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Friday 4 December 2015

Oldham West - Famous Last Words

Parliamentary by-elections bring great opportunities for the punditerati to generate enormous amounts of copy, much of it speculative and ill-informed to the point where it verges on self-parody. So it was with the contest in Oldham West And Royton, where Labour were defending a seat held for many years by Michael Meacher. This, we were told, was to be the first big test for Jeremy Corbyn.
This party is now unelectable. Er, hang on a minute ...

There was, though, one problem here: all too many of those providing the punditry had convinced themselves that Labour under Corbyn was unelectable, that UKIP candidate John Bickley, who had already lost two previous contests in the Greater Manchester area was credible, and that Nigel “Thirsty” Farage was a universally popular chap who would help the Kippers deliver a shock result, or at the very worst, a close one.
So, given Jim McMahon retained the seat for Labour with a five-figure majority, who scored the most spectacular foot-in-mouth? Raheem “call me Ray” Kassam gave it his best shot: “UKIP sources are optimistic but cautious about #OldhamWest. They reckon there's fewer than 1000 votes in it”, followed by the mardy “49 people postal vote for Labour from one house in Oldham”, which he made up. It’s the Breitbart way.
The Sun’s alleged “Westminster Correspondent”, Master Harry Cole, claimed “In the former centre of the UK’s cotton spinning industry, Labour are hanging on by a thread”, the accompanying article assertingJeremy Corbyn’s election as party leader will see the late Michael Meacher’s 13,000 majority all but wiped out”. So what would the Labour majority be, O wise pundit? “1-3000 say cooler heads”. So he didn’t have a clue, either.
Nor did the loathsome Toby Young, who demonstrated his investment expertise earlier: “Just placed a bet on UKIP to win in Oldham West. 11/4. Wish I’d got on earlier!” And the possibly low turnout? “Conventional wisdom is it hurts Labour. Would you challenge that?” Result - £25 sprayed up the wall. He’s not called Captain Bellend for nothing.
Labour increasing its share of the vote to over 60% defied the clueless pundits, but left Whinging Dan Hodges unmoved: “I'm not sure Corbynites quite understand the difference between ‘vote share’ and ‘majority’”, he moaned. But the most magnificent mardy strop came from Farage, who earlier had promised “In constituencies like Oldham West & Royton, it is UKIP challenging a complacent Labour Party”.
Yes, UKIP would “wipe out Labour in the North, just as the SNP did in Scotland”. There was no wipeout. “As a veteran of over thirty by-elections I have never seen such a perverse result. Serious questions need to be asked … Evidence from an impeccable source that today's postal voting was bent”. There’s one to retract later, then.

Farage and UKIP won’t be wiping anyone out by coming over like a bunch of racist bigots, which they did by blubbering about “streets where nobody speaks English”. And the rest of the clueless punditerati, some of whom spent days in Oldham - I’m looking at you, Master Cole - should have spent less time listening to the Kippers and more getting out and talking to ordinary people. That’s what the Sun pays him for.

If ever the Westminster punditerati needed to show it was not collectively clueless, this by-election was the opportunity to do so. In that, it was a spectacular failure.


Andy McDonald said...

The backpedalling has already begun, along with efforts to cast this as something that happened *despite* Corbyn, so it's all his fault anyway.

In a way I'm reminded of the Terry Pratchett novel 'Night Watch', in which the main characters ask, as a revolutionary commune slowly expands up to the point where it controls and contains more of the city than the forces trying to put it down, at what point does the power shift?

Meanwhile, remember the days when journalists and pundits reported and commented on what happened, and didn't just make things up to support their own prejudices?

Stephen said...

One of those results that is incredibly significant until it comes in, and then it doesn't mean anything at all.

rob said...

@ Andy

Re last paragraph. Blimey, how old are you Andy? The tabloids have always made things up whether to sell newspapers and/or cooperative wannabee celebs or to make put over their political stance. Broadsheets, perhaps, used to be more about news coverage but have declined rapidly since the advent of Murdochisation. Even they have resorted to the distortions/lies previously the province of the "mischievous" tabloids as sales decline (chicken or egg?).
Unfortunately, the ranks of the punditerati have expanded with the growth of TV and radio channels all with a need to fill time with whatever they can get, usually a name who viewers/listeners can relate to regardless of expertise.
Feel the width not the quality!

Arnold said...

The Mail didn't do too well either. Today's edited headline reads "Labour shrugs off Corbyn effect to win Oldham West by-election with 62% of the vote as Tory support collapses behind Ukip - and fuming Farage claims the 'postal vote was bent' "
I don't have the original, but luckily the url remains unedited. The Mail can't get its head round the idea that the "Corbyn effect" likely helped Labour.


Anonymous said...

I can't resist this......Doesn't all that lying bullshit represent neocon bullying and intimidation - far worse in fact (because it's spread through monopoly owned mainstream media) than some Twitter loony threatening violence ?

That the Scum and Daily Heil, of all people, should whinge and whine about this should only cause waves of laughter amongst those who still treasure decency and fairness.

Watch now as neocons get steadily more desperate in their efforts to smear and jeer. But they'll find the response will spread to a much wider constituency than Oldham, especially outside the M25 ghetto.

You'll have to excuse me as I pull up my socks. I've been laughing them down ever since I heard the result.

Shawlrat said...

"impeccable" is not the word I'd use to describe Farage's source.
If he has concrete evidence of electoral fraud, he should show it but, of course, he doesn't.
Time to face facts : UKIP lost - again.

J said...

For weeks the press have been portraying this by-election as a test of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour party... now its been won, "this was nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn" Or "Labour won despite Jeremy Corbyn".
So all this was about Jeremy Corbyn, until he won... now, not so much. Seriously, WTAF!
Also how come no one in the press is mentioning the near collapse of the Cun'servatives vote. (from low, as you would expect, in a Labour safe seat, to f**k all)
And how that the Kippers who were supposed to trounce, or seriously diminish, Labour were a very poor second. With Fartarge now saying it was the bloody Asians fault he lost. (really, I know he's a racist c**t, but to actually come out and blame them in the press/TV/Twatter is beyond the pail)

Anonymous said...

Farage's face is a an absolute picture of resentment and hate. Ale house or no ale house.

The fellow is the male equivalent of Untermensch. And just as paranoid.

pete c said...

Surely any postal vote 'turning up at a polling station', singly, bundled, or otherwise, would not only be regarded as void/spoilt - but would also trigger a call to the the authorities.

Garage, as my predictive computer calls him, really is scraping barrels here.

Unknown said...

What does "mardy" mean?

SteveB said...


No, postal votes can be delivered to polling stations on the day. Registered postal voters can't turn up and ask for an ordinary ballot paper if they still hadn't posted their papers in by the day of the election (meaning the postal system wouldn't get them to the office by 22:00). Any well organised party would make sure that any postal votes that hadn't been posted in time were collected up and delivered by hand. The system is theoretically open to fraud and manipulation but this isn't evidence of it.

But the question remains, if people ask for postal votes because they can't manage to get the half mile to their polling station, and come the day of the election still haven't managed to get the papers they've had for a week to a post box, do they really care and are they really fit to be given a vote? The underlining suspicion/ allegation in Oldham is that many who may not even speak english were persuaded to apply for postal votes (or someone applied for them), then they signed the papers for a candidate without knowing what was happening, and someone else sent the papers in. But there are two points that undermine Farage, if you are going to commit fraud on the alledged scale you don't walk into a polling station in front of witnesses - you post them in time. And the Labour majority was so big it would have meant the number of fraudulent votes would have exceeded the number of genuine UKIP votes and that isn't credible.

Andy McDonald said...

As many (including the BBC) have pointed out, voter fraud is a crime pure and simple. If Farage has evidence of it, he should present it to the police and make a complaint. Unless of course he doesn't, and doesn't want to be accused of wasting police time.

Of course, what he could (and probably will) do is say some guff about 'not wanting to tie up the police with these things', and go on perpetuating the lie until it becomes established as fact in his bonehead followers' minds.

Richard Gadsden said...

To be fair to Dan Hodges (and I can't believe I just wrote that), he'd made a specific prediction that the numerical majority would be down and was being attacked for being wrong because the vote share was up.

And, well, the vote share was up but the majority was down.

Now, the original prediction was a clever bit of spin (of course it was down - it was a by-election in the pissing rain in December, it's amazing that 48% of people turned out to vote under the circumstances) but it's hardly a mardy strop to point out that you're right when people attack you for being wrong.

Dan throws quite enough mardy strops without making up extra ones.

Anonymous said...

If Farage's "impeccable source" is so "impeccable" it won't mind turning up, identifying itself and presenting the "impeccable" evidence. This is called "democracy" and is therefore to be welcomed.

Given Farage's previous statements and behaviour......I won't be holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

Mardy. A northern term for throwing your dummy out of the pram because you can't get your own way, or because you lost! Very appropriate for those wishful thinkers who really did want everyone to believe labour was losing.

http://www.thesocialshuttle.com/ said...

My Labour insider says this victory is far greater than is being portrayed and the jubilation is being kept in check. The bitching about postal votes and alleged fraud indicates the success of the local party workers : they were able to invigorate a lot of first time voters and a significant number who had failed to use their vote previously. Regular voters were down as can be so often the case in bi-elections: apathy and a belief that Labour will win anyway. But in a General Election they believe the result would have been an increased majority. Sadly for the gormless but mendacious media (yes you too Dan Hodges) Corbyn is far more popular among Labour voters than they want to believe. Those behind him will be refining their excellent 'grass roots' campaign to woo new young voters and convince normally non-voters to support them.

Dave Eyre said...

Dan Hodges – whose gushing praise for Hillary Benn yesterday knew no bounds – wrote: “So this is what it looks like when a political party dies.” And: “If Corbynites are the be believed, Labour should win Oldham with increased majority. Given all those excited new members.”

And it came to pass - well done Dan........

Anonymous said...

"Mardy" is used to mean "petulant" in the East Midlands as well. Describes Hodges rather well. No doubt Danczuk is feeling well Mardy tonight.

Anonymous said...

"Mardy" means "Dan Hodges" and Simon Danczuk" here in the East Midlands as well.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

Interesting word, mardy. I'd reckon it's south Yorks and Derby, and a corruption of "marred" (i.e. a split, over-indulged child). I remember it from my father's sisters in Aston-cum-Aughton.

It's a regular usage of D.H.Lawrence, for one example:

‘Now, Miriam,’ said Maurice, ‘you come an' 'ave a go.’ ‘No,’ she cried, shrinking back. ‘Ha! baby. The mardy-kid!’ said her brothers. [Sons and Lovers, chapter 6]

You'll also find it in John Braine and Alan Sillitoe.

The OED glosses it as "Usually of a child: spoilt, sulky, whining, moody", so totally fitting for a Farridge.

Anonymous said...

It was whilst growing up in Aston-cum-Aughton that I first heard the word!