Labour is playing down its sweeping local election losses, with MPs advised to call the results a “mixed picture” and to stress Tory gains in Wales have “failed to materialize,” the party’s leaked election script reveals.
The party is down more than 100 seats so far, has lost majorities on three Welsh councils and has been replaced by the Conservatives as the largest party on Cumbria County Council. Labour has lost overall control of its traditional stronghold of Glasgow City Council for the first time in nearly 40 years.
Despite the apparently dismal showing, Labour MPs have been advised to say the results are merely “disappointing” and that the party has done “better than people were predicting.”
“Some of the predictions of doom and gloom across the board aren’t quite panning out as some thought,” the script said.
“There are some disappointing results, but there are good ones too such as holding on to the councils in Neath Port Talbot and Newport.”
One success the party will be stressing is retaining Welsh seats in Swansea, Cardiff and Newport councils, the latter of which the party will say was a Tory target. Candidates are also being told to suggest the Tory surge is down to the UKIP collapse, and say the results are being judged against a high point for the party in 2012.
As polls close in local elections, I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard for The Labour Party in these campaigns. pic.twitter.com/s7sstZlIzy
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) May 4, 2017
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell remains staunchly behind Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“It has been tough, there’s no doubt about that, but it hasn’t been the wipeout that some people predicted or the polls predicted … In areas it’s quite mixed,” he told Radio 4’s Today program.
“I’m not underestimating the challenge that we face right the way across the country. But what I’m saying is, to try to be as objective as I possibly can, it isn’t the wipeout that many predicted. It is much better.”
Speaking to Sky News, Labour MP Diane Abbott said the defection of UKIP supporters to the Tories was “one of the pivotal factors” in Thursday’s vote.
She conceded that “some of those UKIP voters that are going to the Tories are former Labour voters,” and said that in a general election “we have to turn them out and get them to vote Labour.”
Abbott said overall the morning’s results had been “disappointing” but stressed “you cannot extrapolate from local elections to the general.”
She added the results “certainly don’t mean that the general election [of June 8] is done and dusted for Theresa May.”
Stephen Kinnock, Labour MP for Aberavon, was a dissenting voice, however, going against the party line. He criticized the party’s performance and the impact of Corbyn’s leadership, saying the results painted a “disastrous picture.”
“It’s simply not good enough for a party that’s been in opposition for seven years, that’s heading towards a general election in five weeks, to not be picking up seats and not be making forward progress,” he said, according to the Mirror.
“What we need to do is recognize that we have got a mountain to climb over the next five weeks and it’s about time we started climbing it.
“I think we can’t just put a spin on this – the fact of the matter is that Jeremy’s leadership does come up on the doorstep on a very regular basis. What we have to do is make this election about more than leadership, we’ve got to make it about the future of our country.”