Stoke a triumph for Corbyn; Copeland NHS casualty of an awful MP and uninspired candidate

It’s very late, so this will be very short. Labour won more than 50% more votes in Stoke Central than the nearest challenger in spite of a candidate with a problematic history.

In Copeland, the Tories won a victory that will certainly be the monomaniacal focus of the media on Friday.

What the two seats had in common were atrocious departing Labour MPs – and lacklustre candidates with a history of anti-Corbyn comments.

In Stoke, Labour’s grassroots activists were able to overcome those disadvantages to secure a strong win.

In Copeland, they weren’t. But nobody should be surprised, as the result has been on its way since long before Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader.

Here are the party’s vote shares since Labour’s landslide in 1997:


Departing MP Jamie Reed took over in 2005 and lost votes in every election since. The promise of a genuine alternative might have been enough to reverse that trend in 2017 – but only with a candidate that genuinely embodied those values. As an outspoken opponent of Corbyn until her candidacy, Gillian Troughton was never likely to persuade enough voters that she really stood for something different rather than the ‘more of the same’ that Jamie Reed had offered.

The real victim in Copeland is the NHS and those who rely on it, as Theresa May will undoubtedly exploit the Tories’ win to claim she has the country’s confidence as she and her party gut the NHS hollow to the detriment of the vast majority.

For that, we should all mourn. For a day or so. And then we roll up our sleeves and fight.

Not just the obvious enemies – the Tories and the media – but the ‘enemies within’ that undermine Labour at every opportunity and in doing so show they don’t care a jot for the wellbeing of ordinary people like you and me.

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  1. Have to totally disagree with you re Copeland; it’s a disastrous result for Labour. Trying to spin this in any other way, is a denial of what’s really happening. I know the constituency has some very rural areas, but have you ever been to Whitehaven!? It’s just about one of the most depressing towns in England – and I was last there on a warm summer’s day! It could prove to be, though, a blessing in disguise; it’s 38 months until the next General Election – 38 months is a long time in politics!! PS I voted for Jeremy Corbyn in 2015, didn’t vote in 2016, as I did not see the leadership that you constantly referred to from him in the EU Referendum. I still believe in most of his policies, but not in him! PPS

  2. More significantly for the party internally this result probably kills ‘deselection’ as a political strategy for dealing with MP’s in the next few years in many seats outside London (there were going to less than 10 and probably less than 5 in any case) as they will at a certain point threaten to simply resign and create a by-election rather than be a deselected ‘lame duck’ in their own eyes. Thus activists simply have to learn to play a long game over perhaps a decade and not be impatient now

    1. Nothing wrong with the long game, but deselection is more required than ever – and CLPs prepared to deselect a bad candidate are unlikely to tolerate a clone replacement. Better candidates will usually – of course not always – mean better results.

  3. JC really has to toughen up to remain leader. Why doesn’t he throw out his opponents. A strong leader is focused on pursuing principles that got him elected & not give into those against democracy.

      1. Disagree on the CLPs being mostly blairite – but the blairites tend to be better at organising and exploiting/breaking the rules to retain influence their numbers don’t merit.

  4. At Copeland, an independent gained 811 votes, while the UKIP candidate gained 2.025 votes. If those votes instead – as they may well do in a general election – had gone to Labour instead, the Labour candidate could have won.
    The sitting Conservative MP – much more photogenic than any of the other candidates and looking “more the part” of a potential MP – will be standing presumably at the next general election. She may be hard to beat then unless a good alternative Labour candidate is chosen.
    The local CLP will need to start thinking about that straight away.
    Stoke may well have marked the death knell of UKIP.
    If it has, this could favour Labour at the next general election.

  5. I am afraid Jeremy can not recover from this. The right wing of the party have done a perfect hatchet job on Jeremy, They couldn’t care less abut destroying the party in the process. It has been revealed that Tom the Anaconda Watson has received £500k from Murdoch was all the confirmation needed to prove that agents Bliar and Mandleson have the total wrecking of Jeremy Corbyn. They will now bleat about not turning on our selves etc. but It is not a party I can support any longer. I hope the people of Copeland suffer for their Tory stupidity. Their service will be slashed, their NHS will be run down to almost zero. People don’t seem to care about saving the NHS as much as I had hoped, Maybe it is time to let it go. People obviously don’t want what labour has to offer so the party is now irrelevant. The party now needs to implode and rebuild or creatw a new party with less of a broad church. I just hope Jeremy Corbyn does expel people like Blair and Mandleson from the party along with a few others, It matters not how many MPs are left as we will be out of power until 2030 at least. sad but true.

  6. I agree that appearance probably counted for something in Copeland. The new Tory MP is photogenic, while Gillian Troughton looked miserable, uninspired, and even slightly unkempt in the photos.
    Joe K – even Tory activists said that on the doorstep, Jamie Reed’s unpopularity was given as a reason for not voting Labour.

  7. People need to stay firm, to run away at this stage is to give in to the Tories, I have been a member since 1974, I understood the problems then, and knew I was in for the long haul, to give in now is just what the Tories want.

    We have every chance of taking the seat back at the next election, that will only happen with a strong left wing candidate, but is more than possible, will the media claim it would be a triumph for Labour if that happens, I doubt it.

  8. Joe Kalisszczak you’ve just gone and won the paralogism of the month award with your “argument” that 1: you’ve been to Whitehaven; 2: Whitehaven is something to scrape off your (Gucci?) shoes; 3: therefore it’s all Corbyn’s fault. Great analysis and all on the basis of a quick visit on a nice, bright day.

    Let’s deal with this – Whitehaven is a lovely example of a Georgian planned town and well worth exploring, and I think there’s really only Aberaeron in Wales that can compare with central Whitehaven. Being married to a West Cumbrian, I’ve been going up to Whitehaven for twenty-five years and the place fascinates me – especially as Whitehaven dock is the place where that slave -running bastard John Paul Jones got his arse handed to him on a plate by a bunch of Cumberland miners. So don’t slag off Whitehaven, although the place does have a dark side, given that it contains Blair’s favourite restuarant – although I would guess he says that to all the restuarants.

    Whitehaven also isn’t, no matter how much a born-gain Blairite shill might want it to be, the same as Copeland constituency, which runs from the Workington border in the north down to Millom in the south, and from the coast at Whitehaven over to Keswick in the east. In other words, it’s a large, no – a very large, mainly rural constituency grafted onto the old Whitehaven seat (abolished in the 1980s if memory serves).

    The latest iteration of the constituency includes four wards (population about 10,000) from neighbouring Allendale that, being fairly generous, that are unlikey to be hot beds of Corbnite support. I suppose it’s posible that when all the visitors have gone home and there’s nobody looking, the denizens of Keswick and its neighbours reveal themselves as true believers in socialism – doubless storming the Keswick crazy golf course in lieu of a handy Winter Palace – but I suppose, being old and jaded, I could easily be persuaded they are mainly Tory and have carried on being so.

    I also suspect that Jamie could also do the maths. The constituency hasn’t been a formerly safe Labour seat for a good while, and to blame Corbyn for its loss is like every other part of the Blairite project, a lie-based waste of time.

    1. I’ve been there many a time; I have a mate who lives in Cleator Moor; the point about that day, was that I saw it at its best; if Labour are losing areas that include towns like Whitehaven, then we are in a desparate mess; the Skwarkbox summed up the problem, as I see it, in a subsequent post; not ver batum, but he basically said we have to beat the enemy within; and how long will that take!? Time isn’t on our side; it’s quite obvious to me, that there will be some sort of split and, within the Labour movement this has happened before; and, after it did, it was 15 years before the Tories were removed. I stated I voted for Jeremy in 2015, so it’s clear where my priorities lie, but I will not stand silent and watch the Labour Party disintegrate, which is what it is currently doing (over 1/2 million members is incredible, but if that is not being transformed into votes, then it is serious). Maybe, you need to take heed of Gamechanger; what he’s saying isn’t very different to what I believe. PS I know Keswick pretty well; it does have many Labour supporters, some of whom were so dispirited with the EU Referendum result that that is when they started to question Jeremy’s ability to lead; that’s their perogative; Keswick is not all a bed of roses; major companies tend to benefit by the tourist trade, but your hard working low income residents struggle like the rest of us.

    2. I used to work in Kendal during the 80’s and would spend some of my long weekends in Whitehaven. I was always made well e a d made schools of solid friendships. Those friends were true socialists. Of course it can turn Labour. Regards all.

  9. The death of UKIP may actually favour the Tories. Despite what the media keep telling is about UKIP being an alternative working class party, it is actually an alternative Tory party. Now that the Tories have adopted UKIPs flagship policy of BREXIT there is no reason for UKIP to exist. In Copeland the Tories had a good candidate while our candidate was anti-Corbyn. MOMENTUM and Labour activists headed in droves to STOKE to help canvassing, while in Copeland the activists were less enthusiastic to canvass. Also the distance and the geographics of Copeland with the widely dispersed rural population made it a difficult place to canvass. I am not surprised by Labour’s fall in the vote, but I am surprised in the rise of the Tory vote.

  10. Excuses, excuses, excuses – all that ever comes out of the Corbyn bunker these days. Copeland was full of voters who wanted to vote Labour but decided to vote Tory because the candidate was not Corbynite enough: you all know that is nonsense. The tragedy is that there may actually be voters who would respond to radical policies of the sort that Corbyn was supposed to represent but it would need an exceptional leader (who overcomes obstacles) not a loser (who excuses failure) to appeal to them.

    1. No, they just probably decided not to vote at all, or weren’t convinced by a weak, unappealing candidate – or foolishly value a nuclear plant the govt has studiously avoided making promises about over a hospital Theresa May refused 4 times to say was safe. Try reading, it will help you understand what I’m actually saying.

  11. Did Jamie Reed as the sitting MP kill it for Labour over the years? Or was it the nuclear jobs, or was it the changing demographics? Or do the voters not get a positive message from Labour?

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