The number of Conservative MPs in London would be reduced to less than a handful were a general election held imminently under current constituency boundaries, according to a new national opinion poll which suggests that party chairman Greg Hands (Chelsea & Fulham), minister for London Paul Scully (Sutton & Cheam) and policing minister Chris Philp (Croydon South) would be among the Tories in the capital to lose their House of Commons seats.
The poll of 11,000 respondents, conducted by Find Out Now and Electoral Calculus using a technique known as MRP – described by the British Polling Council as “a way of using large national samples to estimate public opinion at local level” – found that 18 of the 21 current London Tory MPs would lose their seats, contributing to a devastating national defeat for their party.
Labour would gain all but two of the 18 according to the poll, including Cities of London & Westminster, presently represented by former Westminster Council leader Nickie Aiken, along with long-time outer London targets Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers), Chingford & Wood Green (Iain Duncan Smith), Harrow East (Bob Blackman) and Uxbridge & South Ruislip (Steve Tuckwell), which the Tories held by a narrow margin in the face of a swing to Labour at the recent by-election there.
The poll also found that suburban seats as apparently strongly Tory as Bexleyheath & Crayford (current MP Sir David Evennett), Romford (Andrew Rossindell) and Bromley & Chislehurst (Sir Bob Neill) would switch to Labour, while Carshalton & Wallington (Elliot Colburn), like Scully’s neighbouring Sutton & Cheam, would be won by Liberal Democrats. Only Orpington (Gareth Bacon), Hornchurch & Upminster (Julia Lopez) and Old Bexley & Sidcup (Louie French) would stay in Conservative hands.
The other Tory seats to become Labour would be Finchley & Golders Green (Mike Freer), Hendon (Matthew Offord), Kensington (Felicity Buchan), Beckenham (Bob Stewart), Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner (David Simmonds) and Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond). Such an outcome would leave Labour with 65 of London’s current 73 parliamentary constituencies and the Lib Dems with five, leaving the Tories in third place in the capital. An MRP poll by a different company anticipated Labour’s unpredicted victory in Kensington in 2017.
The poll findings relate to existing UK parliamentary constituencies and do not therefore reflect forthcoming changes, which will see the number of seats in London rise from 73 to 75, probably to Labour’s advantage.
The release of the poll findings to Channel 4 News has been followed by a report today by LBC that Greg Hands has launched an “internal review” of how the Conservative Party in London is run. Reporter Henry Riley says Hands has “been put under pressure by Conservative MPs particularly after the selection of the Tory candidate to be London Mayor”.
Many were surprised that Paul Scully, given his ministerial role and experience, was not included on the shortlist of three from whom the Tories’ London membership, thought to be in the region of 27,000 people, selected London Assembly member and Harrow councillor Susan Hall rather than the politically unknown barrister Moz Hossain after one of the initial trio, Daniel Korski, dropped out.
The review is to be conducted by Tory peer Edward Lister – formally known as Baron Udny-Lister – who was Boris Johnson’s chief of staff for part of the former Prime Minister’s time as London Mayor and previously led Wandsworth Council.