Hope and turnout wins Manchester for Labour

Triumphant Labour MPs say a "campaign about hope and about change" seecured sweeping victories for Jeremy Corbyn's party in constituencies across Manchester, as The Northern Quota's Hanya Hesham, Laura Halliwell and Pete Murray report.

“A phenomenal result in Manchester!” the newly re-elected MP for Manchester Central, Lucy Powell told cheering supporters at the General Election count in the GMex conference centre in the early hours of Friday morning.

“Theresa May called this election when she did not need to, and when she had absolutely nothing to say to the country.

“Jeremy Corbyn offered hope to young people and to the people of Manchester.”

Coming from one of Labour’s former campaign chiefs in the 2015 election, and someone who has not hidden her scepticism of the Labour leader, Lucy Powell’s message mirrors that of all the victorious Manchester MPs, as well as Labour’s new MPs around the North West and the UK.

“I think Jeremy Corbyn inspired a lot of young people to come out to vote,” one Labour activist told us at the end of the count.

“He just offered an optimistic, hopeful alternative to this endless austerity, cuts to education, the NHS. People are sick of it, and they want change, I think.”

The Manchester Central constituency is normally regarded as showing some of the lowest turnouts in the county. Not so in #GE2017.  

Labour supporters and officials told us the high turnout had been vital for their success, along with policies such as a promise to end university tuition fees and reinstate financial support for college students (EMA) “playing well” for the party during the campaign.

There was never much doubt that Labour would win in all 5 constituencies – Blackley and Broughton, Manchester Central, Manchester Gorton, Manchester Withington, and Wythenshawe & Sale East. However, the size of the majorities indicated to some observers that a widely-anticipated defenction to UKIP or the Conservatives by long-term Labour voters who had voted Leave in last year’s #Brexit referendum did not materialise. 

“This has been a remarkable rejection of negative campaigning,” said Jeff Smith as he was re-elected MP for Manchester Withington. 

“It is a vindication of positive campaigning, giving people hope.”

The results certainly restate the reputation of Manchester city’s constituencies as rock-solid Labour territory.

The results also appear to vindicate those around Jeremy Corbyn who argued for Labour to adopt anti-austerity policies which were designed to secure wide support among young voters.

So, what happens next, with the prospect of a hung Parliament, with Theresa May’s authority both as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservatives looking battered by her failed election gamble? 

“What I think will happen is that the Tories will find a way of wriggling back in as a minority government,” said a Labour activist.

“What I hope will happen is that Labour find a way to strike a deal with someone else – and push them out.”