Birkenhead (UK Parliament constituency)

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Birkenhead
Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Outline map
Boundary of Birkenhead in Merseyside.
Outline map
Location of Merseyside within England.
County 1861–1918 Cheshire1950–1974 Cheshire1974– Merseyside
Population 88,818 (2011 census)[1]
Electorate 62,432 (December 2010)[2]
Major settlements Birkenhead
Current constituency
Created 1950
Member of parliament Frank Field (Labour)
Number of members One
Created from Birkenhead East, Birkenhead West
1861–1918
Type of constituency Borough constituency
Replaced by Birkenhead East, Birkenhead West
Overlaps
European Parliament constituency North West England

Birkenhead /ˈbɜːrkənˌhɛd/ is a constituency recreated in 1950 represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 1979 by Frank Field of the Labour Party.[n 1] A former seat of the same name had an 1861-to-1918 lifespan. In the intervening years the area on the Liverpool-facing side of the Wirral Peninsula was split in two and joined with other land which had become more developed.

Profile[edit]

Birkenhead forms the relatively densely populated mid-east of four parliamentary constituencies within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, itself a major contributor to (and the ex-Cheshire part of) the Metropolitan County of Merseyside envisioned in 1958 and created in 1974,[3] considered as any other county (albeit with very limited powers and no elected councillors) for the enacted purposes of the Boundary Commission in its periodic reports.[4]

The urban parts of the town unite with Liverpool on the opposite side of the narrows of the estuary in having an early socially reformist movement in local measures and its choice of many elected representatives since the 1850s. The work was evidence in the building of large public buildings and institutions and the creation of supported workers' housing, creating Port Sunlight to the south among other such estates. The southern border of the Borough controversially avoids the near-circular suburbs of the cathedral city of Chester, thereby creating a jagged boundary in local and national government; nonetheless the Wirral has scenic shores and large golf courses including to the west one which regularly hosts The Open. Transcending the dense 20th century urban-semi-rural divide of Merseyside is the largely Victorian era-built town of Birkenhead which at the centre of which lies the archetype of city parks, Birkenhead Park, a social gift and early publicly subscribed community asset in the area.

The seat is almost square and bounded by its sole motorway to the west. Its homes were (at the 2011 census) 53% owner-occupied compared to 60% in the region. The seats' entirely left-wing victories nationally since 1945 evidence commitment locally to public services and wealth redistribution instead of laissez-faire economics and low taxation. The 2015 result made the seat the 15th safest of Labour's 232 seats by percentage of majority.[5]

History[edit]

Creation, abolition and recreation

Birkenhead was enfranchised in 1861 by the Birkenhead Enfranchisement Act 1861[6] and was a single constituency until it was split under the Representation of the People Act 1918 which took effect for the 1918 general election.

Birkenhead East and West covered the former area between 1918 and 1950 and smaller neighbouring communities in The Wirral.

The single constituency on revised boundaries was re-established at the 1950 general election.

Political history[edit]

1861-1918

The seat's elections were won by Conservatives apart from once, the landslide United Kingdom general election, 1906 for the Liberal Party.

During splitting (disbandment)

The two seats alternated frequently between the three largest parties in the 1920s before the 1931 and 1935 elections which saw a major Conservative and Unionist Party victory (standing as Unionist in this area) in Birkenhead West, the latter election heralding a 10-year Parliament. However Graham White (Liberal) of the more radical faction won the eastern seat in both elections, echoing his victory of 1922. Having had marginal majorities predominantly, the seats were won over by the 1945 Labour Party national landslide victory more firmly for Labour.

Since 1950 re-creation

Since 1950 Birkenhead has returned Labour MPs each winning large majorities — apart from a 7% majority in 1955. Further to the left wing, two communist candidates, including Barry Williams stood between 1950 and 1970 obtaining a high point of 1.5% of the votes cast during the Cold War.

The MP since 1979, Frank Field was immediately appointed as the Blair ministry's Welfare Reform Minister for one year and since 2015 has chaired the related Work and Pensions Committee.

Minor party candidates during the early 21st century

At the 2001, 2005 and 2010 general elections no candidates apart from selected by Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democrat parties contested the seat. Until and including the 1966 election, three or fewer candidates generally stood in more safe-than-marginal majority-seats nationally; as is reflected the elections shown below of Birkenhead. The 2015 result saw the 'Lib Dem' candidate fall behind the 'Green' candidate and the parties narrowly lost their deposits.

Boundaries[edit]

The enfranchising Act provided that the constituency was to consist of the Extra-parochial Chapelry of Birkenhead, the several townships of Claughton, Tranmere, and Oxton, and so much of the township of Higher Bebbington as lies to the eastward of the road leading from Higher Tranmere to Lower Bebbington.[7]

1950-1974: The County Borough of Birkenhead, except the wards included in the Bebington constituency.

1974-1983: The County Borough of Birkenhead wards of Argyle, Bebington, Cathcart, Claughton, Cleveland, Clifton, Devonshire, Egerton, Gilbrook, Grange, Holt, Mersey, Oxton, and St James.

1983-2010: The Metropolitan Borough of Wirral wards of Bidston, Birkenhead, Claughton, Egerton, Oxton, and Tranmere.

2010–present: The Metropolitan Borough of Wirral wards of Bidston and St James, Birkenhead and Tranmere, Claughton, Oxton, Prenton, and Rock Ferry.

The constituency covers the town of Birkenhead, on the Wirral Peninsula, and the Birkenhead suburbs of Bidston, Claughton, Oxton, Prenton, Rock Ferry and Tranmere.

Members of Parliament[edit]

MPs 1861–1918[edit]

Election Member[8] Party
1861 John Laird Conservative
1874 David MacIver Conservative
1885 Edward Bruce Hamley Conservative
1892 Arnold Keppel, Viscount Bury Conservative
1894 Elliott Lees Conservative
1906 Henry Harvey Vivian Lib-Lab
1910 Alfred Bigland Conservative
1918 constituency abolished: see Birkenhead East and Birkenhead West

MPs since 1950[edit]

Election Member Party
1950 Percy Collick Labour
1964 Edmund Dell Labour
1979 Frank Field Labour

Elections[edit]

Elections in the 2010s[edit]

General Election 2017: Birkenhead[9]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Frank Field 33,558 76.9 +9.2
Conservative Stewart Gardiner 8,044 18.4 +3.6
Liberal Democrat Allan Brame 1,118 2.6 -1.0
Green Jayne Clough 943 2.2 -2.0
Majority 25,514 58.4 +5.6
Turnout 43,663 67.7 +5.0
Labour hold Swing 2.8
General Election 2015: Birkenhead[10][11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Frank Field 26,468 67.6 +5.1
Conservative Clark Vasey 5,816 14.9 -4.1
UKIP Wayne Harling 3,838 9.8 +9.8
Green Kenny Peers 1,626 4.2 +4.2
Liberal Democrat Allan Brame 1,396 3.6 -15.0
Majority 20,652 52.8 +9.2
Turnout 39,144 62.7 +5.1
Labour hold Swing
General Election 2010: Birkenhead[12][13][14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Frank Field 22,082 62.5 −2.5
Conservative Andrew Gilbert 6,687 18.9 +2.4
Liberal Democrat Stuart Kelly 6,554 18.6 +0.1
Majority 15,395 43.6 −2.9
Turnout 35,523 56.6 +6.7
Labour hold Swing −2.7

Elections in the 2000s[edit]

General Election 2005: Birkenhead[15]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Frank Field 18,059 65.0 −5.5
Liberal Democrat Stuart Kelly 5,125 18.4 +5.6
Conservative Howard Morton 4,602 16.6 −0.1
Majority 12,934 46.5 −7.3
Turnout 27,786 48.7 +0.4
Labour hold Swing −5.6
General Election 2001: Birkenhead[16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Frank Field 20,418 70.5 −0.3
Conservative Brian Stewart 4,827 16.7 +1.5
Liberal Democrat Roy Wood 3,722 12.8 +3.8
Majority 15,591 53.8 −1.8
Turnout 28,967 48.3 −17.7
Labour hold Swing −0.9

Elections in the 1990s[edit]

General Election 1997: Birkenhead[17][18]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Frank Field 27,825 70.8 +7.2
Conservative John Crosby 5,982 15.2 −9.9
Liberal Democrat Roy Wood 3,548 9.0 −0.7
Socialist Labour Mark Cullen 1,168 3.0 N/A
Referendum Richard Evans 800 2.0 N/A
Majority 21,843 55.6 +17.1
Turnout 39,323 65.8 −7.2
Labour hold Swing +8.6
General Election 1992: Birkenhead[19][20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Frank Field 29,098 63.6 +4.9
Conservative Robert Hughes 11,485 25.1 −1.3
Liberal Democrat Pat M. Williams 4,417 9.7 −5.2
Green Tina R. Fox 543 1.2 N/A
Natural Law Bridget Griffiths 190 0.4 N/A
Majority 17,613 38.5 +6.2
Turnout 45,733 73.0 +0.7
Labour hold Swing +3.1

Elections in the 1980s[edit]

General Election 1987: Birkenhead[21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Frank Field 27,883 58.7 +9.1
Conservative Kenneth Costa 12,511 26.4 −2.5
Liberal Richard Kemp 7,095 14.9 −5.9
Majority 15,372 32.3 +11.6
Turnout 47,489 72.3 +2.6
Labour hold Swing +5.8
General Election 1983: Birkenhead[22]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Frank Field 23,249 49.6 −0.3
Conservative Tom Peet 13,535 28.9 −6.8
Liberal Gordon C. Lindsay 9,782 20.8 +7.1
Majority 9,714 20.7 +6.5
Turnout 46,566 69.7 -4.2
Labour hold Swing +3.6

Elections in the 1970s[edit]

General Election 1979: Birkenhead
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Frank Field 20,803 49.9 −1.4
Conservative P. Gill 14,894 35.7 +6.8
Liberal R Perkins 5,708 13.7 −6.1
Workers Revolutionary M. Fletcher 306 0.7 n/a
Majority 5,909 14.2 −8.2
Turnout 41,711 73.9 +3.7
Labour hold Swing −4.1
General Election October 1974: Birkenhead
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Edmund Dell 21,748 51.3 +6.1
Conservative E. Gearing 12,264 28.9 −1.0
Liberal G.C. Lindsay 8,380 19.8 −5.1
Majority 9,484 22.4 +7.1
Turnout 42,392 70.2 −6.3
Labour hold Swing +3.6
General Election February 1974: Birkenhead
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Edmund Dell 20,696 45.2 −5.5
Conservative J.S. Pyke 13,702 29.9 −6.7
Liberal G.C. Lindsay 11,410 24.9 +13.0
Majority 6,994 15.3 +1.2
Turnout 45,808 76.5 +5.7
Labour hold Swing +6.1
General Election 1970: Birkenhead
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Edmund Dell 20,980 50.7 −9.4
Conservative Robert Kris 15,151 36.6 −1.8
Liberal D.T. Griffiths Evans 4,926 11.9 N/A
Communist Barry Williams 351 0.9 −0.6
Majority 5,829 14.1 −7.6
Turnout 41,408 70.8 −2.1
Labour hold Swing −5.6

Elections in the 1960s[edit]

General Election 1966: Birkenhead
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Edmund Dell 24,188 60.1 +3.1
Conservative Robert Adley 15,438 38.4 −4.6
Communist Barry Williams 604 1.5 N/A
Majority 8,750 21.7 +7.7
Turnout 40,230 72.9 −1.9
Labour hold Swing +3.9
General Election 1964: Birkenhead
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Edmund Dell 23,994 57.0 +8.1
Conservative Robert Kenelm Morland 18,133 43.0 +1.8
Majority 5,861 14.0 +6.3
Turnout 42,127 74.4 −4.4
Labour hold Swing +5.0

Elections in the 1950s[edit]

General Election 1959: Birkenhead
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Percy Collick 22,990 48.9 −4.6
Conservative Kenneth Graham Routledge 19,361 41.2 −5.3
Liberal G Frederick Bilson 4,658 9.9 N/A
Majority 3,629 7.7 +0.7
Turnout 47,009 78.8 +3.1
Labour hold Swing +5.0
General Election 1955: Birkenhead
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Percy Collick 24,526 53.5 −1.5
Conservative Harry S. Oddie 21,345 46.5 +1.5
Majority 3,181 7.0 −3.0
Turnout 45,871 75.7 −7.1
Labour hold Swing −1.5
General Election 1951: Birkenhead
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Percy Collick 29,014 55.0 +5.1
Conservative Maxwell Reney-Smith 23,765 45.0 +6.6
Majority 5,249 10.0 −1.5
Turnout 52,779 82.8 −2.1
Labour hold Swing −5.9
General Election 1950: Birkenhead
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Percy Collick 26,472 49.9 N/A
Conservative Horace Trevor-Cox 20,343 38.4 N/A
Liberal D.R. Green 5,234 9.9 N/A
Communist S. Coulthard 971 1.8 N/A
Majority 6,129 11.5 N/A
Turnout 53,020 84.9 N/A
Labour win (new seat)

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ As with all constituencies, the constituency elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election at least every five years.
References
  1. ^ "Birkenhead: Usual Resident Population, 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Electorate Figures - Boundary Commission for England". 2011 Electorate Figures. Boundary Commission for England. 4 March 2011. Archived from the original on 6 November 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Local Government Act 1972, s. 1 enacting Sch.1 Pt. 1
  4. ^ The boundary factors for each minimum 10-yearly Boundary Commission review are set in the UK by the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986
  5. ^ List of Labour MPs elected in 2015 by % majority UK Political.info. Retrieved 2017-01-29
  6. ^ 1861 c.112
  7. ^ Birkenhead Enfranchisement Act 1861, section 9.
  8. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "B" (part 3)
  9. ^ "Birkenhead parliamentary constituency". BBC News. 
  10. ^ "Election Data 2015". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  11. ^ "Birkenhead". BBC News. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "Election Data 2010". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  13. ^ Parliamentary General Election Candidates, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
  14. ^ "BBC NEWS – Election 2010 – Birkenhead". BBC News. 
  15. ^ "Election Data 2005". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  16. ^ "Election Data 2001". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  17. ^ "Election Data 1997". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  18. ^ "Politics Resources". Election 1997. Politics Resources. 1 May 1997. Retrieved 2010-12-25. C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, The Media Guide to the New Parliamentary Constituencies, p.31 (Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre, 1995)
  19. ^ "Election Data 1992". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  20. ^ "Politics Resources". Election 1992. Politics Resources. 9 April 1992. Retrieved 2010-12-06. 
  21. ^ "Election Data 1987". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  22. ^ "Election Data 1983". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 

Sources[edit]

  • Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918-1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.