How Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister

If the Lib Dem, Labour and UKIP votes align, Labour could form a minority government


All pollsters and pundits seems to be discussing  how big May ‘s majority will be? How many seats will Labour haemorrhage in their heartland and is the Lib Dem revival being overestimated. These are main questions in play

But this election in many respect is more unpredictable than it first looks. The seats Labour currently hold are its base. If Labour can hold these seats and the Lib Dem can achieve a revival in the south west, then Labour could form a minority government.

On the current polls any Labour seats with less than a 10,000 majority will be vulnerable. But because of First Past the Post, they are less vulnerable than they seem. Labour holds 60 seats with under 5,000 majorities and then 53 with under 10,000.

The Conservatives path to victory in the seats where they are in contention is by picking up Labour leave voters and sweeping up all the conservatives who went over to the UKIP whereas Labour hope they can hold on to their core vote and that Lib Dem’s and Green voters will decide to vote tactically.

Two by-elections Copeland and Stoke on Trent show that both could be in play. Copeland exemplifies the nightmare situation for Labour. The UKIP vote goes down from 6,148 in 2015 to 2,025 in 2016 and the Lib Dem vote goes up from 1,368 in 2015 to 2,525 in 2016. As we know the Conservatives were the beneficiaries.

In  Stoke on Trent show Labour could hold on to seats in their heartland. Not increasing their vote but by holding on. This is mainly because the Conservative and UKIP vote cancelled each other out. Labour won with 7,835 votes with the Conservatives on 5,154 and UKIP and 5,233.

Current polling from the West Midlands Mayoral election, where Labour leads, is a  nightmare scenario for the Conservatives, with UKIP vote holding up better than national polls would indicate. It’s a two round system so those with highest in the first round go through to the second round.  In the first round UKIP are third with with 15.7 per cent of the vote with Labour just ahead of the Conservatives on 32.8 to 32.3. In the second round Labour would win by 53 per cent to 47 per cent.  

Two factors may make Labour vote hold and the UKIP vote stay strong. Firstly, Corbyn is going to run on a Sanders  campaign, pitching himself as taking on the establishment. If he can turn this into a positive campaign, not just a treatise on zero-hours contracts, talking about the opportunities of a post-Brexit economy, he maybe able to hold the Labour vote.

Secondly, the Tories Brexiteers feel that May is trying to get an increased majority to achieve a softer Brexit. This could mean civil war could break out in the Tories ranks and that UKIP becomes a resurgent force holding on to the Tories voters they have gained to save the core principles of Brexit.

One big caveat is how Lib Dem voters will respond to Corbyn’s Bernie Sanders approach. Lib Dem voters are mainly socially liberal and economically conservative. They don’t want Brexit or high taxes. Labour at  best equivocal stance on Brexit could mean the Lib Dem refuse to lend Lab their vote in marginal such as Croydon Central and Halifax.

However, a Labour minority government will not be possible without a Lib Dem revival in the southwest. The Lib Dem have won dozens of local council by-elections of the Conservatives.  Even in areas such  as West Somerset which voted for leave by 60.6 per cent to 39.4 per cent, the Lib Dem won a council seats of the conservatives  by a 49.7 per cent increase in their vote share. This was through an implosion of both Green and Conservative votes.

The Lib Dems hope that a combination of former Lib Dem voters who switched to the Tories in 2015 and Tory remainers will come over their side and take them over the finishing line. If the Conservatives take a further lurch to right by for example by relinquishing their commitment to ring-fencing 0.7 per cent of the budget to international aid this could swing these seats in their favour. But again UKIP vote will be crucial. If May can take the UKIP votes then she could just about retain these seats.  

In North Cornwall UKIP are the third parties with 6,121 votes, with the Lib Dem on 15,068 and Conservatives on 21,689. The Green and Labour voted combined is 4,684 so a progressive alliance may not be enough to take them over the line.

But just like 1923 when Labour first took office as a minority government. 2017 maybe the year when 1923 becomes a reality again. If Labour can hold on to most of their 231 seats, the Lib Dem hold their nine and gain back 26 seats they lost from the Tories, plus the SNP 54, the SDLP three and Green one and then that would equate 324 seats.

This will be enough to give Labour a working majority, and to see Corbyn in Number 10.

Sam Pallis is a writer and a activist. He tweets @SamPallis 

See: The Green strategy this election must be to target like hell and break through in Bristol West

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

10 Responses to “How Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister”

  1. Paul

    Wishful thinking.

    I can’t stand the Tories but, even though I’m a long-term UKIP voter, I’m going to vote Conservative rather than risk the disaster of a Corbyn premiership.

  2. Nigel Grant

    Voting Conservatives will condem millions of UK citizens to further welfare cuts, the privatisation of the NHS, lack of housing for our young people etc etc. The Conservatives are not the one nation Party they like to suggest and they do not care about people especially children who are in poverty. By supporting the Conservatives you are closing your eyes to the unfairness and inequalities that exist in our society. I encourage you to look at the Labour Policies for this election and see the vision for the UK as set out by Jeremy Corbyn. He deserves a chance at being Prime Minister. Do not be fooled by Mrs May and her party members nor by the media who are constantly undermining him.

  3. Fred

    Do not be fooled by people telling you not to be fooled. Labour’s crackpot Marxist economics would bankrupt the economy.

    Chris Leslie, the former Labour shadow chancellor, said of John McDonnell’s economic policy: “It’s the magic money tree that will make all our dreams come true. You’d have to double income tax, double National Insurance, double council tax and you’d have to double VAT as well.”

    And that comes from someone in his own party!

  4. Chester Draws

    Secondly, the Tories Brexiteers feel that May is trying to get an increased majority to achieve a softer Brexit.

    Yeah, but they’re wrong. She could work with Labour if she wanted a soft Brexit.

    She’s preparing for a hard Brexit — not because she wants one, but because that’s all the EU will offer.

  5. Michael WALKER

    ANY solution to any problem which only works when every factor has to be extremely positive is pure pie in the sky.

    If Labour can hold on to most of their 231 seats, the Lib Dem hold their nine and gain back 26 seats they lost from the Tories

    is running in the face of most now all ## opinion polls showing The Tories have a lead in excess of 20% over Labour.. And the difference is growing not narrowing..
    That means Labour will lose between 60 to 100 seats..

    ## ” Opinium sees the Tory lead up 10% in a week to 19%. Labour are on course for an absolute hammering if the polls are right”

  6. uglyfatbloke

    Scottish Labour is effectively campaigning for the tories; how does that help?

  7. James

    Fred, you’ve just demonstrated you don’t know the first thing about government finances.

    As the UK is a sovereign state that issues its own currency, it is impossible for us to go bankrupt. Government spending is not funded by taxation – governments can spend BEFORE they receive any tax revenue. How else do you think money first came about? This is because the government owns the Bank of England which is the sole issuer of currency. If there is not enough, they can just create more (and as they effectively borrow from themselves they don’t need to worry about interest or paying it back by a certain date like you or I have to). As long as they levy taxes, every single penny of what they spend comes back to the Treasury eventually, 100% of the time. When the money comes back to government it is removed from the economy and destroyed, keeping inflation in check. The books always balance and anybody who tells you differently is lying to you. Why do you think the government can always find money for wars and never to fund public services? It benefits them to tell you there’s no money because it gives them a reason to impose austerity measures on the poorer members of society and transfer wealth upwards to themselves.

  8. Ian

    Ukip Voters (sun readers) and Lib-dem voters (Mail readers) will never believe the truth about jeremy Corbyn because their editors wont tell them the truth
    They are like sheep being led by a fox to the slaughter and all they can do is say ” but our shepard said it was the right thng to do”

  9. John Reid

    Ian .mail readers vote Libdem, who wanted US to leave the EU?, think sun readers half vote labour,half vote Tory

  10. George Kendall

    I’m sure it’s not intended, but this is Tory propaganda.

    This is the argument that the Tories are putting out, because they know the way to utterly crush every other party is to create plausible fear among the voters that Corbyn might possiblly become PM.

    If that fear becomes widespread, we should expect, not just a massive Tory majority, but such slaughter among opposition parties, that it’ll be impossible to remove them for twenty years.

    Thankfully, some Labour people understand this, and are pushing the line that May will win anyway, and the key thing in this election is to ensure that we don’t become a one-party state, and that there is something resembling a viable opposition after June.

Leave a Reply