This newly-created seat was contested for the first time in 1997 by Labourís Michael Meacher and was not expected to be as safe as the old Labour strongholds it replaced. Fifty-five per cent of this seat comes from the former Oldham Central & Royton with the other 45% coming from Mr Meacherís old seat of Oldham West which he represented from 1970 to 1997. In fact, he was able to eclipse his notional majority of 5,794 and win by 16,201 votes.
Most of this constituency has a history of Labour representation since 1950 with the exception of Royton which was Tory until 1964 and Oldham West which was briefly represented by a Tory after a by-election win in 1968. Mr Meacher began his political career by losing this by-election contest before winning it back for Labour in 1970.
Despite the Liberal Democrats taking control of Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council in the local elections of May 2000, Labour continues to dominate in the local authority wards that make up Oldham West & Royton. They hold 18 of the 27 seats with the Liberal Democrats holding five and the remainder shared between the Tories and the Greens.