EXCL Polling expert warns of 'deep trouble' for Corbyn if Labour loses West Midlands mayoralty
Labour would be in “deep political trouble” if it loses the West Midlands mayoralty election in May, Britain’s most respected polling expert has said.
Professor John Curtice said a loss to the Conservatives in the 4 May contest was feasible and if borne out would confirm the grim picture painted by Labour’s dire national poll ratings.
It comes as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launched his party's local elections campaign ahead of the council and mayoral votes next month.
In a presentation in central London today, the University of Strathclyde Professor of Politics explained that there had been a rough 4% national swing in favour of the Tories since the 2015 general election.
He said under the circumstances the West Midlands mayoralty was a 50/50 battle between the two parties, and that on polling day the voting system for the contest could tip it in the Tories’ favour.
Speaking to PoliticsHome after the event, Mr Curtice said: “If the Labour party polls are at all correct they are in deep political trouble…
“Labour losing the West Midlands in a sense would simply be a confirmation of the story that the national opinion polls - and to a fair degree local government by-elections and indeed parliamentary by-elections - have been telling us, which is that this is an opposition that is losing ground rather than gaining ground.”
He added that despite complaining about Tory policy, Jeremy Corbyn had failed to spell out his vision for Britain, and he said Labour was doing nothing to suggest there was "likely to be a recovery" from its woes any time soon.
“The point is Labour shouldn’t be losing the West Midlands and if it does manage to lose it then it will provide a symbol and provide people a stick to beat Corbyn with,” he said.
In his presentation at the event organised by the Political Studies Association and Centre for Cities Mr Curtice explained: “[The West Midlands] is probably the result where Jeremy Corbyn has most to worry about…
“If they were to fail to pick up the West Midlands that probably would be somewhat embarrassing and difficult for Jeremy Corbyn.”
Labour's candidate Siôn Simon is battling Tory and ex-John Lewis boss Andy Street for the metropolitan mayoralty.
Elsewhere Mr Curtice said it was “not beyond the bounds of possibility” that Labour could also lose the Tees Valley mayoralty.
A separate report published yesterday said Labour is on course to lose 125 seats at the local elections and suffer a "cataclysmic" defeat in Scotland.
It follows a separate analysis the day before suggesting Labour could lose as many as 50 seats, with the Tories taking 50 more and the Lib Dems gaining 100.
TORIES 'RUNNING BRITAIN DOWN'
Launching his local elections campaign today, Mr Corbyn said the Government was "running our country down in every way" and that only Labour can protect communities.
"This election is your chance to send a message to the Tories: that you won’t accept our NHS in crisis, your children’s future betrayed, a deepening housing crisis, damaging cuts to the police and insecure jobs that don’t make ends meet," he declared.
"It doesn’t have to be like this. Things can, and they will, change."