Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Copeland by-election: Historic result appears to be a bad omen for Jeremy Corbyn and Labour

Trudy Harrison won Copeland for the Tories (PA)
Trudy Harrison won Copeland for the Tories (PA)

TRUDY HARRISON has won a historic victory in the Copeland by-election for the Conservatives winning by a majority of 2,147 votes over Labour.

Elsewhere, in Stoke, Labour’s Gareth Snell won with a reduced majority of 2,620 over nearest rivals UKIP – but it’s the Copeland result which has really turned heads.

So, why is the Tory win such a big deal? And what could it mean for the future of politics in Britain?

Why was a by-election held?

By-election votes are counted
The votes were counted on Thursday night (Peter Byrne/PA)

A by-election is a system for filling seats which have become vacant in between general elections.

In the case of Copeland, Labour MP Jamie Reed resigned from his office in December last year. Reed left to take up work in the nuclear industry and thus this month’s by-election was called to fill his position.

After an office is vacated the by-election is decided from candidates of all parties rather than just being filled by another member of the incumbent party – which in the case of Copeland was Labour.

 

Jamie Reed
Former Labour MP Jamie Reed (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Meanwhile in Stoke, Tristram Hunt resigned from office in January – opting for a prestigious role as a director at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Why is the result historic?

Trudy Harrison
(Peter Byrne/PA)

The Copeland victory for the Tories is the first by-election seat gained by a party in government for 35 years.

Furthermore it’s the first time Labour have lost the seat since the Copeland constituency was formed in 1983 – and a seat which Labour’s Reed won by a majority of 2,564 just in the 2015 general election.

The last time a ruling party took a by-election seat was in Merton, Mitcham and Morden by the Conservatives 35 years ago and before that the closest comparable case was Sunderland South in 1953. Hence, to say such a victory is rare would be very much an understatement.

Another point which has been noted by commentators is the turnout for the result – with 51% coming out to vote in the by-election a high number outside of a general election.

 

Why doesn’t it bode well for Labour?

Corbyn
(Danny Lawson/PA)

Clearly a historic defeat is not a good thing, but this by-election represents a far bigger worry than that for Corbyn’s Labour.

Both Reed and Hunt had been outspoken in their criticism towards Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn before their resignations – and this seemingly negative feeling towards the party and its leader is a trend further indicated by the votes in both Copeland and Stoke.

Gareth Snell
Gareth Snell saw Labour’s majority shrink in Stoke (Joe Giddens/PA)

Corbyn recently travelled to the Copeland to ardently campaign for the seat, championing his desire to protect the NHS. Whether due to indifference towards the issue or the man – the campaign fell on deaf ears despite his efforts.

“It’s been very clear talking to people throughout this campaign that Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t represent them,” said Harrison in her Copeland victory speech. “That’s why they voted for me tonight.”

Trudy Harrison gives speech
Harrison targeted Corbyn in her speech (Peter Byrne/PA)

If the trend seen in these northern constituencies proves representative of the rest of the country – where Labour’s poll ratings are currently 18% behind the Tories – Corbyn has some serious work to do before the next general election.