Labour has won the Oldham West and Royton by-election. Jim McMahon has returned the seat with a 10,835 majority, down from 14,738 in May’s general election. Although there were some wobbles during the short campaign, it appears Labour has put in a very good performance, increasing its vote share by seven per cent, while Ukip has again come a distant second.
Labour can attribute much of its successful to a solid local candidate, Jim McMahon, The higher than expected turnout of 40.26 per cent (two thirds of May’s general election) has definitely helped Labour. Here are the results:
- Labour: 62 per cent (+7.3%) – 17,322 votes
- Ukip: 23 per cent (+2.7%) – 6,487 votes
- Conservative: 9 per cent (-9.7%) – 2,596 votes
- Lib Dem: 4 per cent (no change) – 1,024 votes
- Green: 2 per cent (-1%) – 249 votes
Although Ukip was hopeful of taking the seat, the party never truly believed it could win – insiders often described it as a ‘tough nut to crack’. The Kippers were aiming to put in a good second place performance and argue the party was gaining momentum again — but this hasn’t happened in Oldham West. Ukip was planning to argue it was benefiting from Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership but it hasn’t challenged the established parties. Notably John Bickley, the Ukip candidate, moved his press conference from 7:30am to 10:30am today, suggesting he knew that winning wasn’t on the cards.
For Jeremy Corbyn, holding onto the seat will be a huge relief, especially given that Labour has returned it with a convincing majority. The party has run a good campaign in Oldham West and carried out a good expectations management operation too. Even if Corbyn was reported to be toxic on some doorsteps, it does not appear to have dragged down the party’s support in the instance.
John McDonnell said last weekend that this by-election would show Labour is back and can win elections again — the result confirms he may be right. But for Ukip, it has proven that unless it can find money and the ability to effectively campaign, it will fail to make electoral progress and is set to be a declining force in British politics.