While Question Time debated Theresa May, Labour was enjoying the sweetest of by-election victories

Jeremy Corbyn Labour
Steve Topple

As many people sat watching BBC Question Time on Thursday 5 October, a series of positive by-election results just kept on coming for the Labour Party; including gaining two seats from the right.

Holding out for a hero

On a night when eight council elections were happening, Labour held two of its seats. Mike Pevitt won Claremont in Salford with 718 votes, but the result was marred by a turnout of just 18.53%, meaning just 8.6% of the public voted for Pevitt.

Meanwhile, in the Crewe East ward of Cheshire East, Joy Bratherton [pdf] won for Labour, holding the seat for the party. But this result was no less interesting, as Labour increased its vote share by 14.8%, almost exactly the same amount UKIP’s fell by.

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Over to the Conservatives, who managed to hold three seats they were contesting in Stoneleigh & Cubbington (Warwick); Burnham Lent Rise and Taplow (South Buckinghamshire); and Burbage Sketchley & Stretton (Hinckley and Bosworth). And the Lib Dems held their seat in St Germain, Redcar.

Turning red

But it was Labour’s gains which will bring most heart to Jeremy Corbyn. His party stole Borehamwood Kenilworth in Hertsmere from the Conservatives after their candidate stood down in September. But the result was not as clear as it seems: Labour’s vote share was down 9.1%. And the party only won because the Conservatives dropped further, by 19.4%.

The sweetest Labour victory was in Mash Barn, Worthing. Labour took the seat from UKIP, increasing its vote share by 29.7%. This is the first time Labour has won the seat in 20 years, with the party third in the last election. And it happened shortly after Mash Barn had a visit from a certain Mr Corbyn.

With Theresa May floundering nationally and Labour still ahead in the Westminster polls, the tide at local level appears to be turning in Corbyn’s favour too.

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