Thursday, 23 February 2017

Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent by-elections

Tonight, Labour seeks to defend two of its seats against challengers from its political right - the Conservatives in Copeland and UKIP in Stoke-on-Trent Central.

If the respective challengers did take both seats, it would constitute an enormous political upset. Governments seldom ever, ever take seats from their official opposition, and a win for UKIP would further shock Labour in the North where critics claim the party is struggling to connect with its working class base.

Quite simply, it is unlikely that neither will happen. UKIP have been in an absolute state ever since the European Referendum, suffering an identity crisis with their reason d'etre (getting the UK out of the EU) seemingly complete. The Conservatives, though riding high in the polls nationally, are shouldered with the potential closure of a local hospital and a continuing lack of investment (and to be frank: interest) in the non-Manchester North of England on the part of the Government.

As I tweeted earlier in the month, I expect Labour to be comfortable in Stoke-on-Trent Central, and retain Copeland by a slim margin.

Back in January I backed Labour to retain both seats at 4/1. I'm fairly confident that it will come in, but looking forward to seeing how the night unfolds. Turnout looks set to be very, very low, which Storm Doris certainly has something to answer for. Could UKIP get pushed into 3rd place in Stoke? Lib Dem sources in the area seem to think so. That really would really spell a political death knell for both Nuttall and his party.

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