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Could it be 'Happy Friday' for Jeremy Corbyn?

Could it be 'Happy Friday' for Jeremy Corbyn?

Kevin Schofield, Emilio Casalicchio, Agnes Chambre and John Ashmore | PoliticsHome

2 min read Partner content

Let me take you into the future. Three days into the future, to be precise.


It is Friday afternoon and the English council results are coming in from around the country.

Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that it hasn’t been a great night for Labour. The party has contrived to lose seats, a feat virtually unheard of for an opposition party at this stage in the electoral cycle.

Moderates in the Parliamentary Labour Party will swing into action, saying the results offer concrete proof that Jeremy Corbyn is a vote –loser who must be replaced if the party is to stand any chance of winning in 2020. There will also be calls for members of the shadow frontbench team to quit in protest at their leader’s performance.

Team Corbyn will, in turn, say it’s all the PLP’s fault. What chance did the party have, they will say, when even its own MPs have spent the past few months trying to undermine its leader.

I’m no Mystic Meg, so how do I know this? Because, dear reader, the expectation management game is in full swing.

The anti-Corbyn camp have said anything less than 400 council gains will be a bad night for Labour, thereby allowing them to don their Doc Marten’s and knock seven bells out of him if they fall short.

But the Corbynistas are insisting that it is unrealistic to expect Labour to do well, given the party gained 823 councillors when the same seats were contested in 2012. Jeremy Corbyn was even forced to predict this morning that they won’t lose seats on Thursday – hardly the battle cry of a leader confident of electoral success.

PLOTTERS

If, however, Labour actually gain some seats – even if it is only a few dozen – this will be hailed by the leader’s supporters as proof that his Left-wing message is indeed resonating with ordinary people.

What there won’t be on Friday is a direct challenge to Mr Corbyn’s leadership. The plotters don’t want to do anything which distracts from Labour’s campaign to keep Britain in the EU.

Once the referendum is out of the way, however, it will be a different story. Start stocking up on popcorn, the Labour party’s summer spectacular is going to be quite a show.

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