ICM’s regular poll for the Guardian has topline figures of CON 44%(+2), LAB 26%(-1), LDEM 8%(-2), UKIP 13%(+1), GRN 4%(nc). The changes since the previous ICM poll aren’t significant, but it’s worth noting that the 18 point Conservative lead is ICM’s largest for many years (there was a lead of 19 points in an ICM/News of the World poll in 2009 and a 20 point lead in an ICM/Guardian poll in June 2008)

ICM also asked about the position of EU nationals in the Brexit negotiations – 42% think the British government should only guarantee the position of EU nationals in the UK once the EU guarantees the rights of British citizens in the EU; 41% think Britain should do it unilaterally straight away. There is a similarly even split on the fate of John Bercow: 30% think he should stay, 32% think he should resign. Finally they asked about Donald Trump’s visit. 18% think it should be cancelled, 37% think he should be invited but not given a full state visit, 32% think a full state visit should happen. Full tabs are here.

To catch up with some other recent voting intention polls. YouGov’s latest figures came out at the tail end of last week (though fieldwork is now a whole week ago) – topline figures were CON 40%, LAB 24%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 15% (tabs). The lead is similar to that from ICM, but with lower support for the main two parties.

Opinium also had voting intention figures in the Observer at the weekend. Over recent months Opinium have tended to be something of an outlier, showing Labour leads of seven or eight points rather than the double digit leads consistently reported by other companies. This fortnight they showed a shift towards the Conservatives, putting their figures more in line with other companies: CON 40%, LAB 27%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14% (tabs here.)

766 Responses to “ICM/Guardian – CON 44, LAB 26, LD 8, UKIP 13”

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  1. Danny

    ‘Government’s do not win by elections. They did not win this one. What happened is that the government chose to adopt the policies of one of the opposition parties and thereby stole its vote share. The government did not win now except by becoming its own opposition.’

    That would seem rather convoluted, even for this site.

    Is this an alternative version of what you mean:
    Tories do not ‘become their own opposition’. They just go wherever the wind takes them – and if that means changing course dramatically in order to maintain power, then that’s what they do if they possibly can. It’s not a lack of principle, for they work on the principle that only they have the ability and, when ability lacks, the right, to govern.

    Good morning, TOH!


  2. “Electorate 57,701; Turnout 21,170 (36.69%, -13.24%)”

    The big winner in Stoke was none-of-the-above

  3. BT says,
    “Stoke – Labour won with 14.3% of the electorate.
    Copeland – Labour lost with 19.2% of the electorate.”

    The referendum yielded something like a 25% vote to leave the EU: are you suggesting it was inquorate? Are you saying the total number of votes is the important thing rather than the percentage?

    Neil J,
    “As for UKIP, they will need to re-think their strategy of trying to appeal to the working class heartlands of Labour in the Midlands and North”

    The policy of leave still seems to be well enough supported, but given a choice of one party busy carrying it out, and another jumping up and down trying to avoid embarassing ‘gaffes’ with no chance of power, who would you support? They just gave it their best shot throwing their new leader at it, and it did not go well. UKIP cannot win on a policy platform of leave and nothing else. However, despite bleeding off the more extreme Leavists they probably do help the tories keep hold of less extreme leave supporters, by the contrast between themselves and UKIP. It brands the conservatives as less extreme.

  4. John B,
    The argument that governments do not win by elections is based on the idea that a government stands on a policy which allows it to win, but then difficulties inevitably arise and it loses support.

    In this case the conservatives have abandoned a key policy on which they came to power -being a member of the EU – and adopted its complete opposite. Sure, they have gained vote share, but only by becoming a different party to what they were when elected.

    I was not criticising them for opportunism, merely observing that the result is being spun as a unique achievement of boosting support for the platform upon which they were elected. Well they did not do that.

  5. Betting is a mugs game! still the whippet will still have a big knuckle bone as a treat.

    Job done for the Tories. Corbyn bound to lead Labour into 2020 and Brexit safe.

    However, we will see if there is a Blairite conspiracy. If other labour MP’s now resign to go into safe jobs in some sort of sequence then the game will be afoot.( other former leaders are available)

  6. @NEILJ “The last election showed this where they did well against a popular sitting M.P. Against an untried quality with the backdrop of Brexit with a Labour Party floundering in the polls would have thought this would be far higher than 72.”

    Yup agreed.

    @JOHN B “Tories gaining at the expense of UKIP is certainly how it looks in Copeland. The Britainelects graph seems to suggest that, since the General Election, the combined Tory/UKIP vote is very slightly down as a percentage of the total vote, but that it was the transfer from UKIP to Tory which won the seat.”

    We don’t know that though. Perhaps UKIP voters stayed at home. Perhaps some UKIP voters were former Labour and went back to Labour. Other Labour voters could have gone to the Lib Dems who increased their vote share and other Labour voters could have gone Tory. We simply don’t know the churn. All that matters is the headline swing.

    When you take Stoke and Copeland together the nominal swing is 4.35%.

  7. Looks to me like it was at least in part a referendum on party leaders. Corbyn lost it for Labour in Copeland because he’s a poor leader in general, he suffers especially in comparison to May and anti nuclear in Copeland is simply asking for trouble.

    Bad leader though Corbyn is, Nuttall is far worse.

    With a better party leader who isn’t reflexively anti-nuclear, Labour holds Copeland. With a better party leader who isn’t just the towering liability Nuttall is, UKIP wins in Stoke. Nuttall ran one of the worst campaigns any of us has ever seen and UKIP came second so I’m only writing them off if the party really can’t find anyone better. We all know Labour can find better than Corbyn.

    So I am not quite ready to pronounce a sea change in British politics yet. The Tories have had a good night based on currently being relatively adult and having a capable leader. They will struggle to find a more favourable Labour seat than Copeland.

  8. John B

    Good morning John. Many of us got the result of the two by-elections right, even if i was a little timid about forecasting a win in Copeland, a 2000+ majority is more than “skin of teeth”. Stoke was much easier, UKIP “shot itself in the foot” during the short campaign , I was a little surprised by how close the Tories were to UKIP, a close third. I gather they had a good candidate.

    The LD gained share in both seats although were not in either race. Good night for the Government, bad night for labour and UKIP.

  9. I was a bit out, thinking the Tories would be narrowly beaten in Copeland rather than narrowly win, but overall I think my view that the seats would broadly go with national polling wasn’t far off.

    The thing about expectation management is that it crystallizes a negative situation that one might previously have wanted to wriggle out of as unproven.

    Rather than quibbling over sample sizes, speculating whether the pollsters were now “overcompensating” by upweighting the Tories too much, grasping at the polls and pollsters who give the best relative figures for Labour, by embracing the “we did better than expectations” figleaf Labour spokespersons are now forced to embrace the current polling situation as a true reflection of how their party is doing.

    In other words, the Tories having a double digit lead is now something that has to be accepted by Labour.

  10. Copeland:
    Tories to win relatively comfortably
    Labour second
    Lib Dems third
    UKIP fourth
    Labour to win reasonably easily
    UKIP second
    Tories third
    Lib Dems fourth
    The Flying Brick a very close fifth

    Well, that was one of my better predictions. Darn the Flying Brick!

  11. Neil Wilson – 7.24

    It would seem that someone called Doris was the real winner….

  12. lec

    Your post to Toby Ebert concerning his theory. I totally agree with you, I think you put forward a clear case, well argued.

  13. Chris Riley,
    Yes I think labour could find a leader more to the taste of centrist voters and therefore attract middle ground from conservatives. Probably a short term improvement for them. But the winner in Stoke made a speech about getting more help for towns like his which have been squeezed. He has identified the problem.

    Labour has lost its traditional left support, and it was the disaffected left who deserted it. UKIP has been appealing to the nationalist left, the group which has propelled the SNP to victory in Scotland. Brexit is a sideshow which will be time limited eventually. Once it is gone, the fundamental problem will remain for Labour unless they have solved the problem of keeping the working class left on board. They abandoned this group in favour of the urban elite left.

  14. Danny – 7.32

    I would agree with you in terms of what is really going on.

    But in electoral terms, the Tories won the election with the commitment to hold a referendum, with the assumption on the part of the electorate that the Tories would obey the outcome.

    So in terms of being the party of a referendum the Tories have not changed tack at all. It’s just that they misread the mood of the people and have adapted quickly to try and obscure that fact!

  15. I appreciate AW’s views that you should not put to much emphasis on by-elections but would be interested to know from this knowledgable forum whether the swings in these by-elections accurately represent a double digit lead in the polls.
    Not saying it would or would not happen at a General Election just in purely mathematical terms whether these results supports the recent polls, for example the one at the top of this page which gives the Conservatives an 18% lead.

  16. I think, Allan Christie got it pretty much right (and you won’t hear me saying that very often!) ;-)

    Great night for the Tories – winning a seat of the Official Opposition when in government, and held up with UKIP in Stoke. They remain in poll position simply by having the only leader that anyone thinks could feasibly be PM. To say anything negative about the Tories’ performance would be churlish.

    Poor for Labour even in the context of where we knew they were; hung on just about OK in Stoke, but lost so badly in Copeland; its hysterically funny hearing their spokespeople try to spin this as a success!

    Poor too for UKIP; if they get another chance as good as Stoke for a gain this parliament I will be staggered, and they completely blew it. They are the second party to have a fantasist nutcase for a leader, and we already know that doesn’t tend to go well….

    Meh for LDems; two difficult seats for them, but successfully avoided the big squeeze by increasing vote share in both elections despite being demonstrably irrelevant in both contests. However that is the best that can be said; in particular I suspect 10% in Stoke will be a bit of a disappointment in the cold light of day.

    Also notably poor for the Greens; I think that is four consecutive poor results for them, looks like some recovery in LDems plus the ‘attractiveness’ of Corbyn to the more radical Green voter may have led to a consistent decline in their vote v 2015.

  17. S Thomas – 7.37

    No amount of Labour M.Ps resigning is going to make the slightest difference as to whether Brexit is or is not ‘safe’. (I would argue that Brexit is the least safe option available, but that is another issue…)

    The issue now facing Labour in England (and I would ask that, in future, all references to the Labour Party make clear distinction between Labour in the three diverse polities, for the three polities are rapidly becoming more and more diverse) is whether it wishes to be a prophetic voice or whether it wants power.

    The issue facing Labour in Scotland is even more basic: ‘Why bother?’

    I cannot opine on Labour in Wales and will leave that to others who are much better placed to comment…..

  18. Seachange 7.46

    ‘All that matters is the headline swing’

    I disagree. I would suggest that the churn is what really matters. If the Tories can gain from UKIP’s assault on the Labour vote, as suggested by someone a little earlier, then ‘churn’ becomes the real issue.

    The overall effect may be that there is a nominal swing from Labour to the Tories, but Copeland demonstrates that what really matters is the change to voting patterns in which the Tories now manage to present themselves in some places in the north of England as a reasonable option for skilled ‘working class’ folk – which now means computer techies and those who work in the nuclear industry.

  19. Looking at the by-election results, Labour and UKIP must be feeling very sore, and Mrs May delighted.

    UKIP look like they can’t buy a win, and it’s hard to imagine better circumstances in better seat that Stoke. Without a new post-referendum direction and a better organised ground game, it looks a struggle going forward.

    Copeland…..I’ve looked at the provision boundary changes, and a 6.7% swing Labour to Conservative would net them 44 seats. If no other seats changed that would move from a provisional Tory majority of 38 to one of 126.

    There will be much soul seraching in the coming days and weeks within Labour and UKIP.

  20. @Norbold – “I haven’t looked in on here for some months. It’s good to see that Alec’s visceral hatred for Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t changed. Any vote would spell disaster for him according to Alec. No doubt even if Labour greatly increased their majorities, he would still find some reason why this proved that Jeremy is a disaster.

    Keep it up old chap. It’s quite amusing really.”

    While I generally support everyone staying active on UKPR, if that is the best you can, perhaps it’s better that you have taken a break. If I were the kind of person that takes such things personally, I would be viewing your post as offensive.

    The fact of the matter is that I have consistently and relentlessly stated that I rather like Corbyn as a person, and I generally support his policies or general policy positions, such as I know what they are.

    I have never, ever, demonstrated a ‘visceral hatred’ for him.

    What I have done is pointed out that he seems serially incapable of delivering effective leadership, he is a huge electoral liability on the Labour party, and he continually makes presentational gaffes and political blunders that are harming him, his party, and those he claims to want to represent.

    Is there anything in this that you can reject with evidence, rather than a somewhat unpleasant personal attack?

  21. Danny

    Copeland was a brilliant resutt for the Tories. Labour fought it on the NHS at a time when the headlines about the NHS and social care are really bad for government.

    Those who are looking for comfort can look to the LDs who continue to have stunning results in local by-elections and increased their vote in both by-elections. As I have been saying for some months now they are the main threat to the Tories who need to be putting in a lot of effort to shore up their positions particularly in the south west.

  22. Labour’s only consolation today appears to be that the vaunted assault on the northern heartlands by UKIP has failed. However, I don’t really see this as any other than a short term tactical victory in Stoke. Strategically, I would imagine this spells more bad news for Labour.

    It appears that the obvious assumption about UKIP – that they took votes from Cons more than Lab – was correct. The decline in UKIP is being matched by a rise in Con. In fighting off UKIP, Labour may well have handed their opponents a slew of seats.

    Copeland is clearly a disaster for them. While by rights this really should give Corbyn the opportunity of gracefully stepping down for the good of the party, we know he won’t.

    I do have sympathies for him. Along with Brexit, Copeland has issues that are fairly unique and genuinely difficult for a Corbyn led Labour party, most notably around the nuclear issue. I suspect that without the nuclear element, Labour would probably have held on, but that is just a guess.

    The May locals are likely to be seriously poor, and I think we do need to stop the nonsensical ramblings about what Corbyn is trying to do etc. The opposition’s job is to try and oppose and to seek to win power. If their leader can’t do that, then they need to stand aside for someone prepared to try.

  23. Allan Christie

    Yes, hats off to you, that was a good forecast for Copeland considering by-elections are so difficult. Well done sir!

    I got both results right but didn’t put numbers to them. :-)

  24. @Danny

    Not sure Labour have lost its traditionally left support permanently, as that group appears simply not to be turning out.

    However, I think they’re in very serious danger of losing young voters judging by the many conversations I’ve had. The perception of many left-leaning younger voters is that Labour has been captured by older reactionary Lefties who are intent on refighting wars they lost 20 years before new voters were born and have no answer to, and no real interest in, the challenges facing young people. Corbyn’s stance on Brexit has cemented that.

    This a group who live a lot of their lives online, for example, Momentum have become synonymous with this group for a particularly unpleasant brand of online conduct. They only say ‘a kinder gentler politics’ in heavily ironic tones.

    The most telling interaction I had was with a lad from West Yorkshire whose parents were Old Labour and had voted UKIP and Leave. He said ‘They’re angry with Labour because Labour used to speak for them and they feel they’ve stopped doing it. They want Labour to take notice of them again and they think doing this will make them, and then they can think about going back. Well, nobody has *ever* spoken for me.’

    The room applauded. That was when I realised the problem for UK politics in general and Labour in particular. These were articulate, politically engaged young people who think the entire system is bent to purposes inimical to them in a way I’ve not seen with other groups. I keep getting the view that the Baby Boomers (which is used as a term that means ‘anyone over about 50’) have not merely cooked the planet, thrown us out of the EU and ended pensions but also captured Left wing politics (the Greens are rarely seen as much better) and turned it into a vehicle for their own advantage.

    We have a real problem on our hands.

  25. Danny 7.27

    No and no.

    I was merely highlighting that Labour got considerably more support from the electorate in the seat they lost than the seat they retained.

  26. Not sure what to think tbh.

    Clearly a good night fort the Tories and the Lab-UKIP-Tory transfer of voters that some Tory strategists aimed for before the 2015 GE seems to be happening.

    The conventional meme is that voters often use mid-term By-Elections to kick the Governments to send a message. Is this what some erstwhile Labour voters are doing now and a change of leader will bring many back in to the fold? Or does this voter movement represent something more fundamental?

    I don’t know and there will be even more churn than normal perhaps.

    S Thomas – I think JC being leader at the 2020 GE is highly unlikely, the issue is will he go early enough and obviously even more important who replaces him?

  27. I think Stoke has saved Corbyn, stunning result for the Tories though.

    For the LibDems there is no rich seam of pro-EU feeling north of the Watford Gap, and it does not bode well for any form of electoral forgiveness.

    UKIP? Oh dear. With Nuttall, no hope.

  28. @John B “I would suggest that the churn is what really matters.”

    But since we can’t measure that, then the headline swing is all that we can go on.

  29. I think that this does not necessarily spell doom for UKIP. UKIP is getting protest votes at a time when lots of people are sufficiently disillusioned to case such votes in general elections.

    It may be that they are hitting the (current) ceiling on how many people want to vote for them. It may be that the numbers so willing are on the decline. it may be that the reason for UKIP massively increasing their share of the vote in 2011-14 by-elections was simply because they started from a low 2010 vote – and it is hard to increase share when you have already hit a historic maximum.

    What is obvious is that UKIP joined with the other parties in failing to enthuse the more apathetic voters. Other than the LibDems (who started from a low base), everyone’s votes sank equally, more or less. That’s a problem for Mr Nuttall, whose USP was very much an ability to reach out to those who can no longer be bothered to turn out to vote Labour.

    Interestingly, in Copeland, the UKIP share halved, which was very important to the Tories winning. “Blue” UKIP voters perhaps more inclined to be tactical? Perhaps in Stoke, it wasn’t obvious to local Tories why they should be the ones to give way to UKIP?

    (I say nothing of Mr Nuttall’s obvious credibility issues – which may have damaged him with many of the Tories who he needed to be tactical. Less damaging, perhaps, with the equivalent of Trump voters who just want someone who might lesson as opposed to those with a track record of not doing so.)

  30. May locals will be interesting…

    – 2013 was a very good year for Labour and UKIP, poor for Tories and awful for LDems
    – English councils up this time are County Councils and Unitaries, so mostly Tory v Lab, Tory v UKIP or Tory v LDem fights, with a few Labour v LDem thrown in.

    Based on opinion poling and the recent parliamentary by-elections one might therefore expect Tories to win big off Labour and UKIP, LDems to pick up a few off Labour, and for LDems and Tory to have a big scrap over their mutual marginals.

    However that would be the opposite of what has been happening in council by-elections over recent months, where the Tories have been dropping seats all over the place.

    The only thing I am sure of is that UKIP and Labour (assuming Corbyn remains) will lose seats and Tories and LDems gain, but how the changes will be distributed I have no clue!

  31. @Alec

    “The fact of the matter is that I have consistently and relentlessly stated that I rather like Corbyn as a person, and I generally support his policies or general policy positions, such as I know what they are.

    What I have done is pointed out that he seems serially incapable of delivering effective leadership, he is a huge electoral liability on the Labour party, and he continually makes presentational gaffes and political blunders that are harming him, his party, and those he claims to want to represent.”

    Pretty much sums up my view of the man.

  32. Danny

    Also read your 7.12 post to me, and others you have made elsewhere on these pages today.

    It seems abundantly clear to me that you are on a forum if denial I’m afraid. Your posts today are quite hilarious for the tortuous twisting and turning you are doing to try and make the facts fit the narrative you want. Which broadly speaking seems to be that nothing, even if you could dare admit that it was a good result, could possibly be put to the credit of the government’s performance. It’s all these complicated and odd red herrings about having morphed into another party since 2015, etc.

    Therefore I’m really sorry – I do consider others’ points of view, but your conclusions end up, politely, incredibly weak if not bizarre.

  33. @Saffer, Alec

    This is by far the most common view of Corbyn that I have encountered on my travels.

    It is very far from a controversial position to take on him, with the one proviso that quite a lot of would-be Labour voters don’t like aspects of his foreign or defence policies at all.

  34. Pretty bad for UKIP-Nutall scuttling off muttering “there will be other seats” not impressive. QT audience last night indicated that he was not much liked in Stoke. He came across to me as a bit of a chancer-I’m surprised as I had him down as a fairly genuine bloke.
    UKIP Leadership questions???

    Pretty bad for Labour in Copeland -McDonald blamed it on Nuclear saying Labour’s policy to have nuclear “in the mix” wasn’t “heard”& it is a unique issue not present in any other constituency.


    But why wasn’t the hospital closure issue a big plus for Labour ?-they concentrated on that.

    A swing from Lab to Cons in both results is not a ringing endorsement of JC.-not that it will make any difference. McDonnel indicated on Sky News that he thinks the Brexit negotiations will tear Cons apart and allow Lab to present a “vision” for post Brexit UK which will appeal to voters.

    So we’ll wait for that then.

  35. In two parliamentary by elections, the LibDem performance was modest, but in local council elections, they continue to make stunning gains.

    Considering these two together, we should remember that from the start of his leadership, Tim Farron has emphasised the importance of building up the base and regaining the party’s traditional strength at local level. A stronger base is a prerequisite to rebuilding at national level.

    So far, the plan seems to be working. Next target will be county council elections in May.

  36. @NW ““Electorate 57,701; Turnout 21,170 (36.69%, -13.24%)”
    The big winner in Stoke was none-of-the-above”
    Indeed. Perhaps there should be a re-run, with none of the above allowed to field a candidate.
    General election 2015 Lab 12,220 UKIP 7,041 Con 7,008
    by-election Lab 7,853 UKIP 5,233 Con 5,154
    So Con got out 74% of their vote; UKIP 74% and Labour 64%
    What price compulsory voting?
    Labour vote since 1997
    26662; 17170; 14760 (all Mark Fisher) 12605; 12220 T Hunt; 7853 Snell
    Tory 6738, 5325; 4823; 6833; 7008, 5154
    Since 2001 either LibDem or UKIP have got a few more votes than the Tories.
    In 2010, 2015 and 2017, Labour has secured fewer votes than the next two parties combined. Will Stoke Central count as a marginal in 2020?

  37. John Curtice expressed the view that the Labour Party has made a huge strategic error in supporting Brexit as a means of countering UKIP in its northern heartlands. His analysis is that the bulk of northern Labour voters voted remain and that therefore UKIP weren’t the threat.
    I think what is often forgotten (particularly by those who were not brought up in a staunch Labour working class area) is there has always been a sizeable chunk of WWC Tories. It is probably that type of voter that was attracted to UKIP.
    If John Curtice is right then every strategy that has been followed by Labour since JC’s election has been wrong headed.

    I agree with Alec: I like JC as an authentic person with genuine beliefs, I like many of the policies that he espouses, however leadership requires one quality above all others the ability to convince those with doubts in a policy to follow you anyway: JC simply does not have that quality.
    However that said I know believe the Labour party is doomed. This is because the Progress wing of the party are determined to prevent the 5% threshold for nominations being passed at conference in order to ensure no left winger gets to stand for election, there is no compromise there. If JC cannot protect what he believes to be his legacy by obtaining the 5% change he will not stand down; no compromise there.
    It is curious that since the reduction in influence of the unions in the Labour party the art of Compromise has been lost (the unions were always schooled in the arts of compromise and practicality by the nature of the work they carried out for members). Unless Labour can find a way to return to days when they can have Crossman and Crossland or Heffer and Healey in the same cabinet the writing is on the wall.

  38. Taking the two by-elections into account together, the Conservatives retained 89% of their vote at the 2015 general election whereas Labour retained only 67%. This would translate into a Conservative national poll figure of 42.6% and Labour of 26.5% much in line with recent opinion polls.

  39. @Alec

    “…What I have done is pointed out that he [Corbyn] seems serially incapable of delivering effective leadership, he is a huge electoral liability on the Labour party, and he continually makes presentational gaffes and political blunders that are harming him, his party, and those he claims to want to represent.”

    I agree with much of this. He’s been unlucky in many ways but a signpost does not a leader make.

  40. @WB

    I think he’d step aside for Clive Lewis.

  41. Having spent three days door stepping in Copeland I saw this coming as predicted – good result for Tories in Stoke too in the circumstances – looks good for Stoke South. in 2020.
    12500 did not vote Labour in Stoke Central so it is hardly a bastion of Labour support.

  42. Obviously a good night for the Tories, not least in Stoke, where they came in a strong third, despite being written off. At a time when there are widespread and justified concerns over the economy and especially the NHS, it is remarkable that they have gained a seat. This gives TM a vote of confidence and an endorsement for her Brexit approach. It give the Tories real breathing space. And confirmation of the polls, which may have seemed too good to be true.

    Not too bad for the Lib Dems, who increased vote share in difficult circumstances. Ardent remainers look to have adopted the LDs. So again confirmation of a modest recovery in national polls. There is hope.

    The Greens are looking rather troubled, and I wonder whether they have rather lost their reason to exist. By this I mean that everyone is an environmentalist these days. In a sense, they have won, and, like UKIP, their appeal has accordingly diminished. They have certainly leaked left-leaning supporters to Corbyn, and may have also lost a few internationalists to the LDs.

    Bad news for UKIP, and possible confirmation that they could fade away to being little more than a protest group of eccentrics. They need a new identity.

    As for Labour, this is potentially very serious indeed. I think this was the best result for those who want Corbyn to go: he may well resign before the May elections, where they are going to be decimated. They could well finish fourth in May, and Corbyn knows this. This is an existential threat to Labour: meltdown is not likely, but it is possible. Labour need to secure the centre left by finding a leader who can claim that ground. If not, then I can see something else occupying that vacuum. Not UKIP, not a new PLP-based party following a Labour split, but possibly a resurgent LibDems.

    A Greens/Lib Dem merger? The Corbynistas amongst the Greens have gone to Labour. Maybe the internationalist, liberal-inclined anti-Trident tree huggers can find common ground with Farron?

  43. @PNG “Taking the two by-elections into account together, the Conservatives retained 89% of their vote at the 2015 general election whereas Labour retained only 67%. This would translate into a Conservative national poll figure of 42.6% and Labour of 26.5% much in line with recent opinion polls.”

    It doesn’t look good for Labour whichever way we try to slice it. Those figures would be somewhat worse than the 1983 debacle for Labour if repeated at a GE.

  44. @Mille “The Greens are looking rather troubled, and I wonder whether they have rather lost their reason to exist. By this I mean that everyone is an environmentalist these days.”

    The problem is the Greens are first and foremost communist rather than environmental. Indeed the co-leader admitted she was a communist. How can they square a policy of mass migration, open borders and a huge house building program with any pretence that they care about the environment as England is one of Europe’s most densely populated countries already. You can see why many of their supporters on that platform would like Corbyn.

  45. Alec,
    ” In fighting off UKIP, Labour may well have handed their opponents a slew of seats”

    No, I think this is simply what was apparent several years ago. The conservatives have played the cards available to them, and chose to go with Brexit in order to corner this vote share. That does not men these are natural conservative voters, and what happens next will continue to depend on how Brexit plays out. These two by-elections were just an unexpected sideshow on the journey.

    The conservatives know they have a numerical advantage right now and have chosen not to try to play it in a general election. Perhaps because of the implications of the fixed term parliament. Perhaps because they are frankly better off with the parliament they have now. They might reasonably anticipate an equally good opportunity in a couple of years, just as negotiations are concluded. That would give them 5 years to ride out economic upsets following Brexit.

  46. At the risk of being a contrarian can i suggest that UKIP did not do as badly as the herd seems to suggest.

    a.If one removes the media expectation of victory from the Stoke result they increasesd their share of the vote by 2.1%. Not usually taken to be a sign of electoral distress. Labour declined by 2.2%This at a time when Brexit is being delivered by another party who also increased share of the vote by 1.8% UKIP are therefore no longer able to rely on tory defectors. Their reason for being is clearly an issue and their candidate was literally bullied out of the constituency. To me this does not show that labour has weathered the UKIP storm.

    b. They did lose 9% in Copeland. This does perhaps show that their reason for being is likely to come under sharper focus in tory areas but as their strategy is to concentrate on labour seats that should not cause too much diifficulty

    c. It is easy to forget how far they have come. Labour now regards it a a terrific victory if they can hold off UKIP in a heartland area and the leadership qualitiies of Paul ” i died at hillsborough” Nuttall and JC are being compared.

    Just saying

  47. “”For socialists in the Labour Party it will be a relief that the Blairite plan to stage two electoral disasters on one night failed. Nobody can claim losing Copeland was Jeremy Corbyn’s “fault”: the fault lies with the careerist right-winger who abandoned the seat in mid-session to take a better job.”

    Paul Mason

    :-) :-) :-)

  48. I think the mistake Corbyn has made over Brexit is a little less obvious.

    For UKIP and Tories activists and core voters, opposition to Europe has become a core part of their political identity. Even Tory Remainers were almost all ‘I don’t like the EU but….’ They tend to be much more motivated. A ‘real’ Tory has a suite of views, one of which is opposition to the EU. This is reflected in Tory media, and in the rhetoric of Leavers for whom the EU is always one of the most important issues imaginable and obviously everyone else thinks the same.

    Labour voters don’t care *anywhere near* as much in general. They have many more issues they care about more. Most are vaguely (and increasingly, since June) internationalist, but if we’re honest, for many, the main driving factor in their stance on the EU was seeing the Tory Right and UKIP united on one side of the fence and just instinctively knowing they wanted to be on the other.
    Because whilst a firm stance on the EU is not really a core part of Labour voter identity, opposition to the Tories tends to be.

    This is part of the reason the Labour Remain campaign was difficult – when your voters are more motivated by their stance towards the Tories than towards Europe, and there are Tories in both camps, which group of Tories do you like the least?

    But this result will give some in Labour a real pause. Snell was a Remainer – and a vocal one – standing in a strongly Leave constituency. And he won. At best, this means that Corbyn’s strategy of tending Leave to keep Labour’s vote in the north is probably pointless. Labour voters don’t, in general, care enough for it to make a difference. If they did, Snell would have lost.
    But if Labour voters do care about opposition to the Tories more than an EU stance, then Corbyn – and indeed any Labour MP who has tended Leave to preserve their Leave-voting seat in the North even though Labour voters backed Remain – could have made a blunder. I bet some Labour MPs who voted Remain but who backed Article 50 in close seats are feeling a little nervous now.

    Blair went down at least in part because he was perceived to have been to favourable to Tory ideas. It would be a terrible irony if a variation of the same fate befell Corbyn.

  49. Great result in Stoke for The Incredible Flying Brick! 7th out of 10, beating the BNP.

  50. It’s interesting to see McDonnell’s approach – wait and see how Brexit damages the Tory party and then Labour can step in, seems to be the message.

    It’s hopeless, in many ways, as Labour haven’t really set themselves up to benefit. The Lib Dems have done so – very publicly, gaining support for a principled rejection of Brexit.

    Labour – and Corbyn specifically – have backed the hard Brexit approach via a three line whip, and in doing so have lost a good deal of support from Labour remainers. Where they stand to pick up on any Tory discomfit is anyone’s guess.

    It’s at times like these where a new broom can be so very helpful. Changing the narrative, rather than specifically changing policy direction, can be extremely useful, and there is an extensive narrative to ditch at present.

    There is a great deal of ‘friendly’ criticism of Corbyn this morning, which he would do well to heed. It seems really obvious that his mission has failed. He promised to reach out to Labour’s core support and re-energise the grassroots.

    While he clearly cannot be blamed for the disconnection that has built up between the party and it’s supporters over many years, he equally has failed to close this gap. Whether this shows in Scotland, Copeland, or in a struggle to defeat a very poor UKIP candidate in Stoke, Corbyn’s vision has failed, even when judged on his own terms.

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