Labour win Oldham East despite surge in support for Reform UK

Reporter: Charlotte Hall, Local Democracy Reporter
Date published: 06 July 2024

Debbie Abrahams gave a jubilant laugh when asked how she felt about keeping her seat in Oldham East and Saddleworth. 

The Labour candidate won the vote with more than 14,000 votes – almost double as many as her nearest competition. 

The result is a very different picture to the 2019 election, where the incumbent MP scraped a narrow majority of just 1,500 votes against her Conservative competition. 

But with Tories knocked out of the race in constituencies all across the country, Abrahams said she was ready to ‘restore people’s trust in politics’ whether they voted for her or not.

Abrahams said: “I’m delighted. It was a fantastic result.

“For those who didn’t vote for me – I want to represent them too.

"I want to restore their trust in politics. 

“There will be a policy program that the Labour government will be introducing.

"I just want to make sure that we get our fair share.

"That hasn’t happened in the past.

"We know that Oldham has been disproportionately disinvested.” 

Though the win adds to the red map, Labour’s campaign in Oldham East was beset by challenges from across the political spectrum this election, with rising support for Reform UK and Workers Party candidate Shanaz Saddique. 

Reform UK candidate Jacob Barden, who wasn’t present at the count, came second with 7,734 votes.

Responding to the surge in support for the right-wing populist party led by Nigel Farage, Abrahams said she thought politics was ‘in a difficult place at the moment’ with a lot of ‘dissatisfaction’ and ‘division’.

The suggested this would be something she would work on as MP. 

Reform’s performance knocked the Conservatives into third place in Oldham East. 

Candidate Tom Fish, who received around 6,800 votes, said he was still positive about the result.  

“Obviously the national picture isn’t great and somewhat predictable so I can’t pretend that’s something I’ve just found out and I’m very surprised,” he said.

“But I’m in a good mood because I’m very happy with what we’ve done here.

"We have run such a positive campaign.”

The impact of anti-Labour campaigns in relation to the Gaza conflict was also noticeable.

Shanaz Saddique from George Galloway’s Workers Party received more than 4,600 of the votes. 

Saddique was “disappointed” after being sure she would win earlier in the evening and seeing Galloway lose his seat in neighbouring Rochdale. 

She claimed a delivery failure of her leaflets was the cause but was sure the party would move ‘from strength to strength’ in future. 

Saddique said: “If you look at what [Labour] got in the last election compared to now – they’ve lost thousands of votes – that’s thousands of people’s trust.

"It will take a big effort for them to bring that back.” 

Liberal Democrat Sam Al-Hamdani received 3,386 votes while the Greens received 1,490.

The Greens’ candidate Fesl Reza-Khan said he was “surprised” by the number of votes he received, suggesting it was largely down to young people.  

He told the LDRS: “There’s a big age divide [around climate consciousness] in Oldham and we had a lot of people coming up to us saying they don’t have any hope left in the other parties. 

“This is just the beginning for us.” 

Independents Paul Boots Errock and Nick Buckley received 1,362 and 517 respectively. 

The overall turnout was 55pc, down by almost ten pc compared to the 2019 election.

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