Still not convinced Jeremy Corbyn has the Labour leadership in the bag? Yesterday we witnessed the fag-end of modern political campaigning. If you want to know what the sound of the barrel being scraped in Westminster is like, you just had to tune into what emitted from the Burnham camp yesterday.
They claimed to the media that if Jeremy Corbyn becomes Labour leader, the party will lose 500 seats at the 2016 local elections. What is this number based on? A crude projection using Labour’s current crappy poll rating (28% or thereabouts), looking at the vote share in 2012 (the last time these same seats were contested), taking Labour’s national poll rating back then (about 41%), and applying a crude loss of votes based on those contrasting figures. This is psephology for nine year olds.
Also – and as many long time readers well know, I am hardly the biggest fan of Mr Corbyn or his policies – how is Labour’s dip into the twenties on the national polls his fault exactly? There was this thing called the general election a few months back that led us all here, if you will recall, and the actual vote share was not far off what the polling figure is today. The only thing you can reasonably extrapolate is that the Burnham camp thinks that any other leader, either their man or Yvette, would get a honeymoon bounce while Jeremy would have no effect whatsoever on the polls. To say this is a dubious deduction is putting it very mildly indeed.
Part of the idea is to scare the crap out of CLPs presumably; to make them think, “Oh no, perhaps we made a mistake backing Jeremy – we’re going to all lose our seats now!” Only it’s way too late in the process for all that to matter now. In terms of the voting members, they’ve already been warned by much more credible sources that Corbyn’s leadership could adversely affect the London 2016 mayoral campaign, possibly losing it for Labour, as well as control of Wales. Those two are – with no offence meant to anyone working in local government – of much more existential importance than the locals to the future of the Labour Party. Why would they listen to this 500 seat stuff when the London and Wales warnings haven’t dereailed the Corbyn Express?
So given how ropey this whole concept is, why have Team Burnham begun what amounts to the last week of the campaign with it? Because desperation is not a pretty sight. Look, I feel for Burnham, I really do. The guy was almost certainly going to be Labour’s next leader, if he himself hadn’t sabotaged the whole thing by lending Corbyn some of his nominations out of fear of being seen as the far-left candidate (and how ridiculous that thought seems now, doesn’t it?). So I want to give he and his team a break. But stuff like this is so poor, it’s hard not to be extremely critical.