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Saturday, February 04, 2017

How much trouble is the Labour Stoke-on-Trent campaign in?

Stoke-on-Trent Central is one of Labour's safest seats and yet there is a sniff of panic within Labour Party ranks when, faced with a strong UKIP challenge, they are already casting around for allies in the hope of holding onto the seat.

It is bad enough that the party's own canvass returns are predicting that they will lose Copeland to the Tories, an own goal of massive proportions. It would mean that Jeremy Corbyn could be the first official opposition leader to lose a by-election to the Government in 35 years. But to lose Stoke-on-Trent as well would be catastrophic.

It is little wonder that Labour are casting around for a lifeline, but as the Guardian reports, looking to the other left-of-centre parties to bale them out is fraught with difficulties. We should not forget the way Labour has treated the Liberal Democrats and the Greens in the past, not least in Richmond Park where they refused to form an alliance with us to oust Zac Goldsmith.

And then there is the little problem of Labour being on the wrong side of the argument over the defining issue of modern British politics, our future in Europe. As the paper says, Liberal Democrats leader, Tim Farron, has made clear he has no intention of forming a “progressive alliance” with Corbyn, who has infuriated some pro-remain voters by whipping his party to back the government’s article 50 bill.

Labour have not just put their electoral future in jeopardy as a result of their failure to lead on the European issue and their inability to effectively oppose the Government, they have politically isolated themselves as well.
Surely we are aiming to win both seats. We have to campaign hard in both to win. I suppose,reluctantly,a 2nd place will be good and we must push for that as a stepping stone for the future.
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