The Liberal Democrats have taken another seat on Sheffield Council from Labour by winning the Mosborough ward by-election yesterday. The seat became up-for-grabs following the sad death of the incumbent Isobel Bowler.
As you could have predicted, the right of the Labour Party are laying blame for this loss firmly and squarely at the feet of Jeremy Corbyn. Mary Creagh MP, supporter of Owen Smith, tweeted:
Sadly, more evidence of Labour's great leap backward. https://t.co/nZJOoWsB9K
— Mary Creagh CBE (@MaryCreagh_) September 8, 2016
Another anti-Corbyn MP, Neil Coyle, tweeted:
(Inverse) Corbyn bounce continues in real world. In Momentum-world voters crying out for him apparently. https://t.co/HkXeS1AItH
— Neil Coyle (@coyleneil) September 8, 2016
Local council by-elections for Labour happen on an almost weekly basis yet Creagh seems to have difficulty in re-tweeting or drawing any conclusions from them. The anti-Corbyn Daily Mirror claimed that the 45% vote from a 28% turnout was a “crushing defeat.” As risible as the Mirror’s sensationalist take are the spurious claims from the right of the Labour Party that it is all Jeremy Corbyn’s fault. Conveniently, they choose to omit some key information and context from their attacks.
They claim that this was a safe Labour seat and should have been a given that it was retained. They omit to say that Mosborough was a Liberal Democrat seat as recently as 2008 – when they had overall control of the council. It must also have slipped their minds that the winner of yesterday’s election, Gail Smith, had been a Councillor in Mosborough previously, up until the post-coalition collapse. Therefore, it was hardly beyond the realms of possibility that Labour could expect to have lost the seat.
The failed Labour Councillor was rabidly anti-Corbyn
Corbyn’s critics point to a recent rally in Sheffield and claim that it is proof that big rallies do not translate to votes or election victories, and that Corbyn’s popularity does not stretch beyond his core constituency. Again, what the anti-Corbyn brigade conveniently forget to mention is that the candidate that Sheffield Labour nominated to contest the Mosborough seat, Julie Grocutt, is herself rabidly anti-Corbyn. Her Twitter account – until she closed it down – was an endless stream of anti-Corbyn bile and propaganda. Picture the scene; Sheffield Labour nominate an anti-Corbyn candidate, who leaves Corbyn off her election materials, and when she loses it is the fault of Jeremy Corbyn, because he is so unpopular. You couldn’t make this up. Except that ‘Team Smith’ actually have done.
To add the icing to this particularly grubby cake, a local journalist for the Sheffield Star, Chris Burn, has pointed out that Grocutt doesn’t actually live in Mosborough. Infact it has been claimed that Grocutt had been parachuted in to stand from 16 miles away. The winner, Gail Smith, has lived in the area for over twenty years, and served as its Councillor. Furthermore, she was the only candidate out of the five who actually lives in Mosborough.
When you start putting the pieces of the jigsaw together you see a number of reasons as to why Labour lost the Mosborough constituency. The Labour right will have you believe that any electoral victories are won in-spite of Corbyn, whereas any loses are because of Corbyn – even when the candidate is vehemently opposed to Corbyn.