Jeremy Corbyn’s already tenuous reputation as Labour leader took yet another hit as the results of the Stoke-on-Trent and Copeland by-elections were revealed.


In both constituencies, Labour’s share of the vote declined, and in the case of Copeland they lost the vote altogether, surrendering the seat to the Tories. Whatever you think of Mr Corbyn’s politics or his vision for his party, it is becoming more and more difficult to deny the poor course he and his political allies have been navigating.

Back in the summer of 2016, the Conservatives were looking on the verge of collapse. What a difference a few months makes. Their candidate in Copeland, Trudy Harrison, enjoyed an increase in support of 8.5 points following her campaign in the area. This upsurge delivered her party a seat they had not held since 1931.

The opposition meanwhile is reeling from a loss of support equal to 5 points. The Labour Party will no doubt blame the constituency’s some 10,000 people who work at Sellafield, a nuclear reprocessing plant, expressing anti-Corbyn sentiment by way of their vote. Whichever way you slice it, Labour is running out of things to lose.

On the surface, the picture looks more positive in Stoke-on-Trent. Labour held the seat and managed to stave off worryingly popular UKIP rallying cries. Upon further inspection however, it would seem there is not much to cheer about. Corbyn’s party may have retained the seat quite comfortably, but their vote still dropped by a couple of points.

Moreover it is somewhat concerning that Labour did not completely knock this one out of the park. Paul Nuttall has had a turbulent first few months as leader of UKIP, particularly over the last few weeks. Speculation over his sincerity regarding Hillsborough, among other incidents, has led to a country-wide fall in popularity. However his party still whipped up 5,233 votes in Stoke; not exactly miles behind Labour with 7,853.

All things considered, February 24 will go down as yet another dark day during Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure as leader of the opposition. If his party is to avoid humiliation come the next general election, the 67-year-old must reverse the nation’s lack of faith. Last week showed this is still some way off from happening.

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