Thursday, January 19, 2012
Ken versus Boris: too close to call
I'd been intrigued to see what the latest opinion polling thought about the impending London mayoral election, incumbent Boris Johnson, versus former mayor Ken Livingstone, after last summer's polls suggested a commanding lead for BJ. Today's YouGov poll puts Ken 2% ahead, 51-49.
A surprisingly large number of Labour voters had previously said they'd vote Tory last June, though that has now fallen. That suggests that Livingstone's unpopularity among some after a long career has waned. That could be a result of his powerful campaign to cut transport fares.
Conservative Home's Tim Montgomery recently warned Tories not to let their previous poll lead lure them into a false sense of security, dubbing it "dangerously complacent". That message will have come shattering home today. For the Tories, with BJ more popular than his party, the focus must be personality. Their man picks up votes because he is well known and seen as likeable. People seem to put to one side that they don't think he understands the issues. For example, only 13% see Boris as someone who is in touch with the concerns of ordinary people, compared to 40% for Ken.
For Labour, the election has to be focused on the Tories. Boris is a Tory, not an independent. He is someone who makes the cost of living in London higher and isn't going to protect Londoners from the worst of a possible recession.
Ken and his Labour team look like they will stick to that message. They should as it has worked so far.