No ‘Fergie time’ needed as Reds cruise to victory in Stretford and Urmston by-election | Political News

Fergie would have most certainly approved.

In the Manchester Suite at the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand at the Old Trafford football ground, his reds won a resounding victory over their opponents in blue.

No need for “Fergie time”, the “hairdryer treatment” or “squeaky bum time” on this occasion. This victory was a stroll.

We’re not talking about a triumph for Manchester United this time, however, but for the labor Party that Sir Alex has supported since he was an apprentice in the Govan shipyards all those years ago.

Trafford Council had chosen this large hospitality suite – almost the size of a football pitch – inside United’s ground for the count for the Stretford and Urmston by-election.

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And in a ground where former club captain Roy Keane once derided the “prawn sandwich brigade” among the club’s supporters, there were even sandwiches provided here for the tellers, scrutineers, party activists and media at half time. (Yes, half time. There was a break between verification and counting which probably prolonged the count by up to an hour.)

But the by-election result, declared at about 2.45am, was always going to be a comfortable win for Sir Alex’s reds. Labor was defending a majority of more than 16,000 won by former MP Kate Green at the 2019 general election.

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Next month she becomes one of the deputies to Greater Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham, an Evertonian, as Sir Alex is no doubt well aware.

In 2019, Ms Green won just over 60% of the vote and the Tories 27.5%. But that was on a turnout of nearly 70%.

In this by-election, on a day of sub-zero temperatures and with Royal Mail strikes potentially threatening to disrupt postal votes, turnout was just under 26%.

That meant the significance of the result was all about share of the vote, not the majority, although having said that the Labor majority was still just under 10,000.

Labor – and Sir Alex – will be delighted that the percentage share of the vote won by new MP Andrew Western, leader of Trafford Council, was up from just over 60% to just under 70%.

And what cheered up Labor even more was the slump in the Tories’ share to less than 16%. That’s relegation form.

A woman leaves Sharon Youth Center in Stretford after voting in the Stretford and Urmston by-election after Kate Green stepped down.  Nine candidates are bidding to succeed her as the MP for the Labor stronghold in the south west of Greater Manchester.  Picture date: Thursday December 15, 2022.
The turnout was 25.8% with Andrew Western securing 69.65% of the votes – up 9.34% on the general election in 2019

The Manchester Suite is adorned with large pictures of the club’s most decorated winners over the years.

To the right of the podium where the by-election result was declared were three former England captains, Wayne Rooney, Bryan Robson and David Beckham. To the left current United and England star Marcus Rashford, Fergie himself and club legend Sir Bobby Charlton.

The photo of Sir Alex shows him proudly holding the Premier League trophy he won so many times.

Bobby Charlton’s shows him holding the European Cup United won in 1968 when, of course, Britain had a Labor prime minister, Harold Wilson.

After the by-election result, Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central and a diehard Manchester City fan, no less, said in a Sky News interview that despite by-election results like this and Labour’s big opinion poll leads Sir Keir Starmer constantly tells his shadow cabinet not to be complacent.

It’s the sort of warning Fergie would give to his reds, both Manchester United and the Labor Party.


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