• Development Intelligence

Peterborough By-Election – The lessons the media will miss

As ever, the punditry will completely miss the real lessons that the Peterborough by-election has actually delivered. In essence there are six:

1. Leave won hands down, yet again. How so? Well, look at the numbers from last night:

So hard Brexit (Brexit/UKIP) on 30%, soft Brexit (Lab/Con) on 52% and Remain (Lib Dem/Green) on 15%; a very significant uplift on the 60:40 split in that constituency at the referendum.

2. Labour scraped a win. Nine years into opposition, with six months warning that there would be a by-election, with just one constituency battle to focus on, with all the unions resources at their disposal and with a huge ground campaign, they just scraped a win. They are miles off winning any significant elections any time soon. The Corbynistas, however, fingers in their ears, will not see this. They will of course promote this as a famous victory for the ‘Dear Leader’ to distract from the latest round of complaints about his leadership. And with depressing predictability, the new Labour MP is already involved in an anti-Semitism furore.

3. The Tories need to deliver Brexit, come what may. If the Tories had delivered Brexit and the Brexit Party had thus not been created, the Tories would have won substantially. It was interesting that they still managed to achieve 20% with a hugely unpopular leader who’s been forced to resign, mid-leadership election with a depressingly rum bunch of candidates, and having run a chaotic empty vessel of a Government for the last few years. The lesson they will hear, off the back of the awful local and European Parliament election results, is that unless they can deliver Brexit and thus reunite the Brexit/Right vote, they could let a Corbyn-led Lab/SNP coalition through the middle at the next General Election in May 2022 (or earlier if they implode).

4. The Brexit Party may have lost the ‘big Mo’. In political campaigning, momentum is everything. This was their Westminster breakthrough moment. With the Tories in chaos, Labour in dire straits and with Brexit THE issue, to not win yesterday is a very telling blow. To be fair, they’ve done remarkably well to achieve what they have in eight weeks, but ‘one swallow does not a summer make’. It’s a reminder that it’s very hard to sustainably breakthrough with a new political party in a first past the post electoral system.

5. The Lib Dems only do well in Remain areas. They have tied themselves firmly to the smaller, Remain half of the electorate, and the half which is contracting.

6. UKIP’s coffin gets another nail. What to say? Dead, now leaderless and soon to be a footnote.