Seat Preview: Birmingham Edgbaston

6 May 2017

Birmingham Edgbaston

MP: Gisela Stuart, Labour
(standing down)

Majority: 2,706

Labour-Conservative marginal

Birmingham Edgbaston is traditionally a Conservative stronghold, and was Neville Chamberlain’s seat while he was PM. Since 1997 it has been represented by Labour’s popular Gisela Stuart, who has decided to stand down after 20 years. One of Labour’s few enthusiastic Brexiteers, she chaired the Vote Leave campaign committee.

Edgbaston has returned female MPs since 1953 and will probably do so this time: both Labour and the Conservatives are fielding female candidates. The latter regard Edgbaston as a seat they can win - and perhaps with their current popularity in the polls, should. Edgbaston is almost certainly their best chance of increasing their influence in Birmingham. They tried and failed here in 2010, where just a 2.75 per cent local swing was needed. In Stuart’s absence, they will be hoping that a strong campaign, and Labour and Jeremy Corbyn’s current unpopularity, can see them over the line.

A local Labour campaigner who has volunteered for Stuart since she was first elected tells us that Gisela is undoubtedly a well-known and popular local candidate, often recognised on the street. Canvassers frequently encounter people who claim they are not Labour voters, but will be voting for Stuart nonetheless. It is this legacy that Labour will be calling on in their campaign. Indeed, Stuart herself will be out campaigning for her would-be successor, Preet Kaur Gill – who, if elected, will be the first Sikh female MP. This is the challenge her Conservative opposition, Caroline Squire, the great-great granddaughter of Joseph Chamberlain, faces.

So Birmingham Edgbaston is a challenge for both parties, who together consistently account for around 80 per cent of the vote. In this Remain constituency, can the Conservatives succeed where they have failed in previous elections and reclaim their influence in Birmingham? Or can the local Labour party, buoyed by Stuart’s legacy and continuing involvement, defeat the rising tide of support for the Conservatives nationwide and hold on to Edgbaston?

Candidates, previous results, Brexit vote breakdown - Democratic Dashboard has all the data you need in every constituency ahead of the June General Election.

Jack Bridgewater is a doctoral researcher in English party politics and identity at the University of Kent. He tweets @JLBridgewater