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Stoke Update

Stoke-on-Trent Central CLP has now selected Gareth Snell, a strong local candidate to defend Labour‘s majority in the seat, although his views on Europe may be a vote loser if the by-election is characterised by Brexit rather than the usual bread and butter issues. Labour will need to fight back on the issue of Brexit, realising that in an overwhelmingly pro-Leave constituency - the ‘Brexit capital of Britain’ - Labour will have to make a case for a constructive exit from the European Union rather than frustrating the Leave process. But beyond this Labour will need to fight a campaign on a number of fronts, focusing on more than just the National Health Service and Europe.
Fighting on healthcare issues has clearly not been enough in the past to beat the Tories, including in recent by-election defeats where Labour’s share of the vote fell. Because of this we can’t assume a strong-line on the NHS will see off UKIP leader Paul Nuttall either, even though it’s an obvious weak spot for him, given his vociferous support for privatising and marketising the NHS.
Instead the Party will need to shine a light on public investment, our nascent industrial strategy and dramatic reform of the British state, keystones of Labour’s wider agenda.
If Labour makes it a campaign about creating local jobs and investing in Stoke-on-Trent, it can, and should, succeed. To date, although the industrial strategy has been a recurring theme, it hasn’t been a key part of Labour’s electoral campaigns. The details do not have to be fully formed - what is vital is that the industrial strategy becomes part of Labour’s political strategy.
Despite being a work in progress Labour should campaign on the basis of offering an industrial strategy aimed at generating skilled, high-wage and sustainable jobs outside of London and the South-East. 
UKIP, on the other hand, don’t have, and never have had, any coherent agenda on investment or jobs. Brexit, low rates of immigration and a few tax cuts won’t revive British industry, re-balance the economy or end wage stagnation. The only issue Paul Nuttall has to exploit is leaving the European Union. Labour can also make use of this.
 However it is a real possibility that for many voters Brexit is the defining issue. Labour must realise this and seek to speak for a constituency which overwhelmingly voted Leave in the referendum. Snell has understandably committed to voting for triggering Article 50 on democratic grounds. This can now be used as a springboard to advance left-wing policies which would benefit Stoke-on-Trent but were outlawed under the EU, such as providing state-aid to local industries. The reality is that large swathes of the country are disillusioned with the status quo and with elitism but ultimately with the European Union specifically. If Labour is to fight back in 2017, then winning in Stoke is critical.

Trump: Business as Usual?

Trump: Business as Usual?

Stop the purge!