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London’s most marginal constituencies ahead of a general election

Seats held by the Conservative Party are more vulnerable than those held by Labour, according to analysis of London’s most marginal constituencies.

Of the constituencies in the capital won by the Conservatives at the 2019 general election, more than half have majorities of less than 10,000 votes, compared to just over a quarter of the seats held by Labour.

In addition, seven out of the ten most marginal constituencies in London are held by Conservative MPs, compared to the ten safest seats all being won by Labour MPs in 2019.

This remains the case when calculated by percentage, as well as by the number of votes.

Terry Stiastny, a London-based political correspondent, said: “There will be some interesting political battles in London to come.

“Transport, housing and crime are likely to be among the big issues for voters in London.

“But the size of a majority last time doesn’t predict everything. 

“The situation will be complicated in a few seats where the sitting MP has been suspended by their party, including Islington North, held by the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who had a majority of over 26,000 in 2019, but has been banned from standing again as a Labour candidate – if Corbyn were to run as an independent, the outcome could be different.”

The findings come after Rishi Sunak said he intends to hold a general election in the “second half of this year”.

In response, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the prime minister of “squatting in Downing Street,” and argued for a poll sooner. 

Of London’s 73 parliamentary constituencies, Labour currently holds 49 seats, the Conservatives 21, and three are held by the Liberal Democrats. 

The most marginal seat in the city is Kensington, the fifth most marginal seat in the whole of the UK, which was won by Conservative MP Felicity Buchan by only 150 votes in 2019. 

The seat was previously held by Labour between 2017 and 2019 on an even smaller majority of 20 votes. 

The safest seat is Bethnal Green and Bow, held by Labour MP Rushanara Ali on a majority of 37,524 ahead of the Conservatives. 

The top ten most marginal constituencies include two currently held by MPs who are standing down at the next election: Labour’s John Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham) and Conservative MP Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon).

Chingford and Woodford Green, the sixth most marginal constituency, is held by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, and former Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers is the current MP in Chipping Barnet.

Stiastny added: “If Rishi Sunak holds to his ‘working assumption’ that the election will be later in the year, we will get a foretaste of how London’s general election might play out at the Mayoral and London Assembly elections in May.

“Sadiq Khan looks unlikely to lose as Mayor but in London, Labour held the most seats at general elections even when Boris Johnson was the Conservative Mayor.”

Even though two London seats have held by-elections since the 2019 election, using the last nationwide vote is appropriate to analyse fortunes for the upcoming general election, because by-elections often encourage localised voting patterns that will not be matched later this year. 

Old Bexley and Sidcup re-elected a Conservative candidate in 2021, after the death of its MP, James Brokenshire.

The seat previously held by Boris Johnson, Uxbridge and South Ruislip, attracted national attention in July when the Conservative candidate Steve Tuckwell unexpectedly held the seat at a by-election, but with the majority reduced from 7,210 to 495 votes.

“The Conservatives will hope that the Uxbridge effect can be repeated, something attributed in part to voters’ hostility to the expansion of the ULEZ area,” Stiastny said.

Analysing the parties which came second in 2019, Labour MPs are most challenged by the Conservatives, which came second in 86% of their seats, followed by the Liberal Democrats in 12% of seats, and the Green Party which came second in one of their seats.

The Conservatives are challenged by both Labour (71%) and the Liberal Democrats (29%). 

The Conservatives came second in all three of the seats won by the Liberal Democrats. 

Stiastny said: “The Liberal Democrats will hope to win back Carshalton, which they lost in 2019. 

“Ed Davey has already been targeting nearby seats in Surrey where he has appealed to voters to remove their Conservative MPs in the so-called ‘Blue Wall’, and he’ll hope suburban London voters think like their Surrey neighbours.”

Elections for the Mayor of London and members of the London Assembly will take place on Thursday 2 May. 

You can register to vote here.

Featured image by Red Dot on Unsplash

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