UK’s Labour party secures by-election victory in Greater Manchester

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UK opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer on Friday said the time had come for a Labour government after the party achieved its second by-election victory in a month, increasing its vote share in the seat of Stretford and Urmston in the north-west of England.

Andrew Western, who served as the Labour leader of Trafford Council, secured the Greater Manchester seat with a majority of 9,906 votes — a 10.5 per cent swing from the Conservatives to Labour. Tory candidate Emily Carter-Kandola received just 2,922 votes, 15.86 per cent of the vote share.

The by-election was triggered by the departure of Labour MP Kate Green, who stepped down from parliament last month to become deputy mayor of Greater Manchester for policing and crime. Green held senior positions on Starmer’s front bench, including as shadow secretary of state for education and shadow work and pensions minister.

In the wake of the result, Starmer reiterated calls for a general election. “The message from Stretford and Urmston is clear: people are fed up of 12 years of Tory failure,” he said in a statement on Twitter. “It’s time for a Labour government.”

Stretford and Urmston is regarded as a safe Labour seat and has been represented by the party since its creation in 1997. A total of nine candidates stood in the poll, including Liberal Democrat candidate Anna Fryer, who received 659 votes, and Dan Jerrome for the Green party, who received 789 votes.

The result will place greater pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration, which is facing criticism from unions for its handling of public sector pay as the UK is hit by a wave of strikes by rail, nursing and postal workers.

In the months following the departure of former prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, the Conservatives have continually trailed behind the Labour party in the polls.

Statistics released by YouGov on Friday morning indicate that 48 per cent of those polled would back Labour compared with 23 per cent who said they supported the ruling Conservatives.

Tory peer and polling expert Lord Robert Hayward said the by-election results were “disappointing — but not bad — for the Conservatives” and “pleasing for the Labour party”.

“Each of the parties can say ‘well it was good for us’. Labour got to 70 per cent and that’s a very challenging figure,” he said on Sky News. “The Conservatives went down by 12 per cent, which is actually less than the opinion polls were indicating.”

Speaking after his victory was confirmed, Western argued that the Conservative party had failed to lead the country. “They have unleashed a wrecking ball through the foundations of our economy and undermined the public’s trust in democracy,” he said.

“Labour stands ready to deliver for our country and only Labour has a plan for working people and to create a fairer, greener, future,” he added.

Turnout in the by-election was 25.8 per cent, with Labour winning 69.65 per cent of the vote. The party’s majority was lower than in previous years, however. In the 2019 general election, the party received a majority of 16,417 and in the 2017 general election, it secured a majority of 19,705.

The result comes after Labour’s by-election win in Chester in the north-west of England earlier this month. Samantha Dixon, a local councillor, gained 17,309 votes and increased Labour’s share of the vote by 11.58 per cent. Conservative candidate Liz Wardlaw received 6,335 votes.



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