Lens Blog

Psychological insight on current affairs


posted on 1st March 2018

New analysis, published by think tank Global Future, reveals Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and other leading Conservatives – including three former cabinet ministers – are set to lose their seats at the next election on current trends as voters with an open, outward-looking view of the world become the majority across London and other parts of Britain. Responding, Conservative strategist Andrew Cooper warns the party is heading for disaster in the capital.

Those at risk include many of the leading lights from the Leave campaign as well as some Tories who supported remaining in the EU.

• Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (Uxbridge & South Ruislip) – current majority 5,034 over Labour
• Former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford & Woodford Green) – 2,438 over Labour
• Former Education Secretary Justine Greening (Putney) – 1,554 over Labour
• Former Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) – 353 over Labour

The findings, set out in Global Future’s report, Open owns the future, is based on a combination of new polling and political analysis using an exclusive new model developed by Populus which shows that voters in seats which the Tories would historically have expected to be safe – are increasingly voting on the basis of their values, not just their economic circumstances.

It shows why the rotation of the political axis, which saw seats like Kensington and Battersea turn Labour in 2017, is likely to continue – making more seats which Conservative have previously taken for granted will be increasingly difficult for them to defend.

In addition to the seats listed above, the demographic analysis shows Cities of London & Westminster, Finchley & Golders Green, Wimbledon and Hendon at risk to Labour, and Sutton & Cheam and Richmond Park at risk to the Liberal Democrats. Conservative commuter belt seats just outside London which are at risk to Labour on the basis of the same analysis include Watford, Welwyn Hatfield, Milton Keynes North and Milton Keynes South.

All of these seats have a demographic profile which shows that they are relatively wealthy, diverse, and likely to be more receptive to parties with what Global Future is calling “Open” rather than “Closed” values – socially liberal, comfortable with immigration and multiculturalism, internationalist rather than nationalist in outlook. These values are currently embodied much more clearly by Labour and the Liberal Democrats than by the Conservatives under Theresa May.

The analysis shows:

• The deep division between Open and Closed votes on a range of touchstone issues such as multiculturalism, immigration or nationalism is now cutting across old allegiances based on left and right.
• Once-safe seats are expected to switch hands in coming elections, causing huge upheaval in UK politics
• Values are most starkly different between the “internet generation” of voters under the age of 45 and older people – and that those attitudes are set to persist as this generation gets older, indicating a clear future majority for Open attitudes.
• The rotation from the old left/right divide towards the new Open/Closed divide has been turbocharged by the Brexit referendum, and if the speed of the rotation continues at its current rate the London political map will be redrawn.

Lord Andrew Cooper, formerly David Cameron’s director of strategy, said:

“The Brexit referendum appears to have turbocharged the rotation from the old Left versus Right economic divide to a new one governed by cultural values of Open versus Closed. These days, a far better way of predicting how someone will vote is to discover whether they live in an ethnically and religiously diverse area, the density of the local population around them, how they define their national identity, or what their feelings are toward minority communities.

“It means that lots of people who once were good bets to be Conservative now turn out to be Labour. And people that pollsters might have predicted would be Labour are now Tories. If that trend continues the next General Election could see tremendous upheaval across the country and particularly in London where politics is increasingly governed by the Open versus Closed divide. That’s why seats like Kensington and Battersea went Labour at the last election and why Boris Johnson and a host of other top Tories are in the firing line to lose their seats at the next one.”