Latest London Mayoral and General Election Voting Intentions
(7-8 September)

September 11, 2020
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | Boris Johnson | Conservative Party | GB Politics | Keir Starmer | Labour Party | Local Elections | London | London Mayoral Election 2021 | Rishi Sunak | Sadiq Khan | Shaun Bailey | Voting Intention

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Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest London Mayoral election voting intention poll finds Sadiq Khan leading the Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey by 20% in the first preference vote. Although Khan maintains a significant lead in our most recent poll, his advantage has decreased by 3% since early August. Altogether, our latest voting intention result is as follows (with changes from 5-7 August in parenthesis):

Sadiq Khan (Labour) 48% (-1)

Shaun Bailey (Conservative) 28% (+2)

A Liberal Democrat Candidate 11% (-1)

Sian Berry (Green Party) 9% ­(­–)

Other 4% (–)

A significantly greater proportion of voters in Inner London (54%) intend to support Khan compared to those who live in Outer London (44%). Nevertheless, Khan continues to lead by 13 points in Outer London. The incumbent Mayor continues to poll particularly well among younger voters: 64% of 18-to-24-year-olds and 59% of 25-to-34-year-olds say they will vote to re-elect the incumbent. Khan also holds a 13-point lead over Bailey among respondents aged between 35 and 54. Among older voters aged 65 or older, Bailey holds a 1% lead, although this narrow difference lies well within the margin of error of this sub-sample. Significantly, 12% of those who voted for the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election, and 31% of those who voted for the Liberal Democrats last December, will vote for Khan in May 2021.

Among those who currently intend to vote for one of the smaller parties (Liberal Democrats, Green Party, or another candidate), yet have one of the major party candidates as a second preference, 63% have Sadiq Khan as a second preference vote, while 37% have Shaun Bailey as a second preference vote. Overall, when second preference votes from smaller parties are counted, Khan would achieve a fairly convincing victory.[1]

Currently, 51% of Londoners are certain to vote in next May’s election. A further fifth (20%) consider that they probably will vote, while 10% are leaning towards voting but might not vote. Only 4% will definitely not vote and 6% probably will not vote. 8% are leaning towards not voting but could vote. Notably, just 35% of those aged 18-to-24-years old are certain to vote. Those who will probably vote for Shaun Bailey are substantially more likely (70%) to be certain that they will vote compared to those who think they will vote for Sadiq Khan (59%), which may be an indication that those who are aware of Shaun Bailey and are considering voting for him belong to a select group of politically engaged London voters.

Such a claim is supported by our finding that only 57% of Londoners say they have heard of Shaun Bailey, the Conservative Party Candidate for Mayor, even though our presentation of a voting intention question earlier in our survey, which included Bailey as an option, may have biased this result in Bailey’s favour. A significant minority (35%) of the London public say they have not heard of Shaun Bailey. The proportion of the London public who have heard of Bailey has risen by 2% in the last month, but this change is not statistically significant.

Similarly, in our General Election voting intention, Labour leads the Conservatives by 21% in the capital, despite the Conservatives leading by 6% nationally in our GB poll last week. Labour’s lead has increased by 2% since our previous London poll. Altogether, our results are as follows.

Conservatives 29% (–)

Labour 50% (+2)

Liberal Democrat 12% (-2)

Green 6% (-1)

Other 3% (+1)

Thinking about national politics at the London-level, the Prime Minister’s current approval rating in London stands at net -13%. Nationally, Boris Johnson’s approval rating is +3%. Our latest results mirror the findings from polling a month ago, when the Prime Minister’s approval rating was -12%. Only around a third (32%) of Londoners approve of Johnson’s job performance since the 2019 General Election. Despite Johnson’s experience as a two-term Mayor of London, our polling indicates that the London public increasingly disapprove of his actions on a national level.

Notably, around a fifth (19%) of those who voted for the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election disapprove of Johnson’s job performance since December. The Prime Minister’s net approval rating is slightly lower in Inner London (-15%) compared to Outer London (-11%).

By contrast, a majority (51%) of Londoners approve of Rishi Sunak’s job performance since he became Chancellor in February, while just 13% disapprove. A significant minority (30%) neither approve nor disapprove of the Chancellor. Throughout the summer, our GB-wide polling found that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has enjoyed extremely high approval ratings. Sunak’s Treasury Department was responsible for launching the furlough scheme which has supported 9.6 million workers and 1.2 employers since March. Moreover, Sunak has been closely associated with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. As part of the scheme, diners claimed more than 100 million half priced meals on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.

At a more local level, Sadiq Khan holds a +18% net approval rating among the London public. At this point, 45% of Londoners approve of Sadiq Khan’s job performance since becoming Mayor of London, while 27% disapprove. Compared to our polling a month ago, Khan’s approval rating has dropped by 2 points, a change which falls within the margin of error.

Labour Leader Keir Starmer holds a net approval rating of +29%. Overall, 44% of Londoners approve of Starmer’s job performance since he became leader of the Labour Party in April, while 15% disapprove. Nevertheless, around a third (34%) neither approve nor disapprove of Starmer, which may highlight that the Labour Leader has not had an impact on a significant proportion of the public. Starmer’s net approval rating is the same as in our polling a month ago. Significantly, Starmer holds a +11% approval rating among those who voted for the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election. 

Labour’s dominance in London is also clear with respects to trust on key issues. In particular, a strong plurality (43-46%) consider that Labour is best placed to reduce poverty, support public transport networks, and build the best housing, while only around a fifth (18-20%) favour the governing party on these issues. In addition, almost half (48%) would trust Labour to support the NHS, compared to just 21% who believe the Conservatives are the party most trusted to support the NHS.

The Conservatives score comparatively better on certain issues. For example, around a third (32%) trust the party to strengthen the economy, yet a slight plurality (35%) believe Labour are more trusted on economic affairs. Notably, despite regular Conservative criticism of the Labour Party’s record on crime, 37% of respondents in the capital trust Labour on the issue, while 28% trust the Conservatives. This differentiation stems in part on whom voters believe holds more power with respects to London’s governance. Even though a majority, initially, appear to say that the London Mayor has a ‘huge impact’ on the day-to-today lives of Londoners, a plurality (43%) consider that the Prime Minister has more control over policies specific to London than the London Mayor.

Indeed, a majority or plurality of respondents believe the Prime Minister and Westminster has more power and responsibility than the London Mayor and the London Assembly in regard to economic growth (66%), environment (44%), immigration (73%), healthcare (71%) and coronavirus measures (70%). Notably, a plurality (45%) also believe that the Prime Minister and Westminster has the most power and responsibility in regard to policing, which significantly undercuts attempts by Bailey to blame Khan for issues around crime may have a limited impact. Moreover, views on which authority has more power and responsibility in relation to crime are not impacted by partisan allegiance: a majority (51%) of 2019 Conservative voters consider that the PM and Westminster have more power than the London Mayor and the London Assembly.

A plurality of respondents in the capital are satisfied with Khan’s policy on policing (39%), his actions to support London’s economy (40%) and his transport policy (45%). Nevertheless, a plurality (33%) of voters are dissatisfied with Khan’s housing policy, while respondents are split in regard to the Mayor’s approach to environmental issues. Although the Mayor is currently involved in negotiating funding from the national UK Government to build more affordable homes in the capital, Khan’s current record on housing is clearly a weakness which the Bailey campaign could focus on.

Londoners are particularly impressed with Khan’s transport policy. At this stage, 28% of those living in the capital believe transport has improved the most with Khan as Mayor, although a plurality ‘don’t know’ what area has improved the most under the Labour Mayor. This linkage of satisfaction with Khan’s transport policy and Londoner’s believing that transport is the one policy area which especially falls under the authority of the London Mayor suggests that Sadiq Khan stands on firm ground.

Although a plurality of Londoners express satisfaction with the Mayor’s policing policy, around a fifth (21%) think that the policing situation has improved least (or even worsened) with Sadiq Khan as Mayor. A clear plurality (28%) of 2019 Conservative voters are most disconcerted on policing, while 18% of 2019 Labour supporters also believe policing has not improved or even worsened during Khan’s first term.

But, again, this low score on policing does not lead into an easy advantage for Shaun Bailey, given that many London respondents believe Westminster yields more influence and power over London’s governance than the London mayor with respects to policing. In London politics, therefore, the Conservative Party is caught in a bind. With an explicitly anti-London national message that focusses on ‘levelling up’ the regions and dispersing the concentration of wealth and power in London, it is intrinsically difficult for the Conservative Party to use its power in Westminster to the benefit of Londoners and gain the favour of London voters.

At the same time, the Tories cannot cast blame or place any failures of London’s governance on the Labour Party, because many Londoners simply believe that the Tories, with their power in Westminster, are ultimately more responsible for life in London in key areas: policing, the economy, immigration, and healthcare. As such, Sadiq Khan can easily deflect criticism in these areas to a lack of support and funding from the national government. Meanwhile, voters are satisfied with Sadiq Khan in the area that many believe that he, as London Mayor, is most responsible: transport.

Even housing is not clearly a local London issue as highlighted by the Grenfell Tower tragedy, for which the Conservative Party bore the brunt of the criticism. This summer, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick fell under particular scrutiny over developments in Westferry in London. Nevertheless, with 53% saying that the London Mayor has the most power and responsibility over housing, and a plurality of 33% expressing dissatisfaction with Sadiq Khan’s policies on housing, this issue could be one area that may put a dent in the Labour Party’s dominance in London.

Redfield & Wilton Strategies will continue to monitor the voting intention of the London public as May’s Mayoral Election draws closer.

[1] It must be noted that our final voting intention results in Great Britain exclude those who say ‘Don’t Know.’ When it came to second preference votes, a plurality selected, ‘Don’t Know.’

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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