ELECTION COMMENTARY: Former Labour Party campaign staffer JOHN BRAGGINS, pictured right, says the political situation is like a football match where his party is 4-2 down with four minutes to the final whistle. Anything can happen, but the result is already known
So the 2017 General Election has started and for the second time* in (my) living memory we know the result before a nomination paper has been submitted.
What we don’t know is the size of the majority and how many of our good hard-working Labour MPs will triumph against the swing. Let me say from the outset that I will work for a Labour victory against all the odds – as I always have.
Labour will lose, though, and it’s not because Corbyn is a fool – some of his policies would not look out of place in a New Labour manifesto – but because he is a crap leader and crap leaders don’t win elections.
The opinion polls taken since May fired the starting pistol show Labour with an average deficit of 19 per cent.
However, Lord Ashcroft’s poll on attitudes towards Brexit taken days before May’s election announcement had a slightly different figure of minus 8 per cent, with Tories ahead with men by 12 per cent and women by just 3 per cent. Without an election to concentrate their minds, leadership issues were not to the fore and that may be a slightly better picture of where the parties are on policies.
However, even this poll of 10,513 cannot be ignored. And the bad news is that the older you are, the more likely you are to vote Tory, and the older you are the more likely you are to vote. So Labour’s lead of 20 per cent among the 18-to-24-year-olds is wiped out with a deficit of minus 37 per cent among the over 65s.
What can Labour do to turn the tide?
A YouGov poll tracking what happened to 2015 Labour voters makes dismal reading – Since 2015 7 per cent of Labour voters have gone Tory, 8 per cent LibDem, 3 per cent UKIP and 20 per cent have moved to Don’t Know.
Only half of all 2015 Labour voters intend to vote Labour again.
What Labour should do now is of little consolation – to save as many seats as possible by concentrating its efforts in a small number of seats where the MP has worked hard and has gained a good reputation with the electorate. More about that as the campaign gets under way.
And as if that wasn’t enough bad news, the number of overseas voters – never a Labour stronghold – has risen 10-fold in two years from 27,000 in 2014 to 264,000 last year. Thanks to a government campaign around the 2015 election and Brexit.
I finish with a quote from a good friend of mine commenting on the Ashcroft poll.
“It has been said that the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement and this poll confirms that Labour currently finds itself occupying a very, very big room. The party finds itself nursing a very large deficit of potential support among men that is not offset by women voters; trounced among most economic groups; and barely features on the radar screens of older respondents with the greatest likelihood to vote.”
It must feel like Spurs fans felt at the FA cup semi-final at Wembley, 4-2 down to Chelsea with four minutes added time.
Anything could happen, but you know it won’t.
*1997 of course
- John Braggins worked for the Labour Party for 37 years. He and Alan Barnard run their own company, BBM Campaigns
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