LABOUR is losing support across its so-called Red Wall as support falls away in northern heartlands.
While the outcome of the December 12 election is anything but certain, current polling suggests the Tories could reclaim an overall majority unless Labour’s final push turns thousands of voters in its favour. And some reliable polling sources are expecting a huge shedding of support within Labour’s heartlands.
The findings come from a multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) poll which was conducted by YouGov for the Times.
This relatively new polling method is the only one to accurately forecast the hung parliament in 2017.
Now, it predicts some 44 Labour seats will fall to the Tories, including the Bolsover seat held by Dennis Skinner since 1970.
The largest drops in Labour vote share are seen in Birkenhead (-28 points) as well as Knowsley, Liverpool Riverside and Barnsley East (-21 points).
These are all traditionally solid-red seats, with Labour securing majorities of over 33 points in 2017.
While these seats don’t actually change hands in the forecast, the collapse in the Labour vote share serves as a dire warning to the party.
And plenty of seats are expected to turn blue, as Labour Leavers abandon the party for the more pro-Brexit Tories.
There are 41 seats where the 2016 Leave vote was more than 55 percent and where the Conservatives need a swing of no more than 7.5 percent.
Thirty-two of these seats are in North England, the Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber – all areas which traditionally back Labour.
If the Conservatives are able to capture votes in Labour heartlands in a way Theresa May was only partially successful in, flipping even 10 of these Brexit seats would give Boris Johnson a small majority.
A uniform swing of five percentage points from Labour to the Conservatives would see 28 of these seats fall.
This would include the marginal seats of Dudley North, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Crewe and Nantwich.
YouGov said: “There are much larger swings in the more pro-leave seats, allowing the Tories to gain Tom Watson’s old seat of West Bromwich East (nine percent swing) and win in Caroline Flint’s constituency of Don Valley (nine percent swing).”
But Labour is also losing vote shares of over 20 points in solid Remain areas such as Liverpool Riverside.
This area voted in favour of Remain by 73 percent in 2016, indicating that it isn’t just Leave voters that are deserting the party under Jeremy Corbyn.
These big losses in the Labour heartlands help fuel predictions of dozens of seats swinging to the Tories.
In total, the MRP poll predicts the breakdown of parliament to see the Conservative Party with a total of 359 seats, followed by Labour with 211 and the Lib Dems in third with 13 seats.
Nigel Farage will be disappointed to see the poll leaves the Brexit Party with no seats at all.
However, according to the pollsters, there are still a few seats which could swing things.
Chris Curtis, Political Research Manager at YouGov, said: “The only silver lining for Labour is that there are still 30 seats where they are currently five percent or less behind the Tories.
“If they can manage to squeeze the gap over the coming fortnight they may be able to paste over the cracks in their so-called Red Wall.
“But with just two weeks to go, time is running out for Labour.”