The first is that, looking at the detail of the newspaper report, the fear within Labour is that, if UKIP do well, Labour will lose seats to the Tories, Plaid, or the Lib Dems. To anyone and everyone, really. But on the numbers being quoted, that can only happen if Labour voters are over-represented amongst those switching to UKIP. I find that entirely credible – the idea that there is some sort of reservoir of support for Labour which can never be attracted by the political ‘right’ is one that I’ve argued against previously. It still surprises me, though, to see any Labour source admitting that what UKIP says is likely to be more attractive to Labour voters than to supporters of other parties.
And the second is that, even if UKIP do win 8 or 9 seats – as currently seems possible – and Labour fall to around 26 in consequence, in what sense does that mean that Labour will ‘lose control’ of the Assembly? It would certainly mean that there would be more non-Labour members than Labour members – a balance of 34:26 – but if that 34 really does include 8 or 9 UKIP members, can anyone really foresee any outcome other than a Labour-led government? Whether as a minority or in some sort of arrangement with Plaid or the Lib Dems (if there are any of the latter left), it is inconceivable on the basis of current polling that we will not still have a Labour First Minister after the elections.
For sure, without a clear overall majority, they will have to come to accommodations with one or other party to get their budget approved, and they may have to modify some of their legislative proposals; but the number of occasions when all 34 opposition AMs line up together to oppose Labour seems likely to be minimal. Labour will still be in control, even if not as absolutely as they might like.And that brings me back to my doubts about the bone fides of the leaked “analysis”. No-one in Labour can really doubt the outcome any more than I do, and anyone in a position to be producing official (or even semi-official) analyses from the party would understand that. Is the real story here more to do with Labour’s internal battles, and an attempt to undermine Corbyn by blaming him in advance for any success enjoyed by UKIP?