Redfield & Wilton Strategies conducted a wide-ranging poll of 1,500 Londoners yesterday and on Wednesday, with input into some of their questions from a group of On London writers. The Londoners were asked about how the coronavirus has affected them, their trust in political parties, their affinities with non-Londoners, what “levelling up” means to them and about various policies for London’s streets. The results are often striking and intriguing.
Nearly three quarters of Londoners say the Covid-19 crisis has had no effect on their desire to live in the city in the future or has strengthened it.
Sixty percent of the 1,500 polled said their experience of the coronavirus pandemic has had “no impact” on their desire to live in London in the future and a further 12% said it had “increased” it.
This compared with a significant minority of 28% who said their desire to live in London in the future has “decreased” as a result of the virus.
The poll also found that over a quarter of respondents (28%) said their “long-term living arrangements” have changed since March 2020, when the first lockdown was introduced, and that more people are optimistic (30%) or very optimistic (11%) that London’s economy can recover quickly than are pessimistic (19%) or very pessimistic (12%) about its prospects.
(Sixteen per cent of the sample panel was away from London when the poll was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, most of whom (76%) said they were intending to return to the city during the current lockdown period. A further, smaller group intend to once or soon after it is over. Only a small number of those who are away from London at the moment – 14 out of 244 – said they would not be returning for longer than that. Redfield & Wilton stress that these sub samples are small and therefore subject to larger margins or error.)
Asked which political party they trust most to tackle the coronavirus, 39% said Labour, compared with 21% who said Conservative, 10% Liberal Democrat, 5% the Green Party and 2% Reform UK (the rebranded Brexit Party). Londoners also trust Labour more than the Conservatives in seven other major policy areas:
- Reducing poverty: (Lab trusted most by 49%, Con by 19%).
- Tackling crime: (Lab 39%, Con 27%).
- Supporting public transport: (Lab 46%, Con 19%).
- Protecting the environment: (Lab 27%, Con 19%)
- Strengthening the economy: (Lab 35%, Con 30%).
- Building the best housing: (Lab 40%, Con 19%).
- Supporting the NHS: (Lab 39%, Con 21%).
The Lib Dems scored between 9% and 13% in each category, enjoying their highest level of trust in relation to housing. The Greens scored between 4% and 6%, with the exception of the environment where they were by far the most trusted party, on 37%. Reform UK polled between 1% and 3% in all policy areas.
Redfield & Wilton also asked Londoners about their sense of affinity with people who live elsewhere, inviting them to rank in order whether they feel they have more in common with people who live in other parts of south east England, in other big UK cities, in European capitals such as Paris, Berlin and Milan, or in “other world megacities” such as New York, Tokyo and Singapore.
- Thirty-seven per cent said they had most in common with people in other parts of the south-east of England.
- Twenty-five per cent said people in other UK cities.
- Nineteen per cent said people in other world megacities.
- Eighteen per cent said people in other European capitals.
There were significant variations in the second, third and fourth rankings, with the largest percentage of Londoners (45%) placing “other world megacities” in fourth place, meaning they felt they had least in common with people from such places.
Although 37% said they have most in common with people from other parts of the south east, a significant 26% felt they had least in common with them compared with the other three options, while 34% put other UK cities in second place. People from other European capitals was ranked third by 38%.
What do Londoners make of the national government’s “levelling up” agenda? Offered a choice of three different interpretations, they responded as follows:
- Thirty-seven per cent said they think “levelling up” means that more government resources will be expended in other regions of the UK than before while similar amounts as before will continue to be spent in London.
- Thirty-five per cent think it means more will be spent elsewhere than before and less spent in London.
- Twenty-eight per cent think more will be invested in both London and other regions.
Opinion was sought about what, for some Londoners, is the contentious matter of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). Many new ones were introduced during the pandemic as a condition of the government’s emergency bailout of Transport for London.
Redfield & Wilton found that 49% of its sample said they do not live in an LTN, compared with 23% who said they do and 28% who said they don’t know (note that LTNs have been around in London for 20 years or more before the recent additional ones).
Among those who said they live in an LTN (345 respondents), 63% either agree or strongly agree that it has improved their lives as Londoners compared with 14% who say it hasn’t. A further 22% neither agree nor disagree.
Among those who said they don’t live in an LTN or don’t know if they do, 47% agree that if they did it would improve their lives as Londoners, with 14% disagreeing and 28% not knowing.
And what do Londoners think the wider traffic impacts of LTNs have been? Forty-six per cent believe they redirect cars to other others, 29% think they reduce the overall number of cars on London’s road and 25% say they don’t know.
The poll contained some general questions about walking and cycling too. Asked if they have more often chosen to cycle during the pandemic rather than use other forms of transport, 50% said yes, while 34% said they’ve chosen cycling less often. The rest said they’ve chosen cycling the same amount. Further findings show:
- A small majority of Londoners – 51% – think London is an unsafe place to cycle, compared with 30% who think it is safe and 20% who don’t know.
- A substantial majority of Londoners – 61% – think London is a safe place for walking, compared with 21% who think it is unsafe and 19% who don’t know.
- Has enough been done to make London more suitable for walking in? Yes, say 55%, no, say 45%.
On London and a group of its contributors were delighted to be invited to suggest issues and questions for the poll and a number of them – relating to identity, “levelling up”, handling of the virus and policies for London’s streets – were explored. Redfield & Wilton also asked their London panel about election voting intentions. Those results will be released separately soon.
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