Read few comments.
1. How important and why is for Labour and leader of the party Jeremy Corbyn to score in the by-election in Stoke and in Copeland?
2. UKIP’s leader Paul Nuttall’s campaign in Stoke is mired in strange, false statements. But would you say it matters for voters or post-factual world prevails?
Bill Jones, Senior Honorary Research Fellow, Liverpool Hope University
1. It is vital for Corbyn to hold this seat in Stoke on Trent. It’s been held by Labour for some time and Governments’s don’t usually hold by-elections like this due to loss of voters support after general elections. So if the seat goes to UKIP it will be seen as a major blow to the Labour leader and would re-awake calls for him to go or be challenged by a colleague for the leadership. The other seat in Cumbria, also subject to a by election is also likely to be lost by Labour: one would be a major blow: two a disaster.
So far most experts reckon Cumbria is lost and Stoke might be held by Labour but their candidate was a ‘Remain’ supporter in the Referendum while Stoke voted heavily for Leave.
2. Oddly, it’s also very important for Nuttall to win the seat.
Since the Referendum UKIP have been ravaged by internal arguments. The leader they elected after Farage stood down to ‘get my life back’, Diane James, stood down after 28 days and two later candidates had a punch up which put one of them in hospital.
Nuttall seemed to be someone who might unify the party and give it a proper post Referendum role but it seems he lied about where he lived, saying he lived in Stoke when he still lived in Liverpool; had a doctorate from Liverpool |Hope University (my own former university) when he he had not and then lied about losing ‘close friends at the Hillsborough tragedy where 90 young Liverpudlian men died when crowds went out of control.
Today two members of UKIP’s Liverpool committee resigned in protest at Nuttall’s statements.
I don’t think the voters of Stoke care too much about all this but the appearance of an unreliable mendacious (lying) candidate might just tip the balance Labour’s way and save the reputation of Corbyn for the time being at least.
My guess is Labour will lose Cumbria and just win Stoke but if both are lost Corbyn- who already has dreadful poll ratings, might well look to stand down early from the leadership.
1. Losing either or both of these seats would be devastating for the Labour Party. They are safe seats that the party has held for many decades and it would certainly intensify criticism of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
2. I think Stoke is the safe bet for Labour to defend in these by-elections and this would have been helped by the controversy surrounding Paul Nuttall’s campaign. However, it could be a very close result.
Jonathan Tonge, Professor of Politics, University of Liverpool
1. It would be a huge embarrassment to Labour lose Copeland – would be the first loss of an Opposition seat to the Government party since 1982. The loss of Stoke would highlight Labour’s problems with UKIP. 70% of voters in Stoke voted for Brexit. Labour – at heart a pro-immigration policy – doesn’t know what to do about this anti-immigration attitude. Corbyn will stay as Labour leader for as long as he wants though. Labour Party members like him; the country as a whole doesn’t rate him highly.
2. It may do some harm to UKIP. I think without the Nuttall problem UKIP probably would have won. But the issues surrounding Nuttall’s fictitious claims make UKIP’s task harder.