Labour election losses could strengthen Corbyn’s support

30 Apr

A Conservative landslide in the upcoming general election would see the Labour party concentrated almost exclusively in cities, with a quarter of its MPs based in London constituencies and Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters more likely to retain seats than those who have opposed the Labour leader, according to a new report.

A Labour party reduced by 100 seats – a pessimistic scenario – would see the party mainly representing inner cities and the most deprived areas, with the West Midlands losing two-thirds of its MPs.

The analysis by Policy Network, the centrist thinktank headed by Peter Mandelson, also found that in the case of serious losses in the polls on 8 June, Labour would hold just four seats in areas with lower than average levels of deprivation, down from 21.

Around 60% of the party’s MPs are currently based in major towns or cities. Were Labour to lose 100 of its most vulnerable seats, the party’s number of rural seats would halve, from eight to four.

The research also found that the more seats Labour lose in the upcoming election, the greater the proportion of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters in the parliamentary Labour Party would be. Were Labour to lose 100 seats, the number of MPs who have voiced discontent with the leadership would be reduced by half, from 175 to just 92.

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Over three-quarters of the MPs who have been consistent Corbyn supporters, 24 out of 31, would retain their seats.

The thinktank’s research was produced by analysing the 100 Labour-held seats with the narrowest majorities, modelling three scenarios where Labour lost 20, 50 or 100 of its most vulnerable seats. The Fabian Society, a group affiliated to Labour, has predicted a loss of 40 seats, but warned that number could be higher.

Charlie Cadywould, the author of the research, said: “The worse Labour does, the stronger the Corbynistas are likely to become. Significantly, Labour’s claim to be a party for the whole United Kingdom is at risk.

“After this election, Labour could end up with representation largely limited to London and major city conurbations in the north of England. It faces a near wipe-out in middle England and risks ending up an endangered species in towns across Britain.”

Cadywould said the findings should “act as a wake-up call for progressives who, angry at Labour’s stance on Brexit and sceptical of Corbyn’s viability as a potential prime minister, are considering sitting this election out or registering a protest vote in the face of a seemingly inevitable Conservative majority.”

Recent research by YouGov has suggested only about half of people who chose Labour, Ukip or the Liberal Democrats in 2015 plan on sticking with that party this time, while the rest have either moved party or are still undecided.



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The poll also suggested that more than three-quarters of voters who backed the Conservatives in 2015 will vote for the party again this time around. However, YouGov said its research showed a high number of undecided voters, particularly former Labour voters. Were those undecideds to return to the party they had previously supported, that would disproportionately help Labour.

Labour moderates see the eventual makeup of the PLP as crucial to whether Corbyn will decide to stay on as leader in the aftermath of any defeat. If enough leftwingers make it into parliament, allies of Corbyn may no longer need to pass a rule change, backed by the party’s left wing and proposed for September’s conference.

The change would reduce the threshold of MPs needed for a leadership candidate to stand from 15% to 5%, a guarantee that a leftwing successor to Corbyn would make it on to the ballot paper for the members to select from. However, if the party is dramatically reduced in size, the amendment may not been needed, as pro-Corbyn MPs would make up more of the party.

Richard Angell, director of Labour’s centrist pressure group Progress, said: “Returning the highest number of Labour MPs is the best way to stop a Tory hard Brexit and a hard-left candidate to replace Jeremy Corbyn.

“Moderate Labour MPs have the smallest majorities and could pay the price for Corbyn’s poor approvals rating. My colleagues and moderates across the country will be standing with our Labour MPs as they try to defy the polls.”

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