Oldham – a triumph for Corbyn or localism?

Jim McMahon

Jim McMahon

The Oldham by-election result seems to have surprised the media and angered Nigel Farage.  Some are claiming it as a triumph for Corbyn and vindication of his “leadership” of the Labour Party.  Others, more savvy, have noted that the successful candidate who increased his percentage of the vote on a lower turnout was a well-known local council leader.  Jim McMahon very carefully concentrated his campaign on his work for Oldham which was well known and very popular.  His supporters describe his campaign style as “Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim”.  You had to look very hard to find any mention of national issues or of the Labour leader.  Cllr McMahon carefully avoided saying who he voted for in the Labour leadership elections but you can guess it was not comrade Corbyn!

Far too often, political parties think they know best and parachute some bright young thing into a constituency and expect the local electorate to accept their choice.  Here we had what turns out to be a popular and successful decision to run with the local council leader; well known; greatly respected and working for Oldham.

He is entering a snake pit in Westminster.  No doubt he will be lauded, paraded and schmoozed by his fellow MPs but he will soon have to come to terms with the darker side of Labour politics.  As a moderate, the hard left will be watching him and he can expect their pressure tactics to come his way once the sweet taste of victory has faded slightly.   Good luck to him!

About Keith R Mitchell CBE

Qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1967. Pursued a successful career in financial training and publishing until selling his interests in 1990. Elected a County Councillor for the Bloxham Division in 1989. Leader of Oxfordshire County Council 5 November 2001 to 15 May 2012. Chairman of the South East England Regional Planning Committee July 2002 to July 2005. Chairman of the South East England Regional Assembly July 2005 to July 2008. In HM the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours, appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of services to local government.
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