What does Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to Wales tell us about Labour’s election strategy?
Ifan Morgan Jones
Jeremy Corbyn has been spending the final weekend before the General Election on a campaign visit to Wales.
Coming to Wales makes complete sense as it is no longer a Labour fortress at Westminster elections but a key swing state, with both the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru hoping to gain ground here at Labour’s expense.
However, the Labour leader’s choice of campaign stops strike me as odd to say the least. He has chosen to campaign in Swansea, Bangor, Barry and Conwy.
Perhaps Swansea makes sense as the seat of Gower, near Swansea, is one that Labour hold and could be in the balance.
However all the other campaign stops are in seats – Arfon, Aberconwy, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and the Vale of Glamorgan – that Labour would be looking to win if they were hoping to win a majority government.
However, there is nothing in the polls that tells us that Labour are in reach of forming a majority government. They are some 10% down in the polls on their 2017 share of the vote.
That suggests that their election strategy in Wales should be primarily a defensive one – attempting to hold on to what they have rather than gaining ground.
This is especially true in the north-east of Wales where Labour are predicted to take something of a hammering on Thursday.
A constituency poll by Survation of Wrexham, published this week, showed the Labour vote tanking hard there. It was down 20% to a full 15% behind the Conservatives.
It’s difficult to know how accurate constituency polls are but it chimes with what I’ve heard on the ground in Wrexham, which is that the Labour vote is evaporating there.
What should worry Labour though is not just Wrexham but the fact that a similar swing could lose them almost every single seat in north-east Wales.
On that swing, they would also very likely lose neighbouring Clwyd South, the Vale of Clwyd, Alyn and Deeside and Delyn. If Ynys Môn is also lost they will be left without a seat in north Wales.
However, Jeremy Corbyn will not be gracing any of these seats with his presence. Neither will be visiting Bridgend or Cardiff North, two other seats where the Conservatives are pushing hard for a win.
So what is the strategy here? There are three possibilities.
The first of course is that there’s isn’t a coherent strategy. Perhaps the tickets for these venues were booked long ago and Labour expected to be at level pegging in the polls by now.
Momentum’s campaign map is similarly bullish in its campaign strategy, advising Labour’s troops to target seats such as Ceredigion (!) rather than defend what they already have in the north-east.
These target seats in Wales haven’t been updated since the start of the campaign.
The second possibility is that Labour just don’t believe the polls. Perhaps they really believe that pollsters such as YouGov are biased against them, but perhaps their own internal polling is showing them neck and neck with the Conservatives.
If that’s the case then campaigning in Arfon, Aberconwy, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and the Vale of Glamorgan makes sense.
They aren’t the favourites to win any of these seats but if they benefit from an unexpected swing in their favour in the final week winning a few of them could be key to forming the next government.
The third possibility is that Labour now expect to lose the election and for the Conservatives to win a majority.
Under those circumstances, Jeremy Corbyn will be looking to secure his legacy within the Labour party and ensure it remains a party campaigning for socialism after he’s gone rather than the party returning to its centrist days under New Labour.
If that’s the case, then campaigning in seats with Momentum-backed candidates rather than the old guard of Labour MPs makes sense.
It makes it more likely that a socialist candidate will have the requisite support within the Parliamentary Labour Party to win the leadership election.
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Perhaps he closed his eyes and stuck pins in the map.
“The third possibility is that Labour now expect to lose the election and for the Conservatives to win a majority. Under those circumstances, Jeremy Corbyn will be looking to secure his legacy within the Labour party and ensure it remains a party campaigning for socialism after he’s gone rather than the party returning to its centrist days under New Labour”. Very likely but in the coming years political reality, coupled with electoral failure, will dictate that the uk labour party will indeed return to its centrist days under blair – and policies tailored to ‘middle england’ – in a bid… Read more »
The selection of towns and cities to visit is somewhat irregular but I respect him for meeting the people and telling what Labour will offer. The problem for Corbyn is that he is a pacifist and as such cannot land a killer blow whereas Johnson is a serial liar and coward who believes that the ordinary man is below him. A bit like General Haig in WWI in that his sense of entitlement masks the fact that he is utterly useless as a leader of the people. Within a Welsh context and from an independence point of view I fear… Read more »
You need to rethink your second sentence. Pacifism excludes physical violence but is no obstacle to verbal attack – calling out Tory vermin is well within the rules. Why on earth Corbyn has not ripped into Johnson is beyond me, it is certainly not a question of pacifism.
KK Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t seem to be meeting people other than those invited to events and in quite small halls up here in north-west Wales!
Welsh Labour are bluer than the Tories. If that wasn’t the case they would be safe in Wales as historically people have voted Labour. These days there are real choices but I sincerely hope that the Welsh people don’t stitch themselves up and vote Tory. No self-respecting Welsh person should ever put an X in that box!
What load of utter ‘TOSH’ are you people reading ? How and why are you so convinced that the ‘TURDY’ Party has this election in the bag before a single vote has been cast. Are you all in the pocket of the BEEB ? Because if ‘BBBBumbling Boris does manage to take a seat or two, all that proves is that there is a percentage of British people who will never learn, and frankly do not deserve a fair crack of the whip ! .. Personally I shall never give up what the fight for what I know to be… Read more »
I’d love to be wrong Michael but I find something rather unsavoury about politics these days. I don’t think anyone believes what the BBC says but given the lack of political literacy (how many people watch Sky News and read the Daily Mail or Sun) I find the outcome more favourable to the worlds biggest coward himself. It’s a shame as the Labour manifesto is a very interesting and progressive piece of work which would certainly help rather than hinder people. I just wish people were more engaged in Wales to realise the potential we also have as a nation.
Er lots of votes have already been cast Michael – there is such a thing as postal voting, indeed it’s likely that up to a million people will have already voted. True they haven’t been counted yet, but the polls are showing Tory leads of up to 14 points. And no, contrary to the paranoia of momentum activists, the polling companies are not ‘in the pocket’ of the tories – and neither is the Beeb. Fraid you are going to experience a sharp and painful dose of political reality on December 13 Michael – the question is what do you… Read more »
Once upon a time, pressing the flesh, kissing babies, hustings and speeches, a glimpse of the leader was the way to win elections. The battleground is now electronic media. Whistlestop tours are a token relic. Don’t look for a strategy, I doubt if there was one. Battered and bewildered by a relentless barrage of spending pledges- tempting sweeties paid from the magic money tree or a gift from Santa (‘Tis the season), an electorate that is being infantalised may well just vote for the best clown act
The magic money tree does exist… its called the fiat currency system with its global range of central bank printing presses
This website was hardly going to big up labour now was it?
Wales having voted so overwhelming for Brexit may well have put off labour central office?
Wales voted for brexit by the narrow margin of 4 percent – that’s not ‘overwhelming’. And maybe if Jeremy Corbyn had bothered to mention Wales in the televised so called ‘national debates’ this website might have taken a kinder view of him
I know it can’t be done but wouldn’t it be interesting if we could know how Welsh voters in Wales voted compared with how English people in Wales voted.
England voted for Brexit by a larger margin than Wales and most commentators say that older people were more likely to have voted for Brexit. So if you take it that the 600,000 English people in Wales, who are largely older retired types, voted in large numbers for Brexit it may be that Welsh voters actually voted remain.
Just a thought.
It’s only odd if you trust the polls. It’s highly likely there will be so much variation between nation poll projection and constituency vote reality, that labour could gain all those seats.
All points to the vanishing of the Cymry Cymraeg if they do not change all they believe about themselves, their virtues and their aims, so that sides in Labour’s longterm civil war would not dare come to your territory and fight over it.
The Labour Party are definite on one thing – they are not considering ‘coalition’ – probably tempered by events in 1924 when Ramsey Mac. walked into disaster after doing so. So, it follows, every seat is up for attack. Personally, as a Plaid member I am angry that it decided to ‘stand aside’ – Stand Aside! My God, is that what Cofiwch Dreweryn is about? Today, I have taken a cycle ride through all five Labour held seats here in Leeds, all types of housing en route. Counted 18 posters in total along the 22-miles of up and down, all… Read more »