Labour's shock Sheffield by-election defeat 'not about Jeremy Corbyn', says Lib Dem winner

Gail Smith and Nick Clegg with 'lucky mascot', Charlie the dog
Gail Smith and Nick Clegg with 'lucky mascot', Charlie the dog
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The woman who won a surprise Sheffield by-election victory over Labour has insisted that Jeremy Corbyn was not the reason for her success.

Liberal Democrat Gail Smith made the comments after being elected to represent the Mosborough ward in a by-election called following the death of Labour councillor Isobel Bowler earlier this year.

In a surprise result, she beat Labour party candidate and current Stocksbridge town councillor Julie Grocutt - just months after the Lib Dems came fourth in the ward.

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith has suggested the result was down to traditional Labour voters in Mosborough turning their backs on the party due to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership - but Councillor Smith said she didn’t believe that was the case.

Writing on the Star website, she said: “My Lib Dems team and I have spent the last 10 weeks working seven days a week in Mosborough, knocking on just about every door, and I can tell you Jeremy Corbyn was more popular than Angela Smith wants to admit. I certainly do not agree that is why I won.

“Most people told us that they never saw Labour, only at election time and they felt taken for granted. One lady told me that she had been canvassed by Labour, who when she told them she was voting for me, was told 'You cannot vote Lib Dems, you live in a Labour area'.

“And that is the arrogance of this Labour Party here in Sheffield - Corbyn is not as unpopular as they would like you to think. They need to look very closely at their own leadership in Sheffield.”

Star readers who voted in the by-election also said their decisions were not just about the Labour leader.

One wrote: “I didn’t vote for Labour for two simple reasons.

"Firstly, I scarcely recognise the mess that is Corbyn’s Labour Party and, secondly, I objected to Sheffield Labour foisting on us a candidate who lives in Stocksbridge - which is nearly as far from Mosborough as is Doncaster.”

Another wrote: “My reason for not voting Labour had nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn.

"It had everything to do with the current Labour Council in Sheffield not listening to Sheffield folk.

“He hasn’t been leader for the same amount of time Labour councillors have been running this city.”

Another reader said: “Labour MPs are really out of touch with the traditional Labour people - the result was nothing to do with Corbyn.

“They will be saying losing the last two general elections and the EU referendum was all Corbyn’s fault. They ought to try looking in a mirror.”

Barbara Beighton said: “For me, Corbyn played no part. I saw that Gail Smith and her team worked hard to win her place. I saw little evidence of the other candidates’ presence, including Labour, before the election.”

Karen Lester said on Facebook: “Labour as a party are acting like a bunch of toddlers, in-fighting, backstabbing and doing more damage to their own party than the Tories could ever do to them. It’s an embarrassment.”

David Hoyland added Labour putting up a candidate who didn’t live in Mosborough may have been a factor in the result.

He said: “People want councillors who fight for their area. Not ones that are bussed in.”

But others said they will not vote for a Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Arthur Levick said: “Never ever voted other than Labour, but can promise as he is in charge I never will again.”

Neil Robinson said: “He doesn’t speak to traditional Labour voters. Most of the working class hate him, but the liberal students and middle class love him."

Peter Hutcheon added: “It’s hard to hear for some, but it has to be said, it has to be listened to and it has to be acted on - he needs to go and he needs to go now.”

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