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Posted: 25.04.18

New London poll

With only a week to go until the local elections in 32 London Boroughs on 3 May, the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) Mile End Institute’s latest poll (detailed data tables here) is out!

Queen Mary University of London Polling

With only a week to go until the local elections in 32 London Boroughs on 3 May, the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) Mile End Institute’s latest poll (detailed data tables here) is out!

The Institute’s polls, carried out by YouGov, have become the most comprehensive estimate of voting intention among Londoners, for both the local and general elections in recent months.

The previous QMUL poll’s results were released last February.

Key findings of this April poll

  • YouGov has questioned 1,099 Londoners between 20 and 24 April on behalf of QMUL in this latest poll. Headline findings:

  • The poll has found a small dip in overall voting intention for Labour, and a slight boost for the Tories and ‘Other’ parties, with the Liberal Democrats hovering at the same level as in February.
  • But Labour seemingly remains on course for a strong performance on 3 May – possibly even the best performance of any party in the London borough elections since 1971.
  • Interestingly, however, it appears that the Tories’ position in its totemic inner London boroughs may now be a bit more solid than previously thought, in a potential blow to Labour’s hopes for a win in Wandsworth and Westminster.

Voting intention for the local elections across London (weighted by likelihood to vote and excluding those who stated they will not be voting or were undecided) now stands at:

  • 51% for Labour (down 3%, from 54% in the last poll)
  • 29% for the Conservatives (up 1%, from 28%)
  • 11% for the Liberal Democrats (the same result as earlier this year)
  • 9% for ‘other’ parties (up 2%, from 7%), including the Greens and UKIP (both of whom have scored the same result overall, at 4% and 2% respectively). It seems that the boost to this category overall comes from increased support for candidates that are “Independent or some other party, now up to 2%.” The BNP and WEP remain at less than 1%.

LCA’s view

In the first instance, the poll’s results suggest the following:

  • Labour (which still enjoys a high voting intention rating of 51%) will be encouraged about their chances of winning Barnet and perhaps even Hillingdon; but local issues and politics in both boroughs mean that they are far from a shoo-in for Labour (the anti-semitism debacle and Brexit respectively may help the Tories).
  • Tories (at 29%) would appear unlikely to make any gains, but are evidently fighting back, in inner London especially. They will be heartened by this latest poll’s results, which suggest Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea may well be a stretch for Labour. But they should still remain nervous about their prospects in Wandsworth.
  • The Liberal Democrats are continuing to struggle (polling at a low 11%) and may now be worried about holding on to Sutton – their only borough at present - as much as whether they can beat the Tories in either Richmond or perhaps more likely Kingston.
  • 19% of Londoners are still undecided – a big number just a week out from the election. If undecideds turn out to vote on 3 May, they could prove decisive in marginal boroughs.
  • Ultimately, we could find ourselves in a position, come 4 May, where both the Tories and Labour both claim success! The former could well be in a position to say that they have succeeded in holding all or nearly all of their boroughs against all the odds, whilst the latter would still be able to brandish, as a consolation prize, a significant increase in voteshare and councillors across London.

It should be noted that the poll’s sample size of just over 1,000 Londoners across whole of the capital makes it one of the best estimates we have of voting intention in London; but it remains hard to reach more definite conclusions about individual boroughs.

Other findings of note

  • Digging a bit deeper into the poll’s disaggregated results for particular localities and demographics, it is also notable that:

  • The Inner London result is 59% for Labour (down from 67% in February) against 22% for the Conservatives (up from 17%).
  • In Outer London Labour also lead, with 46% (down from 47%) compared to 34% for the Conservatives (same as earlier this year).
  • Indeed, it is striking that most of the swing in favour of the Tories and against Labour since the last poll is concentrated in inner London, where Labour should expect to be strongest.
  • According to estimates by Director of the Mile End Institute Professor Philip Cowley, the swing in favour of Labour in inner London is now 6.85%, compared to 13.35% back in in February, which would appear to make the Tories’ position safer in Wandsworth and Westminster. The swing in Outer London, according to Cowley, has “barely changed” (3.7%, from 4.2% in February).
  • As regards key age demographics, Labour still leads in all age groups except the over 65s, among whom the Conservatives remain the most popular party. The Tories have seen their voting intention rate in this key demographic edge up by 1% since February, but have also increased their rate among 50-64s (up to 36%, from 33% in February) and perhaps surprisingly, among 18-24s (up to 13%, from 9% in February).
  • Among BME voters, Labour still clearly leads with 75% to the Tories’ 13% - but it may come as a surprise that Labour’s lead has been eroded a little (having stood at 78% in February), while the Conservatives have inched up from 12%.

Some new questions were included, which are interesting in their own right:

  • Asked to associate their local council with a list of adjectives (positive and negative), 25% of those polled thought their borough was “out of touch” and “wasteful.”
  • 20% thought their borough was “incompetent” compared to 18% who thought it was “competent”.
  • Indeed, linked to this last point, it appears that the proportion of Londoners who think their local council is doing a bad job has increased since February, to 34% (up from 29% in February), while the proportion of those who think their council is doing a good job has fallen to 44% (from 47% in February).
  • It is also worth highlighting a question which could shed light on the reach (if not necessarily the effectiveness) of the parties’ campaign efforts: 34% of all respondents said they have been contacted by the Labour party over the last month (whether in person, over the phone, via leaflet, by email, or on social media), compared to 24% by the Tories and 13% by the Liberal Democrats.