Saturday, February 25, 2017

And the prize for the most ridiculous explanation for the Copeland by-election result ...

Over the past 38 hours there have been all sorts of absurd explanations put forward for the election result in Copeland.

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have blamed just about everyone on the planet for Labour's disastrous showing in the by-election except Jeremy Corbyn.

I'm sharing links to some of the most absurd not because I wish to gloat - well not much anyway - but because I think even disappointed Labour supporters, if they have a working brain and are not members of the Cult of Corbyn, will find some of them quite funny.

A strong contender for the most barking mad article on the subject is a piece by Paul Mason called "Labour won Stoke Jamie Reed lost Copeland." which accused Reed and Hunt of being part of

"the Blairite plan to stage two electoral disasters on one night."

It's a little difficult to take this seriously given that it was actually the present leadership of the Labour party that decided to stage the two by-elections together.

While the issue of Brexit certainly did come up on the doorstep I also find it hard to take seriously Mason's argument that a significant chunk of a large part of Britain want to leave the EU so much that they would happily see the NHS destroyed provided we leave.

I don't know how many Leave voters he has ever spoken to but the vast majority of leave voters with whom I have discussed the matter, whether they literally believed the slogan on the side of that red bus or not, either thought that Britain would be better off outside the EU and could therefore afford to put more into the NHS, or that the country would do well enough outside that significant cuts in public spending would not be needed. People who thought Brexit would wreck the NHS voted Remain.

Mr Mason himself appears to be seriously conflicted about the EU - on the one hand he argues that leaving it will go "catastrophically wrong" and cause an "economic disaster" and yet in the same article he simultaneously argues that

"the EU is an economic and political disaster zone: it is a machine for imposing austerity and injustice and will go on self-destructing whatever Labour’s position is in the negotiations. If anything, the Labour position was not critical enough of Europe in the Brexit referendum campaign."

Let's get this straight: Mason thinks the EU is an economic and political disaster zone which exists to impose austerity and injustice, but nevertheless believes that leaving it will also be a disaster?

I can understand either of those viewpoints separately but holding both of them is one of the most serious cases of cognitive dissonance I've ever come across.

Tom Peck's political sketch in The Independent,

"Churchillian Corbyn knows that it is only through failure that you find success,"

givens an ironic roundup of the different excuses put forward for Labour's defeat, as does the Labour supporting Mirror newspaper in their piece,

"Nine unbelievable reasons Jeremy Corbyn allies gave for Labour losing in Copeland - and one they didn't."

But my favourite utterly bonkers explanation of the result came in a "Heavy Metal Politics" piece

"Stoke vs Copeland: why Labour can win again" which blames it in a power cut.

Noting that Electricity North West had confirmed that on polling day Storm Doris caused a loss of power to 7,000 homes in the North West, "Heavy Metal Politics" alleged with a total lack of any supporting evidence "many of which occurred in Copeland."

From this they constructed an elaborate and highly detailed house of cards of an argument that many younger voters in CA28 postcode areas around Whitehaven lost electric power, and therefore access to social media, and thus did not hear Labour's arguments telling them to go and vote Labour.

Now apart from the fact that the people of Copeland have been subjected to such wall-to-wall campaigning by every imaginable channel that more than a few were starting to react like this, and therefore loss of social media for one day should not have had that huge an impact on people's knowledge about the by-election, I live in Whitehaven and spent all day campaigning here and saw no evidence at all of power cuts.

Looking at a wider range of news reports on the Electricity North West  website than the one linked to I discovered that, far from many of the 7,000 homes which lost power being in Whitehaven or any other part of Copeland, most of them were in Lancashire, Manchester and the Peak district as you can read here.

So my prize for the most ridiculous explanation for the Copeland by-election result goes to Heavy Metal Politics and if the person responsible for the article would care to contact me I will arrange to send them their wooden spoon ...

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