Jeremy Corbyn can breathe a sigh of relief, as Labour defied the gloomy expectations and kept hold of Oldham West and Royton, winning 17,209 votes, giving the party a clear majority of 10,722. Labour’s majority has fallen from its level in May of 14,738, however campaigners will be pleased to see their party taking a greater share of the vote (62.1 per cent, up from 54.8) and decisively seeing off the threat of Ukip, which came in second with 6,487 votes.
Turnout was higher than expected in Michael Meacher’s old seat, at just over 40 per cent, and Labour’s success appears to have been partly secured by an effective postal vote operation. However, former Labour adviser John McTernan argues this isn’t a victory for Corbynism, writing: “After Oldham West and Royton we can see what is needed is a Blairite candidate, a Blairite speech on security in the Commons and total censorship of the Leader. Simples.”
Ukip isn’t taking its defeat quietly, with Nigel Farage complaining of it being corrupted by “bent” postal voting. “As a veteran of over 30 by-elections I have never seen such a perverse result. Serious questions need to be asked,” the Ukip leader said. Paul Nuttall, Ukip’s deputy leader, went further by telling journalists that the postal voting system was “an affront on our democracy”. “You’ve got to ask yourself, is this Britain or is this Harare?,” he added. Farage has promised to file a formal complaint about the “abuses”, but has yet to produce evidence to back up his claims so far.
Jeremy Corbyn is proudly chalking Labour’s by-election win as a “vote of confidence in our party”, but how much of an endorsement is it of the leader? Oldham West has been a stalwart Labour seat since its creation, so how much of a threat was the party really under? The national swing required for Labour to lose it in a general election would potentially oust big names like Chuka Umunna in Streatham and John McDonnell in Hayes and Harlington. By-elections can play by their own rules too, with Professor Steve Fielding pointing out that Labour unexpectedly won Darlington in a by-election, a life-line for its leader Michael Foot, just weeks before it staggered on to its 1983 general election disaster. However, the victory should quieten Corbyn’s internal critics, for now. You can follow what happens today on our live blog.
“I’m just glad that we have, together, delivered a result that Michael would be proud of” Jim McMahon
Corbyn Security Warning
Jeremy Corbyn has made his MPs targets for home-grown jihadists in the wake of the vote to back Syrian air strikes, a shadow cabinet minister has warned. This comes as Corbyn’s allies said Hilary Benn will never lead the Labour Party as it emerged almost four in five new MPs backed their leader and voted against Syrian air strikes. Meanwhile, a Labour MP has reported a Twitter user to the police over an alleged death threat aimed at him for supporting the Syrian bombing campaign.
Senior figures in the defence department warned against David Cameron saying that there are 70,000 opposition fighters in Syria willing to take on Isil, it has been claimed. Fraser Nelson asks in today’s paper whether Britain will need to work with Bashar Al-Assad to ensure stability. “Tolerating Assad, if only in the short term, will be a bitter pill. But it’s one the Prime Minister may well have to swallow,” he writes.
Cameron’s Czech Row
The growing rift between David Cameron and Europe’s poorer eastern states deepened today after the Czech Republic warned that any plan to limit benefits to EU citizens working in the UK should apply to everyone – including Britons. This comes as Cameron yesterday abandoned hopes for an early EU referendum, after Angela Merkel made clear she would not rescue his plans to curb migrants’ benefits.
New Homes For Migrants
Nearly half of all new homes built in England in the next five years are needed to cope with the influx of migrants, official figures have suggested. The Government yesterday forecast that high levels of net immigration will lead to the creation of 95,000 new households a year. Meanwhile, figures showed that Britain gave India nearly £300million in financial aid last year despite pledges by ministers to end the handouts.
Alan Yentob has quit as creative director of the BBC after being accused of interfering in the corporation’s coverage of Kids Company, the now defunct children’s children charity.
Charities could be forced to publish details of how much they pay street “chuggers” to raise money from passers-by amid concerns they were making people “fearful” about going shopping .
Benn Demands Salmond Apology
Alex Salmond has been asked by Tony Benn’s granddaughter to retract his “deeply offensive” claim that the late Labour MP would be spinning in his grave over his son’s passionate speech in favour of air strikes.