Labour set to lose Copeland seat according to internal polling
Labour are on course to be the first opposition party to lose a seat in a by-election in 35 years in the upcoming Copeland fight, it has emerged.
According to their own canvass returns, Labour support has dropped by a third in the Cumbrian seat.
Internal documents seen by the Daily Telegraph show dwindling support for Jeremy Corbyn is behind the drop.
Support for Labour is believed to have dropped by a third since the 2015 general election.
A senior Labour source said Mr Corbyn’s “incompetence” as a party leader was repeatedly coming up as a concern for voters on the doorstep.
The returns suggest that the Tories will take Copeland – a seat held by Labour for 80 years – when voters pick their new MP next month.
It would be the first time the Government has won a seat off the official opposition since the Tories took Mitcham and Morden, London, in 1982.
Mr Corbyn suffered a setback this week when his favoured candidate, Rachel Holliday, was not selected to challenge for the seat.
Instead Gillian Troughton, a local councillor, was chosen. Mr Corbyn later praised her “strong track record of getting things done” in a message released by the party.
Prof Robert Ford, who teaches political science at Manchester University, said losing Copeland to the Tories would be remarkable in modern political history.
He said: “It would be extremely noteworthy for at least three reasons. Firstly, we know the extremely well-established dynamic in by-elections is for the governing party to lose ground.
“Secondly, no government has ever picked up a seat in a by-election for 35 years and it’s only happened twice in 60 years. So it’s extraordinary for that perspective.
“And then there’s the seat in question. Copeland has been Labour since the 1930s. To not only lose a seat but lose one which has been in your party’s column for generations would be a political earthquake.”