A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
Help me
Contact me

Reflections on this morning's council election results
23/05/2014 21:14:00

First, my commiserations to my colleagues who stood for election yesterday in wards we hoped to win but were not successful, in particular Tony Harris, Simon Hoar, Adam Kellett and Tony Pearson who were hard-working local councillors; and to Mike Fisher and his team at the Town Hall who have done a good job over the last eight years turning Croydon around, in particular in attracting Westfield and Hammerson to Croydon. Politics can be tough sometimes.

Second, congratulations to the Labour Party on their victory and to the new Leader of the Council Cllr Tony Newman in particular. Having lost himself in 2006 and 2010, he'll know better than most how we're feeling at the moment. I can assure him that I won't put party politics before what's best for the town - if I agree with what he is doing I will say so and if he wants help lobbying the Government he will have it. But if I think he is not acting in the best interests of the borough, I will say so - as he would expect and as I did when my own party was running the Council eg over proposed changes to parking restrictions and proposed library closures.

Third, on a bad night for Croydon Conservatives I was delighted to see Sue Bennett and Mario Creatura, both of whom work for me, elected yesterday. Sue has served as a councillor before in South Norwood from 2006 to 2010 and Mario will be a great addition to the Conservative Group.

Fourth, the results show - if anyone didn’t already know it - that I have a fight on my hands to hold Croydon Central next year. Conservatives candidates secured 33.5% of the vote in Croydon Central yesterday with Labour securing 35.3% of the vote. That means I need to secure a swing of just under 1% over the next year - perfectly do-able (indeed quite a few voters have said to us over the last few weeks that they would be voting UKIP this year, but would back me next year), but by no means inevitable.

Fifth, beneath the very disappointing headline result there were some grounds for optimism in some wards. In Addiscombe (where I ran our campaign) and Fairfield, we actually increased our share of the vote compared with 2010, a remarkable achievement. In Ashburton, our share of the vote was only down two percentage points - we lost because Labour did a great job squeezing the Liberal Democrat vote. But in Heathfield, Fieldway and New Addington our share of the vote was well down. It is no coincidence that these were the wards where UKIP did very well.

This brings me on to my sixth and penultimate observation. In the run-up to the elections, UKIP told people that if they voted UKIP they would get UKIP. Thousands of Croydonians who did not want a Labour Council believed them. They voted UKIP. And they got Labour. We will be reminding those voters of that in the run-up to next year’s General Election when the stakes are even higher.

Finally, we should not however blame this result solely on some Conservative-minded electors voting UKIP or Labour’s success in squeezing the Liberal Democrat vote. Our Council achieved many important things - getting the finances back on an even keel, trebling recycling, improving our schools, getting more police on our streets and most importantly attracting Westfield and Hammerson to the town. But inevitably we didn’t get everything right and we need to learn the appropriate lessons. We also need to look at how we select our candidates. We had lots of new, talented people interested in standing to be a councillor, including several from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, but we failed to select them in safe Conservative wards. As a result, we once again have a Conservative Group without a single Afro-Caribbean councillor. In a borough as diverse as Croydon, that cannot be allowed to happen again.

I'll be blogging in more detail about how the Conservative Party in Croydon needs to change in response to these results over the next few weeks.

Comment on this blog


Readers' Comments

On 24/05/2014 01:38:00 Meryn Adon WINT wrote:
Fair reflections, but lets hope council tax don't go up 108 percent as they did in 1994- 2006. My concern is also the poor recycling records and the big potholes in the road during that time. Most importantly the awful school standards and poor GCSEs results including Maths and English. Please do all you can to hold them to account.
On 24/05/2014 12:25:00 Clare Hooson wrote:
Extraordinary! you seem to think that people who have decided to vote UKIP are really Torys who are just behaving like naughty school children and that they will come home once it's dinner time.

Want to know why people are now voting UKIP. here's three reasons from today's papers




Then you say that there will have to be a black candidate in one of your wards next time, so does this mean that no matter how talented people are, they might not be allowed to be a councillor in a safe ward because they are white?

And some people think UKIP is racist.

On 13/06/2014 00:31:00 Robin Taylor wrote:
Clare Hooson says "Then you say that there will have to be a black candidate in one of your wards next time, so does this mean that no matter how talented people are, they might not be allowed to be a councillor in a safe ward because they are white?"

What a silly remark. Gavin was merely decrying the fact that there is not a single African-Caribbean councillor on the 30-strong Tory benches on Croydon Council. To try and infer from this that talented white people would not be allowed to contest a safe ward is absurd (and frankly, just what we have come to expect from UKIP).

What is destroying the Conservatives in Croydon is demographic change and you only have to look at the political map of the borough to see that. Rightly or wrongly many black and Asian people - including those in well-paid professional jobs - feel that they cannot relate to the Tory Party in its present form. The demographic make-up of the council's Conservative group does not give out the sort of signal that is likely to rectify that problem.

By highlighting the benefits of immigration in his Commons speeches and by emphasising the need for BME representation within Croydon's Conservative group of councillors Gavin Barwell has hopefully signalled that next year's Croydon Central campaign will not be a divisive one. Elections are won and lost in the centre ground and not be veering over to the right.




 More Blog Posts
Thank you
  Read Story
My concession speech after the 2017 General Election
  Read Story
Today is polling day - and why I hope you'll support me at the polls
  Read Story
Five reasons to vote Conservative
  Read Story
Howler at the hustings
  Read Story
Campaigning suspended
  Read Story
Funding care for the elderly while making sure people who have worked hard can pass something on to their kids or grandchildren
  Read Story
Opposing Labour's plans for intensification zones in Shirley and Forestdale and to build on the Green Belt/Metropolitan Open Land
  Read Story
Labour’s misleading leaflet on school funding
  Read Story
Fox hunting
  Read Story

Full list of blog posts here

Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2019       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG