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Labour warned Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election swing a ‘blip’ ahead of North Shropshire

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That is the verdict of voters in the southeast London constituency which the Tories held in spite of damning headlines about an alleged Downing Street lockdown Christmas do and furore over MPs second jobs. The vote in the Tory safe seat was the first in a series of closely-watched by-elections with voters in North Shropshire heading to the polls on Thursday to choose a replacement for Owen Paterson, who resigned after being found to have broken lobbying rules.

Voters in Old Bexley and Sidcup elected Louie French to Parliament with the 33-year-old winning 11,189 votes, compared to Labour’s Daniel Francis who received 6,711.

The Tory majority of 19,000 from 2019 was slashed to 4,478 on a reduced turnout of 34 percent while Labour enjoyed a 10 percent swing.

North Shropshire’s majority in 2019 was 22,949 on a 68 percent turnout with Labour trailing on 12,495 votes.

People in Mr French’s suburban London seat have suggested the Tories may be able to weather recent storms.

Elizabeth Murray, manager of Bexley Country Market, said: “Some people would be affected by what’s in the media – things about the Christmas party, things about where they disagreed with what’s happening with Covid.

“But I would think it was a small issue. We’ve been quite pleased with the representation we’ve had.

“There’s a lot of negative things with Boris, but there’s negative things with everyone in Government.

“I would not like to be Boris. I think with Covid, even with Starmer or anyone else that got in, they would still have difficult issues with Covid.”

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She described Labour’s 10 percent swing as a “blip”, adding that initially she viewed Sir Keir positively, but now believes the Labour leader has flip-flopped on Covid.

Elizabeth added: “He agreed with everything [the Government] did with Covid and now he’s saying things are wrong.”

Bexley scrap metal dealer John Taylor put the reduced majority down to mid-term punishment for Mr Johnson’s government, adding that any party in power at this point would have suffered the same.

Cafe chain owner Clifford Eton said he was pleased with how the Government looked after his business during the pandemic.

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He added: “Anyone in their position, because of the pandemic and Brexit, would struggle.”

But Mr Eton explained that Mr French needs to fight the corner of small businesses, protect policing and oppose road charges to keep his support.

By contrast, Labour supporter, Paula Woodcock, said she was delighted by the swing, but admitted Labour could not have won in the true blue seat.

In North Shropshire, internal polling from Labour puts the Tories on 40 percent, Labour on 33 percent and the Liberal Democrats on 11 percent.

However, a Lib Dem analysis of postal voting data-led party insiders to insist the Tory vote has fallen from 52 percent to 44 percent while its has risen from 32 to 38 percent.

Nationally, Sir Keir’s party has opened up a huge lead in the polls, with Labour on 41 percent, up 3 percentage points, and the Conservatives on 32 percent, down four, in their largest lead in an Opinium poll since February 2014.

Adam Drummond, Opinium’s Associate Director, said: “While the shift is large, it is important to remember a couple of key points.

“Firstly, Boris Johnson is the king of comebacks, and we have seen him recover from difficult polling situations before.

“Secondly, Labour still has some key brand issues, with many voters not trusting them on the economy, and some voters cynical about whether Keir Starmer is strong enough for the top job.

“This might be why so many Conservative voters are moving to undecided, rather than straight to the Labour Party. However, unless the Conservatives can turn these numbers around quickly, backbenchers might start asking if the party is over for the Prime Minister.”

The North Shropshire by-election candidates listed alphabetically in order of surname are:

Suzie Akers Smith – Independent

Andrea Christabel Allen – UK Independece Party (UKIP)

Boris Been-Bunged – Rejoin EU

Martin Edward Daubney – The Reclaim Party

Russell Fraser Dean – The Party Party

James Alexander Elliot – Heritage Party

Howling Laud Hope – The Official Monster Raving Loony Party

Earl Elvis Phillippe Jesse – Freedom Alliance. The Real Alternative

Yolande Ann Kenward – Independent

Duncan Alistair Kerr – Green Party

Lilian Helen Margaret Morgan – Liberal Democrats

Neil Shastri-Hurst – The Conservative Party

Kirsty Rebecca Walmsley – Reform UK

Ben Wood – Labour Party

Read the full article via Shropshire Live at: https://www.shropshirelive.com/news/2021/11/19/list-of-candidates-published-for-north-shropshire-by-election/

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