Labour warned of electoral wipeout under Jeremy Corbyn

The Labour party will face "dire consequences" and lose "hundreds of councillors" if Jeremy Corbyn is elected, a senior frontbencher warned last night.

The shadow transport secretary and vice-chair of the Labour party, Michael Dugher, told a meeting in Westminster that his party would face an electoral wipeout if Corbyn becomes leader on Saturday.

He also warned that Corbyn's election would put the jobs of many council workers at risk.

"There will be dire consequences for Labour beginning next May. I think we will lose hundreds of councillors next May. I think if you are a local government worker in some of those councils where you have had a good Labour council trying to protect jobs, if that council becomes a Tory council there's a better chance you're going to lose your job.

"There are real consequences that are far more urgent than 2020."

Asked by what Corbyn needed to do in order to become prime minister, Dugher replied that there were "not enough hours in the day to begin that conversation."

"I will be polite and say I think it will it will be extremely difficult for Jeremy Corbyn to win a general election."

Dugher who is Andy Burnham's campaign manager, suggested the party were already suffering in the polls due to Corbyn's success.

"Think how down some of us felt on the 8th of May, but have you seen our [polling] numbers recently? There are huge warnings for us."

Dugher said his party appeared to be losing even a "vague interest in winning general elections" and was in danger of becoming a "protest movement" rather than a viable governing party.

"I did a party meeting in one constituency… In my naivety I had mentioned the vague possibility of winning a general election and it was not universally well received.

"The biggest cheer of the night went to one woman at the front. She said 'all this talk of winning. We're not here to choose a candidate to be prime minister. We're here to choose a candidate for the leader of the opposition.' And I suddenly thought: 'I'm on a completely different page'. It was quite illuminating."

Dugher's warnings were reiterated by another senior party this figure this morning. 

Jon Cruddas, who has led a review into the party's defeat last May, said the party risked electoral "collapse" under Corbyn.

"I'm worried about it," he told the Today Programme.

"I'm worried it might turn into an early 80s Trotskyite tribute act which has a culture around it which is very hostile to anyone who disagrees. And it could just collapse in front of the electorate. It could do.

"But I don't think there is any safe ground for Labour anyway. So this is one strategy. It might not work. We'll see."

Jeremy Corbyn will tonight hold his final rally before Labour's next leader is announced on Saturday.

Bookies are currently offering a more than 80% chance of Corbyn winning the leadership but are much more doubtful of his chances of winning in 2020.

"If he wins on Saturday I expect we'll offer 8/1 on him ever becoming prime minister," the head of political odds at Ladbrokes, Matthew Shaddick, said last night.

"That's combined with two things. First we don't think he will make it as far as a general election and secondly for reasons Michael alluded to [earlier] it's going to be hard for him to win a majority [or] to get into Downing Street."