Revealed: How Croydon result was pivotal in preventing Tory majority
It was really interesting to compare the views of different political parties in Croydon, South London following the General Election.
Labour made unexpected gains which led to many questions regarding Prime Minister May’s future.
One of the crucial votes on 8th June was Croydon Central. The Conservatives were defending a 165 majority from 2015. Labour won the seat comfortably by 5,600 votes. Thus indicating Theresa May was not going to receive the much-expected landslide.
Despite my efforts to get in contact with the Tories in Croydon, including councillors and candidates, all declined my invitation for an interview. I was able to meet representatives from the other main political parties.
Views from Croydon representatives
Stuart Collins, the Labour councillor for Broad Green ward since 1993, was surprised at how well the Labour party did. “I was pleasantly surprised about how good Jeremy Corbyn was at rallies, and promoting our manifesto. The fact he came across with quite a lot of dignity and very sincere about his policies. His key factor was that he appeared to be a straight talking honest politician.”
Councillor Collins praises the role of social media in Labour’s successful campaign “Jeremy Corbyn and the leadership team showed that the social media via Twitter and Facebook is a massive tool because it gives people the chance to watch videos from the past to scrutinise the Government.”
Mr Collins laments at the press’ treatment of his leader Jeremy Corbyn: “I also think that the media did him no service especially the right wing media in trying to paint him as an ogre.”
Gill Hickson, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Croydon Central, believes the Conservatives are putting their party’s interests before the country. “The hypocrisy of the Tories having a go at Labour having a magic money tree to pay for everything. However, they managed to find £1bn slush fund to give the DUP keeping the Tories in power” she said.
Mr Collins is worried about the current arrangements between the Conservatives and the DUP. He believes the DUP are influencing the Conservatives: “They’ve realised they’ve got the Conservative party over a barrel. My concern is that will hold them to ransom. Their unpleasant ideas might be conceded by the Conservatives.”
Despite UKIP performing worse in this election compared to the previous one, Michael Swadling, the UKIP candidate for Croydon North, is cautiously optimistic about the Brexit negotiations led by Theresa May. “I don’t trust Theresa May, but she is proceeding correctly at the moment, clearly, we don’t have a lot of detail, and I don’t think we should at this stage” he reiterated.
Future of Croydon funding
On the issue of Local Government funding, Gill Hickson is not optimistic about the future of funding for Croydon and is worried about the actions the Government will take going forward on Brexit. “To pay for all of the health service and education, we need money, and Brexit is going to affect all those budgets, and how much money we will get, this could even get worse as the Brexit process continues. I hope that the Government will come back from the brink and stop this hard Brexit.”
Whereas, Mr Collins believes the increased presence of Labour MPs will help counter extra spending cuts. “Now there are two Labour MPs in Croydon arguing against austerity cuts, so we hope to deliver affordable housing. We can also make sure that we get a good deal from local government in terms of funding. Also, deliver on things like improvements to Fairfield Halls.”
However, Mr Swadling believes austerity has not been used in the UK, and that Croydon is not unfairly funded by central Government: “I am not sure there is an unfair deal for Croydon. If we get more money, another council will get less money. This country is not in austerity that’s a lie, that’s a fallacy; we have never used austerity in the last 20 years. Austerity means you spend less than you earn. We spend more than we earn and we are getting further into debt every year.”
Several Party Leaders resigning
In the aftermath of the election, several party leaders resigned from their posts including the Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron. He resigned mainly due to his religious beliefs on homosexuality. Ms Hickson wants Vince Cable to lead her party in time for the next general election “As Labour has veered to the left and the Tories to the right we need to occupy that centre ground. We need someone like Macron to be used that will get those policies and put them across well, but in the short term I realise we’ll need someone like Vince Cable in charge for a couple of years.”
Another Leader who resigned was the UKIP leader Paul Nuttall after the appalling UKIP performance across the country. Michael Swadling believes the new leader of UKIP has to embrace Libertarian values and be friendly towards the media “I like David Coburn and Bill Etheridge for their Libertarian views. Peter Whittle has not pushed the line so much to be fair that may be because he is Deputy Leader and he has a slightly different role. He is probably the most media friendly also he has a good platform as one of the London GLA members.”
On the lacklustre performance of Theresa May, this is what the respective parties had to say. Stuart Collins attributes the collapse in May’s majority to the lack of meaningful policies in the Tory manifesto. He believes Labour’s positive aspirational manifesto across the age spectrum prevented the Tories from holding their majority. He believes the issue of Brexit wasn’t a top priority amongst the electorate “On the doorstep, there were very few conversations about Brexit. Most people were talking about the triple lock on pensions, and most people were talking about young people’s futures, student loans and the dementia tax and I think it was a poor manifesto produced by them.”
Gill Hickson explains why she believes that Theresa May lost the General Election. “Her core voters are older people and she attacked them. The triple lock on pensions was a Lib Dem policy brought in by the coalition Government. Many people don’t realise there are a lot of pensioners in poverty, so it was to protect going forward. So I think that Theresa May tried to abolish the triple lock on pensions due to Brexit. She knows the money would be tight and she’d have to make savings ahead of those negotiations.
Mr Swadling believes Theresa May wasn’t convincing on the campaign trail: “The campaign was lousy, and the policies weren’t appealing. People don’t like to be told who to vote for, and Theresa May underestimated Labour. She ‘demanded’ people vote for her.”
UKIP voters defecting to Labour
Swadling admits that some of UKIP’s supporters from the last General Election defected to the Labour party this time. This statement rang true as Labour’s vote increased by 9% indicating these voters defected to Corbyn’s party. “Our strongest area in Croydon last time and this time was New Addington. That area (New Addington is part of Croydon consisting of mainly Council estates), was more likely to swing to Labour.”
UKIP’s Croydon North candidate Michael Swadling asserts that UKIP will challenge the Conservatives if they waver on delivering Brexit. He believes UKIP can exploit Theresa May if she doesn’t deliver the full Brexit that her manifesto promised to do. “If we leave the EU and we don’t have control over our own laws, fisheries, borders and trade. Those four statements will be hung around her neck and hung around their necks as they lose successive elections. If they do not deliver what the public voted for they are fundamentally undemocratic and you will see a resurgence in UKIP the likes of which we have never seen.