London Assembly election: Which seats to watch out for

Londoners will head to the polls on May 6 to elect the 25 members of the London Assembly as well as the next Mayor of London.

The composition of the Assembly is likely to be very different following the election, with several members stepping down and small majorities in certain constituencies.

Labour’s Jennette Arnold and Nicky Gavron and the Conservative Party’s Tony Arbour are all retiring after serving on the Assembly for its entire 21-year existence, while Gareth Bacon MP, Andrew Dismore, Florence Eshalomi MP, Dr Alison Moore, Steve O’Connell, Peter Whittle and Assembly chair Navin Shah are also stepping down or retiring.

Of the 14 constituency seats up for grabs on May 6, there are three that are most likely to swing to a different party.

Havering and Redbridge

Currently held by the Conservative Party’s Keith Prince, the constituency of Havering and Redbridge is perhaps the most interesting seat to watch out for in the election.

The seat, which has been held by the Conservatives since the first Assembly election in 2000, was retained by a majority of just 1,438 in 2016.

Judith Garfield, Labour’s candidate for the seat this year, will be hoping to capitalise on the party’s 2.1 per cent increase in votes between 2012 and 2016.

The constituency features a mix of both Labour and Conservative politicians on a local level, with Havering Borough Council controlled by the Conservatives while Redbridge Borough Council is controlled by Labour.

Merton and Wandsworth

The Merton and Wandsworth constituency had been held by the Conservatives from 2000 until 2016 when Labour’s Leonie Cooper won the seat.

But with a majority of 4,301 in 2016, the seat is likely to be close again this year and is one that may change hands once more.

Louise Calland, who is currently a councillor in Wandsworth, will be looking to swing the seat back to the Conservatives on May 6.

Like Havering and Redbridge, Merton and Wandsworth features a mix of both Labour and Conservatives locally, with the former in charge of Merton Borough Council while the latter runs Wandsworth Borough Council.

But parliamentary constituencies within Wandsworth have a strong Labour presence and are represented by MPs Fleur Anderson, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan and Marsha De Cordova

West Central

The West Central constituency, which encompasses the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Hammersmith and Fulham, has been held by the Conservatives since 2000.

The seat is currently occupied by the Conservative Party’s Tony Devenish, who won by a majority of 14,564 in 2016.

Despite this majority, the seat has been identified by both Labour and the Conservatives as a potential swing seat in the upcoming Assembly election.

Labour’s share of the vote in the seat increased from just 18.9 per cent in 2004 to 34.7 per cent in 2016, while the Conservative vote share trended the other way, from a high of 52.1 per cent in 2008 to 44.2 per cent in 2016.

Rita Begum is the Labour candidate who will be looking to build on this trend this year.

London-wide seats

In addition to the 14 constituency seats up for grabs are 11 seats where candidates represent the whole of London.

A total of 171 candidates representing 18 political parties are standing to win these seats, which are decided using a form of proportional representation.

The outcome of the constituency seats will have a direct impact on the London-wide seats, and there is a chance that City Hall Conservatives leader Susan Hall, who is third on her party’s list of London-wide candidates, may miss out on a seat.

Elsewhere, the Green Party will be hoping to add a third member to their London Assembly team with a recent YouGov poll showing that Zack Polanski, who is third on their list of candidates, could be on course to win one of the London-wide seats.

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