The Stoke and Copeland by-elections show that the ruling Conservative party does not need to worry about Labour or UKIP for quite some time.
And one frontbench Tory MP summed up to Business Insider why Tories “worry not” about UKIP and that Copeland sums up why the Conservative party is sealing itself as a party that can win seats across the whole of the UK:
“Some of the people who vote UKIP will never vote for us so some splitting of the anti-Labour vote is inevitable and if people who will never vote Tory are voting UKIP rather than Labour that is still helping us.”
“Copeland shows it is not going to stop us gaining Labour seats in those places where we are clearly seen as the challenger.”
His comments do stack up.
The Conservatives made history by smashing Labour in its heartland by winning the Copeland seat as well as increasing its share of the votes. Trudy Harrison for the Conservative party not only beat Labour’s Gillian Troughton with 13,748 votes to 11,601 on a turnout of 51% — she also boosted vote share by 8.5%.
Copeland shows it is not going to stop us gaining Labour seats in those places where we are clearly seen as the challenger
This is a huge deal because, as my colleague Adam Bienkov pointed out:
1. For a governing party to gain a by-election from the opposition is rare enough — the last time was in 1982.
2. To do so on this scale is almost unprecedented. Election analyst Matt Singh wrote earlier this week that the last comparable by-election victory was way back in 1876.
On top of that, this should be a seat that Labour would not have even considered a hard fight. The same could be said about Stoke.
In Stoke, the second of the most important by-elections in recent political history, the Tories lost to Labour, but there were some very interesting readings in a hotly contested seat.
Firstly, like Copeland but even more so, Stoke should have been an easy seat to keep.
Robert Jenrick, Conservative MP for Newark, summed up perfectly in a TV interview with Sky News early Friday morning, that the fact that Stoke, which should be a “done deal” for Labour, has the level of national media attention that it does is because people are disillusioned with Labour.
The seat is highly representative of its core membership but at one point UKIP’s Paul Nuttall was the favourite to win over Labour — that is huge.
But arguably, it was only because Nuttall self-sabotaged himself — without even knowing about it, through a
campaign that showcased a litany of scandals — that allowed Labour to recoup some its votes.
Labour’s Gareth Snell won in the end but take a look at the numbers:
The margins between the parties have narrowed and the Tories and UKIP gained in a constituency where Labour should be having total control over — not losing votes or even having the worry about losing it.
Even more interestingly, less than 100 votes were in it for the Tories to be second place.
Both constituencies provided a significant window into the thinking of Britain’s electorate right now and in both cases, despite not actually gaining a seat in Stoke, it looks pretty rosy for the Tories.
This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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