Somewhat overshadowed by the upcoming EU referendum, next week sees the first proper electoral tests of this Parliament with elections in Northern Ireland Scotland, Wales, London and for Council seats across England. After 12 months of political wrangling since the General Election, and near civil war in both major parties, for the first time since last May the voters get to have their say.
In Scotland, the result is a foregone conclusion. The SNP will, once again, win another landslide. The only real debate is whether it is Labour or the Conservatives who come second. Whilst Labour ought to hang on, should they come third it will represent an even further decline since the cataclysm of last May and signify a major blow to Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that a more left-wing agenda would rebuild the party north of the border.
Better news is likely for Labour in Wales and probably London. The party is likely to retain control of the Welsh Government, continuing their hegemony since devolution in 1999. Things will be closer in London, but there is increasing optimism that Sadiq Khan will regain the Mayoralty which has been in Conservative hands since 2008. It will likely be the most high-profile election of the night, and anything but a win for Sadiq will be considered a disaster within the Labour Party. With London becoming much more a Labour city in the last decade, this is an election they really ought to win.
But perhaps the most telling elections of the night are those for English Council seats. The last time these seats were fought, in 2012, Ed Miliband had perhaps his best night as Labour Leader with the Party winning 2,100 Council seats against just 1,000 for the Conservatives. That, as we all know now, was a result which led to defeat in 2015. So for Labour to claim to be heading for victory in 2020, they need a better result than that. And, one week out, that appears highly unlikely. The Corbynistas are claiming they expect to lose seats against the 2012 benchmark, and that that will be OK. The Party at large will be much harder to convince.
Jeremy Corbyn’s “success” to date lies in attracting support from within the Labour Party and the wider political left. Next Thursday night we discover whether that appeals extends into the actual voting public. Its going to be a big one…