Labour have celebrated the Old Bexley & Sidcup result claiming voters are starting to show they are fed up of Boris Johnson’s jokes and are tired of being taken for granted.
Unite leader Sharon Graham has said Labour should take their Old Bexley & Sidcup by-election loss as just that – a loss.
Ms Graham said the party will continue to “take a hit at the ballot box” unless they speak up for workers and communities.
Celebrating her 100 days as general secretary of the union, Ms Graham said she is proud of her wins so far but insists she has a lot more in the pipeline because “workers are being battered and communities are suffering”.
She told the Mirror: “It’s my responsibility to fight bad bosses until politicians get their act together.
“I want Labour to do well. Theoretically they should be fighting for workers and communities but if they don’t lead the fight for workers and communities people will question the relevance of the Labour Party.
“There is no point waiting until election time to talk about their difficulties because people will say, ‘hang on a second, where were you when I needed you?'”
When asked if Labour were right to feel confident following the by-election results, Ms Graham told the Mirror: “Labour lost the by-election. That’s the outcome.”
It comes after Labour said Boris Johnson should be “worried” about the Old Bexley & Sidcup by election results as voters are showing that they are fed up of his jokes and fed up of following rules the Tories ignore.
With the lowest voter turnout of any by-election held this year so far, the Tories managed to hold onto the Old Bexley and Sidcup seat.
But even though Tory candidate Louie French took more than half the votes in the contest, a turnout of just 34% means the Conservatives’ majority was slashed from almost 19,000 to 4,478, giving Labour a 10% swing.
If a 10 per cent swing is replicated at the next general election, the PM could lose his own Uxbridge and Ruislip South seat.
Shadow Solicitor General Ellie Reeves celebrated the result, claiming the Labour swing in a Tory heartland seat shows people are seeing the PM’s “incompetence”.
“A swing of 10.3% in a Tory stronghold, carried across the country in a General Election, would have Labour within reach of a majority Government,” she said.
“Voters have been telling us that they are fed up of being taken for granted, fed up of being told to live by a set of rules that is ignored by the government and fed up with the sleaze.
“Serious times call for serious leadership and people are ready to give Keir Starmer a hearing.”
Mr French won with 11,189 votes. The Labour candidate, Daniel Francis, took second place with 6,711 (just over 30% of the vote) and Richard Tice, the leader of the Reform party, came third on 1,432 votes (6.5% of the vote).
The by-election follows the death of former Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire who died of lung cancer earlier this year, aged 53.
He was elected in the 2019 election with a majority of 19,000 to the suburban London seat.
Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden said he was “really not terribly worried about Labour” after the Tory majority was slashed in the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election.
Mr Dowden told Sky News: “This is a good result for a governing party mid-term. As you well know, governing parties shouldn’t expect to do well mid-term. We actually secured over 50% of the vote in Bexley. I pay tribute to our excellent candidate and the campaign team there that secured that result.
“This idea that Labour have made some surge ahead is really for the birds. They’ve actually got about the same vote share as they secured under Jeremy Corbyn in 2017.
“Keir Starmer couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to the by-election, so I am really not terribly worried about Labour.”
Deputy Tory party chairman Justin Tomlinson said if Labour were “serious” about being a potential alternative Government they should be “running us very, very close”.
He claimed voters in Old Bexley and Sidcup were not focused on Downing Street Christmas party allegations.
Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator, Shabana Mahmood, said the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election result means people are seeing Keir Starmer as a good fit for becoming Prime Minister.
“In the conversations that I had, more and more people are taking a second look at the Labour Party and more and more people are concluding that Keir Starmer would make a better prime minister of this country.
“So, as I say, I take great heart from that.”
The Prime Minister will not visit the Old Bexley & Sidcup constituency but instead will visit the North Shropshire on Friday ahead of their by-election on December 16. But he did not visit the Old Bexley & Sidcup constituency his party won.
The North Shropshire vote follows the resignation of Conservative MP Owen Paterson, who was found to have breached parliamentary rules on lobbying.