The Returning Officer: New Ross

Colonel C G Tottenham fought the seat of Wicklow East as a Tory in 1885, losing to the Nationalist William Corbet. Tottenham lost again in 1886, 1895 (when Corbet regained the seat he had lost in the Parnellite split) and an 1895 by-election.

He had previously sat for New Ross (1878-80), as had similarly named ancestors since 1802 in the UK parliament and 1727 in the Irish parliament. In 1731 one ancestor earned the name “Boots”, after riding all night to Dublin to cast a vote ensuring that a budget surplus was held in Ireland and not returned to England.

In 1900 the Irish author Alice M P Cooke dedicated her novel His Laurel Crown to Colonel Tottenham, later writing “Irish Heroes in Red War”, poems about the Irish regiments who fought in the First World War.

This article first appeared in the 23 October 2013 issue of the New Statesman, Russell Brand Guest Edit

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader. Getty
Show Hide image

Can Jeremy Corbyn win the 2017 general election?

Does the Labour leader have a chance of becoming prime minister?

 

After less than two years as Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn is leading the party into a snap general election. This isn’t the first vote of national significance since his election, however, since he was in office during the 2016 EU referendum.

It’s also not his first serious challenge: after the Brexit vote, his MPs voted “no confidence” in him and Owen Smith challenged him for the leadership. Corbyn saw off that threat to his position convincingly, so can he pull out another electoral triumph and become prime minister?

Can Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister? The polls

Since May 2015, the Conservative Party has consistently led in the polls. The latest polls gives Labour ratings in the mid-20s, while the Conservatives are on the mid-40s – numbers which, if borne out at the polls, would give Labour its worst result since 1935.

But should we believe the general election polls? Glen O’Hara, professor of modern and contemporary history at Oxford Brookes University, points out that the polls have been wrong before, and could be overstating Labour’s collapse. However, a 20-point gap is far outside the margin of error. A Corbyn win would be an unprecedented upset.

Can Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister? Electoral record

At the 2016 local elections, Labour did not gain any councils and lost 18 seats and 4% of the vote. James Schneider, the co-founder of Momentum who is now Corbyn’s head of strategic communications, said this showed Labour was on the right trajectory, but it’s a disappointment for an opposition to make no gains. And at the Copeland by-election this February, Labour lost the seat to the Tories – the first government gain in a by-election since 1982.

Can  Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister? The verdict

Jeremy Corbyn’s path to power would be one of the greatest surprises in British politics. But unlikely doesn’t mean impossible. It would take some extraordinary events, but it could happen. Check out the latest odds to see how the markets rate his chances.

0800 7318496