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Politico’s Poll of polls suggests a Labour landslide: it has a 22 per cent lead over the Conservatives. One survey reported yesterday found that were an election to be held now the Party would come third.
The West Lancashire by-election result, together with other recent ones, may point instead to hung Parliament or a narrow general election were the general election to take place now.
The swing to Keir Starmer’s party in the seat was 10.5 per cent. In Stretchford and Urmston last December, it was the same. In the City of Chester earlier that month, it was 13.7. In Wakefield last June, it was 13.6 per cent.
“Patrick English of YouGov 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 its aftermath.
However, it may be that since all three seats are now firmly in the Labour column, turnout is lower than it would be in a Tory-Labour marginal – and that the swing in such seats would be higher.
Rishi Sunak’s opponents are certainly taking that view. Peter Cruddas tweets that the West Lancashire “worst ever” result for the Conservatives is consistent with the Britain Elects poll which finds that they would currently be reduced to 138 seats.
Nonetheless, the City of Chester was Conservative-held between 2010 and 2014. And there could be a lesson to draw from the by-elections of the mid-1990s, when Tony Blair led the Labour Party.
The swing from the Tories to it in the Dudley North by-election in 1994 was 29.2. In the Dagenham one of the same year, 23.1. In the South East Staffordshire one of 1996, 22.1.
The by-election was caused by Cooper’s resignation from parliament to become chair of the Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, in the wake of a plot by a neo-nazi to murder her.