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Government / Local politics

General Election 2015: Is Labour now the party of England's cities?

One of the few consolations for the Labour party in last week’s election was its performance in London.

The party may have comprehensively got a rather vital part of its anatomy handed back to it in the vote in much of the country; in the capital, though, it saw its vote share increase by a creditable 7 percentage points. The opposition picked up seven seats, giving it some 45 of the city’s 73 MPs.

Here are the London polls, compared to those in the UK as a whole:

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It’s not simply that the capital is more Labour-leaning than the country at large. It also moved in that direction much more strongly than the rest of the country. Look:

 


The gap between Labour at the Tories nationwide hasn’t shifted that much. Within London, though, Labour has significantly increased its lead.

(At this point some of you will be wondering, angrily, why our 2010 figures don’t include UKIP or the Greens. The honest answer is that the dataset we’re using, which we’ve borrowed from Electoral Calculus, classed those two parties simply as “other” in 2010. Because we’re looking at English cities, we’ve also excluded the SNP. Sorry about that, it’s nothing personal.)

One obvious question arises from this. Is this a London specific phenomenon – or does it hold true in English’s other major metropolitan areas?

Okay. The key figures to bear in mind here are the changes in the votes for what we could, until recently, refer to as Britain’s three major parties of British politics. Between 2010 and 2015, the Tory vote share increased by 0.8 points; Labour’s by 1.4; and the Lib Dems’ by, er, -15.1. In other words, Labour did quite badly for an opposition, the Tories did quite well for a government, and the less said about the Lib Dems the better.

Here’s what happened in the next biggest cities after London.

In Birmingham and its surroundings, Labour is up by 4.8 points; the Tories down by 0.4 and the Lib Dems down by 13.8. So, good for Labour.

In Greater Manchester, Labour increased its share by 5.8 points; the Tories fell by 0.9 points, and the Lib Dems by 16.7. Which is even better for Labour.

In West Yorkshire, Labour is up by 4.7 points; the Tories down by 0.2 and the Lib Dems by 14.3.

Last but not least, in (on?) Merseyside, the Labour vote is up 9.4 points, from its already dizzying heights. Meanwhile the Tories are down 3 points and the Lib Dems down 15 points.

We’ll stop there, at least for the moment. But the pattern, nonetheless, is clear. It’s not just London: Labour substantially improved its performance in most of England’s major cities.

That’s probably of limited comfort to Her Majesty’s Opposition right now – but, hey, it’s a start.
This article is from the CityMetric archive: some formatting and images may not be present.