AFTER the Hartlepool by-election in May, the Conservative electoral machine seemed unstoppable. Sinking such a historically staunch Labour bulwark must have made the party feel invincible.
It is no wonder then that they were widely seen as the favourites to win the polls in Chesham and Amersham and in Batley and Spen. The former – a Tory safe seat. The latter – a part of the crumbling “Red Wall”.
However, the Liberal Democrats surged to take a shock win in Chesham and Amersham, while Labour narrowly held on to Batley and Spen in spite of George Galloway’s drive to siphon away support.
Labour’s loss in Hartlepool was often attributed to the Tories taking credit for the roaring success of the UK’s Covid vaccination scheme. But after these two consecutive losses, many a pundit will begin to wonder if this boost has expired.
Time will tell if the Tories are in trouble. After all, they still consistently lead in the national polling. But after two failures in by-elections that were meant to go their way, the Conservative Party is clearly no longer unbeatable.
Labour will also have to think about what went right for them in Batley and Spen – and recognise that their narrow win means that there is still plenty of work to be done.
But the victory will mean that Starmer is unlikely to face a leadership challenge any time soon.
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Despite no longer holding the Labour leadership, Jeremy Corbyn has remained active.
He joined a People’s Assembly demonstration on June 26 in which he spoke in support of a 15 per cent pay rise for NHS workers. Corbyn was joined there by Labour MPs Zarah Sultana and Richard Burgon as well as Unite General Secretary candidate Steve Turner.
Our reporter Declan Carey covered the demonstration.
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