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At the last Gorton by-election the Tories, led by the visionary pro-European Ted Heath, came within 557 votes of victory

March 28th, 2017

How will the BREXIT Tories do now?

After their extraordinary gain of a by-election seat from LAB in Copeland we have heard very little of the blue team’s prospects in Manchester Gorton which is expected to take place on May 4th. Yet as the panel shows the Tories got very close to victory in the seat in 1967.

No one is suggesting that the Tories have any chance whatsoever. The result from 1967 and what we know about the area now highlights the huge demographic changes that have taken place in the UK generally and specifically in this part of Manchester. In the 60s Manchester had 9 MPs, five LAB and four CON. No more. This has been a no-go area for the blues for a long time

In November 1967 the UK was going through considerable financial upheaval and just over two weeks after the by-election the pound was devalued from the dizzy heights of $2.80 to to $2.40 – a fall of 14%. Wilson’s “the pound in your pocket” broadcast has gone down as one of the defining political moments of the decade.

The Tories were led by Ted Heath who two and a half years later pulled off one of the biggest political surprises in recent times achieving something that is unique on modern British political history. A party that had a working Commons majority was replaced with Heath’s Tories that had working Commons majority. In the changes of government in 1951, 1964, 1974, 1979, 1997 and 2010 either the outgoing party didn’t have a working majority or the incoming one didn’t achieve one.

It was the 1970-74 Heath government that took us into what was then called the Common Market. There was no referendum. That came in 1975 when Harold Wilson was trying to deal with the splits in his own party.

Alas Heath’s achievements are now viewed by the Tories in much the same way that the LAB movement views Tony Blair.

Mike Smithson