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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. Looks like an almost total non story. In 1997 and 1998 she apparently used the same person for childcare aswell as secretarial duties, but probably realised after a while it was better keep the two separate. As I understand it, if she had kept the allowance, but paid the childcare from her own salary, there would probably be no grounds for even mentioning it.

    I suspect a Tory majority of 11-15,000.

  2. I agree really. Strange that Newsight put it as their main story last night.

  3. Why strange? The BBC are desperate to dig up dirt on Tories at the moment – this is just another example.

  4. Well with all those MEP’s with their snouts in the trough am not suprised!

  5. The changes of the shares of the vote here in 2005 were remarkably close to the national trend. My prediction for 2009/2010;

    C 27000 55% +7%
    Lab 14000 28% -4%
    LD 6000 12% -5%
    Oth 2000 4%
    C maj: 13000 (27%)
    Lab to C swing: 6%
    C hold

  6. Caroline Spelman tends (like a number of English women politicians ) to come across as rather superior.

  7. That prediction looks very similar to the 1992 result. Probably about right.

  8. Didn’t the Conservative win in 1979 overturn a big labour majority here or am I dreaming? Also did the boundary changes in 1983 make it safer as what was a Lab/Con marginal seems to be a safe Tory seat now?

  9. In 1979 it was a vast seat, including a lot of the Warwickshire North seat (which was notionally Labour in 1979).

    The actual Meriden seat saw a 9% swing in 1979, with a massive vote for both parties,
    37,000 Tory to 33,000 Labour and under 5,000 for the Liberals, a few for the NF.

    It had an 8,000 Labour majority in October 1974, and it used to go with the government (apart from a by-election in 1968).

    The notional 1979 majority for the redrawn seat – without the Warwickshire North (former) coalfield would have been strongly Conservative, and this is of course why the Tories held on in opposition from 1997 onwards.
    1997 was very close even on these new boundaries, as were the local elections of 1980 and 1981, but the Tories were well ahead in 1979 and 1982 onwards. (alhtough maybe not in all mid-terms when in office).

  10. Following a Conservative majority of 4,127 in 1979 (previously a Labour majority of 8,966) boundary changes in 1983 made this potentially a very safe Conservative seat. It is one of two parliamentary constituencies making up the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull. In 1992 the Conservative MP, Iain Mills, polled 33,462 votes achieving a majority of 14,699. Following his death in January 1997, Caroline Spelman polled 22,997 votes at the subsequent General Election. Whilst her majority has since increased to make this once more a safe Conservative seat the number voting Conservative has actually fallen slightly to 22,416.

  11. I believe the boundary changes worked to make Solihull less safe for the Tories and Meriden safer. Solihull gained some labour voting wards in return for giving some Tory voting wards up to Meriden.

  12. Solihull didn’t gain any Labour voting wards (nor any wards at all) in 1983. It did lose the veyy safely Tory Knowle and Packwood wards to Meriden (Packwood actually in local elections was marginal Con-LD ward)

  13. That’s interesting. I thought Knowle (with Lady Byron Lane) was already in Meriden in 1979.

  14. Aggregate votes from the 2008 local elections;

    C 15087 56.1%
    LD 3966 14.7%
    Lab 3105 11.5%
    BNP 2739 10.2%
    Oth 2020 7.5%

  15. Labour does seem to have collapsed here.

    How high a vote did they get in 1994-6?

  16. Local elections, Meriden, on 1995-2005 boundaries.
    (They have changed slightly since).

    1995
    LAB 10,195 38.9%
    CON 9,716 37.1%
    LD 5,770 22.0%
    OTH/IND 528 2.0%

    1994
    CON 12,704 39.7%
    LAB 11,449 36.0%
    LD 7,491 23.6%
    OTH 147 0.5%

    1992 (May locals)
    CON 16,087 61.0%
    LAB 6,490 24.6%
    LD 3,459 13.1%
    OTHS 330 1.3%

    By the way, the May 2000 local elections produced a Tory lead over Labour of about 60% to 22%, so the 2008 result is not quite as resounding here as it looks – although satisfactory.

    I think, with regret, Caroline Spelman should probably be sacked. The trouble is – the story makes one look silly, as it comes out in dribs and drabs. The Tories must show that value for public money is a key principle to what they are about.

  17. I don’t have 1996, I would guess Tory vote would have been a bit above 1994 and 1995 – but barely, with Labour doing a little worse than in 1995 but above 1994.

  18. The result is slightly skewed in 1994. One would expect 1995 to p[roduce a much bigger Labour lead than in 1994 but infact the Bickenhill result was much betetr for Labour in 1994, when Jim Ryan held the seat he had gained in 1990. IN 1995 the Tories held the ward easily. This is only one ward of 9 I suppose but it does make 1994 closer than it would otherwise have been.
    I have the 1996 results to hand…

  19. Con 10757 42.7%
    Lab 8633 34.2%
    LD 4516 17.9%
    I Con 958 3.8%
    Ind 346 1.4%

  20. Actually, the boundaries didn’t change from 1983 to 2005.
    In fact, Robert Waller says there was a photo finish in the 1980 and 1981 local elections on these boundaries (although obviously not the 1979 boundaries).

    So one would expect Labour to be somewhat further ahead in both 1994 and 1995 actually. Perhaps the Tory vote here is pretty rock solid – it’s capable of a 12 or 13 point drop in a dreadful year like 1997 – but the rest of it seems pretty rock solid and turns out reasonably well in locals, as it seems to in the West Midlands in general.

  21. Differential turnout saved the Tories as in 1997 and 2001. Fordbridge, Chelmsley Wood and Smiths Wood all votred over 70% Labour that year but with a turnout of around 20%. In Knowle, Packawood and Meriden turnout was twice that level.
    Labour cant even count on the wards in the Chelmsley wood area anymore..

  22. sorry – posting at the same time….
    but 20% turnout in those Labour blocks even in General Elections. I had noticed that one of the local elections during that period had a dreadful 16% turnout, but General Elections 20%?!

  23. It looks like I answered Joe’s point before I saw he had made itr. Possibly the differential turnout was not so great in 1980/81. The figures I referred to were ofcourse for 1996

  24. and there I go again lol..

  25. BTW, I’ve just noticed that the LDs had a narrow lead in Solihull in 1994 and 1995,
    38.0/31.3/17.8 in 1994, and 33.3/28.3/22.9 in 1995.

    Pete probably knows, but I thought I’d quietly mention it here, rather than on the Solihull thread where it’ll lead to another 700 posts of we’re going to win it/no we’re going to win it etc…

  26. …oh distorted by lack of Tory candidates in Shirley S & W. Labour easily carrying Elmdon both years – incredible.

  27. Labour did well here in 1997 then. There can’t be too many places where they got a higher % in 1997 than 1995.

  28. True, although the W Midlands did have examples of this,
    Edgbaston and Wolverhampton SW,

    also I suspect some of the LD vote that was present in local elections (23% nationally even in a great year for Labour like 1995) could have shifted to Labour in the 1997 General Election.

  29. Thats probably right – a double effect of tactical voting ie that there are Labour supporters in the Meriden half of the seat who voted LD tactically in local elections (in Packwood at least) and more importantly that many LD supporters would have voted tactically for Labour as was very common in 1997. The other factor would be the increased turnout in the Chelmsley wood area compared with local elections. While it would have been lower than the rest of the seat the differential wouldnt have been anything like as great as the almost 2:1 ratio that I found in 1996 (probably also true in 1995). The differential would have widened in 2001 which probably was solely responsible for SPelman’s increased majority then.
    This is certainly a seat Labour ‘should’ have own in 1997/2001 and if turnout had been uniform they almost certainly would have done.

  30. “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.”

    Why was Coventry put into the West Midlands?

    Apart from making Warwickshire small and misshapen I can’t imagine Coventry wanted to be controlled from Birmingham.

  31. Caroline Spelman is allegedly the least popular Tory.

  32. Labour have selected Ed Williams here.

  33. This seat was changed in 1974, so I can’t compare it across.
    The boundary changes did seem to favour Labour slightly then. Nevertheless, I was always a bit surprised by the large Labour lead in the October 1974 election – it seems to have partly been caused by the presence of a Liberal candidate, with these votes going Conservative in 1979.
    It would have been very interesting to see what would have happened if there was a Liberal in February 1974.

    February 1974
    Lab 40,541 52.9%
    C 36,056 47.1%
    No Liberal

    October 1974
    Lab 34,641 47.4%
    C 25,675 35.1%
    Lib 12,782 17.5%

    1979 C gain
    C 37,151 48.9%
    +Lab 33,024 43.4%
    Lib 4,976 6.5%
    NF 1,032 1.4%

  34. I think the old Meriden seat included areas which are now in a number of seats including Solihull and Warwickshire North, and maybe some others as well.

  35. The Lib Dems have selected Simon Slater, a Solihull councillor.

  36. UKIP MEP Nikki Sinclaire has announced in the Solihull News that she is standing in this seat, rather than in next-door Solihull. A scan of the article can be found on this website: https://ukipsolihull.wordpress.com/.

  37. There’s no mystery to the 1997 result. The sitting Tory MP, who had done nothing for 18 years, dropped dead about 8 weeks before the GE. There was no by-election, it being judged too late before the GE, and Caroline Spelman was parachuted into the seat at the last minute. She was unknown, seen as foisted on the locals by Central office, and of course it was year of tactical voting against the Tories. Plus the previous Tory, Mills, was revealed to have been an alcoholic if i remember. Spelman had a tricky situation in 1997 – it is a naturally Tory seat, but she had no time to prepare or establish herself. Her majorities in subsequent elections were a reversion to the norm.

    The other factor is that you need money to afford to move into (most) of the constituency now. All those new estates must be solidly Tory. This also explains the apparently anomalous voting in Packwood ward (now called something else). 10000+ majority next time if you ask me, even with the loss of wards to Solihull.

  38. Nikki Sinclair MEP has fallen out with the UKIP Leadership over their choice of partners in the European Parliament and has been banned from standing as a UKIP candidate so if she stands here at the GE it will be under another banner. Ukip do seem to be developing a tradition of losing at least one of their newly elected MEPS within the first year!

  39. I wouldn’t go as far as describing this as a “natural Tory seat”. About a third of it consists of downtrodden tower blocks where Labour and the BNP are pretty strong.

  40. Such an odd constituency. Chelmsley Wood and places like Balsall Common and Knowle in one oddly drawn out place. I fail to see how the constiuents in these places share much of a common goal from what their MP should take an interest in. An example of how important electoral reform is for the future of UK politics I.M.O. Larger constituencies in an additional member system (or a derivative of) are the way forward.
    Perhaps lopping off the parts of Solihull outside the M42 and M6 into rural constituencies and reducing the number of consitencies to around 200 is the answer. We need to give people an insentive to vote for the party they feel best represents them, as apposed to the negative voting, apathy and wasted votes that make for the current two horse race between parties that to many people seem inseperable and corrupt. If DAVE (hahaha) Cameron thinks change is the answer will he be looking at this vital area or is it merely borrowed rhetoric?! The Conservatives probably benefit most from the current system and generally always have so, shall we even bother to keep our eyes on the horizon for some changes made by any new Tory government- nah just cut backs and tax breaks for the wealthy probably.

  41. Dave wants to have “equal voting size” and “10% cut in MPs” (can’t say I am convinced that we can have both, as a veteran of boundary reviews).

    AV – as a stepping stone to a proportionate system – needs to be introduced as soon as the next election is over.

  42. Perhaps doktorb would also advocate reintroducing the hereditary principle as a ‘stepping stone’ to a fully elected House of Lords, or perhaps bring back the community charge on a single band as a ‘stepping stone’ to a local income tax

  43. Absolutely, once again Doktorb is talking absolute nonsense on this issue.

    Doktorb-as with all Lib Dems- will dutifully support AV after the next electionnot because it is a reform they actually support (indeed it is LESS proportional than FPTP). They will support it because it breaks the historic link we have with FPTP.

    Once that link is removed, they think they have a much better chance at moving to full PR.

    So the House of Lords reform issue that Pete mentions is quite a good metaphor. Then, as now the Lib Dems wanted reform in two stages: first to break the historic link with the hereditary peers and then to move to full reform.

    And the House of Lords example is good in another way too. Because then as now Labour gave up bothering to pursue furthur reform once they’d achieved stage one.

    Many Lib dems seem to think it will be easier to get PR after a period of using AV. I suspect Labour intend to remain with AV for quite a bit longer than the Lib Dems would like.

  44. Contrary to the comment made by EppingForester on the previous page Nikki Sinclaire will be the UKIP candidate for this seat.

  45. Elly Stanton has been named as the Green Party’s General Election Candidate for Meriden constituency.

    http://solihull.greenparty.org.uk/localsites/solihull/news/2010-02-08MeridenMPCandidateAnnounced.html

  46. Meriden had boundary changes in February 1974. Does anyone know roughly how that configuration would have voted in 1970, so a comparison can be properly made?
    But as the Liberals didn’t stand I guess it had an increase in Labour share of vote against 1970, and a lower swing away from the Conservatives (or did it though as the swing was above average in the West Midlands)

    February 1974
    Meriden
    new constituency boundaries
    JE Tomlinson Labour 40,541 52.93%
    HK Speed Conservative 36,056 47.07%

    Electorate: 96,380; Turnout: 79.47%;
    Majority: 4,485 (5.86%)
    Labour gain

  47. February 1974 is a very odd election result indeed.
    It was the highest Liberal vote per candidate (1983 apart) since it was displaced as one of the two main parties.

    The Labour and Tory shares were, allowing for this, even lower than they looked.
    (Labour lower than in 1979,
    and the Tories generally a bit lower than in October 1974).

    However, where there was no Liberal candidate, it doesn’t seem to have depressed the high turnout,
    and the votes for the two main parties was much higher.
    It would be interesting to see what the result would have been with fewer Liberal candidates.

    This was, of course, the first election where both main parties found themselves pushed into third place in a fair number of seats, Labour in more rural parts in the West, and to some extent the south,
    the Tories in a more scattered way.

  48. Joe I dont think the boundary changes in 1974 were very significant here. AFAICT they just involved the removal of the parishes of Allesley and Keresley to Coventry NW as they had been moved into that expanded city. These are part of the Bablake ward now which is fairly strongly Tory these days, though Keresley was a pit village which therefore had contributed to Labour’s ability to win that ward in the past. I expect therefore the effects of the boundary changes were fairly neutral and in any case the number of electors removed would not have been numerous enough to have materially affected the result in 1970 when the Tory majority was nearly 5,000

  49. Thanks Pete – this is very useful information.
    It must have grown a lot since the base year of 1961 though.
    It does suggest a genuine sharp Con > Lab swing in Feb 74 where no Lib candidates, but of course this was some compensation for 1970.

  50. In the West Midlands I meant.

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