One of the critical questions for the next General Election in the United Kingdom will be whether the Conservative Party can hold onto the mostly northern, traditionally Labour voting constituencies that they won in 2019—often described, if somewhat inaccurately, as the Red Wall.1 Accordingly, we at Redfield and Wilton Strategies have taken up the challenge of regularly polling this cluster of politically salient constituencies.
In the forty ‘Red Wall’ seats that we poll, the Conservatives won all in 2019 but Hartlepool (which was won in a subsequent parliamentary by election) with 46.7% of the vote to Labour’s 37.9%. Reform UK, previously known as the Brexit Party, came third in these seats with 6.5% of the vote.
Our latest Red Wall poll finds Labour leading the Conservatives by 14%, three points more than in our previous poll two weeks ago. Altogether, the results of our poll (with changes from 26-27 June) are as follows:
Labour 46% (–)
Conservative 32% (-3)
Reform UK 7% (+4)
Liberal Democrat 10% (+2)
Green 4% (–)
Plaid Cymru 0% (-1)
Other 1% (-1)
When those who say they do not know how they would vote in a General Election are included, the Labour Party leads by 12%. After weighting by likelihood to vote, 13% of the sample says they do not know how they would vote, including 19% of those who voted Conservative in December 2019 and just 5% of those who voted Labour.
Altogether, 83% of those who voted Labour in 2019 say they would vote Labour again, while 54% of those who voted Conservative say they would vote Conservative again.
Having resigned from his position since our previous poll, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s approval rating in the Red Wall registers at -19%, two points lower than two weeks ago. 51% of those in the Red Wall, including 32% of those who voted Conservative in 2019, say they disapprove of Johnson’s performance. 32% approve.
34% of the Red Wall public, including 50% of those who voted Conservative in 2019, think Boris Johnson’s best policy issue during his premiership has been the coronavirus pandemic.
By contrast, 20% of voters in the Red Wall say Johnson’s worst issue has been the economy. 16%, including 28%—a plurality—of 2019 Conservative voters, say immigration.
Numerous candidates are running to replace Boris Johnson as Leader of the Conservative and therefore as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Much of the public remains unfamiliar with the candidates, so we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies asked respondents in the Red Wall about the declared signature policies of each candidate. The platforms adopted for each candidate were derived from their candidacy announcements, weekend interview or opinion piece, or website and can be seen at the bottom of this write up. 2
Altogether, a plurality of voters in the Red Wall who voted for the Conservative Party in 2019 say they would be most likely to vote for Suella Braverman’s platform of completing Brexit, leaving the European Court of Human Rights, scrapping EU taxes and laws in Northern Ireland, keeping borders secure, cutting VAT on energy bills, cutting taxes on businesses, and supporting the Rwanda immigration policy.
At the same time, a plurality of all voters in the Red Wall (35%) say they would be most likely to vote for Sajid Javid’s policy platform of cutting personal taxes, corporation tax, scrapping the national insurance increase, providing support on household energy bills, and phasing out EU laws still on the statute books within 5 years.
By contrast, pluralities of both all voters in the Red Wall and voters who voted Conservative in 2019 say they would be least likely to vote for Rishi Sunak’s platform of balancing the budget, no tax cuts until the economy improves, keeping the national insurance increase, restoring trust in Government, rebuilding the economy, protecting women’s rights, and opposing gender neutral language.
Rishi Sunak’s pledge not to cut taxes until the economy improves appears unlikely to resonate with voters in the Red Wall. When prompted with the statement, “Now is not the time to cut taxes,” 45% of voters in the Red Wall, including 45% of 2019 Conservative voters, disagree.
Moreover, there appears to be strong agreement across Conservative voters especially that “public spending is too high,” suggesting resistance to a high-tax, high-spending model of governance.
Indeed, voters in the Red Wall are most likely to say they do not at all trust the Conservatives to deliver on levelling up the area they live (52%), immigration (49%), and taxation (48%).
Among those who voted Conservative in 2019, 37% say they do not at all trust the party they had voted for on immigration (37%), levelling up (36%), and taxation (34%).
By contrast, Suella Braverman’s pitch to complete Brexit will likely have appeal across those who voted Leave in the ‘Red Wall.’ 67% of all voters in the Red Wall, including 69% of those who voted Conservative in 2019 say Brexit is still a work in progress, rather than done and behind us.
On the cost-of-living crisis, the foremost political issue at this moment, all candidates will have to focus their appeal. 67% of members of the Red Wall public say no, the Government is not taking the right measures to address this crisis.
With regard to the Labour Party, respondents are most likely to say they significantly (21%) or fairly (31%) trust Labour to deliver on the NHS. Another 48% significantly or fairly trust Labour on education.
On the flipside, Labour is most likely to be not at all trusted on the economy (41%) and on immigration (39%).
30% approve and 38% disapprove of Keir Starmer’s job performance since he became Leader of the Labour Party, giving him a net approval rating of -8%.
1 Prior to the 2019 General Election, the term ‘Red Wall’ originally pertained to a broader set of adjacent Labour-voting constituencies whose profile made them susceptible to being won by the Conservatives’ pro-Brexit platform. However, many of these constituencies were not ultimately won by the Conservative Party in 2019. Since then, the term ‘Red Wall’ has, in the media and elsewhere, interchangeably referred to both its original, broader definition and the traditionally Labour constituencies that the Conservatives won. For the purpose of this tracker polling, we refer to the post-2019 GE definition.
A full list of the constituencies polled can be found in the data tables.
2 Platforms of Tory Leadership Candidates as Prompted to Respondents
Balance the budget, no tax cuts until economy improves, keep national insurance tax increase, restore trust in government, rebuild the economy, protect women’s rights, oppose gender neutral language.
Cut personal taxes, cut corporation tax, scrap national insurance increase, cut fuel duty, provide support on household energy bills, phase out EU laws still on statute books within 5 years.
Cut corporation tax, cut business rates, increase borrowing, less infrastructure spending, keep national insurance increase, no personal tax cuts until economy improves, assert UK sovereignty over Northern Ireland, support sending Channel migrants to Rwanda.
Less government, more personal responsibility, cut personal taxes, pro-free speech, decrease foreign aid, oppose gender neutral language, tell the truth.
Cut corporation tax, immediate 50% cut in fuel duty, campaign for women’s rights, investment in science and technology.
Cut corporation tax, cut personal taxes to help with rising cost of living, scrap HS2, help businesses grow, firm grip on public spending, committed to ‘core conservative principles,’ Thatcherite.
Complete Brexit, leave European Court of Human Rights, scrap EU taxes and laws in Northern Ireland, keep borders secure, cut VAT taxes on energy bills, cut taxes on businesses, support sending Channel migrants to Rwanda, opposes gender neutral language.
Rebuild the economy to reach the biggest in Europe by 2050, boost defence spending and rebuild army, govern with more integrity, address the cost-of-living crisis, cut income tax, cut corporation tax.
Complete Brexit, cut taxes, cut fuel duty, 10-year plan for economic growth, take the breaks off businesses, scrap national insurance increase, support sending Channel migrants to Rwanda.
Cut personal taxes, cut business rates, cut corporation tax, boost defence spending, support sending Channel migrants to Rwanda, assert UK sovereignty over Northern Ireland, supports continued banning of grammar schools.