Tag Archives: Somerton

Both Labour and Tories fail in two of three by-elections. Where are the calls for the leaders to quit?

It’s true – and was Labour under Mr Corbyn ever as far ahead in the polls as Keir Stürmer’s STP (Substitute Tory Party) is, even now?

To lose two by-elections, despite having a significant poll lead, suggests a significant divergence between what we’re being told about the Stürmer Party and the grassroots reality.

Let’s look at Labour’s losses, starting with Somerton and Frome, in Somerset. Here’s the result, with accompanying commentary by bakers’ union leader Ian Hodson:

Quite right. Only 1,009 votes? That’s just 374 more than Independent Socialist Rosie Mitchell.

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats cleaned up, with more than 54 per cent of the votes cast in an enormous swing to that party from the Conservatives – their fifth-biggest since the war (by which I’m assuming commentators mean World War II).

This Writer has a few concerns about that. A (Liberal Democrat) commenter on This Site earlier this week strongly suggested that the only way to keep the Tory candidate out was to vote for his party. It’s a classic Lib Dem strategy – “never mind our policies, put us in to get them out” -and this time it seems to have worked.

It is a failing of the First Past The Post voting system that people believe they have to resort to this kind of tactical voting, not to get an MP with policies they want, but to avoid having one with policies they definitely don’t.

Well, the Liberal Democrats claim to support proportional representation. Let’s hope this one is joined by other MPs (not necessarily from the same party) who also believe in it. Then maybe we can get a government that does what we want, instead of one that works only for itself.

The Tory candidate came second with what is still a fair number of votes on a turnout of just 44 per cent – more than 10,000.  But second is not a win, and with 26,000 people who supported the Tories last time failing to turn out for them now, it is clear that Rishi Sunak needs to find a Brexit-level cause with which to inspire support.

With the cost of living rocketing, standards of living falling, poverty rising, inflation high, health care likely to become a costly racket under increasing privatisation, utility forms raking in unwarranted profits and Tory MPs apparently in the pockets of the privateers, it seems unlikely that he’ll find it.

Ah, but if Tory support fell, support for the party that used to represent Labour absolutely imploded:

Fair enough, it seems that Labour was never likely to win a majority here, but the scale on which the electorate has withdrawn its vote should be enough to give even the most tone-deaf party leader cause to reconsider his approach.

It isn’t very many years since people all over the UK were clamouring to join Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, making it the political party with the largest membership in Europe. Now, not only have most of those members deserted Stürmer, but it seems most of the voters have done the same.

It seems clear that policy is the issue. Voters don’t want an alternative government that is only willing to offer the same policies as the current administration – that is not delivering value for our tax money.

If Keir Stürmer is determined not to change course, but to continue dragging his party to the political right, then he faces yet another loss at the polls in late 2024 or early 2025.

Labour did slightly better in Uxbridge and South Ruislip…

… but the bar here was much lower; Stürmer’s party needed only a 7.5 per cent swing in its favour to take the seat.

The fact that this didn’t happen is being blamed on the fact that Labour enforces the ULEZ – Ultra-Low Emission Zone – where drivers with the most polluting cars must pay a fee to travel:

But ULEZ was launched by a Conservative – the same Conservative whose resignation forced the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election to take place: Boris Johnson.

It beggars belief that voters in the constituency formerly occupied by the politician who introduced the ULEZ should vote for his party’s candidate in protest against it.

Still, Stürmer’s party is running with this excuse for all it is worth:

But the evidence of the doorstep may suggest something different – that it is Keir Starmer and his Tory policies, or lack of Labour policies, who alienated voters. My information is anecdotal – from people I know live there – but it seems to have swayed this commentator (apologies for the strong language):

And if the ULEZ is such a sticking-point, why did this happen?

The message seems clear: if he wants to win a general election, Keir Stürmer must offer the electorate a Labour Party, with clear Labour Party policies that put a huge amount of difference between it and the Conservatives.

If he can’t – or won’t – do that, then he should be made to make way for somebody who will.

Still, Stürmer can console himself with his sole victory of the three, in Selby and Ainsty:

It makes 25-year-old right-winger Keir Mather the UK’s youngest MP. But there is no readily-apparent reason for the victory.

If Labour had won the other two by-elections by a similar margin, then we could say it was indicative of the national opinion polls being correct. But Labour didn’t.

Instead, considering this has been a Tory safe seat since it was created for the 2010 general election, it seems this was a protest vote.

Mr Mather himself has set out to capitalise on his victory:

He may be helped in this by the unsavoury attitude of Tory MP Johnny Mercer, who compared his victory with having a member of the cast of old Channel 4 comedy The Inbetweeners in Parliament:

Mercer’s comments have been shown to be quite astonishingly tone-deaf. Here’s a good reason:

The verdict:

The UK’s electoral situation is much more volatile than we have been led to believe.

According to the polls, the Stürmer Party should have won all three seats easily. It didn’t. Tactical voting scuppered it in Somerton and Frome – but conversely propelled it to victory in Selby and Ainsty. Distaste – either for the party’s leader or its policies – killed its chances in Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

The Conservative Party is in deep trouble, no matter what. It lost two seats and only held onto the third by the narrowest margin, despite protests against Stürmer and his policies. Rishi Sunak has nothing to offer the public – his party is riddled with corruption and self-interest and will not help struggling citizens. It is amazing that he isn’t facing demands for his resignation.

And the Liberal Democrat win seems entirely due to protest voting. Its new MP – Sarah Dyke – will have to work very hard indeed to prove otherwise.

Meanwhile, other parties and independents are growing in popularity. The Green Party beat Labour in Somerton and Frome and the Liberal Democrats in Selby and Ainsty and Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

It seems likely that Independents may have fared much better if they had been given equal media exposure to the “Establishment” parties.

The lack of such exposure merely shows what a slanted playing field democracy in the UK has become.


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By-elections: if you feel locked-out of choice, give Independents like Rosie a chance

Is there a media blackout on Independent candidates in the Parliamentary by-elections on Thursday (July 20, 2023)?

High-profile support: Independent Socialist Rosie Mitchell’s campaign in Somerton and Frome is endorsed by film director Ken Loach.

Many of them would say yes, it seems. Whether deliberately or by accident, the mass media are focusing on the usual Establishment parties – the Tories, Labour, Liberal Democrats and so on.

This is to ignore the rising force in UK politics: the left-wing Independents.

We saw in May that former Labour Party members – who either quit or were excluded by Keir Starmer and his cronies – are winning the hearts, minds and votes of an electorate that is desperate for change.

Thursday’s by-elections mean former-Labour Independents have a chance to take seats in Parliament – if they can bypass the media blackout.

Vox Political is not the force it once was – because there’s censorship of certain political sites on the social media – but let’s do our best to make sure voters know they have a choice.

We start here:

Rosie Mitchell – Independent Socialist candidate for Somerton and Frome

Like many of the new Independents, Rosie is a former member of the Labour Party. She joined in 2016 when Jeremy Corbyn was leader, but she and the party parted company in 2020, after Keir Starmer took over.

Rose has published three videos laying out some of her priorities. Here they are:

Isn’t it pleasant to hear a political candidate actually saying what they want to do?

She has published further details in a micro-manifesto on Facebook which you can read here.

Rosie, a conductor on GWR trains and member of the RMT Union, was raised locally and has lived in Frome since 2015.

She says: “Today’s party politics have left so many of us feeling disenfranchised, politically homeless and without that hope and excitement we had in the past.

“As an independent candidate I’m not hiding where my personal values lie, but I want to be very clear that I won’t be constrained to toe any party line – leaving me free to listen to your concerns, opinions and needs as my prospective constituents.

“Policy-wise we are focussing on the biggest issues of the day; the cost of living crisis and the undermining of public services.

I will be working towards reform and reinvestment in our struggling NHS, fairer housing so people can live here comfortably, better transport links for our communities so people can access employment and essential services and the environment, cleaning up our rivers as a priority.

“I am committed to promoting equality at every level and a fairer, less profit driven system that works for society and for the planet. We do not need to understand every nuance of each other’s identities to have respect, compassion, and kindness towards one another.

“Likewise, our respect for the environment, our countryside and the liveable future of this planet need to be paramount in all decisions we make going forward.”

If you’re in Somerton and Frome and still need convincing, how about this: Rosie’s campaign is endorsed by legendary film director Ken Loach, who met her earlier this month.

He said: “The current crisis needs radical changes. I support Rosie Mitchell. She stands for returning the collapsing NHS to it’s first principles and removing the profiteers from health care; taking back our public utilities like water, to public ownership; an integrated transport system, owned by the people – as a railway worker, Rosie knows what she is talking about; an end to fossil fuels, action not words on climate change; peace and human rights, not slavishly following the USA’s lead.

“Rosie stands with the people she would represent and would fight on their behalf.”

Can any of the candidates from the big political party machines say the same?

Sadly, those big parties do have a lot of machinery to help them cajole voters into supporting them – and Independent candidates like Rosie do not.

Instead, she has been doing something else – actually going out to visit voters and talking with them.

But this won’t be enough. She needs help.

So if you are in Somerton and Frome – or you know somebody who is – how about doing your bit to help democracy by passing on this article and/or details of Rosie and her campaign?


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