Blackpool South by-election confirmed: Meet Labour candidate Chris Webb

Tom Belger
Labour candidate in Blackpool South by-election, Chris Webb
Labour candidate in Blackpool South by-election, Chris Webb

A by-election will take place in the Blackpool South constituency after Conservative MP Scott Benton resigned, with Labour candidate Chris Webb vying to take the seat.

A recall petition had been started late last month after Benton lost the whip and then faced suspension from the Commons after a scandal. But Benton has decided to resign rather than await the outcome of the petition.

He wrote on Facebook on Monday afternoon: “It’s with a heavy heart that I have written to the Chancellor this morning to tender my resignation as your MP…A Labour government would be catastrophic for our country. I’m mindful of giving a new candidate the time and space to campaign to prevent that from happening and it is for this reason that I have made this decision at this time.”

Webb said on Monday that Benton had “finally done the right thing” after months of limbo for voters and wasted taxpayer cash on a “wasted” recall petition.

Scott has brought headlines to Blackpool for all the wrong reasons. People here deserve so much better. Voters now have the opportunity to elect someone who is Blackpool born and bred and who will always put Blackpool South first.”

Who is the Labour candidate to be Blackpool South MP?

Labour candidate Chris Webb describes himself as “Blackpool born and bred, a true Sangrown’un” and son of a local postman and teaching assistant.

He is a former assistant to former Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden and a former Labour organiser in the north-west.

His campaign page says he has spent most of his career in the public sector, including as deputy police and crime commissioner for Lancashire.

Webb recently wrote for LabourList about what Labour can do for Blackpool and other seaside towns, including working in partnership more with charities to help fix social problems.

Chris Webb.

His online official profile reads: “As a leading voice in Blackpool’s charity sector and a front-line public sector worker, he has a real track record of fighting for Blackpool’s communities and continuing to put Labour values into action across Blackpool and has been awarded a Local Community Hero award for his charity work during the pandemic.

“Chris has been fighting to eliminate child poverty in Blackpool for over a decade. He has been raising awareness, fundraising, and giving his time to help deliver 12,000 meals to local families each week through the food bank.

“He’s led the charge for improved mental health support for residents with the Blackpool Mental Health charity he helps lead as Chair of Trustees, which was awarded Blackpool Charity of the Year in June 2023.”

When will the Blackpool South by-election be?

A date has not yet been sent for the by-election, but the date of the local elections on May 2 looks likely. The Treasury confirmed on Monday it had taken the first formal step.

MPs cannot technically resign,  and instead use a strange procedure where they apply for an ‘office of the crown’ which automatically disqualifies them from being an MP.

The Treasury confirmed it had “this day appointed Scott Lloyd Benton to be Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead”, and Politico reported the Tories will move the writ on Tuesday morning.

The Institute for Government’s explainer page states: “Political parties have some leeway in deciding the date of a by-election. By convention, it is the chief whip of the former MP’s party who asks MPs to agree to hold a by-election for the vacant seat.

“This process is called ‘moving the writ’ and takes place in the Commons chamber. With the agreement of the House, the Speaker issues a warrant to the clerk of the crown (a senior civil servant), who sends the writ – an order for the election – to the constituency returning officer, who is then responsible for overseeing the election. Polling day must fall between 21 and 27 working days after the writ is issued.”

What is the Tory majority, and will Labour win the by-election?

Benton only won with a 3,690-vote majority at the 2019 general election, with 16,247 votes to Labour candidate Gordon Marsden’s 12,557.

Chart: Parliament.


Electoral Calculus puts the Labour chances of winning at the general election at 99% based on the latest polling, predicting Labour will pick up 55.7% of the vote.



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