The good news for Labour is that it won easily with almost 70 per cent of the vote. Kate Green, Western’s predecessor, stood down to become Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime. None of the other parties have anything to write home about. (The votes were counted at Old Trafford, which is sited within the seat.)
Green is the second consecutive former Labour MP for the seat to serve in the post – a move that may cast light on how some politicians now weigh the merits of serving in local and national government (if the former option is attractive enough). Green was appointed to the post by Andy Burnham.
The less good news for Labour is that the turnout was very much at the lower end of the spectrum – the joint eighth lowest post-war with Batley and Spen. That could be because Keir Starmer is generating little enthusiasm, for all Labour’s commanding lead in the national polls. Or because Labour voters saw no point in turning out in this safe seat for the party. Or both.
The swing to Labour was 10.5 per cent – nowhere near record levels. “Patrick English of YouGov [who writes for this site today] calculates that Labour would need a swing of 13 per cent at the next election to win a majority of one,” wrote John Rentoul in the aftermath of the recent City of Chester by-election, where Labour gained a swing of 14 per cent.
So further to William Atkinson’s analysis of yesterday on this site, the Conservative position, if these by-elections are anything to go by, is very bad but not completely hopeless. But it may be that both polls have been so idiosyncratic as not to tell us very much at all.