The latest YouGov poll for the Mile End Institute has Labour on course for a convincing win in London’s forthcoming local elections. Weighted by likelihood to vote, and excluding those who would not vote, don’t know or refused, it puts Labour on 50 per cent – up six percentage points on their vote share in 2018 – with the Conservatives on 23, down six. The Liberal Democrats are essentially unchanged (-1), as are the Greens (-).
Labour’s lead is at its greatest in inner London, where they are 50 percentage points ahead of the Conservatives, and among BME voters (52 points ahead), but they also lead in outer London (+13) and among white voters (+12). If repeated on polling day, these figures would see Labour make advances in both inner and outer London. The party also leads among all age groups, apart from the over-65s. There is no difference in their lead as measured by gender or by class.
This would not quite be Labour’s best performance in London ever – still falling short of the 53 per cent advantage achieved in 1971 – but it should see them make gains. They would not be massive, however, not least because Labour did well in London four years ago in what was then the best result since 1971. It therefore has relatively limited scope to make further advances.
Widespread changes to ward boundaries make it difficult to make precise predictions, but this level of Labour support at least indicates that the Conservative-held boroughs of Barnet and Wandsworth may well be vulnerable, even if Westminster and Hillingdon may remain slightly out of reach for Labour.
When we asked a direct question about their likelihood of voting, 49 per cent of Londoners said they would be certain to do so. This is optimistic, to put it mildly. When we asked a similar question in 2018, 51 per cent of Londoners said they were certain to vote, but in the event that level of turnout was seen in only one borough, and across London as a whole it was a much less impressive 39 per cent.
Moreover, although Labour did well in 2018, they underperformed the level of support shown in polls then: our final pre-election survey of that year had Labour on 51 per cent, but they eventually secured 44 per cent. Similar caution will be needed this time, given that the poll shows Labour currently on 50 per cent. In addition, voters have the ability to split their votes in London, which is difficult to capture in polling.
Levels of campaigning also seem to be on a par with those last time. In 2018, 40 per cent of Londoners said they had not been contacted by any of the parties, with another 10 percent saying they didn’t know. The figures are almost identical this time: 40 per cent saying they had not contacted at all and nine per cent saying they didn’t know. Of those who have been contacted, Labour leads the way, with 31 percent – down slightly on 34 percent four years ago – and the Conservatives in second on 25 per cent, up on point on 2018.
Philip Cowley is professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London. Follow him on Twitter.
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