The upcoming 12th December United Kingdom election is one that many are awaiting with bated breath. Frustrated by the deadlock in the House of Commons over exiting the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Conservative Party) put forward a request to call an early General Election. Due to the Fixed Term Parliament Act (2011), a government must get a 2/3 majority in parliament to call an election. Johnson got around this through the Early Parliamentary General Election Act (2019), which required a simple majority.
Due to the politics of the United Kingdom since the last election in 2017, there is expected to be a shift in seats. The Labour Party’s lack of clarity on Brexit and its general attitude on Brexit has caused many of their voters to look for other parties. Whilst some who would never think of voting Tory will support The Brexit Party, others will be looking to the Conservatives. Seats across the country, mainly Leave voting ones, are expected to go from Labour to the Conservatives. Ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable.
One such seat is Great Grimsby, a place that had seen journalists and politicians descend upon the seaside constituency. Labour since 1945, it was the seat of former Foreign Secretary Anthony Crosland, who once had Henry Kissinger visit the area. A traditionally Labour seat, Great Grimsby is projected to go blue for the first time since World War II.
- Seat Name: Great Grimsby, informally known as Grimsby
- Location: North East England, located on the Humber Estuary
- Seat Size: 61,292 (last estimate)
- Labour Party – Melanie Onn- 17,545 (49.4%), +9.6% from 2015
- Conservative Party – Jo Gideon- 14,980 (42.2%) +15.9% from 2015
- United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) – Mike Hookem- 1,648 (4.6%) -20.3% from 2015
- Liberal Democrats – Steve Beasant- 954 (2.7%) – 2.3% from 2015
- Independent – Christian McGilligan-Fell- 394 (1.1%) N/A
- Majority: 2,565, 7.2%, -6.3% from 2015
- Turnout: 35,521, 58%, +0.3% from 2015
- Swing: -3.1%
- Leave Vote: 72%
Great Grimsby Fast Facts
- Leave: 72% vs. Great Britain 52%
- Born in the UK: 95% vs. Great Britain 88%
- Good Education (A Levels and/or degree): 25% v Great Britain- 39%
- Good Job: 35% v Great Britain- 51%
- ABC1 Social Class (Higher): 32% v Great Britain- 54%
For many years, Great Grimsby had the biggest fishing port in the world. Due to its importance in the industry, the Germans dropped many bombs on the area during WW2, causing 196 deaths and many more injuries. Many minesweepers were stationed there due to its proximity to the North Sea.
Unfortunately, a post-industrial decline came when the fishing industry was damaged by two main factors. The first were the so-called ‘Cod Wars’ between the 1950s and 1970s, fought against Iceland. After threats by Iceland about leaving NATO, the UK was forced to give a 200 nautical mile fishing zone to the country. This led to thousands of jobs and resources lost not only in Grimsby, but across the country.
The second was the Common Fisheries Policy of the EU. The EU required a quota for each member state and the type of fish they can catch, as well as market intervention. Because of this, trawlers were required to dump tonnes of fish every time. This not only destabilised the market by increasing prices, but encouraged the loss of livelihood of so many. As a result of this, many fisherman and by extension, dock workers, lost their jobs. The once sprawling docks became lifeless and thousands were forced out of jobs with no alternative employment.
This post-industrial decline made Grimsby an extremely deprived area. Unemployment is high, whilst levels of education are low. Many high rises became popular builds, in deprived wards that encouraged the bad reputation of Grimsby. For the past few years, renewable energy has been pushed as an alternative form of employment, but it still yet to rise in popularity. One remnant of the fishing industry is food processing, which is one of Grimsby’s exports.
In the 2016 EU referendum, Grimsby proved its anger when it voted 72% to leave the EU. Out of all 650 constituencies, they were the 10th highest for leave. Interestingly, Lincolnshire, the county in which Grimsby is, made up nine out of the ten top places for Brexit. The destruction of the fishing industry was a huge reason for the high leave vote, but others included immigration and the economy.
Candidates in the 2019 Election
- Melanie Onn, Labour (Incumbent) – Melanie Onn is the incumbent MP, having been re-elected after the retirement of long-time politician Austin Mitchell. A former Labour Office and union official, Onn is seen as a moderate who isn’t a supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Her biggest claim to fame in the national newspapers was a call to ban wolf-whistling and cat calling in the streets. Unlike her constituency, Onn is staunch remain and has supported that stance. She voted to trigger Article 50, the mechanism to leave the EU. In October of this year, she defied the Labour whip and joined other Labour MPs in Brexit seats to vote for Boris Johnson’s deal, much to the anger of many in her party. She did, however, vote to delay the process in order to allow more scrutiny.
- Lia Nici, Conservative – Lia Nici is currently a member of the local council and former media specialist who ran Estuary TV. She also worked at the local college for 20 years. Ms. Nici was elected as a councillor in 2018. She did vote to remain in the EU referendum, but has since backed Brexit and will vote for Boris Johnson’s deal if she wins the seat. Ms. Nici was previously a candidate for Hull North during the 2017 GE.
- Christopher Barker, Brexit Party – Christopher Barker is a former engineer who served in the Army Reserves. The Brexit Party was only founded this year, but enjoyed electoral success in the European Elections. Mr. Barker previously stood as a candidate for the European Parliament and advocates for a no-deal Brexit.
- Ian Barfield, Liberal Democrats – Ian Barfield is a councillor for the area and has been since 2016. He is following his party by advocating for an anti-Brexit vote, hoping to revoke Article 50 and keep the country in the European Union.
- Loyd Emmerson, Green Party – Loyd Emmerson works for a local hospitality chain. He is a former candidate in the neighbouring constituency of Cleethorpes, having fought for the seat in 2017. Mr. Emmerson opposes Brexit and is hoping for more environmentalism in Grimsby.
- Nigel Winn, Independent – Nigel Winn is a hypnotherapist by trade. He plans to use different policies by different parties to get the best for Great Grimsby.
It will be Conservative or Labour, that’s for sure and it will be tight either way. The Conservatives have their best shot at taking the seat and have received positive feedback from residents throughout the campaign. Melanie Onn is a popular constituency MP, however, and is fighting harder than the Tories expected. The Brexit Party is more likely to take votes from former Labour voters as opposed to Tories, but that remains to be seen. Barfield, Emmerson and Winn have no chance.