Today’s by-elections in Copeland and Stoke Central are – it is safe to say without the dreaded hyperbole – epoch defining. So what’s going to happen? Here’s where I nail my colours to the mast. To say I’m worried about this would be to devalue just how shaky I feel about these predictions: we really are in fool’s territory here. Still, I feel the need to wade in.
Current MP: Jamie Reed, Labour (well, he’s long pissed off, but the he’s the closest thing to a sitting MP anyhow – he’s got a good job in the nuclear industry, good on him)
One has to weigh up several factors here in terms of accurately predicting where this one will land. First up is the fact that it has been a Labour constituency since it was established in 1983; prior to that, its predecessor, Whitehaven, had a Labour MP since Frank Anderson won in 1935. Whatever you hear post-by-election, this really has been a safe Labour seat for almost 8o years. Losing it would be a really big deal. In my opinion, based on what I’ve heard from people who have been there, this one has gone to the Tories already, decisively, baring some weird turnout variant. The people are in the mood to give Corbyn a kicking. Here goes.
Prediction: TORY GAIN. By a reasonable amount as well, lets say, more than 2,000. The biggest factor will be anti-Corbyn feeling. Again, if I’m correct on this, prepare yourself for a barrage regarding the dear leader’s lack of fault from the usual left-lening sources. Labour to come second. Lib Dems third, but a distant third.
STOKE ON TRENT CENTRAL
Current MP: Tristram Hunt, Labour (well, he’s long pissed off…..yeah, yeah, you know the story already)
Stoke has been the scene for one of the most vicious by-election settings in recent years, and thus, who will win here is even harder to say than it otherwise would have been. Everyone has cocked up so incredibly badly throughout, one could be convinced it’s anyone’s to have.
For many weeks I figured UKIP had this in the bag. But they have run a truly awful campaign, even by their almost impossibly high standards regarding these things. I think Nuttall has blown it.
But I think the game is probably up for Labour too, again for Corbyn related reasons which will be reframed by Labour HQ as Blair’s/Mandelson’s/Hitler’s/anyone you care to make up’s fault as opposed to you know who’s.
Which leaves the Tories to win it by default. It will be close and turn out will be rubbish, but the Tory vote will remain solid while the other ones melt away; the Conservatives will be the only ones left standing.
Prediction: TORY GAIN, BY A FEW HUNDRED VOTES. UKIP to come third, with Labour second, Lib Dems in fourth, keeping the deposit (whew).
What happens if I’m right and Labour lose two previously safe seats? Nothing at all. Corbyn and crew will blame everyone you can imagine and sail on through. Congratulations to the new Tory members of parliament (particularly the MP for Stoke Central, who was written off by everyone before it all started) – may you serve with the best of intentions.