The resignation of MPs Jamie Reed (Copeland) and Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central) will have not caused Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party any sorrow. Constant critics of the democratically-elected leader who have decided to leave their jobs for much better-paid positions at the Sellafield nuclear plant and the Victoria and Albert Museum will not get much of a send-off. However, it is now vital that the we mobilise to get Labour victories in both seats.
Labour last lost the Copeland constituency in 1931, the year Ramsay MacDonald led a right wing split from the party. The seat that makes up parts of Stoke Central was lost in the same year. Both have been Labour ever since.
The poor situation for Labour in the polls, a strong UKIP showing, and in Stoke a history of the far right doing well in local elections means difficult fights ahead. As Copeland is situated in the far north west of England, it will need more coordination to get campaigners to. In Copeland Rachel Holliday, a Momentum-backed candidate, hopes to win the nomination. That would be good news. The NHS, housing and transport are key issues in the constituency. Socialist arguments against private profit, for public ownership and social investment are essential measures.
The Sellafield nuclear power facility which employs close to10,000 people is based in the constituency – there will need to be a discussion on the left about our policy on nuclear power and what Labour should argue. The strong union presence there should be mobilised to back the Labour campaign.
Momentum and other labour movement activists should organise to get to Copeland and Stoke Central and prepare for a quick but intensive campaign. Momentum groups in the northern region have already begun coordination in Copeland and will be helping coordinate with activists in Copeland and West Cumbria Momentum; they are also working closely with Labour North and Copeland Labour, who have already opened a headquarters in the constituency.