Labour are stuck with Jeremy Corbyn but have little prospect of winning the 2020 General Election. That looks to be the situation with many results still to come in today, including the vital London mayor election.
The Labour leader did better in England and Wales than his critics thought he would, but coming third to the Tories in Scotland means the party will lack the ballast of 40 Scottish Labour seats it would need to win in 2020.
That is why the Shadow Home Secretary and Leigh MP Andy Burnham is considering running for elected Mayor of Greater Manchester. He clearly doesn’t see the prospect of holding one of the major offices of state as very likely in 2020 and may settle for running Greater Manchester. Its a big job but not as big as being Home Secretary. Andy Burnham knows it will be 2025 at least before Labour form a government. By then we may have the realignment of political parties that I have written about before, but for now we must get back to what happened overnight.
Some commentators and Jeremy Corbyn’s enemies were poised to write off the Labour leader overnight.
The truth is that Labour were at a high point going into these elections following years of progress since they lost the 2010 General Election. It is a mystery to me that Labour spokespeople (including Corbyn) didn’t make this point more forcefully. All the easy wards to win had been won in the last five years and further progress would be difficult.
The most interesting northern result so far is in Stockport where Labour look set to gain minority control, ending a long era of the Lib Dems being in charge. On a night when there were signs of a slight Lib Dem recovery, the party self destructed in the town. A botched consultation on the market was followed by a nightmare evening which saw the Lib Dem leader Sue Derbyshire lose her seat and a Lib Dem councillor defect to Labour.
Joe Anderson was comfortably re-elected as Mayor of Liverpool but shortly the city is expected to revert to a leader/cabinet model as Joe stands for election to be Mayor of the Liverpool City Region.
Labour fended off a Tory challenge in West Lancashire but the Conservative flagship council of Trafford remained blue.
So where do the parties stand this weekend as they return to campaigning on the momentous issue of our membership of the European Union?
Parties in government usually start a rapid decline in local support once they are in national office. This hasn’t happened to the Tories despite their splits over Europe, probably because of Labour’s weak leadership and disarray over anti-Semitism. The Conservatives will be encouraged by holding Trafford and the performance of Ruth Davidson, their leader in Scotland, who may have a wider national role one day.
Labour are in stalemate with the results not bad enough for an immediate coup against Corbyn but with no prospect of winning in 2020. The Shadow Chancellor John McDonald has had a good campaign. He appears more sure footed than his leader and if Labour is to have a hard left leader, perhaps it should be him.
Stockport is a further blow to the Lib Dems but partly due to local factors, elsewhere in the North there are signs of a modest recovery after five dreadful years.
UKIP have made a few gains in places like Bolton but their effectiveness in taking decisions on local government issues instead of just banging on about Europe, remains a big question.
Now the battle for our membership of the European Union resumes, let’s see some passion from the Remain camp.