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, 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.
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, 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 UK Census) 53% owner-occupied compared to 60% in the region. The seat's 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 general election result made the seat the fifteenth-safest of Labour's 232 seats by percentage of majority.
The two seats alternated frequently between the three largest parties in the 1920s, before the 1931 and 1935 general elections, which saw a major Conservative and Unionist Party victory (standing as Unionist in this area) in Birkenhead West, the latter election heralding a ten-year Parliament. However, the Liberal Graham White, of the more radical faction, won the eastern seat at both elections, echoing his victory in 1922. Having had predominantly marginal majorities, the seats were firmly won by the Labour Party in their nationwide landslide victory of 1945.
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, two Communist candidates, including Barry Williams stood between 1950-1970 obtaining a high point of 1.5% of the votes cast during the Cold War.
Frank Field, who has represented the constituency since 1979, was immediately appointed as the Blair ministry's Welfare Reform Minister for one year and has chaired the related Work and Pensions Committee since 2015.
Minor party candidates during the early 21st century
At the 2001, 2005 and 2010 general elections no candidates apart from those selected by the Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democrat parties contested the seat. Until and including the 1966 general 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 general election result saw the Liberal Democrat candidate fall behind the Green candidate and the parties narrowly lost their deposits.
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 Bebington as lies to the eastward of the road leading from Higher Tranmere to Lower Bebington.
1950–1974: The County Borough of Birkenhead, except the wards included in the Bebington constituency (i.e. the wards of Bebington, Devonshire, Egerton, Mersey, and Prenton).
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.
^"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)