Euro elections – what will happen in London?

This week London will choose eight representatives in the European Parliament, with Labour expected to top the polls, overturning the Conservatives lead in 2009 despite recent signs of economic revival. Opinion polls suggest that London is the most pro-European region of the country, and its population is also quite multi-ethnic, more diverse and younger than the rest of the country.  For UKIP this is difficult terrain and in the London borough elections they are standing only a single candidate in most council wards (which have three councillors across London). This is a key region too for the Green Party who will be seeking to hold onto one of the two MEPs it elected last time. Continuing our series of regional overviews, the Democratic Audit team outline the possibilities and explain who the major party candidates are.

London's Tower Bridge (Credit: David, CC BY NC ND 2.0)

London’s Tower Bridge (Credit: David, CC BY NC ND 2.0)

London is a unique constituency in the UK’s European Parliament elections. While all other constituencies are regions or countries containing multiple towns and cities and swathes of countryside, the London constituency is comprised of a single metropolitan area. It is the smallest constituency by area, but one of the largest by population, and elects eight MEPs.

Of all the major cities in the UK, London is the one where the Conservatives have performed strongest in recent years, in large part buoyed up by Boris Johnson’s elections as Mayor of London in 2008 and 2012. Before the 2010 local elections, they were also the largest part in London local government, based on their control of London boroughs. At the 2009 European elections, the Conservatives came first in London with over 27% of the vote, electing three MEPs. Labour’s vote last time was depressed at just over a fifth of the poll.

London has a younger population than other regions and a greater proportion of residents from ethnic minority groups. It is not surprise therefore, that UKIP and the BNP performed worse in London than in the rest of England in 2009. By contrast, London was the second strongest region for the Green Party, after the South East.

Table 1: What happened last time, June 2009


Note: Our vote data are rounded to the nearest thousand votes. Exact 2009 results are available from UK Polling Report here. All eight of London’s incumbent MEPs are seeking re-election, for the same parties as last time, a bit of a record country-wide. 

What will happen in 2014?

Labour support in London has recovered substantially and a recent opinion poll gives them a very strong chance of topping the poll in London, particularly if the Conservative vote falls away. How far Labour can translate such an improvement into winning additional seats is less clear, however. It will depend a lot on the precise size of their vote share and that of other parties. So long as they are above 30% though Labour increase their number of London MEPs from two to three.

With both Labour and UKIP expected to take votes from the Conservatives, two of their three incumbent MEPs are at risk. Staying above a vote share of 20 per cent will probably safeguard two seats, but the party would need to match its 2009 performance to have any chance of keeping three. Our simplified ballot paper below shows these patterns.

Table 2: simplified ballot paper

London re-done

UKIP are certain to retain their existing MEP in London, but they may find it difficult to gain a second seat, even with quite a large increase in their support. The BNP vote in London last time was also fairly small. This year UKIP will need to nearly double its previous vote share in order to elect two MEPs.

The performance of the Liberal Democrats (who won under 14 per cent last time) and Greens (who won 11 per cent) will also have an impact on the number of seats won this time by Labour, the Conservatives and UKIP. If the Greens retain their 2009 vote share or come close to it, they are likely to retain their current MEP. The Liberal Democrats are more likely to suffer a drop in votes, but winning around 10% should ensure that they retain a seat. If either or both parties falter, the spare seat(s) would be picked up by one of the larger parties.

The top parties’ candidates

Claude Mary Lucy SebThe candidate in first place for Labour is certain to be re-elected this time. He is Claude Moraes, who has been an MEP in Brussels since 1999 and is Deputy Leader of the Labour group and spokesperson for home affairs and justice for the Socialist and Democrats group in the European Parliament. Along with all other MEPs his Brussels record of activity is monitored by the independent VoteWatch thinktank, and their profile for him is here. His Twitter account is here. Second on the Labour list is another incumbent, Mary Honeyball, who became an MEP in 2000. She is Labour spokesperson on women’s rights and gender equality and her VoteWatch profile is here. Her Twitter account is hereLucy Anderson is the third placed Labour candidate and she has a realistic chance of being elected as MEP. She is a former Councillor in the London Borough of Camden and is currently a senior manager at National Union of Teachers, with a Twitter account here. Labour’s fourth candidate is Seb Dance, who works for an international development charity: he has no hope of being elected unless Labour surges late on.

Maria Tannock KamallThe Conservatives are unlikely to add to their group of three London MEPs, and will probably lose one. Their incumbents standing for re-election are led by Syed Kamall, who assumed office in 2005 and is also the Leader of the Conservative group in the European Parliament. His voting record can be found on VoteWatch here, and his Twitter feed here. Charles Tannock has a good chance of holding onto his seat as the second-placed candidate on the Conservative list. He is Spokesperson on foreign affairs for the Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament, with his voting record available here and Tweets here. Third on the party’s list is Marina Yannakoudakis, who is at risk of losing her seat after one term in office. She is currently the Conservative Spokesperson on women’s rights and health; her VoteWatch profile is here and her Twitter feed here.

londonm4oakleyp UKIP’s sole London MEP, Gerard Batten, is standing for re-election at the top of the party’s list, having first been elected in 2004. Batten was a founding member of UKIP and stood for the party leadership in 2004. His profile of Brussels activity is on VoteWatch here, and you read his Tweets here. UKIP’s second candidate, the only other with a realistic hope of being elected, is Paul Oakley, a barrister who joined UKIP in 2011 after previously standing as a Conservatives general election candidate. His Twitter feed is here. He has a chance of being elected should UKIP perform very strongly.

ldeuro51The Liberal Democrats have their incumbent MEP Sarah Ludford as their first-placed candidate. She was elected in 1999 and is the party’s justice and human rights spokesperson. You can view her Brussels voting record here and Twitter feed here. Interestingly she is also a member of the House of Lords, but with voting privileges suspended while she serves as an MEP.  Second on the Liberal Democrat list is writer, lecturer and broadcaster Jonathan Fryer. Given the fall in the party’ support, he has no realistic hope of being elected.

grneuro51The Greens’ well known incumbent MEP Jean Lambert tops the party’s list for London. She has been an MEP since 1999 and her Votewatch profile is here. Previously she was a political campaigner and was closely involved with the Charter 88 movement. Her Twitter account is here.  The party’s national spokesperson on animals Caroline Allen is the Green’s second placed candidate, although she has no hope of winning a seat.

The London constituency for the European Parliament election corresponds with the area covered by the Greater London Authority: the 32 London boroughs and the City of London. It is bordered by the counties of Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Kent and Surrey.

Click here to read the rest of Democratic Audit’s Euro elections briefings 

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