The latest London opinion poll by YouGov for Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) shows a big drop in Sadiq Khan’s popularity since their last survey, but Conservatives in the capital don’t have much to cheer about either.
Mayor Khan’s approval rating is down to just +4% compared with +22% in the last YouGov survey back in April. Philip Cowley, professor of politics at QMUL, has described this a taking “a real hit“.But Cowley has also stressed a fall in the scores of both of the largest political parties compared with last year’s general election.
Labour is down seven points. “The shine is clearly coming off,” Cowley says. However, backing for the Tories in the capital has fallen by the same amount, meaning that Labour’s lead over them has remained the same – a gigantic 22 points, with the Tories now running at a miserable 26%. That’s “the lowest since we started polling,” Cowley says.
The parties polling better are UKIP, which has crept up to 4%, the Greens, now on 5% and, in particular, the Liberal Democrats who’ve picked up five points to hit 15%.
Where does all this leave Sadiq Khan and the next mayoral election in 2020? Reporting the findings, the Tory-backing Evening Standard leads on the dip in Khan’s approval ratings and attributes this to “a long summer of violent crime”.
That might be a reasonable guess at an explanation, although the article cites no evidence from the poll to support it (as I write, the full data have yet to be published).
Perhaps the decision to attribute the Khan slump to concerns about crime reveals something about the Standard’s strategy for supporting his Tory challenger, whoever that turns out to be.
Its recent “special investigation” into Mayor Khan’s record included critical comments from former Met superintendent Leroy Logan, who was a client of Khan when he was a solicitor and a contributor to a book about London Khan edited for the Fabian Society in 2015.
Rather less persuasive was a piece in which four Home Counties police and crime commissioners obligingly opined that Khan was doing a bad job on crime and that Shaun Bailey, regarded by some as the favourite to become Tory candidate for 2020, had a good “plan to curb gang violence”. This followed a comment piece from Bailey about crime last month.
It certainly looks as if the Standard is already preparing to back Bailey and attack Khan, thereby doing what comes naturally to it when covering mayoral elections. It was Boris Johnson’s lickspittle in 2008 and 2012 and piled in behind Zac Goldsmith’s disgusting 2016 campaign. It would be nice to think the Standard intends to rise above those pitiful performances for 2020, but maybe we shouldn’t get our hopes up.