Wednesday 28 September 2016

Corbyn hails landslide by-election win as sign of Labour's strength

Sam Lister in London

Published 05/12/2015 | 02:30

Jim McMahon (L), the newly elected member of Parliament for Oldham West and Royton for Britain's opposition Labour Party is congratulated by party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Jim McMahon (L), the newly elected member of Parliament for Oldham West and Royton for Britain's opposition Labour Party is congratulated by party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

After a bruising week, embattled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn last night claimed that his party's overwhelming victory in a by-election in Oldham shows how "strong" his party is.

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Rival party Ukip failed to make widely predicted advances in the poll, clearing the way for the Labour leader to pass his first electoral test with flying colours as Jim McMahon held the seat with a majority of more than 10,000, despite divisions within the party in the days leading up to the poll.

But Ukip chief Nigel Farage has said he will file a formal complaint over alleged "abuses" in the Oldham West and Royton vote.

Speaking at a victory rally in Oldham, Mr Corbyn said: "This campaign shows just how strong our party is, not just here in Oldham but all over the country. It shows the way we have driven the Tories back on tax credits, police cuts, on their whole austerity agenda and narrative.

"It shows just how strong, how deep-rooted and how broad our party, the Labour Party, is for the whole of Britain."

Mr Farage said he was not questioning Labour's victory, but denounced the electoral process as "bent" after claims that people had arrived at polling booths carrying bundles of postal votes.

The Ukip leader said the result raised questions about the conduct of elections in areas with large ethnic minority communities and claimed that in constituencies with large numbers of minority voters who do not speak English "effectively the electoral process is now dead".

Mr Farage told BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme: "I'm commenting on the state of modern Britain, post mass immigration. It means effectively that in some of these seats where people don't speak English and they sign up to postal votes, effectively the electoral process is now dead."

Mr Farage claimed to have "evidence from an impeccable source that today's postal voting was bent".

Mr McMahon polled 17,209 votes, with Ukip's John Bickley trailing in second on 6,487, a majority of 10,722.

Success

Labour's share of the vote increased by more than seven points to 62.1pc in the by-election, triggered by the death of former minister Michael Meacher, and there was a 2.27pc swing from Ukip to Labour.

Turnout was higher than expected, at just over 40pc, and Labour's success appears to have been partly secured by an effective postal vote operation.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said Mr Farage's comments appeared to be a case of "sour grapes".

Mr Watson added: "If this was a referendum on Jeremy Corbyn, then he has won. It was a decisive victory with our share of the vote going up."

Irish Independent

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