By Holly Bancroft
Last month saw victory for the Tories in Copeland as their candidate Trudy Harrison won the by-election with 2000 more votes that Labour Gill Troughton in a move that upset Labour supporters everywhere. Copeland, a seat on the west Cumbrian coast, turned blue for the first time in more than 80 years. This shock win somewhat clouded the Labour success in Stoke-on-Trent Central which held off the Ukip threat.
The results add to the ever growing list of reasons why MPs are calling for Corbyn’s resignation. But Corbyn seems almost irresponsibly unfazed. If this by-election was a test for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership then he has clearly failed it. Yes, this is only one constituency, but this aids predictions that the Labour party are heading towards a historically bad defeat in a future general election.
Corbyn continues to deny that the fault lies with him and though he is right (Labour’s problems are more manifold than one man) the fractious nature of his party since he has been leader of the opposition has been the hallmark of bad leadership.
Both major parties have faced internal differences over Brexit but (despite the House of Lords vote on Wednesday) the Conservatives have not faced nearly as many internal problems as Labour has. Following the Copeland defeat, Labour MPs David Winnick and John Woodcock have both sharply criticized Corbyn for the party’s performance and it seems to many that it would be in the best interests of the party for Corbyn to step down.
However if we’ve discovered anything about Corbyn amidst this constant political turmoil, it is firstly that he has/(had) the support of the Labour membership and secondly that he is so stubborn that MPs’ words seemingly glance off him.
Ultimately what disgruntled Labour MPs need to realise is that it is not just Corbyn that the voters don’t like, it is the Labour party itself. The Tories have opened up a thirteen-point lead over Labour with 40% of voters now backing the Conservatives and the Labour Party has lost nearly 26,000 members since the summer – more than the previous six years combined. The main hope the opposition party have for a resurgence of support is if Brexit starts going very badly wrong.
Photograph: norbet1 via Flickr