Posts Tagged ‘Oldham West and Royton by-election’

Let’s not kid ourselves. Labour won in Oldham despite Jeremy Corbyn

04/12/2015, 05:34:06 PM

by Atul Hatwal

By any measure, Labour passed the Oldham West test last night. Almost an 11,000 majority, an increased share of the vote and an increased percentage lead. Job done.

So does this mean Jeremy Corbyn is in fact electorally viable?

Of course not.

Here are three takeaways from the result.

1.Politics is local if you’ve got a local candidate

Jim McMahon was a very good candidate made exceptional because of his local roots.

Often candidates will strain to demonstrate a local connection.

Having spent a couple of years at college in the town several decades earlier, lived nearby for a bit, once stopped at the motorway services – any link is seized upon to claim local authenticity and disguise the reality that the candidate actually works in London, in politics, as a party adviser, union official or lobbyist.

In contrast, Jim McMahon was the real deal.

His name recognition on the doorstep was off the charts. Through his work as leader of the council and daily family life in the town, he personally knew hundreds of voters and thousands knew someone who knew him.

The word back from canvassers was that whatever voters’ thought of Jeremy Corbyn – usually not a lot – Jim McMahon was uniformly well regarded.

Labour’s campaign was distinguished as being a Corbyn-free zone. One appearance at the start and one picture hidden on the back of a leaflet does not tell a tale of local Labour faith in the leader.

This was Jim McMahon’s win.

2.Oldham West and Royton should never have been under threat

At the general election, Labour won Oldham West and Royton with a majority of almost 15,000. Self-evidently it’s one of Labour’s safest seats.

Since May, the Tories have been in turmoil over tax credits, are split from top to bottom over Europe and are in the early stages of a leadership civil war.

That a Labour victory should even have been doubted is illustrative of the disaster which has befallen the party.

If Oldham West and Royton was to be lost in a national poll, on a uniform swing, Labour would be reduced to 60 seats.


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Why did Labour do so well in Oldham?

04/12/2015, 02:12:10 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Well, no-one quite saw that coming. Labour’s better-than-expected win in Oldham West and Royton last night defied doom-mongers (myself included) who thought it would be a close-run thing.

In the end, Labour’s Jim McMahon romped home impressively, winning 62 per cent of the vote and a fulsome 10,722 majority.

Part of the reason lies with McMahon himself, the leader of the council and a working-class son of the town. The campaign played heavily on his local connections and credibility, pointedly avoiding Jeremy Corbyn and Westminster controversies.

The scale of the result highlights two abiding truisms for Labour.

First, the party’s ethnic support simply won’t touch UKIP and with the Conservatives and Lib Dems out of contention (despite the fact they ran the council a decade ago), it stays loyal. However, the same goes for many traditional White working-class voters too. Electoral traditional is engrained in places like Oldham.

Yes, many were flirting with UKIP, or agreed with them on issues like immigration, (a sentiment confirmed by Labour canvassers), but they didn’t make the switch in the numbers UKIP and many commentators thought they would.

That’s not to say there aren’t lots of disgruntled Labour voters in Oldham. There are, and many of the journalists predicting a tight result will have met many of them. But tribal loyalties run deep here.

Perhaps there was also something wrong with the tone of UKIP’s campaign. Northern working-class voters have a different temperament to the Southern English. (Perhaps they are less jingoistic?) This is a gut feel rather than anything empirical, but the sour tone of UKIP’s campaign against Jeremy Corbyn probably didn’t chime with them.


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