Uncut predictions for 2017: Ukip won’t win the Copeland, Leigh or Walton by-elections

The first test of Ukip’s electoral potency under its new leader, Paul Nuttall, comes in the Copeland by-election, following the unexpected decision of Jamie Reed to stand down from Parliament.

Despite voting for Brexit by 62/38 per cent, the West Cumbrian seat doesn’t feel a natural prospect for the kippers. Certainly when compared to parts of Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester. Remote and politically tribal, Copeland feels like a straight Labour/Tory face-off.

Having polled extremely well in the Heywood and Middleton by-election in October 2014, coming within 600 votes of beating Labour, Ukip has very publicly struggled to assemble a decent ground game and lacks campaigning apparatus and experience when it matters most.

Other by-elections in Wythenshawe and Sale East in February 2014 and Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough in May 2016 have revealed this telling weakness, with underwhelming Ukip performances in seats where they should have pressed much harder.

Anyway, the party is under new management and needs to show momentum in the post-Brexit and post-Farage era.

Nuttall, an MEP for the North West, knows this and will be looking for a decent showing in the Leigh and Liverpool Walton by-elections that will follow May’s election of Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram to the new metro mayoralties in, respectively, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

Liverpool’s Labour party is well-organised for such a fight and the city was one of the few Labour heartlands to vote Remain (58/42 per cent). But it’s academic: Walton is Labour’s safest parliamentary seat in the country, with a gigantic 27,777 majority and 81 per cent of the vote.

Although Labour had a 14,096 majority in 2015, Leigh has suffered a precipitous decline from its heyday as a mining and textiles town and it’s exactly the type of working-class seat where the kippers hope they can break through.

Indeed, Nuttall is said to be mulling a run as the candidate himself.

The reason he initially decided against challenging for the Ukip leadership was because he wanted to focus on winning a parliamentary seat himself. He knows the stakes are high and a strong performance is essential to maintain Ukip as a brooding threat in Labour’s backyard, his professed electoral strategy.

But he’ll get no joy in Leigh either. There are no Ukip councillors for a start, while Burnham is popular locally and his (slightly) controversial speech castigating free movement the other week, was an early attempt to head off Ukip’s appeal on the issue. Moreover, Leigh has only had four MPs since 1923 – all Labour. The seat will remain loyal.

Expect to hear Nuttall hedging his bets about standing in Leigh until the kippers get the lie of the land.

Then, when they do, he’ll pretend he was never going for it.

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5 Responses to “Uncut predictions for 2017: Ukip won’t win the Copeland, Leigh or Walton by-elections”

  1. paul barker says:

    UKIP will do very badly in all the election on May 4th, losing more than half the seats they defend but The BBC will go on treating Farage as though he was someone important.

  2. Tafia says:

    This is written by an idiot who misses the point. It isn’t about UKIP winning anything that’s important. It’s about who they are draining votes from and where.

    For example, as it stands they have now damaged Labour to such an extent that it’s senior politicians – Burnham, Starmer, Umanna, Cooper etc, are openly calling for a re-write or even an end to Freedom of Movement. And it’s also drained so much Labour support in the north that a Labour victory this side of the Apocalypse is virtually impossible. (nothing to do with Corbyn, everything to do with failing to address their demands for a curtailing of immigration and an end to FoM).

    UKIP are like a nuclear weapon – you don’t win by using one, but your opponents can’t win if you do.

    (ps – To the liberalists on here who think that the working class are wrong and just need better informing, they actually think you are c**ts who need telling that to your face just before they slap you)

  3. john P reid says:

    wel D’ah, but what if ukip come second in leigh as they could come close to the tories,

    in other news, labour won’t win some council seats in council elections in the home counties in may

    what’s more interesting is that as Manchester was a vote remain northern area, how well the libdems will do there and Liverpool

  4. Malc says:

    It’s gonna take years to reverse the damage done by New Labour during the wilderness years of Blair and Brown. We are off to a good start though under Jeremy.

  5. John P Reid says:

    This snobbery here is worse than ever
    I lived in Ilford which was one of those who ever wins the seat wins the election areas before Demographic changes, which had areas of wealth next to areas of poverty, and Hornchurch a lower middle class area where there’s not mass wealth next to mass poverty years later

    I recall in the 80’s a am sing,do was going to be opened in Ilford and, the Presecco( I won’t call them Champagne socialists, were appalled that a symbol,of lower working class ,A McDonald’s restat aunt could open there, with the Olympics 30 years later, many social housing tenants were moved out of Stratford to Essex, and the labour councillors were shocked that they brought their “Anti social behaviour with them” as Maurice glasman said recently when he can to Essex, there’s a ‘fear of place ‘ a play in words of ante Bevans quote , that all of a sudden betting shops and Tattoo p have opened up in Essex, as the stigma that goes with , this is the sort of activity, the working class get up to ,is not wanted in Liberal areas,

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