Candidates for Stoke and Copeland, Labour ready for the off.

Labour has now announced their candidates for the Stoke-On-Trent Central and Copeland by-elections and I wish them both well. As previously discussed, it will be an uphill struggle; Gareth Snell for Stoke-On-Trent joins Gillian Troughton for Copeland. Snell has the unenviable task of, like Troughton, overcoming the legacy of the departing MP. Snell, who won back his place at the Newcastle Borough Council under the Corbyn Labour party in 2016, having previously lost his position in 2014, will have to turn the tide of the departing Hunt, who halved Labour’s majority in the constituency from a 35% lead in 2005 to just 17% in 2015.

Like Troughton, Snell is considered to not be aligned with the current party leadership, a position that has not served candidates in other recent elections very well. As with Troughton, I’m sure the current leadership will support Snell’s selection regardless. Snell succeeded through selection, having made it to the final 4 potential candidate short list provided by the Labour’s NEC, hopefully avoiding the controversy of Tristram’s Hunts “selection”, when he was parachuted into the then safe Labour seat by Peter Mandelson. Back in 2010 the disgraced MP Keith Vaz was party to the selection process.

Labour have a fight on their hands to maintain either Copeland or Stoke-On-Trent Central, it is hoped that the NEC’s selection committee have made the correct choices or, I suspect, we will see a shake up in candidate selection and those presently involved in deciding candidates. In Stoke, expect to see Snell’s anti ‘brexit’ stance exploited by the Tories/UKIP and in Copeland, expect to see jobs associated with the nuclear industry as the pawn, though Troughton’s anti ‘brexit’ stance may also feature. Neither seat should be fought on matters of the EU, real issues like the NHS and Education should dominate. There is an opportunity in both Stoke and Copeland for British voters to signal that they are not defined by the phantom of ‘brexit’.

I also hope that we see Labour candidates fighting for the win, not the ignoble manufactured losses of Brown and Miliband in 2010 and 2015, when Labour insiders worked to undermine the campaigns. Labour’s Right have walked off the field at Stoke and Copeland, let’s hope they have neither left it mined or sown with salt. We have already had headlines crowing about candidates aligned with the current Labour leadership being rejected to stand in Stoke and Copeland that, I’m sure, will be conveniently forgotten if the chosen candidates lose. Whichever way the result goes, expect it to be spun as somehow a Corbyn snub in the continued campaign against Britain’s opposition.

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