In the 2015 General Election, it was only 165 votes which decided the future of Croydon Central’s constituency.
However, only two years on, after the Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election, Labour’s Sarah Jones managed to graft 5,652 more votes than Gavin Barwell of the Conservative Party which resulted in a Labour gain for London’s most marginal seat; Croydon Central. This comfortable win for Jones allowed her to now become Croydon’s first ever female MP.
The election turnout in this constituency was at 71.3 per cent, the highest in the area since 1992.
In the 2005 General Election it was only 75 votes which swayed the constituency from Labour to Conservative.
This election however showed us something we hadn’t seen in the area in a long time.
A huge 251,041 Croydon residents registered to vote for this year’s election and voters had access to 147 different polling stations across the borough.
Research published in the week of the election showed that newly young registered voters in the borough were some of the most powerful in the country in terms of the impact their vote could have.
Various polls leading up to the election suggested Labour were closing the gap on the Tories in the area mainly due to the influx of young people registering to vote with the intentions of voting for Labour. Even from a national perspective the election did not go as planned by the Conservatives. The youth population came out to vote in large numbers to make their voices heard which benefited the Labour party significantly.
Barwell ended up being one of a number of high-profile casualties on election night. After holding the Croydon Central seat since 2010, he claims the upside to losing his seat is that he will be able to spend more time with his family. In a speech after the results were announced he said: “Representing your home town in Parliament is one of the greatest honours you can have and I have enjoyed the seven years in which I’ve had the privilege to hold this office immensely, and I hope that Sarah gets the same joy and satisfaction from the role as I’ve had.”. Following the loss of his seat in this election, Barwell has now been appointed by Theresa May as her new Chief of Staff after her two closet aides Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy resigned.
How did Labour manage to win with such a large majority?
Clair Laker-Mansfield of the Socialist Party told ELL: “The Labour Party won the majority of their seats because of the up-rise in working class people in areas such as Croydon. With the manifesto insisting on an increase of the minimum wage to £10 an hour and an end to zero hour contracts, working class people as well as young people who never bothered to vote before saw the benefits of having the Labour party leading the county which would put an end to right-wing policies which would only help one per cent of the population.”
“The Socialist Party helped campaign in favour of Jeremy Corbyn himself. Five million voters abandoned the Labour Party after turning against Blair and Brown. We gave out leaflets saying, ‘Back Jeremy Corbyn’ with the aim of getting voters to vote for the leader as well as the party. We believe it was Jeremy Corbyn who saved the seats in this election.”
Ian Parker, an agent for the Croydon Conservative Federation told ELL: “We believe the national campaign is to blame for what happened in the election, the manifesto didn’t suit the needs of the population in Croydon whereas the Labour campaign seemed to appeal to more people in our constituency. We are happy that our votes went up quite a lot since the 2015 election and we are now planning to move forward and see how we can improve in the run up to the coming local elections.”
Momentum are a Labour activist group supporting the party, working at increasing participation and engagement to enable them to win elections and enter government. They evolved out of Corbyn’s 2015 leadership bid to build on the energy and enthusiasm generated by the campaign. A spokesman said: “Firstly it was Jeremy who contributed across the board especially in Croydon. Number two I think was the massive mobilisation on the ground which was part down to the Labour party but also us, it was a big marginal constituency for us and we had a strong Momentum group there. Throughout the campaign we had hundreds of activists going to Croydon, covering a lot of ground and knocking on a lot of doors. We had nearly 1000 on June 8 in Croydon. The MP, Sarah Jones has since been very complimentary for everything we did.”
— Croydon Momentum (@CroydonMomentum) 9 June 2017
This election saw a huge increase in youth turnout across the UK. YouGov conducted one of Britain’s biggest ever post-election surveys to chart how the nation’s political character is shifting, and from the survey it is clear to see the youth vote is what made Labour so successful in this election.
For more on how Britain voted, a breakdown of class, gender, employment status etc is visible on the YouGov website.
Croydon Central turned this month from London’s most marginal seat to a strong Labour gain taking a 9.9 per cent majority.
Labour supporters and activists campaigned in Croydon Central determined to raise awareness to the youth of the area. Using Rapper Stormzy, from Croydon as an influential figure in their campaign too to grab the attention of younger people eligible to vote.
— Ellis Hayes (@ellishayes) 30 May 2017
Dedication from activists as well as the registration and turnout of the youth contributed significantly to the success of the Labour Party in Croydon Central.
Sarah Jones spent the day after the election meeting with the pupils at Croydon College to find out why they voted for her and what they now expect of her as their new MP.
— Sarah Jones MP (@LabourSJ) 9 June 2017