THERE was a time when Parliamentary by-elections were seismic events because of their rarity. Yet, although their impact has been lessened by those MPs who do not have the same loyalty to Westminster, these votes can still shape the political mood music.
Yet, although their impact has been lessened by those MPs who do not have the same loyalty to Westminster, these votes can still shape the political mood music.
This will certainly be the case early next year in the Cumbrian seat of Copeland where Labour MP Jamie Reed – one of the most vocal critics of Jeremy Corbyn – has resigned to take up a role at the Sellafield nuclear plant in his constituency. With a diminished 2,564-vote majority over the Conservatives at the last election, this is a bellwether seat where ever major party will, potentially, have much to win – and lose.
After two calamitous by-election performances in recent weeks, the vote will be framed as a referendum on Mr Corbyn’s lacklustre leadership. Yet it does not end here.
Theresa May’s supporters will be looking for evidence that the Tories are broadening their support in the North; Ukip’s showing will reveal whether it can prosper without Nigel Farage at the helm while Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, a Cumbrian MP, will want to demonstrate that his party’s shock success in Richmond Park was not a one-off. The stakes are that high, with the outcome shaping the political landscape for 2017, and that’s before Brexit is even factored into the equation.