The Conservatives have held the Croydon South seat since its creation in 1974, and retiring MP Sir Richard Ottaway has won five consecutive general elections. It remains to be seen whether the new Conservative candidate, businessman Chris Philp, will retain the same level of support. Emily Benn seeks to regain ground for the Labour party in this white, Christian, largely suburban constituency.
Sir Richard Ottaway will not be the Conservative candidate for Croydon South for the first time since 1992. The outgoing MP is retiring after winning this very safe Conservative seat on five consecutive elections.
The Tories have held the seat since its creation in 1974. Entrepreneur Chris Philip, 39, is the new Conservative candidate.
YouGov survey and polling expert Anthony Wells says that the seat in Croydon South “has more in common with residential Surrey than the inner city”.
With the exception of Waddon in the north of the constituency, which has a large council estate and several tower blocks, Croydon South consists of highly affluent dormitory suburbs.
Business-oriented residents take advantage of fast commuter trains to the City and Gatwick Airport.
Areas like Coulson, Purley and village-like Selsdon (where the eponymous free-market lobby group was formed in 1973, spawning the term ‘Selsdon man’) are perfect examples. Purley Way, which runs mainly through Waddon, is home to large shopping and leisure retail stores.
Housing, transportation and unemployment pose less of a problem in Croydon South than in other Croydon and east London constituencies.
Notably, 72.8 per cent of the population is white, 11.9 per cent is Asian and 8.7 per cent is black. There is a significant proportion of retired people, with 18.3 per cent of residents aged 65 or older.
Christians account for 59 per cent of Croydon residents, with Hindus (4.6 per cent) and Muslims (4.5 per cent) falling far behind.
Looking back at the 2010 general election results in Croydon South, Conservatives got 50.9 per cent of the votes, significantly ahead of the Liberal Democrats (22.8 per cent) and Labour (20 per cent). UKIP got 4.5 per cent and the Green Party 1.7 per cent.
In the 2014 local election, the Conservatives received 52.7 per cent of the vote, with Labour at 21.2 per cent, UKIP at 9.1 per cent, Green at 8.8 per cent and the Lib Dems at 7.8 per cent. Despite a slightly higher vote share than in the previous local election, Conservatives lost the Waddon ward to Labour.
Contrary to Croydon South, Croydon North is considered a safe Labour seat, while Croydon Central is one of the marginal seats to watch closely during Thursday’s election.
Chris Philp – Conservatives
Conservative candidate Chris Philp won in the Gospel Oak ward of Camden in the 2006 local election, beating the Camden Labour leader.
In the 2010 general election, Philp contested the Hampstead and Kilburn seat, increasing the Tory share of the vote by 9.8 points over their 2005 result and falling just 42 votes short of Labour candidate Glenda Jackson.
“I’m running for Parliament partly because very few people with real-world business experience end up as MPs. I want to make sure that the Government encourages businesses to create jobs and prosperity for everyone in society.”
“I want to see the NHS protected and encouraged. Of course it must work efficiently and without waste (and there is still a lot to do here), but its mission to offer world-class care quickly and effectively must never be forgotten.”
“I believe in British sovereignty. The EU, as currently constituted, does not allow the UK to adequately run its own affairs and must be urgently and radically reformed. The same applies to the European Convention on Human Rights, which often prevents us from quickly deporting known terrorists and foreign criminals.”
Emily Benn – Labour
Labour councillor Emily Benn will be contesting the parliamentary seat. Benn, 25, is the granddaughter of Tony Benn and niece of Hilary Benn, both prominent senior Labour figures.
In the 2014 local elections, Benn was elected to the West Thornton ward of Croydon Council.
Benn ran for the East Worthing and Shoreham seat in the 2010 general election, but finished in third place behind the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. She lost 8.8 percentage points compared to the previous Labour candidate.
“Just because this area has not been Labour before, it doesn’t mean that I don’t think it needs a Labour government. I think the best thing for South Croydon – just like I think the best thing for Britain – is a Labour government. So I am proud to stand and say it everywhere.”
“I learned that what really changes people’s minds is personal. Personal contact really makes a difference.”
“A lot of people do young people down and not just about politics. Too many people don’t think that young people’s views are worthwhile. It’s a great shame. Politics should be about everyone, should not be limited only to middle-age and elderly people.”
Gill Hickson – Liberal Democrats
Liberal Democrat Gill Hickson, a Coulsdon resident and community activist, is “campaigning full-time”.
In May 2014, Hickson was the Lib Dem candidate for her home ward of Coulsdon East in the local election. She finished fifth, behind the three elected Conservative councillors and the UKIP candidate.
Hickson polled 696 votes, compared to the 2,164 votes the Liberal Democrats obtained in 2010.
“I believe I’m the only candidate born and bred in Croydon. I am proud of a lot that’s been achieved in government, especially helping to stop us going bankrupt, which was a real possibility. I especially like the tax concessions for the low-paid, free child care and school meals, the triple-lock pension and two million apprenticeships.”
“There is a lot more to do regarding schools, which we stopped the Tories running for profit, and the health service, which needs more funding but better running. So please don’t believe the politics of fear when you have the option of hope.”
Kathleen Garner – UKIP
Mark Samuel – Putting Croydon First
No information about this candidate was available at the time of publishing.