Sheffield by-election proves anti-Corbyn candidates can’t win

Jeremy Corbyn addressing thousands in Sheffield in August. But the local Labour Party fielded an anti-Corbyn candidate in the Mosborough by-election - and lost.

Jeremy Corbyn addressing thousands in Sheffield in August. But the local Labour Party fielded an anti-Corbyn candidate in the Mosborough by-election – and lost.

The Daily Mirror needs a reality check after falsely reporting that Labour has been dealt a “crushing” defeat in a council by-election in Sheffield, shortly after a huge rally in support of Jeremy Corbyn. There was nothing “crushing” about it.

Perhaps reporter Mikey Smith – who has done good work in the past – didn’t realise that the result is not indicative as the turnout was very low – only 28 per cent of registered electors bothered to vote. Ah, no – it’s in his report.

Perhaps he didn’t realise that coming second could hardly be described as “crushing”. If he wanted to see anybody crushed, that would be the Conservative candidate, who had just 229 votes.

The Liberal Democrat candidate was a popular resident of the Mosborough ward, while Labour’s candidate didn’t live there.

And – probably most importantly – the Labour candidate was publicly anti-Jeremy Corbyn and did not mention him on any of her campaign literature.

What does it mean?

It means Labour candidates who don’t like Corbyn lose. Get the message, Mirror?

Labour suffered a crushing defeat in a local by-election tonight, losing a seat just three weeks after a Jeremy Corbyn rally attracted thousands of supporters.

The election was to replace Councillor Isobel Bowler, a longstanding and popular Labour councillor in the Sheffield Ward of Mosborough, who died in June.

In May, Labour won all three seats in the Ward, with the Lib Dems languishing in fourth place behind Ukip and the Conservative Party.

But in tonight’s by-election, Both Labour and Ukip’s votes collapsed, and Lib Dem candidate Gail Smith won on an 11 point lead.

Source: Labour crushed in Sheffield by-election just weeks after Jeremy Corbyn rally attracted thousands – Mirror Online


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28 thoughts on “Sheffield by-election proves anti-Corbyn candidates can’t win

  1. Mikey Smith

    Hi Mike,

    Nice to meet you. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my work in the past and I’m sorry you didn’t like this story.

    Unfortunately, your not liking it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Let me explain.

    First of all, I was, as you rightly expect, aware that the turnout was 28%. Tell you what, I bet you can’t tell me what the turnout was in May’s local elections. Must have been much higher, right?

    Nah, 30%.

    So turnout probably not an issue here. Agreed?

    Moving on, coming second to a party that was in fourth place four months ago, in a seat where Labour has won every seat but two in the last 8 years and where the by-election was to replace a longstanding and well liked councillor who died is a crushing defeat. It’s a thrashing.

    In anyone’s book, it should have been an easy win. They lost the seat.

    The local candidate issue – which you’ll note I mentioned in the article – is probably part of the story, but I’d be amazed if it caused a 20% swing to the *Liberal Democrats* in Sheffield. Sheffield still hasn’t forgiven the Lib Dems for the Coalition.

    Speaking of which, it seems to be your assertion that left-wing Sheffield voters were so incensed that the Labour candidate didn’t have Jeremy Corbyn on her leaflets (which appears to be the extent of her “anti-Corbynism”, as far as I can ascertain), that they voted…Lib Dem. The party every Labour voter in Sheffield still blames for the libraries being shut down.

    It just doesn’t add up.

    On the other hand, you can listen to the candidate herself, who says she encountered “overwhelming” opposition to Jeremy Corbyn on the doorstep, with people in Mosborough saying they couldn’t vote for Labour while Jeremy Corbyn was leader.

    Anyway, thanks for reading. Hope you enjoy my future work more.


    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Hi Mikey,
      Thank you very much for the response!
      It seems we were both wrong – or at least unaware of the full story.
      From what I’m seeing in comments by people who were there, the Liberal Democrat was ‘revenge-voted’ out by people who were disgruntled with the Coalition government. She got back in because it seems she was actually a good councillor, liked by a lot of people, and – crucially – local. Jeremy Corbyn isn’t an issue to her, but he would be to any Labour candidate. It seems Sheffield has now forgiven at least one Lib Dem.
      No, I’m not suggesting that Labour voters voted Lib Dem – just that they stayed away. It’s more likely that Lib Dem voters stayed away last time and have come back now.
      As a rule, I enjoy your work very much – along with that of most of the political reporters at the Mirror.
      But there seems to be some kind of blind spot when it comes to Mr Corbyn. With or without him, Labour is going through dramatic changes, but the nation’s most popular left-wing paper seems to be siding with the people who will do the least to challenge the Tory government. I don’t get it.

      1. Mikey Smith

        I think that was certainly a factor – before moving to London last year I lived in Sheffield for 34 years and covered town hall a lot during the coalition.

        But I genuinely don’t think it’s the only factor. I think there’s a definite anti-Corbyn sentiment in a lot of the city that isn’t as publicly “noisy” about it, which is difficult to see unless you’re on the doorstep. And it’s not borne of any kind of “blairite” element – even the moderate bits of Sheffield tend to be to the left of the party politically.

        Everyone needs to learn the lessons, but at the minute everyone’s blaming everyone else.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Here’s an interesting Twitter account: Keziah Davis-Cottam. In this tweet, she addresses the failed Labour candidate, suggesting the anti-Corbyn attitude was a contributing factor.
        In this one, she addresses the residency issue.
        I know it’s only one person, but it’s one person who is there.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      And yours is the least convincing comment of the day. A bald statement by a pseudonym from a pseudonymous email address.
      If you had anything to contribute you would have provided your reasoning – and maybe even a name.

  2. David Woods

    Is she also among those who said she could never work with Jeremy Corbyn; for that would mean either another by-election when he wins the ‘next’ leadership election or her either ‘decamping’ to another Party or becoming an ‘independent’ which wouldn’t have been what her constituents voted for!

    And apparently not what the PLP will accept from Party members, she’ll lose her right to vote thinking about ‘other’ Parties is Verboten!

    Is it any wonder the voters went elsewhere, as I will if Corbyn is forced out!
    Hope the PLP are happy with the damage their handiwork is causing to their party!

    1. Kenneth Billis

      There is a special article in the current issue of Private Eye (here is a taster on the revolving door between government and business and vice versa). It’s quite a read and probably explains why many members of the PLP will not give a jot about the damage they are doing Their most pressing concern will almost certainly be that the revolving door doesn’t get locked by Mr Corbyn.

  3. Roy Beiley

    Never spoil a good story by introducing facts! To think the Mirror used to be the Working Man’s newspaper of choice before Murdoch set up the 10p SUN

  4. Two Thumbed Fist

    So you reckon if the Labour candidate was pro-Corbyn Labour voters would have turned out in greater numbers and it would have been a different story, eh? How can you draw a conclusion like that without a shred of evidence to support it? This result “proves” nothing apart from indicating perhaps that people in Sheffield are’t much interested in local government at the moment.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      There is evidence to support it, though.
      The town had seen a huge rally in which thousands more turned up to support Mr Corbyn than voted Labour in the election.
      The Labour candidate did not support Mr Corbyn.
      Turnout was very low, even for a local council election.

  5. 61chrissterry

    Being a Sheffield resident, if Labour can not win in Sheffield then they can not win anywhere, in Sheffield they do not look at the candidates name on the ballot paper, only the Party.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Interesting – but the town had just seen a huge rally in support of Mr Corbyn, and the Labour candidate (for some reason) never bothered to capitalise on that.

  6. David

    It would be interesting to have seen the Lib Dem election literature. Generally, Sheffield’s Lib Dems inflict some of the worst, scandalous, dirty and most biased “information” imaginable. They’d be desperate to gain this seat and would undoubtedly stop at nothing to do so.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Wow. Now I’d like to see some of their election literature. Liberal Democrats have a generally bad reputation in this regard.

  7. Pascal Rascagneres

    So what are you saying? Labour supporters voted LD because they didn’t like the labour candidate?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      No – turnout was only 28 per cent. I would suggest Labour supporters didn’t turn up because the Labour candidate didn’t support Jeremy Corbyn. There’s no need to suggest any Labour supporters voted for any other party.

      1. Pascal Rascagneres

        Rather sad . I would have thought labour supporters would vote no matter who the candidate is. I would. I suggest you didn’t campaign hard enough and the LD did.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Labour has a long-standing problem with getting the vote out. If individual voters don’t like the candidate or feel nonplussed, they won’t bother. I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets there.
        I didn’t campaign at all, of course – I don’t live in Sheffield and this was a local council election.
        For more convincing reasons for the result, see some of the other comments.

      3. Mikey Smith

        The turnout argument doesn’t really stack up though. It was only 2% lower than in the locals in May when Labour won. That’s literally not enough people difference to change the result.

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        You’re assuming that the same people turned out to vote, both times.
        When the number of people not voting – either time – is nearly 10,000, I reckon there’s a large amount of opportunity for change. Especially if the Labour candidate has annoyed local voters with her attitude to Jeremy Corbyn and the Lib Dem is well-known and liked.

  8. Terry Jager

    The lesson taught to Ed Balls has not been learned by the many ….. So it has been taught again (sadly) ,all of this was avoidable ,we now have a leader who is worth our trust & for many it’s not a minute to soon !
    After this leadership contest it’s highly unlikely that the voting public would forgive any attempts to undermine Jeremy Corbin (assuming he wins) . The voting public are very aware that the PLP can change rules to suit what ever view they wish to portray ,The PLP ought to remember it’s the voting public who supports OR NOT the chosen parliamentary candidate , Stronger together ? …… Only if you are really together , at the moment there isn’t even the pretense of cohesion in some quarters ,Assuming that 2020 is the next GE ( not earlier ) then there may well be time to undo the damage done ,If the choice is to keep up the “what ever it takes to oust socialist leader” project i feel the voting public will show exactly what they feel about all of whats happened this year .

  9. David Slater

    Always dangerous to generalise from one result. But Mosborough is pretty reasonable LD territory, and 2011 was probably an aberration. The Labour candidate was neither known nor local, whereas the LD candidate was both. I suspect that these factors carried more weight than the affiliations of the Labour candidate or of the appeal or otherwise of JC in a relatively prosperous suburb.

  10. Evan Dovey

    The LD candidate who won it previously held a council seat for the ward (for the Lib Dems) from 2008-2012 and lives locally and was a popular councillor before she was revenge voted off after the appalling Cleg cameron debacle. Not at all shocking that she was voted back in when a large % of the Labour voters didn’t bother to turn up, whatever the reason, there are those saying they boycotted because of Corbyn but from what I have seen there are just as many if not more who abstained due to the Labour candidates stance on Corbyn.

  11. Alan Calder

    CLP nominating the leader just takes up time needlessly. It counts for nothing. My CLP voted 42-11 for Corbyn. We were told at meeting we have 950 members of whom 800 are new. Where were all the new ones? Only 2 showed. Roughly 5% of members allowed our CLP to nominate.Corbyn! We have 75000 voters in constituency. Whole system is a joke.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I do agree that CLP nominations are pretty much pointless.
      I’m having trouble understanding what it has to do with this story, though.

Comments are closed.