Unit One Representation and Democracy Stoke and Copeland by-elections


These two by-elections have come at a difficult time for the Labour Party. Copeland in Cumbria has the Sellafield Nuclear plant as its biggest employer and Jeremy Corbyn’s long standing opposition to nuclear power (as well as nuclear weapons) has probably been the single decisive factor in Labour losing to the Tories. Even a vigorous campaign on local health services (an area in which the Conservatives were extremely vulnerable) could not persuade the electorate in the consistency to stay with Labour in what has always been regarded as a marginal Labour seat. As for Stoke-on-Trent, often described as Brexit Central, Labour just hung on, despite a strong but flawed challenge from UKIP. Pro remain interventions from Blair and Mandelson last week have been blamed for Labour losing voting share, though not enough for UKIP to get their 2nd Westminster seat.

In terms of translating these two by-elections into marks in the exam you should probably take most of your points from The Guardian analysis below, which looks at turnout, voting share, and, by implication, the disproportionality of FPTP:

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 9.16.59 AM.png

First of all note that the turnout at just 36.7% means 63.3% of the electorate in Stoke did not cast a vote. You could argue that the result therefore lacks legitimacy. The winning candidate has the positive vote of around just 13% of the entire constituency’s electorate, an obvious flaw of FPTP. In addition 63.91% of all votes cast in this by-election were wasted. So almost 2/3 didn’t vote and of those who did, 2/3rds of the votes did not count. This is one of the biggest flaws in FPTP.

You might want to try doing a similar analysis with the Copeland by-election results below.

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 9.25.18 AM.pngReading through the commentary you will notice that once again the Labour Party is having very bitter divisions being played out in public so you might want to apply this to any Unit one questions on internal party cohesion in the parties questions.

You can Read the full Guardian analysis by clicking on the image below.

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 9.44.22 AM.png

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