We have a poll in tomorrow’s paper from Survation, a member of the British Polling Council. Like today’s ComRes, it shows Boris Johnson in an eight-point lead, 54-46, to retain the mayoralty.
That’s the good news for Boris. The bad news is (a) the fieldwork was done before the economy went into double-dip recession and (b) even so, some of his key political allies – including Brian Coleman, his fire authority chair, Richard Barnes, his statutory deputy mayor, Roger Evans, the Tory group leader, and even Kit Malthouse, his policing man – are looking distinctly vulnerable in their London Assembly seats.
It looks like the Tories could be caned on the Assembly, going down to just eight seats out of 25 – which would mean that Boris wouldn’t have an automatic majority to pass his budget (it can be blocked with a two-thirds majority, 17 votes.) That raises the faint possibility, over the next four years, of the Assembly being a body that actually matters.
Survation is the first company in this contest to poll using individual Assembly constituency candidate names and is also using a new technique where voters are presented (online) with exact facsimiles of the ballot papers they will see in their polling stations. They give their responses by clicking the relevant box on the ballot paper.
Damian Lyons Lowe, the chief executive, says that simulating the “election experience” gives better overall results than the other firms and is fairer to smaller candidates, who are not “prompted” by the other pollsters – that is, their individual names are not given to respondents at first, only the option “other.”
Survation does show the minor parties doing better. They predict that UKIP and the Greens will get two Assembly seats each, and 10 per cent of the first-preference mayoral vote between them. The BNP is on 3.5pc for the mayoralty and 3.2pc for the assembly (losing its seat) and Siobhan Benita is last with 3.3pc. The Lib Dems’ Brian Paddick also enjoys his best poll numbers of the campaign, 10.3 per cent. The Lib Dems will get three Assembly seats, Survation say. Labour will end up with ten.
Boris is 11 per cent ahead of Ken on first preferences, compared with 9 per cent in the ComRes poll; his lead drops back 3 points on second prefs, suggesting that second prefs are breaking less favourably for him than last time. If the race tightens – as it surely must – this could be important.
The pan-London sample is larger than normal – almost 1500 voters – but the Assembly constituency samples are small, only about 100 each (14 of the 25 members are elected by constituencies under first-past-the-post and 11 on a Londonwide list system). So there’s a wider margin of error, 8.5 per cent, on these results. That margin puts the seats of Coleman, Malthouse and Barnes in play. Coleman is behind Labour, the other two ahead, but in each case within the margin of error. Remember, too, that the news has got worse for the Tories in the three days since this polling was done. And even if some or all of these men hold on, the Tories will still lose seats in “compensation” on the list side.
The scalp of Brian Coleman, one of London’s most colourful and combative politicians, would please a lot of people on the Left (and one or two inside Team Boris) no end. Like most journalists, however, I like him and would miss him. He’s also the fire authority chair, a post he could keep if he lost his Assembly seat, I’m told, though Boris might decide to lose him. He might still hang on – his seat, Barnet & Camden, has a big Jewish Tory vote.
Kit Malthouse, another at-risk big beast, is deputy mayor with responsibility for the Metropolitan Police. Again, it’s not clear whether he could survive in that post without an Assembly seat. One of his predecessors, Toby Harris, had to quit the chairmanship of the then Metropolitan Police Authority after losing his seat in 2004 – but the MPA has now been abolished, and arrangements are different. Boris would almost certainly want to keep Malthouse if he can.
If Labour can win Malthouse’s seat, West Central, which consists of the Tory heartlands of Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham, that would be a huge coup. Malthouse’s majority in 2008 was more than 30 per cent. A Labour win is not, however, totally impossible. The party did well here at the general election – holding the parliamentary seats of Hammersmith and Westminster North, against expectations.
And the fact that this seat is even in play shows just how bad things are for the Tories now – with the exception of Boris. His personal popularity is proving incredibly resilient to the Government’s sustained efforts to lose every vote it possibly can. The question for his supporters is: will the anti-Tory tide get so strong that even Boris cannot resist it?
Mayoral results (first preference vote)
Boris Johnson (Con) 42.2pc
Ken Livingstone (Lab) 31pc
Brian Paddick (LD) 10.3pc
Lawrence Webb (Fresh Choice/UKIP) 5.3pc
Jenny Jones (Green) 4.4pc
Carlos Cortiglia (BNP) 3.5pc
Siobhan Benita (Ind) 3.3pc
After second preferences
Boris Johnson (Con) 54pc
Ken Livingstone (Lab) 46pc
London Assembly party standings (predicted)
Labour 10 Conservative 8 Lib Dem 3 UKIP 2 Green 2
London Assembly list vote
Lib Dem 9.6pc
English Democrats 3.6pc
London Assembly constituency vote
Lib Dems 13.2pc
Selected individual constituency results (margin of error +/- 8.5pc)
Barnet & Camden
Andrew Dismore (Lab) 38.4pc
Brian Coleman (Con) 36.6pc
Audrey Poppy (Green) 11.9pc
Christopher Richards (LD) 8.8pc
Ealing & Hillingdon
Richard Barnes (Con) 35.5pc
Onkar Sahota (Lab) 31.8pc
Helen Knight (Fresh Choice/ UKIP) 12.5pc
Michael Cox (LD) 7.8pc
Kit Malthouse (Con) 40.1pc
Todd Foreman (Lab) 35.1pc
Susannah Rustin (Green) 9.9pc
Elizabeth Jones (Fresh Choice/UKIP) 7.9pc
Havering & Redbridge
Mandy Richards (Lab) 39.5pc
Roger Evans (Con) 28.4pc
Lawrence Webb (Fresh Choice/UKIP) 9.9pc
Malvin Brown (Res) 9.6pc
Merton & Wandsworth
Richard Tracey (Con) 34.3pc
Leonie Cooper (Lab) 31.9pc
Mazhar Manzoor (Fresh Choice/UKIP) 12.4pc
As I say, a small-sample health warning on these results. The overall London sample size (for Mayor and pan-Assembly numbers) was a healthy 1453. The survey dates were 18-24 April. I’ll post data tables as soon as possible.