10 Oct 2014

Heywood by-election win poses more questions for Labour

Scotland Correspondent

Labour held on to the seat of Heywood and Middleton – but its majority was reduced to 617, prompting more questions about the leadership of Ed Miliband.

This had the feeling of a change of strategy from Ed Miliband. There was a sense Labour used to ignore Ukip, for fear of drawing attention to what is fast becoming a phenomenon. On the steps of Heywood Library, a new approach. Frankly, after his party’s performance in the by-election here he had little choice.

The Labour leader said he would listen to disillusioned voters. Ukip, he said, were more Tory than the Tories. And yet in Labour’s back yard Ukip pushed his party mightily close.

Suddenly Miliband wanted to talk about the issues which have clearly resonated here, with immigration too of the pile.

What he didn’t want to do was talk to members of the public. He was whisked in and out with military precision.

In a tanning salon across the road I asked them what they made of it all. “Who’s Ed Miliband?” was the reply.