1885–1918: The parish of Tottenham (and the area included in the Parliamentary Boroughs of Bethnal Green, Hackney, Shoreditch, and Tower Hamlets; for many wealthy voters this sub-provision gave a choice of which seat to vote for).
The seat, aided by the choice to wealthy voters owning property in the eastern metropolitan divisions to the south of exercising "the county franchise" (see definition above) sided with the Conservative party candidate until the January-to-February-held 1906 election, a party noted for the gradual social reforms of Benjamin Disraeli in the early 1880s, particularly in education and urban deprivation. By the time of the 1906 United Kingdom general election the Liberal Party was at its final apex and stood on the moral high ground on issues of free trade and abhorrences in the Boer War which turned the seat in the Liberal landslide result of that year to the party's candidate. The two elections in 1910 (before a near eight-year long hiatus in elections due to World War I) were one-member parliamentary majority results nationally between the two then-dominant parties but the Liberal Party's People's Budget proposed at the first 1910 election saw Liberal incumbent Alden narrowly returned to serve Tottenham and again at the end of the year.
This constituency was recreated to cover a narrower, more focussed seat on the largest town or London District itself, of Tottenham. Parts of two wards were in the former Borough of Hornsey which had a seat, abolished in 1983 to make way for Hornsey and Wood Green.
During its modern period of existence, Tottenham has been won consistently by the Labour Party;[n 3] however, one member in the early 1960s, Alan Brown, defected to become independent in opposition[n 4] and then, crossing the floor, became a Conservative. Brown failed by a wide margin to win re-election in 1964. The closest result since 1950 was in 1987 when the Labour Party candidate Bernie Grant retained the seat by 8.2% of the vote ahead of the Conservatives. The first by-election to Tottenham occurred in 2000 due to Grant's death, which saw Labour, with new candidate David Lammy, retain the seat with a reduced majority.
The re-election of Lammy in 2015 made the seat the twelfth-safest of Labour's 232 seats by percentage of majority; and third-safest in London. In 2017, Lammy was re-elected with 81.6% of the vote and a 70.1% majority, making Tottenham the safest seat for any party in Greater London.
A cosmopolitan, inner-city seat in the London Borough of Haringey, Tottenham has a large ethnic minority population – around a fifth of the residents are black, and there is a large Muslim population. Excluding the south of the constituency, the percentage of white residents understates the ethnic variety of this constituency, similar to the borough as a whole which includes major Cypriot, Irish, Eastern European, Jewish and Russian communities. The seat includes the two Haringey metropolitan centres of Harringay and Tottenham. London football club Tottenham Hotspur F.C. is also based in the constituency.
The seat includes the district of Tottenham. The constituency also includes the Broadwater Farm estate which was notorious for the 1985 riots, following which the estate underwent a massive facelift and is no longer a crime blackspot, and Northumberland Park which is blighted by social problems, including overcrowding.
^The London Borough of Haringey says its "Metropolitan Centres serve wide catchments areas and can cover several boroughs. Typically they contain at least 100,000sq.m of retail floorspace with a significant proportion of high-order comparison goods relative to convenience goods. These centres generally have very good accessibility and significant employment, leisure, service and civic functions", London Borough of Haringey's Local Plan, Site Allocations DPD, July 2017