North Shropshire By-Election: An Outsider’s Preview

Luke Silcock previews the North Shropshire by-election, outlining who is in the running, assessing the history of this seat and looking back at the campaign.

The polls are open for the voters of North Shropshire as they choose a new MP after their former disgraced MP Owen Paterson resigned after the government decided not to rewrite the rules for their mates. To clarify, it is a disgrace they tried in the first place, which shows their fundamental lack of moral backbone. Anyway with the by-election today with the results expected in the early hours of tomorrow morning it is worth asking who are the candidates, what do the results mean for the PM and why are the Liberal Democrats fighting with Labour and what does the past tell us about what may happen. 

First of the candidates, much like most by-elections, there is a long list of candidates standing,  some as satire, some representing the far right. The frontrunners, however, at least based on previous election results, would seem to be the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The Conservative candidate (who couldn’t answer as to whether Johnson had honesty or integrity) is Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst. Labour’s candidate is Ben Wood, who has focused on local links, transport and all things local. The Liberal Democrat is Helen Morgan, who also stood for the party and 2019 in which she placed third behind the Conservatives and Labour. These three all seem to be taking the election seriously wanting to win the election to prove different points. With the Conservative acting as a puppet for Johnson who will do as he is told, the Lib Dem trying to prove that a Chesham and Amersham style win is possible elsewhere. And Ben Wood in his campaign is less trying to prove something but instead, take the fight to the tories and fight for the interests of everybody in the constituency.

It would be silly to ignore the past in any by-election. First of all, Labour has come second in North Shropshire for some time now, with our closest results being the 1997 and 2001 landslides. These elections similarly came at a time of Conservative disaster, corruption and sleaze. In these elections, the Lib Dems also picked up votes as a consistent presence in third place. 

With the relative proximity of Labour and the Lib Dems in the past, the conversation has as such inevitably turned to tactical voting and who should stand down, with these conversations often turning to heated online arguments about who should do what. As it is now obviously too late for anybody to stand down to another, it has certainly been a conversation worth having as we approach the next general election in the coming years. While it is not the job of this piece to decide or judge how we could best approach elections in the future, I think it is worth looking at how the Liberals have acted and spoken about Labour and the Conservatives. With accusations from a party that went into government with the tories that doing work experience constituted propping up conservatives, the new line they seem to be taking is that in ‘Blue Wall’ seats they are the only hope for replacing Tories. This is certainly an exaggeration both of their popularity and electoral appeal and how people respond to scandal, with Labour going significantly up in the polls recently after Keir Starmer’s leadership and prime ministerial approach and Johnson’s gross misconduct and incompetence. 

As I write this on the day of the election, I am hopeful for Labour’s chances in this by-election and know that Ben Wood is the best person for the job and that he cares deeply about North Shropshire and the people that live their and hope that the people of North Shropshire make the right decision and send a clear message to Johnson and his disaster of a government that people want change and competence to be priorities for the government not corruption, sleaze, scandal and a disregard for the rule of law. 

Luke Silcock is a 17 year old A-Level Student, Labour member and CLP Youth Officer for Pudsey Labour Party. He tweets at @LukeSilcock2004.

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