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Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Are Labour lowering expectations for their 5th May performance?

Nominations close tomorrow, the Welsh Assembly has now dissolved and there are no longer any AMs, but campaigning has been on-going for weeks if not months. The stakes are high, but no more so that for Jeremy Corbyn, who faces his first test as a party leader.

For one Labour MP and former frontbencher that is a moot point as accuses his party of getting their excuses in early.

According to the Guardian, Jon Trickett, who is the MP in charge of Labour’s local election campaign has claimed that any progress on the party’s performance in 2015 should be seen as a positive result, even though that could mean losing dozens of council seats. But former frontbencher Michael Dugher said the party should be aiming for 400 gains in May.

Writing on Labour List, Trickett said: “In Britain, politics has become much more fragmented since 2012 with the continued rise of UKIP and nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales.

“At the end of the day, we should be looking for Labour to advance on the 2015 election results, where we finished almost seven per cent points behind the Conservatives.”

The comments suggest that Labour could claim a successful night even if they get 31% of the vote share, which could mean losing scores of seats. It is thought that Jeremy Corbyn was alluding to setting expectations at the same baseline when he launched the party’s election campaign yesterday.

“Let 5 May be the turning point when Labour grew, Labour got support and Labour showed there is a different, much better way of running this country for the good of all, not just the benefit of the very few wealthy people that have had it too easy for too long,” he said.

However, Mr. Dugher is not impressed: “The government is under huge pressure over the steel industry, we’ve just had a budget that was worse than the omnishambles, a cabinet resignation and the Tories are in meltdown over the EU referendum.

“If anything, the Tories should be there for the taking. Now is not the time to be throwing the towel in.”

The psephologist Robert Ford has argued that a vote share of 30 to 33% would translate into 200 or more council seat losses, with the party needing over 34% to have fewer than 50 losses and 38% to gain 100 seats or more.

Writing in the Observer Ford said: “The basic stakes are simple: Labour in opposition needs to gain votes, win seats and take control of councils. The opposition usually does well in local elections regardless of who is in government.

“Labour oppositions have made an average net gain of 300 seats in local elections since 1980, and have made net losses on just two occasions – in 1982 (immediately after the foundation of the SDP) and in 1985 (when the miners’ strike and conflicts with Militant were at their height).”

These elections may be more difficult for Jeremy Corbyn than he imagined.
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