Sean Fear’s Friday Slot

Sean Fear’s Friday Slot


    Where London Will be Won and Lost

One of the striking features of the London Mayoral election of 2004 was just how strongly Ken Livingstone performed in prosperous parts of the Capital, many of which are strongly Conservative in local elections. Boroughs like Croydon, (where the Conservatives had a 9% lead over Labour in the local elections of 2002), Harrow (where they had a 7% lead), Redbridge and Richmond (both gained by the Conservatives in 2002) and most surprising of all, Wandsworth, safely Conservative since 1990, were all carried by Ken Livingstone (and all four were boroughs in which Conservative assembly candidates outpolled Labour at the same time). Likewise, in Kingston, where Labour barely registers in local elections and the Conservatives finish a strong second, Livingstone was able to squeeze out a narrow lead over Norris, with the backing of both some Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Even in boroughs that Norris carried, Livingstone’s support was often surprisingly strong. In Westminster, for example, he took 45% to 55% for Norris, in Barnet 46% to 54%, and in Enfield (won easily by the Conservatives in 2002) he took 49% to 51%. In only four Conservative-inclined boroughs, Kensington, Bexley, Havering, and Bromley, was Norris able to outpoll Livingstone decisively.

This pattern is also quite clear at ward level. Some of London’s most upmarket wards, such as Winchmore Hill, Hampstead Town, Southgate Green, Belsize, Harrow on the Hill, Chiswick Riverside, Teddington, and Kew, were carried by Livingstone. And others, such as Kenton, Northwick Park, Totteridge, and Lancaster Gate produced votes for Livingstone that were far in excess of anything that Labour candidates usually get there.

Livingstone, predictably, performed very strongly in most of Inner London, carrying some boroughs by margins of 30-40% (although Norris polled surprisingly well in Tower Hamlets). But there are probably not many more votes to be gained by him in Inner London boroughs. He faltered in several wards with large white working class electorates, finishing behind Norris in wards like Rainham, Harold Hill, Hainault, and Enfield Highway, and in all likelihood, this is a section of London’s electorate that he is most unlikely to recover votes among, in this election, given the level of racial polarisation in Londoners’ voting intentions revealed by yesterday’s ICM poll.

In my view, the election will be won or lost in the upmarket wards and boroughs where Livingstone was able to win over people who rarely, if ever, vote Labour in any round of local elections. There is good reason to believe that the very negative, core vote strategy, directed against Johnson by Labour will alienate such voters. And every time one such voter switches from Labour to Conservative, Livingstone has to pick up two new supporters to make good the loss.

I remain of the opinion that Johnson will win this by a margin of about 52 to 48 per cent.

There were just two by-elections last night, resulting in comfortable holds for the Conservatives, in what are virtually one-party councils.

East Devon District – Dunkeswell: Conservative 349, Lib Dem 162.

Fenland District – Parson Drove and Wisbech St Mary: Conservative 646, Labour 191, Independent 119, UKIP 55, Lib Dem 35

    Guest Editor’s Note – 2004 results spreadsheets

I trust this won’t cause any offence, but I’ve decided to include a “free giveaway” with Sean’s article.

It’s a spreadsheet showing the detailed borough, constituency and ward-by-ward results for the 2004 Mayor election and so this seemed like the perfect time to release it, rather than include it in an article of mine (which would have been straying into Sean’s territory anyway).

The link at the bottom should open the spreadsheet (it is 1.6MB however, so please contact me if you are having a problem with it).

It contains:

  • The 1st + 2nd votes for Livingstone & Norris, summary (borough) & detail (wards)
  • 1st preference votes – summary & detail
  • 2nd preference votes – summary & detail

    Note that the 1st + 2nd votes are slightly “notional” as in the actual election results, only second votes from candidates outside the top two are counted – these are not available separately on the spreadsheet.

    London Mayor 2004 – detailed results

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