Lewisham East

2015 Result:
Conservative: 9574 (22.3%)
Labour: 23907 (55.7%)
Lib Dem: 2455 (5.7%)
Green: 2429 (5.7%)
UKIP: 3886 (9.1%)
Others: 672 (1.6%)
MAJORITY: 14333 (33.4%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of Lewisham council area.

Main population centres: Catford, Blackheath, Grove Park, Lee.

Profile: Lewisham East is on the cusp of inner-city London and the suburbs - towards Lewisham town centre itself, and some of the overspill housing development it is very much an inner city towards, but towards the boundaries with Greenwich and Bromley there are more middle class areas - Grove Park and the almost village like Blackheath, named after the large open space that stretches out north from the area towards Greenwich.

Politics: Lewisham East was historically a marginal seat and was held by the Conservatives for much of the 1980s (it was originally won by them in their 1983 landslide, mostly due to Labour losing support to the SDP candidate, one Polly Toynbee). It has since become a solidly Labour seat, the Conservatives are no longer seriously competitive here at a Parliamentary level and in 2014 lost their final councillors in Grove Park ward.


Current MP
HEIDI ALEXANDER (Labour) Born 1975, Swindon. Educated at Churchfields Comprehensive and Durham University. Former researcher for Joan Ruddock MP. Lewisham councillor 2004-2010. First elected as MP for Lewisham East in 2010. Shadow Health Secretary since 2015.
Past Results
2010
Con: 9850 (24%)
Lab: 17966 (43%)
LDem: 11750 (28%)
UKIP: 771 (2%)
Oth: 1382 (3%)
MAJ: 6216 (15%)
2005*
Con: 7512 (24%)
Lab: 14263 (46%)
LDem: 6787 (22%)
GRN: 1243 (4%)
Oth: 1322 (4%)
MAJ: 6751 (22%)
2001
Con: 7157 (24%)
Lab: 16116 (54%)
LDem: 4937 (16%)
BNP: 1005 (3%)
Oth: 825 (3%)
MAJ: 8959 (30%)
1997
Con: 9694 (26%)
Lab: 21821 (58%)
LDem: 4178 (11%)
Oth: 805 (2%)
MAJ: 12127 (32%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
PETER FORTUNE (Conservative) Bromley councillor.
HEIDI ALEXANDER (Labour) See above.
JULIA FLETCHER (Liberal Democrat) Fomer Lewisham councillor.
ANNE MARIE WATERS (UKIP)
STORM POORUN (Green) Contested Camberwell and Peckham 2001.
NICK LONG (People Before Profit)
MAUREEN MARTIN (CPA)
Links
Comments - 145 Responses on “Lewisham East”
  1. Though Corbyn is favourite to be next PM

  2. ‘The most left wing have always been anti-EU from Tony Benn and Peter Shore years ago to the No2EU Slate in the 2009 European elections who were comprised from every far Left union around.’

    Traditionally the Left were sceptical of the EU or the Common Market as it then was – as they feared it would be a bit of a rich boy’s club, which would spread the neo-liberal market philosophies of the Right and threaten things like workers rights etc

    Once it became clear that that wasn’t the case, and if anything being in such a union actually strengthens them, that opposition makes no sense whatsoever – especially when leaving it is being championed by the most right-wing mainstream party in the entire EU – the British Conservatives

  3. Tbf there are people on the left still concerned about the EU;
    – anti public ownership enterprise directives
    – treatment of Syriza by the ECB
    – exploitation of the free movemnt of labour
    – free movement of capital
    – free trade deals like TTIP & TPPA leading to the private investment in the NHS & schools able to sue governments for anti business legislation like plain packaging in Australia as well as drastically reduced food & environmental standards

    Some people just wanted give Cameron a kicking

  4. TJ: “…the most right-wing mainstream party in the entire EU – the British Conservatives”

    Well, doesn’t that depend on how you define “mainstream”? They are certainly not the most right-wing party in government in the EU – there’s Law & Justice and Fidesz, most obviously, and arguably Mariano Rajoy (the name of whose party eludes me) is also more right-wing than the Tories. Meanwhile, there are various right-wing coalition partners who are pretty right-wing while remaining “mainstream” – the Northern League can hardly claim to be outsiders when they are the oldest extant political party in Italy.

  5. MW: I can understand the attractiveness of leaving the EU in a vacuum – but surely they must have realised that we wouldn’t be leaving on their terms.

    I have been very critical of Daniel Hannan & Dominic Cummings recently, for their complaints that “this isn’t the Brexit we wanted”, even though it was obvious all along that this is the Brexit we were going to get. Well, that goes equally for the Dennis Skinners, but times a hundred.

    What was it Nye Bevan said? Something about socialism being all about priorities? Well, any problems the EU might cause should have been a bloody low priority for the left.

  6. which was probably why Dennis voted in favour of Parliament having a say on the final deal

    It certainly is the lowest priority for many on the left and Brexit seems to be the priority of those who want to stop it or remain in the customs union. My priorities usually concern local government & the cuts. I do prioritise the social policies won thanks to membership of the EU.

  7. 60% support a ‘hostile environment’ for undocumented immigrants (latest poll).

    Incidentally, I neglected to point out to I think Tim J or Tristan that just because Blair won in 1997 that doesn’t mean a majority supported liberal views on immigration in the 1990s.

    Quite the reverse: by definition a majority didn’t vote Labour, but even many who did so supported repatriation, hence the poll I referred to in the mod 1990s.

    Views on immigration were tougher the further you go back in each and every post WII decade. I would have thought that was obvious.

  8. Matt W “still fave to be next PM”

    Well the Ladbrokes Headline in their monthly Bulletin was “Jeremy Corbyn Now Second Favourite to be Next MP at 5/1.”

    But I concede it changes all of the time.

    Although if he were (he’s joint fave with Mogg an hour ago) it’d mean little.

    Kinnock was favourite to be next PM simply because those listed 2nd to 8th fave were all Tory Cabinet Ministers and so there’s more to choose from and so bets are shared out between them.

    No other Labour figure is listed until after that then or now.

  9. Emily Thornberry is listed 14/1 by PaddyPower & 50/1 by BetFred. Angela Rayner and Kier Starmer are 100/1 according to Ladbrokes. Clive Lewis, Chuka Ummuna, John McDonnell, Lisa Nandy, Sadiq Khan, Tom Watson, Yvette Cooper and David Miliband are 100/1 according to BetFred. Gloria Del Piero is 100/1 according to William Hill. RBL 100/1 SkyBet. Andy Burnham 150/1 BetFred. Dan Jarvis, Stephen Kinnock and Hilary Benn 150/1 PaddyPower. Stella Creasy 150/1 SkyBet. Angela Eagle and Owen Smith 200/1 BetFred. Ed Miliband and Liz Kendall 200/1 SkyBet. Ed Balls 250/1 Ladbrokes.

  10. To be clear: the above prices are for ‘NEXT PM’.

    The surprising one for me is GOVE at 5/1 jt 2nd favourite!

    I should think next CON ldr will be not be a ‘face’.

  11. Yes, other Labour figures are listed but not until AFTER 7 Tory Cabinet Ministers.

    The point being that 80% of bets are placed on the next PM being a Tory. Corbyn is the only Lab figure below 10/1.

  12. ‘Incidentally, I neglected to point out to I think Tim J or Tristan that just because Blair won in 1997 that doesn’t mean a majority supported liberal views on immigration in the 1990s.’

    You could come better than that Lancashire and argue that the only way Blair could get Labour back to power was by pretending Labour were going to be tough on things like crime and immigration

  13. “the only way Blair could get Labour back to power was by pretending Labour were going to be tough on things like crime and immigration”

    Blair certainly thought that about crime, but immigration was basically a non-issue in the 1990s. I recall a few oddball hard right wingers (Budgen was one) tried to insert it into their local campaigns in 97 but were humiliatingly slapped down by Major. What has caused immigration to return to the centre of public concerns has firstly been the endless stream of refugees resulting from 20 years of foreign interventions, starting with Kosovo, through Afghanistan and Iraq, and into Libya and Syria today. And secondly of course the massive expansion of the EU into the poor eastern half of Europe.

    I do wonder if it is true though that Labour couldn’t have won on its traditional policies in 1997. IMO history shows that winning a 5th consecutive term is so impossible that even a Labour party led by a Benn or a Foot might have scraped a win, given how unpopular and hated the Major government had become. Certainly a traditional old Labour social democrat like John Smith would have won solidly, albeit perhaps not a landslide. This is what should keep the Tories awake at night…assuming they are narrowly re-elected in 2022 they are pretty much bound to lose in 2027 even if Labour remains totally Corbynified.

  14. ‘Blair certainly thought that about crime, but immigration was basically a non-issue in the 1990s. I recall a few oddball hard right wingers (Budgen was one) tried to insert it into their local campaigns in 97 but were humiliatingly slapped down by Major. What has caused immigration to return to the centre of public concerns has firstly been the endless stream of refugees resulting from 20 years of foreign interventions, starting with Kosovo, through Afghanistan and Iraq, and into Libya and Syria today. And secondly of course the massive expansion of the EU into the poor eastern half of Europe.’

    But Blair and other figures in New Labour like Blunkett and Reid were quite happy to use populist bordering on racist language when talking about immigration – swamped etc – presumably in a cheap attempt to keep the Right-Wing The Sun on side.

    But obviously they couldn’t have been paying that much attention to it because if he had he would never have been such a cheerleader for expanding of the EU into the poor eastern half of Europe and it was that which increased the numbers ti the hundreds of thousands that they still are today

    ‘I do wonder if it is true though that Labour couldn’t have won on its traditional policies in 1997. IMO history shows that winning a 5th consecutive term is so impossible that even a Labour party led by a Benn or a Foot might have scraped a win, given how unpopular and hated the Major government had become. Certainly a traditional old Labour social democrat like John Smith would have won solidly, albeit perhaps not a landslide. This is what should keep the Tories awake at night…assuming they are narrowly re-elected in 2022 they are pretty much bound to lose in 2027 even if Labour remains totally Corbynified.’

    You’re right – I think Labour would still have managed to win a decent enough majority – just not by the same sort of landslide victory they did under Blair.

    It’s important to note that 1997 was still an election the Tories lost – not one which Blair’s Labour won. Blair certainly believed that Labour had to ditch their socialist policies to ever stand a chance of victory, and to be fair that played a big part as it forced big business to abandon much of their hostility to New Labour and got the support of newspapers like The Sun, which played a huge role in getting Blair the landslide he so craved

  15. I don’t think Tony Blair believed Labour could never win from the left – but he really did believe in the Third Way as a programme for government. The “we can’t win from the left” device was something he used to keep the left-wing critics in his own party onside, by providing a false dilemma between him & the Tories.

    This argument from pragmatism rather than principle is what caused the Blairite movement to become so hollowed-out. The proteges of New Labour never needed to defend the capitalist consensus because it was precisely that – a consensus. Like a muscle that wastes away in a plaster cast, they had gone so long without defending their (highly successful) government from first principles against the left that the instinct to do so wasn’t there when they needed it to be. So Yvette Cooper’s pitch ended up being: “Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable and by the way I have a fanny and isn’t it about time the Labour leader had one of those?” Which was obviously never going to be a winning platform.

  16. Tbf it was a line Blair went with very early on. In his memoirs he says he attended a public meeting in Sedgefield with Dennis Skinner just after he’d become MP. He receited his ‘Labour were still reading the same books as our grandfathers line and the country moved on’ for the first time and got roundly mocked by Dennis

  17. Blair was also helped by the fact that his 97 landslide almost completely wiped out the Tory Left, leaving a gaping hole in the centre of British politics which is precisely where he aligned himself – which is why people like myself – not natural Labour voters – were willing to vote for him

    I always thought Cameron a more pragmatic PM than Blair, although he had the misfortune to lead a patty that was anything but, which thus explains his downfall.

    Labour seemed more grateful to their leader who won them a majority than the Tories at the time, although of course Blair now is viewed as worst than Stalin by the bulk of today’s Labour members.

    Cameron hasn’t yet troughed those sorts of depths amongst Tory members but give him time.

  18. A few points-

    Blunkett, Reid etc did indeed talk very tough on immigration at times, but that was later on in the Blair govt in the 2000s, after it had become a big public issue. I stand by my view that immigration was not a major public issue in the 1990s, and hardly figured at all in the 97 election. In retrospect the turning point was probably 2000-2001 when problems with illegal immigrants started to occur at the channel tunnel, prompting Ann Widdecombe to begin Tory campaigning on the issue ahead of the 2001 election, which Labour felt compelled to counter.

    It’d hardly be surprising that under Corbyn, most Labour members would prefer Stalin to Blair. See the appalling behaviour at the minute for silence for Tessa Jowell at Hampstead CLP the other day.

    The paradox with Cameron is that he personally liked governing with the Lib Dems but felt compelled by pressure from his own party to destroy them. That calamatous decision is at the root of much of the mess we are in today. History will judge Cameron very harshly for destroying the sensible centre ground of politics which he ironically was a part of. Had he had the courage to cement a more permanent centre right coalition with Clegg’s party things would be very different today.

  19. ‘I stand by my view that immigration was not a major public issue in the 1990s, and hardly figured at all in the 97 election. In retrospect the turning point was probably 2000-2001’

    You’re right – Except for a few headbangers on the Right – like the Nick Budgen and Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail – immigration only became a central issue following the hundreds of thousands of immigrants we started seeing arrive following EU expansion in the early noughties

    ‘History will judge Cameron very harshly for destroying the sensible centre ground of politics which he ironically was a part of.’

    Whilst I personally actually miss Cameron as PM – he is infinitely more intelligent and capable than the hapless May – he has a lot to answer for and history will judge him extremely harshly

    His two most notable achievements – destroying the centre ground and Brexit – were two things he was adamantly opposed to

  20. Because on Brexit he and most Remainer Tories ignored the most famous saying of his election guru Lynton Crosby that “you can’t fatten a pig on market day”. After 30 years of the party blaming Brussels for everything, nobody was going to believe it very credible that a Tory leader was actually arguing to remain in the EU.

    I largely agree with you on May but despite her uninspiring performance I think she’s the best choice available at the moment. On a personal level many people feel quite sorry for her given the impossible scale of her task and the appalling colleagues she is forced to deal with. If she is replaced by a headbanger an enormous slice of the remaining centrist Tory vote would disappear.

  21. HH – unusually for you, you have fallen into the trap set by the Left.

    I think it was the Henry Jackson Society or another think thank that showed both to be untrue.

    Firstly, there were 88 Islamist attacks even before the first Gulf War and secondly 55% of refuges hailed not from any Countries the West has bombed or invaded. Most on the ships landing on Italian islands come from Eritrea or Somalia etc.

  22. HH: “If she is replaced by a headbanger an enormous slice of the remaining centrist Tory vote would disappear.”

    Just for the record, Hemmy – are you one of them?

  23. ‘I largely agree with you on May but despite her uninspiring performance I think she’s the best choice available at the moment. On a personal level many people feel quite sorry for her given the impossible scale of her task and the appalling colleagues she is forced to deal with..’

    I’d argue the opposite

    It seems quite clear to me that May has come to the same conclusion as her predecessor on Brexit – namely that it will cause much damage to the country, with a hard Brexit being an absolute disaster – and yet she seems willing to go along with this just so Boris Johnson – who has virtually no credibility anywhere outside the Tory Party – won’t challenge her for the leadership

    this is moral cowardice of the highest order – putting her own survival before that of the country she is supposed to serve

    Politically it makes sense as the centrist Tory vote – much exaggerated by commentators – is probably cancelled out by the amount of Brexiters who now vote Tory who previously voted UKIP and prior to that probably didn’t vote at all

  24. “Just for the record, Hemmy – are you one of them?”

    Have to say I find that question strangely hard to answer. Over the past year I’ve come to dislike Corbyn much more than I did and I’m glad I wasn’t one of those previously Tory Remainers who voted for him in 2017. On a personal level a Corbyn government would be much worse for me than a hardish Brexit.

    That said I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Rees Mogg or Boris. Perhaps either of those leading the Tories would by themselves make the Lib Dems a party worth voting for again. If May is succeeded by someone like Javid then the Tories will largely hold on to their moderate vote I suspect, unless or until the Labour party moves back to the centre.

    “and yet she seems willing to go along with this just so Boris Johnson – who has virtually no credibility anywhere outside the Tory Party – won’t challenge her for the leadership…this is moral cowardice of the highest order – putting her own survival before that of the country she is supposed to serve”

    May knows that if she doesn’t survive, the next prime minister is highly likely to be either Mogg, Boris or Corbyn. All of whom would be a disaster for the country. So in a way her survival is kind of putting the country first also. I doubt May will go through with a hard Brexit in the end and that is certainly the view of most in Brussels today, where I work frequently. Though it could easily go wrong.

    “Politically it makes sense as the centrist Tory vote – much exaggerated by commentators – is probably cancelled out by the amount of Brexiters who now vote Tory who previously voted UKIP and prior to that probably didn’t vote at all”

    Certainly the suburbs just outside the M25 are full of these kind of voters – Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire. The Tories are relying on the fact that the likes of Esher couldn’t ever face voting anything but Tory, and with Corbyn the only other option that is probably true. But they are setting themselves up for trouble in the longer run.

  25. ‘May knows that if she doesn’t survive, the next prime minister is highly likely to be either Mogg, Boris or Corbyn. All of whom would be a disaster for the country. So in a way her survival is kind of putting the country first also. I doubt May will go through with a hard Brexit in the end and that is certainly the view of most in Brussels today, where I work frequently. Though it could easily go wrong.’

    Depressing as that analysis is – concluding May is simply the best of a very bad choice – it’s hard to disagree with

    I’ve heard the view from many of my friends who work and live in Europe, but the foreign-owned Brexit-supporting press will never let May get away with a soft Brexit. And we all know how much Tory leaders (and Labour leaders for that matter, albeit not the current one) like to keep the press onside

    You’re right that Remain-supporting seats in places like Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Surrey that are simply too affluent to desert the Tories for a Corbyn-led government. Although you’re also right that a Boris-led Tory Party could give the Lib Dems the boost they thought they had got from Brexit.

  26. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on whether May is putting the country first

  27. “the foreign-owned Brexit-supporting press will never let May get away with a soft Brexit.”

    In the end they would prefer to swallow a soft Brexit, or extended transition, to a Corbyn government which would smash up the Murdochs and the Mail as almost its first act in office.

    In any case a soft Brexit can always be hardened years down the line, and we can expect the hardline Leavers to continue to campaign along those lines when we have left.

  28. ‘In the end they would prefer to swallow a soft Brexit, or extended transition, to a Corbyn government’

    Logic would suggest that but the reality is that the Brexit press think that having played a major part in winning the referendum, they now get to dictate the terms of British withdrawal and they’ve been unequivocal in their backing for the hardest Brexit conceivable, going the the extent if calling those Tories who called for Parliament to have a say in the final terms of the deal, traitors

    ‘In any case a soft Brexit can always be hardened years down the line, and we can expect the hardline Leavers to continue to campaign along those lines when we have left.’

    Totally agree with that.

    However hard a Brexit we get, those on the far right of the Brexit debate will never be fully satisfied, despite having got their wish. Who knows they might try and up ante and try to introduce Parliamentary legislation ban future trade with the EU, or something along those lines

    It’s not just Labour where the lunatics have taken over the asylum

  29. Oi I object to that. I’m not a lunatic. Many of us have been longstanding members and activists for years

  30. I seriously doubt Tim had you in mind, Matt.

    I have to agree with Tim above. It is truly depressing, and a pretty terrible indictment of the standard of British politics, but May is still probably the best person to lead at present. I actually have some respect for her for dropping the UKIPpy tone and she seems determined to push for the softest Brexit she can get away with. Whether she survives to see it through is impossible to predict.

  31. What’s makes it more difficult for May is that the cat’s out the bag so far as her own position on Brexit is concerned

    Although she supported Remain she made a point of initially embracing Brexit, which back then was enough the keep even the more ardent Brexiters on-side. Since then she’s obviously done her research and come to the conclusion, as would any person of sound mind, that Brexit in any shape or form will cause huge damage to the British economy.

    That’s why the likes of Rees Mogg and others in the ERG have adopted a more confrontational and aggressive tone when liaising with the PM.

    Fortunately for the PM I think the silent majority of Tory MPs actually agree with her analysis – even if they will never say so – and I think she now sees her legacy as being defined by getting the UK the best possible Brexit deal available, and to do that she will have to take on those in her party who place their own little Englander ideology over the health of their country’s economy

    Good luck to her with that…

  32. “Fortunately for the PM I think the silent majority of Tory MPs actually agree with her analysis – even if they will never say so”

    Some time ago IIRC, there was an anonymous straw poll of Tory MPs attitudes to Brexit.

    Their most common answer was along the lines of “it is a big distraction and I just wish the issue would hurry up and go away”.

  33. There are 14 candidates in today’s by-election.

    I believe that’s the most since Haltemprice & Howden, a decade ago.

  34. Prediction (well, more of a guess, really, I haven’t been paying attention at all):

    Lab: 65%
    LD: 20%
    Con: 10%
    Others: 5%

  35. I’d wager the Tories will do much better than that. About 35% of this seat voted Leave which gives them a sizeable minority of voters to fish in who won’t be likely to go Lib Dem, and they’ve never dipped below 20% of the vote even in 1997. I’m yet to be convinced the Libs will come second despite the ramping.

  36. ‘About 35% of this seat voted Leave which gives them a sizeable minority of voters to fish in who won’t be likely to go Lib Dem, ‘

    But as an inner city London seat, I bet a sizeable chunk of that 35% were people who would never even think of voting Tory at a general election

    London’s not like the rest of the country, and London’s working class – be they white, black or whatever – don’t seem to share in the current enthusiasm for the Tories found amongst their counterparts in the smaller towns and countryside throughout England

  37. Knowing this area fairly well I’m not sure I agree with that. Look how well UKIP did here in 2015 (9%). That must have been close to their best result in Inner London. There is still a considerable white van man rump in the south of this seat though undoubtedly it is slowly disappearing. If the Tories dip under 20% it will be down to poor turnout.

  38. The Lib Dems coming third will be disappointing for them

  39. So actually, a pretty weak result for Labour here:

    Lab: 11,033 (50.2%)
    LD: 5,404 (24.6%)
    Con: 3,161 (14.4%)
    Green: 788 (3.6%)
    WEP: 506 (2.3%)
    UKIP: 380 (1.7%)
    Turnout: 33.2%

    I mean, this was a very low-key by-election, so I guess you can’t read too much into the performance. Not that surprising that nobody could be bothered to turn out for such a foregone conclusion. And Labour still won easily.

    Still, they only got 174 votes more than the Tories did in this seat at the GE last year.

  40. Yes, a very underwhelming result for Labour. I guess the only party who will be somewhat satisfied are the Libs, who came second as was widely predicted.

  41. As I posted some weeks back, Labour’s core vote here is very working class and black, whilst the Lib Dems are only really strong in the upper middle class enclaves around Blackheath. It’s no huge shock that turnout of Labour’s vote was typically poor for a by-election given the demographics, nor that the Lib Dem bar charts managed to get 5000 ultra-Remainers to the polls in Blackheath. In my view it tells us nothing more than that, other than that perhaps Labour needs to be careful of ultra-Remainers peeling off to the Lib Dems in some seats which are so safe it makes little difference. Yes the result tells us that Labour are far from doing well enough to win a GE, but we all knew that already.

  42. Yes, strange that the LDs aren’t predominantly concentrating on affluent southern remain and liberal leave voters.

    Labour generally did well against the LDs in all the seats they regained from the LDs in 2015 in the local elections and also Leeds NW and the LDs lost additional ground to Labour in Portsmouth, Southport, Stockport etc conosolidating the national results of the 2017 election.

  43. Ex-MP Bridget Prentice has resigned from the Labour Party.

    Her four page letter cites Corbyn’s failure to tackle Anti-Semitism, but also says that the Party is now run by a familial clique of JC & JMc and their friends & relatives.

  44. Ex-wife of former Pendle MP Gordon Prentice

  45. “Ex-wife of former Pendle MP Gordon Prentice”

    who has moved to Ontario and now run a blog on local politics in Newmarket

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