New poll analysis: Watson, Skinner and Flint facing defeat. Cooper, Miliband, Reeves and Rayner on the edge

by Atul Hatwal

Labour is facing a parliamentary wipeout on June 8th. The defeat will be greater than 1983 with the leading figures such as Tom Watson, Dennis Skinner and Caroline Flint facing defeat while many others, including Yvette Cooper, Ed Miliband and Angela Rayner, are teetering on the brink.

Currently Labour is set to lose just over 90 seats but a relatively small deterioration of the party’s position on the ground could see dozens more fall.

These are the findings of new analysis by Uncut based on the views of dozens of Labour candidates, party officials and activists following the past three weeks of intensive canvassing.

In this time, thousands of Labour members and supporters have knocked on tens of thousands of doors in constituencies across the country. While social media is a place where hackneyed tropes about a “great reception on the #Labourdoorstep,” are trotted out, in reality Labour’s army of canvassers has been gathering huge amounts of intelligence and feeding it back through the party’s operation.

Uncut has focused on two questions in conversations with Labour campaigners to understand the situation on the ground:

  1. What is the scale of switching from Ukip to the Tories? This issue has been highlighted widely in the media and is evident in the Tories rising poll rating and Ukip’s symmetrical slump.
  2. What is the drop-off in 2015 Labour vote? Every area is reporting the Corbyn effect on the door with Labour voters refusing to back the party, but this hasn’t been clearly captured in the public polling.

For both questions, the estimated shift has been quantified at a regional level based on feedback from campaigners and applied to the 2015 vote share for each constituency in that region. In line with feedback from across the country, the Lib Dems and Greens are assumed to be on track to repeat their 2015 performance.

The results are not pretty.

While the national polls suggest Labour’s vote is holding up, potentially even advancing on 2015, in the constituencies that matter, something very different seems to be happening.

A net loss of 91 seats would be devastating.

The two factor model on which these findings are based for England and Wales is rudimentary and mechanical (agricultural even). But then, so is what is happening to the Labour party.

The combination of Ukip voters turning to the Tories with Jeremy Corbyn’s impact on 2015 Labour voters has created a perfect storm.

Scotland is an anomaly. North of the border an entirely different election is being conducted. One where the defining issue is the union and if Labour can position itself as a vehicle for unionists, there are grounds for optimism that some small but significant gains can be achieved.

The situation is very bleak (the detailed seat by seat breakdown is below) but there is still action that Labour can take to limit the damage.

One of the salutary lessons of the 2015 election was the futile manner in which Labour diverted significant resources to seats where there was barely a glimmer of hope of victory. If the effort and organisation that went into the quixotic hope of defeating Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam had been directed a few miles away towards protecting Ed Balls in Morley and Outwood, he might still be an MP.

Tough decisions are needed from Labour HQ and some rationality from Jeremy Corbyn’s team. Seats that have been rock solid Labour redoubts – places where Labour has regularly won more than the other parties put together – are now slipping away.

Matters are complicated because Labour is effectively running three, near autonomous campaigns: the Jeremy Corbyn tour of safe spaces where he meets happy crowds and won’t be heckled, the HQ campaign to save marginal seats and the Momentum campaign to do some work in Labour held marginals and then try win some seats off the Tories.

Salvaging what can be saved means combining these three campaigns into a single, focused effort.

It means abandoning any notion of winning new seats in England and Wales, falling back from swathes of seats Labour currently holds that HQ are trying to protect and concentrating on a new defensive line deep in Labour heartlands.

Specifically, if Labour wants to retain some form of voter-recognition in its post June 8th frontbench, it means saving the big names who are about to lose their seats.

Regional breakdown of changes

The summaries below set out the scale of impact on each Labour seat by region, specifically highlighting those MPs who are plus or minus 6% from victory.

These are the real marginals where campaign effort should be directed. 6% typically equates to 1,500 to 2,500 votes onto the Labour total – votes that could be turned out with a surge in GOTV effort in the last fortnight.

East Midlands

Labour currently holds 14 seats and is on track to lose nine. Prospective casualties include John Mann, Liz Kendall, Dennis Skinner and Margaret Beckett.

We already know that the Tories have specifically targeted Denis Skinner’s seat – last week a cabinet minister, Chris Grayling, went to Bolsover with more expected as the campaign progresses.

The one potential hope is that five of the nine are within 6% and a surge of resources on the ground could make a difference.

The key is to reduce the drop-off in Labour vote – if it was 1 in 5 rather than 1 in 4, Dennis Skinner and Margaret Beckett would be saved.

If the drop-off was held to the levels currently being reported in London – 1 in 6 – Liz Kendall would squeak through with John Mann and Lillian Greenwood within a few hundred votes of safety.

Gloria De Piero’s seat seems to be beyond the threshold of what can be saved but there was a significant Lib Dem vote in 2015 of 15% and if that could be squeezed alongside minimising the Corbyn effect on Labour’s vote, there might be a route to victory.

East of England

Two out of the four Labour seats in the East of England seem set to be lost but all are within the margin where concentrated effort (or a lack of it) could make a difference.

The critical factor for Daniel Zeichner and Clive Lewis as for Gloria De Piero in the East Midlands is whether they can switch some Lib Dem voters to Labour.

One of the repeated points of feedback to Uncut from Labour campaigners out in the country has been that Jeremy Corbyn has made it much harder to attract Lib Dems switchers. These are after all voters who found Ed Miliband sufficiently unappealing, let alone a Labour leader who is so much further to the left.

Such deep Lib Dem antipathy to Jeremy Corbyn could potentially cost Labour several seats.

London

Despite the dreadful figures below – 10 out of 45 Labour seats headed for defeat – London is as good as it gets for Labour in this general election.

The level of switching from Ukip to the Tories appears to be a little lower than in the rest of the country, perhaps because Ukip were never the repository for mainstream protest votes across most of the capital. Labour’s drop-off at 1 in 6 is also at the lower end of the range, reflecting Jeremy Corbyn’s metropolitan base.

Jon Cruddas in Dagenham would be a shocking loss for Labour but with such a high bank of 2015 Ukip votes and local activists saying that Dagenham is much more like Essex than the rest of London in its voting pattern, it is a tough seat for this incarnation of the Labour party.

That same Essex effect is evident in Eltham and Ilford North. In the latter case, Wes Streeting defied electoral gravity in 2015 to win and his ground operation is arguably the best in the country, but the team have a mountain to climb, particularly as Ukip aren’t standing. If he wins in these circumstances it would be the ultimate triumph of local organisation over national swing.

North East

The situation in the North East is bad but could easily slide towards catastrophic. A loss of eight out of 25 seats is likely with a further five are primed to fall with a small shift in the vote.

In the Uncut model, the drop-off in Labour vote is 1 in 5, but campaigners in some of those seats have been reporting significantly higher falls – up to 1 in 3.

Alongside the large banks of Ukip support swinging to the Tories, this fall in the Labour vote is a sure sign Labour’s heartlands are in cardiac arrest.

After this election there is the prospect of Tory MPs representing large parts of Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough.

The damage is indiscriminate with Labour’s left and right heading towards iconic losses. Sedgefield – Tony Blair’s old seat – is poised to be won by the Tories while Ian Lavery, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s staunchest backers, joint general election campaign co-ordinator and former leader of the National Union of Mineworkers, is under pressure in Wansbeck.

The challenge for Labour in the North East is that these seats have been Labour for so long that any semblance of a local campaign organisation atrophied and vanished decades ago. In many cases, local campaigners are setting up structures from a standing start.

The paradox is that in these seats, which were solid Labour, the absence of established local campaign apparatus could amplify the impact of the national swing with the Tories running riot on the ground, relatively unopposed.

It’s not like we haven’t been here before, this is what happened in Scotland in 2015.

North West

Labour in the House of Commons is a party of North West England. It holds 50 seats in the region, 11 more than the next biggest region, Yorks & Humber.

But at this election, with great numbers come great losses. 19 MPs are set to lose their seats, a shade under 40% of Labour’s North West base.

As with the North East, the drop-off in Labour vote seems to be averaging out at 1 in 5 but again there are lots of constituencies where local campaigners are reporting higher rates of attrition, frequently hitting 1 in 3 or higher in some core wards.

Angela Rayner, touted as a potential future leader, has a huge fight on her hands to hold onto her seat, Andrew Gwynne, joint general election co-ordinator is in the danger zone along with Rebecca Long Bailey and even Lisa Nandy and Kate Green.

The party’s decision to bar Simon Danczuk from running looks likely to backfire with his independent candidacy sure to pull votes from Tony Lloyd (in the model we’ve assumed a third) which gives the Tories a healthy majority.

Unlike the North East, several of seats that are at risk were competitive within living memory so the local campaign structures aren’t entirely derelict but places like Wigan and Burnley are demographically similar to those in Essex and East London in being the electoral antithesis of environments where a Corbynite Labour party thrives.

The key question is whether a combination of a personal, local base for the MP and the minority vote – particularly the Pakistani Kashmiri community which remains solidly Labour – can save the seats.

Scotland

Scotland is another country, certainly as far as this election is concerned. Ukip, Brexit and even Jeremy Corbyn are barely issues. The central focus in Scotland is the union and campaigning is polarised around this issue.

When Ian Murray, Labour’s sole Scottish representative, backed voting Tory tactically to beat the SNP, he was reviled by Corbynites.

But it was smart politics.

If the anti-SNP vote coalesces behind a single candidate, the nationalists will lose significant numbers of seats. Yes this would mean some Tory gains, but Labour is a close second in key seats and should be a beneficiary of this kind of tactical voting.

The more savvy Labour Scots campaigners were furious at the suspension last week of Aberdeen Labour councillors for forming an anti-SNP pact with the Tories, precisely because it undercuts the unionist message.

The swing calculation for Scotland, in the table below, is based on a rough estimate from Scottish campaigners that, where Labour is challenging the SNP, half of the other non-nationalist parties’ vote can be persuaded to switch. If the SNP repeat their 2015 performance, this brings a number of seats into play.

The outcome of the 2017 general election could be that Scotland is the one area where Labour wins new seats with the distinctly un-Corbynite approach of pitching for Tory and Lib Dem votes as the best guarantor of the union.

More broadly, if this tactical voting does occur, gains by the Tories and Lib Dems could make June 8th quite a difficult night for the nationalists.

South East

In elections where Labour is a contender for government, the South East is a key battleground. But not in 2017. There are only four MPs with three headed for defeat.

Slough might yet be salvageable but Fiona Mactaggart’s decision to stand down after 25 years building name recognition and a personal vote means the task is that much harder.

South West

Labour faces the possibility of losing all of its remaining 4 MPs in this region and this may even be most likely, but hope isn’t yet gone.

In the Uncut model, the Greens are assumed to perform as well as they did in 2015. If Labour’s Bristol MPs could squeeze the Green vote then all might not be lost. Ideologically, it should be a relatively small step for Green voters to switch to a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour party.

Voting in the recent Bristol Mayoral election also suggested that all three Labour MPs would win their seats but with the caveat that a different voting system was used and the national debate will inevitably have an impact on the general election choice.

In Exeter meanwhile, Ben Bradshaw is renowned as having an effective local operation along with sky high name recognition so although he’s behind, that gap is bridgable by election-day.

Wales

2015 saw Labour majorities whittled away across Wales and 2017 could be the year large numbers of seats are won by the Tories. 10 out of 25 are on track to fall with another four highly vulnerable.

The Tories look set to make deep inroads into South and North Wales. Veteran contrarian Paul Flynn is set to lose while Kevin Brennan is in a dead heat in Cardiff West. Perhaps most strikingly, Owen Smith, who challenged Jeremy Corbyn last year for the leadership, is within a couple of thousand votes of losing in Pontypridd.

However, as bad as the situation looks, it could be worse. What happened in Scotland does not seem imminent in Wales.

It’s notable that Plaid’s number one target, Ynys Mon, a seat where they finished just 1% behind Labour in 2015 looks set to swing to the Tories rather than them.

The structure of Labour’s problem in Wales is as elsewhere across England: banks of Ukip votes tumbling to the Tories while Jeremy Corbyn turns off traditional Labour voters. Dreadful as this is, it’s still better than Plaid expanding across North Wales, breaking into South Wales and shutting Labour out entirely, as the SNP have in Scotland.

West Midlands

The West Midlands will be a disaster for Labour on June 8th. The drop-off in the Labour vote is higher than most other regions at 1 in 4 with local campaigners yet again highlighting even higher rates of switching away from Labour in certain constituencies. Ian Austin, Emma Reynolds and most shockingly of all, Tom Watson, look set to be casualties.

15 of Labour’s seats in the region seem to be beyond saving. At 60% that’s the highest percentage of any region, by a huge margin.

Stoke, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Coventry could all be represented exclusively by Tory MPs after this election.

There was a harbinger of the disaster to come at the West Midlands Mayoral election.

Between the Police and Crime Commissioner election in May 2016 and the Mayoral contest the Tory first preference vote rose from 25% to 42% while Ukip dropped from 16% to 6% and Labour’s vote fell from 47% to 41%.

While it’s hard to make firm judgements based only on these headline figures, there seems to be a certain symmetry: the Tories vote rose by 17%, almost exactly the sum of Ukip’s drop of 10% and Labour’s fall of 6%.

Bear in mind, this was when Sion Simon, a son of the West Midlands was top of the Mayoral ticket and regional issues were the paramount. Factor in Jeremy Corbyn and the dynamics of the national campaign and the scale of looming defeat becomes apparent.

Yorkshire and Humber

Yorkshire and Humber is similar to the West Midlands with the same level of drop-off in Labour vote and switching from Ukip to the Tories. The main difference is that casualties are likely to be even more striking.

Caroline Flint and Mary Creagh look to be in serious trouble, Rosie Winterton is on the edge while an extra gust of electoral wind in Tory sails could see them overhaul Jon Trickett, Ed Miliband, Rachel Reeves and Yvette Cooper. Even Richard Burgon is in trouble while Emma Hardy, Alan Johnson’s successor, faces a fight to win Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle.

In total, 9 current and ex-shadow cabinet members are in serious danger, the highest of any region.

Yorkshire faces a similar problem to the North East and other regions with historically safe seats – in many of these constituencies there is precious little campaign apparatus with which to fight a competitive election. The local party simply does not know where Labour’s voters are or how to turn them out on election-day.

This was the region that gave the big shock of election night in 2015 with Ed Balls defeat and Tory campaigners are already talking about getting “the full set” by beating Yvette Cooper. It seems likely June 8th will be a difficult evening for Labour in this part of the country.

The election is going to be bad. Very bad. Whether the result is an extinction level event partially depends on how effectively Labour’s ground operation can be marshalled and focused on protecting the real marginals in the remaining weeks of the campaign.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut


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34 Responses to “New poll analysis: Watson, Skinner and Flint facing defeat. Cooper, Miliband, Reeves and Rayner on the edge”

  1. NHSGP says:

    What you do expect?

    Mr Bigot, Mrs Racist, and Miss Stupid, can I count on you supporting our Labour candidate at the next election?

    You should equally have gone down the capitalist route for the state pension. Invested the money, and made sure the individual workers owned their wealth.

    Instead you spent it leaving no assets and a 10 trillion pound debt

  2. daodao says:

    The Labour vote share does seem to be holding up, but I agree that there are likely to be massive seat losses in England and Wales, mostly north of the Severn-Wash line. This will be able to be blamed almost entirely on UKIP to Tory switching, so won’t be enough to dislodge JC from leading Labour post the GE.

  3. eric joyce says:

    If the strategy of applying a broad common unionist cause alongside the Tories were indeed ‘successful’ and the SNP lost 4 seats to Labour, as your figures imply, this would of course INCREASE the Tory majority over Labour at Westminster. This is because the Tories would be the greater beneficiaries of the same strategy, acquiring up to a dozen new seats.

  4. buttley says:

    I like the pseudo scientific introductions. such gravitas.

    Dozens of respondents you say, impressive.

    Care to publish your data sets & spreadsheet for peer review?

  5. Is this supposed still to be a pro-Labour website?

  6. Gerrard McKay says:

    The Labour party is well and truly finished and the reason why is very simple ” there is no freedom of speech”

  7. John Preid says:

    You forget these MPs have their on cult following,
    Saying that if Skinner lost after all the twitter quotes about Liz Kendall joining the Tories it would serve him right.

  8. Craig says:

    Some of the analysis and figures are a bit ropey. UKIP aren’t standing in Clive Lewis’s seat for instance, but he should be able to squeeze the Green vote to compensate.

    The notion of Sion Simon, as some kind much loved son of the West Midlands, is just risible. A career politician with a stint on the News of the World was always going to struggle against the boss of John Lewis – probably the most trusted brand in the country.

    But basically this is correct: Corbyn could increase the Labour vote, but still win lose plenty of seats (partly by running up big wins in the big cities like Burnham did in the mayoral race) but mainly because of UKIP going to the tories.

  9. paul barker says:

    Interesting analysis & very different from the headlines.
    Any idea why Polling isnt picking up the drop in Labours vote ?

  10. Unionist says:

    Some very odd suggestions here.

    You seem to be suggesting the Tories would get 10% of the vote in Scottish seats they won at the council elections, saw massive swings towards in the Holyrood elections, and are tipped to take themselves in June. This makes me strongly doubt the reliability of the rest of the predictions.

    I would not like to stray into hat eating territory, but I am tempted to suggest something inedible to offer up as an alternative were these results to be reflected in three weeks’ time.

  11. Andy Leighton says:

    Momentum/Labour has basically told every swing voter or traditional Labour voter to **** off and join the Tories – so they have.
    Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

  12. Cath says:

    “Scotland is an anomaly. North of the border an entirely different election is being conducted. One where the defining issue is the union and if Labour can position itself as a vehicle for unionists, there are grounds for optimism that some small but significant gains can be achieved.”

    Seriously? No, the defining issue for Scotland isn’t “the union”. It’s Scotland and how its governed. It’s Brexit. It’s terror of an unrestrained Tory government potentially taking away devolution (actually, certainly taking away devolution if there is to be a “single UK market” in things like health.

    A Labour party which doesn’t understand that and instead sides with the Tories over and over again to try and over-rule Scottish democracy simply isn’t a Labour party worth voting for. If anything it’s worse than that. Until Labour begin to even try to understand Scotland, you’re a danger to us, nothing more.

  13. Stan says:

    This would be a total unmitigated disaster. Such a shame if Tom looses his seat. If you’re interested in how the party got into its present mess I really recommend this interview with a former top Labour Party staffer on the subject http://thebackbencher.co.uk/exclusive-former-party-staffer-explains-how-labour-got-so-messed-up/

  14. Jon Lansman says:

    An utterly irresponsible piece from what purports to be a pro-Labour site and which, in the absence of any explanation and demonstration of the methodology, assumptions and sources, is also devoid of evidence of any intellectual rigour.

  15. Jim says:

    Is this “analysis” the source of that “140 seats” thing in the right-wing press? The problem with this “analysis” is it doesn’t properly account for churn (more than just two factors in the movement of voters between parties) and also doesn’t account for new voters.

  16. Keith Jenks says:

    As Eric says, if Labour+Tory go full tactical in Scotland, surely this only helps if we pick up more seats than the Tories. Never mind the image problem of being in bed with the bad guys – that’s bitten us before.

  17. Ann says:

    The Labour candidate in Oxford East is Anneliese Dodds not Annelise Midgeley.

  18. Hugh Thomson says:

    I find it difficult to accept the above analysis – its completely inconsistent with current poling. That is not to say that the polls have never been wrong – clearly they have – but when the various pollsters are pointing in the same direction then they are likely to be broadly right. May will still win – but I don’t think she will get her landslide.

  19. Anne says:

    Don’t agree with this analysis Atul. Really you should keep more up to date with events – see what is being written on social medial. All four polls published today, including The Times are saying Labour is gaining ground.
    Did you not see Teresa Me delivering that terrible speech when launching her manifesto- hitting her members of her own party – means testing winter fuel payments etc. See what Jamie Oliver has to say on stopping free school meals.
    Come on Atul – try to keep up.

  20. huw says:

    Error in the Thangham Debonaire line above – the labour deficit is +3 when it should be -3%

  21. Robinson says:

    Hugh Thomson says he doesn’t buy it. Well he should because what’s missing from the national polling is turnout. There’s a big difference between those who say they’re definitely going to come out and vote Tory and those who say they’re definitely going to come out and vote Labour (the former is almost twice as big as the latter). This is the key reason why the national polling is at least 5% too high for Labour right now.

  22. John P Reid says:

    Jon landsman, define pro labour website, left futures was full of supporters of lufthur rahman rather than John Biggs, but then support could also be defined as not being responsible for the Tories being 12% ahead in the polls, like Corbynistas are

    Some good comments from NHSGP Craig ,Gerard Mackey, Andy leighton

  23. DICK R says:

    The benefit class will bail them out in many places as their client voters try to vote themselves an even bigger share of working peoples money , plastic bottles of cider, frozen pizza and smuggled tobacco don’t grow on trees you know .

  24. John McKinstry says:

    “Every area is reporting the Corbyn effect on the door with Labour voters refusing to back the party, but this hasn’t been clearly captured in the public polling.”

    Why hasn’t this been captured in pubic polling? Do the anti-Corbyn people tell the public pollsters they’re voting Labour? Do they then tell Labour pollsters they’re not voting Labour?

    This is all a bit dodgy. Not well thought out at all. A bit embarrassing to be honest.

  25. Tony says:

    This article assumes that Corbyn only repels potential Labour voters.
    As Gareth Snell, has acknowledged, he also attracts and enthuses them.

    “Ian Austin”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/12/15/ian-austin-torture-report-dick-cheney_n_6328054.html?1418744941=

  26. Peter Kenny says:

    Welsh poll today puts us squarely in the lead and likely to make gains. let’s see how the first election U turn on a major policy, probably ever, leaves things, eh?

    This article is miserable defeatist stuff posing as thoughtful and rigorous.

  27. David Walker says:

    Another big problem for Labour is that the election isn’t even front-page headlines in the news. Even the British broadsheets are leading with whatever is being thrown at Donald Trump on that day. If the election isn’t a big story then Labour are really in the soup as the young will turn out in even fewer numbers. Tories, many of whom regard their trip to the ballot box as a welcome day out, won’t fail to show-up to the same degree.

    Atul’s predictions have been somewhat dodgy, in the past, but I’m inclined to believe he’s onto something here. Labour is being forced to canvas in areas where its vote was previously weighed, rather than counted.

    ‘Sorry we haven’t stopped by for 35 years, but can we count on your vote? …No, Jeremy does not support the IRA and he won’t hand the Falklands over to Argentina….I understand your concerns about immigration, but we have proven that it is making us all richer and frankly that sort of language is offensive….is that dog tied-up?’

    Corbyn doesn’t even want to win, he just wants to make Labour a Socialist party again. He’ll be happier if more seats are lost, rather than less.

  28. Tafia says:

    Buttley, you need to compare the statistics of the local elections two weeks ago, what the polls said then only days before and how people actually voted – the result is dramatically different.

    This is only the second poll carried out in Wales so far. All that can be said is that it is almost certainly wrong just as the first one was.

    The tories will take seats off Labour and will also take one off Plaid..

  29. Tafia says:

    Oh, and they show UKIP at a ridiculously high level. And when you consider this is a national poll across Wales but UKIP are only standing in a handful of Welsh seats – so all things being equal, 80% of those ewho say they will vote UKIP will actually vote Tory as a second choice because there won’t be a UKIP candidate in their seat, you can already start to s the error.

  30. Fubar Saunders says:

    Well… whats the old saying? “You can ignore reality… but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality”.

    We will soon see how close Atul is where this particular theory is concerned. Theres an awful lot of contributors on here who not only dont want to believe the possibility of heavy defeat, but are in full-on discrediting/rebuttal mode.

    Only a couple of days now and we’ll find out. Jeremy will either be swept into Downing Street on the crest of a wave, or he’ll be swept into the gutter. Time will tell.

  31. Dave Marshall says:

    Well looking back Atul has a really sound record of calling elections. He got the first leadership poll spot on. As we all known Corbyn came in forth. Cant help but think that this is just a wet dream for someone who can not accept that the Labour Party to survive must be left of centre.

  32. anosrep says:

    Didn’t quite turn out that way, did it, Mr Hatwal?

  33. Smith says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA tell Atul to give it up & become a dustman!

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