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Out of excuses. Jeremy Corbyn, serial loser

May 8th, 2019

The Conservatives got hammered in last week’s local elections, that much is unarguable. Worse from their viewpoint, contrary to the assertions of some there was little evidence of a voter strike or of angry Leavers spoiling their ballot papers, but instead on a normal local election turnout the Conservatives were turned out. It was a pummelling.

What is particularly interesting is who took those seats. All the profits were taken by minor parties: the Lib Dems, independents and Greens. The Lib Dems have been flat on the canvass since their years of coalition with the Conservatives and the Greens have been suffering in the shadow of a Labour leadership that has adopted similar policies, yet in the week that Norwich City won the championship, another set of yellow and greens were also flying high.  

With the greatest respect to both political parties, unlike Norwich City neither seems to have been doing much to capture the zeitgeist. Perhaps the Lib Dems benefited from the focus on Brexit. Perhaps the Greens benefited from the extinction rebellion. Or perhaps both benefited from voters not wanting to vote Labour.

For Labour’s performance was dismal in the context of a deeply unpopular government being hammered in an election. Labour lost 84 councillors net and control of 6 councils net. If the Conservatives were losing over 1,300 seats, surely a Labour party on course for power should be picking up their fair share, arguably the lion’s share?

The Labour leadership’s flunkeys came up with positives. But this is not a new story.  We have now seen a full cycle of local elections for Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.  

Cumulatively, they have made net losses of 15 councils and 405 councillors. In the same period the Lib Dems made net gains of 15 councils and 783 councillors. In only one year under his leadership (2018) did Labour make a marginal net gain of councillors and in no year did they make a net gain of councils.

Any fair assessment would conclude that Jeremy Corbyn is doing worse in local elections than Ed Miliband.

This is not just true of local elections. In the Holyrood elections of 2016, Labour fell to third behind the Conservatives. In the Welsh elections in the same year, Labour also fell back. In election after election, Labour under Jeremy Corbyn has gone backwards. In opposition, Labour should be expecting to make steady progress. There comes a point at which the only reasonable conclusion is that the common link is the common problem.

When you examine all the waffle and distraction tactics put forward by his apologists, the common underlying theme of almost all of them is a simple one, that somehow the only elections that matter are general elections (and somehow despite the near-constant retrograde movement of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn that these results show that Labour is poised to do well in the next one). But this is not true. Local elections do matter.

The way in which local councils administer their local area makes a huge practical difference to the daily concerns of the public. The Scottish Parliament elections and the Welsh Assembly elections matter even more. Why do Labour not care about them? Why, despite the collapse of their main opponents, do they have no compelling message for the public in relation to them?

And surely it is time for those loyal to the Labour leadership to start asking themselves why Labour are not doing better against a hopeless government. Might it not be that Tony Robinson has a point after all: its leadership are complete shit?

Alastair Meeks