As the polling stations open across Croydon North this morning, Andrew Pelling, Inside Croydon‘s chief political correspondent, is predicting that the by-election will be won by Labour’s Steve Reed with an increased share of the vote.
Pelling’s prediction – to be published on this site after 10am – is not an exit poll, but is based on his judgement. It reflects national polling results and a sense of how the voting will go with a low turnout. According to Pelling, Labour’s biggest challenge will be to get out their vote, overcoming voters’ apathy in a seat where the outcome is such an apparent foregone conclusion, while the cold, wet weather and dark winter evenings also mitigates against a strong turn-out.
He suggests Reed will win with a 12,000-vote majority from the Conservative candidate, Andy Stranack. Yesterday, Gavin Barwell, the MP for Croydon Central who has spent the past month managing Stranack’s flagging “non-Tory Tory” campaign in Croydon North, was setting his sights low. Or “managing expectations”, as people in PR might say.
Barwell suggested that provided his candidate did not suffer a 12.5 per cent swing against him, he will have done well. The Conservatives lost Corby to Labour two weeks ago with such a big swing, reflecting the unpopularity of the ConDem government and the abandonment of the seat by the sitting MP, the high-profile but low-attention span Louise Mensch.
Glenn Ebrey, the under-pressure editor of the small circulation local paper, published his prediction on Twitter last night, saying that Labour would win “with a reduced majority” – which is inevitable and a pretty meaningless prediction on a poor voter turn-out – with Respect second and the LibDems sixth.
Another local pundit, Bieneosa Ebite, who has been interviewing local Conservatives on a digital radio station for a few months, described Respect as “the X Factor party. Will they be able to mobilise enough of their supporters? I don’t know”. So not that insightful at all, really.
Pelling predicts UKIP will finish third, despite the controversial homophobic remarks of its candidate, Winston McKenzie, in the past few days. UKIP will be a few hundred votes ahead of Respect’s Lee Jasper, who Pelling believes may hold on to his deposit despite failing to get any real traction with local voters.
The fate of the Greens and LibDems may not be so good, though, according to Pelling, who suggests that they might each just get into four figures in their number of votes, but who look set to lose their deposits with less than 5 per cent of the vote. Given that the Liberals once won a by-election in northern Croydon in living memory, that sort of rejection at the ballot box will be a significant reversal for the party since going into government with the Tories.
Read the full analysis from the former MP and London Assembly member on this site later this morning.
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- Low turnout looms at Croydon North as just 26 watch by-election film promoting Andrew Stranack (standard.co.uk)
- Jasper admits to using Twitter bots to drive election bid (insidecroydon.com)