Conclusions for all parties from Batley and Spen

Conclusions for all parties from Batley and Spen

From LAB campaigner and ex-MP Nick Palmer

  1. The Conservative hope that Labour’s white working-class vote in the North is basically evaporating is something of a myth. Batley and Spen is not universally WWC, but it did vote Leave by 60% and the WWC vote is very substantial. Largely, it stayed with Labour and actually turned out.
  2. The predictions that Galloway was making real progress in the two Muslim wards look correct – the evidence that he was making much progress elsewhere is very scanty, so he must have won those wards. Labour needs to think hard about the perception that the Muslim vote is routinely safe.
  3. There is a modest Labour recovery under way after a torrid period – visible in the latest national polls as well. To lose 8000 votes in a marginal (majority last time 3500) to a fringe candidate and still win shows some significant progress, at least in terms of willingness to vote. 
  4. The Hancock affair damaged Conservative credibility and I think impacted Tory willingness to vote. The Tory strategy of having a stealth candidate who refused to give interviews or comment on anything proved to be a mistake. Which has to be a good thing for democracy – “vote for the party even though you know nothing about the candidate because we’re not telling you” treats voters with contempt, and ought not to be rewarded with success.
  5. The speculation that Labour’s left-wing activist base would stay away or even quietly hope that the party would lose proved false, apart from the mutters of a few pundits. The mobilisation of activists was remarkable (up to 800 on the day), and that was including left, right and centre activists, with very varying views on Starmer. In the end we all simply wanted to win. The effectiveness of the Labour machine in a crunch is worth noting, too.
  6. Kim Leadbeater proved a very formidable candidate in what were ridiculously trying circumstances, and Starmer’s judgment in encouraging her has proved sound. Her sister was murdered, outsiders were menacing her canvassers and heckling her on the street, she had no political experience, she was under attack on issues she’d barely thought about, and she kept her nerve anyway and went through to win. I don’t think Labour would have quite made it without her.

Nick Palmer

Nick Palmer was Labour MP for Broxtowe, 1997-2010 and is longstanding PBer

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