Tag Archives: Copeland

Stoke Central and Copeland: the aftermath for Labour and UKIP

The by-elections in Stoke Central and Copeland have been held. The public relations people for Labour (UKIP seems to have no public relations section) are still trying to spin positives out of the Stoke result and even the Copeland defeat. The time has come to look to the future based on what can be taken from these by-elections.

The Result in Stoke Central

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoke-on-Trent_Central_(UK_Parliament_constituency)#Elections_in_the_2010s

The Result in Copeland

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copeland_(UK_Parliament_constituency)#Elections_in_the_2010s

First Thoughts

I blogged before the poll that, if UKIP failed to win Stoke Central, that that would surely be the end or at least beginning of the end for it as a serious contender. I have also blogged and tweeted for 18 months my view that UKIP peaked in 2014. I have no reason to change those views now.

As a candidate, Paul Nuttall was fairly poor, not resilient, not intelligent, not really passionate enough politically. The UKIP organization or administration of the campaign also seemed poor. Overall, as in the past, UKIP seemed to be afraid to really set the campaign alight. The law being what it now is, UKIP could hardly have copied the successful 1960s Smethwick Conservative by-election candidate whose posters said “if you want a n****r for a neighbour, vote Labour”, but UKIP seemed to want to bypass the race/culture question entirely. There was no bite to the UKIP campaign.

The Labour candidate at Stoke Central, Gareth Snell, might fairly be described as “a poorly-educated and spotty Twitter troll, living mainly if not entirely off his allowances and expenses as a local council leader, who seems never to have had a non-political job (except a trade union one of some kind)”. In some respects he was a worse candidate than Paul Nuttall.

One has to bear in mind the heavily-industrial, heavily-Labour-voting history of Stoke-on-Trent. Labour has always had a built-in advantage there. The Conservative candidate, Jack Brereton, though looking like a schoolboy, did well to come a close third to Labour and UKIP, though in fact the Conservative vote increased by only a modest 1.8 points over the 2015 result.

Apathy or hostile apathy was the real winner in Stoke Central. 62% of the electorate did not vote. No party energized them to come out to vote for it.

As to Copeland, the main point that leaps out, apart from the obvious Labour car crash, is the poor performance of UKIP.

Future View

UKIP

UKIP surely must be finished now. It started in 1993 and in the nearly 24 years since then has failed to win a single Westminster seat, save for that of former Conservative MP Douglas Carswell, who is really just a Brexit Conservative and “free market” globalist.

UKIP would have been in a far better position had it won even a couple of seats at the 2015 General Election, but, in the irritating phrase, “we are where we are”. Theresa May’s Brexit policy has “shot UKIP’s fox” on the EU.

That leaves immigration, race and culture. UKIP now seems to have many spokesmen who are not of European race, so UKIP is not even offering the UK a white persona, a white country, if you like.

The conclusion is clear: UKIP is pointless, hopeless and must go.

Labour

Labour has been declining for years. Corbyn is both symptom and cause. The disappearance of the industrial proletariat has swept away the bedrock underneath Labour, replacing it by the sand of the “precariat”. Labour imported millions of immigrants, who are now breeding. The social landscape becomes volatile. The political landscape too.

The elimination of “socialism” from Labour led to focus-group rudderlessness, surely personified by Tony Blair, who has no principles, no real ideology, just careerism, self-seeking and politically-correct non-thinking. Labour became a party made in Blair’s image. It has no real ideology any more, not even social-democracy.

By 2020, the House of Commons will consist of 600 MPs, reduced from the current 650. Labour is currently at about 25% in the opinion polls and it is likely that, in 2020, Labour will have between 100 and 200 MPs in the House. Labour cannot now form even a coalition or minority government. It will slowly crumble.

The Future Beyond 2020

A new social nationalist party must be formed. It must be ideologically clear, administratively disciplined, capable of gaining trust and credibility. When a crisis comes, that small party may be able to seize control, as has happened before in history.

Update, 23 April 2019

I am updating because there has been much water under the bridge in the past 2 years and 2 months. Labour did fail to become the largest party in the Commons at the 2017 General Election, held a few months after the above was written. However, the Conservatives lost ground. Labour has trailed in the opinion polls since I wrote the above blog post, but just recently has managed to come back, not really on its own merit but because the Conservatives under Theresa May have had a complete car crash in several respects, especially Brexit. Labour has been sitting on the fence, not exactly a “cunning plan” but effective enough…

Update, 20 November 2020

The world turns…the 2019 General Election finished off the “15 minutes of fame” political career of Gareth Snell. He lost out to the Conservative Party candidate: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gareth_Snell; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoke-on-Trent_Central_(UK_Parliament_constituency)#Elections_in_the_2010s.

As for the planned reduction of MP numbers to 600 (from 650), that will not now occur.

Update, 6 December 2020

I just noticed that my prediction of Labour MP-strength in the House of Commons (100-200 by 2020) was right: the Labour Party now has 200 MPs (201, if presently-suspended Jeremy Corbyn is included).

At date of writing, and despite the appalling incompetence of the Boris Johnson government, Labour under Jewish lobby puppet Keir Starmer is still trailing a few points behind the Conservative Party.

Stoke-on-Trent Central By-Election

Last week, I wrote a preview of the upcoming (23 February 2017) Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election, one of two taking place on that day

https://ianrmillard.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/stoke-on-trent-central-preview/.

Now that the main candidates are declared, I am ready to expand on that and to predict the result as best one can a month before polling.

The Stoke Central constituency has existed since 1950 and the Labour Party has won every election since then. Until Tristram Hunt appeared in 2010, the Labour vote varied between 48% and 68%. Hunt’s votes have been 38.8% (2010) and 39.3% (2015). Stoke Central has moved from being a Labour safe seat to one which can be regarded as marginal:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoke-on-Trent_Central_(UK_Parliament_constituency)#Elections

The Labour vote in 2015 was about 12,000, that of both UKIP and Conservatives about 7,000. The Liberal Democrats, until 2015 the second party, crashed to fifth place (behind an Independent) with 1,296 votes. In fact, the LibDem vote in 2010 was 7,000, the same as the UKIP vote in 2015, perhaps a sign that the “protest vote” bloc at Stoke Central is around 7,000 or so. Arguende. The LibDem candidate for the by-election is Zulfiqar Ali, a consultant cardiologist, who lost his deposit (vote share 4.2%) in the 2015 General Election.

Tristram Hunt, the outgoing-going-gone Labour Party MP, was never very popular in his own constituency, though London TV studios loved him. He made no bones about despising the leader of his own party, tried and failed to formulate policy of his own and was surprisingly bad (for someone of his background and education) at arguing his points when (as so often) being interviewed.

Hunt stepped down as MP in order to take a job as Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. MP pay is about £74,000 (plus generous expenses); the V&A Director presently gets a package worth £230,000. Hunt may be getting more. No wonder that he said that “the V&A offer was too good to refuse.” So much for political conviction, vocation and, indeed, loyalty (whether to party or constituents). Stoke Central is well rid of him.

The Labour candidate in the by-election is Gareth Snell, a still fairly young former leader of the Borough Council of Newcastle-under-Lyme (3-4 miles from Stoke-on-Trent). His selection indicates that Labour are going to play on local roots and try to pretend that God is in His Heaven and Jeremy Corbyn far away, Corbyn being (arguably?) an electoral liability (seen as a credible future Prime Minister by only 16% in a recent poll).

The Conservatives have not been even the second party at Stoke Central since 2001. This by-election is one which will be decided between Labour and UKIP. The recent Theresa May Brexit speech may well have shot UKIP’s fox overall, but at Stoke Central no-one is expecting a Conservative win or even a Conservative second. The Conservative candidate is Jack Brereton, 25, who was elected at age 19 to Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Since the 2001 General Election, the second and third-placed candidates at Stoke-on-Trent Central have received very similar numbers of votes (behind victorious Labour).

UKIP, joker in the pack. Paul Nuttall, a Northerner who was recently elected leader of UKIP, is the candidate. He must have a chance despite his partly-“libertarian” views (of which Labour is making the most, of course, claiming that Nuttall believes in NHS privatization). UKIP has a steep climb in the by-election, but it is possible. This is a by-election. The result will not affect who governs the UK. People can protest with their votes. Labour is now seen as the pro-mass immigration party and the pro-EU party. Stoke Central voted nearly 70% for Leave in the EU Referendum.

If turnout is low, if the 2015 Labour vote halves to about 6,000, if the 2015 UKIP vote mostly holds up at 7,000 or not much less, then UKIP can win. If.

It is not credible to imagine a win for the Conservatives or LibDems and they will vie for most votes not going to Labour or UKIP, but this is very much a Labour/UKIP contest. If enough people (eg 2015 Conservative voters) vote tactically for UKIP, UKIP has a good chance. On the other hand, many 2015 LibDem or Green voters may also vote tactically for Labour.

In 2015, an Independent got over 2,000 votes. Will those votes go to UKIP, now that that candidate has not renewed his candidature? Open question.

Unemployment is high, immigration is high and having had Labour MPs for 66 years has not prevented either in recent times. There is strong cultural resistance in the seat to the Conservative Party. UKIP is the insurgent here.

Prediction

The bookmakers still have Labour as odds-on to win the by-election and it would be tempting to call it as a Labour-UKIP-Conservative 1-2-3, but I am going to be bold and say that Paul Nuttall and UKIP can crack this. The seat must be one of the best chances UKIP has had or will have: anti-EU, pro-Leave, anti-mass immigration, disenchanted with the System parties and very much a “left-behind” area. Also, Tristram Hunt abandoning the seat for a quarter-of-a-million-pound job must sit badly in an area which is one of the poorest in England. In addition, Nuttall has the cachet, such as it is, of being his party’s leader.

In sum, I see the 1234 as: 1.UKIP; 2.Labour; 3.Conservative; 4.LibDem.

Effect

If the result is as I have predicted, it will push even more anti-Corbyn Labour MPs to jump ship and it will weaken Labour even further in the North (it being of little importance now in Scotland or most of the South of England). If Labour hangs on to win, then everything depends on the majority obtained but it might well be just a slower car crash.

Update, 30 May 2019

I blogged twice more about that Stoke on Trent by-election:

https://ianrmillard.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/stoke-central-by-election-final-word-before-polling/

and

https://ianrmillard.wordpress.com/2017/02/24/stoke-central-and-copeland-the-aftermath-for-labour-and-ukip/

Copeland By-Election: Watershed?

Three weeks ago, I wrote a preliminary blog post about the upcoming Copeland by-election

https://ianrmillard.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/the-copeland-by-election-the-blog-before-the-blog/

in which I examined the history of the constituency. I also took a look at the factors influencing the present by-election. The time has now come to attempt a prediction with reference to wider political trends.

The Copeland constituency has been in existence on its current boundaries since 1983. The previous constituency, Whitehaven (created during the electoral reform of 1832), was rock-solid Labour (often over 60%) from 1935 until the boundaries were changed in 1983

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitehaven_(UK_Parliament_constituency)

The Copeland constituency has continued Labour since its creation: the Labour vote reached its high-water mark in 1997, in the Tony Blair landslide. In that year, the Labour candidate achieved a vote of over 58%:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copeland_(UK_Parliament_constituency)#Elections_in_the_1990s.

His successor, Jamie Reed, started off in 2005 with a Labour vote of 50.5%. However, the Labour vote share has steadily declined since then, most recently to 42% in 2015

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copeland_(UK_Parliament_constituency)#Elections_in_the_2010s

The Conservative vote has been more volatile, ranging in various elections from 29% to 43%. The Conservatives achieved nearly 36% in 2015, only one point down on their 2010 showing.

The UKIP vote in Copeland has mirrored in a modest way that of much of the country: 2.2% in 2005, 2.3% (beaten by the BNP, which got 3.4%) in 2010, jumping to 15.5% in 2015.

The Liberal Democrats have never done very well in Copeland, their vote share flickering around the 10% mark, not exceeding that in 2010 (one point down from their 2005 showing in fact), then crashing to 3.5% in the 2015 debacle.

In 2010, the Green Party stood for the first time since 1987 but received a vote of less than 1%. That improved to 3% in 2015.

There are several factors which do not bode well for Labour:

  • Jamie Reed may be seen as a “rat leaving the sinking ship”, having taken a potentially lucrative position with the company which operates the constituency’s largest employing entity (by far), the Sellafield nuclear plant. That may seep into perceptions of Labour MPs as a whole;
  • recent polling shows Labour nationally as having the support of only 25% of voters;
  • the same polling shows that Jeremy Corbyn is seen as a potential Prime Minister by only 16% of voters;
  • Copeland voted heavily for Leave in the EU Referendum;
  • Copeland is believed to be hostile to the mass immigration which Labour and its embattled leader seem unwilling to criticize, let alone promise to halt.

Labour has now selected as candidate a local councillor, Gillian Troughton, a former medical doctor and supporter of the nuclear industry, in which her husband works. That may help Labour’s campaign, as will her support for the NHS and the local hospital, but Labour’s problems locally stem from its general decline nationally and its generally pro-EU, pro-mass immigration positions.

Traditionally, the Conservative vote in Copeland comes from particular communities along the coast and inland and that vote seems to be rather solid. There is no reason to suppose that the Conservative vote will not hold up fairly well, bearing in mind Theresa May’s recent stance on Brexit and also the immigration question.

Recently-stagnating UKIP can probably expect a surge in its vote, though it seems that the party will probably not be able to do well enough to win, which would require its 2015 vote to increase by at least 50% and probably more. However, UKIP will probably be able to garner votes from disaffected 2010 and 2015 Labour voters.

Turnout is key. In 2015, the Labour vote was 16,750, the Conservatives received 14,186, but UKIP’s vote was only 6,148. It is quite likely that former Labour voters will not so much vote Conservative or even UKIP, but simply stay at home and refuse to support Labour. If turnout slumps, particularly among those former Labour voters, then the Conservatives might well pull ahead of Labour , especially if the UKIP vote increases .

Prediction

Conservatives to win Copeland, with UKIP second and Labour third.

Effect

Only once in 35 years and twice in 60 years has a by-election seat been lost by the official Opposition party. If that happens in Copeland (even leaving aside the result of the simultaneous by-election at Stoke-on-Trent Central), Labour will go into a tailspin.  If Labour is pushed into third place, that effect will be magnified immeasurably.

Corbyn has made it clear that he will not resign whatever happens. Failure at Copeland would lead either to a second attempt to depose Corbyn via leadership challenge or (more likely) to a mass exodus of anti-Corbyn careerists, Blairites, Brownites and Zionists following Jamie Reed and Tristram Hunt out of the House of Commons and possibly out of the Labour Party. If that exodus, in turn, leads to the loss of further Labour seats, then it is hard to see Labour recovering. Ever.

We may be seeing the death of one of the two major (i.e. long-established, sometimes governing) political parties, something that has not occurred since the collapse of the Liberal Party in the 1920s.

Update, 3 March 2019

Well, two years on, looking at the article and its predicted result, I can feel content that I did OK. The Conservative Party candidate, Trudy Harrison, did win, as I thought at the time she would, getting a 43.3% vote. Labour’s candidate, Gillian Troughton, came second on 37.3%. A major factor was the collapse in the UKIP vote, from 15.5% to 6.5%. The vast majority of those votes probably went to the Conservatives.

The Green Party got a 1.7% vote at the by-election, the two Independent candidates 2.6% and 0.4%; none stood at the 2017 General Election.

The contest was reprised only 4 months later, at that 2017 General Election. The “main” (LibLabCon) or System parties ran the same candidates with a similar result: the Con vote increased to 49.1%; the Lab vote however also increased considerably, to 45.1%. The LibDem vote slumped, from 7.2% at the by-election to 3.3% at the General Election. UKIP’s vote slumped too, from 6.5% to 2.5%.

Copeland is now a fairly tight Con-Lab marginal. It could go either way next time.

Update, 5 June 2020

Well, since the last update, there has been another general election, the General Election of December 2019. In that election, the sitting Conservative Party MP, Trudy Harrison, retained her seat, and increased her vote-share to 53.7% (from 49.1% in the 2017 General Election). The Labour Party vote fell back by over 5 points. The other two candidates (LibDem and Green) both scored under 5% of the total vote; both lost their deposits. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copeland_(UK_Parliament_constituency)#Elections_in_the_2010s

Notes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copeland_(UK_Parliament_constituency)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copeland_(UK_Parliament_constituency)#Elections_in_the_2010s

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trudy_Harrison