Labour's Gillian Troughton wishes new Copeland MP well

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25 February, 2017

That she is able to do so, shows that the Prime Minister has successfully renewed the Conservative brand, and is building the foundations for a thumping victory in 2020.

In Copeland, the Tories achieved a 6.7 per cent swing as they became the first government for 35 years to take a seat from the opposition in a by-election.

Asked if the loss raised questions about Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, she said: "There will be a lot of discussion about every aspect of our party now and that will probably form a part of it".

The veteran MP for Walsall North stated: "The party is faced with the problem of a leader who is simply not acceptable to a large number of people who would normally vote Labour".

Copeland is home to the Sellafield nuclear power plant, and much was made of Jeremy Corbyn's anti-nuclear stance throughout the campaign.

Gareth Snell saw Labour's majority shrink in Stoke (Joe Giddens/PA)Labour's share of the vote in Stoke-on-Trent Central has nearly halved since 1997.

The seat is highly representative of its core membership but at one point UKIP's Paul Nuttall was the favourite to win over Labour - that is huge.

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It has returned Labour MPs without exception since the 1930s.

He demanded Mr McCluskey account for spending tens of thousands of pounds in union money on keeping Mr Corbyn in office instead of prioritising members' issues.

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The general secretary said this afternoon: "The blame for these results does not lie exclusively with Jeremy Corbyn, but he must take responsibility for what happens next". Did Corbyn trigger the haemorrhaging of Labour's share of the vote from 1997?

"We did not get the message across that the Labour party was pro-civil nuclear", he said afterwards.

He told journalists at the election count in the early hours of Friday that he was "not going anywhere".

"Last year, Labour's deputy leader (Tom Watson) warned of entryism in Labour by the far-left".

Thus, a traditionally Labour-voting constituency felt it was unable to vote for a party led by someone who has long campaigned against the biggest employer in the region, dependent for decades on the nuclear industry. Both Reed's Copeland seat and Hunt's Stoke-on-Trent Central fit that description of a "quiet crisis", though for very different reasons.

Corbyn is a Trotskyist, a totalitarian for whom the differences between a centre-Left Labour Party and a centre-Right Conservative Party are non-existent.

Insiders at Labour HQ said the party had run robust and competitive campaigns in both seats, with adequate funding, strong candidates and a focus on Labour's key issues, highlighting that causes for the loss lay elsewhere.

"They say half a loaf may be better than none but in Labour's case, I'm not so sure", said Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London.

Setting out the measures the Government has taken already on social care, the Prime Minister said that "more money is not the only answer" but that the Government also "recognise the need for far-reaching reform to encourage high standards across the whole country".


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