The true story of the Oldham West by-election is a massive collapse in the Tory vote, which fell from 19.0% to 9.3%. The Tory vote share halved.
The Tory vote in Oldham West was not tiny and statistically insignificant. In 2010 it was 23%. The national media has been plugging a narrative about the political dominance of the Tories for months, which bears no relationship to people’s experience in real life. Tens of thousands of words of utter bilge have been written about the Conservatives “Northern powerhouse” strategy and how it will enable them to win in the North, and especially in precisely this Greater Manchester region. This is revealed as complete and utter nonsense. This by-election shows the Tories are deeply unpopular.
The media were also doing everything possible to talk up UKIP’s chances, in the hope of damaging Jeremy Corbyn. In fact, my own contacts in Oldham had been telling me for weeks that UKIP were struggling to hold up their percentage vote, and that proved to be the case. This leaves the Blairites of the Guardian looking particularly stupid, having produced a whole series of articles predicated on UKIP gaining ground as a protest against Corbyn.
The media’s last resort in spinning this result goes thus:
a) Do not mention at all the collapse in the Tory vote
b) Emphasise it was a personal vote for a local man, Jim McMahon
c) Portray McMahon as a Blairite
This formula is being universally followed in the state and corporate media. The difficulty with the McMahon angle is that his predecessor was a very popular long term MP, Michael Meacher, who also had a big personal vote. And McMahon declared both last week and tonight that he would have voted against bombing Syria, so no Blairite.
We are nowhere near mid term yet and already the Tory vote is collapsing. People are not nearly as stupid as the media wish them to be.