Blackpool South by-election guide

Blackpool South heads to the polls on Thursday to elect its new MP. Here Kevin Gopal provides your guide to voting and analysis.

Disgraced Conservative MP Scott Benton resigned just in time for this by-election to take place alongside the national local and mayoral elections on 2 May. He won the Blackpool South seat at the 2019 general election, beating Labour’s Gordon Marsden – who’d held it since 1997 – but with a majority of just 3,690.

Suspended from Parliament in February for breaching lobbying rules following an undercover sting, Benton’s resignation has prompted a ballot paper containing no less than nine names.

Political consultancy Electoral Calculus is predicting that the Conservatives’ share of the vote will drop from 49.3 per cent to 19.7 per cent, while Labour’s share will rise from 39.8 per cent to 55.9 per cent. It therefore gives Labour’s candidate Chris Webb a 99 per cent chance of winning the seat.

Labour’s Chris Webb has a 99% chance of winning the Blackpool South seat

Conservative candidate David Jones and Mark Butcher of Reform UK are likely to take most of the rest of the votes. How much Reform UK can dent the Tories will be a key issue not only for 2 May but the general election.

  • Stephen Black, Independent
  • Mark Butcher, Reform UK
  • Andrew Cregan, Liberal Democrat
  • Howling Laud Hope, Official Monster Raving Loony Party
  • David Jones, Conservative Party
  • Kim Knight, Alliance for Democracy and Freedom
  • Damon Sharp, New Open Non-Political Organised Leadership Party
  • Ben Thomas, Green Party
  • Chris Webb, Labour Party

You’d be a brave political party to parachute anyone in to Blackpool South. The candidates, making much of their local connections in the campaign, will be familiar with constituents’ concerns. From the cost of living crisis and the NHS to more local worries such as mould in homes and the sewage crisis, those concerns are represented in wearyingly familiar appearances at the top of deprivation indices.

However local, the candidates will have to work hard to enthuse Blackpool South

But however local, the candidates will have to work hard to enthuse Blackpool South. The divisive Benton’s lobbying scandal has heightened disaffection with Westminster politicians and many people’s reaction to the by-election has been “why, when there’s a general election coming?”

Webb, former assistant to Marsden and Tony Lloyd, another Labour MP until his recent death, has had his party’s big guns in tow.

He was in the background at Blackpool Cricket Club when shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves launched his campaign, promising Blackpool South “a chance to vote for a fresh start”. On 11 April, Labour leader Keir Starmer came to town, with Webb saying the cost of living crisis was “front and centre” in his campaign.

PR and marketing man Jones, chair of Fylde Conservatives, promised the Blackpool Gazette that if elected he would use his local contacts to “work non-stop at turning the corner and continuing to deliver millions of investment to improve the lives of local people in our town”.

Reform candidate Mark Butcher founded Amazing Graze soup kitchen – currently under investigation for facilitating his campaign

From a UK Reform campaign bus, Butcher – founder of Christian soup kitchen Amazing Graze which is currently under investigation from the charity commission following a complaint it has facilitated his campaign – claimed local homeless people were losing out to asylum seekers being housed in hotels.

Police and Crime Commissioner

The same day will also see an election held for the position of Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner – the person who is ultimately responsible for holding Lancashire Constabulary to account and overseeing its work.

Current PCC Andrew Snowden is again standing as the Conservative candidate and faces opposition from his predecessor Clive Grunshaw. Grunshaw, the Labour candidate, was Lancashire’s first PCC but lost his role to Snowden in 2021. Neil Darby has again been nominated as the Liberal Democrat candidate.

Voter ID

Last year the government introduced a requirement for voters to show photo ID when voting at a polling station at parliamentary elections, local elections, by-elections and Police and Crime Commissioner elections. More information on voter ID requirements here.

Polling cards and ballot papers

You’ll be sent a polling card before the election telling you when to vote and at which polling station.

You can only vote at the polling station location on your card. You do not have to take your poll card with you.

Give your name and address to the staff inside the polling station when you arrive.

You’ll need to show your photo ID.

You’ll be given a ballot paper listing the candidates. Take your ballot paper into a polling booth. Mark your ballot paper with an X – not a tick – next to the candidate you would like to vote for. You must vote for only one candidate.

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