Jeremy Corbyn has announced that, far from going on his summer holidays, he will be preparing in earnest for another possible general election. And in a move that will surely worry Theresa May and her advisers, the Labour leader is aiming to hit the PM where it hurts. Right in her marginals.
No more working for a… day or two…
Corbyn has announced that he will be embarking on a summer tour of around 40 marginal seats, in a bid to be one step ahead of the Tories in the event of another general election. But this targeting by Labour of places where Conservatives have slim majorities has already begun; as on Saturday 8 July, Corbyn attended a rally in Tory Iain Duncan Smith’s seat of Chingford and Wood Green. In this London constituency, for example, Labour cut the Tory majority from 8,386 in 2015 to just 2,438 this year.
Not only will Corbyn be out and about during parliament’s summer recess, but so will his shadow cabinet. In total, they will visit around 70 marginals. And all this will be accompanied by campaigns and internal election preparations – like making sure marginal seats have candidates in place.
Fun and laughter on our summer holiday
A senior Labour official said:
Membership is continuing to grow, we’re selecting candidates in seats for our offensive… We’ve also got campaign days confirmed over the summer. With May coming out and asking for other parties’ help, the Government is in a really odd place, so we are going out engaging, showing we are listening. Jeremy has tapped into something out there, it’s now about building on that.
We’re going where the sun shines brightly
A browse of the list of marginal seats shows just why May should be concerned. Because before the last election, there were just 16 seats where a non-Labour MP had a majority of less than 2,000. But now, there are 38 constituencies where the current non-Labour MPs have a majority of less than 2,000, or where the Labour Party would need a swing of less than 2% to win:
Tory MPs on Corbyn’s hit list include Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Education Secretary Justine Greening, and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns. And lower down the target list is Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (83).
And an in-depth look at some of Labour’s target seats shows a win is well within the party’s grasp.
We’re going where the sea is blue
26.4% of the UK population [spreadsheet] is aged between 16 and 35. But according to the most recent data, six of the top ten target seats (Southampton Itchen, Arfon, Pudsey, Hastings and Rye, Chipping Barnet and Thurrock) all had above-average numbers of 16-to-34-year-olds; Southampton Itchen being the most notable on 38%. And it was this age group which is thought to have got Labour the result it did on 8 June.
Also, 17% of the population [pdf] lives in social housing. But the numbers in Southampton Itchen, Arfon and Thurrock are all above this average. And in Glasgow, the number [spreadsheet] of social homes is 35% of the total housing stock. With Corbyn’s pledges on housing, these areas should, theoretically, become easy victories.
To make our dreams come true
The Labour Party’s recovery on 8 June was quite spectacular. But for the party to stand any chance of winning at the next general election, these marginal seats are crucial. So a summer campaign by Corbyn in these areas seems like a proactive move by the Labour Party. And with May already on the back foot, asking for Labour’s ‘help’ in government, the next three months are crucial. If Labour and Corbyn can overturn what are some tiny Tory majorities, then this summer holiday could be the one to make many people’s dreams come true…
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