steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

News Through a TV Showroom Window

I've been otherwise occupied over the last few days, but I couldn't help but notice, in the middle distance, quite a bit of fallout from the last Thursday's by-elections. In one, Labour conceded Copeland to the Tories - a poor result indeed, but, especially Corbyn's hostility to nuclear power, not particularly unexpected or out of line with historic trends: the Labour majority had been eroded steadily over the last 20 years, to the point where it was only some 2,000 in 2015. (The Tory vote was greatly boosted, too, by the collapse of UKIP.)

In the early stages of the campaign, far more attention was paid the other election, in Stoke. For here, it seemed, was the perfect storm which would set up UKIP to replace Labour in its heartlands. Here was a city that had voted strongly for Brexit, a left-behind old-industrial city that might reasonably resent the London-centric elite personified in its public-school-educated MP Tristram Hunt, a place where UKIP was moreover fielding its highest-profile parliamentary candidate, party leader Paul Nuttall. Early reports from the constituency were full of vox pops of people talking about switching from Labour to UKIP. You could hear the press licking its lips.

Then it all went a bit quiet. It became clear that UKIP weren't actually doing that well after all. In the event, Labour held the seat comfortably, and UKIP were humiliated - effectively destroyed, indeed, as a political force. If they couldn't win here, in these circumstances, then they can't win anywhere. Yet this story, of the destruction of a party on which the media have lavished so much attention and air time, was told in a strangely muted way, and in press reports was hugely overshadowed by the other election, where Labour lost.

Or so it seems to me, in the middle distance.
Tags: current affairs
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