Winning in London in 2020
It’s little over 18 months before the Greater London Authority and London mayoral elections. Doesn’t time fly? This time they are more important than ever. Not only are these critical elections for London, they also garner national media attention, so a good showing will help deliver a stronger national performance for the Liberal Democrats at the next general election.
That means now is the time to do some serious research so we can devise our strategy on how we can win in London in 2020.
This is why I have helped commission and fund a full professional, programme of polling. I brought in Populus to undertake both qualitative and quantitative research in London to identify potential switchers, who they are, where they are coming from, where they live, and what issues are important to them.
Without giving away too many secrets the research confirms the recent surge in Liberal Democrat support, and demonstrates that pushing the Tories into third place in the capital is an achievable if challenging goal.
The Tories in London will undoubtedly have a pro-Brexit candidate. As they retreat having a relevant offer for the majority of the cosmopolitan, culturally diverse and tolerant voters of London – who voted heavily to Remain – it seems likely that the Conservative candidate’s votes will be restricted to the party’s core of right-wing supporters.
In line with other recent research the polling also revealed a large group of unaligned voters, with high intention to vote and open to considering the Liberal Democrats.
All of this indicates that a strong strategy focussed on the switchers, their concerns and priorities will gain a strong positive response. The challenge as always will be to demonstrate our values through relevant and distinctive policies (not the other way around) on crime, housing and the environment.
One advantage of the mayoral campaign is its London-wide nature giving us the opportunity to talk to voters in perhaps non-traditional areas of Lib Dem support. Our research shows that we will need to reach out across London to gain the maximum potential vote. This has the added benefit of helping us to rebuild the party further in London adding new target wards across every borough.
We are sharing the research with the London party and, funding permitting, hope to conduct another round focussing on values and policies in the new year. If you would like to see the findings you can request access by signing up to my newsletter.
The final finding focuses on the B-word – Brexit. It shows how vulnerable Labour is becoming with its unsustainable position on a People’s Vote. The announcement by Sadiq Khan last weekend perhaps shows the same story as ours. Our potential voters are overwhelmingly Remain and overwhelmingly supportive of a People’s Vote. But let’s not forget that by 2020 we may have moved on, and the issue may have been settled. (If you can imagine a climate where Brexit isn’t being debated every day!)
What is clear is we now know how we can make major gains in the GLA and relegate the Tories to third place. The opportunity is there to make real progress.