UK Politics

Twenty Things We Learned From Stoke Central & Copeland

24 Feb 2017 at 09:52

What a night. I stayed up to see both results. Here are a few thoughts…

1. UKIP’s ground operation is no match for Labour’s.
2. Labour’s scare tactics on the NHS can backfire spectacularly.
3. The relentless media campaign against Paul Nuttall – fueled it has to be said by Paul Nuttall himself – didn’t, after all, go over the heads of the electorate.
4. For the Conservatives to win by the margin they did in Copeland puts this result fairly high up in the byelection upsets of all time league table.
5. Labour can’t blame the Copeland result on special circumstances or the weather. It was a routing on a high turnout.
6. Given the publicity in Stoke, you wonder where the 62% were who didn’t vote. Sheltering from Doris?
7. UKIP needs to ask itself some hard questions. Its vote went up less than the Conservatives in Stoke, and was totally squeezed in Copeland. That happened because Theresa May has attracted back UKIP voters who wonder what the party is now far and they like what she’s doing on Brexit.
8. Jeremy Corbyn is now said to be preparing a war against the Blairites. Big mistake.
9. Copeland was a far bigger result than the last time the Tories gained a seat in government in Croydon in 1982. That was a byelection in which the SDP and the LibDems both stood.
10. John Woodcock says Labour is on course for an historic defeat. Many now believe Labour may gain many fewer than 200 seats in 2020.
11. Paul Nuttall’s reputation has been hugely damaged by what happened in Stoke. There is still a feeling that he never really wanted to be leader, so there are questions as to whether he has the resilience and determination to come back from this.
12. UKIP had high hopes of winning the Leigh byelection when it happens – likely in June – but they are 14,000 votes behind there. The Tories are in second place there with UKIP 1500 votes behind. UKIP has to win votes from the Tories as well as Labour. Stoke shows that’s more difficult than they had thought.
13. Stoke is an even worse result for UKIP than on the face of it, given that Labour selected a candidate who was even more hapless than Bill Pitt in Croydon in 1982. And believe me, that’s saying something. If he represents the quality of Labour candidates now being selected, God help them.
14. Labour’s share of vote has dropped in every byelection since EU referendum: Witney -2 %pts, Richmond -9, Sleaford -7, Stoke -2, Copeland -5.
15. The LibDems increased their share of the vote in both constituencies. They will be satisfied with that, even though they were never in the running for either seat.
16. People are now asking what UKIP’s main selling point is? If they can’t define that, they’re in real trouble.
17. Instead of UKIP becoming the main challengers to Labour in the north, it may be that they gain some votes from Labour in northern seats, with the consequence that they allow the Conservatives to come through the middle and take the seat. That’s what happened in 1983 when the Alliance parties intervention allowed the Conservatives to win a majority of 144. Seats like Halifax and Barrow went to the Tories. This should be Labour’s main fear now.
18. In his media round this morning, John McDonnell says “this isn’t about Jeremy Corbyn”. I’ll leave you to think about that.
19. UKIP chairman Paul Oakden gave an Adam Ant response this morning: ""disappointing but not desperate". Well at least he avoided saying “desperate, but not serious.”
20. Paul Nuttall will be spending the day flagellating himself.

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