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 13%, two points less than in our previous poll two weeks ago. Altogether, the results of our poll (with changes from 8 August) are as follows:
Labour 47% (-1)
Conservative 34% (+1)
Liberal Democrat 8% (+1)
Reform UK 5% (-1)
Green 3% (-2)
Plaid Cymru 2% (+1)
Other 1% (-2)
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 12% of those who voted Conservative in December 2019 and just 5% of those who voted Labour.
Altogether, 84% of those who voted Labour in 2019 say they would vote Labour again, while 61% of those who voted Conservative say they would vote Conservative again.
Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s approval rating in the Red Wall registers at -15%, the same figure as in our poll two weeks ago. 48% of those in the Red Wall, including 28% of those who voted Conservative in 2019, say they disapprove of Johnson’s performance. 33% approve.
30% approve and 34% disapprove of Keir Starmer’s job performance since he became Leader of the Labour Party, giving him a net approval rating of -4%, two points higher than two weeks ago.
When asked which would be a better Prime Minister between Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak, 41% of Red Wall voters choose Keir Starmer, 34% choose Rishi Sunak, and 25% say they don’t know.
When asked to make the same choice between Keir Starmer and Liz Truss, 39% of Red Wall voters choose Keir Starmer, 35% choose Liz Truss, and 26% say they don’t know.
Between the final two candidates in the Conservative leadership election, 35% of Red Wall voters believe Liz Truss would make a better Prime Minister, 29% choose Sunak, and 36% don’t know.
On policy delivery, respondents in the Red Wall are most likely to say they significantly (19%) or fairly (26%) trust the Conservative Party to deliver on the coronavirus pandemic. Similar numbers also say the significantly (14%) or fairly (29%) trust the Conservatives on national security and defence.
By comparison, 48% say they do not at all trust the Conservatives to deliver on levelling up, and 46% say they do not at all trust the Conservatives to deliver on taxation or the NHS.
With regard to the Labour Party, respondents are most likely to say they significantly (21%) or fairly (28%) trust Labour to deliver on the NHS. Another 47% significantly or fairly trust Labour on education and benefits.
On the flipside, Labour is most likely to be not at all trusted on the economy (38%) and on immigration (38%).
When the two parties are pitted against each other on the issues, Labour is more frequently trusted than the Conservatives across most policy issues, with large leads on support the NHS (41% to 22%), tackle poverty (40% to 18%), invest in left behind areas (39% to 18%) and to ‘level up’ (39% to 17%). Labour is also more trusted by Red Wall voters to manage the economy (33% to 29%).
The Conservatives only lead Labour in two policy areas: Respond to the crisis in Ukraine, (32% to 28%) and respond to the Coronavirus crisis (32% to 30%).
On the cost-of-living crisis, the foremost political issue at this moment, 70% of members of the Red Wall public say no, the Government is not taking the right measures to address this crisis. This latest figure is down from 75% who answered no to the same question two weeks ago.
Finally, on Boris Johnson’s signature policy to ‘Level Up’ Britain, 61% of Red Wall voters say no, they do not feel like the Government has been making a clear effort to ‘level up’ the area in which they live.
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.