The Stoke Central by-election is a conflict between Labour and Gareth Snell on one hand, and not-Labour and Brexit on the other.
The specifics of UKIP and Paul Nuttall will drag down the latter – being a pathological liar and a party of clowns will not be attractive qualities anywhere in the world. Nuttall seems to be aware of this, not having attended either of the last two hustings for what is probably the biggest contest in the party’s history, and taken down his website for ‘routine maintenance’ just a week before voting.
Despite these specifics, Nuttall still has a chance of winning. In Stoke Central, 69.4% voted for Leave in the European Referendum, and there is the feeling among a lot of working class voters that neither Tory nor Labour can be trusted to make Brexit happen. This is part of a broader sense that parties don’t listen to voters.
It’s easy to laugh at Nuttall and UKIP. But as Donald Trump proves, just because a politician is ludicrous, we shouldn’t underestimate their ability to take advantage of a sense of abandonment.