The result of the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election will come as a bitter blow to both the Tories and the Li Dems. It will not be the last.
The result of the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election will come as a
bitter blow to both the Tories and the Li Dems. It will not be the
The by-election had been called after the previous occupant of the seat, Phil Woolas, had been removed following a legal decision to declare the result at last May’s election void. Since the reason for this action was based on a legal challenge by the Lib Dems that Woolas had published lies about their man, you would have expected the Lib Dem candidate to do well this time. This did not happen.
The turnout was poor (48% as against 61% last time) which reflected both a strong sense of dissolutionment with politics by voters in the area and a lack-lustre campaign by a Labour Party trying to get by the tricky problem of having your last mp booted out. Yet the other main parties could not capitalise on this. Last May the Lib Dems were only 103 votes behind Labour, this time Labour’s margin of victory was over 3,000. The Tories came a pathetic third with just 4,481 votes.
The reason for this result is obvious. People are starting to see just what this Tory led coalition of millionaires actually represents. The opposition of many young people towards the tuition fees increases is just one factor in this. The annoucement that nearby Manchester City Council are to cut 2,000 jobs, slashing services in the process, must have also had an effect on voters thinking. These cuts are only the first of many as councils around the country seek to come to terms with the government’s austerity measures. Last week people in the area would have been hit by the VAT rise and the public transport fares increases. Come April National Insurance will rise by 1%, cutting everybody’s wage packet, and the charges levied by councils for many services will also be pushed up.This is the reality of live in Cameron’s Britain. Meanwhile the bankers continue to award themselves huge bonuses on top of their already massive salaries and perks.
Had Labour fought this campaign on a fighting socialist programme, the margin of victory would have been far greater with thousands of non-voters being re-enthused and coming out to both vote and campaign for Labour rather than sitting at home saying "a plague on all your houses" which was the response from many of those canvassing during the last few weeks. This lesson must be learned.
The election was won by Labour almost entirely because of the growing hatred of many workers and youth towards both the Tories and the Lib Dems. This will only increase and the Coalition should expect – and derserve – further bad results in the May elections, a few months from now.