Following the resignation of Labour MP Tristram Hunt in Stoke-on-Trent, UKIP announced yesterday (21st January) that new party leader, Paul Nuttall MEP, will be our candidate in the subsequent byelection.
The seat is historically a Labour stronghold but their majority was down to 5000 at the 2015 General Election and, significantly, it registered one of the highest Leave votes at last year’s referendum.
The poor turnout at the General Election (Just 49%) shows how disillusioned local voters are with the party that has represented them in the past.
If Labour lose this seat (Plus the other byelection in Copeland, another former stronghold with an even slimmer majority) then Labour could be consigned to a spot in a museum similar to the one that Mr Hunt has left his constituency to take up a post with.
With this in mind, it was no surprise to see Labour Shadow Chancellor and my old sparring partner, John McDonnell, go on the offensive during this morning’s Marr Show on the BBC. However, both his body language and his line of attack show why the Labour High Command are terrified of the UKIP challenge in the seat and must be contemplating the possibility of an embarrassing defeat.
Spin, smear and downright lies
Once again, McDonnell trotted out the standard lie about UKIP wanting to privatise the NHS – this has never been a part of any UKIP manifesto.
Paul Nuttall spoke a number of years ago about making the procurement arm of the NHS more competitive – common sense when we see some trusts paying £25 for a lightbulb and issuing costly prescriptions for painkillers that you can buy for as little as 30p at the pharmacy. Yet in Labour’s eyes, this is ‘privatisation’.
So, let us look at the reality.