The usual suspects are lilkely to say that the Oldham West and Royton by-election is a test of public support for Jeremy Corbyn, especially in the light of yesterday’s Commons vote on air strikes. It isn’t.
It’s simply the election of a representative to succeed the hugely-respected left-wing Labour MP Michael Meacher.
This Writer has seen comments saying Labour will hold the seat comfortably, or UKIP will take it, or that the Monster Raving Loony candidate has a chance. They’ve all been made by representatives of the same organisations, so I hope they’ll forgive me for taking those claims with a pinch of salt.
I have also seen commentators claiming that any reduction of Labour’s majority will be an indictment against Mr Corbyn. That suggestion is nonsense.
Michael Meacher was hugely respected, if not loved, by many of his constituents. It is only to be expected that much of his vote was personal support for the man, rather than the party.
By contrast, although he is a councillor, Jim McMahon has not (yet) built up such a stellar reputation. He’ll have a following, and there will be Labour tribalists, but it would be foolish to suggest that any reduction in the number of people voting Labour is a comment on anything other than the support of the late Mr Meacher.
Voters are going to the polls on Thursday in a by-election to elect a new MP for Oldham West and Royton.
The election was triggered by the death in October of Labour’s Michael Meacher, who had represented the constituency for 45 years.
Mr Meacher held the seat with a majority of 14,738 in May’s general election.
The result of the first by-election of the current Parliament is expected to be declared early on Friday morning.
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