Where’s “Outer London”?

In the good old days, that was an easy one: it was London beyond the former LCC, which became the area covered by the Inner London Education Authority. The LCC/ILEA area had an in-built Labour majority, so in 1963 the Tory government imposed the London Government Act, incorporating a further 20 outer London Boroughs, carved out of the (now-extinct) County of Middlesex, and chunks of Surrey and Kent. The Greater London Council came into effect in 1965.

To the gross disgust of the Tories, who thought they had gerrymandered a London to their liking, on three of the six subsequent elections, “Greater London” went Labour — and “lefty” Labour at that. In 1983 the Thatcher government gave up, and abolished the Greater London Council with effect from 1985, throwing authority (eventually including education) back at the 32 boroughs. That left a few residual matters, so a transport, policing and fire authority persisted.

The creakiness of this operation was obvious from the start. The incoming Blair government proposed a Greater London Authority, with an elected Mayor, and a titular London Assembly.

Which is the current state of play.

Then we read guff like this, at the heart of the London Evening Standard‘s piece about Sadiq Khan becoming the Labour nominee for the 2016 Mayoral Election:

… to win he will have to boost Labour support in outer London, where the party trails behind the Tories, and appeal to Londoners who do not normally vote Labour.

So we need to address “Outer London” — those 2o boroughs created by the 1963 Act.

Last year’s Borough elections, across all of London showed Labour out-voting the Tories by 2.6 million votes to 1.8 million: 37.4% to 26.1%. A year later, at the last General Election, despite the rest of Britain tending in the other direction, Labour continued to advance in London.: 1.5 million votes (43.7%) to the Tories’ 1.2 million (34.9%) — a gross swing to Labour since 2010 of 7.1%.

As a result Labour gained seven London seats — all but one of them in “Outer London”. When the London loves Business site mapped that, this was the result:

Labour vote 2015

The Evening Standard should indeed beware of what it fears: were Labour further to advance in the GLA area it would imply that seriously bourgeois and leafy suburbs are continuing to trend left.

Moreover, Labour has been recruiting members and — note this — workers very successfully indeed, in just those areas.

Sadiq Khan doesn’t have to “boost” very far.




Filed under Evening Standard, History, Labour Party, London, politics

2 responses to “Where’s “Outer London”?

  1. thomas the dooter

    Blimey Malcolm I thought you might have mentioned the leafy and elegant suburbs to the north east of London which once formed the part of Essex which meant that in most years, the County had a Labour County Council. Ah well.

    • Malcolm Redfellow

      Before my Dad was invalided out of the Met Police (circa 1949), and we went rustic Norfolk, my Mum and he were down for a house on the new-build Hainault Estate.

      Another road not taken:

      Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
      And sorry I could not travel both
      And be one traveler, long I stood
      And looked down one as far as I could
      To where it bent in the undergrowth;

      Then took the other, as just as fair,
      And having perhaps the better claim,
      Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
      Though as for that the passing there
      Had worn them really about the same…

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