Post by matureleft on Apr 5, 2020 11:00:33 GMT
Derby has been divided between constituencies called North and South since 1950 (before then the city was a two member constituency). The precise boundaries have varied substantially, including which wards lie in a constituency centred outside the city and, at times, the relationship of the description North and South to the actual boundaries has been arguable. The current boundaries cover the southern side of the city, its centre and its west.
With whatever boundaries it has returned a Labour MP. However that hasn't always been straightforward. Margaret Beckett has served continuously since 1983 after losing her Lincoln seat in 1979. Her first election saw her hold the seat with a margin of only 421. She has always claimed that that and her Lincoln experience made her fight the seat as a marginal. In 2017, in the initial cautious Labour strategy, resources were directed to defending the seat even though she had had a 22% lead in 2015, such was the alarm at initial poll data. In 2019, seemingly largely from a fall in turnout from 2017, her majority fell to 14%.
The seat currently contains Arboretum and Normanton Wards, inner city, often terraced private and rented housing with majorities of the population coming from minority communities. That includes a substantial East European presence. These areas have often been the initial destination for migrants who then move on to better quality housing elsewhere in the city as they prosper. Sinfin Ward, which contains the largest of the Rolls-Royce operations in the city, has a slightly more mixed population and more public sector housing. These wards generally return Labour councillors with large majorities, the exceptions being when selection and other issues within and between communities produce normally short-term disturbance to the trend. Blagreaves ward, also in the south, is more affluent and has tended recently to return Lib Dems, with occasional Labour success. Liitleover ward, more affluent still, adjacent to Blagreaves and stretching further west, forms the main Lib Dem bastion (although it used to be a Conservative banker – Labour now runs second). Forming the western point of the city is Mickleover ward, a huge almost entirely private development over many years (its growth was blamed for George Brown's defeat in 1970 when it was in the Belper seat). This generally returns Conservative councillors barring their nadir (to date!) in 1996 when Labour won. Now it appears a logical Lib Dem target being adjacent to their stronghold and they ran quite close in 2019.
Stretching south eastwards are the wards of Alvaston, Boulton and Chellaston. Alvaston has been, until fairly recently, a reasonably easy Labour win. However a former Labour councillor joined UKIP and has applied his undoubted energy to the ward and, latterly, to its adjacent neighbour, Boulton (which has had a history of some localist challenge to Labour). At local elections this has delivered a series of victories in wards that have a relatively small minority presence, a fairly high proportion of current or former public housing (more in Boulton) with the balance being relatively economical private housing. Alvaston has more terraced housing than Boulton in its northern end and is the base for the Bombardier railway engineering works and other railway associated businesses (British Rail Engineering had one of its main operations here). Evidence of the 2019 General Election suggests that most of the UKIP local support divided between the main parties and that probably Labour carried both wards fairly comfortably.
Completing the constituency is Chellaston ward, stretching to the southern edge of the city. This ward is historically generally Conservative with Labour successes in exceptional years and through the 2000s. Defections of key figures to the Conservatives have undermined Labour progress (but then one of them was deselected by the Conservatives and has won a seat as an independent!). Boundary changes were expected to have hurt Labour prospects transferring pockets of atypical poor housing at the northern end of the ward. That turned out not to make much difference and there is a sense of gentle Labour drift. The local comprehensive is extremely successful drawing pupils from around Chellaston and the adjacent areas of South Derbyshire. From 1983 until 2010 both Chellaston and Boulton wards formed part of South Derbyshire constituency.
The Lib Dems have tended to flatter to deceive here. They have a substantial local government presence but only narrowly saved their deposit in the 2019 General Election.
The reference earlier to the inner city wards being the initial point of entry for migrants and their families begs the question of where aspirational and increasingly affluent families of migrant origin move. There are many successful businesses and professional activities in Derby based on their enterprise and homes near to those are natural. Thus many of the more affluent suburbs are becoming more mixed, particularly those with successful secondary schools. In this constituency that would include those in Chellaston and Littleover. The local Conservatives have not been entirely unsuccessful in drawing votes from migrant communities (here mostly of Sikh or Muslim faiths) but generally, regardless of affluence, they favour Labour in this seat.
The economic base of the city is changing. Historically Derby was a major engineering centre for railways, aircraft engines and other power systems with large skilled and fairly well-paid workforces. These industries remain but employing far fewer people than formerly (and with a balance shifting toward service and support rather than manufacture).