Bleary-eyed after just a couple of hours’ sleep, our political editor WALTER CRONXITE has been crunching some numbers on the local election results
Four years ago, the Prime Minister was David Cameron, Nick Clegg was leader of the LibDems and four years into a five-year coalition with the Tories, Ed Miliband led Labour and Nigel Farage was fulminating for UKIP. How things change… except here in Croydon, where little appears to have altered between the 2014 local council election result and what took place yesterday and in the early hours of this morning.
In 2014, Labour’s Tony Newman hailed a record night for his party, as they took 40 seats to the Conservatives’ 30. With 70 seats still at stake this time round, but spread over 28 instead of the previous 24 wards, it might seem that Newman can claim to have improved on that previous result with 41 seats in the Town Hall chamber.
But that’s not quite the case.
Had the 2014 elections been held on the same wards as 2018, Labour then would have had 42 seats. And given the 50 per cent-plus that Labour in London has been showing in the opinion polls, had Newman’s council campaign been as effective, say, as that which carried Sarah Jones into parliament last year, he might have expected to be leading a group of at least 45 councillors for the next four years.
It was Newman, and his henchman, Paul Scott, who had called for the boundary review and drawn up a new set of wards which the Local Government Commissioners chewed upon and re-drew. While not perfect, Labour should have benefited from those boundary changes yesterday.
Indeed, in some places, they did. They took three seats in the adjusted, town centre Fairfield ward for the first time in history.
Where they really came a cropper was the new Addiscombe East ward, now a Labour-leaning two-seater marginal, down in size from the previous three-seater Ashburton Labour held ward. Tory Jeet Bains scraped in by just eight votes to deny Momentum activist Caragh Skipper her expected place in the council chamber.
Labour’s share of the popular vote in Croydon in 2014 put them ahead of the Conservatives by 2.6 per cent.
Yesterday’s result saw Labour slip, just a touch, to a 2.5 per cent lead over the Tories across Croydon in the overall share of votes cast.
The vote shares were as follows:
Liberal Democrats 5.4%
The overall result seems something of an anti-climax, after expectations of a Labour landslide. Labour had put in huge efforts to add Shirley North to their tally. Instead, the Tories managed to nick that one gain, by a close margin.
Croydon’s political duopoly was strongly preferred by the voters.
Vote shares for other parties remained modest, though shares for both the Greens and the Liberal Democrats above 5 per cent suggests an undercurrent of unhappiness.
The Greens failed to pull far enough ahead of the Liberal Democrats to emerge clearly as the third party challenger in Croydon politics despite running 18 more candidates than the LibDems, whose vote share might have been a bit higher if they had fielded more than their usual 46 candidates for 70 council seats.
The Greens were the third-placed party in 22 of Croydon’s 28 wards.
The Liberal Democrats have re-emerged as the second-placed challenger in Old Coulsdon but are a huge 44.9 per cent behind the Tories there, though that should be no problems for an inventive LibDem bar chart will likely cope with.
All the other 27 wards see Labour and Conservative vote totals for their sets of candidates take the top two places, a positive development for Labour and the Tories who had seen UKIP take second place in eight wards in the south and south-east of the borough in 2014.
Oh, and talking of serial losers…
Winston McKenzie was standing again, this time in Waddon ward for his own political party – Unity in Action (Membership: 2).
He must have got every resident of the almshouses where he lives to turn out and vote for him, as he polled … 59 votes, and last of the 14 candidates. Even McKenzie’s long-time assistant, Marianne Bowness, got more votes than he did.
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