Labour faces losing as many as 125 seats in next month’s UK-wide council elections in a fresh blow to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, a polling expert has predicted.
Ukip is also heading for a disastrous performance on 4 May, while the biggest winners are set to be the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, according to the analysis.
The most dramatic electoral upheaval is tipped to take place in Scotland, where the Labour vote is expected to collapse with the Tories on course to chalk up large advances.
The contests, which will take place in 88 authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, will be the first major test of public opinion since the EU membership referendum and Theresa May’s arrival in Downing Street. Lord Robert Hayward, who predicted both the surprise 2015 Tory election victory and the referendum result, forecast that Labour would lose “upwards of 125” of around 1,500 seats that it was defending.
Loss of core vote
A fall in Labour support on that scale could result in the loss of control in its former citadel of Glasgow, as well as in Lancashire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Cardiff.
Lord Hayward believed the SNP’s tally would remain “broadly similar”.
The polling expert and Tory peer, said that overall the results would be a “reflection of where the Labour party actually is - it isn’t appealing to its old core of working class voters in the Midlands, the north and also Scotland.”
He added that the result in Scotland risked being “cataclysmic” for Labour.
Ukip would suffer 80 to 90 losses, more than half of the seats it won four years ago. He predicted more than 100 Tory gains next month and around the same number for the Lib Dems.
His projections mirrored forecasts from prominent psephologists Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher who predicted 100 Ukip losses and 50 Labour losses alongside 100 Lib Dem gains and 50 Tory gains.
Another polling expert, Professor John Curtice, has said there could be a 12-point swing from Labour to the Conservatives – a projection that shadow Cabinet member Jonathan Ashworth has described as “pretty depressing”.
Labour back to the 1980s
A performance by Labour on that level would take the party back to its depths of support in the 1980s.
Senior party figures have acknowledged that they need up to two more years to rebuild their credibility with the voters, but argue that Tory splits over Brexit will steadily erode Mrs May’s popularity.
A Labour source told i : “These will be a challenging set of elections. They are individual contests with very differing circumstances.
“Nevertheless Labour is fighting hard for every vote, setting out our alternative agenda to the Tories, who are taking Britain backwards.”
Lord Hayward said the Lib Dems, who have suffered years of dire local election results since they went into coalition with the Conservatives in 2010, would have high hopes of regaining power in Somerset and Cornwall.
Ukip would come under pressure from the Conservatives in counties such as Lincolnshire, Norfolk and East Sussex, where the anti-EU party made big inroads in the Tory vote four years ago.
Labour support has slumped to 25 per cent in a new poll, trailing 18 points behind the Conservatives on 43 per cent.
Its support equalled the lowest level it has ever reached in a series of ICM polls for The Guardian dating back to 1983.
The Tories were down by two points, while the Lib Dems were up two points on 11 per cent and Ukip up by a single point to 11 per cent. The Greens were unchanged on 4 per cent.