The Copeland and Stoke-On-Trent By-Election results are in:
First, take a look at the Copeland By-Election. My previous post correctly predicted a comfortable Conservative win in Copeland, and I made my prediction based on some key assumptions:
- The assumption that Corbyn’s Labour Party was out of touch with traditional voters in the North
- Brexit voters in Copeland would lean to the Conservatives due to the Prime Ministers ‘Hard Brexit’
- Enthusiasm for Labour would be low, so Labour turnout would be low
These assumptions I believe were proved correct. Corbyn is out of touch with people in Copeland, that’s why Copeland has NEVER gone to any party other than Labour since its creation…until now.
The Conservatives made history by winning Copeland, but also because it is the first time a party in government has won a by-election since 1982.
Traditionally, By-elections are awful for the sitting party of government. They offer a chance for people to revolt against the government and throw down a protest vote, in the knowledge that the outcome won’t make a significant difference. In Copeland though, the government got a validation of its work.
Counting began at 10pm and the rumours were that it was neck and neck, and that the postal votes would decide the election. The race was tight throughout the night but the postal votes leaned Conservative, allowing the Tories to pull out a win.
Copeland is a rural constituency. Rural voters tend to be more conservative in their outlook, but also the fact that Copeland voted heavily for Brexit, Theresa May had an advantage in that she is clearly pursuing Brexit whereas Jeremy Corbyn isn’t doing much right now.
Now, take a look at Stoke-On-Trent. Originally, I believed UKIP was on track to win the Stoke by-election. Having looked at the fact that the area is the ‘Brexit capital’, it seemed unlikely that the Pro-remain candidate was going to win.
However, about 2 days ago, I began to have reservations. The existence of a Labour/media smear campaign against UKIPs Paul Nuttall (as well as Nuttall’s Hillsborough faux pas) meant that there was a last-minute swing back to Labour.
The result shows some interesting trends:
Brexit voters don’t want to be identified by their referendum vote. Paul Nuttall tried to make the election a re-run of the referendum. Though, people don’t want to drag Brexit arguments up again. The past statements about the NHS made by Nuttall, hurt him a lot and the sole focus on delivering Brexit was poorly thought out.
Jeremy Corbyn is spinning the winning of Stoke as a great victory. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The essential point is that Labour had to fight a smear campaign to win a seat that should be easy for them to win. The fact that they even worked for Stoke, is amazing. It should have been all over by 1am, with Labour winning a landslide.
In my opinion, the real winner in Stoke is the Conservatives. Not only did they pick up a historical victory in Copeland, but they came 3rd closely behind UKIP. This is a good result for the Conservatives considering Stoke couldn’t be more Labour territory if it tried.
UKIP’s main problem is that they have targeted the wrong seat. Stoke On Trent may have voted for Brexit but the Labour voters in Stoke do not wish to be identified by their leave vote. The fact that they voted Brexit is not enough for them to vote for a former Tory dressed as a man of the people. UKIP cannot hide from its past, as an extreme wing of the Tory party committed to privatising the NHS- this narrative will not work amongst Labour voters.
To solve UKIP’s problems (if UKIP can survive) Nuttall needs to focus on former Conservative voters that are dis-enfranchised. UKIP wants to seduce Leave Voters, but most Leave Voters have leaned to the Conservatives, so UKIP must appeal to these Conservatives to regain its support base.
In short, UKIP lurching to the centre ground of politics, to form a new ‘third way’ wont work. They need to return to their ‘say it like it is’, and anti-politically-correct sentiments, otherwise they risk becoming the new party establishment.