Owen Jones writes:
There is no pussyfooting around Labour’s Copeland rout. Opposition parties simply do not lose byelections to governing parties. Yes, Labour’s support has been in decline in the constituency since 1997; and we know that working-class disillusionment kicked in under New Labour. But wasn’t the whole point of the Jeremy Corbyn project to reverse that trend, not have a further dramatic drop of support just two years after the last general election? And while Labour activists in Stoke should beam with pride for routing Ukip, there, too, there was a swing to the Tories.
The polling for Labour is catastrophic. Veteran pollster John Curtice says the swing to the Tories in Copeland is even more dramatic than national opinion surveys suggest. Yes, polls can be wrong: 2015 and 1992 represent the two big polling disasters of our time. Yet in both cases, the disaster was overestimating Labour’s lead. If the current polling is wrong in any meaningful way, precedent suggests the real picture is even worse for Labour.
The current polling projection says the Conservatives will go from 331 seats to 375 seats and Labour from 232 to 186.
But the new proposed boundaries which reduce the number of seats from 650 to 600 make it even worse. Under those boundaries it would be Conservatives 363 and Labour 157,
The point Jones makes is that when there has been polling error, it has been in Labour’s favour. They may do even worse that 157 seats. Under 150 is not impossible. How low have opposition parties gone in the past? Here’s recent elections:
- 2015 – Labour 232
- 2010 – Labour 258
- 2005 – Conservative 198
- 2001 – Conservative 166
- 1997 – Conservative 165
- 1992 – Labour 271
- 1987 – Labour 229
- 1983 – Labour 209
- 1979 – Labour 261
So UK Labour look on track to get their worst result in a generation – on par with what the Conservatives got in 1997.