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Oldham West - Comrade Corbyn Triumphs, The Tories celebrate, enemies within Labour weep - UKIP in deep trouble

Tom Winnifrith
Friday 4 December 2015

We were all told that a Labour disaster at Oldham West would see the Party's MP's ignore the mandate of party members and launch a coup against Comrade Jeremy Corbyn. Sadly for the Blairite, pro-war elements within the party, Labour triumphed in the poll - its share of the vote went up by 7.5% to 62%, UKIP gained a few votes the Tory vote halved. So Labour is stuck with Corbyn but there are two ways to look at this.

Corbynistas say that the result shows how he has energised the party and that MPs should back him on the great march to power. Even they know that is not really true but the result is good enough to head off a leadership challenge, for now.

Back in the real world, the turnout was low. The postal vote turnout was high and appears to have been almost entirely going to Labour. A well oiled, on the ground machine, notably in a large ethnic community, delivered the votes in the sort of grim Northern shit-hole where the clients of the welfare state will always return an MP who supports an unaffordable bloated Government payroll.

Not that I wish death on anyone, even an expense grubbing MP, but a by-election in a Tory Labour marginal in the Midlands or South might be a rather more accurate guage of the wider appeal of brand Corbyn. The Tories know that and the National opinion polls suggest very clearly that brand Corbyn is not a winner. For that reason the Tories - though crushed in Oldham - will celebrate the fact that Jezza's position looks safe, for now at least.

The real losers are UKIP whose claim that they can beat Labour in the Northern welfare safaris looks lame indeed. A near bankrupt party poured everything into this fight and gained sod all. Its autocratic leader is not quite the vote winner he is convinced that he is, the party is badly divided by personality and - amazingly - by which anti EU faction it supports in the In/Out referendum . Fighting each other like ferrets in a sack, the money is gone. The real losers from Oldham are not only those Labour MPs hoping to oust their leader but the kippers who are now really floundering badly.

Parties like UKIP need by-election triumphs to attract attention and keep the money coming in. Nigel Farage overpromised and under-delivered in Oldham. He is the party leader staring into the abyss as we head into Christmas. That, as well as the safety Corbyn will enjoy, for a while, means that those happiest at the Oldham result will be the Conservatives.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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