Sandhill (Sunderland) result:
LDEM: 45.0% (+41.5)
LAB: 25.0% (-29.9)
UKIP: 18.7% (-7.2)
CON: 10.0% (-5.7)
GRN: 1.3% (+1.3)
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) January 12, 2017
What on earth just happened in Sunderland? The Liberal Democrats came from a very poor fourth place to take what had previously been a safe Labour seat on a 40% swing. And this for a pro-remain party in a region that voted 60/40 in favour of Leave. What is going on?
No, you shouldn’t read too much into a single local council by-election, but you can see trends. And it’s looking very, very bad for Labour. Is their strategy of backing a so-called “Hard Brexit” to cut immigration in order to protect their flank against UKIP seeing their pro-remain vote defecting on masse to the Liberal Democrats? Are Labour in the English regions about to go the way of Labour in Scotland?
And today comes the news that Tristram Hunt is leaving Parliament for a more rewarding job elsewhere, forcing a by-election in Stoke-on-Trent Central, a constituency that politically looks a lot like Sunderland in many ways.