1885-1918: The existing parliamentary borough, and so much of the parish of Sandal Magna as lies to the north-east of the Great Northern and Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, being the portion known as Belle Vue.
1918–1950: The County Borough of Wakefield.
1950–1955: The County Borough of Wakefield, the Urban District of Horbury, and part of the Rural District of Wakefield.
1955–1983: The County Borough of Wakefield, the Urban Districts of Horbury and Royston, and part of the Rural District of Wakefield.
1983–1997: The City of Wakefield wards of Horbury, Wakefield Central, Wakefield East, Wakefield North, Wakefield Rural, and Wakefield South.
1997–2010: The City of Wakefield wards of Wakefield Central, Wakefield East, Wakefield North, and Wakefield Rural, and the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees wards of Denby Dale and Kirkburton.
2010–present: The City of Wakefield wards of Horbury and South Ossett, Ossett, Wakefield East, Wakefield North, Wakefield Rural, and Wakefield West.
The far eastern suburbs of the city and its southern part falls within the Wakefield South ward and this is in the Hemsworth seat, the largest towns of which are, by a small margin, the towns of South Elmsall and South Kirkby, which form a contiguous settlement 7 miles (11 km) to the east.
Electors of the area, since five years before the Model Parliament of 1295 until 1826 had entitlement to vote for the two representatives for Yorkshire, the largest county in the country. Parliament legislated for, from an unusual disfranchisement in 1826 of a Cornish rotten borough, two additional MPs.[n 2] From April 1784 until September 1812, one of the two members elected was William Wilberforce, internationally recognised as a leading figure in abolitionism (the anti-slavery movement). The large county was given far greater representation by the Reform Act 1832: Belle Vue's electors until 1885, alongside other Forty Shilling Freeholders non-resident in the Parliamentary Borough of Wakefield itself but owning such property in any part of the county division could elect the two members for that division: this became the West Riding of Yorkshire from 1832 until 1865 (which had its polling place in this city), after which, the relevant county subdivision became the Southern West Riding until 1885.
Wakefield returned Labour MPs from 1932 to 2017. The size of majority had fluctuated between absolute and marginal.[n 3] The 2015 result gave the seat the 27th-smallest majority of Labour's 232 seats by percentage of majority. In 2019, Wakefield lost the Labour majority and returned the first Conservative MP in 87 years.
The seat was represented from 2019 to 2022 by Imran Ahmad Khan, who was elected as a member of the Conservative Party. Ahmad Khan was found guilty in 2022 of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008 serving an 18 month jail term resulting in his resignation as an MP. This triggered a by-election. His resignation became effective on 3 May 2022, when he was appointed Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds. A by-election was held on 23 June to replace him. Looked on as a key "Red Wall" seat, Labour regained the constituency with a substantial 12.7% swing.
From 1923 until 2019 the runner-up candidate was a Conservative. Six non-Labour candidates stood in 2015 of whom two, those which were Conservative and from UKIP won more than 5% of the vote, keeping their deposits.
Rt HonArthur Greenwood was succeeded by Clement Attlee as leader of the Opposition in 1945, a few months before the party's landslide election victory. He had been from 1929 to 1931 the Minister of Health in the Second MacDonald ministry. In this role he successfully steered the Housing Act 1930 through both Houses of Parliament under the minority government, which expended more significant subsidies for slum clearance, allowing more affordable, spacious housing to be built for residents of slums. When the wartime coalition government was formed, Winston Churchill appointed him to the BritishWar Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio in 1940. He was generally seen in such a role as of little wartime legislative effect, but in May 1940 he emerged as Churchill's strongest and most vocal supporter in the lengthy War Cabinet debates on whether to accept or reject a peace offer from Germany. Without the vote in favour of fighting on by Greenwood and Clement Attlee, Churchill would not have had the slim majority he needed to do so.
Rt Hon Arthur Creech Jones was Secretary of State for the Colonies from October 1946 until February 1950, appropriately given that in June 1936 he pressed the Government, who were encouraging Colonies to set up memorials to King George V, to follow the example of Uganda and set up a technical educational institution. The Labour Party nominated him to the Colonial Office's Educational Advisory Committee in 1936, on which he served for nine years. In 1937, he was a founding member of the Trades Union Congress Colonial Affairs Committee, and in 1940 he founded the Fabian Colonial Bureau.
Mary Creagh held various shadow cabinet posts between 2010 and 2015. She resigned her post following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour party leader.
Workless claimants, registered jobseekers, were in November 2012 slightly higher than the regional average of 4.9%, at 5.3% of the population based on a statistical compilation by The Guardian, which is also higher than the national average of 3.8%.
Of the council wards, the Wakefield East and Wakefield North areas regularly return Labour councillors, whereas the others are marginal. The Ossett ward is particularly unpredictable, and has elected Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP councillors since 2005. The other wards are contested between Labour and Conservative. Between 1997 and 2010 the constituency included the wards of Denby Dale and Kirkburton, generally Conservative-voting suburbs of Huddersfield in the neighbouring Kirklees borough. These joined Dewsbury, in the same borough, in 2010.
Another General Election was required to take place before the end of 1915. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place and by July 1914, the following candidates had been selected;
^This Cornish seat was a 19th-century byword for corruption, Grampound.
^The Labour majority in 1966 was the greatest at 30.8% of the vote; that in 1983 was the narrowest since 1932, at 360 votes, see incumbent MP Walter Harrison (Lab) who did not stand for re-election in 1987.