Rightmove have recently released their 'Happy at home' index, the results of a survey of 130 regions in the UK about contentment, area, tidiness, affordability etc. . While the overall results are interesting, there is a key message inside for the London Assembly and mayoral elections. Labour dominate in the those areas performing worst in the index.
Out of the 33 regions in London, those in the top half of the overall UK index (only six in London) are strong Conservative areas. In the bottom half of the London index, 13 areas out of 17 are dominated by Labour, while the other 4 are mixed areas. Those worst performing areas are also London crime hotspots and lowest in GDP per capita.
Take for example Barking and Dagenham, where Margaret Hodge has been the MP for 20 years. It is the worst performing area in the entire UK for overall happiness (placed 130/130). It is also the holder of the dubious title of the UK's burglary hotspot for 2015. Similar results are found in Brent (128/130), Newham (126/130), Tower Hamlets (125/130) and Greenwich (124/130). All strong Labour areas, all high crime and all low GDP per capita. The results are quite clear. Repeatedly, areas of deprivation and unhappiness are voting for Labour candidates who have done nothing to really solve their issues.
This is good intelligence. As Labour have become the party of welfare and strikes. The Conservatives can drive home their message of being the party of work and improving livelihoods. We can't do it solely on the hard subjects: budgets, funding, and the NHS. But we must concentrate on soft subjects: improving people's quality of life, happiness, and contentment. It is unacceptable that our capital is such an unhappy place.
In these areas we can build a strategy around three:
1. Build stronger communities - Pride, community and area upkeep are consistently poor. A campaign based on creating a stronger community will build a foundation for everything else.
2. Safety on our streets - People don't feel safe. A safety strategy based around communities with the help of the police which is well-communicated can improve people's feeling of safety.
3. Focus on happiness! - While it might sound new agey, London is an unhappy place and the voters keep voting for more unhappiness. Build a strategy on making London a better place to live, and the voters may come to the Conservatives.
These are things people in London get and we have struggled to do this in the past. But a softer Conservative image in London could reap great success. We can then capitalise on Labour's inability to improve the lives of constituents it has neglected for many years.
Nicholas Mazzei is a Conservative activist and an ex-army officer.
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