More Labour votes may not mean more time for Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn may be on course to achieve a greater share of the vote than Ed Miliband achieved in the 2015 general election (30.4 per cent) but he is unlikely to see out the year as Labour leader.
The problem for Corbyn is that a slightly larger share of the vote is unlikely to translate to an increased number of Labour seats.
It is only natural that the vote share of the two main parties should go up because the smaller parties are on course to fare badly.
Across England and Wales, Ukip’s vote is collapsing and the Liberal Democrats are struggling to improve on the low base they fell to in 2015.
In Scotland the SNP are still the dominant force but they are not expected to do as well as in 2015 when they won 56 of the 59 available seats.
A Conservative revival looks likely north of the border with Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson running an effective campaign.
Davidson has positioned the party as the defenders of the union and they look like replacing Labour as the main opposition to the SNP – something that was unthinkable a decade ago.
In a YouGov poll published on May 19, the SNP came out top
in Scotland on 42 per cent, with the Conservatives on 29 and Labour on 19.
If borne out, that would mark a significant change from the 2015 results when the SNP polled 50 per cent of the vote, Labour 24.3 and the Tories 14.9.
However, a potential doubling of the Conservative vote in Scotland might not lead to a large swathe of seats because many of their additional votes would be in constituencies where they are too far behind.
A Labour comeback north of the border – where they won 41 seats in 2010 – seems highly unlikely and that means their chances of winning a Westminster majority are almost non-existent.
Labour need to do extremely well in England and Wales to have any chance.
There were fears earlier in the campaign of them losing their stranglehold on Wales, where they won 25 of the 40 seats in 2015.
But there appears to have been a major shift in Welsh voting intentions since the Conservative manifesto launch on May 18.
A YouGov poll published on May 22 put Labour back in front on 44 per cent (up nine) and the Conservatives on 34 per cent (down seven).
The upshot is a huge shift from a Conservative lead in Wales of six per cent to a Labour lead of ten per cent.
Labour’s Welsh fightback is good news for Corbyn but he faces a more difficult challenge in England due to the likely transfer of large numbers of Ukip votes to the Conservatives.
Ukip polled 14.1 per cent of the vote in England in 2015. Most of those voters seem to be heading to the Conservatives and that could pose huge problems for the other parties even if Labour’s UK national share of the vote holds up or increases slightly.
The major positive for Labour is they seem to have reconnected with their core vote after a positive manifesto launch which promoted a number or policies thought to be popular among the public.
But their Achilles heel – Corbyn – remains and he may hold them back from making the election a genuinely close contest.
The debate over the two main party leaders (seen to be a huge strength for Theresa May) has faded since the start of the campaign due to the prime minister’s unconvincing performances on the rare occasions that she has faced non-friendly questioning, but it may well return with a vengeance if Labour go into polling day with genuine hope of preventing a Conservative majority.
Consequently, it is hard to see Labour’s vote share getting to levels far above that achieved by Ed Miliband (30.4 per cent) and Gordon Brown (29), but it is also difficult to see Corbyn faring any worse.
Somewhere between 30 and 35 per cent looks about right and that exact band can be backed at appealing prices.
In terms of seats won, Labour look set for a heavy defeat but Corbyn is far from certain to resign the morning after June 8.
Corbyn and his fervent supporters see his leadership as an important vehicle to change the nature of the Labour party and want to ensure his eventual successor is someone with similarly left-wing views.
To do so they need to instigate a change of the Labour leadership election rules which currently deny anyone from standing unless they are nominated by at least 15 per cent of the MPs in the parliamentary party.
Proposals are being brought forward to significantly lower the threshold to five per cent, making it much easier for hard-left candidates to stand.
There may be an opportunity to make the change at the Labour conference which runs from September 24 to September 27.
A decision paving the way for a far-left candidate to stand would remove a crucial barrier to a Corbyn resignation and events could move quickly from that point.
Sky Bet are betting on when Corbyn steps down, offering 2-7 for any time in 2017 and 5-1 about next year.
They are also betting more specifically on three potential exit periods this year – quoting May to June at 13-8, July to September at 2-1 and October to December at 9-2. The July to September segment – covering the all-important Labour Conference – looks worth backing.
Labour to get 30 to 35 per cent of the vote
3pts 13-8 Coral
J Corbyn to step down between July & September
2pts 2-1 Sky Bet
Heads are sure to roll
Boris Johnson was 9-4 favourite to be the next Tory leader in May 2015, but when his leadership bid never got off the ground, along with that of fellow Brexiteer Michael Gove (22-1), 11-2 chance Theresa May was anointed after the withdrawal of Andrea Leadsom, who wasn’t in the top ten in the betting in May 2015.
Jeremy Corbyn was an unconsidered any-price-you-like chance behind 3-1 jolly Andy Burnham to succeed Ed Miliband. Yvette Cooper was 4-1 second favourite then and is the 3-1 favourite now.
The only next-leader market that proved correct was Tim Farron at 10-11 to get the Liberal Democrat job. Hills were proved right to have been aggressive at 4-7.
As for Ukip,Douglas Carswell, then 11-4 favourite, never got the role despite being their only MP.
Diane James (unquoted) had the post for almost three weeks before a brief return by Nigel Farage. Paul Nuttall (7-1 fourth favourite in 2015) took over in November 2016.