London Falling. The Capital and the election

London Falling. The Capital and the election

Stodge gives his analysis on London

London is home to 75 of the 650 Constituencies in the forthcoming General Election, an increase of two from 2019. At the last election, Labour “won” London with 48% of the vote, the Conservatives got 32%, the Liberal Democrats 15%, the Greens 3% and the Brexit Party 1.5%.

This, however, produced no net change with Labour winning 49 seats (including Putney, their only gain in England from the Conservatives), the Conservatives winning 21 seats and the Liberal Democrats taking the remaining three.

In May, Sadiq Khan won his third election as London Mayor with 44% of the vote with the Conservative Susan Hall on 33% so not a marked difference from the 2019 General Election (the turnout at the Mayoral election was 40.5% while the 2019 General Election turnout was nearly 68%).

The Greater London Assembly (GLA) elections told, however, a very different story – Labour won 40%, the Conservatives 27%, the Greens 13%, the Liberal Democrats 11% and Reform 7.5%.

Comparing the GLA numbers with the 2019 General Election, Labour are DOWN eight, Conservatives DOWN five, Greens UP ten, Liberal Democrats DOWN four and Reform UP six on the Brexit Party.

To what extent is that misleading? Turnout was 40.5% compared with the 65-70% likely to vote in the capital on July 4th.

The last Westminster polling for London is ancient history – from April – and had Labour over 50%. YouGov had two polls with Labour a colossal 37 and 39 points ahead while Savanta had a 25-point Labour lead.

Yet the actual votes from May had an 11–13-point Labour advantage – could this be down to Labour apathy in London or has the death of the London Conservatives been exaggerated?

I thought I’d look at the three GLA constituencies which the Conservatives held in May and the constituencies they wholly or partly contain.

Eight Westminster Constituencies are wholly or partly within the Bexley & Bromley GLA area.

Beckenham & Penge is a new constituency including elements of the old Beckenham and Lewisham West & Penge constituencies. I think this could be a Labour gain – the Labour strongholds of Clock House, Penge & Cator and Crystal Palace & Anerley may well be enough.

Bexleyheath & Crayford has had boundary changes which don’t look good for the Conservatives bringing in areas from the old Erith & Thamesmead constituency and losing one of the more Conservative Wards to Old Bexley & Sidcup. The Conservative majority was 13,000 in 2019 but the new constituency looks much better for Labour and I think they’ll win it.

Bromley & Biggin Hill has been cobbled together from parts of the old Bromley & Chislehurst, Beckenham and Orpington constituencies. Peter Fortune, the GLA member for Bexley & Bromley, is the Conservative candidate and I suspect he’ll win but not with a big majority.

Eltham & Chislehurst is mostly the old Eltham constituency which Clive Efford held for Labour with a majority of 3,200 at the last election. Added are the Bromley Council Wards of Mottingham (marginal) and Chislehurst (three Independents took the seat off the Conservatives in 2022). Efford is the Labour candidate and I suspect he will be returned for the new seat.

Erith & Thamesmead has had some slight boundary changes. The seat was won by Abena Oppong-Asare for Labour in 2019 with a majority of 3,750 but the new seat looks safer for her as the Bexley Wards are the Labour strongholds in the north of the Borough up to the Thames.

Old Bexley & Sidcup was once the seat of Sir Edward Heath. James Brokenshire had a majority of 19,000 in 2019 and Louie French won the 2021 by election on the old boundaries by 4,500 on a turnout in the low 30s. Every council seat in the redrawn constituency was won by the Conservatives in 2022 albeit a couple were quite close. It’s probably the safest Conservative seat in London.

Orpington is of course steeped in by election legend from 1962 but that was a very long time ago and for all the Liberal Democrats challenged hard in 2001 cutting John Horam’s majority to just 269, the tide has comprehensively gone out and by 2019 Gareth Bacon had a 22,400 majority over Labour. Biggin Hill has gone elsewhere but the overall balance still strongly favours the Conservatives and I expect this seat to remain with the blue team.

On to Croydon & Sutton where there are six Westminster constituencies with a lot of change in the Croydon area.

Streatham & Croydon North is safe for Labour.

Croydon East returns as a constituency for the first time since 1950. Looking at the make up of the new constituency, I think the local councillor Jason Cummings has a fighting chance of holding the seat for the Conservatives. The traditionally Labour areas of New Addington have trended Conservative over recent years and the Tory strongholds of Selsdon and Shirley should ensure Cummings squeezes home.

Croydon West, on the other hand, looks much stronger for Labour and the former Croydon Central MP, Sarah Jones, is the party’s candidate. Labour should win this easily – it might be an entertaining scrap for second between the Conservatives and the Greens.

Croydon South has been a bastion of Conservative strength for decades – it includes commuter areas such as Purley, Sanderstead and Coulsdon. I can’t see Labour getting anywhere near the current Conservative MP, Chris Philp, and he’s a confident choice to hold the seat.

Carshalton & Wallington was held by Tom Brake for the Liberal Democrats from 1997 until he narrowly lost to Conservative Elliot Colburn in 2019. The boundaries are unchanged but the local picture has changed a bit. Labour has made a comeback in Hackbridge and St Helier while the Conservatives have strength in Clockhouse, the Independents won in Beddington but the Liberal Democrats are strong in Wallington.  This could be a real three-way marginal though I suspect Labour will be working elsewhere which should give the Liberal Democrats a real chance to regain the seat.

Sutton & Cheam, like Orpington, has a place in Liberal and Liberal Democrat folklore following the by-election win of Graham Tope in December 1972. The seat was lost at the February 1974 election and remained Conservative until Paul Burstow defeated Lady Olga Maitland in 1997. He was in turn beaten by Paul Scully in 2015 and Scully himself won an 8,350 majority in 2019. There’s a new Conservative candidate, Tom Drummond, a local councillor, but this looks a real winnable seat for the Liberal Democrats with a significant Labour vote to try and squeeze and I’d fancy the yellows to win this one as well.

Havering & Redbridge has seven constituencies which sit wholly or partly within the GLA area.

Chingford & Woodford Green is the constituency of Iain Duncan-Smith whose majority has been whittled down from nearly 13,000 in 2010 to just 1,262 last time. The boundary changes have been slight and we have the complication of the 2019 Labour candidate standing as an Independent but it’s still hard to look beyond a Labour win despite the constituency containing the last vestiges of Conservative strength in both Redbridge and Waltham Forest.

Dagenham & Rainham was considered a prospect for a Conservative gain at the last election but Jon Cruddas held on by 293 votes. Margaret Mullane now stands as the Labour candidate and she should be returned fairly comfortably with the Barking part of the constituency (as distinct from the barking part or the barking part) offsetting the Conservative areas in Havering.

Hornchurch & Upminster were, when separate constituencies, both won by Labour in the 1997 landslide. Since being joined together, however, the new constituency has become ever more Conservative with Julia Lopez winning by over 23,000 in 2019. Locally, the area is dominated by the Residents but Labour did win Gooshays Ward in 2022. It’s hard to see such a big majority being overturned but I suspect this will be a close result.

Ilford North is safe for Labour with the addition of the strongholds of Cranbrook and Valentines.

Ilford South is safe Labour.

Leyton & Wanstead – John Cryer has now retired but Calvin George Bailey should have no problem with a near 21,000 majority to defend.

Romford – another seat which briefly went Labour in 1997 but Andrew Rosindell won the seat back for the Conservatives in 2001. In 2019, he won with a near 18,000 majority. I expect that to be significantly reduced this time but again it’s a big ask for Labour to win this needing a 19% swing.

Best Bets:

I think a lot of the Conservative “doom” may be overstated and there’s some really interesting constituency odds for those who want to play:

Harrow East – CON 9/4

Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner – CON 4/5

Bromley & Biggin Hill – CON 11/8

Croydon East – CON 10/1

Croydon South – CON 2/1

Sutton & Cheam – LD 11/10

Romford – CON 6/4


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