Is Labour now the London party?

Is Labour now the London party?

Yesterday, YouGov released its latest voting intention poll, putting the Conservatives at 41%, three points down on a week ago, though still way ahead of Labour, which is at 25%, down two points.

Our latest poll of polls now puts the Conservatives 16.5 points ahead of the Labour party.  The Liberal Democrats have suffered a small dip over the last week or so, but their steady increase in the polls seems to be continuing - they are at 10%, not far off UKIP which sits at 11.25%, still a long way from their pre-EURef peak.

Now let's have a look at the cross tabs.  At Polling Digest, we like to look deeper at people's voting intentions within three categories: age, region, and class.


age breakdown yougov 22 march 2017.PNG

Earlier this week, we tweeted out an ICM poll showing that the Conservatives were quite far ahead of Labour among young voters.  This was widely shared - in part because it was so extraordinary.  The general rule for age-based voting intentions is that as voters become older, they tend to be more likely to vote Conservative.  This is what we see in this YouGov poll.  Labour has a lead among 18-24 year-olds, while the Tories take a lead among voters aged between 25 and 49.  Among voters approaching retirement (50-64), the Tories have a large 18 point lead and among voters aged 65 and older, the blues beat the reds by a massive 39 points.

There are two further things to note, though.  First off, it should be deeply worrying how small Labour's lead is among these youngest voters.  According to Ipsos MORI's post-election poll in 2015, 43% of voters in the 18-24 age group voted for Labour, compared with only 27% for the Tories.  To see Labour's 16 point lead in an election fall to just 3 points at this stage in the Parliamentary cycle is extraordinary.  YouGov, don't forget, tends to be kinder to Labour than other pollsters, having given the party every single one of its 3 poll leads this Parliament.  

But things get even more interesting when you compare the turnout differentials: even if Labour were to have a much larger lead among younger voters, it wouldn't be able to combat the Tories' polling among older voters.  This is because older voters are just so much more likely to vote than younger ones.  As YouGov reports, only 44% of 18-24 year-olds rank their certainty to vote at 9 or 10 out of 10.  Meanwhile, 80% of 65+ voters say the same.


yougov region breakdown 22 march 2017.PNG

This is where things get really sticky for Labour.  Sure, it enjoys a large 12 point lead in London, but that's to be expected.  There are two geographical data points which really jump out from this poll.  The first is that the Tories are now actually beating Labour in the North.  This is astonishing - Northern voters are traditionally seen as safely in the Labour column.  At this rate, we may see some Labour heartlands become Labour marginals at the next election.  The second interesting data point is the huge lead the SNP has over its rivals in Scotland.  At 56% - 6 points higher than their 2015 showing -  there can be no doubt that the SNP continues to dominate the Westminster polls.  What's more, in what is now a frequent occurrence, the Tories have a small lead over Labour in Scotland: 19% to 18%.  

The result? The only region of the UK where Labour has a lead is London.


Finally, let's take a look at how voters intend to cast their vote at the next election based on their socio-economic group.  ABC1, or middle class, voters give a clear lead to the Conservatives, putting them 17 points ahead of Labour.  This isn't surprising, really: middle class voters have always tended to vote Tory over Labour.

The bombshell here is in the working class polling, and it's surprising for two reasons.  Firstly, it's unusual how solid the Conservative vote is across both classes: while the Tories poll at 42% among ABC1 voters, they only shed two points to sit at 40% among working class voters.  The second point of interest is that Labour's vote share stays precisely flat across both classes.  As a result, the Tories beat Labour by a whopping 15 points among their own traditional voters.

Once again, this poll suggests that Labour is on course for defeat at the next election, and it may well be a landslide.  Having lost Scotland, lost the working classes, lost the North, and only achieving a small lead in the low-turnout younger voters, Labour really is now only comfortable in London.  And a national political party simply cannot survive that.

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