With all the EU referendum stuff going on, it can sometimes be easy to forget that there are a large round of elections on May 5 – and furthermore that they could be important enough to have as much impact on the rest of this parliament as said EU referendum will. So taking them one by one, here are my predictions:
I’ve started with the easy one: Sadiq Khan wins this contest for sure. I can see almost no way short of some sort of mind boggling scandal how Zac can turn things around enough to win. I really thought Goldsmith had a genuine chance at this six months ago, but his campaign has been terrible and left him with nothing to hope for except to perhaps come within five points on first choices.
Prediction: SADIQ WINS
This one is much more difficult to call. Not who is going to win – the SNP with an increased majority, very obviously – but what happens from there. The big question is who will come in second, Labour or the Tories. I have gone both ways on this in last few months, from thinking the Tories can pull this off to factoring in people’s innate conservatism ironically keeping the Conservatives from completing this task. It is too close to call, but I have to make a guess, so here it goes:
Prediction: SNP TO INCREASE MAJORITY; LABOUR SECOND LARGEST PARTY BUT BY A SEAT OR TWO ONLY
After the last Assembly elections in Wales back in 2011, Labour ended up with 30 seats (exactly half of the chamber) and formed a minority government. Labour look destined to lose seats this time round – but how many and to whom? And what will the government look like then? There are some wacky predictions on the Assembly elections out there (I read one last week which told me there would be a Tory-UKIP Welsh government), but I don’t think things will really change all that much. Labour and the Lib Dems will almost certainly lose seats (but not that many in both cases), UKIP will finally get their hands on Assembly seats (but not as many as they hope to, as is usual for them), and Plaid will stay static, unable to convince anyone not already in the PC camp of their merits. But because of everything else, Plaid will probably be in government as the junior partners anyhow.
Prediction: LABOUR-PLAID CYMRU GOVERNMENT
ENGLISH LOCAL ELECTIONS
This is where I think it may really unravel for Corbyn and the Labour Party. Jeremy has simply failed to change things in Scotland and Wales, whereas I think he’s been a real negative for the party in England – and this will be the pudding as proof.
The exception will be London – but even then, Labour don’t have that much more room to grow, being dominant already in the capital. They’ll do what they usually do – biggest party, no majority. They could even lose a seat or two in London via that which affects them everywhere, aka the rise of UKIP, even if Nigel’s gang only get one seat in this race.
It’s elsewhere in England where Labour will really feel the pain. There is expected to be somewhere in the region of an 8 to 10 point drop in Labour vote since the same seats were contested in 2012 – pretty much all of it ending up in UKIP’s pile. So we can expect the Tories and Lib Dems to make modest gains, UKIP to take a bundle and Labour predicted to lose probably around 200 seats. I think 200 is a litle high – 150 sounds more like it. The real thing to watch here, I think, is the gains made by Tories against those made by UKIP, a tricky thing to predict.
PREDICTION: LABOUR LOSES 150 LOCAL SEATS IN ENGLAND WITH THE SPOILS BEING SHARED BETWEEN TORIES, LIB DEMS AND UKIP.
I suppose the real question is what all of this, should it come to pass, will do to Corbyn’s leadership. Not making any ground in Scotland can be explained as not his fault – because it actually isn’t (although we have heard incessantly from Corbynistas about how Jeremy was going to bring back Scotland with his socialist ways); Wales as part of a cycle, and hey, they’re still leading the government in the Assembly; it’s the English locals that will be harder to explain away. Most of the seats being contested are not in the south but rather the northwest, the northeast and the Midlands – places Labour really need to win, if they stand any chance of turning the Tory tide in England. It will be interesting to see if the losses put pressure on Corbyn – or whether it’s viewed as not enough by the dissenters. I suspect the latter, even if the loses in England are worse than the 150 I’ve predicted.