There’s no such thing as a safe seat in a by-election as Bradford West demonstrated. But it would still be a major shock if Labour lost Rotherham, a seat they’ve held since 1933.
But the three by-elections coming up after Corby—Middlesborough, Croydon North and, now, Rotherham—will test how much Labour has learnt from the Bradford West experience. In all three seats, Labour has a large majority and no obvious challenger.
Respect are already trying to repeat their by-election success, selecting Lee Jasper—the former Ken Livingstone adviser and chair of the London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium—in Croydon North. Respect have already declared that he’ll be ‘targeting‘ black voters.
In Middlesborough, the independent wild card is Ray Mallon—the former police chief turned three-term mayor. If he decided to run, he would be a formidable candidate.
More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.