Croydon Central

2015 Result:
Conservative: 22753 (43%)
Labour: 22588 (42.7%)
Lib Dem: 1152 (2.2%)
Green: 1454 (2.7%)
UKIP: 4810 (9.1%)
TUSC: 127 (0.2%)
Others: 57 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 165 (0.3%)

Category: Ultra-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of the Croydon council area.

Main population centres: Croydon, New Addington.

Profile: While Croydon Central contains the commercial and shopping centre of Croydon, it is really the eastern part of the borough. Most of the seat is semi-detached, middle-of-the-road suburbia, places like Shirley and Heathfield, although to the north of the constituency is more ethnically mixed. At the southern end of the constituency is the large council estate of New Addington, a somewhat isolated development on the very edge of London that that has traditionally provided Labour with the core of their support in this seat.

Politics: Croydon Central may not really be central geographically (it is more the east of the brough), but it certainly is political, halfway between the safe Tory Croydon South and safely Labour Croydon North. It was held by Labour between 1997 and 2005 before being won by the Conservatives on a wafer thin minority. The new Conservative MP Andrew Pelling was subsequetly suspended from the party following his arrest on an allegation of assault. No charges were pressed and Pelling sued the Mail on Sunday successfully for libel. He contested the 2010 election as an Independent (one of four MPs at the election who stood against their former parties as independents), finishing fourth but saving his deposit, and was replaced by Conservative Gavin Barwell. The Conservatives narrowly retained it in 2015 on the smallest majority in London.

Current MP
GAVIN BARWELL (Conservative) Born 1972, Cuckfield. Educated at Trinity School of John Whitgift and Cambridge University. Former Conservative party director of operations and head of the party`s target seats campaign. Croydon councillor 1998-2010. First elected as MP for Croydon Central in 2010. PPS to Greg Clark 2011-12, PPS to Michael Gove 2012-2013. Government whip since 2013. Selected for Sutton and Cheam prior to the 2005 election, but withdrew due to family illness.
Past Results
Con: 19567 (39%)
Lab: 16688 (34%)
LDem: 6553 (13%)
BNP: 1448 (3%)
Oth: 5411 (11%)
MAJ: 2879 (6%)
Con: 19974 (41%)
Lab: 19899 (41%)
LDem: 6384 (13%)
UKIP: 1066 (2%)
Oth: 1634 (3%)
MAJ: 75 (0%)
Con: 17659 (39%)
Lab: 21643 (47%)
LDem: 5156 (11%)
UKIP: 545 (1%)
Oth: 857 (2%)
MAJ: 3984 (9%)
Con: 21535 (39%)
Lab: 25432 (46%)
LDem: 6061 (11%)
Oth: 885 (2%)
MAJ: 3897 (7%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
GAVIN BARWELL (Conservative) See above.
SARAH JONES (Labour) Campaigns and policy director.
JAMES FEARNLEY (Liberal Democrat) Educated at LSE. Communications consultant.
PETER STAVELEY (UKIP) Born 1962, Crawley. Educated at St Wilfreds and Polytechnic of Central London. Transport planning consultant. Contested Lewisham West and Penge 2010.
ESTHER SUTTON (Green) Educated at Winchester School of Art. Publican.
MARTIN CAMDEN (UK Progressive Democracy)
Comments - 750 Responses on “Croydon Central”
  1. The latest Yougov does replicate the feel from the ground here I must say.

  2. I’ll certainly keep a look out for this declaration.

    Not because it’ll be indicative of anything nationally – merely ‘cos I expect it to be close again.

    Indeed the Tory, Lab & UKIP PPCs are the same as in 2015, which is almost unheard of at this GE.

    Do we know anything about the Ind Candidate this time and how many of them have Freepost election addresses?

  3. “The latest Yougov does replicate the feel from the ground here I must say.”

    Mini – What are you hearing on the ground here? The demographics of this seat are changing very rapidly – there’s been an huge influx of BME and Eastern European residents from South London – so Labour must be in with a chance here if that YouGov poll is anywhere bear correct!

  4. That London poll has meant this seat is now much higher on my radar. Not predicting which way it will go but I feel its not controversial to say this seat is a definite candidate for an anomalous Lab gain even if the Tories win comfortably nationally.

    As an aside pictures are circulating online of a hustings event here, Jones is looking very chipper while Barwell looks very nervous indeed, obviously don’t read too much into that since it might have just been those pictures and could mean nothing but it is perhaps indicative of how each feel things are going locally?

    Definitely one to watch.

  5. Ind have been awful. From what I’ve seen there’s been some swing to Lab in most areas but not seen enough to give a conclusive answer. Tories seem to be going up a gear with a paid for paper wrap and shipping in activists now.

  6. managed to find time to get out here again over the weekend. Very optimistic given the national picture. If there is to be any Labour gains this might just be it.

  7. The You Gov model is predicting an easy Labour gain here.

    It is also predicting Labour gains in Hendon and Enfield Southgate and toss ups in Finchley & Golders Green and Battersea and all four seats gained from the Conservatives in 2015 easily held.

    What is most interesting is the close Conservative hold in Kensington and the Cities of London & Westminster.

    Like Westminster North, the most expensive areas of these constituencies are being bought up as overseas second homes making the votes of voters in North Kensington, Notting Hill, Earls Court and Pimlico more significant.

    The City of London is also becoming more like the rest of ‘Midtown’ (Clerkenwell, Hoxton, Finsbury ect) and this was illustrated by Labour gaining their first seats on that authority at the last city council elections.

  8. I just can’t see any of these Lab gains happening (apart from Croydon Central). We’ll see on the night.

  9. Generally Southgate, Finchley and Hendon are becoming less Tory.

    The model also predicts clear Conservative wins in the former Labour constituencies of Romford, Hornchurch, Putney, Wimbledon, Bexleyheath & Crayford and Harrow East.

  10. They may be becoming less Tory generally but they also happen to have the largest Jewish communities where Corbyn is very unpopular.
    I agree all unlikely apart from Croydon Central.

  11. Some people upthread (me included) mentioned Southern Railway.

    During my commute from Croydon today I had time to listen to the whole of Sgt Pepper. Not bad going for a “20-25” minute trainride (and unlike John Lennon I could do this without dropping acid). That is the strange vortex of Govia.

    In other words – it will still be a factor in a very tight seat.

  12. I think many Croydon commuters will be of the view that Labour’s policy of re-nationalisation and caving in to every luddite demand of the rail unions is unlikely to improve their commute. But we shall see. I remain of the view that this seat leans Con. The large UKIP vote will be key, most of it in & around New Addington, largely WWC and very few will be Southern commuters and very unlikely to appreciate Corbyn.

  13. Good album but I preferred Revolver, Eleanor Rigby is my favourite song by the Beatles

  14. Is “Taxman” by the Beatles the most obvious over attack on a t party political policy made by a chart entering artist?

    Let me tell you how it will be
    There’s one for you, nineteen for me
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
    Should five per cent appear too small
    Be thankful I don’t take it all
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman
    If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
    If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
    If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
    If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.
    Don’t ask me what I want it for
    If you don’t want to pay some more
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
    Now my advice for those who die
    Declare the pennies on your eyes
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
    And you’re working for no one but me.

  15. It was the Beatles’s musical revenge for being taxed so much.

  16. Gavin Barwell, recently defeated in Croydon Central, is Theresa May’s new chief-of-staff.

    Rather makes a mockery of the idea that democracy allows us to vote our politicians out of power

  17. Perhaps. But seems a very good appointment – ticks all the boxes in terms of experience (ex-CCHQ), relationship with parly party (important as a lack of this hurt Timothy/Hill), understanding of parliament as former whip (crucial in minority situation) and ideological position on left of party (group laying most blame at May’s door for the election result).

  18. Polltroll- totally agree, but then Barwell is a very liked figure so I’m not surprised. He’s also very much on the liberal wing of the party.

  19. Tim Montgomery of ConHome just described Con losing Timothy /Hill as Man Utd losing Alex Ferguson. One of the first signs of regicide is when your most trusted advisors are chopped.

  20. Not a bad appointment- don’t agree with his liberal views on immigration but I accept that we need to build bridges with other tendencies within the party.

  21. Looking forward to next year on this result it looks like some of the marginals (Ashburton and Addiscombe) could well be safe Labour on current boundaries whilst Fairfield will be well placed for a Labour gain.

  22. I think Croydon borough has had boundary changes to the wards though I’m not sure.

  23. A good appointment, although very sorry that he has lost his seat.
    Glad to see those other 2 dreadful “advisors” given the boot.
    I’d have got rid of them a long time ago.

  24. Seems like a good appointment to me

  25. Doesn’t seem like quite such a good appointment now, does it? For either him or the PM.

  26. Because of the fire?

  27. I have to say Barwell running away from journalists this morning was pretty dire, its one thing to run away and refuse to answer questions when the journalists are asking you some awkward questions about leadership bids, party unity or a sex scandal you were supposedly involved in but to run away from probing questions re a national disaster that cost so many lives…its just distasteful and gives the impression he values his dignity and career over the lives of those effected.

  28. Just a very brief comment on this – I think that there is an element of being ‘wise after the event’ on this.

    No-one can deny that it was a tragedy – some of the footage is absolutely heartbreaking and clearly what happened shouldn’t have happened. We should be careful (referencing some of the immediate posts previous to this) regarding berating various ministers and departments – every department will receive thousands of proposals across a wide range of topics, they can’t realistically review all much less fund such projects.

    If we’re going to take a ‘bash the Tories because they don’t care about the poor’ view on this, then we need to make sure that no reports or formal recommendations regarding fire safely were made during Labour’s period in office. We should also listen to the experts, many of whom (as far as I can tell) are taking a more measured ‘wait and see’ approach.

    No-one can detract from the human tragedy of this – it is truly awful – but whilst May is attracting criticism, I think Corbyn et al need to be careful that they don’t rush to judgement and take populist positions that may appear somewhat foolish and opportunistic after the event.

    Moreover, and again not wishing to detract from the tragedy, I did hear one commentator point out that these flats were refurbished not just in terms of the cladding, but also in relation to insulation and new windows. The cost was approximately £8m covering, as I understand it, around 120-150 flats.

    In other words, the tenants hear each received a free refurbishment worth £50k+. If it was badly implemented or the cladding was inappropriate of course that is shocking – but we need to wait for that judgement. In the meantime, left wing commentators jumping on the “don’t care about the poor” bandwagon may do well to reflect how many of those on higher than average, but not excessive, salaries (say £30-£50k) could afford a £50k refurbishment.

    Then they should reflect as to whether the council really didn’t care about those in social housing. £8m sounds like a reasonable refurbishment and it is stretching it to suggest that, in spending that money, they didn’t care about either conditions or safety.

  29. Well, Tim S, that’s an opinion from one side of the table. What I’ve been told is that there was disquiet about the type of replacement windows being installed, but they were cheaper, so they were chosen. That residents who voiced their worries were served with a ‘cease and desist’ letter to silence them – that’s not proven to me yet, but if true, it’s terrible. That part of the refurb was really designed to please the private sector owners nearby, who wanted to look out on something less ugly.

    Most of all, the Tories have been in power for 7 years nationally, and since time immemorial in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea: there has to be a point where responsibility sits with them, and can’t be passed backwards to the government before the government before the last government….

    There’s also the problem, not just of Barwell walking away from reporters, but him being chosen as the PM’s advisor, and the sense that the PM lacks the judgement, empathy and leadership which was expected of her. That’s not something that can be passed on to anyone else.

  30. I’ve always liked Barwell but his conduct today (basically running away) was really not good enough.

  31. Indeed, it was cowardly behaviour, at a time when it was imperative to be brave and face the music. The PM may soon be looking for another advisor – or maybe the country will be looking for another PM.

    Oddly enough Andrea Leadsom, of all people, managed to get the tone right on her visit. All she had to do was talk to people and suck up whatever they threw at her. It’s coming to something when she shows up the rest of the Conservative Party in the compassion stakes – I guess it’s that maternal instinct…

  32. Can we please stop using this website for this crap??

    Rivers, yes there is a boundary review and the final recommendations are due to be published on July 11th.

  33. The boundary review was requested by the Labour run council for pretty obvious reasons. There has been high population growth over the last decade in the north of the borough and so the curent boundaries do favour the Tories. For example, Broad Green has 11.8 per cent more electors than the average while Coulsdon East (-13.1%), Sanderstead (-10.2%) and Selsdon & Ballards (-12.8%) are significantly below average. (figures taken from the Croydon Advertiser).

    Interestingly though, the impact of the changes may be slightly offset by the fact that the current proposals are almost identical to the plans submitted by the Tories. It sounds like Labour overplayed their hand and submitted some very obviously partisan proposals which were never going to be accepted. They were so bad that some Labour coucillors even broke ranks and submitted a separate set of proposals. The Tories on the other hand submitted some joint proposals, along with a number of resident associations, which seem to be more senisible. (although i’m sure not completely impartial!!)

    Overall though, I still can’t see anything other than Labour retaining the council in 2018 (with probably an increased majority). Labour would need to implode nationally (and certainly in London) for the Tories to have a chance. Given my recent predictions in Croydon were so disasterously wrong I won’t try and make any predictions so far in advance!

  34. HH – are the reports true that the RMT have rejected a £75,000 offer for train drivers on Southern?!

  35. Lancs – that’s correct, although technically that figure includes overtime. Southern drivers are contracted to work four days a week. Most of them work an extra days overtime. I’m just praying that they sort it out as I can’t cope with another period of strike action.

  36. The LBC have published their proposals for the new Croydon borough wards

    Can anybody with local knowledge make sense of this to give those of us with no local knowledge an idea as to the partisan effects, perhaps some guesses as to what wards are safe/marginal so we all know what to look out for at the next set of locals.

  37. The final proposals are far better for Labour than the original draft proposals especially in the Addiscombe area. The new Fairfield ward covering the town centre is also likely to be Labour. though slightly unpredictable due to the number of new developments. Overall fairly neutral though Waddon will be a much safer ward for Labour now.

  38. Agreed – struggling to see how the Tories can now win this borough… even in a good year. I’ve done a quick tally and I make it ..

    Safely Labour – 39
    Safely Tory – 22

    Leaning Labour 3
    Leaning Tory – 6

    I’ll add a bit more detail when I get chance

  39. Looking at the new boundaries I would only put only 18 seats as safely Tory though I would put another 10 as lean Tory. Newly created wards like Selsdon Vale and Forestdale, Purley Oaks and Riddlesdon, Shirley North and South Croydon could well turn out to be closer than they may look given their makeup. The path to victory though is increasingly difficult for the Tories and they would need to sweep Fairfield and the 2 Addiscombe wards for victory which is over and above the lean wards. Waddon is much harder to win on the new boundaries. Norbury Park may also be a potential but it would take an exceptional year to win

  40. Thanks to both Martin and Surreymanc for the very interesting info, seems like Lab were wise to push for the review given what’s been said, are we to assume then that the Tories will never win back control of Croydon borough on these boundaries?

  41. The South Croydon ward looks better for Labour than the old Croham ward. It removes a lot of larger houses around Sanderstead station. I would still say it trends Tory, but I think demographic change may move it to Labour in due course.

  42. Excellent analysis from Martin who knows the area better than most of us.

  43. Amazing how things change in 4 years. Before the last elections this council was on a knife edge. Now it’s almost inconceivable that the Tories can win this back in the near future. If they have a reasonable night they can probably hang on to 28 seats(out of 70). A bad night would see them in the low twenties or worse. They really need to hang on to as many as possible and hope the political landscape changes dramatically soon!

    On a side note, I’ll be interested to see how the Lib Dem’s fair in Coulsdon. We’ve received some interesting bar charts showing that they were second last time and ‘only they can beat the Tories’…. Given how they did last year Labour could well be second this time.

    I’ll be making zero predictions this time after my efforts in the last few elections!

  44. South Croydon ward had the highest Labour candidate around 500 votes behind the lowest Conservative. The result in 2014 had Labour 700 behind in the old Croham ward. 2010, 1000 behind. 2006, not even in second place.

    It is difficult to know if there is a gradual drift towards Labour or whether the new ward benefitted Labour as I and Martin wondered above.

  45. Croydon Council has filed for bankruptcy.

  46. I lived in Croydon for a while in the late 90s and have lived fairly close to it for most of the years since. Its council, reflecting the borough itself, has long been regarded as divided and dysfunctional.

    The Tories controlled Croydon from its formation until 1994 and again from 2006 to 2014. They focused all the resources at their disposal on their strongholds in the south of the borough and starved the north. This is not the only reason why places like Thornton Heath are now among the shittiest parts of London (having been pleasant suburbs a few decades ago), but it is an important factor. The years of Labour control (1994-2006, and since 2014) have understandably seen the reverse, big funding increases for the north of the borough. Certainly the south of Croydon is no longer as exclusive as it was though still mostly quite nice.

  47. I remember making the journey from Caterham to Croydon on a regular basis and it got grim as soon as you hit Kenley, which of course is where the South Croydon constituency begins.

    Looks can be deceptive though as away from the main roads there’s almost a monotony of suburban leafy drives with large 5/6-bedroom detached houses throughout the constituency.

    Ethnically this seat has seat has changed quite a bit over time but it’s still a pretty safe Tory seat and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

  48. Tim:

    “Ethnically this seat has seat has changed quite a bit over time but it’s still a pretty safe Tory seat and I don’t see that changing any time soon”.

    I think you’ve got the wrong seat here, Tim, seeing as this thread is on Croydon Central, which of course has changed considerably ethnicity-wise. The central Fairfield Ward, though it has been changed to only include the central core, is now comfortably Labour, and other wards such as Waddon are solidly so. The seat also includes some very run down areas like Broad Green, just to the north of the town centre, which only add to Labour’s majority in this seat. To think that in 1982, only the New Addington and Fieldway Wards voted Labour. The whole of the rest of the borough was Conservative. Labour’s breakthrough came in 1986, when they won most of what is now Croydon North, especially those areas that were in the former Croydon North West seat.

    Croydon South, which you were commenting on, is still fairly safe, and I was surprised by just how easily the Conservatives held the wards here in 2018, given all the discussion on here about how South Croydon and Purley were likely to go Labour. They weren’t really close in any of the wards. I don’t see that changing soon.

    I must take issue with you over Kenley though. It doesn’t really get grim, though I can understand you would think that if you only saw the Godstone Road, which the railway line runs fairly close to. It isn’t the prettiest main road, but then neither is any of the A22/A23 running up to Croydon. The stretch of the A22 through Whyteleafe is not that attractive either. It’s one of those places where you go straight from Greater London to Surrey without leaving the suburbs (Coulsdon and Purley UDC had to be forced into Greater London, which Caterham and Warlingham UDC managed to avoid). However, if you go the back way from Caterham to Kenley, via Hayes Lane and past the airfield, the area is far more attractive (and semi-rural), and not far up the road, on the other side of the A23, is Woodcote, probably the highest status area in the London Borough of Croydon.

  49. Just to clarify to WV my comments were on Croydon South not Central

  50. “The seat also includes some very run down areas like Broad Green, just to the north of the town centre, which only add to Labour’s majority in this seat.”

    Pedantic reply to Wandsworth Voter (though the rest of his/her comment is excellent)-

    Broad Green is not in Croydon Central, it is in Croydon North (indeed none of the areas directly due north of the town centre are in Central on current boundaries).

    Some bits to the north-east of the town centre like Woodside and Addiscombe are in Central, suburbs which have come down in the world a bit but still far less grotty than Broad Green, Selhurst or Thornton Heath.

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