ONE in five Londoners say the coalition’s cuts will make them less likely to vote for Boris Johnson at the next mayoral election. A survey shows for the first time the damage the Government’s deficit reduction programme could do to the Mayor’s re-election chances.
While it is unlikely that a fifth of the electorate would automatically switch to Labour rival Ken Livingstone many supporters could just stay away from the ballot box. Johnson won the 2008 race for City Hall by just 140,000 votes so turn-out will be key.
The ComRes poll for ITV London Tonight, LBC and the Evening Standard found 19 per cent were less likely to vote for Johnson as a result of the cuts, 9 per cent were more likely and a huge 64 per cent said it would make no difference.
London government expert Tony Travers said: “There’s no doubt that the coalition’s unpopularity has a major impact on Boris’s own chances of winning the next election.”
A spokesman for Johnson added: “These are difficult times, people are understandably anxious but we do not believe when the times comes that Londoners will want to go back to the bitter division and wasteful policies of the past.”
The Mayor will take some comfort from the result in Bromley, Bexley, Hillingdon and Havering - the four Tory-leaning outer London boroughs credited with securing his path to City Hall. They were among just seven of the capital’s 33 local authorities in which more people said they were more likely to vote for the Mayor as a result of the cuts than less likely.
The survey suggests Livingstone is edging ahead of Johnson once second preference votes are taken into account, on 51 per cent to 49 per cent. However, it is inevitable that the race between the two men will be heavily influenced by support for their respective parties.
The ComRes survey gives Labour a 17 per cent lead in London - far higher than the 5 to 8 per cent national picture. Labour’s huge lead suggests Livingstone, who is neck and neck with his rival, is not doing as well as could be expected.
Mr Travers said: “This poll is not a brilliant result for either Ken or Boris. It shows that Boris is under pressure because of the coalition’s unpopularity and Ken isn’t managing to capitalise on it as much as you might expect.”
A spokesman for Livingstone said he would not offer a running commentary on polling in the run-up to the election. He said: “Polling day 2012 will be voters’ first opportunity to send a message to the Conservative party over rising inflation, unemployment, student fees, policing cuts and transport fares in London by voting out an incumbent Tory who started the cuts earlier than Cameron and protects the rich rather than the majority.”