A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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Reflections on the Croydon North by-election
03/12/2012 20:18:00

 
 

As regular readers of this blog will know, I have spent much of the last few weeks helping to run the Conservative campaign in the Croydon North by-election.

As expected, Steve Reed held the seat for Labour. I congratulated him at the count in the early hours of Friday morning and I was in the Chamber today to see him sworn in. I hope I can forge the same close working relationship with him that I had with Malcolm.

But what does the result tell us about the state of Croydon politics?

Losing an election is never a good result, particularly when your opponent gets nearly two-thirds of the votes. But this was an election for a safe Labour seat in the mid-term of a Government that is a coalition of the other two main parties and that has taken some very tough (but necessary) decisions to get us out of a financial mess - Labour were always going to do well. The only fair way to judge the result is relative to the national polls, to the other by-elections held on the same day or in recent weeks and to how our coalition partner did.

And on that basis, we did pretty well. The swing to Labour from the Conservatives in Croydon North was 8%. In Middlesbrough it was 13.5%. In Rotherham, it was only 6.5% - but that's because a strong showing by UKIP prevented Labour from significantly increasing their vote; it was a very poor result for the Conservatives, who were relegated to fifth place behind UKIP, the BNP and Respect. In Corby two weeks ago, the swing was 12.5%. In Manchester Central on the same day as Corby, it was 12%. The national opinion poll on the morning of the by-election showed a swing of 9.5%. And our coalition partner saw their share of the vote collapse from 14% to 3.5%, losing their deposit in the process.

Why did we do better in Croydon North than the national polls suggested we should, than we did in the other by-elections and than our coalition partner? I believe it's because we had an excellent candidate in Andy Stranack (as the more sensible people in the local Labour Party were honest enough to acknowledge) who didn't fit the negative stereotype some have of Conservatives; who campaigned on the issues that matter to people in Croydon North - jobs, welfare, the cost of living, crime, the NHS and schools; and who, with great support from our Council Group, fought an energetic campaign.

There's a clear lesson here for the Conservative Party, both locally as it prepares for the crucial Council election in 2014 and nationally. Select the right candidates, campaign on the right issues, show people both by the candidates we field and the things we talk about that we are a party that is on the side of ordinary hard-working people and work our socks off and we can do better than the national polls predict.

One final reflection: I am so proud that the people of Croydon North rejected Respect. George Galloway said his party would target black and Muslim voters. He wanted to divide our community along lines of race and faith. But Croydon is too strong a community for that.

Comment on this blog

 

Readers' Comments

On 04/12/2012 00:44:00 Adam Kellett wrote:
One outcome of the vote that you don't comment on Gavin is the very low turnout. I have attended Full Council tonight and if you listened to Labour you would have thought that the electorate were spitting blood in their determination to give the Coalition and the Council a bloody nose for daring to clear up the mess that they created.

The truth of the matter is that the voters were so angry they decided to stay at home and watch Eastenders.

 
On 04/12/2012 07:32:00 Mervyn Adon-Wint wrote:
Well done Andy! The conservatives will win the Council elections 2014.
 
On 04/12/2012 18:45:00 Andy L wrote:
Mr. Kellett’s comments about voters “staying in to watch Eastenders”, are just the sort of ill informed and arrogant comments that are often made by people like the smug Mr Kellett and his right wing ilk. So it has nothing to do with voter turn out being historically low in by-elections then Mr Kellett? There are a whole host of reasons for low voter turnout, so perhaps Mr. Kellett would like to do some research and find out as to why it was low last week. Let’s face it, the result was hardly a ringing endorsement for the much vaunted local candidate Andy Stranack – he still lost heavily no matter how you look at the result.

For Mr. Kellett to suggest that voters somehow couldn’t be bothered because they were watching a TV programme demonstrates the contempt he holds for people in the north of the town who are traditionally Labour in voting intention and predominantly working class. Not the sort of “plebs” I am sure Mr Kellett would wish to associate with.

 
On 05/12/2012 21:55:00 Adam Kellett wrote:
I may well be an arrogant and smug right-winger. It was a description my wife said she recognised. However I am definitely not a snob, as Andy L intimates. If you don't believe me ask my butler.
 
On 06/12/2012 18:12:00 Andy L wrote:
Mr Kellett......what do they say about sarcasm?
 
On 06/12/2012 23:01:00 Jim wrote:
"people in the north of the town who are traditionally Labour in voting intention and predominantly working class" - sounds like the left-wing equivalent of smug and arrogant.

Must look out for those male-voice choirs, housewives scrubbing doorsteps and dark satanic mills next time I'm in that part of Croydon.

The Conservatives have done little to reduce the bloated public sector, still put their hands into my pocket to subsidise the jobless having babies, still have a fetish about the NHS, still tax top earners at 45%, still burden businesses with red tape, still wants to spend our money on the pointless HS2, still robs hard working taxpayers of cash so the Guardian readers at DFID can indulge themselves . Sounds pretty socialist to me. Oh and we don't get a choice on Europe. I'm afraid that's why if I had been in Croydon North, I would have gone with UKIP this time.

I think the problem for the Conservatives is they are losing support from both ends at the same time.

 
On 06/12/2012 23:29:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
Well, it was nice to see an election where, as John Loony would say, all the main candidates were "nice to each other" for a change. No pointless ad hominem attacks simply for the sake of it. If only all politics could be like that. Unfortunately not all seats are as safe as this ...
 
On 08/12/2012 07:36:00 Philip Talmage wrote:
Hi Jim. Croydon's "dark satanic mills" went long ago along with their jobs and their dirt. And who has seen "housewives scrubbing doorsteps" anywhere recently? But Croydon's male voice choir thrives!
 
 

 

 

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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2017       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG