Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
16 December 2022

Labour’s triumph in the Stretford by-election shows the Tories will need a miracle to win

Keir Starmer’s party victory was consistent with its national poll lead of around 20 points.

By Rachel Wearmouth

Labour has comfortably held the constituency of Stretford and Urmston following a by-election yesterday. Andrew Western, the leader of Trafford Council, won 69.6 per cent of the vote and a 9,906 majority.

It is no big surprise. Keir Starmer’s party has represented the Greater Manchester seat since it was created in 1997. Labour recorded an 11 per cent swing from the Tories, who won just 15.9 per cent of the vote.

It is less than the 14 per cent swing Labour recorded in the Chester by-election earlier this month, but given the party already had 60 per cent of the vote in Stretford and Urmston, there was little room to make further progress.

[See also: The government’s concession on childcare shows how much the issue matters to voters]

John Curtice, a political scientist and pollster, told Radio 4 this morning that the result is consistent with Labour’s relatively stable national lead of 20 points, which is comparable to what Tony Blair had in the run-up to the 1997 election.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday - from the New Statesman. Sign up directly at The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. Sign up directly at Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Curtice also pointed out that Britain is in “unchartered territory” in terms of predicting who will win the next general election; during the 1992-97 parliament, John Major stayed in No 10 in the aftermath of Black Wednesday, whereas following Liz Truss‘s disastrous mini-Budget the Conservatives changed leader and installed Rishi Sunak.

And while as a party Labour has a lead on economic competence, Sunak, as an individual politician, is more trusted on the economy than Starmer. Curtice said: “The question is, can [Sunak] in the very difficult economic circumstances the government now face – much more difficult economic circumstances than the Conservatives faced after Black Wednesday – have any chance of turning things around?”

Content from our partners
Resolving the crisis in children’s dentistry
Planetary perspectives: how data can transform disaster response and preparation
How measurement can help turn businesses’ sustainability goals into action

[See also: Rishi Sunak has been left looking complacent on strikes]

Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, said yesterday that he could see the “first glimmer” that inflation was beginning to ease after November’s drop in the Consumer Prices Index, to 10.7 per cent from 11.1 per cent in October. The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, however, has warned that the economic picture will get worse before it gets better. Last month he confirmed that the UK had entered into a recession.

Given the latest date that a general election could be held is January 2025, there may be time for the polls to close. But amid strikes, backbench rebellions and Labour unity, it still looks like Sunak will need a miracle to pull off a victory.

Topics in this article : , ,