The capital doesn't have an especially high number of marginals. What it does have is three-way battlegrounds—and those will tell you all you need to knowby Chaminda Jayanetti / October 28, 2019 / Leave a comment
Labour was miles behind in the polls when Theresa May called an election in 2017, but the party’s leadership did not flinch. It is flinching now.
The party is in a mess in parliament and in the polls. It has lost the trust of Remainers in an election that is set to be about Brexit, rather than the leadership’s preferred territory of austerity and inequality. Labour will be relying on a tactically voting electorate to save the party from itself.
In much of the country, this is at least plausible. But in London, it could fall apart.
The capital is shaping up to be England’s most significant electoral battleground. That isn’t because London has more marginal seats than other regions, but because its marginals are three-way battlegrounds. The combination of residual Tory voters, established Labour core votes and Lib Dem-friendly demographics mean that London’s marginals could plausibly be won by any of the three main parties, whereas the rest of England is a series of head-to-head contests.
Whatever gains the Tories make in the North, Midlands and Wales must be balanced against the seats they are set to lose in Scotland and London. But neither Scotland nor London voted wholly for Remain—40 per cent of the capital’s voters backed Leave. The electoral fortunes of Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems all rest heavily on London. And right now, the Tories are doing better in London than people realise.
YouGov publish regional breakdowns in their regular voter intention polling. They come with health warnings – the sample sizes for each region are small and the margin of error consequently large, and YouGov is only one pollster at a time when different polling firms are showing markedly different Tory leads. But they do give a sense of broad trends and patterns around the country.
In the 2017 general election, the Tories got 33 per cent of the vote in London, compared to 55 per cent for Labour and just nine per cent for the Lib Dems. YouGov’s first post-election poll, in July that year, had the Tories at 29 per cent in London and Labour on 57 per cent, as Labour opened up a national poll lead.
But taking the average of the five most recent YouGov polls, going…