Anybody who has followed UKIP’s recent performances in council by elections would not have been surprised at the resounding victory by Labour over UKIP at Oldham West, the seat held by the late Michael Meacher MP.
Once again the Westminster Parliament appeared out of touch with local reality when it assumed that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership would mean the end of Labour as a serious fighting force and a close run result at Oldham, heralding a revival for UKIP.
The combination of a popular young local candidate in Jim McMahon, the leader of Oldham Council, and the fact that the Labour Party has had a surge in membership meant that the party was well placed to win.
The serious loser is Nigel Farage who ran a vicious anti Corbyn campaign using the worst of the deluge of bad press coverage, expecting a big boost from white working class voters in Oldham. But it didn’t happen – hence his outrageous attack today on Asian voters for keeping Labour in poll position.
This is a real problem for Farage because his entire strategy is to get the votes of mainly white working class voters in the North so he can replace Labour as the official opposition by winning swathes of Northern seats.
This clearly is not happening in Oldham. Despite I suspect some switching from the Tories to UKIP it has not worked. The Tories had a very bad performance where their share of the vote dropped to under 10 per cent.
If you analyse the UKIP bad run of council by-election results – it shows they are falling back everywhere except in their traditional heartlands in the Fens, Kent and Essex. They are making no headway in London
The Oldham West result was preceded by a similar UKIP slump in a council by election in Chorley in Lancashire. In Chorley Labour recorded a 12.7 per cent swing –taking the seat with 57.3 per cent share of the vote and winning with 697 votes. The big loser was UKIP whose share of the vote dropped by 12.4 per cent – getting just 76 votes.
And there have been similar bad performances – including two last night -one in the London borough of Newham where there was an 9 per cent swing to Labour and UKIP got only 3.9 per cent of the vote.Labour got 1440 votes, UKIP, 78.
The other was in the Malvern Hills – a Tory heartland – where UKIP was pushed into third place, halving their share of the vote, to 13.3 per cent from 27.7 per cent. They got 56 votes. Labour, standing for the first time in the ward, got nearly 23 per cent of the vote, 96 votes with the Tory winning with 268 votes.
Where UKIP do have presence – their effect has been to hit the main parties without winning outright. In Ashford, Tories took a seat from Labour by two votes and in Rochford, Essex, Labour took a Tory seat by four votes.
However pundits or commentators want to play it.- this was a good result for Labour, a bad result for UKIP, and an appalling result for the Westminster Establishment who had written the Labour Party into the history books.
The full result
Jim McMahon (Labour) – 17,209 (62.11%)
John Bickley (UKIP) – 6,487 (23.41%)
James Daly (Conservative) – 2,596 (9.37%)
Jane Brophy (Liberal Democrat) – 1,024 (3.70%)
Simeon Hart (Green Party) – 249 (0.90%)
Sir Oink A-Lot (Monster Raving Loony) – 141 (0.51%)