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 evidenced 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, rather than 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.
1861–1918: 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.
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.
Two Communist candidates, including Barry Williams, stood between 1950 and 1970, obtaining a high point of 1.5% of the votes cast.
More recently, 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. The 2015 general election result saw the Liberal Democrat candidate fall behind the Green candidate, with both parties narrowly losing their deposits, as they did in 2017 and 2019. The Brexit Party stood at the 2019 general election, also losing its deposit.
^"Politics Resources". Election 1997. Politics Resources. 1 May 1997. Archived from the original on 16 June 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2010.C. Rallings & M. Thrasher, The Media Guide to the New Parliamentary Constituencies, p.31 (Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre, 1995)