General Election 2019 UK Politics

General Election 2019: Regional Analysis: London

Written by Isaac Browning

At the 2017 General Election, the results for London were:

The seats to watch on election night 2019 are: Kensington, Richmond Park, Chipping Barnet, Carshalton and Wallington, Putney, Battersea, Chingford and Woodford Green, Kingston and Surbiton, Dagenham and Rainham.

Analysis

In 2017, six of London’s constituencies changed hands, all representing losses for the Conservative party. Labour gained Enfield Southgate, Croydon Central, Kensington and Battersea, while the Liberal Democrats won Twickenham and Kingston and Surbiton. It wasn’t hard to spot a pattern; these constituencies were among the most pro-remain in the UK, except for Croydon Central, which was narrowly in favour of Leave.

London was also the only region of the UK where the Conservative vote share declined in the 2017 election, by 1.7%, while overall it increased by 5.5%. This trend can be expected to continue in the 2019 election, with seven of London’s ten closest constituencies in the last election being Conservative defences, and many of them highly pro-remain. The best example is Richmond Park, which was won by the Liberal Democrats in a by-election in 2016 after Zac Goldsmith resigned his seat in protest to the building of a third runway at Heathrow, before running as an independent in the by-election. The Liberal Democrats’ Sarah Olney won by just under 2,000. However, just six months later, Goldsmith ran again as a Conservative, winning back the seat from Olney by a mere 45 votes. This time, the pair will face off again, for the third time in three years. The seat had a majority of 73.3% for Remain in the referendum, making it very likely that Olney will be able to go 2-1 up in this somewhat bizarre, but nevertheless amusing, contest.

However, the Liberal Democrats will find it hard to make any gains elsewhere, as they will have to overturn significant Conservative majorities, which is not inconceivable but considerably more challenging. Their next best option would be Sutton and Cheam is one example, where the Conservatives won by over 12,000 votes in 2017. Overturning so high a majority is difficult enough, but, when added to the fact that the seat voted to Leave, it is close to impossible. 

Due to the simple reality of electoral mathematics, Labour have better prospects of making significant gains. There are five seats where Labour came within 2,000 votes of the Conservatives in 2017, one of them being Chipping Barnet, the constituency of government minister Theresa Villiers. Labour stand a good chance of winning these seats if they can mobilise remain voters, which appears to be the key in London.

For the Conservatives, they will be attempting to gain back Kensington, the closest seat in London, and Battersea, both held by Labour. They will also have an eye on Carshalton and Wellington, held by the Liberal Democrats’ Tom Brake in 2017, but with a significant Leave majority of 56%.

Overall, the picture in London is unlikely to change too much, due mainly to the number of safe seats in the city.

Some gains are possible for Labour if they can appeal to Remain-voting areas, but these will be countered by other constituencies like Dagenham and Rainham, which was strongly pro-leave.

The Liberal Democrats cannot hope for much more than a solitary gain in Richmond Park, and have some defending to do as well, making it harder to gain seats.

In conclusion, London is unlikely to be the region which decides the election, although some seats will be interesting to keep an eye on.

About the author

Isaac Browning

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