Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest London Mayoral election voting intention poll finds Sadiq Khan leading the Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey by 22% in the first preference vote, a marginal increase of 2% since our September poll. Altogether, our latest voting intention result (with changes from 7-8 September in parentheses) is as follows:

Sadiq Khan (Labour) 50% (+2)

Shaun Bailey (Conservative) 28% (–)

Luisa Porritt (Liberal Democrat) 10% (-1)[1]

Sian Berry (Green Party) 10% (+1)

Other 2% (-1)

The incumbent Mayor continues to poll particularly well with younger voters: 60% of 18-to-24-year-olds and 65% of 25-to-34-year-olds say they will vote to re-elect Sadiq Khan while 18% and 21% respectively say they will vote for Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey. Sadiq Khan achieves a plurality of support on all age groups except for the 55-to-64-year-old age group, where Shaun Bailey holds a 1% lead, although this narrow difference lies within the margin of error. In September, a significantly greater proportion of voters in Inner London (54%) intended to support Sadiq Khan compared to those in Outer London (44%), yet our recent poll found that this gap has closed with 51% of those in Inner London and 49% of those in Outer London intending to re-elect the incumbent. Furthermore, 14% of those who voted for the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election, intend to vote for Sadiq Khan, an increase of 2% from September, and 44% of those who voted Liberal Democrat in December will vote for Khan in May 2021, a 13% increase since the last poll despite the Liberal Democrats announcing their candidate in the interim.

Londoners are more likely to vote for candidates from smaller parties rather than opt for a major party for their second preference: new Liberal Democrat candidate Luisa Porritt and the Green Party’s Sian Berry each reap 30% of the Second Preference vote share. While the rest of the results for the second preference vote have remained the same, the Liberal Democrats have seen a slight 3% increase since September.

Certainty to vote has remained stable. Currently, 50% of Londoners say they are certain they will vote in next May’s election and a further fifth (20%) consider that they probably will vote. Only 5% will definitely not vote and 6% will probably not vote.[2] In September, those that intended to vote for Shaun Bailey were substantially more likely (70%) to say that they were certain they would vote compared to those that thought they would vote for Sadiq Khan (59%). Now, Khan and Bailey voters are almost equally likely to be certain that they will vote (58% and 60% respectively), and voters who intend to vote for Bailey are 10% less likely to be certain that they will vote than in September.

Decreasing likelihood to vote among voters who favour Shaun Bailey may be indicative of the sustained lack of awareness about the Conservative Party’s candidate. 51% of Londoners say they have heard of Shaun Bailey, a decrease of 6% since September. A significant minority (40%) say they have not heard of Shaun Bailey, an increase of 5% since September. Of utmost concern to Shaun Bailey’s campaign should be that almost a fifth (18%) of those who say they would vote for him when prompted with a list of candidates then said they had not heard of him, and 43% of those who say they would vote for Sadiq Khan have also not heard of Shaun Bailey.

Similarly, in our General Election voting intention, Labour leads the Conservative Party by 27% in the capital, a 6% increase in their lead since September. Altogether, our results (with changes from September in parenthesis) are as follows:

Conservatives 29% (-3)

Labour 53% (+3)

Liberal Democrat 12% (–)

Green 6% (–)

Other 3% (–)

The decrease in support for the Conservative Party may be due to the growing disapproval for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Despite winning two terms as Mayor in the capital, half (50%) of Londoners now disapprove of the Prime Minister’s performance since the 2019 General Election. Boris Johnson’s net approval rate now stands at -21% in London, an 8% decrease since September.

Notably, almost a quarter (23%) of those that voted Conservative in the 2019 General Election disapprove of Boris Johnson’s performance, and disapproval has increased in both Inner (49%) and Outer (50%) London.

By contrast, a plurality (48%) of Londoners approve of Rishi Sunak’s job performance since he became Chancellor in February, while nearly a fifth (18%) disapprove. While Rishi Sunak enjoys a high net approval rating of +30%, his approval rating has decreased by 8% since September. Nevertheless, high approval rates in London echo our GB-wide polling earlier this month, which found that Chancellor Rishi Sunak enjoys a net approval rating of +32%.

On the local level, Sadiq Khan holds a +14% approval rating among Londoners, a drop of 4% since September and a 6% drop since August. At this point, 42% approve of Sadiq Khan’s performance since becoming Mayor of London, while 28% disapprove.

Meanwhile, Labour Leader Keir Starmer holds a net approval rating of +27% in the capital, a minor 2% decrease since September. Overall, 43% of Londoners approve of Starmer’s job performance since he became leader of the Labour Party in April, while 16% disapprove. Nevertheless, 34% neither approve nor disapprove of Starmer––the same as in September––suggesting that the change in Labour’s leadership is yet to have a significant impact on many voters. Starmer holds a +6% net approval rating among those who voted for the Conservative Party in the 2019 General Election, a decrease of 5% since September.

Labour’s dominance in London is spearheaded by high trust in the Labour Party to deliver across a wide range of policy areas. A strong plurality (46-48%) trust the Labour Party the most to reduce poverty, support public transport networks, build better housing, and support the NHS, while only approximately a fifth (18-20%) support the Conservative Party on these areas. Furthermore, a plurality (38%) trust the Labour Party the most to tackle the coronavirus. These results are almost identical to those from our previous London polling.

The Conservatives perform comparatively better on certain issues. For example, 37% of respondents trust the Labour Party the most to tackle crime, while 29% trust the Conservatives the most. Furthermore, while 35% trust the Labour Party to strengthen the economy the most, 29% favour the Conservatives. However, crime and the economy are areas where the Conservative Party typically makes significant gains over the Labour Party at a national level. Yet, in London, the Conservatives are lagging behind on these issues.

A plurality of Londoners are satisfied with Sadiq Khan’s policy on policing (38%), his actions to support London’s economy (40%), and his transport policy (45%). However, Londoners are most divided on his policies to tackle coronavirus, with 31% satisfied, 30% dissatisfied, and 31% neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Furthermore, a plurality of Londoners (34%) are dissatisfied with Sadiq Khan’s housing policy, despite trusting the Labour Party the most overall to build the best housing.

However, the recent standoff between Government and local leaders in the North West––including Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham—has raised questions about the role of local government in times of crisis and how local and central government could interact. The majority (57%) of Londoners think the role of London Mayor has a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of Londoners, while less than a third (29%) think it has little impact.

However, a strong plurality (46%) think the Prime Minister has more control over policies specific to London than the London Mayor, while 35% think otherwise.

Furthermore, more than two-thirds of Londoners believe the Prime Minister and Westminster have more power and responsibility over a swathe of policy areas, including healthcare and coronavirus, than the London Mayor and the London Assembly. Only over housing and transport does the London believe their Mayor holds more responsibility.

Yet, while Londoners acknowledge the importance of the role of London Mayor and the power of the Prime Minister, a plurality of Londoners think the Government (53%) and the Greater London Authority (37%) are incompetent. While London Mayor Sadiq Khan has supported the Government’s decision to increase coronavirus restrictions in London, if there were to be a stalemate between London’s local government and Westminster similar to that which can currently be seen in Manchester, Londoners do not think either local or central government is competent.

Overall, Sadiq Khan, and the Labour Party in general, have retained a strong lead in London, both in terms of voting intention and on policy. Awareness of Shaun Bailey is apparently decreasing, as is the certainty that those who have said they will vote for him will actually vote next May. The Conservatives have seen a sizeable decline in support in the capital in the past month, spearheaded by a drop in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s approval rating. Nevertheless, Rishi Sunak’s approval ratings remain incredibly high.

The Government’s recent implementation of the ‘Tier system’ to tackle coronavirus has raised the question of how local and central government interacts, and the role of Mayor. Londoners simultaneously recognise the importance of the role of Mayor within the capital and acknowledge the power Westminster and the Prime Minister has on London-specific issues. If a stalemate did develop between the Mayor of London and Westminster soon––similar to that witnessed in Manchester­––Londoners do not tend to think of either the UK Government nor City Hall as competent.

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.

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[1] Our previous poll listed this option as ‘Liberal Democrat Candidate’ because the official candidate had not been named.

[2] Note: voting intention polls tend to sample respondents who are typically more likely than the general population to be voters and to be politically engaged.

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