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Friday, January 06, 2017

Copeland Labour get the jitters about their party leader

It is difficult to know to what extent the future of the nuclear industry will feature in the forthcoming by-election in Copeland but it is a fair bet that the many people whose livelihoods depend on the Sellafield nuclear plant and the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard which builds the Navy's new Trident nuclear submarines, will be keen to get the candidate's views on this issue.

Labour are defending a razor-slim  2,564 majority in the constituency and already they are getting antsy at the prospect at the anti-nuclear, anti-Trident Jeremy Corbyn coming to the constituency for the campaign.

The Daily Mirror says that senior Labour figures fear the Conservatives will make a big issue of this, believing that it could win the constituency for Theresa May's candidate. They are playing down the inevitable Corbyn visit in language that suggests they are embarrassed by him:

Copeland council's Labour group leader Lena Hogg, who voted for Mr Corbyn in his successful leadership campaigns, hoped he would accept nuclear was popular locally.

Pro-nukes Mrs Hogg told the Mirror: “We have got it and it's staying and people are quite happy about the fact we have had it since 1952.

“It doesn't matter what people feel about it, it's not going anywhere.”

Asked about suggestions he could be “sidelined” in the campaign, she added: “I really can't see anybody concentrating on anything that Jeremy Corbyn does or says.”

Mrs Hogg was “very positive and confident” Labour would win.

But she admitted “every election battle is a tough battle, especially today when things are in disarray”.

“As far as I'm concerned it's a local election and it will be fought on local issues,” she said.

Suggesting that nobody will listen to what her own leader has to say whilst he is on a campaign visit is a new low for Corbyn. It certainly sets the wrong tone for when he eventually lands in the Lake District.

Irrespective of what he wants to talk about all that the journalists will now want to know is how he is going to square his views on nuclear issues with those of the local Labour Party and that could damage his candidate.
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