There are 73 parliamentary constituencies in London and we think around one third of them have at least some potential to change hands on 12 December. In the end, it might be barely a handful. But these are wild political times and, if nothing else, the contests in a large minority of London seats will be interesting. General elections are, of course, national events, but outcomes in London could have a big influence on the political colour and character of the next national government.
At the last general election, in 2017, Labour won 49 London seats (up by four), the Conservatives 21 (down six) and the Liberal Democrats three (up two). Neither UKIP nor the Greens were in contention for any.
Labour has since lost three and the Conservatives one, though none of these have resulted from by-elections. Labour’s losses have been due to defections to what was originally called the Independent Group, then Change UK and now the Independent Group for Change. The Tory loss is due to Justine Greening losing the Commons whip over Brexit. (A second Tory Brexit rebel, Stephen Hammond, has since had the whip restored).
The Lib Dem London seat total has risen to four thanks to the party recruiting one of the Labour defectors, Chuka Umunna, from Change UK, though he will be fighting a different seat from the one he has been representing. One of the other Labour defectors, Joan Ryan, is standing down and the third, Mike Gapes, is attempting to defend his seat.
So at the start of campaigning in 2019, the parties’ totals are as follows: Labour 46 seats; Conservatives 20; Lib Dems four; Independent Group for Change two and one plain and simple Independent.
Seven London seats are affected by the Remain Alliance of unambiguously Remain parties. In six of these, the Green Party is standing aside to help the Lib Dem candidate and in the seventh the reverse arrangement applies. In one other London seat the local Green Party took its own decision to stand aside, in that case to help the Labour candidate.
The Brexit Party originally said it would stand candidates in every seat in the country, but then decided it would not contest any of the 317 seats the Conservatives won in 2017. Unless that alters, the party’s change of mind will mean no Brexit Party candidate in any of the 21 London seats the Tories won at the last election.
We’ve focussed this guide on the 25 London seats we think most worth keeping an eye on and broken down those 25 into five categories, according to which party currently holds it, where the danger to them comes from and why. The other 48 seats are also listed. We will update the guide to reflect any important developments. The last update was on 11 December.
LABOUR DEFENDING LEAVE SEATS
This has been a knife edge marginal, which Sarah Jones gained from the Conservatives in 2017 by 5,652 votes. That’s a breathing space, but the apparent decline in Labour’s support across the capital compared with two years makes this one still look tight. Analysis of the EU referendum vote suggests there was a small Leave majority in the constituency in 2016. A recent council by-election in one of the seat’s wards suggests that Labour will be keen to secure the temporary local backing of Green and Lib Dem sympathisers to help prevent a Tory comeback. The Conservative candidate is Croydon councillor Mario Creatura. The second YouGov MRP poll will increase Labour’s confidence.
Dagenham & Rainham
Jon Cruddas held off a strong Conservative challenge last time, with the local UKIP vote squeezed. The Conservative candidate this time is Havering Council leader Damian White, an enthusiastic backer of Boris Johnson Brexit deal. A Brexit Party candidate is listed and he might take the edge off the Tory vote. It is estimated that this seat voted 70 per cent Leave in 2016, very much in contrast to how London voted as whole. This is London’s prime piece of Labour Leave territory. When On London visited the seat, Cruddas sounded confident of holding on in a constituency which can give the appearance of having changed little in recent times, but has actually experienced enormous demographic change following an earlier period of traumatic de-industrialisation from which Cruddas believes it is now slowly emerging. However, YouGov’s MRP opinion polls have put the Tories fractionally ahead. The seat has six wards in Barking & Dagenham and three in the south of Havering. Its bottom end sits on the north bank of the Thames, its eastern edge shares a border with Essex.
Clive Efford has survived a string of Tory challenges in this marginally Leave seat and will probably do so again, having won with relative ease last time. But you never know. Louie French, deputy leader of Bexley Council, will try to topple him for the Conservatives.
Erith & Thamesmead
With Teresa Pearce standing down, Labour will be represented this time by Abena Oppong-Asare, who inherits a majority of over 10,000. That looks comfortable, but if the substantial local Leave vote swings behind one rival candidate and Labour voters take against Jeremy Corbyn it could be significantly eroded. YouGov’s MRP poll, which is designed to detect local factors in individual seats, had Labour’s lead down to just three percentage points.
LIB DEMS DEFENDING LEAVE SEATS
Carshalton & Wallington
Tom Brake is one of the great survivors of London politics, fighting off one Conservative after another against the odds. Can he prevail again in this “Brexit election”? Sutton councillor Elliot Colburn is the Tory contender this time. Voters in this seat voted 56 per cent Leave. YouGov’s first MRP poll indicated that the race is neck-and-neck but the second one suggested Brake will hold on.
LABOUR DEFENDING REMAIN SEATS
Marsha de Cordova was a surprise winner in 2017, ousting a Conservative from a seat Labour had lost to her in 2010. The Tory challenger this time is Wandsworth councillor Kim Caddy and Mark Gitsham is running for the Lib Dems. This is a firmly Remain area (78 per cent) and the outcome, as in other seats of this kind, might hinge on which of the two larger parties loses most votes to the Lib Dem over Brexit. De Cordova’s majority is a slender 2,416. An early December opinion poll showed a surge in support for Labour in London, but that it still falls short of the percentage it received in 2017, suggesting that this seat might be at risk, though other polling evidence has given the Tories less grounds for optimism.
Brentford & Isleworth
This has been a hard-fought two-party marginal since the constituency was created in 1974 and Labour’s massive win in 2017 came as a surprise, with even young professionals in Chiswick voting for Ruth Cadbury in large numbers. She will start the 2019 campaign ahead, but left-liberal support has drifted to the Lib Dems and Greens in sufficient numbers to make the seat marginal once more. Labour’s strength is greatest at the Hounslow town end of the seat, with its large community of South Asian origin. Seena Shah, the national chairman of Conservative Young Women, will be her main opponent. In 2016, voters here went 56 per cent Remain.
Ealing Central & Acton
Many predicted that Rupa Huq would perish in 2017, dragged down by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, but they could hardly have been more wrong – she sailed home with nearly 60 per cent of the vote. The issue this time looks different, though – a possible Lib Dem surge fuelled by the Brexit effect. Huq will be helped, though, by being stridently for Remain (as was the seat in 2016, to the tune of 71 percent). The Tory candidate is Julian Gallant and the Lib Dem is Sonul Badiani.
Bambos Charalambous was one of Labour’s surprise winners two years ago, deposing Tory David Burrowes. He should be favourite to win again, but if Labour is losing ground, in part because of the party’s ambiguous position on Brexit, it could cost him in this north London marginal where 63 per cent are calculated to have voted Remain. A recent London-wide poll has underlined the closeness of this seat. Burrowes is hoping to make a comeback. As Charles Wright has reported, the candidates of all three largest parties are in agreement in opposing proposed new housing on TfL car parks. It’s an Outer London thing.
Hampstead & Kilburn
One of several London seats where the 2017 election results might have been flattering to Labour, this one produces big Labour majorities only in the party’s very best years. Contrary to the Hampstead liberal stereotype, the desirable suburb’s most affluent voters have tended to stick with the Tories, who came very close to winning the seat in the David Cameron elections of 2010 and 2015. Labour’s votes come from the youthful, working renters down the hill in Kilburn and West Hampstead. Boris Johnson polled reasonably well in Hampstead in his two successful runs for London Mayor, but the relationship may have cooled, in part because constituent Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe languishes in an Iranian jail, not helped by Johnson’s failure to master his brief when foreign secretary. Tulip Siddiq will defend a majority of 15,560. from Conservative Johnny Luk, Lib Dem Matt Saunders and two others. A 76 per cent Remain seat.
Labour’s London surge in 2017 carried local councillor Emma Dent Coad over the line to widespread surprise by the tiny margin of 20 votes. The seat is now a Lib Dem target as well as a Conservative one, with defector from the Tories Sam Gyimah starring in their ranks of candidates. Dent Coad has worked hard, attending assiduously to local concerns and taking residents’ side against Sadiq Khan over cycle lanes and tall buildings. But it could be that local Tory support is more resilient, to the advantage of Felicity Buchan. Gyimah would need to find around 8,000 votes from somewhere in this 69 per cent Remain seat. A local opinion poll taken between 7-13 November put the Conservatives on 36 per cent, Lib Dems on 33 and Labour on 27, but the second YouGov MRP poll gave Labour a miniscule lead and declared the outcome a “toss up”. Remainers pondering a tactical vote have some hard thinking to do. More on Kensington from On London here.
LABOUR DEFENDING REMAIN SEATS WITH LIB DEM PASTS
Bermondsey & Old Southwark
Having at last dislodged that yellow limpet Simon Hughes in 2015, Neil Coyle has risked the wrath of Southwark Corbynites by being impolite about “Jeremy”. Yet he secured re-selection without mishap. He will hope his consistent and conspicuous support for Remain will repel any Lib Dem revival. Incongruously, this is one of the London seats where the Greens won’t run a candidate as part of the “Remain alliance” pact. Southwark councillor Humaira Ali carries the yellow flag.
Hornsey & Wood Green
In the more middle-class half of Haringey, it has some well known metropolitan liberal strongholds such as Muswell Hill and Crouch End and some more working class and multi-ethnic territory around Wood Green that gives the lie to the idea that this constituency, or anywhere in north London, is uniformly prosperous. It’s been on a long journey to the left, having been Conservative until 1992, then switching from Labour to Lib Dem in 2005 following years of local activism and a reaction against the Iraq War. It swung back strongly to Labour in 2015. The Lib Dems are far from eliminated. polling strongly in the 2018 borough elections and comfortably “winning” May’s European elections. Jo Swinson has paid a campaign visit and Vince Cable has too. Even so, it will take an earthquake to dislodge Catherine West, who has a 30,000 majority. Haringey councillor Dawn Barnes is again her Lib Dem challenger. She finished second last time.
CONSERVATIVES DEFENDING REMAIN SEATS
Chelsea & Fulham
We thought hard before deciding against marking this one “safe” but made it “interesting” instead because Greg Hands is up against both a high profile Lib Dem in Nicola Horlick and a Labour challenger, Matt Uberoi, who also has grounds for claiming the tide is moving his way. Hands has a majority of 8,188, but Labour can point to a fall in his lead compared with 2015, while the Lib Dems can boast of a big improvement in their vote share at a recent local by-election. Both parties will be encouraged by the dismal Tory showing. The Tories have been pitching in to Horlick on Twitter and Hands is warning that a vote for her could help Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10, which suggests he’s taking seriously the possibility that Tory Remainers will desert him. The Greens aren’t running here, in order to help Horlick.
Cities of London & Westminster
The Lib Dems are already piling resources into this seat in support of their new star, Chuka Umunna, which Labour is also targeting having finished only 3,148 votes behind in 2017. Mark Field, who is standing down because he can’t stomach having to support Brexit and in the knowledge that his recent manhandling of a female environmentalist has done his reputation no good, is succeeded as Tory candidate by Westminster Council leader Nickie Aiken. The Lib Dems were a long way back in third two years ago, but local intelligence suggests Umunna really could prevail. Bookmakers have him as a strong second favourite behind Aiken, with Labour’s Gordon Nardell, chosen late in the day, trailing. More On London coverage of “Two Cities” contest here.
This very Outer London seat, held by Brexiter cabinet minister Theresa Villiers, appeared impregnable until Labour’s Emma Whysall fell a tantalising 353 votes short of toppling her last time. Whysall is standing again, and one more heave just might do it for her. The seat voted an estimated 59 per cent Remain in the referendum. Opinion poll findings are that it again rests on a very sharp knife edge, with Labour possibly inching ahead. On London‘s Charles Wright has been on the campaign trail.
This is formally an Independent-held constituency, given that Justine Greening, who clung on to it for the Conservatives in 2017, has lost the Tory whip in the Commons over Brexit. She will not be defending the seat this time. What hasn’t changed is that Putney has become a tight marginal in strongly Remain territory. Wandsworth councillor Will Sweet will carry the blue flag into battle, firm People’s Vote supporter Fleur Anderson was selected almost a year back for Labour and Sue Wixley is the Lib Dem candidate. Putney was 72 per cent Remain in 1016. Lewis Baston has reported from the ground and on the background.
The Lib Dems will be very disappointed if they don’t give career Eurosceptic Zac Goldsmith the heave ho from this sylvan piece of south west Outer London, as they did at a famous post-referendum by-election in December 2016. Goldsmith got the seat back in 2017 by a margin of just 45 votes. Goldsmith brought the by-election about by keeping a promise to resign as MP if the Conservative-led government of the time approved a proposed expansion of Heathrow airport. He fought that contest as an Independent, but was a Tory again when he regained it. His chief opponent will once again be Sarah Olney. She was helped in both 2016 and 2017 by an arrangement with local Greens, whereby they agreed not to run a candidate. That set-up is to be repeated again this time. Goldsmith began his campaign with an email to constituents claiming that the Lib Dems support Jeremy Corbyn, which may come as a surprise to them both. The seat voted 71 per cent Remain in 2016. Olney says she is optimistic amid a growing “Stop Boris” mood.
This Conservative seat became an Independent one for a while after Brexit rebel Stephen Hammond lost the Commons whip. However, unlike Justine Greening, he has since regained it and will therefore defend the 71 per cent Remain seat as a Tory. Labour started in second place here, having narrowed the gap to around 5,500 votes last time, but Lib Dems have taken heart from relieving Labour of a local council seat at a by-election in June. and the final YouGov MRP poll, published on 10 December, found their candidate Paul Kohler, rather than Labour’s Jackie Schneider, to be the main challenger to Hammond. They hope to benefit from the Greens opting out under the Remain Alliance pact. But Hammond was clearly ahead. Joshua Neicho has been on the doorstep with the candidates.
CONSERVATIVES DEFENDING OTHER MARGINALS
Chingford & Woodford Green
Thank tank director Faiza Shaheen joined Labour because Jeremy Corbyn became its leader and is now a familiar TV face. Iain Duncan Smith is a full-on Brexiter and former Conservative Party leader who represents the suburban Essex-border seat in territory formerly represented by Thatcherite bruiser Norman Tebbit. Demographic change has been helping Labour across Waltham Forest borough. Chingford is a Hard Right London redoubt, though it looks to have been finely balanced in the referendum. Duncan Smith’s majority has been pared back to 5,500 or so in the past, and yet recovered. Has Labour picked the right candidate? Has London history caught up with IDS? The local Greens have stood down their candidate in an attempt to help Shaheen. She has a 2,438 vote gap to close.
Finchley & Golders Green
Labour has been after this one for a while, and came close in 2017. But this time, the picture has been complicated by the high profile arrival on the scene of Luciana Berger, currently MP for Liverpool Wavertree but fighting this London seat, where she is a resident, for the Lib Dems whom she has joined by way of the Independent Group for Change. Berger has a huge deficit to overcome, and Labour have made a wise choice of candidate in Ross Houston, an experienced Barnet councillor and housing specialist. Mike Freer, former Barnet Council leader, is defending a slender 1,657 majority. As part of the Remain Alliance, the Greens aren’t running here. A local poll has shown a huge surge in support for the Lib Dem convert at Labour’s expense, but with Freer well ahead.
Bob Blackman, a former Brent Council leader and London Assembly Member, has been successfully holding off Labour since winning this seat in 2010, sometimes using tactics that angered his opponents. He sneaked home by just 1,757 last time and must now see off Harrow councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick, who has the backing of John McDonnell and other Hard Left figures. She is a controversial selection in some eyes and faces a wily opponent in a part of London where religious and ethnic community politics are extremely complex and sometimes fraught, as Joshua Neicho has reported in depth.
Matthew Offord gained this from Labour by 106 votes in 2010 and has confounded expectations by failing to lose it since, though last time was a close thing. YouGov’s MRP poll suggested it will be again. Labour’s candidate this time is David Pinto-Duschins
Sutton & Cheam
Paul Scully took this from the Lib Dems in 2015 and strengthened his position two years later, receiving almost twice as many votes as the Lib Dem runner up. It looks a long road back for the Lib Dems in this Leave-leaning seat, but Scully won’t be taking any chances.
Uxbridge & South Ruislip
Can the Prime Minister really be removed from parliament on 12 December in, as it were, his own back yard? There was a big swing to Labour in 2017, cutting Johnson’s majority to just over 5,000 and his vote share to 51 per cent. There will be a huge Labour push to turn him over, but is 25 year-old Ali Milani the right candidate to do it? He’s already had to apologise for some Twitter activity when he was a teenager and the incumbency factor will be very strong. But what a sensational victory it would be. Lewis’s profile of the seat and Johnson’s relationship with it is here.
SAFE LABOUR SEATS
Having survived an attempt to get her de-selected, the veteran Margaret Hodge should have no trouble holding on to this piece of east London.
Bethnal Green & Bow
Rushanara Ali won by this East End seat by a mile in 2017, taking more than 70 per cent of the vote.
Dawn Butler took a 73.1 per cent vote share last time, with the Tory a distant second. The Lib Dems held this seat until 2015, but it is way out their range now.
Labour’s shadow international trade minister Barry Gardiner is firmly ensconced here.
Camberwell & Peckham
Nearly 78 per cent of the vote went to Harriet Harman in 2017.
Steve Reed is safe as houses down where the inner city meets the southern suburbs. His winning margin in 2017 was the 27th biggest in the country in what was marginal territory until quite recently.
Dulwich & West Norwood
Virendra Sharma was “triggered” by local members, but has been spared possible deselection after such processes were “paused” by Labour’s national executive committee last week. He sits on a majority of over 22,000.
The local party has been a shambles, but Stephen Timms has the fattest majority in the capital – 39,883, representing 83.2 per cent of the vote.
This is the seat defector Joan Ryan appears to be vacating. Rebellious local members eventually succumbed to pressure from above and picked a capable candidate in Hackney councillor Feryal Clark. She shouldn’t have much trouble winning this former marginal.
Feltham & Heston
It will be a big surprise if the Tories shift Seema Malhotra from her base way out west.
Greenwich & Woolwich
Rock solid for Matthew Pennycook, who has been MP here since 2015. This is a traditional working-class safe Labour seat, covering a long stretch of the south bank of the Thames.
Hackney North & Stoke Newington
Diane Abbott reigns supreme. Main point of interest here is whether the Lib Dems can overtake the Tories to finish second.
Hackney South & Shoreditch
Meg Hillier strolled home here in 2017 with nearly 80 per cent of the vote.
This was a Tory target in 2010, 2015 and, up to a point, in 2017, but Andy Slaughter has just got stronger. He might lose some ground to the Lib Dems in this very Remain area, but they were miles back in third last time and we reckon he’ll be OK.
Gareth Thomas’s downfall has often bee predicted, but he strode well clear of marginal status two years ago.
Hayes & Harlington
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell won’t be going anywhere.
Holborn & St Pancras
Neither will shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer.
West Streeting now looks solidly buttressed against Conservative and Liberal Democrat challengers alike
Sam Tarry became Labour’s candidate following a particularly contentious contest to find a successor to incumbent Mike Gapes, who will try to defend the seat under the flag of the Independent Group for Change. We don’t think he will succeed, but he’s told us he is definitely up for a fight.
Islington South & Finsbury
The Lib Dems came close here back in 2010 and ran Islington Council not so long ago. Are they again a potential problem for shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry? They finished third behind Tories in 2015 and 2017, but if a Lib Dem surge really does materialise Thornberry might at least be pegged back a bit. Kate Pothalingam will fly the yellow flag. The Conservative candidate is Jason Charalambous.
Some thought Vicky Foxcroft might be de-selected here, but that all came to nothing and it will be plain sailing back to the Commons for her now. There is a bit of support for the greens and fringe Left parties, but this is the 15th safest seat in the country.
Janet Daby has represented the constituency since June 2018, when she held it in a by-election following Heidi Alexander’s departure for City Hall. The Lib Dems saw a significant swing in their favour but are too far behind to pose a threat.
Lewisham West & Penge
Labour MP Ellie Reeves has represented this youthful, mixed suburban commuter constituency since 2017 and should easily win a second term.
Leyton & Wanstead
John Cryer is the veteran incumbent of this east London seat that falls mostly into Waltham Forest and partly into Redbridge.
Mitcham & Morden
Labour are formidably well-organised and dominate across this suburban constituency, even though the Conservatives held it from 1982 until 1997. There is no threat to its long-serving MP Siobhain McDonagh.
Poplar & Limehouse
Jim Fitzpatrick is standing down, so Labour’s candidate for this East End seat is Momentumite Apsana Begum. She was not the preference of Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs and was selected amid disorderly scenes.
Chuka Umunna’s current seat will be fought by Bell Ribeiro-Addy, who
is Diane Abbott’s political adviser chief of staff. She was the Left’s favoured candidate. She inherits a majority of well over 26,000.
Tooting has been Labour seat for a long time, including recently for Sadiq Khan until after he became Mayor in 2016 Majorities have sometimes been thin, but the Labour vote recovered strongly in 2017 for Rosena Allin-Khan. Its continued safe status depends on Labour retaining voters who might be tempted to vote Lib Dem or Green.
David Lammy is a speck in the distance as far as the other parties are concerned in this north London Labour stronghold.
Hard Brexit supporting Kate Hoey is standing down and is succeeded by Florence Eshalomi, who has been London Assembly Member for Lambeth & Southwark since 2016 and is a former Lambeth councillor. Eshalomi is a Corbynsceptic but won support on all sides of the local party, prevailing against former MP and Corbyn political secretary Katy Clark. She is also an On London contributor.
Stella Creasy won over 80 per cent of the vote in 2017.
Lyn Brown will have no trouble retaining her seat.
Karen Buck has survived repeated targeting by Tories in previous general elections but has no heavyweight competition this time and can afford to see a fall in her majority without being in danger.
SAFE CONSERVATIVE SEATS
Bob Stewart wasn’t as far ahead in 2017 as he had been two years earlier, but is unlikely to be greatly troubled.
Bexleyheath & Crayford
David Evennett increased his vote share in 2017 at the expense of an imploding Ukip. This Outer London seat might be friendly territory for a Brexit Party candidate, but probably not friendly enough.
Bromley & Chislehurst
Remainer and moderate Bob Neill has resigned himself to Brexit, but is unlikely to be badly punished for it in an area where the EU referendum outcome was finely balanced. His majority last time wasn’t far short of 10,000, despite Labour making ground.
The majority dipped in 2017 as Labour gained votes and demographic trends are making it less safe over the long term. But the Chris Philp, the MP since 2015, can bank on a third term.
Hornchurch & Upminster
Julia Dockerill is very safe in one of London’s few Leave strongholds.
Old Bexley & Sidcup
For communities secretary James Brokenshire is the incumbent here. Like others in this south eastern part of Outer London he benefited from the collapse of Ukip’s vote in 2017. A Brexit Party candidate could make inroads, but not big enough to cause a shock.
London Assembly Member Gareth Bacon has been selected by the Tories to succeed Jo Johnson, the Remainer brother of Boris who has decided against running this time. Bacon is in favour of Brexit, and has explained why he thinks it will be good for London. Johnson won by 19,453 votes in 2017.
Arch Leaver Andrew Rosindell, who made common cause with Ukip leader Gerard Batten for the EU referendum in this hotbed of Leave, will nonetheless not be immune from a Brexit Party presence here unless he chooses to denounce Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal (at least according to Nigel Farage). But his 13,778 majority should be enough to keep him safe.
Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner
Labour made up a lot of ground in this villagey west Outer London seat two years ago, and sitting MP Nick Hurd is standing down (his successor will be chosen later this week). But the Tories still look safe here.
SAFE LIBERAL DEMOCRAT SEATS
Kingston & Surbiton
This seat is in the south west Outer London swathe that swings between Conservatives and Lib Dems, but a combination of Tory London weakness, Remain sentiment and Lib Dem local energy probably means Ed Davey will strengthen his position.
Even though the Lib Dems lost the seat to the Conservatives in 2015, Twickenham can be counted as safe. Sir Vince Cable stands down having represented Twickenham since 1997 apart from a two-year gap and his replacement as Lib Dem candidate is Munira Wilson, corporate affairs director for the science company Merck.
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