Why ‘soak the rich’ might not be the way to win Wandsworth

Labour was hoping that yesterday’s local elections would see it unseating the Conservatives in the London borough of Wandsworth, held by the Conservatives since 1978, along with perhaps Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster. But the Conservatives have held all three.

For my data journalism e-book Britdata I worked out that one-tenth of the UK’s total gross value added economic output is generated in the workplaces in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northumberland. The same proportion is generated by the workplaces of just five London council areas: Camden, City of London, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and City of Westminster.

That doesn’t include Wandsworth, but as estate agents might say it is conveniently situated for central London’s economic powerhouse. In 2014-15, median (person in the middle) income for taxpayers in Wandsworth was £32,900, one of the highest in the capital. The City’s was £61,100, but hardly anyone lives there; the second-highest was Kensington and Chelsea at £38,700 and the London average is £26,400. The data is mapped below (with the City’s figure capped to that of Kensington and Chelsea’s so the range is clearer in the colour scheme).

Personal income isn’t always a guide to how people will vote – Camden stayed Labour, despite its median taxpayer income being £200 higher than Wandsworth’s. However, trying to get (fairly) rich people to shift their votes to a party that looks like it wants to take more money off rich people may be a bit of an ask.

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