Ben Chapman seized Wirral South with a majority that fell just short of 8,000 in the February 1997 by-election which followed Barry Porterís death. At the time, pundits predicted that if he retained the seat in the imminent general election, the Tories would have been trounced. In May, Chapman won again with a barely reduced majority and Labourís was a landslide victory.
Essentially a middle class seat, the Wirral South constituency stretches from the Dee estuary to Heswall and Gayton. It includes countryside and farmland in Clatterbridge and Bebington and residential areas in Bromborough and Eastham. Further into the constituency, one begins to get a characteristic, impressive view of the Mersey.
Despite its residential nature, the constituency has a long industrial history, of manufacturing in particular. Much of the constituency bears the mark and carries the legacy of the first Lord Leverhulme, notably the attractive industrial village of Port Sunlight. Unilever in its various forms is still the biggest employer in the constituency.