Coping Badly?

Conservative candidate Trudy Harrison has last week been elected to Parliament in Copeland, a seat held by Labour since 1935. This is the first time that a by-election has been won by the sitting Government from the opposition in 50 years, leading David Milliband to remark that ‘Labour is further from power than at any stage in my lifetime’. A recent YouGov poll shows that Labour is now third most popular (behind the Tories and UKIP) among their core working class electorate.  Meanwhile, Ipsos Mori data shows that Labour had its highest approval ratings in September 1997, having won over middle-class voters to take the general election in May that year. It was also described as being ‘least divided’ at this point in its history, whereas this measure was at its worst in 1983, at which point its manifesto was described by Labour MP Gerald Kaufman as ‘the longest suicide note in history’.