The Labour Party’s Steve Reed has maintained his party’s hold on Croydon North with 64.3 per cent of the votes. The Lambeth council leader stormed to victory in Thursday night’s by-election, announced around 1:45am, leaving all other parties trailing in his wake, with Labour taking 15,898 votes to the Conservatives’ 4,137. The results also showed a clear 8 per cent swing from Conservative to Labour.
With 24,690 votes cast and a turnout of 26.5 per cent, the numbers were low even by by-election standards. Even in the face of the 64.3% victory, however, Reed told Eastlondonlines he attributed the low turnout to the “freezing cold weather”. Apathy was, however, extremely widespread.
In his victory speech he maintained that the young people of Croydon have been “let down” by the coalition, blaming spiralling youth unemployment in the area on the Conservative-Lib Dem government. He told Eastlondonlines his win was “a big endorsement to Ed Miliband’s one-nation Labour Party”. The by-election was prompted by the death of Malcolm Wicks, the Labour MP whose personal popularity was a major contributor to Croydon North having been a Labour stronghold for the last 15 years.
Tories took second place with 16.7 per cent, with candidate Andy Stranack conceding to Eastlondonlines: “We were always facing a big challenge in Croydon North”, but denied his party needed “detoxifying”. Despite defeat, Stranack, who has cerebral palsy, called for more candidates with disabilities to stand for Parliament, adding in his speech: “my disability was no obstacle to an energetic campaign”.
UKIP candidate Winston McKenzie came in third, even after he was denounced by his own party for making homophobic comments, though took only 5.6 per cent of the votes. Speaking before the result, he commented that he was “at least on course to beat the Lib Dems”, which turned out to be true.
The Respect Party’s campaign ad with George Galloway endorsing Croydon North candidate Lee Jasper to the sounds of smooth jazz couldn’t help them, and they came in sixth with Respect taking just 2.8 per cent. Jasper said he hoped to “liven up Croydon North’s democracy” as they make “stunts” in the future, adding: “Politics can be disengaging, so if we can bring a smile to people’s faces then that’s all to the good”.
The full results are: Labour 64.3 per cent; Conservative 16.7 per cent; UKIP 5.6 per cent; Liberal Democrats 3.5 per cent; Green Party 3.5 per cent; Respect 2.9 per cent; Christian People’s Alliance 0.8 per cent; National Front 0.7 per cent; Communist Party 0.5 per cent; Monster Raving Loony Party 0.4 per cent; 9/11 Was An Inside Job 0.3 per cent; Young People’s Party 0.3 per cent. 112 spoiled ballots.