This seat, occupied by Labour MP Jim Dowd, a former Lewisham Council member, has had a volatile recent political history. It has changed hands between Labour and the Conservatives seven times since 1945. Between 1983 and 1992 it was held by former Treasury Minister John Maples.
Socially and economically the constituency is mixed. It shares borders at one end with the inner city Deptford and at the other with the leafy Bromley and Beckenham; from the long semi detached streets of Catford in the east to Forest Hill and Sydenham in the west. In his maiden speech to Parliament, Jim Dowd described Lewisham West as a "fairly anonymous part of inner suburban London." With its 25% council housing, 55% owner occupation and a non-white population (mostly Afro-Caribbean) of almost 20%, the constituency approaches the Greater London average.
All Lewisham Council wards that fall within Lewisham West constituency are represented by Labour. The Conservatives used to be strong in Catford and Horniman but they lost these in the May 1994 borough elections, along with the previous marginals of Sydenham, Forest Hill and Perry Hill.