Stoke-on-Trent North constituency was established in 1950, since which time it has been a safe Labour (or Labour Co-op) seat. Only since 2015 has its status been considered to have become marginal.
For the first 29 years of the existence of the constituency, the Labour vote did not dip below 60% and was often above 70%, peaking at 75.49% at the 1953 by-election
Only in 1970 did Labour fail to secure over 60% of the vote, coming in with 59.36%. That was also the first election at which 4 candidates stood. In fact, only once before that had there been more than 2 candidates (October 1974: Lab, Con, Liberal). In 1979 the Labour, Conservative and Liberal candidates were joined by one from the National Front (the NF lost their deposit, securing less than 1% of the vote).
In the 1980s, there were commonly 3 parties in contention, but from 1992 others joined the fray. There were 7 candidates in 2005, 5 in 2010 and 7 in 2015.
Joan Walley, the MP for 28 years (1987-2015) had vote shares above 50% and even 60%, peaking at 65.2% in 1997. Her final election, however, in 2010, was achieved on a lower level: 44.3%.
The MP from 2015-2017, Ruth Smeeth, was elected on a vote share of only 39.9%, the lowest Labour vote share ever in Stoke-on-Trent North. There may have been a number of causative factors: long-term decline in the Labour vote; also, the number of candidates contending (Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green Party, UKIP and 2 Independents). The Labour candidate herself may have been another factor in the lacklustre Labour performance.
Ruth Smeeth is not from the West Midlands. Her origins (as far as the UK is concerned) lie in Edinburgh and London. Her Jewish mother came from a background in East London where her immediate family members in the 1930s were engaged in crime and gangsterism: the era of razor gangs and the like. They were violently opposed to the English people who supported Oswald Mosley and were engaged in streetfighting or worse.
Ruth Smeeth has described herself as “culturally Jewish” and worked for years for the “Britain Israel Communications Centre” [BICOM], a public relations or propaganda outfit working on behalf of Israel and Zionism:
In 2009, Bradley Manning, the American whistleblower, made available to Wikileaks a cable in which the American Embassy described Ruth Smeeth as “a source” whom the Embassy staff should “strictly protect”. It is largely a question of definition whether such a person is called “a confidential contact”, “an agent of influence”, more simply “an agent” or (brutally? unfairly?) “a spy”. The diplomatic cable simply used the words “a source”.
Despite the above, the Labour Party machine was determined to get Ruth Smeeth adopted as the candidate for Stoke-on-Trent North and she was, after an all-women shortlist was imposed on the selection procedure. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), her activity for the American and Israeli governments seems not to have barred her from becoming the candidate.
As an MP, Ruth Smeeth has taken part in some minor campaigns (see the Wikipedia article, above), but has also spent much time attacking the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn; she has been vocal (on occasion, near-hysterical) about alleged “anti-Semitism” in the Labour Party and generally.
Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green Party are all putting up candidates. The obvious absentee is UKIP. In 2015, Labour’s vote was 39.9%, Conservative vote 27.4%, UKIP 24.7%, the LibDems 2.9% (down from 17.7% in 2010 and 14.8% in 2005); Green Party secured a vote share of 2.8%.
The constituency voted about 60%-40% for Leave in the EU Referendum.
It would be too easy to add together the 2015 vote shares of the Conservatives and UKIP (combined, 52.1%) and assume that UKIP votes will be transferred to the Conservatives. The chances are that a high proportion will either not vote or will go elsewhere than to the Conservatives. However, we can probably guess that half of 2010 UKIP votes will be gathered in by the Conservative candidate (particularly bearing in mind Brexit etc), making a possible Conservative vote share of perhaps about 40%, possibly several points higher. Then there is the (open) question of how many 2010 Labour voters will go Conservative.
Labour is unlikely to do as well this time as it did in 2015 after five years of Conservative-led coalition government. Any persons who support Labour generally but are anti-Israel (or anti-Zionist or, indeed, “anti-Semitic”) will not vote for Ruth Smeeth and will probably either vote Green or even LibDem, or just stay home, “voting with their feet”. Likewise, any Labour members who are strongly pro-Corbyn may well decide that what they have to do is abstain or vote elsewhere, simply in order to get rid of Ruth Smeeth and then get a more suitable Labour candidate for next time.
Realistically, only Labour and Conservative have a real chance. That means that the LibDem and Green votes, even if as small as they were in 2015 (under 3% each) are of importance.
Both Labour and Conservative candidates are likely to be in the 35%-50% range, with the Liberal Democrats and Green Party contending for the remaining 10% or 15% of votes.
I assess the likely outcome as follows: Conservative Party to win Stoke-on-Trent North for the first time over Labour, with the Greens (possibly) third and LibDems (perhaps) bringing up the rear.
At time of writing, the Conservative Party is odds-on to win: