The latest YouGov polling from London gives Labour a 16 point lead in Westminster voting intentions, but shows Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone are neck and neck in the mayoral race. Full tabs are here.

Current voting intentions in London with changes are since the last general election are CON 34%(-1),LAB 50%(+13), LDEM 9%(-13). The 16 point Labour lead is the equivalent of a swing of 7 percent from the Conservatives to Labour since the general election, which is almost exactly in line with Great Britain as a whole (a 7 point swing nationally equates to a 7 point Labour lead).

On these figures, you might expect Ken Livingstone to have a sold lead in voting intentions for the the Mayoral election in 2012, but in fact he is running significantly behind his party. Voting intentions for the Mayoral election currently stand at Johnson 43%, Livingstone 45%, Lib Dem 6% and other candidates 7%.

With only two candidates yet to be selected this probably underestimates support for those parties who do not yet have candidates, but nevertheless shows Johnson and Livingstone virtually neck and neck.

The London Mayoral election is fought under the Supplementary Vote system, with the second preferences of losing candidates being redistributed to the top two candidates if no one candidate receives 50% in the first round. At this early stage it is not appropriate to ask a full second preference question, but when we asked respondents who they would choose between just Johnson and Livingstone (who are all but certain to be the final two candidates), Johnson was the preference of 45% compared to Livingstone on 42%.

The reasons for the difference between Labour’s big lead at Westminster and almost non-existant lead for the mayoralty is partly down to the Liberal Democrat vote, which breaks in Johnson’s favour, and partly down to there being more “Labour for Boris” voters than there are “Tories for Ken”.

This is crossposted from the YouGov website

47 Responses to “YouGov London poll has Boris and Ken neck and neck”

  1. London’s Mayoral election is SV? SV is basically AV- (AV but only 2nd preference, not 3rd or more). So in every recent change in voting we’ve gone for preference voting? Mayors, devolution, Europe? Perhaps it is about time the Commons and the Lords were brought into line.

  2. Oops, sorry, not Europe. That has the *spit* party list system.

  3. Looking at the cross-tabs (and previous ones about the Tories – thanks for the response Anthony) a cynic would say that this explains Boris’ reluctance to scrap free travel for pensioners.

  4. Does polling of London include just the City of London or does it include the greater metropolitan area of London? I remember when I was last in London, someone explaining to me that that the actual city itself was pretty small but when people reffered to London, they were talking about the greater area.

    I think the Tories are going to have a hard time getting back to a majority without making inroads into London.

  5. It’s what I’d call the Supplemental Vote. Pat Dunleavy at the LSE (who I think played a role in devising the system as it is used in London) likes to call it the London varient of the Alternative Vote.

  6. SoCalLib – it covers Greater London (basically the area made up of all the London Boroughs that used to be covered by the GLC, and is now under the remit of the Mayor of London).

    The City of London is far, far smaller – the area covered by the medieval city, which is now largely made of the financial district and has few residents (most of whom live in one single residential development, the Barbican). The comparison is between Greater London, which is something like 8 million people, and the City of London which has about 7,000 people.

    The City of London has the Lord Mayor of London, a wholly different figure to the Mayor of London. It is a uniquely odd local authority in London, with a tiny population, dominated by the business vote (literally, votes cast by businesses with offices in the city, abolished long ago elsewhere in Britain) and not normally contested by political parties.

    Colloquially when people say “London” they mean Greater London. When people want to refer to the City of London, then say “The City”.

  7. @ Anthony Wells

    “it covers Greater London (basically the area made up of all the London Boroughs that used to be covered by the GLC, and is now under the remit of the Mayor of London).

    The City of London is far, far smaller – the area covered by the medieval city, which is now largely made of the financial district and has few residents (most of whom live in one single residential development, the Barbican). The comparison is between Greater London, which is something like 8 million people, and the City of London which has about 7,000 people.

    The City of London has the Lord Mayor of London, a wholly different figure to the Mayor of London. It is a uniquely odd local authority in London, with a tiny population, dominated by the business vote (literally, votes cast by businesses with offices in the city, abolished long ago elsewhere in Britain) and not normally contested by political parties.

    Colloquially when people say “London” they mean Greater London. When people want to refer to the City of London, then say “The City”.”

    Thank you for this helpful explanation. I’m so used to giving explanations about jurisdictional oddities, I appreciate being the questioner for a change. :)

    Under this set up then, when one is in Kensington, Chelsea or Knightsbridge or Mayfair, they’re technically not in the City of London but the greater London area. Though people who live there would say they live in “London.”

    Allowing businesses to vote is a bad idea. I wonder though if it actually ever affects the results of the election. The City’s lack of population reminds me of New York City’s Financial District which has traditionally had a small residential population (though growing somewhat in recent years).

  8. In the City of London the business vote really is dominant. Most of the city has no residential population at all, it’s split into 25 wards and, if I recall correctly, 21 or 22 of those wards have no normal voters at all, only business voters.

    (Lest you get the idea that we do really odd things in the UK, I hasten to add that outside the oddity of the City of London, the business vote was abolished long ago. The governance of the City of London is just a strange hangover of medieval systems, that has been passed by most of the local government reforms of the past centuries. The importance of the City of London as a global financial hub is probably what keeps it being subsumed into a neighbouring authority.)


    The mp for the city is the same as Westminster, but the boundaries commission is not allowed to split the city, I have not read of any exception for the city in the new bill or am I wring?

  10. SoCalLiberal

    Normally Londoners when talking about London, will either use “London” or actually use the borough they want to address. eg Camden/Kilburn/The West End/The City/Docklands etc.

    Normally when people talk about Greater London it’s more to emphasise the fact they are speaking about the whole of London and not just the central region.

  11. Gary – there was no protection for the City of London in the Bill (thought in practice, with only 7000 voters it’s bloody unlikely it would be split anyway).

    Lord Brooke put forward some amendments in the Lords that would have retained its protection but I’m not sure whether they were accepted.

    [Checked now, and as far as I can tell no amendments were accepted. The protection for the City of London and the requirement to mention it in the constituency name have both gone (though in practice, I expect the commission still won’t split it, and will still mention it in the constituency name) – AW]

  12. Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, Southwark etc are all Boroughs within London. They are within the city of London, but not within the City of London.

    The City what used to be the Roman city of Londinium. The Anglo Saxons didn’t much like the haunted old stone and concrete ruins of the old city, and built a nice new, wood and thatch, dung-ridden one to the west of it. Along with a new church (minster). Hence the name “Westminster”. So technically, in the city of London there is the City of London and the City of Westminster, and numerous additional “Boroughs” that by and large used to be seperate towns and villages in the counties of Middlesex, Essex, Surrey and Kent. “Greater London” was a term coined when the entirety of the city was ruled by the “Greater London Council” (which was abolished, and after an interregnum replaced by the London Assembly).

    If you were to refer to the “greater London area” some people would assume you were including outlying parts of the contiguous conurbation that technically fall in the surrounding counties, such as Waltham Abbey, Waltham Cross, Buckhurst Hill, Staines etc.

    So the greater London area includes but is not restricted to Greater London (ie the area covered by the London Boroughs including Westminster, plus the City of London).

    Confusingly, postcodes often refer to the original county the borough was in, rather than London. So it is “Enfield, Middlesex” and “Woodford, Essex” , “Croydon, Surrey” and “Erith, Kent” despite all of these places long having been absorbed into London boroughs. Similarly, some parts of Greater London have telephone codes from their neighbouring counties not the London code 020.

    Even more confusingly, the City of London has it’s own police force, with it’s own commissioner, despite being surrounded on all sides by the monolithic Metropolitan Police Service. And the City of London owns (as in the deeds of, not jursidiction over) land all over London and the south east. So for example you will see “City of London” badged park rangers patrolling areas of Epping Forest in East London and Essex.

    Bet you wish you’d never asked now….

  13. If that were on offer in the AV referendum I’d be more inclined to vote for it…..

    In London the Conservative vote has hardly changed: the churn of voters pushes up the Labour vote and the LibDems down….

    It will be interesting to see what happens as real services begin to close….I’m correct in thinking that the LibDems and Cons still control more LAs than Labour?

    The March and April unemployment figures will be particularly interesting given the redundancy news reported today.

    I think Secretary Clarke is correct: once the middle class realises it’s being disadvantaged and feels the pain of higher taxes and fewer services that is when the moment of truth will come for the coalition…

    And following that then the drip of the reforms will gradually take effect. I’d not underestimate the true consequences of the changes to the NHS. People have got used to the shorter waiting times and better services….losing these will really hurt real voters…and traditionally the middle class has been first to complain to MPs and such when their services are removed.

    I guess this may be good news for the Post Office….though much of this may now be done on-line….another Facebook revolution after Eygpt?

  14. The London Libs being to the left of their national vote seems to be confirmed here- with even a 9% Lib Dem pretty divided between Ken & Boris.

  15. John – the current totals for London council control are

    17 with Labour administrations
    11 with Conservative administrations
    2 with Lib Dem administrations
    1 with a Con/LD coalition
    1 with an Independent mayor

  16. Craig,

    Yes that is correct. I liken it to old fashioned historical materialism. Exploitation is more concentrated in built up areas, the dialectics are more advanced due to the greater wealth gap, or at least greater perception of them and us. I think it has a more polarising effect. I also think urbanity accelerates the group identity, or communal solidarity. I have studied in detail the social profiling of class and politics and urbanity is a striking cross break every time. Sorry if that reads as me speaking in riddles..

  17. It will obviously be Labour who will have most to concern them about these figures. Ken’s profile isn’t quite what it was when he was Mayor and will need to be increased, and Labour will need to hit home with their attacks on Boris – he is far from invulnerable. My suspicion is that if Labour’s national poll lead widens to any greater extent, Boris will be toast, but at this stage the Tories will be rather reassured by this poll given the national picture.

  18. @ Neil A

    Thanks for that. So who gets to vote for Red Ken? If you live in Kensington and Chelsea or Islington or Bethnal Green, I presume that you get to. But if you live in Enfield or Harrow or Wimbeldon, do you get a vote?

    I don’t mind asking. It is complicated. But makes a bit more sense now.

    History lesson is much appreciated. I didn’t realize that Anglo-Saxons didn’t like Roman stone. I love London, I was last there in 2002 but I want to make a return visit.

  19. The true significance is surely in the fact that KL gets 56% of the 2010 LD vote whereas BJ gets only 32%.

    Quite clearly the tactic for Labour in the mayoral contest is Lib Dem squeeze. That 32% needs to be courted vigorously by their strategists and by making ken more attractive to the sophisticated voter he will gain from soft Tories too.

    See the social breakdowns.

  20. The franchise for the London Mayoral elections is all of the London Boroughs plus the City, so yes Enfield and Harrow get to vote. The City effectively has two mayors, the Lord Mayor of (the City of) London and the Mayor of London.

    Part of the objection to the idea of a Mayor of London historically was the fact that it encroached (at least in terms of nomenclature) on the existing Lord Mayor’s position.

    Londoners had generally felt that the Lord Mayor was their titular head, in a ceremonial way, even though he/she wasn’t technically responsible for 99% of them.

  21. Anthony – just wondering if you might be minded to grant us one of your periodic open threads at some stage soon?

    We’re at a fascinating stage of development of some big policy ideas that will define the course of politics for the next few years, and the chance to post a bit more widely about them and outside the normal confines of polling discussions alone would be interesting.

  22. I’ve gone all neutral again. As I am so non-partisan I may stay this way for a while. Have to do captcha codes though, how irritating.

  23. Looks like the fact Livingstone has started working for press tv might have scared off some moderate voters.
    That unfortunately puts him in the same league as George Galloway.

    I’m not completely sure he was the better choice than Oona King.

  24. @ Anthony

    Current voting intentions in London, with changes since the last General Election, are CON 34%(-1),LAB 50%(+13), LIB DEM 9%(-13).
    Is this from a full poll of Londoners, all properly weighted & everything, or a cross-break?

  25. It is funny that it is referred to as a 7% swing from Con to Labour when in reality it is a 13% swing from LD to Lab.

    There has only been a half percent swing from Con to Lab.

  26. Alec – I’m not sure if they are counter-productive to be honest.

    IanAnthonyJames – therein lies a story. Strictly speaking “Butler swing”, which is what we refer to when we talk about swing (to differentiate it from “Steed swing”, a can of worms I won’t open here) is only from Labour to Conservative.

    Over time people have started to use it from movement from one party to another, and now the Press Association normally quote it between the top two parties in a seat.

    If David Boothroyd is around he’ll probably tell you off for merely suggesting such a thing, he’s a stickler for the original Butler usage of it.

  27. I’m not sure this made the national press but recently in London’s only city wide newspaper (the Evening Standard, which is free and worth every penny), it was announced that Boris has recruited the head of Bexley council to advise him on making improvments to the Greater London boroughs – the boroughs that delivered Boris the mayoralty but which have been largely ignored since.

    Let me explain for those who don’t already know. The London mayoral race is a single constitency election – that constituency being the whole of London. At the last election BJ advisor Lynton Crosby pioneered the “doughnut” strategy. This was based on ignoring the largely working class pro-Labour inner London boroughs and focussing instead on the wealthier leafy Greater London boroughs. Crosby figured that turnout was likely to be higher in the Greater London boroughs many of whose electorates were viscerally and Ken and very pro Conservative.

    And it worked. Although Ken got good majorities on good turnouts in the centre, BJ got huge majorities on massive turnouts in the Greater London boroughs. My own constutuency (which twinned the True Blue broughs of Bexley and Bromley on the SE London/Kent border) registered the largest majority for BJ as well as the largest number of votes for BJ. I seem to recal the margin being something like 60% – 30% and that went a long way towards securing the mayoralty for BJ.

    The doughnut strategy is such an effective Tory weapon that I cannot see any way for Ken to win back the mayoralty. The odd thing is that if you ask a resident of Bromley or Bexley where they live and they will say Kent!

  28. @Anthony….

    Thanks for that…I was actually was thinking of all Local Authorities rather than merely London…though I concede it was very far from clear from my comment!!!!

    I’d forgotten how well relatively Labour did last year’s borough elections….though I know they did well in Lambeth where I live…I seems to remember that Labour also did relatively better in the local elections in the simultaneous elections of 1979…though my memory may play me false…Did the conservatives do better in 1997 and 2001?

  29. Further to my previous post – see the link below to the Bexley and Bromley section of the 2008 mayoral results:

    It appears that I’d understed it somewhat. After first and second preferences had ben counted Boris’s margin over Ken was over 40% and 80,000 votes in Bexlet and Bromley alone.

    Anthony – almost everyone refers to the London Mayoral voting system as the Alternative Vote.

  30. Current voting intentions in London, with changes since the last General Election, are CON 34%(-1),LAB 50%(+13), LIB DEM 9%(-13).
    If we had a GE with these sorts of swings in London, would it really hurt the Tories?
    Assuming universal swing, it’d give Labour 50 seats (+12), LibDems 2 seats (-5), Tory 21 seats (-7). (I think)
    So it’d only set back the Tories back to a 2005 result.

    Hardly a complete trashing.

  31. RAF,

    The London AV voting systme is the Supplementary Vote… I am recently done marking 1100 scripts on the friggin thing… all the young adults were using that term…

    maybe there is a street definition and a book definition… since I live in books, I tend to favour that version

  32. Raf – “almost everyone refers to the London Mayoral voting system as the Alternative Vote.”

    Then I am in a small, but better informed minority ;)

    The difference between the supplementary vote and the alternative vote is essentially that in the supplementary vote there is only one redistribution of preferences, in the alternative vote there can be several rounds of redistribution of prerferences.

  33. John – incumbent governments normally do well in local elections held on general election day, especially if the previous general election was not exactly four years previously.

    Essentially it’s down to a reversal of mid-term blues. In mid-term local elections incumbents get a trouncing because opposition supporters turn out to give the government a kicking while it’s trickier to get government supporters motivated. Come a general election turnout leaps up, and governments win back the seats they lost on low turnout, mid-term protest votes.

    Hence in 2010 Labour gained in local elections, despite losing the election. In 1997 the Conservatives gained in the local elections, despite being hammered in the general election. In 2001 and 2005 there wasn’t such an effect because the previous round of local elections had also been on a general election day.

  34. @Eoin and Anthony

    I bow to your superior wisdom (and I mean that in all sincerity). That should teach me to spar with a professor and a psephologist!

    “Then I am in a small but better informed minority”

    As ever, Anthony. And thank goodness for that!

  35. Raf,

    I am not a prof lol… :) a Doc yes, a prof no! :)

  36. There’s time yet, Eoin!

  37. RAF,

    To be honest, I don’t regard it as a statment of intelelct. Some of the smartest people I have ever met don’t have a qual to their name.. The only criteria required to get a phd in history is objectivity, and good research skills… There is not even a requirement that you are particularly imaginitive with your ananlysis.. although I suppose the latter helps for publishing.

  38. Okay, I stopped being so bl**dy lazy & looked it up. It is a proper poll of Londoners. And Labour has a 16 point lead. Awesome.

  39. Anyone who watches ITV4 will see a lot of The Sweeney and Minder..Good for nostalgia but not much of a guide to modern London. Two candidates whose main interest is the Routemaster bus suggest this is the FA Cup of modern politics.George Galloway might shake things up if he stands for Respect.

  40. Latest London only:
    Con 34%, Lab 50%, LD 9%

    Last National:
    Con 35%, Lab 45%, LD 10%
    (for Loindon?):
    Con 38%, Lab 45%, LD 10%

  41. Breaking news:.Tories look to overturn all Lords Amendments on AV bill.

  42. Fascinating poll, Anthony.

    Whilst the general London-wide voting intention is pretty much in line with what I would expect (because, let’s face it, there is no reason why the swing should be significantly different to the national swing) I am genuinely surprised that it’s so close between Boris and Ken. Some of the bookies don’t seem to be able to make their minds up about this contest either.

    In 2004, Ken easiy out-performed his party: but then he was up against Stephen Norris. Maybe Boris has genuine voter appeal? In 2008, I seem to remember that both Ken and Boris out-performed their respective parties by a similar margin (using the GLA results as a benchmark).

    A straw in the wind, maybe, but opposite my Southall home lives a very well-to-do Pakistani family. The bloke routinely votes Labour (out of historical loyalty) but his daughter voted for Boris in 2008 because she finds him “funny”. And it has to be said – many of his media appearances (especially on “Have I Got News For You”) are an absolute hoot.

    But it’s still surprising that his popularity is enough to pretty well cancel out a 15-point deficit for his party in the capital.

    @ Billy Bob: yes, I’ve noticed that too. The crossbreaks of the weekly Sunday YouGov poll always seem to show Labour underperforming in the capital compared to what you would expect based upon the UNS. I guess that each regional break is not itself necessarily weighted to match the regional demographics: presumably it’s the whole sample which is weighted to the national specifications, with no guarantee of each region’s data being representaitve in its own right.

    Anyway, this London-wide poll clearly is correctly weighted to match the GLC-wide demographics, and the result is in line with the UNS. The Tories are clearly in trouble in the capital, and I suspect that the changing ethnic composition of London is the reason.

  43. A statistical point.
    The last 15 polls show ten with Labour above 42, three with labour on 42, two with Labour below 42. (I hope that is right) Yet the weighted average is 42. I’m sure this is all in the weighting, with the most recent contibuting most, but even taking this into account it seems odd. The other parties seem about right.

  44. Hello Anthony

    Do you think that there are ANY ‘Tories for Ken’?

  45. @ Matthew Davis

    According to the crossbreaks in the poll there’s 7% Tories for Ken vs 11% Labour for Boris. Maybe the Tories just view Boris as incompetent – a reputation that’s largely endeared him to the nation.