The Guardian Northerner‘s political commentor Ed Jacobs picks some statistics to illustrate the way the party fared in 2012
It’s been a year of mostly ups for Labour in the north, but not entirely. Success was punctuated by the shock of the dreadful result for the party in the Bradford West by-election which saw George Galloway return to Westminster for Respect.
The party also had to endure prolonged controversy over one of its own MPs, Denis MacShane, who was ultimately forced to resign his Rotherham seat over misclaimed expenses. And John Prescott’s high profile attempt to become Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside proved a damp squib.
So here is Labour’s year in the north in numbers:
47% is the average support for Labour in northern England in 2012 among those certain to vote as measured in the Guardian‘s regular polling by ICM Research.
2nd is where Labour came in Bradford West. Concluding that Labour had it coming, Simon Danczuk, the party’s MP for Rochdale observed in an article for the Guardian Northerner: “Byelections are furious, competitive affairs packed with high drama. It’s always a bumpy ride and the golden rule is that playing safe is probably the most dangerous thing in the world. This was Labour’s cardinal error.”
One – the number of Labour MPs in the north forced to step down for getting up to no good. Denis MacShane resigned his seat as MP for Rotherham in November after being accused by the Parliamentary authorities of false accounting in relation to his expenses. Rother Valley Labour MP, Kevin Barron, chair of the cross-party standards and privileges committee, described the findings against him as the “gravest case which has come to the committee for adjudication”.
Eight – the number of Labour Police and Crime Commissioners elected across northern England in November, elections which Labour felt were unnecessary and a waste of time and money. After losing to the Conservative candidate, Matthew Grove, in Humberside, John Prescott told the Hull Daily Mail: “I’m not going to be sitting around in my slippers. I will be campaigning in my coffin. This is the beauty of being in the Lords: I’m still involved in politics.”
Two – the number of Labour Mayors elected in May in Liverpool and Salford, cities where the council, rather than the people, voted for their establishment. Across the rest of the north however, the verdict of the public was a big thumbs down to the idea of directly elected mayors.
70% – the proportion of voters polled by ComRes for the ‘People’s Pledge’ organisation in Ed Miliband’s Doncaster North constituency calling for a vote on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union in a year that the issue once again entered the mainstream of national political debate.
Three – the number of Labour byelection victories across the north in 2012 in Manchester Central, Middlesbrough and Rotherham.
Labour can rest assured that as 2012 draws to a close, the north remains as supportive of the party as it almost always has been. For Ed Miliband to make it to Number 10, however, will require such support to be reflected in the south. On that, the jury remains firmly out.
You can read a Labour view in this related Northerner post by Houghton and Sunderland South’s MP Bridget Phillipson here.