Worrying news for Ken in today’s London poll


7:08 pm - February 14th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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A YouGov poll today shows Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson running neck-and-neck.

When asked who they would vote for if the election were to be held tomorrow, Londoners marginally preferred Livingstone (45%), over Johnson (43%). Though it is within the 3% margin of error.

As Shamik Das points out:

Immediately after his election in 2008, Johnson held a 16-point lead over Livingstone, while after the announcement Livingstone would be the Labour candidate in 2012, the lead shrank to nine points; now, there’s nothing to separate them.

YouGov’s polling of London puts Labour at Lab 50% (+13), Tories 34% (-1) and LibDems 9% (-13) since the General election.

The second set of figures point to a worrying trend for Ken Livingstone: at the last election his vote was higher than Labour’s share nationally. Now he is under-performing the party by around 5 points.

In other words, there is a fair amount of resistance amongst Londoners to support Ken Livingstone even if they’re happier with the Labour party under Ed Miliband.

Two points on this.

First, as Adam Bienkov says that personality matters a lot more than political parties in the London Mayoral election, and Ken still needs to do a lot to detoxify his brand, and cannot rely on the cuts alone to get him back into power.

Secondly, Libdems are key. It’s their move to Labour that has primarily shifted the balance of power in London. And yet they seem to be resisting Ken.

A lot of work still needs to be done by Ken’s team to make a break from the past.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


The 2004 electio was the same day as the Euro election it split the tory vote with UKIP, 20008 apart from Bexley.Bromley albour got mr votes in everyard than they did in 2004, trouble was Boris vote went up even more, No one could estimate the Amount that Boris actually wentup in exley, people were queuing around the door to vote Boris, Boris record on cutting police is his biggest weekness, But has Ken ever heard of outer london?

Is this not possibly because Boris Johnson is trying to portray himself as defending London from the cuts?

Not sure how much Ken needs to detoxify his brand. The last you gov poll in September found 56% thought he did well as Mayor of London, and he was ahead of Boris on competence and being in touch with Londoners.

What the poll shows is that Boris is a very formidable opponent. But there has been a 12 point swing to Ken since he was selected as Labour’s candidate – if that’s worrying news, I can’t wait for good news :)

But there has been a 12 point swing to Ken since he was selected as Labour’s candidate – if that’s worrying news, I can’t wait for good news

The bad news is that its still neck to neck even though Labour is way ahead in London.

As we get closer to the election. Boris and friends will sling mud again and will bring up all the negative connotations of last time – and it may push him lower in the polls.

Labour still haven’t found a way to properly define Boris yet, negatively. And this is worrying because we can’t just rely on the argument that Tory unpopularity will make Boris unpopular too.

I’m not sure how worrying this is. You talk about a worrying trend for Ken, but you seem to be comparing Labour’s polling in London over a number of months with a single poll result for Ken – though you do note Ken’s performance against Boris since 2008, through the quote from Shamik’s blog.

I don’t have the figures to hand on how Labour’s vote compared to the Tories in the 2008 election, but given Ken was ahead of the Labour vote and Labour’s polling is now apparently ahead of Ken’s it seems evident the party has gained more than Ken has.

But since Ken has gone from 16 points behind Boris to 2 ahead, the main point appears to be support for both Ken and Labour has been growing in London continually since 2008…

“Labour still haven’t found a way to properly define Boris yet, negatively.”

Not for want of trying but the problem with previous attempts was that trying to do down a man as a buffoon when he deliberately sets himself up as one is never going to work. The attacks the Democrats made against Reagan had much the same problem.

One explanation for the poll numbers may be that there are many people who no longer associate Ken Livingstone with the Labour Party. Ken Livingstone for example.

I’m currently so pissed Labour. Mainly over their abolition of Incapacity Benefit (which they replaced with ESA), though I can’t pretend I like the current direction with their support of the cuts to disability benefits.

But I will vote for Ken because I like HIM. He made such a huge difference to the quality of life for us disabled Londoners by improving access to public transport so dramatically. Though I do wish he was an independent candidate like he was for his first term…

I don’t find these results surprising. I for one am generally Labour-inclined, and would vote for them in the Assembly election, but really dislike Ken (and I expect there are plenty of others in a similar position). Last time round, I gave my second preference to him, very reluctantly; this time around, I’ll probably do the same again, but only in the absence of a better leftwing candidate with a decent chance of winning. Surely there’s somebody out there who can be persuaded to stand as a third-party candidate? The thought of having to choose between Boris and Ken again, and seeing one of them run London again for another four years, leaves me on the verge of despair.

“I’m currently so pissed Labour.”

There should’ve been an “at” in there. I blame typing without my specs on.

Well already I see the choice of speakers at “Progressive” London represents a clear break from the past…!!

I’ve always voted Livingston in the past but his recent meddling in Tower Hamlets and the homophobic company he has associated himself with makes me disinclined to do so in the future.

I find Mr Johnson more intelligent. His humour is just an additional plus.

I like this. This is great. I think it is very funny that lefties struggle to define Boris negatively enough to make Red Ken appeal to the electorate. Why would you want either to win? What difference would it make to London? If you can’t define one or aren’t able to define Boris negatively maybe its because there isn’t enough difference between them or what they are able to do?

Maybe it is more constructive to bet money on which of them is going to win nearer election day than to actually vote for either of them. I only went to one of those meetings where Boris was answering questions in Queen Elizabeth hall and I was surprised how genuinely popular he was. My politics maybe be much nearer Red Ken’s but I know which of the two I would rather sit in a pub with.

Don’t like Red Ken AT ALL. He gave a big speech in 2003 when the Iraq war was just starting saying “We support the kids” to thousands of people. When I asked him back stage, the second he came off the stage if he would go down to parliament square to talk to them cos I was worried how the Police were treating them he literally ran away from me and one of his lackeys gave me a card and said “Phone the office”.

What a bunch of hypocrites. Why would I vote for someone like that? You can’t encourage these people. It doesn’t do them any good.


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