Michael West, Manchester Central CLP, reports on Labour’s by-election victory.

Manchester Central went to the polls following sitting MP Tony Lloyd’s decision to stand for the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner, leaving the seat open to Labour insider Lucy Powell who won with a massive 59% majority and 68% of the vote.

With a turnout of just 18.43% Manchester Central had Britain’s lowest by-election turnout since the Second World War. In a constituency known for a low turnout this was still 39 percentage points down on 2010.

Lucy Powell campaigned on the inequality of the Tories’, “£40,000 tax rebate for every millionaire, while Manchester people pay the price”. Alongside that the message was about getting the people of Manchester back in jobs with new investment.

Manchester Central’s unemployment stands at 15%, the second highest level in Britain. Coupled with child poverty at the alarming figure of 49%, the Tories have been unravelling the gains Manchester working class people achieved under Labour. Tory attacks are affecting thousands with the sick and disabled in particular treated as pariahs. For those in work, the fear is how long will their job last and, if it does, will it be under a new contract or will there be a pay freeze?

This Government isn’t working and neither is Manchester Central.

With at least another two years of Coalition rule, what people are crying out for are MPs and councillors prepared to stand up to the cuts and say ‘enough is enough’. We need localised employment schemes that address particular local areas where unemployment is on the rise. We need an end of cuts to local services where demand is high – local services are the keystone of our communities. These are the demands people are making.

Manchester Central is Labour with an almost pious pride. It’s unlikely to fall into the hands of the Lib Dems, whose dalliance with the Tories has cost them dear. People are proud of the city’s rich ethnic diversity, with BNP results barely noticeable above those of the Loony Party. The Labour Party that listens to its voters, that listens to Manchester, is the party of the people.

Labour also fought a by-election in the Ardwick ward (part of the Manchester Central constituency). Labour won a landslide victory polling 79%, beating second-placed Greens on just 5%.

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