For UK Labour to lose the Copeland by-election would be historic…

Given how fixed things appear to be in Northern Irish politics, here’s an extraordinary piece of research from Matt Singh on what the precedents might be for Labour to lose the Copeland seat as a mid term opposition party:


Maybe it won’t happen then? They’ve won other by-elections they were expected to be run close in. However, the presence of Sellafield there means Corbyn’s anti nuclear stance could make him a more active issue than he was in Oldham, for instance.

Besides, it just feels like we’re living in an age when, realistically, there’s no solid floor to the Labour Party’s decline. Between Gordon Brown’s unwillingness to apologise for being in charge at the time of the crash, and present Leader’s inveterate

Between Gordon Brown’s unwillingness to apologise for being in charge at the time of the crash, and present Leader’s inveterate anti-Blairite stance, the party has become detached from its more positive achievements in government, at a point when the Conservatives are trying to perform a risky (and very expensive) manoeuvre to take the UK out of the EU.

Weirdly, even such a historic reverse may not be enough to encourage what has become a heavily demoralised party to oust its transparently incompetent leader and, to coin a phrase, take back control.

  • Toaster

    This bi election is in England. A FOREIGN country!!!! It is of no concern to the readers of this Irish website

  • Yussa Marc

    In fairness, it’s a good job this site is “fixed” on NI, as you could count the amount of articles on these NI elections in the UK press on a postage stamp. Two by elections in England get wall-to-wall coverage in the English press, which is fair enough as it is their country. An entire country election in NI gets next-to-nothing. The average person in England probably doesn’t even know we’re having one.

    Equally, you could ask why people in NI would care about the nitty-gritty of English elections that will have zero bearing on their lives here. None of the by-election parties are an option in NI either. Brexit has also arguably shown the futility and impotence of the NI parties in an increasingly English-centric and distant Westminster World. It’s no wonder that people here may fail to see it’s relevance.

  • Korhomme

    Gordon Brown’s unwillingness to apologise for being in charge at the time of the crash

    I think you are being a bit unfair on Gordo. Why should he apologise for being PM at the time of the crash? The origins of the crash, if you’re thinking of deregulation of bankers, go back to Thatcher, Reagan and Friedman, though Blair and Brown did nothing to stop or reverse these policies; he could apologise, with the others, for having done nothing to foresee it or prevent it.

  • Gopher

    Personally I never really read a local paper or watch local news. Though I must admit the comedic value of the leader interviews on the radio with Nolan have me tuning in every morning now. Steven Agnew gets the Chris Hazard economics award this election. Laughing so hard had to pull over. Missed MON but im not sure how she would come across on the radio but that UTV performance the other night, all I can say is my god did no one in the party notice the problem.

  • mickfealty

    No one complains when I do multiple articles on Leinster House politics. Welcome to the world stranger.

  • mickfealty

    Which is why it’s important that we know and understand just how things are going in England. Think of it as an inoculation against guff. (There’s a lot of it about).

  • Korhomme

    Copeland contains Sellafield, so any radiation leakage into the Irish Sea is a problem.

    If the Tories or Labour win, don’t expect the MP to condemn Brexit.

  • Gopher

    You would also have to say even some of the more eccentric parties or parties that are having an eccentric anonomally are largely more polished than the ones over here. The standard of reporting and editorial whether in the broadsheets or TV is of a much higher standard.

  • Nevin

    This futuring is all very well but I thought I’d look at a local newspaper, the Whitehaven News, to see what was on its front page; it was a delightful piece re.Downing Street and the NHS:

    The petition launched by the We Need West Cumberland Hospital campaign group in September last year accused the Success Regime of betraying the public with its plans to downgrade services and close beds – including sending mums more than 40 miles to give birth in Carlisle.

    Combined with a further 10,000 names collected in just over two months as part of our Save Our Services campaign, it shows the scale of the opposition to the damaging proposals.

    Workington MP Sue Hayman was told she could present the petition to Downing Street today at 4pm.

    She invited hospital campaigner Siobhan Gearing to present the petition with her.

    But they were left waiting at the gates of Downing Street for 20 minutes, before being told by a security man: “You can’t come in. Today is not a good day. After Thursday would be better.”

    Obviously not the sort of story any Government would wish to see on the evening news, especially in the run-up to a by-election!

    The Guardian has also drawn attention to the local Labour Party’s rejection of the candidate favoured by Jeremy Corbyn. Troughton, the selected candidate, is pushing the nuclear and NHS buttons, in a manner of speaking:

    Support for the nuclear industry is seen as key to holding the seat, with Troughton keen to stress her pro-nuclear and NHS campaigning credentials in her victory statement. “This is my home. I have been part of the campaign against the proposed cuts to A&E and the maternity wing because I know that our community needs this service,” she said.

    “This is where my family make their living. My husband works in the nuclear supply chain, so I know how important the industry is to thousands of Cumbrians. I’m pro-nuclear. No ifs, no buts.”

    Will the local option trump central control?

  • hgreen

    A bit harsh. London and the SE is not England. Basically London is devouring the rest of England (and the UK) and no major party has any serious interest in reversing this.

  • RWP

    The lack of interest in the NI election in England/Scotland/Wales, which was certainly not the case in the GF and StA agreements, but was the case for the various follow-up agreements such as Hillsborough and Fresh Start and later AEs, is based on a feeling that everything in NI in political terms is settled i.e. the institutions, power sharing, and that post-2007 events have been inconsequential bickering on a level with the pantomime events in the Welsh Assembly that nobody in the London media cares about (the media make the same assumption of their readership).

  • hgreen

    Labour are the largest party in Europe so I think reports of their decline are exaggerated. There are plenty of voters hoping Labour succeeds.

    As a Corbyn supporter these by-elections come at a good time. If they lose one or both it’ll focus minds among his supporters to look for a credible left wing leader (obviously not someone from the blairite wing of the party). My preference is for Corbyn to continue taking the flack while attempting to manage Labour’s article 50 and Brexit strategy before installing a new leader ahead of the next GE.

    That said I think they’ll hold Stoke.

  • Petrus Hibernus

    They’re the fulcrum of power in England and thus the UK

  • Zorin001

    I knew when Corbyn was elected leader that he would get a tremendous beasting from the press, but I was still hopeful that we might get a true Left Wing alternative to the Tory party.

    Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out like that and a lot of the blame has to fall with Corbyn himself. Hes shown little in the way of real leadership, picked battles where he hasn’t needed to and rolled over in fights he really needed to win.

    None of this would have been a complete disaster except for Brexit; when we needed someone to fight for continued EU membership, and then post ref for the best deal possible the leader of the Opposition has fluffed it. Its past rabbit-in-headlights time, the rabbit has been hit head on and is clinging on to its last vestiges of life.

  • mickfealty

    Excellent troll of 50 million people there. All removed since it’s irrelevant to the topic. When you crawl back in after getting banned try not to make it so obvious next time.

  • mickfealty

    They should hold both. At least you concede now he needs to go. That’s a sign of improvement in your condition at least!! ?

  • mickfealty

    It’s the party’s fault. They’ve been treating the fate of the party and its voters far too lightly since Granvita.

    Corbyn’s own story about how he was picked tells his own eloquent story. Brexit too is another calamity because the political classes could not be bothered to figure out what people want.

    Surfeit of politics, deficit of yer actual democracy.

  • Reader

    Famous old saying. “In England the situation is serious but not hopeless. In Ireland the situation is hopeless but not serious.”
    Hence the lack of wider interest in our latest farce.

  • hgreen

    He should only go if a suitable left wing alternative is found. Until then I’ll support Corbyn.

  • hgreen

    So Corbyn should have just ignored the 52% who voted to leave? While messy I think the current Labour Brexit strategy is correct.

  • The result of these by-elections will tell us the likely direction of UK wide politics (such as confirming no end in sight for Conservative government). The Conservative party will therefore be responsible for raising revenue throughout the UK, managing benefits, foreign relations, defence, and deciding how much money devolved government receives.

    Even stripping out the fact that we will not have a devolved legislation for an unknown period of time, the dynamic between Labour and Conservative is more important than Stormont. The government of the day at Westminster being the piper, gets to call the tune. Stormont just gets to dish out the sweeties that get handed to them.

  • mickfealty

    After the heims you lot have made of it!! They need someone who has a clue about how representative politics works merely as a starting qualification.

  • hgreen

    What heims was that? Did I miss an election?

  • mickfealty

    Very droll Hugh!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    A good reason for campaigning for the mainland parties to field candidates in NI. It’s about time they did. The cause is not helped though by the Labour Party in NI voting to support Corbyn, a man totally committed to the Labour Party *not* fielding candidates in NI. One of the bigger acts of self-defeating idiocy I’ve come across … I mean, Corbyn, after his treatment of our part of the world … madness

  • Katyusha

    Corbyn’s leadership was fundamentally compromised when he took a conciliatory stance towards the liberal wing of the party, which they had no intention of reciprocating, instead openly plotting and attempting to undermine and overthrow the leader of the party. Corbyn would be in a much stronger position if he had taken shrewd and decisive action like Enda Kenny dealt with the attempt to unseat him as leader of Fine Gael in 2010 – by sacking almost his entire shadow cabinet.

    Corbyn’s leadership has been a story of half-commitment, and like most things, if you only commit halfway, you screw up. Brexit is the same again, never fully committing Labour to either a strong remain position OR a strong leave position, and in the aftermath, leaving his party in a muddle as to whether they should stand for EU-remainership, or fight to influence the Brexit fallout.He also hasn’t fully left his student politics at the door when the leader pf the opposition needs to be 100% focused on leading the opposition.

    I don’t care what your aims are, if you want to achieve them you must pursue them with everything you can muster. Corbyn’s opposition isn’t clear on where it wants to go, so it’s no surprise it never got anywhere.

  • Zorin001

    Kat, thank you for summing it up more thoroughly than I could, I agree with you nearly 100%