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Mitcham and Morden

2010 Results:
Conservative: 11056 (25.24%)
Labour: 24722 (56.45%)
Liberal Democrat: 5202 (11.88%)
BNP: 1386 (3.16%)
UKIP: 857 (1.96%)
Green: 381 (0.87%)
Independent: 193 (0.44%)
Majority: 13666 (31.21%)

Notional 2005 Results:
Labour: 22476 (56.7%)
Conservative: 9807 (24.7%)
Liberal Democrat: 5515 (13.9%)
Other: 1862 (4.7%)
Majority: 12669 (31.9%)

Actual 2005 result
Conservative: 9929 (24.9%)
Labour: 22489 (56.4%)
Liberal Democrat: 5583 (14%)
Green: 1395 (3.5%)
Other: 472 (1.2%)
Majority: 12560 (31.5%)

2001 Result
Conservative: 9151 (24.1%)
Labour: 22936 (60.4%)
Liberal Democrat: 3820 (10.1%)
UKIP: 486 (1.3%)
Green: 926 (2.4%)
BNP: 642 (1.7%)
Majority: 13785 (36.3%)

1997 Result
Conservative: 14243 (29.7%)
Labour: 27984 (58.4%)
Liberal Democrat: 3632 (7.6%)
Referendum: 810 (1.7%)
Other: 1277 (2.7%)
Majority: 13741 (28.7%)

Boundary changes: Several very minor changes to bring the constituency in line with ward boundaries. Loses part of Trinity and Cannon Hill, gains part of Colliers Wood, St Helier and Lavender Fields.

Profile: Mitcham and Morden is the last seat the Conservatives won in a by-election, 25 long years ago when Bruce Douglas-Mann defected to the SDP and chose to put himself up for re-election. Unfortunately for Douglas-Mann the by-election co-incided with the climax of the Falklands War and the Tories gained the seat. It remained Conservative right up until 1997, but since then has become a solidly Labour seat.

While Labour lost control of Merton council in 2006, you wouldn`t know if from looking at the wards within this seat, where 27 out of 30 councillors are Labour. There are Conservatives areas around Mitcham Common and Lower Morden, but this is mostly rather down market and struggling residential areas and council estates like St Helier and Phipps Bridge. There is a growing ethnic population which now makes up about a third of the population and it looks as though this is a seat that has forever slipped off the Tory radar.

portraitCurrent MP: Siobhain McDonagh(Labour) born 1960, London. Educated at Holy Cross Secondary School and Essex University. Prior to her election worked for a housing charity. Merton councillor 1982-1998. Contested Mitcham and Morden 1987, 1992. First elected as MP for Mitcham and Morden in 1997. Her sister is Baroness McDonagh, the former General Secretary of the Labour party. Former PPS to John Reid and government whip 2007-2008. She was the sole member of the government not to nominate Gordon Brown as leader in 2007, and was sacked from the government for calling for a leadership election in September 2008 (more information at They work for you)

2010 election candidates:
portraitMelanie Hampton (Conservative) Insurance broker.
portraitSiobhain McDonagh(Labour) born 1960, London. Educated at Holy Cross Secondary School and Essex University. Prior to her election worked for a housing charity. Merton councillor 1982-1998. Contested Mitcham and Morden 1987, 1992. First elected as MP for Mitcham and Morden in 1997. Her sister is Baroness McDonagh, the former General Secretary of the Labour party. Former PPS to John Reid and government whip 2007-2008. She was the sole member of the government not to nominate Gordon Brown as leader in 2007, and was sacked from the government for calling for a leadership election in September 2008 (more information at They work for you)
portraitDiana Coman (Liberal Democrat) Former Sutton councillor. Contested Christchurch in 2005.
portraitSmarajit Roy (Green)
portraitAndrew Mills (UKIP)
portraitTony Martin (BNP)
portraitRathy Alagaratnam (Independent)
portraitErnest Redgrave (Independent)

2001 Census Demographics

Total 2001 Population: 95078
Male: 48.6%
Female: 51.4%
Under 18: 24.4%
Over 60: 16.6%
Born outside UK: 25.2%
White: 67.9%
Black: 13%
Asian: 12.9%
Mixed: 3.7%
Other: 2.6%
Christian: 62.9%
Hindu: 5.9%
Muslim: 6.5%
Full time students: 5.2%
Graduates 16-74: 22.9%
No Qualifications 16-74: 26.8%
Owner-Occupied: 66.7%
Social Housing: 20.2% (Council: 13.1%, Housing Ass.: 7.1%)
Privately Rented: 10.8%
Homes without central heating and/or private bathroom: 12.6%

NB - The constituency guide is now archived and is no longer being updated. The new guide is at

251 Responses to “Mitcham and Morden”

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  1. Like Hayes and Harlington, this is a seat the Tories held in 1992 but are not likely to hold again, despite narrowly controlling Merton Borough in co-alition with Merton Park Indepenents.
    There has been some demographic change. This south London seat includes much of the St Helier Estate, actually a pretty nice estate with decent houses and lots of green space.
    Mitcham and Morden was gained by Angela Rumbold in 1982 during the Falklands war, when a Labour defector to the SDP very honestly put himself up for re-election. In 1992, although the Conservative share was near a record, the seat swung decisively to Labour who disposed of the remains of the SDP.
    In 1997 Rumbold was literally desperate to escape from the count as Siobhain McDonagh won (at her third attempt) a 2 to 1 victory. The Tories fell even further behind in 2001, and not much has improved since apart from a few council seats. The Tories could do well in London next time but they would be advised to target other seats.

  2. The only council seats that the Tories have gained since 1997 were two seats in Lower Morden back in 1998. Despite seat advances by the Tories in both 2002 and 2006 in Wimbledon they failed to gain any council seats in Mitcham and Morden. In terms of council seat it is Lab 27, Con 3. Labour were ahead by 15% at the 2006 Local Election.

    At the last General Election, Siobhian Mc Donagh had a bigger perecentage majority then in 1997.

    The Tories are not in coalition with the Merton Park Independents, it is a minority adminstration. At full Council if Labour and the Merton Park Independents cobine they can overturn Tory reccomendations, indeed at the AGM last year a number of votes including the mayoral nominee( Merton has a Labour mayor) were won on the casting vote.

  3. A case of a safe Labour seat now reverting to type I think. Labour strategists shouldn’t crow too much about the Tories no longer looking able to win it; that they won it in the first place was only down to Labour’s divisions, incompetence and unpopularity! That they then failed to take it back in 1987 and even 1992 must have been just humiliating for them!

  4. I’m not a huge fan of Siobhain McDonagh but she is one of the best campaigners in politics. Solid Labour seat.

  5. Mitcham (which also included Wallington) and Merton & Morden were Tory marginals prior to 1974.

    Mitcham & Morden was formed as a safe Labour seat in 1974, and extended the parliamentary career of Douglas-Mann for a further 9 years.

    Douglas-Mann’s Kensington North seat was merged with the northern half of Kensington South, culminating in a relatively secure Tory seat.

    Douglas-Mann defected to the SDP and cause a by-election in the early 1980’s.

  6. Tories will come closer here next time than Labour will come in Wimbledon, which means the Tories will take more votes in Merton LBC.

  7. At the start of the BBCs 1997 election night coverage, there was a report from Mitcham & Morden where the Tory camp were predicting an increased majority for Angela Rumbold.

    It was a rather unfortunate prediction, since she suffered one of the worst results of the election for any sitting Tory MP.

    It just goes to show how easy it is for people to convince themselves of what they want to hear, no matter how far removed from reality it is.

  8. Haha yes I remember that. an hour later they issued another statement saying they thought they had lost Mitcham & Morden ‘worse than expected.’

    With regards to biggest swing, it was Irvine Patnick in Sheffield Hallam, who suffered a stonking 19% swing to the LDs.

  9. Mind you, the Tories were telling all the journalists in 2001 that they had won Torbay-right up to the point that the Lib Dems increased their majority to about 5,000!

  10. I really couldn’t understand the Tory predictions here in 1997. I can understand the scale of the loss being a surprise, but this was an obvious and easy target for the Labour party, who are well organised locally, and were then.

    I’m sure Angela Rumbold was well liked, but that doesn’t matter if people have decided they want the government out.

    Perhaps some of the explanation is that most British people are quite polite, actually, and the number of unpleasant incidents one may be involved with against people who are opposed to you, is still small,
    and allows some politicians to be misled.

    M & M produced a 55% Lab and 22% Con result
    in the May 1994 locals, so it wasn’t looking too good
    as a prospect for hanging onto.

  11. I would add, however, despite this unfortunate prediction made by the Tories here in 1997, perhaps Andy could correct some of the absurd claims by Lib Dem posts on other pages.

  12. Are you talking about claims I’ve made? I’m certainly not a Liberal Democrat supporter, if that’s what you’re thinking.

  13. I get the impression this seat has swung to the left much more than average since the mid-90s. In 1979 Labour’s Bruce Douglas-Mann only won by 1,000.

  14. Shaun Bennett’s assertion that this is a safe Labour seat “returning to type” is incorrect.It has never been a safe Labour seat until 1997.It’s safe now though. Obviously with the work I put in here in 1997 I take all of the credit!!

  15. Tory organisation here is pretty poor. Their general election in 2005 was a shambles and I finally stopped voting Tory when they ran two defectors in my ward in 2006 – ironically they came a lot closer there than in their target of Longthornton ward.
    I can’t see them making any headway.

  16. Longthornton would have been disappointing for them and that area along with the Mitcham part of the seat generally has swung a long way from the Tories in the last couple of decades due to demographic change. On the other hand I get the impression that the Morden end of the seat has been trending somewhat in the opposite direction – Tories were reasonably close to winning Ravensbury last time and competetive in St Helier while Lower Morden became very safe again having become marginal during the 90s. This pattern was also apparent in the 2004 European and GLA elections, in line with other predominantly white working class areas in London like Feltham, Mottingham etc. Mitcham though supplies 7 of the 10 wards in this seat and the demographic and political trends there have been very similar to those affeecting neighbouring Croydon N and for that reason this will remain a safe Labour seat.

  17. Hello,
    my name is Yasmin and I am a Student of Merton College.
    I have seen the demographics for Morden &Mitcham, i was wondering if you could send me the demographics for the years 2000-2007. I need those for my Business Studies Projetc. I would be very grateful.

  18. The demographics are drawn directly from the 2001 census, so they apply for only 2001. The next lot of figures won’t be until the 2011 census is done.

  19. What I find surprising is that the Tories were able to hold onto this seat in 1992. Most of the demographic changes that people have been talking about were already well underway by that time, yet Labour could not manage to even reduce the Tory majority to less than 1,000 votes. I think what that shows is that quite a few of those voters who are now hostile to the Tories in this seat did actually support them in 1992, but not since.

  20. The 1992 result was pretty close, but Angela Rumbold’s absoulute vote was up – probably a record in the area, and the share only down 1.7%. Labour added on nearly 8 points mainly from the LDs.

  21. The Tory government had been quite unpopular in 1986 – before the autumn.

    In March 2007 there was a by-election in Pollards Hill, in Mitcham. Labour had run the Tories close in the May 2006 London Borough elections.

    In the by-election, there was a vast increase in the Tory majority. This was clear evidence of recovery at national level.

    In May 2006, Pollards Hill was still Labour held though, despite a poor set of local elections – 49.2% Labour to 37.5% Conservative. (4.9% swing to Con since 2002). This indicates Mitcham and Morden is clearly out of the front line of the major party battle, and is a safe Labour seat now.

  22. “In March 1987 “

  23. John Cole was a Tory councillor for Pollards Hill who quit over the poll tax and stood as an Independent in 1990 helping to deliver the ward and the council to Labour. He subsequently became Labour councillor for the ward himself. Pollards Hill and Longthornton wards, in the MItcham common area formed a large part of the Tory vote that enabled them to win here, together with Lower Morden at the other end. Their inability to come close to winning these wards nmowadays is indicative of their inabilty to win the parliamentary seat, althoguh I get the impression they can do better these days in St Helier and Ravensbury – it isnt enough.

  24. I didn’t realise he was in Pollards Hill – I remember an Independent Tory interviewed on local election night 1990, just after Angela Rumbold was saying she hoped the Tory council would hold on.

    Merton was Labour’s only outright gain of a council in 1990 of course – fears of high Poll Tax bills held them back elsewhere in the capital, and it was a strong Tory achievement in London because that was the region most affected by the 15% base rate at the time.

    2 Lab, 1 Con

    LAB (elected) 1,798
    LAB (elected 1,778
    CON Barbara Mansfield (elected from by-election) 1,671

    Not elected –
    LAB 1,349
    CON 1,290
    CON 1,166
    John Cole (IND CON) 540

    Share of vote 1990
    Con 38.0% -4.5% from 1986
    Lab 45.8% +5.6% from 1986
    Ind Con 16.2%

    1987 by-election (19/3) Con hold
    Mansfield (Con) 2,017 50.5% +8.0% from 1986
    LAB 1,223 30.6% -9.6%
    SDP 752 18.8% +1.4%

    Con 42.5%
    Lab 40.2%
    Alliance 17.4%

  25. Re John Cole –
    The Poll Tax was a very flawed tax – it made the hard working low paid worse off, whereas the scroungers and free loaders either were covered by benefits anyway, or simply avoided paying by escaping registration. I strongly agreed with it’s initial purpose but it failed miserably, and in the political climate at the time was used by political opponents to just blame the tax on the government.
    It did have some successes in London, however, raising accountability.

  26. Pollards Hill is a ward along with Longthornton that has swung very heavily to Labour in the last twenty years. The ward, along with Longthornton, has seen some of the largest increases in ethnic population of any ward in Merton. Longthornton will be a majority non-white ward by the 2011 census and Pollards Hill is likely to be as well(ethnic population has increased in Pollards Hill from 33% to 45 % since 2001).

    Barbara Mansfield returned to Merton council in 2006 and now represents Lower Morden.

  27. There is no reason that an increase in ethnic minority voters should lead to a Labour swing

  28. John,

    It is true that there is no “reason” for ethnic minority voters favouring Labour but the reality is that they do especially in London.

    There is some background to this – the Asian and West Indian workforce came to do manual labour and their first encounters with politics was through the trades unions and thus the Labour party. This association has resulted in communities that are now quite middle-class (e.g. sikhs) continuing to favour the labour party.

    There does seem to be some evidence that 3rd generation ethnic minorities from the Asian community are breaking with the ties of caste and clan and the Iraq war was a real break with this tie.

  29. “Pollards Hill is likely to be as well(ethnic population has increased in Pollards Hill from 33% to 45 % since 2001).”

    Martin, I’m interested to know how you know that the ethnic population has increased from 33% to 45% in Pollards Hill since 2001. I didn’t realise any further statistics of that kind had been released. I thought we would have to wait until the 2011 census for more figures of that kind.

  30. Yes i’m interested to know that too. perhaps an educated guess ?

  31. My guess is that the sort of increases in the ethnic minority population we saw throughout London between 1981 and 1991 and also between 1991 and 2001 will not quite be replicated in 2011, partly because of the inflow of Eastern Europeans and also because the birthrate of ethnic minorities is starting to fall to a certain extent. The fertility rate for black Caribbean people is actually lower now than for white British people.

  32. Not so sure about that. The period 2001-2011 will have roughly corresponded with the period of Labour government when an open door immigration policy has been pursued. There has been massive infulx to parts of London from parts of Africa and Asia as well as East Europeans, many of whom are more transient anyway and may not still be here by 2011. IN any case it depends how you define ‘ethnic minority’ – if it included all other than ‘White British’ it would include those Eastern Europeans but obviously ‘non-white’ ethnic groups wouldn’t. I think there has been a big increase in those areas where the proportion was previously quite low as established immigrant groups move further out from their original base. Anecdotally for example I notice a large proportion of ethnic minorities in Uxbridge, but it isnt clear how much of this is resident population and how much travelling in to work or shop from neighbouring areas like SOuthall and Hayes. Obviously in places like Southall the scope for increase is limited. IN Hayes & Harlington the proportion went from around 10% in 1981 to 20% in 1991 and over 30% in 2001. I cerrtainly would not be at all surprised if it is close to 50% in 2011 and Mitcham & morden is not a dissimalar seat.

  33. Sadly I think that 1992 was probably the last time the Conservatives will win Mitcham and Morden. It is ironic as it was the site of Angela Rumbold’s sensation by-election gain in 1982 which confirmed that victory at the Falklands had completely transformed the political scene.

    I would predict the swing to the Conservatives here next time will be about 3% and the Labour majority still over 10000. Only another extremely well-timed by-election would see a Conservative comeback here.

  34. Or boundary changes restoring the pre-1974 Mitcham (& Wallington) constitueny.

  35. There will be a swing to the Conservatives here next time, but the Lower Morden, and pockets around Pollards Hill/Mitcham Common are not enough. I also suspect Angela Rumbold may have carried some personal vote here through the 80s and early 90s although it probably got all shoved aside in the very different national circumstances in 1997.

    But the Tory share of the vote is only likely to be a shade above 30% here, with Labour above 51% – a result not all that different to 1997. The electoral geography has shifted that much.

  36. The figure is not scientific, but there are further estimates of figures available from the GLA and I also went through the electoral register, which if anything may even be an underestimate. The Eastern European figure is not included but this has clearly grown here as well.

  37. Do the GLA have estimates on their website?

  38. London 2008 results – Mitcham & Morden (new boundaries):
    {Excluding postal votes}

    Lab – 12,659 (46.62%), C – 9,424 (34.71%), LD – 2,145 (7.90%), BNP – 1,091 (4.02%), Green – 642 (2.36%)

    Constituency Vote, (Merton&Wandsworth):
    Lab – 11,550 (42.95%), C – 7,648 (28.44%), LD – 2,253 (8.38%), Green – 1,802 (6.70%)

    Lab – 10,825 (39.97%), C – 6,964 (25.71%), BNP – 1,976 (7.30%), LD – 1,933 (7.14%), Green – 1,691 (6.24%)

    POSTAL VOTES for whole of Merton:

    Mayor: C – 4,623 (47.54%), Lab – 3,274 (33.67%), LD – 964 (9.91%), Green – 292 (3.00%), BNP – 179 (1.84%)

    Constituency: C – 4,496 (46.21%), Lab – 2,849 (29.28%), LD – 930 (9.56%), Green – 667 (6.86%)

    List: C – 4,193 (43.08%), Lab – 2,656 (27.29%), LD – 880 (9.04%), Green – 648 (6.66%), BNP – 326 (3.35%)

    Mitcham & Morden represented 47.30% / 47.32% / 47.42% of non-postal Merton votes for the 3 sections respectively.

  39. This constituency was the site of the last Conservative gain in a Westminster by-election, 26 long years ago. This was the result;

    Mitcham and Morden by-election
    3 June 1982

    C 13306 43.4% – 0.5%
    SDP 9032 29.4% +20.5%
    Lab 7475 24.4% -20.8%
    Oth 860 2.8% + 0.8%
    C maj: 4274 (14.0%)
    C gain

    If there were a by-election here today I would predict a Labour hold, but with their majority cut to about 7%.

  40. I think I agree with Votedave – although by-elections are unpredictable things sometimes.
    Certainly in a General Election Labour are safe here.

  41. Angela Rumbold lives in Surbiton and I understand remains active in Kingston Conservatives, and is a school governor.
    I felt somewhat sorry for her trying to hang on here in 1997 and the incorrect predictions of a close result, but her luck had run out.

  42. Labour’s position has deteriorated since votedave’s comments were written – which, no doubt, played its role in Siobhain McDonagh’s anti-Brown stance which led to her dismissal this evening. A by-election called tomorrow would, I think, be a Tory gain, but it should still be Labour at a GE.

  43. I’m not so sure – the local elections and GLA elections still put Labour well ahead within this seat. Parts of it have really gone the way of Streatham and the Tories are still running up a down escalator (though the Morden end including St Helier is perhaps slightly trending Tory). I’m sure it could be close though.
    I was surprised Siobhain McDonagh came out today the way she did she had always struck me as an arch-loyalist, though it has becoome apparent to me that her loyalty was to Blair and decidedly not to Brown. Obviously being in the whips office for eleven years has tended to rather suppress any outward display of independence, until now

  44. It would be tough, and very tight – but the Conservatives would have the edge in terms of activists, and I don’t think Labour are capable of pulling themselves together for an effective by-election defence. It would be, I think, a Tory equivalent of Glasgow East; just doable as a bye.

  45. I don’t think the Tories have any serious chance of picking this seat up, although a by-election in current circumstances would be interesting – perhaps tight.

    I agree with Pete Whitehead that there are parts of the seats are swinging longer term in different directions, demographically, although of course, these can be disguised temporarily by extreme national political circumstances.

    I don’t think there is any hint of a by-election, only that Siobhain McDonagh has lost her front bench job.

    May 2010 most likely (with a chance of it being narrower)

    Lab 22,521 51.3% -5.4%
    Con 13,653 31.1% +6.4%
    LD 4,258 9.7% -4.2%
    Green 1,800 4.1%
    BNP 1,668 3.8%

    Total votes 43,900
    Lab majority 8,868 20.2%
    Swing 5.9% from Lab to Con

    Lab Hold

  46. It would obviously be a major shock if Labour lost this seat in a General Election, particularly as Siobain McDonald clearly has strong local connections in addition to being a formidable political organiser. I noticed when she was on TV after her resignation as a whip she went out of her way to mention local issues such as the hospital.

    All the same, it would be interesting to know what number this seat is on the Tory target list. I have repeatedly pointed out that it would make sense for this site to list all the seats in target order, rather than give out arbitrarily at Number 200.

    London seats have a history of above-average swings. On the other hand, they are also particularly liable to change demographic character, which in the case of Mitcham and Morden appears likely to favour Labour.

    Pete Whitehead has referred to the MP’s eleven years in the Whips’ office (surely enough for anybody!). I have attempted to raise discussion on this site of the psephological implications of a seat being represented by a Whip, who does not speak. I have raised points in connection with the Chief Whip’s Ashfield seat and also with Eddisbury, which the Tory Chief Whip held against the swing in 1997. But nobody has been biting the bait!

    I have a feeling that it may be an advantage to be a senior whip, but not a junior one, in which case Ms. McDonald may be better off on the back benches in relation to her result next time, although of course this does not appear to be the reason she has resigned. But I would curious to know if people have proper evidence about whether retiring MPs have an advantage or otherwise if they are or have been a whip.

    Now that the economy is such a mess, I wonder how much good it will do backbench Labour MPs campaigning on local issues such as the NHS which would be regional matters in most other democracies. I suspect that people realise, now that there is a crisis, that the proper role of national representatives is to address strategic matters such as economic issues, defence and foreign affairs. Too many backbench Labour MPs (we can’t tell in the case of whips!) seem unable to rise above grassroots specifics to exert effective control over ministers in general. Maybe this is Labour’s problem as well as the leadership question which their Party appears to be concentrating on to the exclusion of other deficiencies it needs to address.

    People know that you cannot spend enough money on hospitals in Mitcham and Morden, or anywhere else, if you have to prop up the likes of Northern Rock and if collapsed firms are not generating tax revenue.

    One different point, the Green vote in this seat increased last time. With 3.5% of the vote the Greens are getting to the stage where they should be looking to at least save their deposit. However, there appears to be no mention of a Green candidate in place.

  47. I’m assuming there will be a Green candidate, putting in a respectable share – they might save their deposit.

    I agree with Frederic that London seats can produce high swings, but not always, not where demographics are changing quite fast.
    We saw quite big gyrations even in the 80s, where Labour did quite well in a number of boroughs despite having a shocking record in the Town Halls..

    I think a safe Labour hold as I predicted in a General Election, although the intriguing possiblility of a Tory gain in a hypothetical by-election couldn’t be ruled out.

  48. The Tories have no hope in this seat any more, even in a hypothetical by-election.

    In Crewe the population is predominantly white working class, which is a group that is falling rapidly out of love with its traditional Labour allegiance, with many white working class people now willing to consider voting Tory. The Nantwich part of the seat provided a solid base of middle class Tory votes necessary to make the Tories credible challengers there.

    Mitcham and Morden just does not contain enough people who would ever conceivably vote Tory, even in a by-election with an unpopular Labour government. The black and Asian population must be around 30% now which provides a formidable base for Labour, with the Tories still having made little if any inroads into these voters.

  49. Yes, I do actually doubt even a by-election, although these are very unusual times….when you ask it the other way round, can the government hold many by-elections at present.

    There isn’t going to be one.

    My gut feel is like I predicted – a rise to just above 30%.

    The fact that Labour lost so few votes in 2005 when in other safe seats people felt free to wander off in droves tells us something about how safe this now is.

  50. My feeling is that Labour would hold this seat in a by-election today, despite the government’s woes.

    Black voters in particular continue to be extremely loyal to Labour.

    Labour have been unlucky in that their two by-election losses this year the electorate was primarily white working class with few ethnic minorities.

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