Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, takes a last look at the latest opinion polls and what they mean before tomorrow’s polling day
There can be no excuses for Labour if they fail to take Croydon Central tomorrow.
Labour fell short of removing Gavin Barwell by just 165 votes two years ago.
Now in 2017, Labour in London are predicted by the YouGov poll for Queen Mary College to secure a 50 per cent vote share, higher even than in 1997, the year of Tony Blair’s landslide destruction of the Major government.
The YouGov poll sees Labour enjoying a 4 per cent swing (meaning an 8 per cent gain) from the Tories since the 2015 General Election. That’s worth a massive 4,000 vote net gain for Labour in the context of Croydon Central.
It’s no wonder that yesterday the bookies had Labour as the favourites to take the seat from Barwell.
Britain Elects sees the probabilities of a Labour gain in Croydon Central as more than 7 in 10.
Respected specialist London pundits at the London Communications Agency see a gain for Labour in Croydon Central saying, “There is every possibility that this seat could represent one small comfort on what is likely to be a gloomy day for the Labour Party.”
They also lament an early termination of Barwell’s career, saying that Barwell “could reasonably aspire to a more senior role within Government”.
They fear, but not lament, what an election loss for Barwell would mean: “We may also never get to see the second edition of his book How To Win A Marginal Seat.”
Labour have gained from hundreds of enthusiastic doorstep canvassers coming to Croydon every day, guided by social media apps run by the Corbyn fan club and left-wing Momentum. Labour reckon that they have spoken to more than 30,000 of Croydon Central’s voters since the election was called.
Endorsements, official or otherwise, from figures such as grime artist Stormzy (“165 votes – even your dad’s got more Facebook friends”) have also been effective in making politics less off-putting and Corbyn’s Labour more fashionable among younger voters.
The changing demographics in the constituency aid Labour’s cause here too. In Croydon Central, 46 per cent of the electors come from BAME communities that, with only some exceptions, tip towards Labour.
There are also more voters aged under-35 in Croydon than there are voters aged over-55. With the Conservatives usually enjoying strong support among older voters, this is more bad news for Barwell, though he may have lost hundreds of votes among the older generation because of the Tories’ disastrous “dementia tax” bollock-drop.
But Barwell may not be the only casualty of Theresa Mayhem’s cynical misjudgement to call the snap election: whatever the national outcome – with the Tories expected to win, but without the increased majority they sought – judging by yesterday’s Evening Standard front page, the power plays within the Conservative Party have already begun.
For the Foreign Secretary to be openly questioning his own Prime Minister’s competency over national security just 48 hours before polling day is an extraordinary development, one that can only be attributed to the journalistic inexperience of the Standard‘s work experience editor, Gideon Osborne…
Either that, or civil war is about to break out in the Tory Party, and the former Chancellor is determined to settle some old scores.
Meanwhile, here in Croydon, Labour were partying amid the rain showers in the park, in anticipation of some local success and, nationally, of avoiding the electoral wipeout that May sought and her supporters among the Tory press barons had originally predicted.
Celebrating too early always risks exhibiting hubris, but Labour should thank their lucky stars that the political weather is so good in Croydon Central that it is now a must win for them.
- This Friday, June 9, Inside Croydon is staging a free talk about the election from American politics professor Bob Beatty. Click here for more details and to book your place
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