Hall ‘put in good campaign’ against Khan, claims Tory chair

Richard Holden MP pointed out the City Hall election result was narrower than most polls had indicated, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Richard Holden (credit Noah Vickers/LDRS)
Richard Holden (credit Noah Vickers/LDRS)

Susan Hall out-performed expectations in the London mayoral election, the chairman of the Tory party has said, after polls which showed she was “not in with a chance at all” of becoming London mayor.

Hall lost the election by the largest ever margin in terms of raw votes in the history of the London mayoralty, but Richard Holden MP pointed out that the result was in fact narrower than most polls had indicated.

The party chairman said that despite surveys ahead of the contest showing it was “going to be impossible” for the Conservatives to beat Labour mayor Sadiq Khan, Hall brought his margin of victory “way down”.

Asked whether he had, before the election, thought it was possible for Hall to win, he said: “You’ve always got to go into an election thinking it is possible to win.

“That’s why we put a lot of resources in, that’s why I did 40 visits right across London. But we also know it’s going to be really difficult.”

Khan received 43.8% of the vote, while Hall took 32.7% – the lowest Conservative vote-share for 20 years.

“I’m really disappointed that Susan didn’t quite get over the line,” Holden said. “But the polls had shown that we were not in with a chance at all.”

He said that a YouGov poll published just two days before the election had given Khan a 22-point lead over Hall, but this was reduced to eleven points in the actual election.

It was therefore “a hell of a different result”, Holden said, and was “significantly better than the general election result” in 2019, as the Tories were 16 points behind Labour in London in that contest.

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He claimed that the mayoral race was therefore “a good springboard” for Conservative candidates in the general election and that Hall had “put in a good campaign”. But he said she had been hampered both by “the national poll position” and the fact that Mr Khan is “an incumbent mayor, with all of the power of their office behind them”.

The chairman also said there was “a lack of enthusiasm for Labour and for mayor Khan”, despite the fact that Khan received about 75,000 more votes than last time, while Hall received around 80,000 fewer votes than her predecessor Shaun Bailey – when looking at ‘first preferences’ under the old supplementary vote system used in previous mayoral contests.

He added that the Tories had won a number of council by-elections on the same day as the mayoral race, which he said proved “things are a little bit tighter than some of those national opinion polls may suggest”.

Labour showed “outrageous” tactics during the election, Holden said, pointing to a claim made online by shadow health secretary Wes Streeting that a victory for Ms Hall would be a “win for racists, white supremacists and Islamophobes”.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Hall said she “won’t complain about CCHQ” [Conservative Campaign Headquarters], when asked if she received enough support from the party’s central office – although she revealed that she had only been assigned one dedicated staffer, who was part-time until the final three weeks of the race.

Holden rejected suggestions that she could have been given more help by the party. “Susan had huge amounts of support from CCHQ,” he said. “In fact, her entire campaign was based in CCHQ.

“So she had a lot of support from the entire team, whether it came to cash, or fundraising, or that broader support from the team. And certainly from me personally, she also had a huge amount of campaigning support as well.”

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