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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  • Briar

    All of a piece with the rubbish pumped out by today’s papers (gleefully reproduced in the Beeb’s newspaper reviews) about Labour’s “civil war” and the necessity of Corbyn going. It seems that the fact that the voters will turn out for him has no effect whatever on the Westminster bubble, who are still burbling away together in bliarite harmony.

  • nevermind

    The neocon media is diverting from the Tory’s mistakes by pushing the ‘get Corbyn’ narrative, hoping to unseat him and install their own shiny smiling yes sayers.

  • YouKnowMyName

    You are completely right Craig, as a news junkie, I was underwhelmed by coverage at Oldham. The argument that Oldham is “OOp North” & hence irrelvant to Islington is of course neutered since beeb moved to Media City UK, next to the Salford canal. I suppose the beeb isnt prepared to sully themselves with truthful, non-partisan reporting, whilst their finance settlement hasnt yet been finally resolved.

  • YouKnowMyName

    11.1 miles via A62 35 min without traffic
    BBC, Dock House, Media City Uk, Salford M50 2LH, United Kingdom

    Take Broadway to Trafford Rd/A5063
    4 min (0.9 mi)

    Continue on Trafford Rd/A5063. Take Albion Way to Liverpool St
    2 min (0.4 mi)

    Continue on Liverpool St. Take E Ordsall Ln/B5461 to Trinity Way/A34/A6042
    4 min (1.1 mi)

    Take A62 to Emmott Way in Oldham. Take the exit toward Town Centre Superstore from Oldham Way/A62
    28 min (8.3 mi)

    Take Waterloo St and Union St to Clegg St
    2 min (0.3 mi)
    arrive Oldham, UK

    11 miles! but a different planet

  • Anon1

    Stranger still, Craig Murray, who wrote the following with regard to postal ballot fraud in the Blackburn constituency in which he stood, has absolutely nothing to say about this factor in the Oldham West by-election.

    Yet another election is about to be held under the UK’s dreadfully insecure postal ballot system, which an English judge who presides over electoral fraud cases has said “would disgrace a banana republic”.

    In a single case, Judge Mawrey had come across postal ballot fraud being committed in 14 different ways. There have in fact been many convictions for postal ballot fraud. Some of these are of Labour councillors in Blackburn, where I personally came across a boarded up empty flat containing fifteen registered postal voters, and we chased Labour councillors from street to street as they collected bagfuls of uncompleted postal ballots. In that election, won by Jack Straw, at 37% Blackburn had the highest percentage of ballots cast by post in the UK. There have been numerous convictions for postal ballot fraud throughout the UK, but that is the tip of the iceberg and most of the time, they get away with it.


    In this election, the postal vote accounted for 27% of the turnout. One council worker told the media:
    “I saw things outside polling stations that would make your hair curl.

    So why the silence this time, Craig? Surely it can’t be that now Labour is much more aligned with your own views, you are no longer bothered by postal vote fraud?

  • Tom

    Delete if this is off topic, but I believe the same BBC bias was shown in ALL its hourly bulletins reporting alleged death threats to Danzcuk yesterday, while colluding with all but the DM in ignoring the fabricated threat by Lucy Allan MP: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=lucy+allan&tbm=nws

    Back on topic, I asked @micheallcrick why he didn’t mention the Tory result in Oldham. No reply

  • Salford Lad

    The MSM are to be expected to carry out their Masters orders and villify Labour and Jeremy Corbyn.
    Labour under Corbyn has some radical ideas as regards Nationalisation of formerly state assets and of course Peoples QE.
    This has opened an alternative dialogue for the man in the street and must be nipped in the bud. Otherwise the surreptious looting by the 1% will be exposed.
    However the BBC which is publicly financed, should be reporting in an unbiased way.Instead they have joined in the abuse and demonisation.
    Any BBC Political programme is heavily weighed against Labour and Corbyn. I have noticed how the presenter interrupts and attempts to close down any dissenting voice against the neoliberal status quo.
    An example is the concentration of abuse of people on welfare benefits. This is given as the sole reason for budget deficits.
    No mention is allowed of the real reason of our State debt,that is the billions given to bail out the Banking system because of its reckless and criminal profligacy. Nor mention of the £375 billion in QE to the private banks.
    This £375 billion was to pump prime the economy, but has never reached down into the Real economy.Instead has been shifted sideways into the stock market and other forms of financial speculation.
    Labour under Corbyn is terrifying the elite.More power to his elbow.

  • Resident Dissident

    “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).”

    So what swing has Corbyn achieved in the National Opinion Polls since he became leader compared with other previous Labour leaders – which is probably a better guide than a single by-election?

  • Kempe

    ” by-elections are a very poor guide to future events ”

    Very true. A glance at the results for those held in 2014 shows a marked swing towards UKIP. That didn’t last long.

  • Robert Crawford

    Money, money, money makes the world go round. Who’s world?

    Chunkymark has hit the nail on the head to-day if his figures are accurate?

    You could not make it up if true?

  • Mary

    You Know My Name, I agree with you. A visitor from Mars, reading or watching the UK corporate media, would not have known that there was a by-election. I said that on a previous thread here.

  • lysias

    I saw nothing about Corbyn or the by-election in the first section of this weekend’s FT (U.S. edition), with the exception of one passing mention of Corbyn in an editorial praising Hilery Benn’s speech.

  • Aim Here

    @Kempe: “Very true. A glance at the results for those held in 2014 shows a marked swing towards UKIP. That didn’t last long.”

    Really? There was a pretty large swing to UKIP. UKIP quadrupled it’s vote between 2010 and 2015, from ~3% to 12%. That didn’t translate into more seats, but that’s the electoral system discriminating against UKIP and the geographical distribution of it’s voter base. If we had a proportional system, UKIP would be on about 60-70 seats right now.

    In the case of Labour, the relationship between votes and seats is likely a bit more reasonable and you’d expect a vote swing to roughly match the seats being swung.

  • bevin

    What Labour must do is to have nothing to do with the “media” owned by its enemies and employed against it. It still suffers from the cringing attitude which Blairites brought to a fine art and was exemplified in the meetings between Murdoch and the war criminal.
    The swing in Oldham was extremely large. The more so as the election was timed to take advantage of the jingoism Cameron and the Fifth Column that Hillary Benn were promoting on the eve of the poll. It is not unlikely that the Tories are becoming as toxic in the north as they are in Scotland.

    Have people been following the fortunes of Gerry Adams-a politician who has been demonised to an extent beyond Corbyn’s imaginings-in the Irish polls? Sinn Fein, after years of bad treatment by all the Irish and British media, is, and has been for some months, looking like a putative opposition and Adams a possible Taoiseach.

    The sort of treatment Corbyn is getting is bound to begin to work in his favour, soon. When it does so he will be able to treat the media, Resident Dissident’s intellectual inspiration, with the contempt that most of it deserves.

    Labour could do worse, in the meantime, than to study Robert Blatchford’s famous, 1894, letters to “John Smith of Oldham” published as “Merry England”. A clear and simple case for a socialist England in need of updating. Labour’s membership need their own media-the Fifth Column have their own, shared with the Tories- it is unreasonable to pretend that the owners of the media, who would be among the first victims of any reform of society, will instruct their harems of writers and academics to do other than to oppose Corbyn root and branch.

  • Resident Dissident

    “the Fifth Column that Hillary Benn were promoting on the eve of the poll”

    “Fifth column” is of course well know as being fascist terminology.

  • Kempe

    ” There was a pretty large swing to UKIP. ”

    Which didn’t translate into the GE success many were predicting.

  • Tony M

    Spanish civil war terminology, which Skittery-Benn, the Red Tory team upstart thought to introduce in his disturbed rhetorical flight in the recent version of ‘It’s a Knockout … Live from Westminster’. The reception by most was very poor. Fascist certainly is not the right term, Mussolini’s fascists could only dream of their ideas being so wholeheartedly taken up by Britain, the rest of Europe and the United States, and being advanced to such a great degree beyond even their fevered imagining. Nothing exists yet in the lexicon to describe successive UK governments, that encompasses the full enormity of their vileness, corruption, evil intent and conduct. Perhaps ultra-fascist will have to suffice.

  • Tony M

    Robert I think there was a gigantic swing somewhere in Scotland maybe, 29.4%?, stabbing in the dark, and the swing-o-meter couldn’t go that far or got ‘stuck’. It was all digital graphics, rather than physical pendulums and such, much more fun, props. I think it just refers to the fact they hadn’t, didn’t expect such a swing, so the scale on the circumferential axis didn’t go high enough, would have gone past the 12 o’ clock position. If not I’m havering. No idea who Anne McLaughlin is. It’s all trivia.

  • Robert Crawford

    Tony M, thanks for that. Embarrassing for those that do not blush!.

    I hope Kenny explains.

  • Why be ordinary? Nate Silver lives

    “Swing to” is only meaningful when there is a constant number of voters and they change sides. What happened in Oldham would seem to be that those who voted Labour in the general election turned out again despite (or because – depending on your view) the change of Labour leadership. This is itself interesting because Labour voters were always in the past much harder to get to turn out at by-elections. Easier conditions for postal votes were supposed to address this – which might be the explanation. The Tory vote collapsed because their voters stayed at home and did not vote at all, but they did not “switch” in significant numbers to Labour. As a general election indicator it shows that UKIP can’t mobilize Tory voters, but governments always lose by-elections whenever held (William Hague being one of the very few counter examples)

  • Kenny

    Anne McLaughlin took Glasgow NE from Willie Bain in the May 2015 General Election.

    She broke the BBC swingometer with her swing of 39.3% from Labour to SNP!

  • Robert Crawford

    Kenny, thanks for the explanation. I guess all the pundits at the BBC got it wrong.

    I hear the football pundits getting it wrong also.

    Oh, how I love it!

  • Steve Collier

    Agreed the MSM have had to do a significant amount of smudging and fudging in the light of this result after previous claims it would be Corbyn’s downfall. But I am concerned about postal votes. This would be such an easy thing to tighten up and yet the government seem very reluctant to do anything about it. Could it be that it is a very useful tool to have the box? It could be used not only to secure the desired result in an election, but also to seriously discredit any political opposition to the establishment. Thus we may yet see ‘evidence’ produced that would constitute the biggest smear yet against the supporters of Corbyn. If that happens we should all be very afraid.

  • Pan

    Craig –

    “Any good psephologist will tell you…”

    Indeed. As my personal psephologist was informing me, just the other day…NOT!

    Thank heavens for the OED:

    “psephology – The study of public elections, and statistical analysis of trends in voting; loosely, the prediction of electoral results.”

    (Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who didn’t know that word!)

  • Alcyone

    ” (Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who didn’t know that word!) ”

    You may jump into the freezer with the rest of the cubes.

  • Clydebuilt

    The BBC in Scotland want’s it’s audience to believe Corbyn is leading a socialist party, with no questioning of his security of tenure, so that at next May’s Holyrood people can vote for “old” Labour…….

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