How some of Croydon’s election results just don’t add up

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How some of Croydon’s election results just don’t add up - Inside Croydon

CROYDON COMMENTARY: After his second election campaign in five months, PETER UNDERWOOD, who stood for the Green Party in Croydon East, reflects on how the number of votes cast ought to be a warning to the two larger parties

We knew there would be some shifting around in Croydon following the boundary review that increased Croydon’s constituencies from three to four (or, strictly, three-and-a-half, as we share one with Lambeth).

At first glance, it may appear that not a lot has changed: Croydon has one Conservative MP in the south of the borough and the rest of its MPs are Labour.

But politics has never been just about who wins the seat. Far more interesting information is about what effect the result will have on those MPs and how it might influence what happens next in both national and local politics.

Across the four Croydon constituencies, Croydon South, Croydon East, Croydon West and Streatham and Croydon North, Labour got a total of 79,829 votes, 45.4% of all the votes cast in Croydon. This was 3.8 percentage points down on what they achieved in 2019.

The Conservatives polled 43,187 votes, 24.7%. This was down 10.5 points since 2019.

The Green Party got 18,436 votes (including 7,629 in Streatham and Croydon North, where our candidate, Scott Ainslie, finished second) for 10.5% of the borough’s votes – up 7.4 percentage points on five years ago.

The Liberal Democrats got 16,645 for 9.5% of the Croydon vote (down by 0.8).

And Reform got 14,153 votes, or 8% of the vote.

Labour will be celebrating that they are now the new government, having won the election.

But getting only one-third (33.7%) of the national vote but nearly two-thirds of the MPs shows how broken our election system is. It has already been described as “the most disproportionate election in British history”.

I suspect the calls for electoral changes will only get louder now.

In Croydon, even though Labour won three of the seats, their overall vote is down.

Labour’s increase in votes in Croydon South masks the significant drop in the party’s vote in the three other seats. After all the celebration champagne has been drunk, Labour will have to deal with the hangover of realising that they are actually less popular than they were. And despite throwing everything they had at trying to win Croydon South, they still failed.

For the Conservatives, holding on to Croydon South was one of the few bright spots – locally and nationally.

From reading the body language at the Croydon count in the early hours of Friday morning, Chris Philp may want put some effort into winning over his own local Conservatives, as it felt to me they were cheering for the Party, not the candidate.

The Conservatives knew they were going to have a really bad election, and after how they have behaved in government for the last 14 years I think they thoroughly deserved it. But an extra worry for Conservatives in Croydon is that even though they lost votes in every seat, their biggest drops were in areas where they used to be strongest – losing around 7,000 votes in both Croydon South and Croydon East, much of which used to be Croydon Central, where Gavin Barwell was MP until 2017.

The General Election results suggest that at the local elections in 2026, the Conservatives will not only lose the Mayor but will also struggle to hold on to a lot of their councillors.

The Green Party had a very good night, nationally gaining nearly 2million votes. The broken election system meant we still only got four MPs elected – but four is far better than one. In Croydon, our vote went up in every seat.

This election felt very different from a Green perspective. In conversations with local people, it was clear that voting Green is no longer seen as a “protest vote” or a “wasted vote”. More people are seeing Green politics as a genuine alternative to the old parties and this was reflected in the votes across Croydon. We not only finished third overall but we also had a bigger increase in vote share than any other party.

For the Liberal Democrats it was a mixed night. They gained lots more MPs nationally, including regaining the two seats in Sutton, but failed to have any real impact on the general public. The LibDem gains appear to be due to the collapse of the Conservative vote rather than any increase in voting LibDem – their share of the national vote only went up by 0.6 percentage points.

Locally, the LibDems were up in two seats and down in two, and overall their vote dropped.

Like the Conservatives, their biggest drops appear to be in areas where they used to be strongest. It may be a worry for their one Croydon councillor that Streatham and Croydon North is where they saw their biggest drop in votes.

For Reform, their yo-yo election performance was on an up this time. Perhaps not surprising given the endless media coverage given to the millionaire public schoolboys who run their limited company. Thankfully their impact in Croydon is not that significant and their increase in vote share here is well below the national figure.

Again, this is probably not surprising given that most of their candidates couldn’t be bothered to do anything during the campaign and didn’t even turn up to the election count – I still have no idea what the candidate listed on the ballot paper for my constituency even looks like.

Reform did get five MPs elected, and based on my experience of how their predecessors behaved in the European Parliament, I feel sorry for their constituents and the rest of us. Brexit MEPs did no useful work whatsoever and were only interested in picking up their expenses cheques and making racist speeches for their social media followers. I fear we are now in for years of the same.

I think it is worth mentioning the “others”. The biggest share of this vote was for the three Workers Party of Great Britain candidates (they didn’t stand in Croydon East).

Now that their leader, George Galloway, didn’t get re-elected in Rochdale (he didn’t even bother showing up for the count), I suspect that this party will go the way of Galloway’s previous ego trips and fade into nonexistence. What’s left may be reborn under a new name for the next time Galloway thinks he can con people into voting for him. If you genuinely believe in changing the system for the better, then following a nasty egomaniac isn’t the best way to go.

For the other small and local parties, just turning up at elections and expecting lots of people to vote for you will never work, even if you have the backing of millionaires and gullible media, like Reform).

I would also say that you need to think about how the behaviour of members of your party comes across to the public. I’m a strong believer in annoying the powerful people who don’t deserve the power that they have, but if your supporters are annoying the people you want to vote for you, then you are never going to get very far.

Of course, there was an odd twist on July 4, election day, when I and Croydon Greens had our Twitter/X accounts suspended, without any prior warning.

Over the years, I’ve reported accounts for the most offensive and abusive posts and always get told that they won’t be suspended.

So for both me and the local party account to be suspended on election day feels like something very dodgy is going on. As at this morning, my account, which has 5,000 followers, remains suspended, still without explanation.

I do want to say a huge thank you to everyone who voted for me and for the Greens across Croydon. I am planning to have a bit of a rest to recover from the campaign but I will be back soon working to try to make Croydon better and happier and I hope to see lots of you doing the same.

Peter Underwood, pictured right, was the Green Party candidate in Croydon East, where he polled 4,097 votes to finish fourth

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