Copeland by-election: Tories favourite to hand Labour a hammer blow
The Copeland by-election is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, and despite being a Labour stronghold for 30 years, Conservatives are 5/6 favourites to win the seat.
Labour are 5/4 to hold and are by no means beaten yet, with plenty still up in the air.
And the uncertainty includes when the by-election will actually be held, with some suggesting Labour will push it back to early May in a bid to drive up turnout.
Labour’s Jamie Reed is the current Copeland MP, but announced last month that he would be standing down and quitting parliament at the end of January.
So if the by-election is pushed back, that will leave the Cumberland constituency without a Parliamentary representative for three months.
But as and when it does go ahead, a Conservative victory would be a sizeable blow to Labour and Jeremy Corbyn.
The Copeland area’s employment depends heavily on the Sellafield Nuclear Power plant, bringing it into direct opposition with Labour’s leader.
That’s the issue the Tories will be – and are – pinning their hopes on, but Labour have their own strategy too.
Amid a continuing hospital crisis, Copeland’s result could open a window into how much damage the ongoing NHS crisis has done to the Conservatives.
While undefeated in Copeland since it was reformed in 1983, Labour’s dominance in the constituency has been in steady decline.
Since claiming 58 per cent of the vote for Jack Cunningham in 1997, Labour have seen their votes drop.
The 2001 General Election saw them claim 51.8 per cent, followed by 50.5 per cent in 2005, 46 per cent in 2010 and just 42.3 in 2015.
And with the Tory votes holding steady in the last 30 years, it’s UKIP who have done much of the damage for Labour.
Since emerging on the scene in 2005 with just over 700 votes, the party claimed over 6000 two years ago.
Landing 15.5 per cent of Copeland’s last election, the bookies go 10/11 that UKIP once again pick up between 10-20 per cent of the votes.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing