Local elections, local politics
In the equivalent elections in 2012, we were just coming off the back of Osborne's celebrated omnishambles budget. Try as the Tories might, even they couldn't talk down the huge gains Labour made that year. However, that was something of an abnormality. Local council contests usually turn out the hardest of hardcore voters, and in the main they vote on the basis of local issues. The other parties will try their damnedest to make this set of elections a referendum on Jeremy Corbyn, but it's quite possible the Oldham effect could kick in. Voters zoned out the anti-Jeremy bile and gave Labour a thumping result. The lesson drawn by many a Local Campaign Forum might be, with Corbers plumbing the polls, that hiding him under a bushel and going all out on pot holes and unfair council cuts might capture a higher than projected vote share. It could work.
Local politics, local records
There is a big but of Sir Mix-A-Lot proportions that could blunt this strategy. Labour isn't entering this round of contests "fresh". We're defending from a position of town hall strength whose defence involves records of four years in local government. On the whole, I think Labour councils have done a good job playing their hand when the Tories always has the best cards. Others might not think that way and punish our local government people at the polls for misdemeanors, perceived money wasting, and not having the bins emptied on time. It's a dilemma. Hide Jeremy and one's record comes into sharp focus. Don't hide Jeremy, and we'll be gambling on what the polls are telling us.
Think global, act local
Well, not quite global. Our opponents and enemies are going to put the boot in to Jeremy anyway. Whether he goes on the literature or not, he's a factor. But as these are second order elections, another bloc of voters might come into play. Recall 2013 and 2014, UKIP did very well in local contests. Now, many of those administrations aren't up on this occasion but there is an uneven spread of anti-politics voters. As the press ramp up their attacks, no doubt aided by the likes of "friends" who'll say anything to get in the papers, there is a possibility they could be drawn to vote Labour as the anti-Westminster choice. Or, rather, voting Labour as a means of keeping Jeremy in situ to annoy the political establishment. So talking Jeremy up might not have the deleterious effects some folks are worried about.
Whatever happens in May, there will be folks from all wings of politics scrabbling around for easy answers to understand what happens. I'm afraid there won't be any. Complexity is the order of the day.