Parlament, Politics, Elections

Preliminary findings show, despite heavy pressure from a broad coalition, the Labour Party has failed to win majority votes in at least three ridings, even as support for the former prime minister’s re-election remains strong

The Labour Party appears to have failed to win the support of its own supporters in five ridings it claimed to have won, despite the party’s hopes of reaping increased support in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.

The final tally shows that, despite Labour being forced to back down on its pledge for £15 an hour in an effort to avert Tory defeat in 2015 elections, its supporters remain sceptical about the party’s commitment to a living wage, which would enable young women, who have been left out of the political establishment, to earn more after tax.

The party has also come under renewed scrutiny following questions raised over its treatment of young disabled people, with a shadow minister saying she would investigate why the party had failed to offer full benefits for disabled people and their families.

The final results, which take into account the votes of independent members of the party who did not give written signs of backing for Corbyn, also reveal that the number of constituency Labour parties which had held the same number of members at the last general election could have swung to the Liberal Democrats, and the Green Party. These were the Greens in Brighton Pavilion, the Conservatives in Croydon North, the Liberal Democrats in Hackney North East, Ukip in the former Labour London constituency of Hackney Central, the Liberal Democrats in Finsbury Park, the Greens in Havering Park, and UKIP in the former Labour seat of Huyton.

The report includes evidence that the number of seats where the Labour Party did not form a single-member constituency could have swung from nine to nine-tenths of a percentage point. The party could also have ended up with less seats because seats in marginal constituencies may have been changed to Labour seats before 2015, allowing it to form majorities across much of the country.

The findings come with the Labour election battle having ended in a close win for Corbyn at the national election, with 57.5% of the vote, according to the survey of more than 1,000 people on Sunday. But the report highlights widespread concerns about Labour’s approach to tackling poverty for the many disabled people who live in the same community as some of the nation’s most destitute young people and elderly.

The authors, of the research group The Times, the Guardian, and the Labour Friends of the British Election Study, called for a rethink over how Labour was approaching policy on the poor in general. The Labour group has taken on a particular emphasis on economic issues, focusing on economic policies such a free university education and the doubling of child benefit.

But this was largely abandoned in the Labour manifesto in May, with a new proposal in the party’s manifesto which suggested the party go even further by allowing young immigrants from the so-called “benefit trap” to live and work in the UK and take in more children’s benefits. That policy, which would have come into force if Labour had won, came at a particularly painful cost, with many disabled families being driven from their homes through the bedroom tax. The Guardian is calling attention to the growing disconnect between the idea of a “benefit trap” and the reality of thousands of disabled people moving to the UK due to a lack of money.

The report noted, “By 2016 most adult benefits should include a guarantee of at least £20,000 for child benefit and over £15,000 for incapacity benefit, which represents at least one third of all benefits under the welfare system. The proportion of adult benefits including child benefit that include incapacity benefit will fall further as costs fall and the number of new recipients on incapacity benefit falls dramatically. The government plans to scrap current adult benefit payments over four years in April 2019, meaning millions of people will lose their jobs and thousands of others on incapacity benefit.”

But the report points out that at a time when the number of people receiving income support rises, and more will have to take care of child benefit, while still wanting to work in the economy, those left with more than £20,000 are being subjected to a system which “has made life more difficult for many at the bottom with a cap on payments to family members of those over the limit and a freeze on child benefits for those on incapacity benefit”.

The report also highlights Labour’s failure to properly plan for the introduction of national living wage laws, despite the party’s pledge of a minimum wage, which it backed following the 2015 election. Labour will now have to deliver a policy that is more progressive than the Government’s proposals.