Corbyn-led Labour could lose 500 council seats - Burnham camp

More than 500 Labour councillors risk losing their seats in next year’s local elections if Jeremy Corbyn becomes party leader, Andy Burnham’s camp has claimed.

It made the forecast on the basis that a Corbyn victory in the leadership election would not lead to any rise in Labour’s poll standing.

In May 2012, when council seats to be fought in 2016 were last up for election, Labour won 1,188 of the 2,260 seats elected in England. This was a gain of 534 from when those seats were last fought in 2008.

According to the latest ComRes poll, Labour is now on 28% support, compared with ComRes polls of 41% in May 2012, and 26% in May 2008. This suggests that the gains made in 2012 would be wiped out, resulting in the loss of more than 500 Labour council seats in England. It also suggests Labour is now polling behind its May 2011 support (during Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly elections), in which ComRes gave Labour a 39% national vote share.

Kate Haigh, the leader of Gloucester city council’s Labour group and a Burnham supporter, said: “This would be a disaster for our local areas and our party’s future prospects. The leadership election has hurt our chances.”

Tom Beattie, the leader of Corby borough council, said: “My fear is that, under Jeremy Corbyn, over 500 current councillors could face losing their seats, sacrificing Labour influence in councils across England and making the general election fightback much more difficult.”

Even though many Labour members and supporters have still to vote, the assumption remains that Corbyn will be elected next weekend and discussions are under way to try to build a broad-based shadow cabinet. Many high-rankingparty members will not show their hand until the result has been announced, but no one favours the creation of a breakaway party.

Corbyn intends to be conciliatory and has said he will oppose tightening the rules on the reselection of MPs. He has started to indicate that he will park issues, such as Britain’s future membership of Nato, and even the future of the Trident nuclear deterrent, in a wider defence review. Some major unions, notably the GMB, are opposed to unilateral nuclear disarmament, partly for reasons of job protection.

Corbyn can also hold on to his hand regarding the European Union until he knows more about the package that has been negotiated by David Cameron.

The former Labour leader Ed Miliband has let it be known that he is not currently seeking a return to frontline politics, and wants to work on the issues of equality and climate change from the backbenches.

Powered by article was written by Patrick Wintour Political editor, for on Friday 4th September 2015 11.50 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010