Labour faces gloomy polling as Starmer kicks off eve-of-poll tour

Elliot Chappell
© Twitter/@Keir_Starmer
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We have an abundance of polls to look at ahead of election day tomorrow. Unfortunately, several of them do not make particularly happy reading for Labour. Gloomy predictions have been published for the Tees Valley and the West Midlands mayoral contests. According to Opinium, the Conservatives are on course to win the Tees Valley with 63% of first preferences, ahead of Labour’s Jessie Joe-Jacobs on 37%. Meanwhile, the pollster has the Tories winning by 17 points on first preferences, ahead of Labour’s Liam Byrne, in the West Midlands.

Sources in the Byrne campaign remain optimistic, telling LabourList that the survey is “bollocks” and does not represent what is happening on the ground. They think it will be a close fight, but Labour will win. Keir Starmer will visit Labour mayoral campaigns across England on an eve-of-poll tour today. He will join Tracy Brabin in West Yorkshire, Byrne in the West Midlands and Dan Norris in the West of England. Ahead of the trip, he told voters: “Vote Labour tomorrow to put you, your family and your community first.”

Following up on the Survation Hartlepool poll published yesterday morning, which showed a 17-point lead for the Conservatives, The Guardian got its hands on some internal Labour data. It does little to assuage concerns. It found that fewer than half, only 40% in fact, of previous Labour supporters in the seat have said they will back Dr Paul Williams on the day. This is based on canvassing more than 10,000 people, and Labour sources have said the party is in “huge trouble” in the by-election fight.

Elsewhere in England, YouGov has published its final forecast for the London mayoral, showing the gap closing slightly between Sadiq Khan and Tory Shaun Bailey. It predicts Khan will take 43% of first preferences and Bailey 31%, up five points on last month.  “The latest YouGov poll reflects our internal polling which shows a similarly reduced lead,” a Labour source said, adding that “we are expecting a considerably worse night than many pundits have predicted”. Amid worries over turnout, Labour in the capital is very keen to mobilise party members to get out the vote today and tomorrow.

In Scotland, Opinium and YouGov have predicted majorities for the SNP, while Savanta Comres has the nationalists suffering their worst result since 2007. Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar told us in an exclusive interview that he has “obviously got a mountain to climb” to unseat Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow Southside, but our editor Sienna says the grassroots are delighted with how the short campaign has gone. We also have an interview with Glasgow list and constituency candidate Pam Duncan-Glancy that is well worth a read. Away from Glasgow, however, Sienna hears that hopes of holding onto marginals East Lothian and Edinburgh Southern are dwindling, and all party staffer efforts are now going into saving deputy leader Jackie Baillie’s Dumbarton seat.

In Wales, the picture painted by the polls is again variable, to say the least. Researchers late last month put Labour on course for just one short of majority, another in March predicted the worst ever result for Labour in Wales, while one earlier this year reported the highest ratings for the party since 2018. The unpredictability of the Welsh vote is partly down to the high proportion of marginal constituencies in the contest. I visited two very close seats: Llanelli, where Lee Waters is battling to retain his 382-vote majority against Plaid Cymru and be the first MS to hold onto the seat for more than one term; and Cardiff Central where Jenny Rathbone is trying to stave off the Lib Dems and protect her 817-vote majority. You can read the full write-up here. I also spoke to Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford about the campaign, his leadership, Tory sleaze and, of course, Covid. “They feel in Wales that we have kept people safe,” he told me. But will he be rewarded on Thursday?

LabourList has been getting out on the doorstep across the UK and we urge you to do the same. Polls open tomorrow morning and your local Labour candidates need your help. It’s squeaky bum time.

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