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In his weekly column for the New European Leave.EU founder Arron Banks discusses the Stoke by-election and Labour’s identity crisis.  

There’s something tragic about the state of left-wing politics in the UK, which is purely negative and insult driven. This was brought home to me very clearly on the campaign trail in Stoke, which Paul Nuttall hopes to establish as “The Capital of Brexit” with an upset win over the old Labour Party establishment.

Almost no-one in Stoke who votes Labour will be doing so because they feel inspired by Labour or the Labour message. Stoke backed Leave by just shy of 70 per cent – Labour’s candidate for the city called Brexit a “massive pile” of you-know-what. Labour appeals to people through only two emotions: fear and loathing.

The Tories make the job easy by clearly being on the side of the big corporates and investment banks on the one hand, and caving into mass immigration, political correctness and all the other things conservatives are supposed to be against on the other.

In the case of UKIP, which is Labour’s only real opponent in Stoke, they have a harder job. Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall clearly aren’t fascists or racists or any of the other slurs the Left have tried to label them with – but that just seems to make the reaction more hysterical. They scream and yell and throw eggs, as if to will the jackbooted blackshirt enemy they wish they were facing into existence.

They have many other options available, I suppose, so I almost don’t blame them. Whether you’re an ardent Brexiteer or a diehard Remoaner, there’s no getting away from the fact that Labour’s conduct since the referendum has been utterly shambolic.

Even poor old Corbyn’s inner circle are letting him down now, with Diane Abbott skiving off the Commons vote on Article 50 despite a three-line whip with an alleged headache. Even her own party colleagues are mocking it as “Brexit flu”.

The honest truth is that the Labour Party’s problem is that it just doesn’t know what it’s for any more. Corbyn is a lifelong eurosceptic and an old-fashioned socialist, but he was forced to campaign for Remain in the referendum and leads a party of globalists. No-one believed his support for the EU was genuine before the Brexit vote, and no-one believes his party’s claims to respect the Brexit vote now.

Labour MPs shouldn’t be allowed to just blame Corbyn, though. He’s the candidate the party membership and the trades unions got behind. The media class seem to have completely bought into the idea that he can’t lead if his Blairite MPs won’t back him, but they’re the ones who are out of step with the membership, not their leader.

They might think they have a God-given right to a Labour Party ticket, but I’ve yet to hear any one of them explain why. It’s not like they can claim a personal mandate from their constituencies, given that most of them were out of step with their electors in the EU referendum.

Most, it seems, have retreated into fantasy. They had to pretend they were sorry about the horrendous mess they made interfering in foreign counties and encouraging mass immigration after losing office, but under the Corbyn regime they’ve started to grumble wistfully about the good old days under Blair, “back when we used to win elections”. As if a return to Blairism is what the people actually want.