So, as expected, yesterday the Conservatives won the Copeland by-election and Labour held on in Stoke. Had Stoke gone to the Kippers, Corbyn would have been toast. For once however he was helped by the press he so clearly despises. Early suggestions that UKIP were going to win meant the Labour hold in a seat they have held since the 1930s appeared more like a major victory against the odds rather than the easy hold it should be in normal political times.
Corbyn will therefore continue as leader, wounded and dragging down the Labour Party as a significant force. It would be interesting to know the views of the Corbyn fans on Gateshead Council. While the voters of Copeland and Stoke were going to the polls yesterday, we were at full council setting the budget. Labour Deputy Leader Catherine Donovan was again looking forward to Labour sweeping the country in 2020. The by-elections indicate that the Tories, not Labour, are set to storm to victory at the next general election.
Apart from a modest recovery in the Lib Dem vote, largely unnoticed by the media, the other news from the by-elections was the defeat of UKIP. They were overtaken by us in Copeland. In Stoke their high stakes decision to field Nuttall was a disaster. Not only was he beaten in the by-election, his credibility was shot to bits by his own claims. He will now never be taken seriously as a politician. Wherever he goes, there will always be a stream of joke videos of Nuttall popping up at different historical events, making him a figure of fun and amusement. As leader of UKIP, he heads the most divisive of Britain's political parties. His defeat was something to be savoured. Corbyn may be inept and his party a shambles, but at least they kept Nuttall from the doors of Parliament. It is too early to say whether or not UKIP is finished as a significant force in politics. Stoke isn't the final nail in their coffin but yesterday it felt as though the political undertakers were put on standby.