Swing From Tory to Labour at Oldham West was 8.4% 40

I just thought I would report that swing because, for the first time in 50 years in an English by-election, the BBC nowhere reported the swing between the two major English parties.

I wonder why?

I have a lifetime of memories of Bob McKenzie, Peter Snow and others saying “now here is the swing between the two main parties”. This was invariably followed by “Now then, let’s just for fun extrapolate from that swing to what the House of Commons would look like if that swing were repeated in a general election. This of course comes with a health warning, by-election swings are not a good guide”.

This time, even on election night, nothing at all, zilch, nada. In fact at no stage, then or after, did the BBC mention the swing between the two main parties. I don’t think the word swing was used at all. Nor was “collapse” or any other word that would describe the disappearance of the Tory vote – from 23 to 19 to 9% in the last three elections, in what was within my own adulthood a Tory constituency. The BBC by-election coverage with Andrew Neil in fact concluded 45 minutes before schedule, presumably because they had to bin all the pre-records on the demise of Corbyn, and stand down Umunna.

We are nowhere near mid-term. Any good psephologist will tell you, that while by-elections are a very poor guide to future events, to attain an 8.4% swing against the government only six months after a general election, the opposition is doing very well (and the government doing very badly).

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40 thoughts on “Swing From Tory to Labour at Oldham West was 8.4%

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  • Alasdair Macdonald


    Thank you for reporting the swing. I had begun to think that my new varifocal specs had some blind spots and That was the reason I could find no figure quoted. Eventually, I estimated it as somewhere close to 10%.

    Clearly, the entire msm is balefully hostile to Mr Corbyn and that includes the National and Sunday Herald, which were equally remiss.

    I expected as much from the generality, but expected more from the latter two. I guess the habits of journalism school, where they are taught, are ingrained: there are only two poles to an argument and if you support one, then everything about the other is lies!

  • hannibal

    The concept of terrorism is to give publicity to nutters. Call them all criminals and treat them under the criminal law – what is the difference between gang members killed by other gang members – and someone who does the same thing after reading the Koran?

  • Bluecat


    What accusers of fraud (ie UKIP) overlook is that

    7000+ postal votes were cast.
    Not all of them were for Labour, by UKIPs own admission.
    If EVERY SINGLE POSTAL VOTE were shown to be dodgy, that is still less than the majority Labour won.

    So even without any postal votes at all, Labour beat UKIP rather thoroughly.

    I’m more interested in Nigel Farage’s linked statements that UKIP canvassers found “streets and streets” where “nobody spoke English”. The voters in those streets assured the UKIP canvassers that they had never heard of Jeremy Corbyn, and that they were all going to vote Labour.

    I’d like someone to explain what language they did all this assuring in? How many languages do UKIP canvassers speak? How many interpreters did they employ, and into / out of which languages?

    Because, you know, “foreign” is not actually a language.

  • eddie-g

    I slightly disagree with your final paragraph – most good psephologists look at by-elections as key litmus tests between general elections. They certainly consider them more important than any polling.

    A key conundrum in England right now is what to make of UKIP, which routinely outperforms in by-elections but then underperforms in generals. To me, it’s a fairly typical right-wing protest vote opportunism – which is such fun in by-elections, where the consequences of a win for the Left are minimal. But come the general, where the stakes are higher, they will still vote Tory.

    But a constant with by-elections is that the main opposition must perform well – poor results heap pressure on the leader especially. And as is plain as day, Corbyn should be pleased with the Oldham result… something which absolutely does not fit the Establishment narrative.

  • Leslie

    The by-election was reported by the BBC as a good win for Labour and Corbyn; that the precise swing was not featured seems irrelevant to me – we’re too far away from a general election. One comparison was made – with a similar win in a similar area by Ed Miliband’s Labour; and look what happened to him.

    Corbyn’s job is a simple one – to reduce Labour from 232 to 132 MPs. For that to happen he has to stay put and that means keeping his trousers up for four years. After that they can fall down and with it the abysmal Left in this country, defeated by its own lack of imagination. The Red Flag is a joke; nationalisation – giving it all to Sir Humphrey to run – is a non-starter; and trying to get the English to give up their fondness for little wars in a foreign land – let alone the monarchy, quite impossible.

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