2015 Result:
Conservative: 12540 (25.1%)
Labour: 26474 (53%)
Lib Dem: 4491 (9%)
Green: 4421 (8.9%)
UKIP: 1602 (3.2%)
TUSC: 164 (0.3%)
Others: 241 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 13934 (27.9%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

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

Main population centres: Streatham, Brixton.

Profile: Covers Streatham itself and parts of Clapham and Brixton. Streatham itself used to be very middle class and suburban, but recent decades have seen houses split into flats and parts of the area become increasingly multi-ethnic and downtrodden. The north of the seat includes part of Brixton, which is also split between this seat and Vauxhall, an area associated with the Afro-Carribean community and a past history of troubles and rioting, but now beginning a rather bohemian gentrification..

Politics: Streatham`s political fortunes have followed the demographic changes in the area. When it used to be a solidly middle class suburb it was continously held by the Conservatives from its creation in 1918 until 1992 when it fell to Labour. As it has become increasingly inner-city in character and ethnic make-up it has moved further and further into Labour`s column, by 1997 and 2001 it was a safe Labour seat.

Current MP
CHUKA UMUNNA (Labour) Born 1978, London. Educated at Manchester University. Former Employment lawyer and journalist. First elected as MP for Streatham in 2010. Originally announced he would run for the Labour leadership in 2015 and was seen as a potential frontrunner, but withdrew shortly afterwards saying he wasn't ready for the media attention.
Past Results
Con: 8578 (18%)
Lab: 20037 (43%)
LDem: 16778 (36%)
GRN: 861 (2%)
Oth: 583 (1%)
MAJ: 3259 (7%)
Con: 7238 (18%)
Lab: 18950 (47%)
LDem: 11484 (28%)
GRN: 2245 (6%)
Oth: 698 (2%)
MAJ: 7466 (18%)
Con: 6639 (18%)
Lab: 21041 (57%)
LDem: 6771 (18%)
GRN: 1641 (4%)
Oth: 906 (2%)
MAJ: 14270 (39%)
Con: 9758 (22%)
Lab: 28181 (63%)
LDem: 6082 (14%)
MAJ: 18423 (41%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
KIM CADDY (Conservative)
CHUKA UMUNNA (Labour) See above.
AMNA AHMED (Liberal Democrat) Born Pakistan. Educated at James Allens Girls School and Oxford University.
DEON GAYLE (Workers Revolutionary)
Comments - 358 Responses on “Streatham”
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  1. Sorry to read on Facebook tonight that Tulse Hill Labour councillor Ruth Ling has just died.

  2. Came back last night from the Oval after on series of buses.
    Didn’t feel like heading back towards the central area for a train
    and was curious to look at some places discussed here.

    One can see how Streatham was a smart outer London area – and it has leafy areas and is a fair treck out.

    But quite honestly, when I first became politically aware, I was quite surprised Streatham was a Tory seat even then.
    The High Road always felt pretty inner city
    and not natural Tory territory.

    Does it have nicer areas away from the main roads – a bit like the old Wanstead and Woodford which is misleading from the main roads?

    Although put another way,
    it has similarities to Tooting where the Tories are competitive although not quite enough in General Elections.
    Perhaps the Tory vote would have held up better here if the Tories had control of the council and could have a distinctive local identity.

  3. “Does it have nicer areas away from the main roads ā€“ a bit like the old Wanstead and Woodford which is misleading from the main roads?”

    Lots of big houses around the common, certainly, many of which have gone downhill and broken up into flats.

    “Perhaps the Tory vote would have held up better here if the Tories had control of the council and could have a distinctive local identity.”

    Or conversely, the Tory vote held up so well in the 1980s because the council was the looniest of loony left. When the council became more moderate Labour in the 1990s there was a massive and permanent collapse in the Tory vote.

  4. Yes, I suspect that is so.
    The last time the Tories did seriously well was in 1983 – even 1987 wasn’t brilliant compared to London – and I suspect it was the loony left Council and Labour’s national problems that kept the Tory show on the road for perhaps an extra decade.
    This does rather look like a longer gone Tory seat than it is.

  5. “This does rather look like a longer gone Tory seat than it is.”

    Looking at the Lambeth wards around 1990, I always considered that if the borough had been divided in 1983 as (North/ Central/ South)

    Lambeth Central (Clapham & Brixton)
    Streatham & Norwood

    Instead of North/ South East/ South West that this would have created a safer Tory seat. Streatham & Norwood may have been held by the Conservatives in 1992 but would have become a safe Labour seat (although not quite as safe as the current Streatham).

    Of the pre-1974 constituencies, I would think that Clapham and Norwood would both be better prospects than Streatham.

  6. “This does rather look like a longer gone Tory seat than it is.”

    I would probably say the same about Lewisham East and West as well, which similarly went strongly over to Labour when the loony left faded away.

  7. Yes, but it was always rather denied that Lewisham had a loony left council.
    I suspect it did actually – but may be only around 1983.
    Your knowledge of that area is greater than mine.

    Peter may have a point about the boundaries.
    I do still suspect though that if the seat was in Wandsworth the image of the area would be somewhat different but that’s hypothetical.

  8. I do remember being very disappointed and surprised by the 1992 declaration here

  9. Dalek

    Norwood and Streatham do not fit well together at all. A simple drive along the south circular will easily show you that. Streatham naturally belongs more with Tooting and Mitcham, and indeed it is a bit of an oddity that it became part of Lambeth in the first place. The community ties here run much easier from north to south, divided by the Victoria to Brighton rail line, so actual 1983 constituencies were far preferable to your proposals.

    You have the added factor that Labour call the shots in this part of the world and they always veto proposals to include all of Brixton in one seat.

  10. “Yes, but it was always rather denied that Lewisham had a loony left council.
    I suspect it did actually ā€“ but may be only around 1983.
    Your knowledge of that area is greater than mine.”

    Lewisham’s looniness was early-80s, and the council had moderated enough to win a big Labour majority by 1986. So in that sense you’re right.

  11. yes.
    they definitely seemed to say the loony left council had gone by 1992.
    IIRC the Con vote held up quite well in 1986
    but actually not very well in 1982 strangely.
    Perhaps a left wing new group took over in 82
    but was purged.

  12. I’ve street viewed more of it and I see what HH and others mean.

    It’s strange I didn’t know the area better because I am usuallly curious.
    It really doesn’t look good from the main road – even in the 1980s.

    There are rows of houses that could be in Wanstead, or some other suburbs where the Tories still hold.

    I do stick to my view though that the area would have retained more Tory voters if it hadn’t been under Lambeth council.
    They must have hated being in Lambeth in the early mid 80s.

  13. Maybe this would have been a better choice for John Taylor than Cheltenham in 1992. Sir William Shelton may have been a bit out of touch with the electorate by the 1990s. Clapham in 1970 – when he entered Parliament – was I suspect a rather different place to Streatham in 1992.

  14. the tories would still have gone out of contention though because of the social changes

  15. some of the roads near the common are still very high-class & have a fair number of professional & managerial workers. Some of these are of course black though some are the sort of people one might at first sight tend to associate more with gentrified parts of Wandsworth (which of course this area was mostly once part of). The borough boundary in SW4 seems to be inconspicuous and yet there are clearly huge differences between how residents of SW4 who live in Wandsworth & those who live in Lambeth vote in elections.

  16. actually I meant SW12 (Balham).

  17. Barnaby- when would you say that Streatham began to move from being a middle-class suburb to a largely inner city area?

  18. Depends what you mean – Streatham the place or Streatham the constituency. Streatham constituency has gradually expanded to also include large parts of Brixton, which has been “largely an inner city area” since at least WW2.

  19. I meant Streatham the place. I know it still has its middle-class parts but it has clearly changed.

  20. Well, the constituency swung 4% to Labour in 1987, totally against the regional trend (Croydon NW next door did the same). It’s therefore reasonable to surmise that the process was in full swing by then, but I think it started in earnest rather earlier, perhaps in the earlier 80s. In 1980, for example, Streatham South was still a totally safe Tory ward, whereas nowadays it is totally safe Labour, so I think that in 1980 Streatham was still largely suburban in character. Joe’s right about the high street though – it’s lacked class for as long as I’ve known it, which is really since about 1980 too, and has never resembled e.g. similar roads in E Sheen or even Twickenham (which is less posh than E Sheen).

  21. When I got the 333 bus last night (actually 2 nights ago now)
    there is this leafier area at the northern end of Streatham which could perhaps give you the impression you were reaching suburbs,
    but the way this area is north of the very crowded and increasingly inner city Croydon North and indeed Croydon doesn’t really give the impression of London’s back garden, deep south.

    There are some very pleasant Victorian houses though.

  22. Some of this is rehashed but still interesting – to clarify – the Tories still led in Streatham by 10% in May 1986 and a similar margin in 1990.
    In 1982 the gap was something like 30% and probably even higher in the old Streatham without the Town Hall ward.
    But Labour still clung on to the Council in 1982 although I think in a NOC situation.
    Perhaps the Streatham wards, already Tory in 1978, just piled on bigger majorities (although perhaps more because of the “Alliance”).

  23. Actually the 1982 elections resulted in Labour winning exactly half the seats. However, the outgoing Labour mayor, who IIRC was called something like Johnny Johnson, was angry about something or other, and used his casting vote to install a Conservative successor, thus handing control of the council to the Tories & SDP who held the other half of the seats between them. Then in 1983 an SDP councillor, disgusted about the cuts that the council were making, defected back to Labour again, thus handing control of the council back to that party.

  24. Thanks Barnaby. I didn’t know that. Minority con control around that time does ring a bell but as labour were clearly in control soon after I assumed I must be mistaken and labour hed held effective control all along. It is worth noting that the tory share fell 3.5pc in 1983 so change was I think afoot.

  25. Mary Leigh was leader of the Tories for quite a while I think. Certainly 1985-6. She contested Wallsend in 1983.

  26. goodness she certainly got about

  27. The point about the loony left having gone in the 1990s may be technically true after 1994 but it isn’t entirely true before.
    The Council was loony albeit under different people
    and in some different ways even at the time of the 1992 election
    but by then voters clearly took it as a problem with the council only.

    The Council was lost to NOC in 1994 and even then I and some Tories in Gloy Plopwell mode had hopes of doing rahter better
    and although there were successes in a few isolated wards
    the central problem was that the Con vote was collapsing in most of the Streatham former strongholds
    and the Lib Dems were picking up more than the Tories elsewhere.
    I understand that by 1998 when Labour regained control they had chique new leadership.

  28. I really need to see the Borough elections in 2014 to get a better clue but this is a punt for 2015.

    Lab 51% +8%
    LD 22% -14%
    Con 20% +2%
    Green 4% +2%
    UKIP 3%

  29. Streatham High Road has been pretty awful for as long as I can remember. I came to the area with my Mum in 1993 looking at property…fortunately she decided to settle us in South Wimbledon instead. Of course the loss of Pratt’s was a huge blow in 1990, but I understand it was already on its way out as it was an outdated format and JL were opening the Kingston store (to which many staff moved) where the catchment had much better demographics.

    The North West of the seat actually is the best part. It is part of Clapham (known as “Abbeville Village”). It continues to gentrify, seems to be trending Tory, and looks very similar to parts of Wandsworth (esp. the “between the Commons Area”) on the other side of the Common.

    Some of the roads in Streatham itself between the High Road and the Common (e.g. Woodbourne Avenue and Hoadly Road) look nice and suburban, but they suffer from being SW16 and are significantly cheaper (per sq foot) than property in, say, SW4 or the now-prestigious Heaver Estate on the other side in Tooting Bec.

    The rest of the seat resembles Norbury and north Croydon…and we all know what has happened to those areas, socially and politically.

    I understand from Tory friends in Lambeth LB that Shelton was also a pretty rubbish constituency MP in so marginal a seat, and Hill, despite political differences was considered to be very in tune with the area (Hill even famously remarked that the reason he was elected was because of demographic change).

  30. Shelton must have been doing something wrong for his majority to drop from 5,000 to 2,000 in 1987 when the rest of London was moving towards the Tories or remaining about the same as 1983.

  31. Labour’s candidate in 1987, Anna Tapsell, was quite left wing I believe, and also a local councillor at the time.

  32. JJB – I would agree with your punt, although I wouldn’t be surprised if the Conservatives lost 1 or 2 percent on the 2010 figure.

  33. In fact the property in Streatham is rather more varied and spacious than the neighbouring more expensive and more Tory areas which are pretty much rows and rows of Victorian terraces. I suppose it was just too far from the centre to attract gentrification and not so expensive that it did n’t avert demographic change.

  34. “I suppose it was just too far from the centre to attract gentrification and not so expensive that it did nā€™t avert demographic change.”

    Not through want of trying. Numerous times since the late 1990s, estate agents have been trying to push Streatham as “the next Clapham”….some have famously referred to it at St. Reatham to try to give it a more upmarket image. All completely in vain. The really key reason is the transport links. Unlike Tooting and Balham to the south/west and Clapham and Brixton to the north, Streatham isn’t on the tube and has no prospect of being on it. This matters immensely when it comes to gentrification.

  35. Excellent point. And it is for that reason why other areas nearby such as Mitcham, West Norwood or north Croydon will not start to gentrify anytime soon. Things may well be different for places with London Overground connections however. The likes of Crystal Palace, Forest Hill and the New Cross/Brockley area have started to undergo the process but none of these areas are likely to become Battersea or Clapham. They will however become the new Guardianista areas especially as Islington and other traditional areas for the left-leaning middle class become ever more unaffordable.

  36. How is it possible to predict if the Lib Dem vote is more Labour or Tory leaning?

    People often make the mistake of believeing that if a Lib Dem is elected in a traditionally Tory area that their vote is more Tory and in a traditional Labour area their vote is more Labour. The opposite is more often the case, as they are often the anti-establishment vote.

    That was the case, but more recently there has been the notion of the Lib Dems seeking to outflank Labour from the left and attracting supports who are also left of Labour.

    In many constituencies, the Lib Dems will accumulate a rainbow alliance of support, from soft Tories to Marxists. I would imagine somewhere like Hornsey & Wood Green would meet this scenario.

  37. HH makes a good point.
    Unless one is a bus enthusiast, I can’t really see people wanting to make the treck to and from the nearest tube, particularly in Brixton.

  38. I do all my work on behalf of TfL in various parts of London. I think, from what I’ve found, that it will be a long time before the Overground will have the same demographic effect as the Underground. After all, it doesn’t really take you right into central London like the Underground. Most people will use it more like a suburban BR service (to use the old phrase) than they do the Tube, & I really don’t think it will be the selling point that the tube is in terms of gentrification etc.

  39. Personally I dislike the tube
    – being under ground, and horribly hot,

    and will almost always use the Overground trains or the buses (or the Boris bike)
    but sometimes the tube is essential
    and many people prefer it.

  40. Lambeth
    % share of the poll, 1964-2010
    Year poll CON LAB LD other
    6.5.10 57.5 18.7 43.0 28.0 10.3
    4.5.06 30.4 17.3 35.8 26.2 20.7
    2.5.02 26.0 16.4 36.5 32.8 14.3
    7.5.98 32.1 17.5 42.1 29.3 11.2
    5.5.94 43.0 25.5 34.6 32.1 7.8
    3.5.90 45.9 32.9 43.7 11.2 12.2
    8.5.86 47.7 34.6 42.8 19.3 3.3
    6.5.82 44.7 39.4 33.2 26.9 0.5
    4.5.78 37.4 46.9 49.2 2.5 1.4
    4.5.74 30.4 38.6 52.7 7.2 1.5
    13.5.71 36.8 37.8 60.2 1.3 0.7
    9.5.68 30.8 65.4 31.1 2.5 1.0
    7.5.64 26.1 42.3 52.5 4.8 0.4

  41. Quite an interesting discussion on this seat.

    I think this seat will never have a Tory MP again. It includes too much of Brixton for the Tories to be serious competition here, those with money will simply move into Clapham instead and Lambeth Council are absolutely useless so they are certainly not going to spruce up the High Road.

    It’s a shame as the housing stock in Streatham itself is lovely.

    I’m still baffled why Brixton isn’t covered by one seat – this spreading of the Labour vote in this part of town makes everything so predictable.

  42. I guess the reason is that Brixton is pretty much smack bang in the middle of the borough of Lambeth. When that borough ceased to be large enough to have 4 constituencies, it was inevitable that Brixton would be split up.

  43. From Labour’s point of view it wouldn’t matter to have Brixton in one seat now.

    But 30 years ago, to have done so would have made Streatham safe and Norwood winnable for the Tories, so you can see why Labour were always in favour of splitting Brixton up in the past.

  44. I do think somewhere as large and distinctive as Brixton should be made into its own seat again. It seems a shame to have all its votes spread into different seats.

  45. well there are basically 4 wards in Brixton, Coldharbour (which is the safest Labour of the lot) which is in Dulwich & W Norwood, Brixton Hill & Tulse Hill in Streatham, and Ferndale in Vauxhall. That wouldn’t be enough for one constituency but it could be combined with, say, Streatham S, Streatham Wells, St Leonards & Streatham Hill to make a coherent constituency. Or of course other combinations might be possible. The other 2 wards currently in the Streatham constituency, Thornton (Labour) & Clapham Common (split LD/Con) could be put in with most of the current Vauxhall constituency but there would be one ward left over. That could perhaps be Vassall – but that ward includes part of the Camberwell community & could be a part of a cross-border Lambeth & Southwark seat. Politically such an arrangement would probably have a neutral effect, but Labour would clearly suffer from the removal of Coldharbour from its present constituency even though the seat would almost certainly be held without it.

  46. “Sorry to read on Facebook tonight that Tulse Hill Labour councillor Ruth Ling has just died”

    The by-election took place yesterday. And as suspected, it wasn’t the most exciting contest ever:

    Labour 69.3%
    Lib Dems 12.2%
    Green 7.8%
    TUSC 3.4%
    Con 3.3%
    UKIP 2.8%
    Ind 0.9%
    Socialist 0.5%

    Turnout 20%

  47. Nevertheless that is an appalling Conservative result.

    On the basis of this I do not expect them to hold their remaining seats in Thurlow Park, which is quite close by.

  48. “I guess the reason is that Brixton is pretty much smack bang in the middle of the borough of Lambeth. When that borough ceased to be large enough to have 4 constituencies, it was inevitable that Brixton would be split up.”

    I assume that not all of Brixton was included in the 1974 -1983 Lambeth Central, that looks like it was formed from residual wards from the previous Clapham and Brixton constituencies that were not annexed by Streatham, Norwood or Vauxhall?

    Lambeth Central may have been a real dogs breakfast?

  49. That’s not unfair by any means – IIRC the Lambeth Central seat didn’t include Coldharbour ward which was in Norwood.

  50. Another area for a Green deposit hold, my guess is:
    LAB 57
    LD 21
    CON 13
    GRN 5
    UKIP 4
    Since the Greens polled almost 9% here in 2005 on a 1.1% national vote share, could they surpass 10% on a 3% national vote share?

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