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 17%, four points more than in our previous poll two weeks ago. Altogether, the results of our poll (with changes from 21 August) are as follows:
Labour 48% (+1)
Conservative 31% (-3)
Liberal Democrat 7% (-1)
Reform UK 7% (+2)
Green 5% (+2)
Plaid Cymru 1% (-1)
Other 1% (–)
When those who say they do not know how they would vote in a General Election are included, the Labour Party leads by 14%. After weighting by likelihood to vote, 18% of the sample says they do not know how they would vote, including 17% of those who voted Conservative in December 2019 and 9% of those who voted Labour.
Altogether, 82% of those who voted Labour in 2019 say they would vote Labour again, while just 56% of those who voted Conservative say they would vote Conservative again.
Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s final approval rating in the Red Wall registers at -22%, seven points down from our poll 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. 29% approve.
27% approve and 32% disapprove of Keir Starmer’s job performance since he became Leader of the Labour Party, giving him a net approval rating of -5%, one point lower than two weeks ago.
When asked which would be a better Prime Minister between Keir Starmer and Liz Truss, 39% of Red Wall voters choose Keir Starmer, 32% choose Liz Truss, and 29% say they don’t know which would be a better Prime Minister.
On policy delivery, respondents in the Red Wall are most likely to say they significantly (14%) or fairly (26%) trust the Conservative Party to deliver on the coronavirus pandemic. Similar numbers also say the significantly (11%) or fairly (25%) trust the Conservatives on national security and defence.
By comparison, 52% say they do not at all trust the Conservatives to deliver on the NHS, and 49% say they do not at all trust the Conservatives to deliver on taxation or ‘Levelling up.’
With regard to the Labour Party, respondents are most likely to say they significantly (22%) or fairly (31%) trust Labour to deliver on the NHS. Another 49% significantly or fairly trust Labour on education.
On the flipside, Labour is most likely to be not at all trusted on the economy (37%) and on immigration (33%).
When the two parties are pitted against each other on the issues, Labour is more frequently trusted than the Conservatives across every policy issue, with large leads on support the NHS (45% to 18%), tackle poverty (44% to 15%), support the education system (41% to 17%), and manage housing (41% to 16%). Labour is also widely more trusted by Red Wall voters to manage the economy (36% to 23%).
The Conservatives only manage to keep Labour’s lead to single digits in two policy areas: Respond to the crisis in Ukraine (on which they trail by 6 points, 31% to 25%), and respond to the Coronavirus crisis (where they trail by the same margin, 32% to 26%).
On the cost-of-living crisis, the foremost political issue at this moment, 78% of members of the Red Wall public say no, the Government is not taking the right measures to address this crisis. This figure is up 8 points down from the 70% who answered no to the same question two weeks ago and is the joint-highest that we have recorded.
Finally, on Boris Johnson’s signature policy to ‘Level Up’ Britain, 66% 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.