Oh dear, the good people of Warrington's Labour group don't seem to be having a happy time of it lately.

First off we had the very public and somewhat distasteful Twitter spat between Nick Bent (the Stockton Heath parish councillor who twice lost general election contest to the Tories in Warrington South) and the incumbent Warrington North MP Helen Jones.

And now we have the by-election ignominy of Labour losing what should have been a safe council seat in Penketh to independent candidate Geoff Fellows.

You only have to look at Mr Fellows' surprised and stunned reaction on the video on the Guardian's website to see just what a shock this was.

I wonder what went wrong for Labour – and it very much looks like something did go wrong.

Theoretically, they had a strong candidate in Kenny Watson.

Mr Watson, if you don't already know, is chairman of Warrington Momentum – the Corbynista wing of the party. He had is own theory for the dismal result, that old chestnut – low turnout.

He told Local Democracy Reporter Aran Dhillon: “I think we suffered from the poor turnout, anything above 30 per cent would’ve been comfortable.

“By-elections often suffer poor turnout, particularly when it’s the second by-election in the year."

Remarkably, he also said: “There was fantastic support from Labour members and supporters in Penketh and beyond. We had great feedback from the residents of Penketh."

Really? It's a pity for the Labour group that 'fantastic support' and 'great feedback' didn't quite translate into votes in the ballot box.

I don't know but maybe the voters of Penketh are a little more cautious and were put off by the Momentum tag.

Or maybe Mr Watson's 'I've saved Penketh Library' Facebook post came back to bite him on the backside.

For those who don't know, on Mr Watson's official campaign Facebook page he proudly posted: "Our policies are stated plainly on all our election literature and include support for Penketh Library, maintaining rail services, opposition to Mersey Gateway tolls and fracking.

"I'm very active on this front and can announce I've secured funding from WBC to keep Penketh Library open and make some much-needed infrastructural improvements."

Well, no he hadn't and had to row back on the statement, telling Aran Dhillon the 'I've' in his comments should have been typed as 'we've' (although we are still not quite sure who the 'we've' actually is.)

Anyway, it's not good for Labour in the south of the town and they may have to take a long hard look at themselves.

I do have a theory why the political landscape in the west of the town seems to have shifted somewhat and it centres on the so-called Warrington Western Link (or as it now appears to be called Warrington waterfront Western Link).

The initial announcement for plans to run a major road from Walton to somewhere in Sankey, Sankey Bridges or Penketh – complete with knocking down homes and businesses to make way for it – saw people in the area band together to fight the plan, giving many of them their first taste of grass roots democracy and campaigning.

Maybe they felt their voices had been heard, maybe they didn't but there was a certain degree of 'people power' and taking the fight to the Town Hall.

I very much suspect last week's shock result in Penketh could be a hangover from that – a desire of people to have their voices heard.

Oh to be a fly on the wall when the Labour group holds its post-election inquest. It should be an interesting discussion.

  • There's an old Bill Shankly quote that goes along the lines of: "First is first, second is nowhere."

It's a bit harsh but I suspect that may be how Warrington Wolves are feeling after losing two major finals in a row.

I'm gutted for the team, management and supporters but it does give a firm foundation for next season.

And if you want something to cheer you up in your despondency just remember, at least you're not a Widnes Vikings supporter.