In the first of our constituency profiles from south of the river, we look at Croydon North, a densely-populated area with an ethnically diverse population. Incumbent Labour MP Steve Reed took almost two thirds of the vote share in the 2012 by-election following the death of previous Labour MP Malcolm Wicks. Polls indicate he will retain his seat despite a highly targeted campaign by the Conservatives.
Croydon North incorporates the districts of Broad Green, Selhurst, West Thornton, Bensham Manor, Norbury, Thornton Heath, Upper Norwood and South Norwood. With its tower blocks and dense terraced housing, the constituency could be considered the most urban of the three Croydon seats. It is also the most multicultural, with a 35 per cent white, 23 per cent Asian and 31 per cent black population.
Combined with the relatively high unemployment and crime rates and poor living conditions, ethnic tensions were one factor in Croydon being one of the hotspots of the 2011 riots. Politicians across all parties have expressed a desire to tackle these issues and improve the borough’s image.
A Tory stronghold until 1997, demographic change and increasing numbers of ethnic minorities have transformed the south London constituency into a safe seat for the Labour party. In 2010, former Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks was able to increase the Labour vote to 56 per cent, against national trends. Wicks died tragically in 2012, but Steve Reed took his seat with an even higher 64 per cent in the by-election.
Steve Reed – Labour and Co-operative
Former book publisher Reed has a good chance of winning the election again. To guarantee his re-election, he is promising the people of Croydon North more jobs, cleaner streets and a stop to cuts affecting the police and NHS.
Vidhi Mohan – Conservative
Reed is firmly challenged by the Conservatives who want to recover from their devastating 16 per cent vote share in the 2012 by-election. Candidate Vidhi Mohan says that he is especially concerned for young people and wants to encourage them to start businesses in the technology industry.
Another important issue for him is the safety of Croydon: “I want to hire more police officers who are visible in the streets. Right now they are only filing forms,” he said. However, he wants to end the current stop-and-search approach.
“I’m not saying that the police are using racial profiling, but the probability of being stopped and searched is much higher as a black person,” said the Indian-born candidate.
Winston McKenzie – UKIP
McKenzie, who was born in Jamaica and has lived in Croydon for 51 years, is standing as the UKIP candidate and claims that the Labour-led Council does not care about black people. “They are not spending enough money and ostracise black people thereby. Crime and segregation is the result,” claimed the former boxer.
Watch Eastlondonlines’ March 2015 interview with McKenzie here.
Shasha Khan – Green
The Croydon Green Party chose a different approach to deal with the borough’s most severe problems. Candidate Shasha Khan, who runs a dance music record label, wants to reduce knife crime by offering more social activities like youth clubs and sports for young people. The environmentalist and peace activist also wants to protect Croydon’s green lung from fracking and improve air quality by holding a referendum on the incinerator.
Joanna Corbin – Liberal Democrats
Unsurprisingly, the Liberal Democrats also take the liberal approach to fighting criminal activities. They are eager to strengthen “policing by consent” and reverse the Conservatives’ decision to cut funding for youth clubs. Candidate Joanna Corbin wants to improve citizens’ relations with the council and strengthen local democracy. The Croydon-born lawyer, who works in the charity sector, also wants to put more money into childcare and public housing.
Lee Berks – Independent
No information about this candidate was available at the time of publishing.
Glen Hart – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Ben Stevenson – Communist Party of Britain
Ben Stevenson CV