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Exclusive: Crime overtakes health as biggest issue for voters in London mayoral race

Ross Lydall
·3-min read
<p>The issue — on which <a href=

The issue — on which

Sadiq Khan has less of a lead over Tory rival Shaun Bailey — has moved above health and the NHS

(Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)" />

Crime has become the most important issue for London voters, according to the Evening Standard’s latest poll on the mayoral election race.

The issue — on which Sadiq Khan has less of a lead over Tory rival Shaun Bailey — has moved above health and the NHS, housing and house prices and the economy, according to research by Opinium.

But the poll also showed that Mr Khan remains on course to be re-elected Mayor on May 6, with 51 per cent of people who say they are certain to vote giving him their support.

This was down two points from the 53 per cent he polled last month, while Mr Bailey was up one point to 29 per cent.

Green candidate Sian Berry was up one point to eight per cent, as was Lib Dem candidate Luisa Porritt. UKIP’s Peter Gammons was down one point to one per cent.

All others — there are a record 20 candidates — polled a total of two per cent.

Our first Opinium online poll had health and the NHS as the number one concern facing the capital, probably reflecting the impact of the pandemic in which almost 19,000 Londoners have died.

But with more than four million vaccines now administered in London, including about 770,000 second doses, and the lockdown continuing to lift, concerns have returned to crime.

By yesterday the Met had launched 32 homicide investigations this year, including into the deaths of Sarah Everard and the 18-year-old Walthamstow law student Hussain Chaudhry.

The survey, based on a representative sample of almost 1,100 London adults, asked respondents to list up to three of the most important issues facing London.

A total of 43 per cent said crime, followed by 40 per cent saying health/NHS, 39 per cent saying housing/house prices and 34 per cent saying the economy.

Mr Khan, who says “jobs, jobs, jobs” will be his number one priority in a second term, has hiked his share of council tax bills to increase the Met police’s funding. His manifesto pledges to reduce “knife crime and other violent crime, drug dealing, burglary and anti-social behaviour”.

Respondents said he had better ideas than Mr Bailey on all four main issues, with 32 per cent preferring his policies on crime, compared with 23 per cent for Mr Bailey. But Mr Khan’s net approval rating is shrinking, down from 16 points to seven points.

The poll also indicates that many voters were prepared to switch from the party they backed in the 2019 general election. Twelve per cent— almost one in eight — of Tories said they would vote for Mr Khan, as did 46 per cent of Lib Dems and 36 per cent of Greens.

Only 77 per cent of past Conservative voters say they would back Mr Bailey.

James Crouch, a member of the polling team at Opinium, said: “There is nothing in our latest poll which casts doubt on the most likely outcome of the election next month.

“Even if it’s touch and go whether Sadiq Khan will get over 50 per cent on first preference votes, he still has a clear lead over the Conservative candidate. Some might be unsettled at the drop in his approval rating over the past few weeks but it has not seriously dented his chances of re-election.

“The biggest change mid-campaign is that crime is now perceived to be the most important issue in the capital, replacing health and the NHS.

“Mr Khan has a lower lead on this issue, which might explain the slight dip in his polling numbers. Nevertheless, while Shaun Bailey remains behind Mr Khan on every issue, including crime, it’s almost impossible to see a successful route to the mayoralty for the Conservatives."

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