One of Jeremy Corbyn’s key allies has been lambasted by Labour politicians and union leaders for suggesting it would be “successful” if the party managed to hold on to just 200 seats - 32 fewer than it won in 2015.
Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, said it would be “extraordinary” if Labour won on June 8, given Corbyn’s public image and the criticism of the party in the media.
If Labour secured 200 seats it would be their worst result since 1935.
McCluskey told Politico that the “scale of the task is immense”.
He said he was “optimistic”, but: “I don’t see Labour winning. I think it would be extraordinary.”
“I believe that if Labour can hold on to 200 seats or so it will be a successful campaign.
“It will mean that Theresa May will have had an election, will have increased her majority but not dramatically.”
The leader of the UK’s biggest union said it would be a “huge task” to alter Corbyn’s image.
McCluskey said: “He’s (Corbyn) got now just under four weeks to try to see if you can break through that image and it’s going to be a very, very difficult task.
“We are sending messages out to our members saying, this is a decent, honest man, who is on your side, what have you got to be afraid of, what have you go to lose?
“Labour’s policies will make Britain a better and more equal society so we’re trying to pump out that message.
“Whether that breakthrough can happen, we’ll wait and see.”
But the union leader did not rule out victory entirely, adding that Labour was “fighting for every vote”.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, the UK’s largest public services union, disagreed with McCluskey’s version of “success”.
As did Journalist Stephen Pollard who said McCluskey’s prediction hopes were worse than the 1983 result, which saw Labour get 209 Parliamentary seats, compared to the Tories’ 397.
Many local Labour politicians said “success” was winning a majority of the 650 seats available in parliament and warned that McCluskey’s comments were demoralising.
McCluskey’s comments come just hours after Labour launched their manifesto in Bradford.
The manifesto, a draft of which was leaked last week, proposed sweeping nationalisations, scrapping university tuition fees and increased spending on the NHS.