2015 Result:
Conservative: 22829 (47%)
Labour: 16303 (33.6%)
Lib Dem: 1339 (2.8%)
Green: 1100 (2.3%)
UKIP: 6979 (14.4%)
MAJORITY: 6526 (13.4%)

Category: Semi-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: South East, West Sussex. The whole of the Crawley council area.

Main population centres: Crawley.

Profile: Crawley is a newtown, designated in 1946 and which grew rapidly in the 50s and 60s to house overspill population from London. It originally had a high proportion of council housing, but this has been largely sold off through the right to buy and along with many private housing developments it has become a marginal seat, like many other southern newtowns. Gatwick airport is situated to the immediate north of the town and it naturally dominates the local economy, both as an employer itself as an as magnet for many other industries linked to the airport, such as Virgin Atlantic, Avios and Virgin Holidays.

Politics: Like many newtowns this is a close marginal between Labour and the Consevatives. It was held by Labour by only 37 votes in 2005, but finally won back by the Tories in 2010.

Current MP
HENRY SMITH (Conservative) Born 1969, Epsom. Educated at UCL. West Sussex councillor 1997-2010, Leader of West Sussex council 2003-2010. Crawley councillor 2002-2004.Contested Crawley 2001, 2005. First elected as MP for Crawley in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 21264 (45%)
Lab: 15336 (32%)
LDem: 6844 (14%)
BNP: 1672 (4%)
Oth: 2388 (5%)
MAJ: 5928 (12%)
Con: 16374 (39%)
Lab: 16411 (39%)
LDem: 6503 (15%)
BNP: 1277 (3%)
Oth: 1408 (3%)
MAJ: 37 (0%)
Con: 12718 (32%)
Lab: 19488 (49%)
LDem: 5009 (13%)
UKIP: 1137 (3%)
Oth: 1170 (3%)
MAJ: 6770 (17%)
Con: 16043 (32%)
Lab: 27750 (55%)
LDem: 4141 (8%)
Oth: 552 (1%)
MAJ: 11707 (23%)

2015 Candidates
HENRY SMITH (Conservative) See above.
CHRIS OXLADE (Labour) Born Crawley. Educated at Hazelwick School. Radio presenter. West Sussex councillor since 2009, Crawley councillor since 2011.
SARAH OSBORNE (Liberal Democrat) Psychotherapist. Lewes councillor since 2011.
GUY HUDSON (Green) Educated at Sussex University. Consultant.
Comments - 167 Responses on “Crawley”
  1. Labour have starting accepting applications to be the candidate. It’s an open selection, and the selection vote is timetabled for the 14th July.

  2. Like all new towns the swings always tend to be high – but local results suggest Labour will stay

    There is a growing Asian community here

  3. Labour will stay what? They are not in control locally or the MP.

  4. Crawley constituency:

    Lab: 8,490 (37.8%)
    Con: 7,759 (34.6%)
    UKIP: 4,801 (21.4%)
    LD: 668 (3.0%)
    Green: 580 (2.6%)
    Ind: 56 (0.2%)
    Socialist Labour: 42 (0.2%)

    Justice: 40 (0.2%)

    Changes from 2010:

    Lab: +5.5%
    Con: -10.2%
    UKIP: +18.5%
    LD: -11.4%
    Green: +1.3%

    Swing, Con to Lab: 7.9%

  5. Labour has not got the seat, Mike! Come down South, you might learn a few things about southern discomfort rather than insulting candidates or slagging of selections.
    Labour could take Crawley judging by the performance in the County Council elections. It needs a strong candidate and it needs to start appealing to Tory voters, though.

  6. I wouldn’t base any GE predictions on council elections fought 2 years prior – in 2008, the Conservatives topped the poll in seats like Wallasey, Wolverhampton NE and Wakefield, and went on to win none of these in 2010.

  7. That is true, but it does help. The Tories took Staffordshire and went onto to win Stafford and Staffordshire Moorlands. If Labour continues to get the vote out in these key areas in Crawley, get a strong local candidate and start talking to voters – Crawley is a bit working class Tory – on issues like welfare, immigration, housing and cost of living then they could win.

  8. If Labour go again for Oxlade its a Conservative win. Will be close though.

  9. West Sussex local election results by division:

    Con: 71,618
    UKIP: 54,751
    LD: 26,882
    Lab: 26,036
    Green: 4,758
    Ind: 2,377
    Others: 267
    TOTAL: 186,689

    Con: 38.4%
    UKIP: 29.3%
    LD: 14.4%
    Lab: 13.9%
    Green: 2.5%
    Ind: 1.3%
    Others: 0.1%

    Changes since 2010 general election:

    Con: -13.5%
    UKIP: +24.1%
    LD: -13.0%
    Lab: +0.9%
    Green: +1.6%
    Ind: +1.2%
    Others: -1.3%

  10. Thanks Andy – this is useful and interesting.

    Further evidence of the Lib Dem collapse protecting the Tories in the kinds of seats where the former would have run second and challenged strongly in other Tory mid-terms/bad years – like 1993.

    UKIP is a threat to the Tories for obvious reasons but this new party taking protest votes and having very different policies must make the Lib Dems very uncomfortable.

  11. Labour has done quite well in Crawley, and UKIP in Lancing.

  12. Interesting that the Tories had a clean sweep in Mid Sussex with the LDs failing to even come close in most divisions. I thought this used to be a relatively good area for them.

  13. Yes they have been very close behind the Conservatives in several local elections in the past. Nick Soames has tended to do better in parliamentary elections than his party colleagues have done in municipal ones. As Byron Criddle put it in the Almanac of British Politics, had the LDs done as well in parliamentary as in local elections, “they would have been breathing down the neck of Nicholas Soames, if that is not quite an unpleasant analogy.”

  14. Labour choose their shortlist on 15th June – 2 candidates declared, both Crawley & West Sussex councillors:

    Chris Oxlade – 2010 candidate
    Michael Jones – works for John Denham

  15. ‘Yes they have been very close behind the Conservatives in several local elections in the past. Nick Soames has tended to do better in parliamentary elections than his party colleagues have done in municipal ones.’

    The Loib Dems have imprtoved considerably in kid-Sussex over recent years

    It’s worth remembering that in the 1980s and 90s this seat used to send Tories to Parliament with majorities of 20,000

    That has been drastoically reduced to between 5,000-7,000 over the last few elections, which I’d argue is quite a considerable swing really

  16. It is not the same seat though. A lot of today’s Mid Sussex was in Crawley before 1997, and in turn a lot of the 1983-97 Mid Sussex was moved into other seats (I guess Arundel & South Downs mainly).

  17. Correct – I think the notionals for Crawley in 1992 under new boundaries showed it to be pretty tight.

  18. IIRC the boundary changes reduced the Tory majority from about 7,500 to about 4,000.

  19. ‘It is not the same seat though. A lot of today‚Äôs Mid Sussex was in Crawley before 1997, and in turn a lot of the 1983-97 Mid Sussex was moved into other seats (I guess Arundel & South Downs mainly).’

    A handful of mainly rural wards in the south – hassocks, keymer, hurstpierpoint – were removed in 97 (which would have been staunchly Tory) but in both guises the seat is still based on the three towns of Haywards Heath, East Grinstead and Burgess Hill and the Lib Dems are (probably should be were) competitive in all three

  20. The removal of those wards made the seat more focused on the 3 towns, and the towns are where the Lib Dems are stronger. So it’s not really a surprise they strengthened here. Also I can’t really imagine Nicholas Soames being the most diligent of constituency MPs which is something the Lib Dems always play on.

  21. I think if you look at the 1992 notionals for mid-Sussex there does seem to be a long-term swing to the Lib Dems from there. That could be down to Soames, or demographics – or reflect inaccurate notionals of course.

  22. ‘I think if you look at the 1992 notionals for mid-Sussex there does seem to be a long-term swing to the Lib Dems from there.’

    i was surprised that it was so strongly tory in the first place as Haywards Heath, East Grinstead and Burgess Hill must account for more than a half of the electorate in this seat and none of them are especially nice

  23. Thanks to Andrea, here is the Crawley shortlist for Labour:

    Chris Oxlade (local Cllr, 2010 candidate)
    Michael Jones (local Cllr, works for John Denham)
    Sean McKee (former head of public affairs at Gatwick, also contesting Battersea nomination)
    Mark Latham (works for LabourList, USDAW and UNITE)
    Sohail Munawar (Slough Cllr)

  24. Realised a previous comment of mine was posted incomplete – it should have read ‘Labour will stay competitive’.

    The local election results suggest the same, but new towns can be unpredictable.

  25. I’ll go out on a limb and say that Henry Smith will hold in 2015. Not too sure if south eastern marginals (bar Hastings and maybe Brighton) are quite ready to give Labour another shot in Parliament. But looking at the Census data from 2011, places like Crawley and Gravesham are gradually going through demographic changes with their Asian populations. Crawley has an established Gujarati speaking community and a small but growing Tamil speaking community. Most of the wards at borough and county level are Labour represented with these particular demographics. If it becomes anything like Slough, it may become a handy SE seat for Labour in a generation or two.

  26. My 2015 forecast for Crawley

    Con 43
    Lab 37
    UKIP 10
    LD 7
    Others 3

  27. In 1997 the following Mid Sussex council wards were transferred from Crawley to Horsham:

    Balcombe, Copthorne & Worth, Crawley Down, Slaugham, Turners Hill.

    The combined 1994 electorate of these wards was 12,608.

    These were the only changes to the Crawley constituency which then became coterminous with the Crawley council area.

  28. What a close result it was here in 2005…

    I think Andrew Rawnsley mentions in The End Of The Party that Laura Moffatt would carry the number of her majority around on a piece of paper in her last five years in the Commons, though I might have been dreaming, or read it elsewhere perhaps.

  29. It was more extreme than that: IIRC she had the number 37 tattooed on her body, although I’m not sure where.

  30. It did have a deep effect on her I think- It must have made her more focused and possibly more active as an MP perhaps. When you only hold your seat by a majority less than four figures I think it can give you as an MP something of a wakeup call…

  31. Laura Moffatt must have known she was bound to lose in 2010 from the moment she was re-elected so narrowly in 2005. She will have spent a couple of years planning for her next career move.

    I live about 15 miles from Crawley and it’s very striking how Asian it has become in a relatively short space of time. I expect the Tories will hold on in 2015 but this will be a much better seat for Labour in 10 years’ time.

  32. I read that Laura Moffatt resumed her nursing career after standing down from Parliament.

    Apparently the tattoo is on her foot.

    And yes, I echo the view of HH about Crawley. Whereas a number of New Towns could be trending away from Labour, Crawley’s demographics might very turn this into a reliable south eastern seat for them down the road.

    Here’s Crawley BC’s Census data on ethnicity, etc:

    There has been an Asian (Indian and Pakistani) presence in the town for a while, and they’ve grown as have an emergence of a couple of other visible communities since the last Census. Namely Tamil and African populations. It’s certainly going to become one the more diverse towns in the SE.

    But for 2015, I see Henry Smith holding.

  33. I’m not sure it’s necessarily diverging from other New Towns, it may just be ahead of the curve. New Towns are defined by their relationship to London and as non-white Londoners move further out from the centre they, like previous generations of Londoners, will probably move to New Towns in increasing numbers.

    This is particularly likely to be the case because if you’re going to stick large areas of new housing in in southern England, New Towns could absorb them with fewer issues than most other settlements.

  34. The New Towns are diverging quite a lot because of their different locations. I cannot think of another New Town in England (corrections welcome) that is so affected by being near a major airport. Perhaps Harlow to some extent, but Stansted is considerably nearer Bishop’s Stortford.

  35. LAB GAIN MAJ : ~1%
    LAB 37
    CON 37
    LD 10
    UKIP 9
    GRN 4
    OTH 3

  36. Crawley has made national news today over the closure of the Discovery New School.

    I feel really bad for the pupils and parents affected by this.

  37. WindsofChange some of your predictions are very oddly assorted. I can’t see how you can predict Labour to win here & lose Vale of Glamorgan for example.

  38. I still think this could be a Labour gain.

  39. :p

  40. Stansted is nearer to Bishop’s Stortford than to Harlow, but I’ve met more than a few people who work there and live in Colchester, so its commuting range certainly encompasses Harlow. In any case, why does the presence of an airport improve the prospects for Labour?

  41. This seat I think will be close (again). If the economy continues its surge upwards – I predict Henry hanging on by 1,000. Will the new estate between Crawley and Horsham be finished by the election? If so I predict 3,000 for Henry. After all, Labour have such a WEAK candidate in Oxlade.

  42. The last elections held in this constituency (May 13) county council elections. Labour got 731 votes more than the Conservatives. Considering the tories were very out of favour during this time – it does not bode well for Labour here. UKIP polled very strongly. Breakdown as follows:
    LAB 8,490
    CON 7,729
    UKIP 4,801
    Make of it what you will.

  43. In the south of England the Tories were very much IN favour – and this was a good result for Labour

  44. Intresting how it has swung to the tories by greater than average amounts since 1997 if it is going demographically downhill.

    Were the 1992-1997 changes benefical to labour here? I presume so with Hemmelig stating that much of Mid Sussex formerly being in Crawley.

  45. 38% – which is the same share as Labour ‘enjoyed’ in Crawley in 2010 – and a 3% lead in the popular vote is not a good result for Labour in this borough

  46. It is, because its an area with high swings where the Tories did well last time in the general election. So the swing back to Labour is higher than would be expected.

    Look at the results here – its not a ‘usually Labour ‘ seat and actually never has been

  47. It’s only existed in this form since 1997 and started out then with a Labour lead of 23% – well above the national average. Any elections prior to 1997 have to take into account the very different boundaries. ON these boundaries the Tory majority would have been under 2,000 in 1992 or 3.7% which was well below the national lead so that in an even year then Crawley would have been a Labour seat. It would have been Tory in the landlside elections of the 1980s but probably Labour at all elections before then since Crawley was established as a New Town. In 1974 Labour weren’t that far off winning the Horsham & Crawley seat of which Crawley at the time formed only about a half so they would have been massively ahead there then. Only since 2005 has this been a seat where Labour have performed worse than nationally (relative to the Tories)

  48. I’m with Pete. If Labour could increase their vote by only 6% points in 2013 conditions in what is apparently a high swing seat, I doubt they will be winning this in 2015. Nevertheless, I fully accept that changing demographics should keep Labour competitive here medium-term.

  49. So as I suspected – its actually moved substantially towards the tories over the last 20 years. Cheers Pete

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