Conservative vote share down 8pts in ‘Blue Wall’, with party potentially losing up to 16 seats

Patrick EnglishDirector of Political Analytics
July 30, 2021, 5:41 PM GMT+0

The first ever poll of the so-called ‘Blue Wall’ finds the Conservatives struggling in their traditional heartland seats

The Conservatives could be set to lose up to 16 seats in their ‘Blue Wall’ heartlands if an election were held tomorrow, a new YouGov poll reveals. Boris Johnson’s party are currently down by as much as 8 points on their 2019 performance in the 53-seat strong cluster of constituencies across the South and East of England which:

  1. are currently held by the Conservatives,
  2. voted to Remain in 2016, and
  3. have a higher-than-average concentration of degree holders in the population (25%+).

Vote intention in the Blue Wall currently stands at 44% for the Conservatives, 24% for Labour, 18% for the Liberal Democrats, 9% for the Greens, and 6% for other parties.

That represents a change of -8 for the Conservatives from their 2019 performance in these constituencies, +4 for Labour, a surprising 6pt drop for the Liberal Democrats, and a sizeable 7pt gain for the Greens.

The Conservatives are falling almost twice as fast in the Blue Wall as they are nationally, with the latest YouGov poll showing them five points down on their 2019 general election showing.

The figures also suggest that the Conservatives losing substantial ground in Chesham and Amersham was no isolated incident. If the swings were uniform across all constituencies, Labour would be set to gain a total of nine Blue Wall seats, and the Liberal Democrats three. While it would not be anywhere near enough to offset the party’s losses in the so-called Red Wall in 2019, Labour punching holes in traditional Tory foundations will send alarm bells ringing across Conservative Associations and MPs in the South.

Constituencies which could change hands include Wycombe (held by former leader of the European Research Group and prominent Brexiteer Steve Baker, held by the Conservatives since 1951), Chingford and Woodford Green (represented by former Cabinet Minister and Vote Leave campaigner Sir Iain Duncan Smith), and Chipping Barnet (another former Cabinet Minister – Theresa Villiers, held by the Conservatives since 1974).

A large drop in the Conservative vote share would also severely threaten four other Tory constituencies, including current Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Esher and Walton as well as Cambridgeshire South, Cities of London and Westminster, and Guildford.

Blue Wall stronghold as dissatisfied with PM and government as the country as a whole

On other key measures of support, the Tories perform no better in this chunk of their heartland than they do nationally. For instance, on who Blue Wall residents think would make the best Prime Minister, 35% choose Boris Johnson compared to 31% for Keir Starmer. This is largely in line with the 33% and 28% respectively those figures among all Britons.

Likewise, 54% of Blue Wall residents disapprove of the government’s record to date, with just 30% approving. This gives a net score of -24, very similar to the national net approval picture of -22.

Perhaps most crucially, 47% of the Blue Wall believe that the government is taking the country in the wrong direction (32% think ‘the right direction’), and a majority (54%) believe that the government does not listen to people in their area (27% think the government does listen to them).

The survey shows evidence that the population of the Blue Wall is slowly but surely drifting away from the Conservative party. Nearly one-quarter (23%) agreed with the suggestion that “the Conservative party used to represent the views of people like me, but no longer does”, while 32% agreed with the suggestion that “the Conservative Party has never represented the views of people like me”. A quarter (23%) believe the party did and still does represent their views, while just 5% believe the party did not represent them before, but do now.

When asked if they believed the Conservatives are in or out of touch, 25% believe the party is ‘in touch’, while 55% believe it is ‘out of touch’.

Blue Wall residents oppose HS2 and narrowly want to rejoin the EU

In the wake of the Chesham and Amersham by-election defeat, it was suggested that issues such as changes to the housing planning laws, the construction of Britain’s new high-speed rail network (HS2), and frustrations with the government’s handling of Brexit were key factors in the Liberal Democrats taking the seat from the Conservatives.

According to our poll, Blue Wall residents are indeed strongly opposed to HS2. While 24% of them support the development of the high speed rail line, 46% oppose it (another 22% neither support nor oppose).

Furthermore, while they believe that more houses are needed nationally, (55% support, 37% oppose), they are less keen to see homes built in their local area (43% support, 52% oppose).

We also asked Blue Wall residents if the government should build more houses at the expense of local people having their say on development, or if the government should give local people more say on development even if it means a decrease in the number of homes built. One in five (20%) support the first position, while 54% support the second (27% answered neither or did not know).

On Brexit, perhaps the most striking finding was that Blue Wall residents would vote to re-join the EU in a hypothetical referendum by a slim margin: 47% say they would vote for the UK to return to the EU, while 42% say they would vote to remain outside. Voters in these ‘true blue’ constituencies think the government has handled Brexit badly (56% badly, 38% well), and that it was the wrong decision to leave in the first place (52% wrong, 40% right).

Much like in the Red Wall, we found plenty of evidence of support for what we might call ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ positions on policy and cultural issues. For instance, we found that 66% of the Blue Wall think having a wide variety of different ethnic backgrounds and cultures is part of British culture (21% believe it undermines British culture), 81% support teaching about Britain’s colonial history and role in the slave trade in schools (4% oppose), and two-thirds (63%) agree that it is important for authorities to stop hateful and abusive comments on the internet (22% against).

On climate change, we found that around three-quarters (72%) of all Blue Wall residents believe that tackling global warming should be a top priority for the government (10% opposed the suggestion). Again, this is very similar to the results we found in the Red Wall, where 63% of residents agreed it should be a top priority.

See the full results here