A by-election in northern England highlights the corrosive atrophying of the UK body politic, Paul Mason writes.
Last week’s by-election in Batley & Spen, an old Yorkshire manufacturing town with a Labour tradition and a large postwar south-Asian Muslim population, has opened up a new chapter in post-Brexit politics.
With Labour trailing badly behind a Conservative government, seemingly untouchable despite its lies and corruption, the script seemed clear. The party would lose in a straight fight with the Tories, Keir Starmer would face a challenge to his leadership of Labour and the disintegration of British social democracy would accelerate.
It didn’t quite turn out that way. Labour won—just—by 323 votes. Starmer emerged rejuvenated and all talk of a leadership challenge evaporated. And the government remains mired in personal and financial scandals.
But the intervention of a populist candidate, George…