Lewisham West & Penge

2015 Result:
Conservative: 11633 (24.2%)
Labour: 24347 (50.6%)
Lib Dem: 3709 (7.7%)
Green: 4077 (8.5%)
UKIP: 3764 (7.8%)
TUSC: 391 (0.8%)
Independent: 160 (0.3%)
Others: 44 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 12714 (26.4%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of Lewisham council area and part of the Bromley council area.

Main population centres: Forest Hill, Penge, Crystal Palace, Upper Sydenham.

Profile: A cross-borough seat, taking in four wards from Lewisham and three from Bromley. The seat is on the cusp between inner-city London and the outer suburbs, although the Bromley parts of the seat are the tougher and more Labour voting parts of that otherwise leafy and suburban borough. The seat includes the large Bellingham Estate, which is still largely council rented and is strong Labour territory. There is also a high proportion of voters from ethnic minorities, with around 35% of the electorate non-white (mainly Afro-Carribean). Crystal Palace is named for the park where the Crystal Palace was rebuilt after the Great Exhibition in 1851, where it remained as a tourist attraction until it burnt down in 1936, the grounds remain as a public park and are the site of the National Sports Centre, an international athletics and swimming venue.

Politics: Lewisham West was once a Conservative held marginal seat (once occupied by John Maples, later to become Conservative MP for Stratford upon Avon) but had become increasingly safe for Labour, partly because of an increase in ethnic minority population and the slow transformation of suburban family homes into flats and houses of multiple occupancy. The 2010 boundary changes helped the Conservatives slightly, but not enough to move Lewisham West and Penge onto the target list.

Current MP
JIM DOWD (Labour) Born 1951, Germany. Educated at Sedgehill Comprehensive School and London Nautical School. Former telephone engineer. Lewisham councillor 1974-1997. Contested Beckenham 1983, Lewisham West 1987. First elected as MP for Lewisham West in 1992. Opposition whip 1994-5. Government whip 1997-2001. His partner is Janet Anderson, former MP for Rossendale and Darwen.
Past Results
Con: 11489 (26%)
Lab: 18501 (41%)
LDem: 12673 (28%)
UKIP: 1117 (2%)
Oth: 1248 (3%)
MAJ: 5828 (13%)
Con: 6396 (20%)
Lab: 16611 (52%)
LDem: 6679 (21%)
GRN: 1464 (5%)
Oth: 773 (2%)
MAJ: 9932 (31%)
Con: 6896 (22%)
Lab: 18816 (61%)
LDem: 4146 (13%)
UKIP: 485 (2%)
Oth: 472 (2%)
MAJ: 11920 (39%)
Con: 8936 (24%)
Lab: 23273 (62%)
LDem: 3672 (10%)
Oth: 565 (2%)
MAJ: 14337 (38%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Lewisham West

2015 Candidates
RUSSELL JACKSON (Conservative) Financial services professional. Former Croydon and Bromley councillor.
JIM DOWD (Labour) See above.
ALEX FEAKES (Liberal Democrat) Born 1975. Educated at Imperial college. Teacher. Lewisham councillor 2006-2014. Contested Lewisham West and Penge 2010.
GARY HARDING (UKIP) Born 1961, Gravesend. Educated at Tewin Water Boarding School for the Deaf. Graphic designer.
TOM CHANCE (Green) Local government officer.
DAVID HANSOM (Independent)
Comments - 88 Responses on “Lewisham West & Penge”
  1. I also agree the election by thirds is ridiculous. No other country has such a stupid system.

    I think all local authorities should be elected once every 4 years, by either the AMS voting system or STV. This would have the advantage of wiping out one party states either through the top-up systemm in AMS, or the multi member wards that STV requires.

    I feel such a change would engage voters that currently feel their voice can never be heard in their patch, and would make all national parties have to make a real effort on all local authorities, instead of putting up paper candidates in areas where they appear to be least strong.

    It would also allow many more voters to vote for who they really support rather than voting tactically against other parties.

  2. The story is several months old, but Jim Dowd managed to upset a lot of Sheffield residents over his views about Henderson’s Relish.

  3. @H Hemmelig – there are one and two-member wards in authorities that elect by thirds, but the LGBCE seems to be on a mission to effectively eliminate them. Look at the new boundaries in Three Rivers, which were imposed because the commission flat-out refused to prioritise local identities over giving the electorate a say every year.

    The only recent review for an authority electing by thirds that I’m aware of which didn’t impose a uniform pattern of three-member wards is Slough, and that was because of the M4 motorway. Anything less clear-cut than that and you’ve got little chance of making the argument.

  4. In the run up to 2002 there was consideration given to elections by thirds hence a council of 10 X 2 member wards and 10 X 3 member wards became 16 X 3 member wards. With a mix of 2 and 3 member wards it was possible to have more natural communities without wards straddling the A3 or railway lines.
    This is why Kensington & Chelsea may have reverted to mixed member wards with communities like Notting Hill and North Kensington being more clearly defined.

  5. Again, can you please provide a link to support that supposition? I’m pretty confident there was no official proposal ever made to elect London councils by thirds, and therefore the 2002 boundary changes were nothing to do with this. In any case some London wards created in 2002 were still 2 member and the odd 1 member too.

    It is also inaccurate to say that the ward boundaries were not changed “in the run up to 2002″….the preliminary re-warding proposals for some London boroughs were published as early as 1999, as you will find in the online archive of the boundary commission.

  6. I don’t know if it was ever under consideration – if it was I’m obviously pleased they never got anywhere with it.

    Before 2002 Enfield Council was all 2 seater wards, and if you go back to 1974 there were some 4 seaters – in Redbridge for example.

    I guess small wards would be more likely to change hands – although that could depend.

  7. Sorry H. Hemmelig I have only just seen your post. See this paper from 1999 (pdf): http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/rp99-46.pdf

    “The Labour government manifesto contained a commitment to the introduction of annual
    elections for all types of authorities. A Green Paper was issued in February 1998, followed
    by a White Paper in July 1998. These made more detailed proposals in this area and also set
    out proposals to improve the administration of local elections and increase turnout. Unitary
    authorities would have elections by thirds every four years, with the fallow year being used
    for other elections (such as the Greater London Authority). In two tier areas half the council
    in each tier would be elected in alternate years. Commentators on local elections have cast
    doubt on the value of annual elections as a way of increasing turnout, although this does not
    detract from the possible enhancement in accountability to the local electorate of frequent

  8. Is Jim Dowd retiring?

  9. Maybe it’s a boring question, but I had some vague idea he was standing down…

  10. No, he has been reselected through the trigger ballot.

  11. Thanks Simon.

  12. I think he was unwell, announced that he would be retiring & then recovered & changed his mind. He was the losing candidate in 1987 before being elected in 1992.

  13. prediction for 2015-

    Lab- 51%
    Con- 20%
    Lib- 14%
    UKIP- 8%
    Green- 7%

  14. Labour will do much better than that
    (I lived around here for years)

    Lab 60
    Con 20
    LD 10
    Grn 5
    UKIP 5

  15. Green candidate: Tom Chance.

  16. Barnaby, I’m not aware Dowd ever announced he was retiring. He might possibly have discussed it with the local party but it didn’t go further than that.

  17. Christopher Price, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr from 1966 to 1970 & for Lewisham W from 1974 to 1983, has died aged 83.

  18. I realise this is a very late rejoinder (I’m reading up on my London seats ahead of the election), but:

    “I also agree the election by thirds is ridiculous. No other country has such a stupid system.”

    Is there some very dry wit I’m missing here, given that the Senate of the United States of America is elected by thirds?

  19. Has anyone heard of the Populist Party?

    Seem to be either far Right or national Socialist from the leaflets I’ve seen.

    Also, is the People Before Profit outfit (leaflets also went out here) different from the N Ireland one?

  20. Jim Dowd is to stand down.

  21. ”Jim Dowd is to stand down.”

    BM11 – Sad but not surprising as Dowd has been suffering from health problems for a long time.

    Lewisham West is my neck of the woods (I don’t live in this seat though) so I’m very interested to see who’ll be the next Labour candidate as they might be my MP after the 2018 boundary changes.

  22. …… I just thought, this would be the perfect seat for Balls or D. Miliband to stand as the Labour candidate and relaunch their political careers.

  23. I think either of them could ‘do a Michael Howard’ and help the party start to win back key seats once Corbyn finally steps down.

    Never thought Balls would be popular with the public but his stint on Strictly Come Dancing was a very smart move and will benefit him greatly if he decides to make a return to politics and becomes a future Labour leader.

  24. Haha! Well he was loathed by almost everyone in the country before his apperances on Strictly. Now, even most of my Tory-supporting friends and work colleagues like him.

  25. Oh god not this again, Balls was a total liability as shadow chancellor, he’s not going to do any better as Lab leader, yes his stint on strictly did wonders for his popularity but as a novelty not as a potential PM, nobody thought Ann Widecombe should have made a comeback after her stint.

    As for David why is he viewed as Labs saviour? Remember prior to losing to Ed he was considered the “weird” Milliband brother. Lab have enough potential leaders within their ranks from all wings of the party they don’t need to salvage ex entities like Ed Balls and David Milliband.

  26. Yes, Labour have some great future leadership contenders (Starmer, Jarvis, Creasy etc.) and I would prefer someone who wasn’t elected as an MP before May 2010 but I wrote the above posts on the premise that ANYONE is better than Corbyn!

  27. Christian
    “Yes, Labour have some great future leadership contenders”

    Who I think are the favourites for each of Labs main factions.
    Blairite=Stella Creasy
    Brownite=Yvette Cooper
    Centrist=Dan Jarvis
    Soft Left=Keir Starmer
    Corbynista=Clive Lewis

    “I wrote the above posts on the premise that ANYONE is better than Corbyn!”
    I wouldn’t go that far…Diane Abbott for leader anyone?

  28. I never understand why Abbott gets so much stick.l! I personally don’t think she’s as bad as many people perceive.

  29. Rivers: agree totally with that list (though am a bit sceptical of Dan Jarvis who seems to me to hail from the Andy Burnham school of advanced flip-floppery). Can’t see why the Labour leadership is pushing Rebecca Long-Bailey so hard* when it is clear that Clive Lewis is the left’s best hope and brightest talent.

    *Actually, one reason springs to mind – she will be very easy for McCluskey/Lansman to control. The last thing they want is an original thinker…

  30. Former Labour NEC member who lives in this seat and grew up here, Ellie Reeves, is almost certain to be the candidate. There will be accusations of nepotism though – her sister Rachel is a Labour MP in Leeds and she’s married to John Cryer, the Labour MP for Leyton and Wanstead. Half of those NEC members interviewing the candidates and then picking the candidate probably went to her wedding though so the nepotism charge might stick. More worrying is that she’s a barrister – just what Parliament needs (not)!

  31. Rachel Reeves was on Womens Hour today talking about getting more women into Parliament. She said she had a feeling a woman will get selected by Labour for this seat. Lol!

  32. Ellie Reeves has been confirmed as the Labour candidate here.

  33. Very much of the Blairite wing of the party, if the rumour that a compromise has been struck within the Lab hierarchy that PPC’s for seats will be split evenly between Corbynista’s and moderates then getting someone like Reeves selected must mean the Corbynista’s are going to parachute a big, controversial name in somewhere else.

    Chris Williamson? Seb Corbyn? Katy Clarke? Paul Mason? James Schneider? Adam Klug?Seumas Milne???? Its anyone’s guess.

  34. Well Chris Williamson has returned, not sure how controversial that is though, given he was an MP before ‘Corbynism’.

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