Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, has declared himself as a candidate for the Conservative nomination for a parliamentary seat that does not exist (yet).
Barwell told Inside Croydon that “I will apply for Croydon East”.
This is a very early declaration when the Boundary Commission for England will not be providing its final recommendations to the government until October next year.
The boundary changes as proposed, intended to reduce the number of MPs sitting at the House of Commons, also appear likely to assist the Conservatives nationally, mainly at the expense of their Liberal Democrat coalition “partners”, although some changes will also be to the detriment of Labour.
The first set of boundary change proposals have been especially helpful to the Conservatives in Croydon and Sutton, merging Croydon Central with the St Helier area of Sutton, and adding some LibDem wards to the overwhelmingly Tory Croydon South seat. LibDem objections may yet see these proposals altered.
The recent London Assembly elections pointed to an impact of the boundary changes that would, combined with opinion poll shifts, see parliamentary representation in Croydon and Sutton change from two Conservatives, two Liberal Democrat and one Labour seat to four Conservatives and one Labour seat.
Before becoming an MP in 2010, Barwell had worked closely with Lord Ashcroft, the major Tory party donor who was a controversial figure because of his non-dom tax status.
In his own analysis of the recent London election results, Barwell says, “We would have comfortably won Croydon East.”
The polling districts in Park Hill, central Croydon, South Croydon, Old Town and on the Whitgift estate polled poorly for the Tories. These areas would be in the proposed new Croydon Central and St Helier seat. By contrast, the voters in Croham Valley, Selsdon and Selsdon Vale were stalwart in their Tory support. These all fall in the new Croydon East seat.
It is no wonder then that Barwell has put his claim in early for Croydon East.
With Croydon South’s Richard Ottaway having declared that he will retire from parliament before the next General Election, due in 2015, it means that the local Conservative party will be looking for strong candidates for three other “safe” seats in Croydon and Sutton.
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