Patrick Heneghan, Labour’s executive director of elections, believes Labour is going to take a beating in three upcoming regional elections, according to the Telegraph. At a meeting with leader Jeremy Corbyn on the upcoming English council, Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament elections, Heneghan said:
- Labour will lose 200 council seats in England.
- Labour will lose its effective majority in the Welsh Assembly.
- Labour will lose all of its constituency seats in Scotland.
Heneghan declined comment when reached by Business Insider.
However, another Labour source, speaking privately, told us that The Telegraph’s account of the meeting sounded about right.
It is tempting to jump immediately to the conclusion that the upcoming disaster is all Corbyn’s fault because he is so left-wing and out of touch with the country as a whole, etc., etc. (Corbyn is, in fact, doing really badly in the polls at the moment.) But this leak could have come from Corbyn’s camp: The lower the bar Labour sets before the polls, the easier it will be for Corbyn to say that the party has done well in the circumstances.
To understand why it’s possible Labour could actually do as badly as their internal polling is suggesting, it’s important to remember how well they were doing last time these elections were held in 2012.
It’s hard to believe now, but in mid-2012 former Labour leader Ed Miliband was soaring high in the polls and had a commanding lead of around 10% over the Conservatives. Take a look at this chart from UK Polling Report that combines the results of voting intention polls from all the polling companies. The red line is Labour and blue is the Conservatives:
As you can see, Labour was doing well and the Tories were in big trouble. One of the big reasons for this was that Chancellor George Osborne had just given a really badly received budget and the media spent months picking apart his policies.
When you think that Labour gained an extra 823 English council seats in 2012, losing 200 really doesn’t seem as bad. It is statistically unlikely for Labour to improve on these results from the last time these elections happened, so it might not be such a bad thing for Corbyn that this polling data was released.
Even so, the elections will be Corbyn’s first big test with the public and he will take the blame from party members if they feel that they did badly.
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