After Fiona Onasanya’s dismissal as the Member of Parliament for Peterborough, there was serious interest in which party would win the subsequent by-election.
Onasanya was sent to prison in January for Perverting the Course of Justice after being untruthful regarding a speeding offence. The Labour Party kicked the former MP out of their party after this offence came to light.
Peterborough City Council received just shy of 20,000 signatures by constituents arguing that Onasanya should lose her job altogether. After a short period of being an independent MP, she has now been kicked out of the House of Commons altogether.
The new candidate for the Labour Party, Lisa Forbes, has also been embroiled in controversy. She has been involved in several Jewish incidents, including one case where she liked an anti-Semitic post on social media.
Despite Labour losing 17 per cent of their vote share in the Peterborough constituency, they just managed to hold that seat in this month’s by-election, with the Brexit Party coming just 2 per cent behind them. Unsurprisingly, the Conservative Party suffered the biggest loss in vote share in the by-election, holding just 21 per cent of the vote now as opposed to the 46 per cent share they had from the 2017 General Election.
Even though the vote share loss for Labour was considerable, they did indeed manage to cling onto that seat. So is this by-election a sign of things to come in the next general election?
It’s no secret that a lot of young voters did vote for Labour in the 2017 election. Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘softer’ politics is seemingly attractive to younger voters. As a 19-year-old Conservative voter, I feel as if I’m in a minority of young people who are loyal to the Tories.
Corbyn’s domestic policies, that include his commitment to ending homelessness and his defence of the NHS was one of the factors behind his success in the last general election, along with Theresa May’s capitulation. His vision to make the country ‘for the many, not the few’ could be the catalyst to a potential majority Labour government in the next general election if the Tories continue to fall apart.
The Brexit Party did very well in the European elections because of their European policy. However, they are currently a one-dimensional movement with no emphasis on other issues apart from Brexit. Without other policies that will attract other voters to their party, Farage’s party can only go so far. This makes the Brexit Party just a moderate threat and not the severe threat that they could potentially become in the future, after taking Labour seats in the EU Parliament elections last month.
Even the Conservative Party, who have been in government for nearly a decade, are now falling apart. This is something that Labour could really capitalise on, despite both parties sitting on the fence over the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. Crucially, Corbyn’s European policy, to date, would not be the reason why Labour do well in any future election — it’s the party with the most compelling domestic policy that is likely to capture the voters.
Bizarrely, it’s three of the smaller parties in Parliament that Labour need to be aware of: the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru. Even the SNP while holding over 30 seats in Parliament are not seen as carrying much of a threat.
The Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru heavily benefited from Labour’s Brexit fence-sitting in the general election. The former did especially well, being the second largest party in the country in terms of the EU elections. This is as a result of their mission to try and stop Brexit. Likewise, Plaid Cymru are also predominantly a Remain party which helped them gain seats in the recent elections, in Wales. T
Labour will also need to do everything they can to stop a 2015-esque SNP general election landslide. If they can take back a number of seats in Scotland, it could really help Corbyn’s party the next time the country is asked to vote.
It’s becoming a bigger possibility that Corbyn could do well in the next general election. In a previous article, I gave a counter argument as to why he may never make it to Number 10. If the Conservative Party get Brexit over the line and bring the country together, there may not be a general election for another few years.
However, this result in Peterborough could really be a turning point for Corbyn and Labour. It will be interesting to see how the party performs in the next general election, whenever that may be. Hindsight is a wonderful thing …