A key question in the next General Election in the United Kingdom will be whether the Conservative Party can retain its seats in the so-called ‘Blue Wall’ of affluent, southern constituencies where the party has traditionally won, but where its support has been slipping in recent years—particularly in response to the party’s positioning on Brexit.1 At Redfield and Wilton Strategies, we have taken up the challenge of regularly polling this cluster of politically salient constituencies.
In the forty-two ‘Blue Wall’ seats that we identify and poll, the Conservatives won all in 2019 with 49.74% of the vote to the Liberal Democrats 27.45%. The Labour Party came third in this collection of seats, taking 20.6% of the vote.
Our first poll of the Blue Wall in 2023 finds Labour leading the Conservatives by 10%, one point less than in our previous poll in late November. Altogether, the results of our poll (with changes from 21-22 November in parentheses) are as follows:
Labour 40% (-1)
Conservative 30% (–)
Liberal Democrat 21% (–)
Reform UK 6% (+3)
Green 3% (-1)
Other 0% (-1)
When those who say they do not know how they would vote in a General Election are included, the Labour Party leads by 8%. After weighting by likelihood to vote, 12% of the sample says they do not know how they would vote, including 17% of those who voted Conservative in December 2019, 5% of those who voted Labour, and 2% of those who voted Liberal Democrat.
Altogether, 90% of those who voted Labour in 2019 say they would vote Labour again, while 65% of those who voted Liberal Democrat say they would vote for the party at the next election.
54% of 2019 Conservative voters say they would vote Conservative again if a General Election were held tomorrow. 15% say they would vote for Labour, 3% would switch to the Liberal Democrats, and 9% would support Reform UK.
43% (-5) of Blue Wall voters say they could see themselves voting tactically for a party other than their first choice in order to ensure a party they dislike does not win in their constituency. 56% (-7) of 2019 Labour voters say they could see themselves voting tactically in such a way, compared to 62% (+1) of 2019 Liberal Democrat and 31% (-9) of 2019 Conservative voters.
When asked which would be a better Prime Minister between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, 42% (-2) of Blue Wall voters choose Rishi Sunak, and 34% (-1) choose Keir Starmer. 23% (+2) say they don’t know.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s approval rating in the Blue Wall registers at -1% (-8), the first time he has recorded a negative approval rating in our Blue Wall poll. 31% (-3) of those in the Blue Wall, including 40% (-7) of those who voted Conservative in 2019, say they approve of Sunak’s performance. 32% (+5) disapprove.
34% (-6) approve and 26% (+1) disapprove of Keir Starmer’s job performance since he became Leader of the Labour Party, giving him a net approval rating of +8%, seven points lower than in our last poll of the Blue Wall.
Blue Wall voters give Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, a net approval rating of +3% (–). While 20% (–) approve of Davey’s performance, and 17% (–) disapprove, a plurality of 44% (-1) neither approve nor disapprove of his performance as party leader.
On policy delivery, respondents in the Blue Wall are most likely to say they significantly (18%) or fairly (32%) trust the Conservative Party to deliver on the coronavirus pandemic. 47% also significantly or fairly trust the party to deliver on national security and defence.
By comparison, over 40% of respondents say they do not at all trust the Conservatives to deliver on the NHS (48%), immigration (43%), and housing (41%).
With regard to the Labour Party, respondents are most likely to say they significantly (17%) or fairly (31%) trust Labour to deliver on the NHS. 46% of Blue Wall voters also say the significantly or fairly trust Labour on education, while 45% significantly or fairly trust the party to deliver on benefits.
On the flipside, Labour is most likely to be not at all trusted on the economy (34%) and on immigration (33%).
When the parties are pitted against each other on the issues, the Conservatives are more trusted than Labour to respond to the crisis in Ukraine (36% to 21%), to respond to the coronavirus crisis (36% to 23%), to manage foreign affairs (32% to 25%), and to tackle crime (28% to 26%).
The Conservatives also hold a two-point lead over Labour as the party most trusted to manage the economy (31% to 29%).
Labour are more frequently trusted than the Conservatives on all other issues, including to support the NHS (38% to 21%), to tackle poverty (41% to 19%), to manage housing (35% to 21%), and to support the education system (33% to 26%). Labour is also more trusted than the Conservatives to manage immigration (27% to 24%).
Finally, on the cost-of-living crisis, 57% (-2) of members of the Blue Wall public say no, the Government is not taking the right measures to address this crisis, compared to 26% (+4) who say that it is.
Among 2019 Conservative voters, 50% (-3) say the government is not taking the right measures to address the crisis, while 32% (–) say it is.
1 Various criteria have been used by different media, academic, and other sources to decide which constituencies constitute the ‘Blue Wall.’ For the purposes of our tracker polling, we have limited ourselves to studying constituencies which meet five criteria: 1) The constituency is in the South of England 2) The constituency elected a Conservative MP at the 2015, 2017, and 2019 General Elections 3) At least 25% of adults in the constituency have a degree 4) The Remain vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum in the constituency was greater than 42.5% 5) The Conservatives hold the constituency on a majority of less than 10,000 over Labour OR less than 15,000 over the Liberal Democrats.
A full list of the constituencies polled can be found in the data tables.