The UK’s real kingmakers in this General Election are in south west London

By Matt Banks
December 6 2019, 21.25

South west London will play a pivotal role in deciding the fate of the nation.

Two years ago, Kensington was decided by just 20 votes as Emma Dent Coad defeated her Conservative opponent Victoria Borwick, while Cabinet Minister Zac Goldsmith won in Richmond Park by just 45 votes.

Kensington was the third closest seat in the 2017 General Election and now with the introduction of former Conservative leadership candidate Sam Gyimah running for the Liberal Democrats, it’s looking like it could be a three-way marginal.

Ms Dent Coad is looking to win the seat again, but the Conservative candidate this time around is Felicity Buchan, who previously ran in South Down in Northern Ireland in the 2015 election, and South Shields in 2017.

They will be running against Jay Aston of Eurovision winners Bucks Fizz fame, who is representing the Brexit Party. Part three of the battle for Richmond Park between Conservative former mayoral candidate Mr Goldsmith and Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney will commence, although YouGov’s data suggests it won’t be as close this time around, with Olney pulling ahead.

64.25% of south west Londoners voted to remain in the EU referendum and only four of the 21 constituencies voted to leave. This has been dubbed a generation defining election – not only on Brexit, but also the environment and the NHS.

Candidates across the area have been campaigning heavily on environmental issues, particularly in regard to expansion of Heathrow Airport and cleaner transport.

Of the 21 constituencies in the area, in 2017, 11 elected a Labour candidate, seven seats were won by the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats won the remaining three.

Turnout across south west London was 71.4% in the election, 2.6% higher than the national average.

In these constituencies in the last election, 43.47% of people voted for Labour, 37.48% for the Conservatives and 16.2% voted for the Liberal Democrats.

This compares to 42.4% for Conservative, 40% for Labour and 7.4% for the Lib Dems nationally.

The Lib Dems performed extremely well in the recent EU elections, gaining the highest vote share in London with 27.2%. Of course, a lot has changed since then.

Long serving MPs Vince Cable, Kate Hoey and Justine Greening, all former minsters have stepped down and Chuka Umunna has moved constituencies and changed parties to Change UK and then later to the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Umunna’s move from Streatham to Cities of London and Westminster has been a major talking point. He had been the MP for Streatham since 2010 and picked up 68.5% of the vote there as a Labour candidate in 2017.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, who previously served as Dianne Abbot’s chief of staff has taken the role of Labour candidate for the constituency and polling suggests she will win the seat comfortably.

Mr Umunna’s decision looks like it may backfire, as he looks to be facing an uphill battle to take the seat away from the Conservatives, who have held the seat since its creation.

The seat was held by Mark Field, who stepped down after manhandling a Greenpeace protester at the annual Mansion House dinner where former Chancellor Phillip Hammond was speaking.

With Brexit being such a dominant part of this election, the fear among many remainers is that Conservative candidates may be picking up seats as votes split between pro-remain candidates.

This could indeed be the case across south west London. The area overwhelmingly voted to remain, but the Liberal Democrats, Labour and Green will be sharing votes.

There has been an electoral pact among the Lib Dems and Greens – The Unite to Remain. Twickenham, Chelsea and Fulham, Wimbledon and Richmond Park have all seen Green candidates step aside to help their Lib Dem counterparts.

Related Articles