Jeremy Corbyn launches local election campaign in face of dire poll warnings
The Labour leader talked about national policies and complained about the media at first campaign event
Jeremy Corbyn has talked up Labour’s chances at next month’s local elections despite pollsters predicting his party is headed for a drubbing.
He accused the Conservatives of “running our country down” and repeated his party’s claim that life expectancy has fallen since 2013.
However at the official launch of Labour’s local council campaign in Newark he appeared to focus on national policies including raising corporation tax, increasing the living wage and nationalising the railways.
On his way to the launch his shadow chancellor John McDonnell got in spot of bother when he arrived at the train station having not printed out his ticket.
On local issues Corbyn did say Labour would allow local authorities to run their own bus services.
Corbyn rejected speculation over his own leadership despite a raft of pollsters predicting huge losses for Labour at the May 4 elections. He insisted that the local elections were a test of the Tory government and criticised reporters for asking about polls instead of ‘focussing on the issues’.
Respected election expert Robert Hayward said the results will be “cataclysmic” for Corbyn with his party losing 125 seats across the country. He says Labour will forfeit control of Glasgow city council, which would prove an iconic loss if it comes to pass. He also predicted the party will slip to third place in Edinburgh and shed seats across its former heartlands in the north of England. Academics Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher have forecast that Labour will lose around 50 councillors in England while the Tories and Lib Dems will bag scores of seats. And top psephologist Professor John Curtice said Labour are in a worse position in the polls than they were last time the same elections were held in 2013.
Earlier in the day Corbyn accused Theresa May of being “ready to sacrifice human rights on the altar of the arms trade” because she is on a visit to Saudi Arabia.
The Prime Minister claims she has raised issues including women’s rights with the Saudi government but the Labour leader says she must go further and ban arms sales to the regime. The Saudi regime is heavily involved in the current conflict in Yemen that is blamed for causing widespread famine in that country. It’s not clear if British made weapons are being used in Yemen.
However Theresa May claims her visit to Saudi Arabia will show women there what women can achieve. She added: “It’s in our British national interest to have good relations around the world so we can trade around the world – that brings jobs and prosperity to the UK.
“It’s important to engage, to talk to people, to talk about our interests and to raise difficult issues when we feel it’s important to do so.”
Picture credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images
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