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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Boost for Jeremy Corbyn as Labour takes first Worthing council seat for decades

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

Top Labour MPs were rejoicing this morning after the party won its first local council seat in Worthing for over 40 years.

In a further boost for Jeremy Corbyn the party kicked Ukip into a minority administration in Thanet and beat it again in Swale.

The party saw big swings in council by-elections - including one seat it held and another it had not contested for years.

In Marine in Worthing the party snatched a seat from the Tories with a huge 27.8-point swing in its favour, while in Margate Central in Thanet it won a 23.7 point swing.

The Labour leader took to Twitter to congratulate his candidates.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner declared: “Amazing result in Marine Ward as Labour gain the seat from the Tories”.

She praised the “hard working” victor Beccy Cooper and noted that it was the “first Lab Cllr in 40 years” in the area.

Ms Rayner added: “Labour holding seats and making gains against UKIP&Tories in council by elections. Voters have had enough of this useless inept government.”

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said: “Well done Beccy and our Labour team. Fantastic result.”

And Labour advisor David Prescott - son of former deputy leader John - suggested the big swings could be down to younger voters who had moved away from London.

Former frontbencher Chuka Umunna meanwhile tweeted: “There were some great Labour gains last night, and the continued demise of Ukip is good news for everyone.”

Elsewhere, Labour held a council seat in Charnwood with a swing of 5.8 points and made a 7.2-point gain in Sevenoaks in a seat it has not contested for years.

It also won a seat from Ukip in Swale with a 25.1 point swing but lost a seat to the Conservatives in Norfolk.


Ben Walker, founder of election observers Britain Elects, said he would "caution against overanalysis" after by-election gains for the Liberal Democrats last year.

But he told PoliticsHome: "Labour gaining in Worthing, Swale and Thanet vindicates the general election result.

"Labour are now competitive in parliamentary seats such as South Thanet and Worthing East and so we should expect them to do well there."

He added: "As to whether they can build a large enough coalition of voters to take them over the top into Downing Street is yet to be seen, but from last night's results we can assume they are picking up a good deal of Ukip votes.

"Turnout in council by-elections tends to be ridiculously low (10-30%), and this is only one week, so wouldn't look into them too much, but the direction of travel is clear: Labour's doing well."

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