There is speculation locally that ex-MP for the Moorlands, Charlotte Atkins will seek the Labour nomination here and will attempt the difficult task of winning the heavily redrawn constituency from the Tories. Quite a task if she does so, but she now represents all of Leek as a councillor either at District or County level and her profile would obviously be higher than any other Labour contender.
Actually, not sure if this part of Staffs *is* as "Tory trending" as some others - more that it is prone to high swings and unpredictable. And I don't think that Labour has *ever* done superbly in local elections here (Indies/Ratepayers/Residents have traditionally been strong) so treat those with a bit of caution too.
"The New Labour 'project' was finished by the 2005 election: its creative energies were exhausted and its failures increasingly apparent"
One has to consider the extent of the boundary changes enacted in 2010. The current Staffordshire Moorlands is substanially different from the Staffordshire Moorlands which existed between 1997 to 2010. The constituency lost four Labour leaning wards from Kidsgrove in Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough. At the same time the constituency gained four smaller wards from parts of Staffordshire Moorlands which were in Stoke-on-Trent North and Stone constituencies. With the removal of 18,000 Kidsgrove Labour-leaning voters from the north and the addition of some 10,000 Moorlands Tory-leaning voters from the east and south meant that the seat's electorate was reduced to less than 61,000 and much more rural in composition.
Of course, on top of this was the anti-Labour swing of 2010 and you get the result that we have. However, I agree, once all these factors are taken into account, I don't see evidence yet of the seat trending long-term towards the Tories.
I'm not sure about the evidence for this assertion either. Prior to the Boundary Commission general review proposals agreed in 1969, but not implemented until the February 1974 General Election, parts of the constituency stretched into the eastern part of the City of Stoke-on-Trent.
The proposals removed all the Stoke-on-Trent parts and what there was at the time of Kidsgrove. It is true that the seat swung heavily to the Tories in the 1970 General Election (even before the new, more Tory-friendly seat came into existence) but I am not convinced that the big swing of 1970 would have been confirmed with the old boundaries in Feb 1974.
Certainly between Feb 1974 and 1997, with the constituency co-terminus with the Staffordshire Moorlands District local authority and the inclusion of Cheadle, Staffs and surrounding areas, a win for Labour was always going to be difficult. For most of its history though, from 1918, the constituency of Leek/Staffordshire Moorlands has not be co-terminus with the Authority.
It is interesting that the 'review that never was' did recommend a return to the co-terminus arrangement, and the electorate would have been in the region of 77,000 which would have fitted the bill for the Tories very nicely.
The reason I am sceptical about any suggestion of a long-term trend towards the Tories here, is that the constituency is changing quite rapidly with much new build going on in the western part of the constituency as well as in Biddulph to the north and in Leek in the centre. The developments are by no means universally favourable to the Tories, although I do think that in recent years Labour seems to be underpeforming organisationally.
The demographic changes occuring via the new-build housing are not necessarily making the seat more Tory, but are introducing more 'swing' voters into the area.
Given that the next election will be fought with no boundary changes, it will be possible to make a comparison with 2010, and if Charlotte Atkins is the Labour candidate again, the comparison will be interesting to say the least.
Last Edit: May 24, 2013 18:57:55 GMT by fionabloor