Here is a great example of how the British media underplays the surprising strength of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that Labour had a terrible local election day last week, especially after it was pushed into third place by the Conservative party in Scotland. The media narrative was that Labour lost.
But now that all the votes have been counted, things don’t look that bad for Labour. You might be surprised to know that Labour actually beat the media’s expectations for its performance, and did better than the Tories on the day.
To put this in context, The Telegraph was so sure that Corbyn was heading for a disastrous defeat on Thursday that the paper created this chart, showing that Labour would lose at least 120 council seats and perhaps as many as 220:
That looks terrible, doesn’t it? Even in the best-case scenario Labour loses 120 seats!
But now take a look at the actual results, courtesy of the BBC:
Turns out Labour lost just 18 seats and didn’t lose control of any of its councils. The Tories lost more seats than Labour in England and lost one council. And notice that Labour is still by far the most dominant party in England — the Conservatives can only dream of the day when they command 1,300 local council seats.
Labour held Wales comfortably, too:
The data for that hopelessly wrong Telegraph chart was produced by Professor John Curtice, of the University of Strathclyde academic, who provides election analysis for the BBC.
It is not clear why the prediction was so wrong. But here is a clue, from Wikipedia’s opinion poll tracker. Despite all the negative coverage that Corbyn gets Labour has been gaining on the Tories of late, and the Tory vote is in decline:
The real story here is UKIP, which has gained where the two larger parties have lost.
Now, it is true that Labour did not win enough votes to make it look like the party has a chance of unseating Prime Minister David Cameron if a general election were held right now. Labour can’t win without Scotland. But, as we have noted before, the Labour vote has been surprisingly resilient under Corbyn. Labour basically held all its councils — except for Scotland — and won back London from the Conservatives.
Not too bad.
Here is how The Telegraph played it:
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