Labour took a seat in the epitome of a Tory heartland on Thursday evening, in a council by-election win that was treated as a ‘shock’ by election pundits – but to those who remember the ‘Corbyn surge‘ last year against Establishment expectations, the only mild surprise is the scale of the win.
Labour made a huge twenty-seven point gain in Curborough while the Tories, who had previously held the seat with over forty percent, lost a significant 8.4 points:
The result suggests that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s intelligent handling of the Brexit issue, keeping options open while the Tories implode, is still working as it did last year – as it seems Labour took a lion’s share of the former UKIP vote as well as eating the Tories’ lunch.
This impression is strengthened even further by the fact that Labour’s surge in the Kingsmead by-election on the same evening – in the south-west of England where the Tories and LibDems traditionally share the spoils – was the biggest, while the Tories lost heavily again:
The LibDems, as might be expected, took the seat from the Tories – but Labour’s gain of almost twelve points beat the LibDems’ ten-point claw-back, suggesting that Corbyn’s savvy stance is working in remain heartlands too.
The Curborough result will have have put fear on faces in Downing Street and Tory HQ, as it shows Labour’s ability to take ground even in the bluest of Conservative strongholds, as this tweet by Election Maps UK showed succinctly:
Local factors and personality issues can of course play a major role in local election results, especially in by-elections. But there will be frowns in Tory offices for the weekend while Labour activists will be heartened – and anti-Labour smears will of course be redoubled.
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