Sean Fear’s local election commentary

Sean Fear’s local election commentary

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    How London Voted on May 5th

I have now finished working out how each of the new constituencies voted in May’s local elections. This is a useful exercise, as the new boundaries will almost certainly be in force at the time of the next election. As each of the three main parties contested the vast majority of London’s council seats, it is quite easy to work out the results by constituency. In each case, I have taken the highest vote achieved by each party’s candidate in each ward.

    Had these results been repeated in a general election, the Conservatives would have won 35 seats (a gain of 14), Labour 28 (a loss of 16) , the Liberal Democrats 9 (a gain of 2), and Others 1 (Respect would have lost Bethnal Green and Bow, but freakishly, Residents would have won Upminster and Hornchurch).

The mean vote share won by the parties across all 73 constituencies was Conservative 34.7%, Labour 28.6%, Liberal Democrat 20.5%, and Others 16.4%.

There are striking disparities in party support across London. Labour’s support ranged from 5% in Sutton and Cheam to 50% in Camberwell and Peckham. Liberal Democrat support ranged from 1% in Dagenham and Rainham to 48% in Hornsey and Wood Green. Conservative support ranged from 9% in Islington North to 67% in Beckenham.

Comparing the position with 1992, Conservative support remains rock-solid in outer suburbia. In Chipping Barnet, they led Labour by 24%; in Ilford North by 23%; in Uxbridge & South Ruislip by 30%. Conservative support is now almost back to its 1992 level in Metroland, with leads of 15% over Labour in Harrow East, and Finchley, and smaller leads in Harrow West, Brent North (both on much less favourable boundaries than in 1992) , Hendon and Ealing North. Conservative support has strengthened in parts of Inner London, leading Labour by 19% in Westminster North, and 4% in Hammersmith, for example.

But Conservative support has collapsed in much of inner suburbia – as low as 14% in Streatham, and just 12% in Hornsey and Wood Green (over 25% down on 1992), and far behind Labour now in seats like Edmonton, Mitcham and Morden, and Croydon North.

By contrast, inner suburbia has seen the strongest improvement in Labour’s position (with the exceptions of Lewisham East and Lewisham West & Penge, and Hornsey and Wood Green). The East End remains Labour’s strongest area (but with strong challenges now from Respect in Newham and Tower Hamlets, the Green Party in Hackney, and the British National Party in Barking and Dagenham). Labour support has now fallen back in outer suburbia to its level of 1992, and is in sharp decline in Metroland.

The Liberal Democrats have gained few votes since 1992, but have targeted very effectively. Back in 1992, they only had one London MP, Simon Hughes. On these results, they would have lost two seats to the Conservatives (Sutton and Cheam, Richmond Park) but gained four from Labour (Islington South, both Lewishams, and Hampstead and Kilburn, where Labour fell into a poor third place).

The Greens polled well across Leftward-leaning constituencies. In Deptford, they won 26%, of the vote, 24% in Hackney North, 20% in Islington North, and 18% in Islington North. Their vote share reached 12% or more in 16 constituencies.

Respect polled well in Tower Hamlets and Newham, and a high profile candidate may succeed in holding Bethnal Green and Bow for them. Margaret Hodge is certainly in trouble in Barking, where the BNP won 23% of the vote, despite not contesting half the wards (and UKIP won a further 14%). Residents polled strongly in Havering and Brentford & Isleworth, and Save Chase Farm won a remarkable 26% to come second in Enfield North.

Last night saw just three by-elections:-

Enfield LBC: Turkey Street – Conservative 877, Labour 874, UKIP 174, Save Chase Farm 133, Lib Dem 77, Green 51. Conservative Hold. This was a rare excellent performance by Labour in a London by-election. Clearly, voters do not approve of councillors who resign their seats just three months after being elected, and UKIP also hurt the Conservatives. The collapse in support for Save Chase Farm (who won 1186 votes last time) suggests their vote in May was a flash in the pan.
Caradon DC: St. Cleer and St. Neotts: Lib Dem 519, Conservative 363. Lib Dem hold.
Highlands SUA: Inverness. Lib Dem 514, Independent 263, SNP 212, Labour 108, Conservative 49, Independent 26. Lib Dem gain from Independent.

I shall e-mail my constituency analysis to anyone who wants it.

Sean Fear is a London Tory activist and regular contributor to PBC.

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