Richmond Park shows Labour can’t afford to field anti-Corbyn candidates

no anti corbyn.jpg

So, the Tory- and UKIP-endorsed Zac Goldsmith, recently defeated after a shockingly racist campaign for London Mayor, has now been defeated in the Richmond Park constituency he resigned to trigger a by-election.

He lost to Sarah Olney, the LibDem candidate who campaigned on an explicit anti-Brexit, anti-runway platform to appeal to a constituency that voted 72.3% in favour of remain in the EU referendum and overwhelmingly resents the new runway that Theresa May has confirmed will be built at Heathrow.

The LibDems, understandably, are ecstatic and Tim Farron’s speech at Richmond Park this morning was full of predictions of voters deserting Corbyn’s supposedly-failed project. This is bollocks, of course, but understandable bollocks, given the LibDems still-dire situation.

Labour right-wingers, fully supported by their media allies, will attempt to pin Labour’s result – an 8% fall in share compared to 2015 – on leader Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘unelectability’. This is predictable, but utter nonsense – because the result shows the complete opposite.

Labour’s candidate in this by-election, Christian Wolmar, was an outspoken Corbyn critic during the recent leadership election and a firm supporter of Corbyn’s rival, Owen Smith – he organised the unsuccessful motion in support of Smith at his constituency party.

His performance in this election was woeful, a mere 1,515 votes – less than 4%.

Labour were never going to win this election. Richmond Park is an affluent area and the Lib Dems are still the natural party of protest for the non-racist well-off. Even in the Labour landslide of 1997, the year it was created, it voted LibDem. In fact, Goldsmith’s wins there for the Tories in 2010/2015 were the anomaly, the latter’s large majority probably reflective of the disgust of natural LibDem voters at their collaboration in the previous government.

But the performance of an explicitly anti-Corbyn candidate speaks volumes. In the Sheffield council by election in September, Labour lost over 9% of its share and lost the seat to the LibDems – with a vociferously anti-Corbyn candidate, Julie Grocutt:


Whereas in by-elections with pro-Corbyn or even neutral candidates, Labour has seen substantial swings in its favour in many areas.

Spot the pattern yet?

The Richmond Park result also underlines the fact that pollsters currently have no clue what’s going on. Recent polling in Richmond Park suggested Goldsmith was going to win comfortably, with 59% of the vote against Olney’s 38%.

Labour’s right-wing factions love to point to polls, love to spout about Corbyn’s supposed unelectability and the party’s poor electoral prospects under his leadership. But in fact the opposite is true.

Anti-Corbyn candidates, who offer no inspiration and promise the ‘more of the same’ politics people are plainly sick to the back teeth of, are death to Labour’s prospects. The public associates them with the whining, back-stabbing, morally bankrupt nonsense of the ‘chicken coup’ – and, frankly, considers them losers on the basis of their inability to even execute a rebellion properly.

If Labour wants to win the next General Election, the party simply cannot contemplate standing anti-Corbyn candidates – including incumbents.

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  1. Absolutely agree Skwawkbox.org, no anti-Corbyn candidates or incumbents to stand in ANY elections whether they be local or general; otherwise what’s the point of the current leadership!

    Janet Beale Seriously considering dropping my membership of LP

  2. This analysis hits the nail straight on the head as usual. Right-wing Labour is a ball and chain around the neck of Labour’s electability. The country is ready for Corbyn. His enemies just don’t get it.

  3. As my 17 year-old son has just pointed out there is another, potentially sinister, problem with Labour fielding anti-Corbyn candidates in bye-elections. As happened in Richmond Park, a good few Labour voters voted Lib Dem rather than for the anti-Corbyn guy … so that’s another batch of Labour members/potential Labour members who won’t be allowed to vote for Jeremy Corbyn when Progress et al force the next leadership election!

    1. Seriously just because you are a member of a party does not mean that you have to vote for them / It’s a secret vote and nobody has any right to know how you vote unless you tell them, not even the Labour party so don’t worry, you can’t be kicked out of the party for voting Green or Libdem

  4. I think your premise is unfounded. Do you honestly believe a pro-Jeremy Labour candidate would have fared much better at Richmond Park? There is an ironic paradox about the stance that Jeremy fanatics take. Jeremy has said he will resign if he loses the next General Election. The Jeremy fanatics seem primarily intent on defeating the Right within the Labour Party; the Right seem intent on defeating the Jeremy fanatics; this is not only perceived by the electorate as a divided Party, but is a divided Party. We need to be united to win a General Election; if we win, Jeremy will be the PM. Doesn’t it, therefore, make sense to lay off the Right, and just concentrate on winning the next General Election, as this will result in the ultimate objective of Jeremy being the PM?

  5. We don’t know how a pro-Corbyn candidate would have fared in the Richmond Park bye-election given the special local circumstances of the Heathrow expansion and the fact they had a 70% ‘Remain’ vote in the June referendum. This isn’t typical of the rest of the country.

    The trouble is, Joe, is that if Labour’s Right are still going about their back-stabbing business when Labour win the next election, it will be a weak Government. We have to deal with this division first by rooting out the Right-wing trouble-makers and getting everyone behind the democratically-elected leader (Corbyn). To do otherwise is to send Corbyn into battle with an army that doesn’t know which side it’s on (Labour’s Right being ‘Establishment Tories’ by another name).

    Labour’s Right seem hell-bent on destroying the Party – and probably will if they are not rooted out.

  6. Complete nonsense. Labour lost their deposit. Fewer Labour votes cast than Labour members in Richmond. What matters is that May’s majority has decreased and there is a whiff of opposition – at last.

  7. JC needs to wake up to the fact that 48% voted Remain, and the Tory Ultras are propelling us to Brexit Armageddon – he is sleepwalking to disaster with his Brexit appeasement.

  8. It”s also a thank you from Richmond toffs to the LibDems for helping to keep their own particular South London bubble in rude health and obscene wealth between 2010 and 2015 whilst others – particularly in the forgotten north – faced hardship, poverty and destitution.

  9. Wirral In It Together: Brillliant video of man dealing with bailiffs. What courage! I support Corbyn to get this abuse of ordinary people consigned to the history books. Our only hope.

  10. You say:-
    “Whereas in by-elections with pro-Corbyn or even neutral candidates, Labour has seen substantial swings in its favour in many areas.

    Spot the pattern yet?”
    Do you have an analysis of the position of Labour’s council candidates in recent elections on the leadership and the result in the election compared to the previous election?

  11. Reblogged this on Declaration Of Opinion and commented:
    Excellently put, it is becoming glaringly obvious that anti-Corbyn candidates will not win in most areas, however the mentality of the so-called moderates seems to be they’d rather hand the Tories another term or two to rid themselves of Corbyn.

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