Here is the result from last year’s general election:
Labour (Jamie Reed): 16,750.
Conservative (Stephen Haraldsen): 14,186.
UKIP (Michael Pye): 6,148.
Liberal Democrat, (Danny Gallagher): 1, 368.
Green Party (Alan Todd): 1,179
Labour majority: 2,564.
62 per cent of voters in the local authority area backed Leave in June.
Reed called on Jeremy Corbyn to resign after the EU referendum, had earlier resigned from Labour’s front bench…and is off to work for the nuclear industry, a huge presence in Copeland. Oh, and he has said that Corbyn is “clearly unelectable”.
- This is not a natural Corbynite seat and, as Reed’s profile indicates, has a recent history of providing MPs from Labour’s centre-right: his predecessor was Jack Cunningham.
- The destiny of the Liberal Democrats is to be a rallying flag for Remain voters, or try to, but there are not all that many of them in Copeland. This by-election setting shows up the limits as well as the possibilities of Tim Farron’s pro-Remain plan.
- UKIP must fancy its chances of putting on votes. This is the first real electoral test for Paul Nuttall. How active will Nigel Farage be?
- But the biggest challenge is to Theresa May. The Party didn’t miss out by much in 2015. Corbyn’s party is weak, divided – and Copeland is a long way away in every sense from its London heartland. The Conservatives are the most obvious challenger.
No pressure, then.