoholism a few weeks earlier, there’s a fair chance that the seat could still be Labour today. A bye at the time of Wirral South could just have pushed Labour over the edge, and they could have gone into the election with momentum. I’m glad to say that fate didn’t deprive us of Caroline Spelman (or indeed, John Randall, had the same thing happened to Sir Michael Shersby).

  40. Ahem – as
    re you suggesting n
    that Sir Michael Shersby was also an alcoholic?

  41. I wonder that – I suspect he just meant that had Sir Michael Shersby died before the election, but he was the parliamentary advisor to the POlice fedeartion I believe so if he was an alcoholic he would have been in good company with many of his clients.
    Funnily enough Uxbridge was the site of two succesful by-election defences by the Conservatives as Micahel Shersby himself won one in 1972 – the same year as seats like Sutton & Cheam were lost. I’m pretty sure it would have been lost in the circumstances observer describes, as would Meriden.

  42. was about to make an inappropriate comment about journalists & alcoholism but decided not to…….

    At present Labour Party members such as myself have to drink to forget. :(

  43. as
    re you suggesting n
    that Sir Michael Shersby was also an alcoholic?

    Oops – I realised hust after I’d posted that. Sir Michael was, AFAIK, unremarkable on that score – although a fair number of the Conservative MPs who passed away in the 1990s had an over-intimate relationship with the bottle.

  44. Barnaby your Labour government drives many others of us to drink besides..

  45. It is quite remarkable how some MP’s, of both parties, are allowed to remain MP’s despite quite apparently having gone out to lunch, never to return, well before their retirement. Ted Leadbetter (Hartlepool) and Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead) were two notable examples.

    I can think of one current MP who was described as ‘clinically insane’ by the regional office of their own party on election.

  46. I read somewhere that an MP who retired in 1997 had for some years prior been suffering from dementia and by the time he left parliament was unable to recall his own name.

  47. Roy Hattersley?

  48. Jack Aspinwall, MP for Wansdyke, was often said to be unwell during the 1992-97 Parliament, but I don’t know whether he had that condition. He’s still alive nearly 11 years later, so maybe he’s not the right person. That story could be a myth, of course.

  49. I am sure the MP who suffered from dementia was Roland Boyes the MP for Houghton & Washington who has since sadly passed away.

  50. Caroline Spelman appears to be in a spot of bother according to tonight’s Newsnight over an expenses allegation.

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