Croydon’s own red wall turned blue in the London elections this month. Ward-level voting figures provide more bad news for Labour in Croydon, reports our resident psephologist, WALTER CRONXITE
The unseasonable heavy rainfall in May is not the only reason to get out the anoraks.
Since the stormy weekend, political anoraks have been analysing the results of the London elections at ward level.
The results also show the grand total of postal votes by borough, so some assumptions have to be made about how those postal votes are spread around.
For Croydon political anoraks there is the opportunity to compare the results in the wards for the five council by-elections that were held on the same day at the start of the month, compared to the result for the constituency vote for the Croydon and Sutton London Assembly seat, the best comparison with its limited number of candidates and use of the first-past-the-post system.
The displeasure of Labour voters with Croydon’s Labour-run council is apparent in the poor performance of the party in those by-elections compared to the Assembly constituency vote.
The underperformance runs at about 6.5per cent of the vote. At its worst, it reaches 10 per cent.
This deep-seated anger with the Labour council will be a significant handicap in May 2022, when the borough-wide Town Hall elections are due to be held. The underperformance might be even worse when the focus of the election is on Labour’s serial failures in children’s services, poor social housing, Brick by Brick and bankruptcy.
Looking at the results by ward for the Assembly seat and deducting the Newman/Ali negative effect on Labour’s performance, all the borough’s marginal wards currently held by Labour look vulnerable.
New Addington South now leans strongly towards the Conservative and Addiscombe East and Waddon are toss-up wards, capable of going either way. Losing all those wards would leave Labour reliant on the ceremonial Mayor’s casting vote to keep them in power.
New Addington South, that part of New Addington south of King Henry’s Drive, saw the Conservatives win the ward in the local Assembly seat election by 775 votes to 544 votes, before taking account of postal votes, where across the borough the Tories were outpacing Labour at the rate of 4:3.
In the Mayoral vote Tory candidate Shaun Bailey far outpaced London Mayor Sadiq Khan in New Addington South, with a spectacular margin more than 30 per cent. New Addington South is currently the two-seat ward held by senior Croydon Labour figures Louisa Woodley and Oliver Lewis (neither of whom happens to live in New Addington). The ward looks a certain Tory gain in 2022. Croydon’s own red wall now turned blue.
Waddon also saw a Bailey lead on first preferences. Addiscombe East saw a narrow Khan lead on first preferences. Norbury Park (where council cabinet member Alisa Flemming has her seat) and Addiscombe West (where one seat is held by new cabinet deputy Maddie Henson) also saw strong Bailey challenges.
The anoraks with their mapping tools have been busy, too, painting swathes of Croydon blue. One American-based election mapper, cinycmaps, has logged the votes by ward across the whole of London, and it shows majorities for Bailey all the way from Waddon – currently a Labour-held council ward – down to Coulsdon.
Unlike in 2016, this time around the Conservatives won the borough-wide Assembly list popular vote in Croydon, 37.76 per cent to 34.72 per cent; five years ago it was Labour 37.77 per cent Tories 35.03 per cent.
The LibDem vote borough-wide vote was pretty pathetic with Old Coulsdon, as usual, the best performing ward for them.
The Greens beat the Tories into second place in Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood with about a 20 per cent share after postal votes. Targeting by Greens on this ward would put a bit of gentle pressure on the Labour incumbents there, with voters likely to be aware of the successes of Greens across the borough boundary in Lambeth, where the Greens were also second to Labour across the whole of the Lambeth and Southwark constituency in the Assembly election.
It’s reckoned that every time Labour’s leader nationally, Keir Starmer, appears on television, his party’s abysmal poll ratings take another nosedive.
After her repeat car crash performances on broadcast media since she became Croydon Council leader in October, the same appears true, too, for Hamida Ali. Her council’s deep unpopularity makes Labour’s hold on power so tenuous that just a single electoral “accident” in Fairfield, Addiscombe West, New Addington North or Norbury Park, and they would lose control of the Town Hall that they have held since 2014.
Second preference voting in the Mayoral election saw Khan win Waddon.
The usually Tory ward of South Croydon – seat of Croydon Conservative leader Jason Perry – also voted for Khan on the transfer of second preferences, after the Labour Mayor was in second place on first preferences after postal votes.
Many non- or ex-Labour but progressive voters in those wards used their second preference for Khan. But the Conservative government is looking at stopping the use of that supplementary second preference vote system, perhaps as soon as 2022.
With Croydon to hold a referendum in October over whether to switch from the current “strong” leader model (try not to laugh) to a directly-elected mayor, it would appear that only an alternative vote system would see Labour retain control in Croydon next year.
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