Sunday, May 07, 2006

Politics: Croydon Council election 2006 - the aftermath

Well I think my prediction here was quite accurate. Labour couldn't hold on but their local efficiency and organisation mitigated against a bigger loss in seats and votes in those key wards. The Tories took control and at the count were cock-a-hoop but restrained and polite, unlike their nasty and insensitive supporters at last year's general election count.

Labour held on well in Norbury and New Addington, inevitably losing in Waddon but, to their apparent surprise, losing badly in the supposedly safer wards of Addiscombe, Upper Norwood and South Norwood, and coming close in Woodside which had delivered so many votes for Geraint Davies just a year ago. The BNP gave Labour, and everybody else, a scare in Fieldway, and across Croydon South Labour fell back into third or even fourth place.

I think the reasons for Labour's loss are many and various, with different trends across the borough. National problems and local taxation issues, plus the undermining of the local crime and safety arguments by the prisoner release scandal, can point towards a long-term decline in white C2DE voters, which may explain the loss of votes in New Addington, South Norwood and Waddon. But the relatively high showing of the Greens and Lib Dems across Croydon and especially in Addiscombe and Upper Norwood reveals, in my opinion, a consequence of the war and loss of trust among ABC1 Labour voters, which in these two wards, with their affluent, professional but socially-minded populations, was key. These longer-term and less 'doorstep' issues also had another effect: although Labour's machine was as ever ruthlessly efficient, it was stretched beyond its usefulness by the loss of members and activists. I talked before about leaking votes at the margins and indeed this is what happened in Norwood and Addiscombe - there was not even enough local activity to pick up on the increasing Tory campaigns in those areas or their shift on election day. I doubt the Tory candidates for those areas had to leave their wards much; the same cannot be said for the losing Labour councillors who spent days and nights in Norbury and Waddon.

Where I got it wrong is to suggest the Tories faced a challenge at the other end. Although the Greens and Lib Dems deserve to be pleased with their showing, Croydon is a long way from seeing a three party system. The Lib Dems heavily lost their Coulsdon seat and were wiped out; although second in many places, they are not strong challengers to either Labour or the Conservatives in any ward. My suggestion that Marzia Nicodemi-Ehikioya would have a good showing was right (no surprise) with over 1,000 votes, but still a long, long way from the incumbents.

There follows a ward by ward analysis over coming days...

2 Comments:

Anonymous The Elephant said...

Delighted with the result which, from my point of view, was nothing to do with either recent or long term national party issues, but had everything to do with local issues.
The parking fiasco of 2002 was one and, in response to the Labour Councillor who said back then that we'd forget about it by the time the next election came round, we didn't. I lost count of the amount of fellow campaigners from that time who I bumped into on the way to and from the polling station, all determined to show that we have long memories.
Will the Conservatives do any better? No idea. But 4 more years with Labour was something I, for one, would not risk.

2:46 AM  
Blogger matcroydon said...

I am sure you're right that Labour has to learn the lessons from its local policies and campaign, rather than just blame the national leadership. But the 5% swing TO Labour in Norbury shows that local campaigning and effective councillors make a difference, regardless of the politics, so I guess they have to do more of that too.

11:32 AM  

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