Wakefield by-election loss would prompt “serious questions”, Streeting warns

Elliot Chappell
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Just four days remain until voters head to the polls in the Wakefield and Tiverton Honiton by-elections. Wakefield is of particular interest for Labour, of course, as one of the so-called ‘Red Wall’ seats taken by the Conservatives at the 2019 general election. The constituency is expected to swing back to Labour on Thursday – polling by JL Partners has Labour 20 points ahead in the seat, while Survation has given Labour a 23-point lead.

Those sort of numbers would indicate, contrary to what Wes Streeting told The Mirror over the weekend, that the contest is not an especially “big test” for Keir Starmer’s Labour. Nonetheless the by-election is important for his leadership, speaking specifically to his ability to win back seats lost in 2019 – a key part of his original pitch. “We win it – it shows Labour is on the path back to government. We lose – we will face serious questions,” the Shadow Health Secretary said. However accurate the first bit may be, the latter is certainly true.

The Labour leader has been succession planning – in case he is fined as a result of ‘beergate’ and is forced to resign – according to the Sunday Times. Starmer has reportedly told ‘moderates’ within the party that they must make plans to run and protect his reforms. “I will not let this party become a basket case again,” he is reported as saying. “I will not let our hard-won gains be squandered so we will need to be ready in the unlikely event that the worst comes to the worst.” Lisa Nandy described the reports as “absolute nonsense” on Sunday, insisting that “our eyes are not on the Labour Party”.

The nomination period in the election to determine who sits on Labour’s governing body closed on Friday. You can see our final list of nominations for each candidate for the various positions here, and we have some rather snazzy maps showing the distribution of support for those seeking to be local party representatives on the national executive committee here. Katie took an in-depth look at the local party rep nominations, which saw the pro-Starmer organisation Labour to Win secure the most as a single group (41%). Read her analysis here.

In other Labour news, Open Labour has this morning unveiled “Britain-boosting policy programs” with a new position paper setting out the ‘soft-left’ group’s “vision for the UK”. The 70-page document covers areas from health and social care to internationalism and Labour Party reform. Among a raft of policy proposals, the group calls for a “commitment to ensure all CLPs without a Labour MP have a proper selection process to choose their parliamentary candidate in the next elections” and for control over selections to be put “back in the hands of local parties”.

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