The Labour Party faces a huge challenge over the remainder of the general election campaign, Jeremy Corbyn said. The Labour leader told supporters May 5 local elections were disappointing and regretted too many fantastic councilors had not been re-elected as the party lost 382 seats nationwide.
Speaking to a rally of supporters in Leicester, Jeremy Corbyn admitted his party faces a huge challenge over the next four and a bit weeks to win on 8 June after the Conservatives enjoyed the best local election performance by a governing party in 40 years, winning 500 seats.
In contrast, Labour under-performed, losing control of key councils in the Midlands and Wales that are set to be important general election battlegrounds while coming third in Scotland.
Corbyn's comments came after his shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labour must come out fighting after what has been a terrible 48 hours for the party. McDonnell, a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn, said the party must bounce back from the loss of hundreds of seats in council elections. He told LBC radio its performance was really disappointing and that its message had to cut through better in the five weeks to the general election.
According to analysis by polling expert John Curtice, if the results of Thursday's polls in Wales, Scotland and 32 county councils in England were repeated nationally, the Conservatives would be on 38%, Labour 27%, the Lib Dems 18% and UKIP 5%,
Corbyn said that in spite of the results of the local elections, the general election represented an opportunity and a chance to break free from what he termed a system that is rigged for the rich. He added that the local election results had shown the gap between Labour and the Conservatives was not as great as the pundits have been saying.
But we still have many people to convince, and we have four weeks to do it.
In the wake of Friday's results, Labour has been forced to deny a rift between Mr. Corbyn and former cabinet minister Andy Burnham, who was elected metro mayor for Greater Manchester on Friday. Burnham was not present at a victory rally in Manchester, attended by the Labour leader.
He told the BBC he had had a pre-arranged family event and that Mr. Corbyn's event was independently organized.
Ian Lavery, Labor's national campaigns coordinator, said he was not sure why Mr Burnham had not been there but he wanted to dispel this myth that there is a rift between Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Burnham.
He added: I think the more that Jeremy gets out there into the community and speaks to people, knocks on people's doors, holds rallies and speaks to people face-to-face, the more that people will warm to Jeremy Corbyn.