On The Margins

New Hammersmith seat "looks likely to be Labour" in general election

In a new poll of marginal seats ahead of an upcoming general election, a leading political website has predicted that Hammersmith is likely to be a Labour win.

PoliticsHome say Labour are likely to take the newly-created seat - although the predictions earlier this year, particularly at the time the Heathrow expansion was announced, were that the whole of west London would become blue.

In its poll, PoliticsHome carried out 33,610 interviews across 238 marginal seats up and down the country. Their report states: “Inner London contains some of the safest Conservative seats in the country but also some solid Labour territory. In contrast to outer London, here the demographic trend is in the Conservative party's direction as gentrification moves areas up the social scale. Despite this, in London, our survey found one of the lowest swings to the Conservatives anywhere in the country. The new Hammersmith seat, the remainder of the old Hammersmith and Fulham seats which will be dismembered by boundary changes, looks likely to be Labour.”

In the upcoming election, Shepherd's Bush will be part of the new seat of Hammersmith, which has been drawn up by the Boundary Commission as a result of significant population growth in west London. The new constituency will include most residents living in the W12, W6 and W14 postcodes in an area running from Lillie Road in the south to Wormwood Scrubs in the north.

The three main candidates are: Shaun Bailey for the Conservatives, Andy Slaughter for Labour and Merlene Emerson for the Liberal Democrats.

Slaughter, currently the MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush said: "Over the last three years the Tories have spent in excess of £100,000 in this constituency and still have a substantial war chest left. However this poll shows that the voters of Hammersmith cannot be bought.

"While this poll is encouraging it will be many months before my constituents go to the polls and in the meantime I intend to fight for every vote between now and the election."

Shaun Bailey was away at the Conservative Party conference this week but, responding to the report, his spokesperson said: “We are still six months away from an election. Locally, we haven't had an election in this constituency yet so it is premature to be calling a prediction given the boundary change. There is still a lot of work yet to be done and many people have not yet made up their minds and are understandably concerned about a lot of issues. What this report shows is that it's very tight and we're going to push right through to the end. If you crunch the numbers a different way, you get a Conservative win.”

A writer called Mark, posting a comment on the PoliticsHome website, disputes the report's conclusions, saying the survey's figures have been incorrectly calculated and in fact show a Tory win.

Meanwhile, Emerson says the LibDems' own research shows voters are turning away from the two main parties: "Based on our canvassing and surveys, we have found significant number of voters in Hammersmith who have either become disillusioned with a Labour Government or who do not yet trust the Conservatives to deliver the changes needed.

"We are facing three big crises at the moment: a recession sparked by an imbalanced economy, a rotten Westminster system abused by too many MPs for personal gain, and the threat of climate change. I believe that only we, the Liberal Democrats have the ideas, the energy, and the ambition to provide the fresh start that the country needs."

In Inner London, the PoliticsHome report shows that last year, there was a 9.5% swing from Labour to Conservatives, but this has now dropped to 6.1%.

Although it does not give any reasons for the swing locally, the report says that nationally, the expenses scandal has had little impact on people's voting intentions. The six most important issues for voters were (in order of importance): the state of the economy, health provision, law and order, unemployment, education, immigration and race-relations. “Few people in marginal seats seemed to be particularly concerned about their own MP's conduct,” the report says.

“If a general election were held now, the Conservatives would win a solid majority of 70 seats. This is substantially down from our poll last year, taken during Labour's darkest days in summer 2008 which predicted a Conservative majority of 146,” the report states.

October 9, 2009