Labour face disaster after Copeland result
Following a historic and disastrous defeat in last night’s by-election in Copeland, The Labour Party have been warned that they’re facing electoral disaster. The seat, won by Conservative candidate Trudy Harrison, had been held by Labour for over 80 years and marks the first time an incumbent government has defeated an opposition party in a by-election since 1982.
In 1982, the Labour leader was Michael Foot who famously went on to lose to Margaret Thatcher in a landslide result, following a manifesto which was infamously dubbed “the longest suicide note in history”. After the catastrophic result last night, it emerged that the Conservative candidate had won the seat with 13,748 votes to Labour’s 11.601, a majority of over 2000 and an 8.5% swing since the seat was last contested. The Liberal Democrats also increased their share of the vote with a 3.8% increase whilst UKIP lost 9% and Labour lost 4.9%.
There was ever-so-slightly more positive news in the Stoke Central by-election, where Labour managed to hold the seat by the skin of its teeth, largely thanks to a comical campaign run by UKIP leader Paul Nuttall, who invited widespread revulsion for allegedly using the Hillsborough disaster for political gain. Nuttall admitted in a radio interview that his website had contained false claims that he had lost ‘close personal friends’ in the disaster, and the mistake was blamed on a UKIP press officer with Nuttall admitting that he hadn’t even bothered to read his own website. Following the subsequent furore, UKIP donor Aaron Banks went on to make hugely controversial remarks about the disaster, claiming on Twitter that he was ‘sick’ of hearing about it. Nuttall also admitted that he didn’t even live in the address that he registered in his election paperwork, possibly breaking the law, on live television whilst failing to condemn Banks outright.
Nuttall was subsequently and comically humiliated in a by-election that former leader Nigel Farage had described as ‘crucial’ to UKIP’s hopes of increasing its presence in parliament. UKIP, like Labour, rather unconvincingly attempted to brush the defeat off as disappointing rather than disastrous, sparking comparisons with the First World War general who said the situation was catastrophic, but not serious.
John McDonnell did the rounds on breakfast TV and did his best impression of a climate change denier, as he dodged any facts presented and instead countered with the assertion that the loss was in fact the fault of Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, unsupportive MP’s and/or a leadership election that happened almost 6 months ago.
Jeremy Corbyn attended a planned speech about his Brexit vision, only to be besieged by questions about his future as the Labour leader. In response Corbyn decided to give one word answers or baffling assertions that voters had rejected the political establishment by electing an MP representing the government. Emily Thornberry, Ken Livingstone and Cat Smith also decided to do a live TV comedy routine by each declaring the result not disastrous, and describing the seat as ‘marginal’ despite Labour holding it for over 80 years, and ignoring the very real need to actually win marginal seats in order to win a general election.
The circus looks set to continue throughout the day, but the important message being delivered by those expressing deep concern about the party is that Labour, on its current trajectory, is facing oblivion.