Ed Miliband’s unbroken run of byelection victories (there have been four to date) looks set to continue. A poll by Michael Ashcroft for ConservativeHome puts Labour 22 points ahead of the second-placed Tories in Feltham and Heston with a 52 per cent share of the vote. This represents a six-point swing from the Tories to Labour since the general election, solid but nothing spectacular. As Ashcroft notes, in a by-election – “an easy opportunity for a cost-free anti-government protest vote” – Labour might have been expecting to do better.
More worryingly for Labour, the poll shows that Ken is still struggling against Boris. Even in what is a safe Labour seat, Boris, who is backed by 25 per cent of Labour voters and 33 per cent of Lib Dems, is a point ahead of Ken. This represents a significant drop in support for Livingstone, who outperformed Labour in 2000 (by seven points), 2004 (by eight points) and 2008 (by three points). The “Ken bonus” has turned into a “Ken deficit” of eight points. Until he wins over Boris’s Labour supporters, there is little hope of him retaking City Hall.