In #GE2017, decisions made in Croydon will matter

By - Wednesday 26th April, 2017

As Theresa May’s election snaps at our heels, Max Shirley takes a look at the issues for Croydon

Croydon’s proposed new electoral boundaries: they won’t be used in this election.
Image by the Croydon Citizen.

If you think you’ve trekked to the postbox or polling station quite enough recently, then I’m sure that you won’t be too happy with Tuesday 18th April’s news that a snap election is upon us. Confirmed by the Commons’ vote on Wednesday by 522 votes to 13 (a vote required to make an exception to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act of 2011), 2017’s general election will be held on Thursday 8th June.

Hours after Prime Minister May’s announcement outside 10 Downing Street, Croydon’s MPs all confirmed that they will be standing for re-election. Steve Reed (Croydon North) commented that Labour is “ready for the fight”. Both Chris Philp (Croydon South) and Gavin Barwell (Croydon Central) tweeted expressing what an honour it has been to serve their constituencies.

On a surprise visit to Croydon on the first day of the campaign, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn began Labour’s effort, later tweeting: “I’m kicking off our #GeneralElection2017 campaign in one of the constituencies we’ll win back to form a government to transform Britain”.

Croydon Central is a key marginal once again

The Conservatives narrowly won Croydon Central back in 2015 when Gavin Barwell held on by only 165 votes after a neck-and-neck race against Labour’s Sarah Jones. Regardless of the Tory lead in many opinion polls, Croydon Central is likely to once again be a key marginal in this year’s election. So, what results can we expect to see in Croydon?

With the new electoral boundaries not yet applying, continuing delays to a new Westfield retail centre and the fact that the council elections don’t take place until next year, the leading factor in this snap election appears to be Brexit. And as Croydon bucked the national trend with 54.3% of Croydonians supporting remain, will we see a swing toward the Lib Dems due to their pro-EU stance? Or even perhaps a swing to UKIP as, after all, the remaining 45.7% of Croydon’s electorate voted to leave?

Croydon North

It is unlikely we’ll see much movement in this Labour safe seat. Having won a majority of 21,364 votes in 2015, Steve Reed will provide tough competition for any opposition to uproot. Considering recent polls – some of which give the Conservatives a twenty-one point lead over Labour – it is most likely that Reed will lose a chunk of his votes, but nowhere near enough to cause much concern.

In terms of the Lib Dem swing, Croydon North’s candidate, Joanna Corbin, received 1,919 votes in 2015, leaving her somewhat trailing behind in fifth place; one cannot be sure any amount of canvassing can close that gap significantly. On top of this, UKIP candidate, Winston McKenzie, only fared slightly better with 2,899 and there is much doubt surrounding whether there is an enormous number of Brexiter hardliners willing to give UKIP a vote.

Croydon South

Chris Philp is also likely to hold his Conservative safe seat, winning in 2015 with a slightly smaller majority, compared to Reed, of 17,140. According to current opinion polls, one cannot expect much change in the borough except a possible increase in this blue majority.

Both the Lib Dem and UKIP candidates did slightly better off in Croydon South, gaining 3,448 and 6,068 votes respectively, but, yet again, it is unlikely that one will find see a swing in either direction.

Croydon Central

In the 2015 general election, Croydon Central was one of the most highly contested seats in the country. Barwell’s nail-biting win by a mere 165-vote majority suggests that even with the current Conservative lead in the polls, this is definitely a constituency to watch.

Current polls suggest an easier victory for Barwell in June 2017. However, UKIP’s 2015 candidate Peter Staveley put up a fair fight, gaining 4,810 votes and as Croydon Central only narrowly voted for Remain (some even claim it voted Leave: exact data isn’t available so estimates are all we have), perhaps here – more than any other Croydon constituency – a swing is possible.

One could suggest that Croydon Central is as likely to turn red, as it is to stay blue. Corbyn’s visit on Wednesday 19th April highlights a reoccurring idea that a strong Labour force could pip Barwell at the post and take the constituency back, adding one to Labour’s seat total. Although, many experts agree that it’ll take more than one marginal seat to save the Labour party; some have gone as far as to suggest that the Conservatives may find themselves with a majority of 100 seats – possibly more – on Friday 9th June.

Whatever your personal political leanings, once again a real fight for power will take place on Croydon’s streets. The decision of our voters matter. The eyes of the nation are on Croydon’s #GE2017.

Max Shirley

Max Shirley

Max recently finished Sixth Form at a local independent school and will be starting an English Literature degree in the new academic year. Max is a copy-editor at a Croydon-based start-up. Twitter: @max_shirley_

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  • Michael Swadling


    Not sure where you get “Croydon Central only narrowly voted for Remain” from? The offices figures from Croydon Council show it voting Leave. I grant these figures don’t accurately allocat postal votes but they are the only figures we have.

    Mike Swadling
    Croydon Borough Lead – Vote Leave & Leave.EU.

    • Max Shirley

      Hi Michael,

      As you should know, and have alluded to in your comment, the results are highly disputed. As you have mentioned the Council’s figures lack accuracy, and so one cannot truly be sure which way Croydon Central voted hence the phrase in my article, “exact data isn’t available so estimates are all we have”.

      • Michael Swadling

        Max you asserted that Croydon Central voted Remain – it didn’t. The official, imperfect yes, but official figures show it voted Leave.
        The de facto Remain lead for Croydon Gavin Barwell accepts (in tweets I’ve seen) his constituency voted Leave.
        Who disputes this? I wonder who these people are that know more than the official figures, more than the sample data we took on the night at the count and says the constituency that included the overwhelmingly
        Leave voting wards of New Addington and Fieldway didn’t vote Leave?

        • Max Shirley

          Due to the fallibility of official figures it must also be untrue to assume Croydon Central voted Leave, do you not agree?

          • Michael Swadling

            I have to say I don’t. We have officially published figures for each ward. When you add these together Croydon Central voted leave by 50.3%. The postal voting figures were widely distributed across many wards so largely average out. On the night our sample data suggest that Croydon Central voted leave by an extra ~1-2% than the averaging effect of the postal vote.
            Anyone who disputes this clearly doesn’t have the data and wasn’t at the count.
            I think this is a very fair article, but the idea that Croydon Central voted remain is factually incorrect.