November 11, 2019 - 7:53am

We know that rural areas are typically Conservative-leaning, and the big cities Labour-leaning, but what about our towns? These often ex-industrial centres are usually ignored in election season, but this time have risen to prominence as the new battleground.

The Centre for Towns have produced some truly gobsmacking charts.

Last week, YouGov released the results of an 11,000-strong megapoll broken down by region. It showed the collapse of Labour’s lead in its traditional heartlands in the North, with the Conservatives even inching ahead in the North West.

Centre for Towns asked YouGov to re-analyse that same data by their classification of towns – both by size type. The change since 2017 is extraordinary:

2017 result by size of town (chart: Centre for Towns)


State of the polls by type of town, October 2019 (Centre for Towns)

This would suggest a near wipe-out for Labour – Liberal Democrats beating Labour in villages and small towns across the country, and only just retaining a lead in the major cities.

One major caveat is that the poll data is a bit old – the latest YouGov from yesterday shows the Tories at 39%, Labour at 26% and the Lib Dems at 17%. The poll this analysis was based on had the Tories at 36%, but Labour down at 22% and Lib Dems at 19%, ie nearly level-pegging. So even though (according to YouGov) the Conservative lead over Labour is still around the same, the Labour lead over the Lib Dems has gone from 3% to 9%.

This means that were this exercise repeated today it would be less spectacular, and Labour would likely be in the number two spot in all place types. But it nonetheless shows how dramatically opinion has shifted over just two years. Will there be more dramatic shifts in the next five weeks?

Freddie Sayers is the Editor-in-Chief & CEO of UnHerd. He was previously Editor-in-Chief of YouGov, and founder of PoliticsHome.