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. I think is a quite clear tory hold and would very surprised if labour won.

  2. ‘Nevertheless, I fully accept that changing demographics should keep Labour competitive here medium-term.’

    Labour’s saving grace here is the consistent increase in the ethnic minority population

    Otherwise as in other WWC southern seats, they would be history

  3. I don’t think there is any such thing as a largely white working-class seat other than in Kent and Hampshire. Labour haven’t held most of those seats for quite a while other than in a landslide year.
    There are plenty of lower middle class dominated seats though where Labour have certainly fallen back such as Romford.
    Its a lot more complicated. Labour still hold wards in southern towns, and often these are in areas of high unemployment and social housing. I think you use working class incorrectly – most of the areas you refer to are C1/C2 lower-middle class areas, high home ownership, self employment etc.

  4. ‘I don’t think there is any such thing as a largely white working-class seat other than in Kent and Hampshire’

    Essex contains a few – Harlow, Basildon

    Whether WWC or LMC, there are plenty of seats throughout the country (England) – from Northamptonshire to Kent – where Labour just aren’t competitive any more

  5. Crawley’s demographics have changed quite a bit in the last decade, and if that continues, this is one of the southern New Towns that will probably trend towards them in years to come. It’ll still be Tory in 2015, but I can see it swinging back to Labour by the mid-2020’s at least.

    Datford is most definitely a good example of a southern WWC/LMC town where Labour have faded pretty badly. Back in the 1950s, Margaret Thatcher (Margaret Roberts at the time) unsuccessfully contested Dartford when it was considered a safe Labour seat.

  6. I agree that this seat is likely to be a Tory hold in 2015. However, I do think that there is a good chance of Labour winning control of Crawley borough council in May’s local elections. It is also the only likely council gain for them in the SE this year. I think Milton Keynes will probably be out of their reach unless the LD vote collapses.

  7. Its more than likely, its all but certain.

  8. “Back in the 1950s, Margaret Thatcher (Margaret Roberts at the time) unsuccessfully contested Dartford when it was considered a safe Labour seat.”

    The boundaries of the Dartford seat that Maggie fought were very different from today. The seat stretched much further into what is now Bexley, and less out into Kent. I think I’m right in saying that it was more like the predecessor of Erith & Crayford (which was a Labour seat until 1983) rather than the current Dartford. I’m guessing that the Tories would still have won in 2010 though.

  9. This is an interesting intervention, following the reports that Tony Blair is considering making a donation to Labour:

    He makes good points, but two things:

    1. How can any of the main parties claim that all their donors are 100% whiter than white?

    2. Seeing as how many of Labour’s opponents on the right criticise their links with the unions and very few of them have actually criticised Tony Blair since this government took power (some point to his electoral success as a sign of their grudging respect for him, compared to the current leadership), why should he care if it’s coming from a man who the unions are hardly big fans of?

  10. “following the reports that Tony Blair is considering making a donation to Labour”

    I would have thought it would have been news if Tony Blair wasn’t making a donation to Labour, given that (a) he was leader for 13 years, and (b) how much money he’s been earning recently making speeches, etc.

  11. Ladbrokes:
    1/5 Cons
    10/3 Lab

  12. About right. Not unthinkable that Labour can win, but highly unlikely.

  13. I agree.
    But I think this is a seat which could trend a bit back to Labour longer term. More than some similar places like Stevenage and Harlow which I think could see the Tory vote more stacked up.

    I’m talking about long term relative trends – not saying either party couldn’t win either type of seat in short term political situations

  14. Think Joe is talking utter rubbish. Stevenage and Harlow are far more likely to go back to Labour (quicker) than Crawley. When you take into account the relative prosperity of the town, the new housing being built towards Horsham and the Airport…

  15. I think Harlow & this seat are actually very similar. The main difference perhaps is that Crawley has a rather large non-white minority. The psephology of the 2 seats has been very very similar since 1997.

  16. I think Stevenage can definitely be won by Labour in a good year. They haven’t drifted there like they have in other new towns in the south. For one they’ve remained in firm control of the council years now. Even during their nadir in 2008 they still kept control with very little Tory representation. The Parliamentary seat is a different ball game though.

    Not so sure about Harlow, but Crawley’s demographic changes could clinch it for Labour in the future.

  17. Stevenage needs a distinctly lower swing to be gained than either Crawley or Harlow in any case.
    Before 2012, there appeared to be only 2 safe Labour wards in Crawley, against 5 safe Tory ones. However, Labour has fought back to make 3 Bridges competitive again, and West Green seems to be joining the ranks of safe Labour wards too. Tilgate was surprisingly easily won by Labour last year having been very close in 3 previous elections (including a by-election). The Tories are still safe in Furnace Green, the 2 Pound Hill wards & Maidenbower, but Labour are still in the race. The Tories should hold Crawley but it won’t be as easy as they might have thought a year ago.

  18. I think Hertfordshire and Harlow are more commuting areas than Crawley, and the airport could be the clue to demographic changes in the future. I was basing my longer term predictions more on that than the majorities now.

  19. I too disagree with Joe. And as for commuter areas, Crawley (Three Bridges) is barely 30 minutes to London Bridge and not much more to Victoria. Harlow I believe takes slightly longer to get to Liverpool Street. But all three can be classed as commuter towns.

  20. I think Labour will just about take control of the council here in a couple of weeks. I don’t think UKIP will take any seats here.

    My prediction of the composition of the borough council here after the elections this month:

    Labour: 19 seats
    Conservatives: 17 seats
    UKIP: 1 seat (through defection)

  21. Labour has gained Crawley winning four seats from the Tories.

  22. …Although UKIP could very well have split the vote in some of these wards to allow Labour in.

  23. Although UKIP allowed LAB to gain the council, had this been a General Election Henry Smith would have been re-elected to Westminster albeit by a wafer thin majority. Cons polled just under 100 votes more than Lab overall.

  24. Just realised that 3 wards didn’t vote this year which means a proper aggregate of votes can’t be calculated. Stupid system IMO.

  25. Has Ashcroft done a poll here or is this constituency outside his “marginal” list?

  26. He hasn’t run a poll here as far as I know. Odd considering that Thanet South was included and that requires a larger swing than even Crawley.

    But I suppose he can only run so many.

  27. This one really ought to be a tory hold.

  28. Yes – you won’t be surprised by that.
    Although I think Labour will win here again at some point. The long term trends aren’t quite what we throught in 2010.

  29. He included South Thanet as it is one of the two constituencies which he feels UKIP have the best chance of doing something in.

    In the same way that boundary changes produce notional majorities, I guess he is calling this a “notional marginal”.

  30. *calling South Thanet

  31. Henry Smith’s electoral record here has been sterling since he first stood in 2001 I reckon. He’s certainly had some good results here, and I think him standing three times in a row has probably helped the Tories here.

  32. I still think, although others beg to differ, that Smith’s electoral record has much to do with the building of large owner-occupied (though certainly not posh) estates since Labour’s breakthrough in 1997. This has made Furnace Green ward a Tory stronghold, and has created an entirely new safe Tory ward in Maidenbower. However, new development has been much less widespread in more recent years, and therefore what little has been added to in terms of the Tory vote has been cancelled out by a slow but steady rise in the non-white vote. Labour’s steep decline since 1997 has in other words seemed to come to an end, and the seat is likely to follow national or at least regional trends closely. That does make a Tory retention a very strong favourite next year, but Labour’s ability to outpoll the Tories in the CC elections last year indicates that this seat probably will be won again at some point in the future.

  33. Something like this perhaps?
    Smith (Conservative)- 42%
    Labour- 35%
    UKIP- 13%
    Liberal Democrat- 6%
    Green- 2%
    Others- 2%

  34. Not bad at all. Maybe very slightly closer but I’d say unlikely to be less than 5% Con majority.

  35. This seat will continue to be marginal, that’s clearly for certain.

    I think Henry Smith might be OK here in 2020 as well, he seems to be a good incumbent who has worked this seat for a very long time, but of course I wouldn’t want to speculate that far ahead.

  36. Isn’t UKIP a threat here? After all, in 2005 LAB won by 37 votes with UKIP taking over 900 – denying the Tory win.

  37. Slight consolation prize for Labour tonight, gaining a seat from UKIP in the Southgate ward.

  38. I have noticed a lot of threads mention a long term drift from the Conservatives to Labour (Enfield Southgate/ Crawley/ Peterborough, etc).

    Are there any areas of England that anyone feels is going the other direction. The rise of UKIP, with two impressive results last night, make it difficult to calculate. Similarly, a general increase in the BME population makes this look unlikely. At some stage the Conservatives will surely be able to close the gap with ethnic minorities, but until that point it makes winning more votes a challenge.

    Looking beyond that, what areas of the country seem to be drifting their direction?

  39. (a) Medium sized towns in the Midlands – places like Nuneaton, Cannock, Peterborough

    (b) New towns – places like Harlow, Stevenage

    (c) Central London – places like North Westminster, Hammersmith, Hampstead

    (d) Cornwall

    And although the changes in population are much reduced from what they were 30 years ago, and NIMBYs are much stronger, many semi-rural areas are still expanding while urban areas have limited scope (unless crammed like London). So Conservatives will gain seats from this population expansion.

    Lastly we see a very slow but persistent regionalization, where the Conservatives gain support relatively in the South while losing it in the North.

  40. How long will it take the people of this constituency to realise that voting UKIP will not elect a UKIP councillor or MP. The UKIP vote here only lets in Labour – unlike other constiuencies where is may not. The majority of UKIP vote comes from CON. Breakdown of vote:
    LAB 733
    CON 642
    UKIP 277
    maj of 92.

  41. CON are 1/3 to retain this seat. LAB are 11/4 with UKIP 16/1.

  42. CON are now 2/5 to win this seat. LAB 3/1 and interestingly UKIP 13/2 so UKIP have closed on both main parties. Thoughts?

  43. Latest odds: CON 1/3, LAB 7/2, UKIP 7/1, LD 100/1

  44. Theresa May was in Crawley yesterday to officially launch Henry Smiths re-election bid. They clearly want to retain Crawley – the question is will they?

  45. Apparently LAB are not putting much effort in trying to win this seat (according to the BBC South East political editor). Instead they are targeting Hastings & Rye, Brighton Kemptown, Brighton Pavillion and Hove.

  46. Harriet Harman’s pink battle bus rolled into Crawley this morning stating “I think it’s going to be all eyes on Crawley on May 7 without a doubt”

  47. I’m predicting:

    CON 39%
    LAB 35%
    UKIP 15%
    GRN 5%
    LIB DEM 6%

  48. We’re not a million miles apart, Jason. I’m going for a Con hold by 2100.

  49. Con 42
    Lab 35
    UKIP 15
    LD 5
    GRN 3

    Swing 3%

  50. Conservative Hold. 3,000 maj

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