Yesterday, London Elects published the results of the GLA elections on a ward-by-ward basis. If you're interested, you can see the data for yourself by clicking on 2012 Ward level breakdown here.
For nerds like me, this is manna from heaven - it allows you to see how well each party did in different parts of Croydon and to estimate what the result of a General Election or Council elections held on 3rd May would have been (it can only be an estimate for two reasons: first, some people might vote differently in a General Election or Council elections; second, the ward-by-ward figures London Elects have published don't include those who voted by post - they have published the postal vote data separately on a borough-wide basis and this shows that we did much better among those who voted by post than among those who voted on the day so you then have to make assumptions that the proportion of people voting by post and the scale of our better performance among postal voters were the same in each ward).
People completed three different ballot papers on 3rd May - who they wanted to be Mayor, who they wanted to be their local Assembly member and which party they supported for the top-up Assembly seats. These three different elections produced three different results:
- for Mayor, 47.7% of people across Croydon voted for Boris Johnson and 37.8% voted for Ken Livingston;
- for our local Assembly member, 39.8% voted for Conservative Steve O'Connell and 40.3% voted for Labour's Louisa Woodley; and
- for the London-wide top-up list, 36.3% voted Conservative and 38.7% voted Labour.
And these differences are repeated at ward level. It looks like Boris won the key marginal wards of Addiscombe, New Addington and Waddon; Steve and the Conservative Party generically didn't.
The question is which of these best represents each Party's likely performance in a General or Council election. It clearly isn't the Mayoral election - when canvassing you met lots of non-Conservatives who were voting for Boris and lots of Labour supporters who wouldn't vote for Ken. My instinct is that the votes for our local Assembly member are the best indicator.
On this basis, then, Labour narrowly won the borough-wide vote. They haven't done that before in a local election, even in the years when they have won the Council (though they did it easily in the 1997, 2001 and 2005 General Elections), so it looks, at first sight, like a very good result for Labour.
But when you look into where they increased their vote, the picture is less clear cut. Based on the local Assembly member votes, Labour would have won 37 of the seats on Croydon Council and the Conservatives 33, a mirror image of the current position. This would give Labour the same majority on the Council that they won in 2002 and a smaller majority than they won in either 1994 or 1998 despite them doing much better in borough-wide share of the vote terms than on any of these three occasions. Why? Because there was a big swing to them in the wards where they already have councillors in but, with the exception of Waddon, much smaller swings elsewhere (indeed in the Mayoral election, nearly all the Conservative wards saw a swing to Boris since 2008, which is frankly incredible given the change in the national political climate since then).
This picture is confirmed if you look at the results by Parliamentary constituency - Labour wiped the floor with us in Croydon North but we would have narrowly held Croydon Central. The same is true if you look at the proposed new constituencies - we would have comfortably won Croydon East and come very close to winning the ultra-marginal Croydon Central & St Helier seat. And this is on a day when we were seven or eight points behind in the national shares of the vote!
Labour activists have convinced themselves that they won a huge victory on 3rd May - Cllr Tim Godfrey tweeted "Tories massively on back foot" - but the truth is rather more mixed. Yes, Labour narrowly won the most votes across Croydon in the Assembly election. Yes, they would have narrowly retaken control of the Council. But they are only appealing to people in their core areas. We would still have returned two of the Borough's three MPs. And all of this was in a mid-term election prior to which the Government had endured a pretty miserable two months. If we get our act together, if we deal with the financial mess we inherited and get the economy growing again - and the signs this week are encouraging with the deficit already down by a quarter, unemployment down for a second month and the Government able to borrow at the lowest rates in its history - then we can approach the next Council and General Elections with confidence.