“The facts have changed, so I have changed my mind,” says Peter Kellner, president of pollsters YouGov today.
Where once he judged Boris Johnson likely to retain London’s City Hall for the Tories in May’s mayoral election, the outcome is now too close to call, according to his company’s latest research.
Although Labour’s overall opinion poll lead in London has been cut back by the Conservatives, the party’s candidate for mayor, Ken Livingstone, has bucked the trend. He’s more than made good Boris’s earlier 8 point advantage.
Ken is current polling 51 per cent support among Londoners compared to 49 per cent for Boris.
Livingstone should be streets ahead given the still clear Labour bias in London but I’ve been too hasty in writing off Ken’s chances. I’ve had to change my mind too.
It seems Johnson’s approval rating among Labour voters is draining away. Livingstone’s promise to cut bus and tube fares is proving popular with all voters; but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Boris Johnson is never likely to be bested by Ken Livingstone in the charisma stakes. But the bike-riding blond bombshell’s brand of bluster and jokes doesn’t play so well among those now suffering in the economic squeeze.
By a wide margin Ken is seen as “in touch with the concerns of ordinary people” compared to former Bullingdon Club member Johnson. This “man of the people” appeal may see Livingstone back in City Hall.
Obviously a Labour victory would be bad news for prime minister David Cameron but a result he would be able to ride out (“London has returned to its Labour origins” etc).
However it would leave Labour’s leader in a pickle after the initial cheers had died away.
Livingstone would be well-positioned to challenge Ed Miliband on his recent policy U-turn which has seen the latter backing the Coalition deficit cuts and talking tough to the unions.