Labour suffered a series of disappointing results in council elections last night, as they lost a long-held seat to the Tories and their share of the vote plummeted elsewhere.
The party failed to hold on to a council seat in Kersal, Salford, their first loss in the city since 1989. Their vote share fell by 21.5%.
Jeremy Corbyn’s preferred measure for Labour’s success is local council by-elections. He has also previously attacked the media for ignoring a gain from Ukip on the Ramsgate Newington Parish Council.
But last night’s performances make troubling reading for Labour on that basis.
The Conservatives took Kersal from Labour, despite local MP shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey campaigning for the party’s candidate on polling day.
The electorate in the area is 40% Jewish, census data from 2011 shows, leading the newly-elected Tory councillor Rabbi Arnold Saunders to speculate that his win was in-part due to allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour.
The BBC reported him saying Corbyn’s leadership and a controversial plan to build a new football stadium against residents’ wishes also helped him to victory.
Ex-Labour NEC member
Local Tory Association chair Iain Lindley also said Labour’s “catastrophic collapse” of confidence from Jewish voters should send shockwaves through the party.
He told The Huffington Post UK: “Clearly Jeremy Corbyn is a real issue for a lot of voters in Salford and I think the direction that he’s taking the Labour Party in is a huge factor.
“I remember one incident when we bumped into a Labour voter in Lower Kersal, which is the other side of the ward, away from where most of the Jewish community is, who was quite happy to say he was a Labour supporter.
“The word he used to describe Corbyn was not one you’d be able to print on your website.”
Labour London Assembly Member
There were three other council by-elections held last night. Labour failed to take any, seeing their vote share fall in all of them:
- Hutton (Redcar & Cleveland) - CON HOLD, Lab -16.6%
- Newcomen (Redcar & Cleveland) - LD HOLD, Lab -5.8%
- Mudeford & Friars Cliff (Christchurch) - CON HOLD Lab -9.6%
- Kersal (Salford) CON GAIN, Lab -21.5%
The results come after Labour lost the Copeland by-election to the Tories, a seat they had held since the 80s. On the same night they held Stoke-on-Trent Central.
Labour’s position in the polls has also been suffering, with an ICM/Guardian poll giving the Conservatives an 18-point lead.
The survey found that the Tories were on 44%, up two points, while Labour were on 26%, down one. UKIP were on 13% and the Liberal Democrats on 8%.
When challenged to explain the huge poll slump at the weekly meeting of. Labour MPs in Parliament, Corbyn replied: “Of course I understand what’s going on and the problems we have had in the media.”
He added: “We do a lot better on social media”, one source in the room told HuffPost UK.