YouGov have put out their final poll before the EU elections tomorrow. They have the Brexit Party storming ahead on 37%, the Lib Dems in second on 19%, Labour in third on 13%, the Green on 12% – and the Tories on a lowly 7%. It should be noted again that this is a difficult election to poll; also, that YouGov are showing significantly lower Labour numbers than other pollster. Yet if these are taken at face value, Labour could slip into fourth place, behind not only the Lib Dems but the Greens as well.
There is no doubt that if the two main parties end up with 20% or lower in a national election, that would be news in and of itself. Whatever those parties think, putting that genie back in the bottle will be tricky. The assumption that voters will simply return to the Tories and Labour might end up being the correct one; then again, they might not.
In a way, the result will be worse for Labour, no matter how badly the Tories do. And I know many people who read this blog think I always say that about the Labour Party, no matter how existential a crisis the Tories face. But it has to be said that the Tories at least get a chance to pick a new leader and have some sort of honeymoon period off the back of that. They could pick very badly, yes, but still, they have that up their sleeve. Labour meanwhile are seemingly stuck with grouchy grandpa forever, who let us not forget only 12% think is doing well, while 81% say he isn’t. For a leader of the opposition to have an approval rating of -69%, particularly when facing a governing party in free fall with a very unpopular prime minister leading it, is diabolical.
On the other hand, however well they do tomorrow, both the Lib Dems or the Greens have plenty to worry about. The Green vote will be very soft, and could be eaten by Labour regardless of how unpopular Corbyn is generally come the next GE. The cohort voting Green tomorrow will be the most vulnerable to folding back into Labour.
As to the Lib Dems, my worry is that they will take a good result tomorrow combined with the amazing local elections results as being confirmation that everything they have done over the past four years has been spot on. In actual fact, the Lib Dems are just reaping the windfall of Labour pursuing an unbelievably stupid Brexit policy – and little else. The proof is in the numbers: when asked in the very same EU election polls that have them ahead of Labour by six points how people would vote if Labour were unequivocally a Remain party, the Lib Dem (and the Green for that matter) vote almost totally collapses, with Labour even overtaking the Brexit Party and winning the election. In other words, the Lib Dems are mostly living off of Corbyn’s errors for the moment.
They could crystallise the result and keep these voters on side for good. Doing so would require more than simply believing that hiding away from the world and hoping for the best is the right answer for an actual, lasting Lib Dem surge.