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 - 746 Responses on “Croydon Central”
  1. I’m afraid croydon is an almost certain loss for the tories, the question being the size of labour’s majority, and whether the tories return, given the demohraphics

  2. According to Inside Croydon blog, the following 10 women applied for Labour selection (deadline to send CVs was yesterday):

    Cllr Alisa Flemming (Upper Norwood ward)
    Cllr Jane Avis (South Norwood)
    Cllr Louisa Woodley (Thornton Heath)
    Cllr Alison Butler ( Bensham Manor)
    Kusum Parashar (Ealing Cllr)
    Katherine McGuirk (Barnet Cllr)
    Fiona Dent (from Maidenhead)
    Sarah Jones (Croydon activist)
    Catriona Ogilvy (from Lambeth)
    Hamida Ali (who has also been just selected for Woodside instead of one of the sitting Cllrs)

  3. Gavin Barwell has not ruled out going for Croydon South and if any sort of boundary changes occur (if that is possible), I would not be surprised if Barwell moves in the Southern direction, even if only part of the current Croydon Central is in any new seat.

    Does anyone know if it too late for any boundary changes to occur – the 3 Croydon seats, especially Croydon North are very big? Whereas the neighbouring Sutton ones are pretty small.

    @HHemmelig – Pelling was never charged – (innocent until proven guilty??).

    @Matt – Pelling was the Croydon and Sutton GLA member from 2000-2008 so has represented Waddon in some way before. He used to be the Leader of the Tory group in the Council from 2002-2006, stepping down at the 2006 election in which the Tories took Waddon ward (which had previously been a safeish Labour ward) so I think overall would be an asset for Labour.

  4. Interesting list of contenders – I would have put Louisa Woodley and Jane Avis (who stood in Croydon S in 2010) as the favourites.

    Kath McGuirk stood in Hornchurch & Upminster in 2010

  5. The boundary changes are not going to happen now. Of course it’s not technically impossible in the same way that Dennis Skinner joining the Tories isn’t technically impossible.

  6. As a Croydon person, would love to see one of the local councillors being selected.

  7. Labour shortlist:
    Alison Butler, Sarah Jones, Catriona Ogilvy, Louisa Woodley.

  8. Interesting shortlist:

    Alison Butler is the deputy leader of the Labour group here and worked for Malcolm Wicks for 20 years
    Sarah Jones is a former chair of Croydon C Labour and has worked for Mo Mowlam and Geraint Davies.

    Catriona Ogilvy is an occupational therapist and ex chair of Streatham Labour.

    Louisa Woodley stood in Croydon & Sutton in 2012 GLA elections and is a teacher in Lambeth

  9. It’s good to see a nice selection of locals

  10. L Bernard- I quite agree- always good to see plenty of candidates with local ties.

  11. I would expect Bob wants Louisa Woodley to get the nomination.

  12. I love the way that Matt predicts who I am backing. I am backing Louisa Woodley in this selection as I believe she would be a strong candidate. Local experience, a former GLA member, community activist and teacher aside from the need that areas such as South London should have more BAME representation. I also think that the other candidates are great, so I am not too fussed about the selection though a word of caution about Catriona Ogilvy. Her politics are spot on but she isn’t really from Croydon and to beat Garvin Barwell, a local Croydon person should be selected.

  13. My personal view though is that it would have been far better not to have Croydon Central as an AWS but instead have it as an Open shortlist, so that Andrew Pelling could have become the Labour PPC here. If that happened, Barwell would have been certain to have been on his way out – 100% certain. Sometimes the Labour Party needs to stop and think more strategically, an AWS lottery and primaries are needed.

  14. A superb article by Gavin Barwell on how the Tory party needs to re-organise at the grassroots level

    Call me a conspiracy theorist, but does anyone else think that the push towards amalgamating Conservative associations on a “natural community”/borough-wide basis, as in Croydon, could partly be preparing for when the Tories agree to general elections being fought under STV with multi-member constituencies?

    If Labour fall back far enough for a second Con-Lib Dem coalition to take power after 2015 it might not be such an outlandish theory.

  15. Gavin Barwell is surely one of the most irritating of the 2010 intake of any party. He looks and sounds like a geeky 12 year old and if he represents the future of the Conservative party then we may as well have a Labour government. But there is a good deal of sense in that article and it applies to all parties

  16. If the winning party regularly receives a share of the vote in the low 30s or low 20s then FPTP will simply not be viable and I think we are moving towards that situation re. vote share. I don’t think any party will reach 35% at the next election.

  17. *high 20s*

  18. Word has it that Sarah Jones is a shoe-in for the Labour nomination. She wouldn’t be my first choice but has always struck me as quite impressive (confident, fluent, well presented).

    Personally I think she’ll struggle to defeat Gavin Barwell for the simple reason that Labour will need a net national swing from the Tories in order to win this seat (and as I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t think there will be a nationwide swing come the big day).

    @ Kokopops – It’s not true Waddon has been safe for Labour. It has always swung both ways.

    @ Bob – Cannot agree with you about Pelling. I generally favour the imposition of AWS in various seats but especially this one if only to keep Pelling out. I’ve always held the view that whilst him being a councillor is one thing it would simply not be appropriate for him to be given the Labour parliamentary nomination, especially in view of the controversy which caused him to be expelled from the Tories.

  19. By the way, its worth people re-reading H Hemmelig’s post of June 7th at 8.10pm if anyone thinks this is likely to fall to Labour. It shows that Labour were only 1.7% ahead of the Tories in the May 2012 GLA list vote in Croydon Central.

    Those elections took place at a time when Labour had a full 7% lead in the Projected National Share of the vote. We can now see that that was Labour’s peak in the current parliament, for the Labour PNS fell to only 4% in the May 2013 locals (despite a UKIP showing of 23%).

    If you look back at precedent you find that there is always, without exception, a significant swing-back to the governing party from the mid-term to the subsequent general election. Labour has no room for slippage at all from our peak of a 1.7% lead in this constituency, and the polls are already showing signs of the Labour lead dwindling (even with two years still to go).

    Unless there’s something unexpected round the corner, my verdict is… Tory hold. (And please don’t disagree with me because I’m always right).

  20. Robin Hood: you may be right about there not being a national swing to the Tories in 2015, but don’t you think there will be a swing of some magnitude to Labour in Greater London?

  21. If there’s no swing at all in London that would probably mean a positive swing to the Tories in the rest of the country.

  22. I wouldnt be so sure about that. London may be trending labour as a whole, but is a low-swing area.

  23. But if Labour struggle to win urban, concrete jungles like this seat, which happens toi be in Labour-leaning London, it doesn’t bode well for their national chances in 2015

    Miliband seems the type of Leaderr unable to appeal to either traditional WWC Labour voters – many of whom could well vote UKIP in 2015 – or swing voters in places where Labour needs to win (ie: seats like this)

    With most polls showing Labour’s lead to have almost halved over the last 4-6 months or so, I really think a Labour victory or even a Labour-leds coalition government is far from the foregone conclusion that the newspapers on the far right – The Daily Nail, Telegraph etc – are making out

    If I were a betting man – in fact I am, having just won money on Murray having placed a bet before the turnament began – I’d bet against Labour winning either here or the country at large

  24. I think you’re over egging things a bit there Tim.

    Labour could certainly be largest party, and maybe even have a small majority, without winning here – indeed they had a majority of 60 or so in 2005 whilst losing this seat.

    Though demographics have changed that calculation a lot since, there remains a very solid Tory core vote here and Gavin Barwell is widely respected locally as a very good MP, with endorsements from people as diverse in political views as myself, Robin Hood, John Loony and (through gritted teeth) Pete Whitehead.

  25. I still don’t think Labour can win here at the next election and as you say, demographics are swinging in their favour, which if you look at other outer London seats like Harrow West, Brent North, Mitcham & Morden – has been enough to keep the Tories ever coming back in the foreseeable fduture

    And if Labour can’t win in a soujermn seat like this, they have no chance outside London – and they need tro win votes in the South and South East to win

    Incidentally HH, totally unrelated but where are you moving to?

  26. I also think Croydon benefits from being its own place, almost like a mini city within a city. Many private companies have offices there, the shopping centre is pretty decent and there is a night time economy so people working in the offices are more likely to want to live close to work. Housing is relatively cheap for London and many places north of Croydon, although closer to Central London, have worse transport links and are generally deprived (Norbury, St Reatham, Mitcham, Selhurst etc). This all helps to keep a Tory voting core here, despite the winds of change demographically which is blowing over much of Outer London.

  27. Electorates:

    Croydon Central:

    2000: 73,420
    2006: 73,835
    2012: 78,232

    Croydon North:

    2000: 79,819
    2006: 81,916
    2012: 86,991

    Croydon South:

    2000: 78,363
    2006: 79,375
    2012: 82,179

  28. Very good analysis by L Bernard above re: Croydon

  29. “Incidentally HH, totally unrelated but where are you moving to?”

    Mid Sussex

  30. LBernard

    There’s a lot in what you say, although myself I’ve always hated Croydon as a place to shop, and it’s gone further downhill in that respect since the riots and the bankruptcy of Allders.

    One benefit you didn’t mention however was that Croydon has an all night train service to central London – courtesy of it being on the main line to Gatwick. Virtually nowhere else can claim that, making it quite attractive for those who want to party and go home quickly and cheaply after midnight.

  31. ‘There’s a lot in what you say, although myself I’ve always hated Croydon as a place to shop, and it’s gone further downhill in that respect since the riots and the bankruptcy of Allders.’

    I’ve always disliked Croydon too for shoppoing, far prefering the shops in Brighton but my girlfriend, for example, who isn’t even English loves Croydon purely for its shopping – as do nearly all her frroends who all live in East Sussex

    The train is a good point too – compare that to the rest of South London in particular, where underground stations are minimal

  32. The 15 minute train journey between Victoria and East Croydon must be very convenient for local residents.

  33. I suspect the population is rising even faster than the electorate
    even if there are some dodgy votes.

  34. ‘I’ve always disliked Croydon too for shoppoing, far prefering the shops in Brighton but my girlfriend, for example, who isn’t even English loves Croydon purely for its shopping – as do nearly all her frroends who all live in East Sussex’

    I can’t understand why anyone would prefer Croydon for shopping than Brighton. The latter is a far nicer place to visit and has a wide range of interesting shops that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else. The only reason that I ever went to Croydon was to visit the huge used record store Beanos. Once that was gone so was my reason to visit the town centre. Nowadays, I only ever go into the area for IKEA and that itself is a rarity.

  35. Croydon looks like its still got a decent sized town centre (based o a quick look on Google Street View), probably about the same size as Walsall.

    Are there any big out of town shopping centres in South London? I’d have thought the Bluewater centre pulls in people from miles around.

  36. Well, Croydon itself has a number of retail parks on Purley Way which includes the IKEA branch and draws in many people from across South London, Surrey and no doubt other areas as well. This hub of large stores is the closest thing that South London has to a big out of town shopping centre.

  37. can’t understand why anyone would prefer Croydon for shopping than Brighton. The latter is a far nicer place to visit and has a wide range of interesting shops that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else.’

    I agree AKMD – I fathom to understand it myself

    ‘The only reason that I ever went to Croydon was to visit the huge used record store Beanos.’

    Beanos used to be one of my favourite shops too – back in the old days when it was on the same street as the market (late 80s/early 90s)

    I found many rare hip hop albums there

    Didn’t realise it had shut down as none of the similar-type shops – across the tracks/wax factor – have anything like the extensive collection of 2nd hand lps that benos did

  38. Yes, the store closed in 2009. The proprietor tried to keep the site going as an indoor market hosting a number of small businesses but this ultimately failed. The site is now host to a child friendly cafe that also has play areas and workshops. It is named Beanies in an obvious nod to its predecessor.

  39. Beanos sounds like it was a fun place. Tim, I used to enjoy doing the same thing when I was a teenager in the early 90’s although I was into heavy metal bands at the time. Virgin Megastore in the Pavilion was always fun to look around to see if there was any unusual CD’s or tapes in the A-Z listings. I also enjoyed a looking around the Bull Ring markets for the same thing and never been sure whether the goods I was buying was counterfeit or not. Those were the days.

  40. That Virgin went bust in the early 90s

    Shame as it was a tourist attraction itself in the early to mid 90s – the flagship store outside london

    even rounders – one of the oldest record shops in brighton – has recently closed

  41. At least Resident are still going. I always try to pop in whenever I’m in Brighton. Great little shop.

  42. “Gavin Barwell is widely respected locally as a very good MP, with endorsements from people as diverse in political views as myself, Robin Hood, John Loony and (through gritted teeth) Pete Whitehead.”

    I should have thought my comments fell well short of an endorsement tbh

  43. “That Virgin went bust in the early 90s”

    It didn’t close until about 2005 if I remember correctly.

  44. In a surprising turn of events, Louisa Woodley has been deselected in Thornton Heath.

    The original hortlist in Thornton Heath was the 3 sitting Cllrs + Cllr Karen Jewitt (deselected in Woodside) and Cllr Donna Gray (deselected in Bensham Manor).

    Gray withdrew before the meeting.

    The members picked the 2 male sitting Cllr + Karen Jewitt.

  45. I wonder how many people vote in these local selections.

  46. I don’t know the ins and outs of the internal Labour candidate selections for 2014 LOcal elections but it has thrown A LOT of surprising results, including Labour shadow cabinet members being deselected – Louisa Woodley now added to that list. Furthermore, some of the candidates selected in place of the deposed sitting councillors have connections to some of the other boroughs as opposed to Croydon and an overall reduction in ethnic minorities too.

    Some have claimed a “Lambeth-isation”process occurring, especially following Steve Reed’s win in Croydon North By-election. moreover, Stuart King, former Labour Group Leader in Wandsworth and PPC Putney is amongst the newly selected candidates. Tony Benn’s grand-daughter, who didn’t live or study in Croydonis another candidate.

    Considering the abysmal turnout in 2012 GLA elections, I question the accuracy of those results when used for predicting the 2015 GE result. My own personal view is that, unlike GEs where there is a big hype and awareness of an election, local elections don’t bring out those, who one might assume tend to vote, especially ethnic minorities. And so I think Local elections underestimate Labour’s vote in this seat.

    Having said that Gavin Barwell is regularly featured in the local press and is shown to be very active so, although I think he may well lose in 2015, if he contests this seat, The swing against him would be lower than other constituencies.

  47. @andyjs

    I should clarify that some of the Labour candidates deselected, actually got the most votes by constituents at the last local elections and continue being high-profile, so I don’t think their deselection has much to do with incompetences of their part.

  48. Westfield and Hammerson are joining forces to combine the Whitgift Shopping Centre and Centrale shipping centre to create a £1billion development and re-doing the city centre – I think the aim is to bring in shoppers from Surrey and its surrounds (a South London hub for Westfield) etc and wit

    Offices, such as Nestlé, BT, the current Council Office (£140 million spent on building a brand new Office, right next door), which are either abandoned or will be soon, will be converted to flats or refurbished as newer offices etc.

    So interesting times lay ahead for Croydon… Certainly demographically speaking.

  49. Contrary to several other posters above, I’d expect a lower Con>Lab swing here than nationally, for several reasons.

    1. In 2010, the former Tory MP here took 6.5% of the vote as an independent. It is more than likely that these were voters who might otherwise have voted Tory.

    2. While Labour performed better in London in 2010, this will not necessarily be the case in 2015. Ashcroft’s polling of the marginals in March of this year actually produced lower swings in London marginals than nationally.

    3. Given that the rise in Labour VI since 2010 has been at the expense of the Lib Dems, the scope to pick up voters will be less in places such as this where the Lib Dem vote is historically weak.

    I could see Labour missing out on this one, even in the context of a 2-3% national lead.

  50. On election night 2015 this is one of the key seats I’ll be waiting for information from. If the early news is that the Tories may have held it or it’s very close it probably means Cameron will be remaining in Downing Street one way or another.

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