Sean Fear’s Friday Slot

Sean Fear’s Friday Slot


    Looking at the details of the Mayoral result?

London Elects has now released ward-level data for the Mayoral and Assembly elections. It will provide hours of fun for political anoraks such as myself, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of it. I have, however, come to several conclusions.

Firstly, Labour’s core vote strategy, which depended on portraying Johnson as a bigoted Hooray Henry, was successful across much of London. Overall, there was an average swing of 7.4% (on first preferences) across London, compared to 2004, from Livingstone to Johnson. Yet, in two boroughs, Tower Hamlets, and Newham, there were actually swings to Livingstone, of 8.9%, and 4.2% respectively, largely due to the fact that people who voted Respect in 2004, voted for Livingstone this time.

But in each borough, Johnson recorded some of the lowest increases in his overall vote share. In Brent, the swing to Johnson was kept down to 1.3%; in Hackney 1.4%; in Waltham Forest 2.6%, in Haringey 3.6%, and in Harrow, 4.6%. What all these boroughs have in common, of course, is a very high proportion of ethnic minority voters, and in particular, Muslim voters. Islamic organisations campaigned relentlessly for Livingstone. In the case of Haringey, and Hackney, a high proportion of left wing middle class voters also helped Livingstone. Had these boroughs been representative of all London, Livingstone would have won handsomely.

Secondly, it’s quite clear where Labour’s core vote strategy was completely unsuccessful. Some Conservative-inclined boroughs recorded gigantic swings to Johnson. In Havering, it was 15%; in Bexley 14.9%; in Bromley 14.2%, in Hillingdon 12.1%; in Kensington & Chelsea 10.7%, and in Wandsworth 10%. Conservative voters were highly motivated to vote for Johnson.

Thirdly, it’s quite clear among which groups Livingstone most heavily lost support, compared to 2004. White working class voters switched very heavily against him. Every ward but one on the Becontree estate, in Barking, was won by Johnson. These wards were held by Labour in 1968, and are often left uncontested by the Conservatives in local elections. New Addington and Fieldway, huge council estates in Croydon, were both won by Johnson. St. Helier, another historic Labour stronghold, in Merton, likewise fell. South Bermondsey, which has probably not elected a Conservative since before the First World War, was carried by Johnson. Indeed, Southwark as a whole recorded a swing of 10.1% to Johnson, heavily concentrated in the wards making up Simon Hughes’ Old Southwark and Bermondsey constituency, which contains both white working class voters, and many more affluent residents in riverside developments. London’s white working class voters shifted towards the Conservatives in the 1980s, but the wards I’ve just mentioned would never have been regarded as Conservative targets in that decade.

Additionally, more affluent, centrist voters, also shifted strongly against Livingstone. Richmond, and Kingston, both narrowly carried by Livingstone in 2004, showed swings to Johnson of 12% and 10.2% respectively. Wards like Winchmore Hill, Southgate Green, Brondesbury Park, and Hampstead Town, won by Livingstone, were all carried by Johnson this time. This shift, and not just high turnout among core Conservatives, also explains Johnson’s success in Wandsworth, where, again, Livingstone led in 2004.

Finally, and probably unsurprisingly, it’s clear that Jewish voters backed Johnson by an enormous margin. Garden Suburb, Golders Green, Hendon, and Edgware wards, in Barnet were all more than 30% Jewish, at the time of the 2001 census. They favoured Johnson over Livingstone by margins of 52.5%, 40.8%, 43.2%, and 50.3%, respectively, with swings ranging from 7.4% to 14.3% The one ward that Johnson carried in Hackney was Springfield, with its big Hasidic population, and it gave him a swing of 6.1%, the highest in that borough.

There was just one by-election last night, on Poole Unitary Council, Branksome East. The result was Conservative 923, Lib Dem 750, a Conservative hold, with a big swing to the Liberal Democrats.

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