Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. The Staggers
5 May 2021updated 06 May 2021 8:34am

Is Sadiq Khan’s lead narrowing in London?

Labour and Conservative sources both believe that the race to be London’s next mayor is closer than thought.  

Sadiq Khan’s lead has narrowed in the final set of polls before election day, meaning the London mayor may no longer avoid a second round run-off against his Conservative opponent Shaun Bailey

In a further blow, Khan’s staff and well-placed Tories both believe that the polls are underestimating the fall in the mayor’s support, as a combination of complacency among voters and anxiety about Covid-19 hurts the Labour incumbent’s chances.

“The blunt truth is: if you’re old, you’ve been vaccinated. And if you’re old, you’re likely voting for us,” a London Conservative said, “It’s Sadiq’s vote that is unvaccinated, worried about getting Covid and not registered for a postal vote. I think Shaun is going to surprise a lot of people.”

[see also: Sadiq Khan interview: “Brexit and Covid are a perfect storm against London”]

Adding to the unease in City Hall, Khan’s own private polling shows both a narrowing in his lead and widespread fears among Labour voters about getting Covid-19, with the party’s supporters much less likely to be vaccinated than Conservative ones. Senior figures in the Khan campaign conceded that the polls were “narrowing”. But well-placed sources in the Liberal Democrat and Green campaigns dismissed the claims, saying that their figures showed Khan easily winning. 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Are both the Labour and Conservative campaigns fussing over nothing? It’s certainly possible, given that most Londoners over 50 have now received at least one jab while most Londoners under 40 have yet to receive one, that differential turnout may cause a surprise. Or it may be that when the dust settles, Khan’s hope of a first-round victory remains and that London is not heading for the shock of the century: a Shaun Bailey victory. But as the mayoral contest enters its final 24 hours, what appeared a foregone conclusion may be in some doubt.