Stoke and Copeland Live Blog

I am running a live blog of events in Stoke and Copeland By-Elections, reporting on events on the Labour campaign (this live blog is not in support of the Labour Party, WriteYou is a non-partisan site). If you enjoy this coverage please click here to help fundraise to take the site to the next level. 

03:00 - Labour lose Copeland. And the results show clearly that UKIP voters trended Tory and Labour voters trended Lib Dems. This is a deep question that Labour has to answer in order to win. More on this tomorrow.

02:30 - Labour win Stoke. As Adam Bienkov points out this result is further evidence that Lib Dems & Tories are a bigger threat to Labour than UKIP. 

01:49 - Labour's Pollster Michael Turner of BMG Research trolling Arron Banks over Stoke Central:


01:12 - Looks like Labour will win by 3,000 at least in Stoke and lose to the Tories by at least 1,000 in Copeland.

00:33 Labour's ground game shouldn't be underestimated in low turnout elections. 

00:23 Turnout in Copeland 51.35% much higher than expected. This means PVs are roughly the same as 2015, meaning that Labour didn't manage to get more than 2015 onto PVs. The question then is who turned out to vote. 

00:16 Turnout of 38.16% in Stoke would indicate the information we reported earlier that Labour sources were predicting as much as a 3-5,000 victory could be correct. Labour's formidable ground game at work here. 

00:02 - Sky News are reporting that there are 9,000 postal votes. In 2015 there were 9737 on a 63.8% turnout. As turnout is expected to be at least 20% less than 2015, they will take a significant role in final result. 

11:54 - Dan Hodges reporting Tories ahead. 


11:41pm - Lots of different theories going around. Labour commentator Dan Hodges: 


10:29pm - Labour source gets in touch to provide Jeremy Corbyn's email to PLP at close of polls:

Subject: Close of Poll - message from Jeremy Corbyn to MPs


Dear Colleagues,


I wanted to write to thank you for all of your work to support the by-elections. At a difficult time for the party, in the midst of the Article 50 debates, our MPs have led the way. Thank you for all you have done motivating members and activists, at our phone banks, supporting our candidates and, of course, hitting the doors day in and day out. Special thanks are of course due to Andrew Gwynne, Sue Hayman, Cat Smith, Jack Dromey and Ruth Smeeth, who have gone above and beyond to lead these campaigns on behalf of the Party. Myself, the PLP, and the whole of the Labour movement owe you a great debt of thanks.


We always knew that these were going to be competitive, close and challenging elections, but with your help we have made the arguments on the issues that matter to working people – our local NHS services, and an economy that works for the whole of the country, ensuring that no one is left behind. We should all be proud of the campaigns we have run, and I have extended my thanks, on behalf of the PLP, to the Party staff who have put their lives on hold and worked seven-day weeks to make the case for Labour.


We will know more once the counts are underway, and of course, colleagues will be kept updated. But for now, thank you again, and I hope everyone has the chance to relax this evening after a long (and wet) day on the doorstep.


Best wishes


Jeremy Corbyn

Leader of the Labour Party


10:25pm - We started reporting yesterday, that Labour expected to lose in Copeland. Some Labour sources still think Labour can win, but I'm not so sure. 


10:21pm - the counting has begun


10:00pm - Several Labour sources on the ground have predicted that Labour will by as much as 5,000 with Tories in second and UKIP in third. Copeland probable Labour loss but very close. 

9:23pm - not long left now. Copeland could go either way at this point but provided there isn't a total shock Labour will win Stoke. 

8:40pm - Labour sources on the ground in Copeland think that is very close and difficult to call. In Stoke, it seems the Labour GOTV campaign is managing to persuade people how to vote. Local sources say that there are reports across the constituency of Labour's on the ground operation being effective.  

7:06pm -  Tory source backing up our turnout report and my below reporting about UKIP voters going Tory. 


6:50pm- Following our exclusive report that Labour's Elections Director is confident that Labour will win Stoke, I've heard from a well respected elections veteran on the ground who says "it is in the bag".

6:10pm - I have a brief update on the Labour Party campaign. My understanding from very senior sources is that Labour HQ is doing advanced digital advertising in both by-elections. This team that sits under Patrick Heneghan, the Executive Director of Elections, and is run by Tom Lavelle are targeting voters based on their voting intention and propensity to vote. They are doing this through the purchase of external data and Facebook advertising. Tom's team is a relatively new operation that was started after the 2016 elections. My understanding from sources close to the Labour Leader is that Patrick is confident Labour will win stoke, but thinks that Copeland is on a knife edge. 

5:19pm - Sources in stoke say that turnout is very slow. I've been told that activists are walking around for hours and hardly getting anyone in. This is to some extent normal, but I'm told this is worse than usual. There are increasing fears in the Labour camp of a low turnout. (For avoidance of doubt following Twitter comments, this isn't about Labour's election chances, but about turnout)

4:45pm - just a quick update on the Labour campaign in Copeland and Stoke. The Copeland campaign is being run by the Regional Director of Labour North, the formidable and highly respected Fiona Stanton. The MP in charge is Andrew Gwynne. Stanton is a veteran of running by-election campaigns and from personal experience will be running a ruthlessly organised campaign up there. Stoke is being run by the newly appointed West Midlands Regional Director George Sinnott. The MP is Jack Dromey. 

4:28pm - the wildcard in Copeland is of course the number of postal votes. In 2015 there were 12,218 postal votes in Copeland or 19.4%. 9737 were returned or 24.5% of the overall vote. This will almost certainly be higher this time due to the Labour Party's famed postal vote operation. I've just been told that the weather is absolutely shocking and likely to depress turnout. In this instance, postal votes will take on a far more significant angle. I am trying to find out info about PVs and will write about this if I find out any more info.

I'm also told that Whitehaven is a lot better for Labour than Keswick. This again brings differential turnout to the fore. 

I'm told activist turnout in Stoke is huge and Labour HQ sent a coach of non-essential staffers to Stoke. 

3:50pm update - Some Labour sources in Copeland tell me that they personally think that the election is very close and closer than some people expect because of the local NHS issue, as I explained yesterday. These sources think the race will come down to differential turnout, i.e what type of voter turns out. The electoral maths make the seat very tight. In the 2015 Parliament the average reduction in turnout is about 20%. So turnout in 2015 in Copeland was 63.8. So if we budget for a 43.8% turnout this would mean there would be roughly 27,345 voters. Based on the 2015 figures the result would be if exactly the same:

Labour 11,566 - Tory 9,789 - UKIP 4,238 - Lib Dems 957 - Greens 820

I'm told by 2 members of the Shadow Cabinet and multiple people knocking on doors, that our vote isn't holding up. I'm also told that the Tories are heavily working the seat and the Lib Dems are trying to aggressively mop up Labour voters annoyed with Labour over brexit. The national polls show that UKIP voters are trending Tory and Labour voters are trending Lib Dem. This makes the seat very close but at this point, looks like Labour will lose.

I also understand from people knocking on doors that Labour are using targeting technology to add likely Labour voters to their door knocking sheets. This means that they haven't identified enough promises, to make the people in Labour's Southside HQ completely comfortable. 

Sources on the ground in Stoke, tell me things are going as expected and it is likely Labour will win there. 


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