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Capital Letters by JBP provides an insight into the world of London politics and development.

Reality of Labour mayoral race is closer than polls suggest

A new poll released on 2 April has suggested that Tessa Jowell has increased her lead in popularity to become Labour’s candidate for London mayor. According to the YouGov poll for the Evening Standard, once ‘don’t know’ answers are excluded, Jowell holds the support of 40% of Londoners.

Despite the supposed strength of Jowell’s lead, the statistics cannot be taken at face value. The numbers are skewed by the inclusion of a ‘don’t know’ question in the poll. If the ‘don’t knows’ are included, the gap between the top candidates – Tessa Jowell, Diane Abbot, Sadiq Khan and David Lammy – becomes much closer. It is also significant that 57% of Londoners either don't know who Labour should pick or don't think they should pick any of them There is still a lot to play for.

The second point to realise is that it is not the general London public, but Labour party members who decide who will stand in the election. Labour will hold a primary in July 2015 to select a candidate. In fact, Sadiq Khan, who has a strong union following, is expected to benefit most from this process.

It seems that Tessa Jowell should not be too bolstered by the polls, as there are more factors to the race than initially meet the eye.

London Mayor vetoes plans to expand London City Airport

Following approval in February for the redevelopment of London City Airport by Newham Borough Council, London Mayor Boris Johnson has stepped in to put a halt to the planned expansion. The redevelopment would have seen the airport operate up to a permitted 111,000 annual flights, in comparison to the current 70,000.

In a statement issued by the Mayor’s office, Johnson has vetoed the planning application on the basis that “granting the planning permission...would lead to an unacceptable increase in noise for East Londoners” and would “blight the lives of thousands of people".

Newham Council’s Mayor Sir Robin has criticised Johnson’s decision, accusing the London Mayor of being “more interested in chasing election votes in Uxbridge than securing vital jobs and investment in east London”. The airport’s CEO Declan Collier, has also been dismissive of the recent announcement, stating the irony in “denying the capital the business opportunity presented” given Johnson’s well known platform as being “one of advantage for business in London”.

In light of the Mayor’s rejection of the redevelopment, London City Airport has said that it will now be weighing up its response to Johnson and will make a decision on what action to take at a later date.

London is the key for Labour, says recent ICM poll

An ICM poll from 26 March suggests that Labour will make important gains in London on May 7, with the party set to increase their vote share by five percent since 2010.

The poll suggests that Labour will lead the way with 42%, with the Conservatives feeling the effects of Labour’s resurgence, dropping back to 32%, three less than their result in 2010. This means that there would be eight more seats for Labour mostly in the west of the city. The same poll says that the Liberal Democrats will experience a 13% decline, echoing their predicted overall performance countrywide next month.

The constituencies of Brentford & Isleworth, Ealing Central & Acton, and Harrow East will be Labour gains but Conservative losses, with Croydon Central, Enfield North and Hendon following suit. Labour is expected to take Brent Central and Hornsey & Wood Green off the Liberal Democrats too.

The poll asked what Londoners thought about the amount of taxes they paid, while also garnering their opinion on support for a London independence referendum. Unsurprisingly, only 14% of Londoners would vote to break away from the rest of the UK. Londoners were divided on the how they felt about the large share of UK taxes they paid, with 38% feeling that “revenues paid by Londoners should be retained within the city to solve its social problems” and 36% feeling that “it is right that London supports the rest of the country financially because it is more prosperous.”

While the poll can only provide us with a speculative outcome come May 8, if Miliband and his party were to make the predicted gains, it would reinforce the trend that stretches back to the 1990s, that has seen Labour performing particularly strongly in London.

JBP's Mayoral Watch

  • A YouGov poll of 2 April, commissioned by the Evening Standard has put Tessa Jowell ahead in the mayoral race again. It reveals that she is backed by 40 per cent of Labour supporters, her highest total yet.
  • Boris Johnson has joined Twitter.
  • The former New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is rumoured to be considering running as the Tory candidate for London mayor.