Nikolay Kalinin suggests that in spite of their crusade against Tory sleaze, Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer is failing to make any inroads and finds himself in a multifaceted mess
A week ago, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer attempted to present himself as the superhero British politics needs in order to rid the country of Tory sleaze. He proffered that his scrutiny at Prime Minister’s Questions and photo-ops at John Lewis illustrated that Labour will annihilate the Tories in tomorrow’s elections simply because the governing party are just ‘no good.’
Yet, the truth for Sir Keir is actually far bleaker and a multifaceted mess, as ever since February the gap between the Conservatives and Labour in the polls has been increasing in the governing party’s favour and this has mostly been due to the UK government’s incredibly successful vaccination programme.
Even after the ‘Wallpapergate’ scandal, it seems like nothing much has changed, as a YouGov poll has projected that on 6th May, Labour is most likely to lose 59 seats in ‘Red Wall’ local councils, whereas the Conservatives are set to gain 90. Furthermore, 38% of people in ‘Red Wall’ council areas have stated that Boris Johnson would “make the best Prime Minister,” compared to just 30% for Starmer.
The by-election in the Hartlepool constituency meanwhile – which has been described as the first litmus test of Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour leadership – has also left many expecting Labour will lose their hold over the area. A poll conducted by Good Morning Britain concluded that 50% of the people interviewed in the area would vote for Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer, compared to the 33% that would vote for Labour candidate Paul Williams.
In even worse news for Labour, another GMB poll concluded that most people in Hartlepool had favourable feelings towards Conservatives (46%), compared to Labour’s 31%. Furthermore, 45% of people expressed negative feelings towards Labour, compared to 31% who expressed negativity towards Conservatives. It seems therefore like Labour is on the path to losing the seat, which has been controlled by them since its establishment in 1974.
Still, there has also been evidence in the last few days that suggests otherwise; a recent UK voting intention poll conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies has seen the Conservatives’ lead being slashed by 4%, whereas Labour has gained 4% in the polls, meaning that the gap between both is now a mere 2%.
As expected, Labour London Mayor Sadiq Khan is expected to retain his position as he maintains a fairly stable lead in the polls, with predictions that he’ll get 61% in the first round whereas his hapless Conservative rival Shaun Bailey will achieve a mere 39%.
There’s a dangerously high chance that the Conservatives will be able to use the vaccination success in order to win over the voters in councils and in Hartlepool, who will ignore the fact that their PM has used donated money for his own expenses and didn’t even disclose it.
Why has Sir Keir Starmer, in general, failed to deliver a fatal blow to the Tories in the lead-up to the elections? It’s most likely due to lack of a uniting ideology, but more importantly due to the lack of opposition; because of the government’s role in fighting against COVID-19, it’s possible that the role of Labour as an opposition party has been substantially reduced, as they are actually unable to scrutinise the Tories like they would normally have had had there been no pandemic. In some way, Sir Keir seems to be lacking the appeal that Jeremy Corbyn had as Labour leader, which allowed the party to receive an influx of members after decades of falling membership.
So far, the sleaze scandals have not hurt the Conservatives at all – as a matter of fact support for them has been increasing – and even more surprisingly the Labour Party that has been leading the campaign against sleaze is getting pummeled in the polls. It truly is concerning that a party that has such a large lack of connection with people is leading in the polls, because this should not happen in a country that is supposedly a representative democracy. We’ll just have to wait and see, but a very important first signal will emerge with the results tomorrow.