South Shields

2015 Result:
Conservative: 6021 (16.6%)
Labour: 18589 (51.3%)
Lib Dem: 639 (1.8%)
Green: 1614 (4.5%)
UKIP: 7975 (22%)
Independent: 1427 (3.9%)
MAJORITY: 10614 (29.3%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

Geography: North East, Tyne and Wear.

Main population centres: South Shields, Whitburn.

Profile: South Shields is on a peninsula between the estuary of the Tyne and the North sea. It originally boomed as a shipbuilding and coal mining town, but both industries declined and disappared, leaving the town with high unemployment that eventually faded as the town instead became an commuter base and a home of light industry and service employment. South Shields has also remained a seaside resort and tourist town. The seat contains several large council developments, including the Whiteleas, Biddick Hall, West Harton estates and Cleadon Park (an area with a grim reputation that has been largely demolished and redeveloped over the last decade). The electorate is mostly white, though there is a small but well-established and integrated Muslim population, concentrated around the city centre and the legacy of a community of Yemeni merchant seamen that grew up here in the early twentieth century. The constituency also includes the coastal village of Whitburn.

Politics: Politically South Shields is an extremely solid Labour seat. It has been held by the Labour party since 1935, normally with extremely solid majorities. Until 2013 it was held by the former Foreign Secretary and one-time favourite for the Labour leadership David Miliband. Miliband retired to the backbenches after losing the leadership to his younger brother and in 2013 announced his intention to resign as an MP and leave British politics to take up a senior charity role in the USA. The subsequent by-election was easily held by Labour with UKIP, who had not previously contested the seat, taking a strong second place.

Current MP
EMMA LEWELL-BUCK (Labour) Born 1978, South Shields. Educated at Northumbria University. Former social worker. South Tyneside councillor from 2004. First elected as MP for South Shields in 2013 by-election.
Past Results
Con: 7886 (22%)
Lab: 18995 (52%)
LDem: 5189 (14%)
BNP: 2382 (7%)
Oth: 2066 (6%)
MAJ: 11109 (30%)
Con: 5207 (17%)
Lab: 18269 (60%)
LDem: 5957 (20%)
Oth: 773 (3%)
MAJ: 12312 (41%)
Con: 5140 (17%)
Lab: 19230 (63%)
LDem: 5127 (17%)
UKIP: 689 (2%)
Oth: 262 (1%)
MAJ: 14090 (46%)
Con: 5681 (15%)
Lab: 27834 (71%)
LDem: 3429 (9%)
Oth: 374 (1%)
MAJ: 22153 (57%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
ROBERT OLIVER (Conservative)
EMMA LEWELL-BUCK (Labour) See above.
GITANJALI GORDON (Liberal Democrat)
SHIRLEY FORD (Green) Born London. Educated at North London Collegiate School and Cambridge University. Contested North East region 2009, 2014 European election. Contested South Shields 2010.
Comments - 154 Responses on “South Shields”
  1. “If you’re a SPAD to a leading Shadow Minister, you’re probably knowledgeable, well-connected, have a decent record of activism and able to get things done. All of those contribute towards making them attractive candidates.”

    Utter piffle.

    In what way does being a SPAD show you are “able to get things done”…and by that I mean solving real problems in the real world, not fixing it for one politician to shaft another one through spin or briefings.

    A big problem with politics today is that almost all normal people are no longer party members, leaving a tiny membership more and more composed of SPADs, obsessives and aspiring professional politicians who are inclined to select candidates like themselves.

  2. Insofar as I understand the position of a SPAD, their responsibility is to assist the minister/shadow minister they’re assigned to in implementing their political agendas, which is going to involve a fair amount of negotiation with civil servants, thinktanks and various other movers and shakers in the Westminster world. They will be familiar with the processes of parliamentary business.

    The role of an MP is to represent their constituency in Westminster. This is not the same thing as ‘solving problems in the real world’, whatever that means once you strip away the invective.

    Frankly the parties selected just as many candidates favoured by the leadership with limited real world experience in the ‘good old days’ as they do now, and very many of the MPs who didn’t make that description never got close to ministerial office. What’s more, there’s been a demonstrable trend over the past few decades towards candidates who are more local both in origins and outlook.

    Let’s look at this the other way round? What exactly is it that would make a SPAD a bad candidate? If it’s just their involvement with politics, I’d ask why you’d expect party members to hold kneejerk anti-politics attitudes.

  3. I have a simillar view to HH about SPADs.

    I don’t entirely agree with his last paragraph.
    Why not be totally obsessive – within proper context – about something you believe in.

    I did a quick straw poll on this – I went through the MPs descriptions of the Yorkshire and Humber region just now.
    (No reason for choosing Y&H).

    There are about 4-5 Labour MPs who have worked in industry – which is good –
    plus one who has worked in Antiques
    + Austin Mitchell who is a historian
    and 2 or 3 other very worthy jobs
    (Megg Munn for example, in Social Care).

    The Tories all seemed to have done something pretty credible
    although there are 2 without a description
    and about 2 slightly unsure about.

    Of the 3 Lib Dems, one looked like they had a decent CV (not Clegg).

    I don’t count economist or SPAD, or speech writer, or public sector brainstorming equality consultant as a proper job.
    And one of the subjects I saw through was Economics.

    Economists usually get it wrong because they don’t know how to balance out all the many different factors.

  4. @ Edward Carlsson Browne.

    I agree the difference you make in “stitch-ups” i.e South Shields having a NEC- created shortlist that included David Miliband in 2001 (as per the Special rules due to the proximity of the 2001 election) with the intention of having David Miliband getting picked, probably intentionally being put up against weak candidates; and the difference in Ed Milliband’s selection for Doncaster North, which was not NEC-controlled – however according to the Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre’s biography of Ed Miliband, he was heavily helped by Gordon Brown, the neighboring/nearby MPs/PPCs (John Healey, Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper), regional bigwigs and behind-the-scene promises to local bigwigs in getting Ed’s selection. Of course, the book says that he gave the best performance at the actual selection meeting. However I understand that in many MP selections, even before the actual meeting, most members would already have an idea who they are going to vote, regardless of what happens at the meeting (certainly Oona King in her memoirs makes this point) .
    So it might not be an in-your-face imposition, but with that extra help, perhaps makes a large difference in being selected as the PPC or not.

    I do agree with AWS generally. However at times you get the feeling that certain seats, where an AWS is designated, is done so that a favoured candidate’s passage to become PPC is made easier. I think perhaps if there was a greater consistency into AWS designation, then this could clear that up.
    I also personally think AWS designation could be done more fairly – looking at the North East – why did all 3 Sunderland seats in 2010 have to be AWS – 2 would have been understandable. Ditto the 2 seats that came up in Newcastle in 2010 – both AWS. For 2015, Stockton South and Redcar (2 seats in Teeside) both given AWS, meaning no real available and winnable seats for men.

    “Evidence that AWSs cause large-scale shifts to the Conservatives amongst ‘angry men’ has never been satisfactorily established.” By the way, Blaenau Gwent in 2005, is an example of AWS upsetting locals. Anyway, who knows whether votes are lost by AWS – just because you haven’t proven something, does not mean it doesn’t exist or that it is not true.

    My views on SPADs are not that different to H Hemmelig – furthermore, how many former SPADs rebel, instead they tend to be more like placemats for the party leadership. Perhaps they do so intentionally, knowing rebellion would hinder their career.

  5. Richard Elvin has been chosen as the UKIP candidate

  6. Didn’t he stand in Middlesbrough byelection last year?

    I had wondered if David Potts would stand here for UKIP, but then again…

  7. No news from the by-election campaign?

    Can nobody be bothered to put up a fight?

  8. Apparently an opportunity has arisen for Labour to call the by-election for 2nd May after all, with Parliament being recalled today.

  9. Edward Carlsson-Browne.

    Agree with your historical analysis. This isn’t just true of the Labour Party but applies to Conservative selections as well. This is why some manipulation of the shortlist is a good idea. It gets possible candidates outside the normal parameters into consideration. It’s then up to them whether they impress the local selectorate.

  10. It’s early days yet but what kind of vote share increase might Labour be in for here?- Granted it’s a safe seat of course- 10%? 15% maybe?

  11. Mark Walsh withdrew from Labour selection at the last minute for “personal reasons”

    Emma Lewell-Buck won the selection.

  12. The Results:

    It’s possible that if UKIP have a very good result the Labour vote share will be pretty much the same as in 2010: ie. about 50-55%.

  13. Suspect quite a bit though Andy that if UKIP want to do very well here they will have to find possibly multiple issues to exploit like they did in Rotherham.

  14. Hugh Annand is the LibDem candidate.

  15. Surely if someone just asks the UKIP candidate what they thought of Margaret Thatcher, and I’m guessing as the perception that UKIP are perhaps closer to Thatcherism than Cameron (certainly amongst some Tories), the response would be a glowing tribute, and then that in itself would put off South Shielders from UKIP.

  16. The Conservatives have re-selected Karen Allen

  17. Date set: it is to be 2nd May.

  18. The by-election page with announced candidates so far is up here:

    (There is also a John Robertson who has said he will stand as an independent, but as far as I can tell from the London Gazette his bankruptcy has not yet been discharged, so he would not be eligible to do so. Still I’ll add him if he turns up on the SOPN!)

  19. Interested to know what was behind Mark Walsh’s withdrawal, seeing as he was a clear favourite.

  20. Nothing has been mentioned about Mark Walsh other than the initial “personal reasons”.

    He wasn’t present at the selection meeting.

    I note Walsh was not on the approved parliamentary candidates lists (possibly meaning he hadn’t a parliamentary career in mind until last month).

  21. David Wright Milband has been appointed the duke and duchess of Thingy in the county of Whatever today.

    The writ SHOULD make it to South Tyneside Council in time for a May 2nd poll – only 13 working days away.

  22. My forecast for South Shields in 2015

    Lab 53.2
    UKIP 18.3
    Con 18.1
    LD 5
    BNP 3
    Others 2.4


    There is nothing ‘unprincipled’ about David Miliband (if we’re comparing directly with Tony Blair).

  24. Have you seen the salary package?? $460,000 per annum…

    This is not volunteer work in Burundi…


    If it is true, I do feel bad for her. But it must be noted that a southern male MP like Jacob Rees-Mogg has been ridiculed for his accent by certain quarters too.

  26. Speaking about the tories being mean to women is getting really ott. Its at saturation point now and is getting deeply irritating.

    At the end of the day Labour must have made far more attacks on tories accents.

    Its a good thing that Pat Glass et al aren’t in another profession. It most senior white collar jobs its seen as pretty unprofessional to talk with an accent like that. I don’t particularly defend that attitude, but the tories aren’t generally nasty about taking the piss out of accents.

  27. Westhoe – UKIP gain

    UKIP 676
    Lab 625
    Con 219
    GRN 90
    LD 41

    Further evidence that UKIP is becoming the challenger in safe labour seats. However this ward is a not a safe labour seat so it’s more a case of UKIP consolidating the anti-Lab vote.

  28. I read that the by election was triggered by the death of an independent councillor in Westoe.

  29. Newsnight in South Shields. People in the pub aren’t enthusiastic about Ed Miliband at all. Like yesterday on the Greens, this is about their threats from UKIP in the north.

  30. Following the US Senate report on CIA torture, I’m guessing that Labour are now thanking their lucky stars that they didn’t elect David Miliband as leader. All the New Labour Foreign Secretaries surely share some degree of culpability in the utterly disgusting practices which are described, and which were clearly authorised at the highest level despite being completely contrary to international law.

    A few years ago, calls for Bush and Blair to be held to account for these war crimes at the International Criminal Court were largely confined to the radical left. Reading this remarkably candid report I am now inclined to support such an action, and perhaps the effect may be similar on others who are not of the left and have never been obsessed by Iraq.

    Bush and Blair must be becoming concerned that, rather than this issue fading away, it is becoming increasingly mainstream to condemn their disgraceful sanctioning of torture and to demand that they be held account for it. No doubt about it, if these practices were carried out by the leader of a tinpot third world country, that leader would be convicted at the ICC of gross human right violations. I am now starting to think that we might actually see the day when the perpetrators of the Iraq war are held to account.

    Given the remarkable candour of the report it is impossible not to admire the openness of the Americans and their willingness to admit appalling official mistakes. I fear we will not see the same candour with regard to our own involvement.

  31. They may be open about it but will also do it again if they feel they need to. They have a good record in this area, going back to their treatment of the native Americans…

  32. ‘Following the US Senate report on CIA torture, I’m guessing that Labour are now thanking their lucky stars that they didn’t elect David Miliband as leader. All the New Labour Foreign Secretaries surely share some degree of culpability in the utterly disgusting practices which are described, and which were clearly authorised at the highest level despite being completely contrary to international law’

    There was nothing in the report to suggest that British security services were involved in such practices – and whilst I’m guessing we probably were involved to some extent, and that it was authorised at the highest level, surely Blair himself – a brilliant pilitrician and despicable human being – is far more culpable than any of the Labour administration’s foreigh secretaries

    ‘Given the remarkable candour of the report it is impossible not to admire the openness of the Americans and their willingness to admit appalling official mistakes ‘

    What makes it most remarkable is that in so many other areas – police heavy-handedness being probably the most visible example – this goes against the insticts of the American politcal establishments to hush such things up and make sure people don’t hear about it

  33. “a brilliant politician and despicable human being”

    I like that description very much.

    I remember how the famous “demon eyes” Tory election posters were ridiculed before the 97 election.

    But they were true.

  34. He is also living proof of what we were repeatedly told during the expenses scandal, viz. that no-one goes into politics to make money.

  35. ‘He is also living proof of what we were repeatedly told during the expenses scandal, viz. that no-one goes into politics to make money.’

    I’d say quite the opposite

    Blair has been able to amass his fortune via advising leaders and rulers who are bigger scumbags than himself, for one reason and one reason alone – he was British PM and is therefore considered to have clout

    Whilst John Major was more particular about the company he kept, he too built up a personal fortune following his mosyt disastrous stint (at least that’s how it was seen at the time) as PM

    And as the interviews with the likes of Steven Byers, Geff Hoon, John Butterfill and others shortly before the last election underlined, people certainly do go into politics to make money – even if that mostly doesn’t come until after they actually leave the political arena

  36. Oh dear, I think your irony-meter needs adjusting.

  37. LOL

  38. Tony Blair is the man who was getting something like 90% approval ratings from the British public for about two years from 1997 to 1999.

  39. ANDY JS

    I was one of the 10%!

  40. I fully admit I voted for Blair enthusiastically in 1997 and less so in 2001 – and he is probably the PM who is comes closest to my own political views since Harold Macmillan

    But still, the way he has conducted himself and made his money since leaving office has been utterly repugnant – especially for a man who dares to decribe himself a Christian

    And I haven’t even mentioned the war

  41. “But still, the way he has conducted himself and made his money since leaving office has been utterly repugnant – especially for a man who dares to decribe himself a Christian”

    What I find very interesting is how much his reputation has gone downhill relative to that of his mentor Bill Clinton.

    Before the Iraq war, Blair was essentially a martially-faithful version of Clinton. Ironically, Blair is now doomed to be remembered more for his relationship with Bush (who he didn’t really like much) that for that with his mentor.

    American presidents always have good retirements. Blair should have followed Clinton’s example and not grubbed around JP Morgan.

  42. Labour hold. 15,000 majority

  43. Suppose that a Corby led Labour Party splits voters down the middle. Suppose that this halves the Labour vote, and that half the voters Labour loses go to UKIP.

    Such a scenario would appear to be not unlikely in a seat like this which is very largely white working-class.

    This would put Labour in this seat on 26% and UKIP on 35%, which would be enough for UKIP to win the seat comfortably.

    It is interesting to note that the UKIP vote here only went down by 2% between the 2013 by-election and the 2015 General Election. The UKIP vote was not a protest vote but represented a genuine and long-term loss of Labour support. Whoever the leader, Labour would find this vote very hard to win back.

    A question I am asking for a number of seats. What boundary changes might take place in Tyne and Wear before 2020, both in terms of the number of MPs and in terms of boundary changes? What might the effects be on representation by the various parties?

  44. Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow has said on the 7pm News that when he visited this seat to ask voters their views regarding the EU Referendum, most said they intend to vote LEAVE merely as a vote against the government.

    I think some voters are using this as a referendum on Cameron/the Tories/the Establishment!

    I think support for LEAVE in some north-east England seats will be huge!

  45. “I think support for LEAVE in some north-east England seats will be huge!)

    Must admit I don’t know a lot about NE England but judging by the number of UKIP second-place finishes last year that wouldn’t surprise me one bit

  46. If a Leave vote is a general two fingers up to the government, then Labour may escape relatively unscathed, provided they can avoid that anger being turned on them.

  47. Corbyn will be blamed by many people in the Labour Party if Leave win.

  48. Agreed, though I’m not sure fairly. Alan Johnson has been basically invisible for the last couple of months, and he’s supposed to be leading this campaign.

  49. The reason Labour have been relatively invisible for large parts of this campaign (according to the data collected by Loughborough, anyway) is not some media conspiracy but because news values demand that most of the time goes to party leaders and people leading the official campaign. Corbyn has done few public events and Labour insisted – rightly or wrongly – in running their own campaign that was naturally going to be secondary to the government’s campaign.

    If it is Leave how Labour reacts will be almost as interesting as how the Tories react. Most in Labour are much more committed to the EU than most Remain Tories so it will be a very tough adjustment to make. Can they just drop deeply held pro-EU views or will they try and somehow fight on for the possibility of a reversal of the referendum result, or at least an EEA-style deal? I can see moves towards a leadership challenge though there are significant barriers to it being successful at this stage.

  50. Leave wins 62-38.

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