Perhaps ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ is not such a bad campaign slogan after all. Our political editor WALTER CRONXITE crunches the numbers from last night’s European declarations across London, where only UKIP’s Gerard Batten was a bigger loser than the Conservatives
It has been a wretched few days for Mario Creatura.
The self-assumed “rising star” of Croydon Tories has had confirmation of the date when he will receive his P45 for his £80,000 per year role as Theresa Mayhem’s Twitterer in Chief, while last night’s declaration of the results from the European Parliament elections went a long way to confirm that any ambitions that the Brexit-backing Creatura may have of becoming MP for Croydon Central remain a long way off indeed.
The European election results swept aside the Conservatives in London.
For the first time in history, the Tories will send no MEPs from Greater London to the European Parliament.
Conservative Syed Kamall ends 14 years in the European Parliament, Dr Charles Tannock finishes his 20-year stint there.
UKIP’s Gerard Batten is consigned to the dustbin of history, after 15 years coining it from the European Union as a London MEP. Batten was a resounding loser in Thursday’s elections, prompting even the Daily Express, the only national newspaper ever to overtly support his party, to declare “the death of UKIP”.
Labour’s two London MEPs, Claude Moraes and Seb Dance, will return to Strasbourg, or to Brussels, but as Inside Croydon’s election preview predicted, their party’s London representation is halved, with Jeremy Corbyn-supporter Katy Clark and Momentum member Laura Parker unsuccessful.
Filling the void left by these lost seats are the LibDems, who had Irina von Wiese, Dinesh Dhamija and Luisa Porritt elected. Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party picks up two seats (Benyamin Habib and the fishy Lance Forman), and the Greens one, through Lambeth councillor Scott Ainslie.
The result may also have a profound effect on the future of Croydon politics.
Gavin Barwell’s Croydon clique in Downing Street has managed to deliver the Tories into a shaming fifth place in the borough, behind the Greens. It is a damning indictment of the impact of May’s chief of staff, Barwell, SPAD Creatura and Jason Cummings, the former Woolworths store manager turned Croydon councillor and policy adviser at No10.
The Tory vote share in Croydon was down by 16.5 per cent from the previous Euro elections in 2014. Even in Bromley and Sutton, the Tories managed to avoid finishing in fifth place, as they scrambled into a badly beaten fourth in our neighbouring boroughs.
In Croydon, the Tory vote loss is worse than the overall fall in their vote share in London, which for the avowedly Brexit-supporting Creatura, who insists on mis-describing himself as “the prospective Conservative MP for Croydon Central” must be very bad news indeed.
In Bromley, the collapse of the Conservative vote was greater, at 21 per cent, as the Brexit party dominated there.
Astoundingly in Sutton, the Conservative vote share loss was marginally less than in Croydon, and while they managed to nose ahead of the Greens, Sutton Tories finished behind Labour.
Thursday’s election, with a slightly improved turnout from 2014 of 37 per cent, was still a long way short of any “proxy second referendum”.
The Liberal Democrats, topping the London poll, secured one more seat than expected with a 27.14 per cent share of the vote
The results across London
LibDems 608,725 (27.17%, +20.44%) 3 seats
Labour 536,810 (23.96%, -12.72%) 2 seats
Brexit 400,257 (17.86%) 2 seats
Green 278,957 (12.45%, +3.52%) 1 seat
Conservative 177,964 (7.94%, -14.58%) 0 seats
ChUKa 117,635 (5.25%) 0 seats
UKIP 46,497 (2.08%, -14.79%) 0 seats
While in the past European “shock” election results have come and gone with limited impact on long-term national political trends, there must be questions about whether the Conservatives can offer a credible challenge in the next year’s elections for the London Mayor and London Assembly. With the Tories already lumbered with the politically clumsy Shaun Bailey as an electoral liability, the LibDems’ Siobhan Benita is starting to look like Mayor Sadiq Khan’s real challenger.
Labour in Croydon are relieved to have held on to first place, though where the number of people voting fell by 1,610 compared to 2014.
The 9.3 per cent fall in vote share for Labour in Croydon, where both MPs, Steve Reed OBE and Sarah Jones have never disguised their Remain preferences, was not as bad as the Labour retreat elsewhere in London. Even in the Corbynista heartland of Islington, the LibDems managed to out-vote Labour.
South of the river, the LibDems romped home against Labour in Lambeth and Merton, Lewisham and Southwark.
In Sutton, where the pro-Remain LibDems have a stranglehold on the council and one of the borough’s two parliamentary seats but in 2016 the residents voted to Leave the EU, they held off a Brexit Party challenge by 1,399 votes.
Labour’s strength in Croydon North probably saved their blushes.
Labour’s 23.9 per cent vote share placed in Croydon them 1,086 votes ahead of the LibDems and 1,647 ahead of the Brexit Party.
The top five results in Croydon
Labour 22,375 (23.9%, -9.3%)
LibDem 21,289 (22.7%, +18.8%)
Brexit 20,728 (22.1%, +22.1%)
Green 10,629 (11.4%, +4.4%)
Con 10,139 (10.8%, -16.5%)
Does this mean that the LibDems might re-emerge as a third force in Croydon politics? That could only be possible if they were to mount a sustained and better-resourced campaign in Croydon than at any time in the past decade, when without the benefit of a strong national “Bollocks to Brexit” message and mission, the LibDems’ attention has tended to be diverted to Sutton and elsewhere in south London, with more winnable prospects targeted.
However, Labour-held wards in Croydon such as Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood, Addiscombe East and Waddon, on these kind of voting patterns, could be vulnerable to a LibDem surge, while New Addington South might be a close-run thing with the Brexit Party. Losing those wards would remove Tony Newman from power at the Town Hall.
The Labour Croydon Council leader last night demonstrated his firm grip on political reality when he conceded that it was “a tough night for Labour”. Such inspired insight.
Reed opted to revel in the plight of Croydon’s Tories, saying that he is “delighted that Labour has come first in Croydon ahead of the LibDems and Conservatives humiliated in fifth place behind the Greens”.
In reality, while Reed can take comfort from the security of his Croydon North seat, the Labour meltdown over Brexit and the LibDem and Brexit Party strength in Croydon Central and Croydon South parliamentary seats is very bad news for Labour.
In Croydon Central, Labour will have been more than 500 votes behind the Brexit Party, as the Conservative vote collapsed.
In Tory stronghold Croydon South, it will be the LibDems and Brexit Party who will have dominated, with 2.5 times more vote share than the Conservatives, who finished only fourth, with Labour in third.
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