In Croydon, we beat the Tories AND Ukip. Here’s how

by Sarah Jones 

Last week, hard work and better tactics led the Labour party to election victory in Croydon.  And we can do the same again in 2015.

The Conservative campaign in Croydon was flawed for three reasons.

First, they had no message – treating the electorate with so little respect they didn’t even produce a manifesto.  Their focus instead was to run a negative and personal campaign, falsely claiming Labour would put up council tax by 27%. The voters didn’t buy it.

Second, they didn’t listen to local people.  We had talked to people across Croydon who had told us their priorities were cleaning up Croydon, tackling crime, and building more schools.  If the Conservatives had had those conversations, maybe they would have known what people’s priorities were. Instead they had nothing to say.

Finally, their tactics were all wrong.  They focused their attentions on a Labour ward, where they made small but not significant gains. They missed the real battle ground completely, despite us tweeting where we were there every day.  We were able to mobilise more people to get out and vote.  We ran a better campaign.

Those are the reasons why they lost. Looking at the Tory response, I think there’s a danger for them that they will keep on losing.

They will keep on losing if they convince themselves it is all down to UKIP. Yes UKIP was absolutely a factor, but it’s a worry for all the main parties.  Labour lost votes to UKIP as well.

On the doorstep, people say they are voting UKIP for two reasons.  First, and I get this more than anything else, because they are fed up with all the political parties after the expenses scandal and promises broken.  Second, it’s all about immigration.

The key to tackling UKIP is therefore two-fold.  First we need to understand what is driving the concerns raised by people who say immigration is an issue for them. The underlying problem is normally housing, or jobs or education.  Croydon has the biggest shortage of school places in London for example.  People have a strong moral sense of fairness and there is a perception that some people are getting more than others.

In reality, the Tories have cut our services so there isn’t enough to go round, and then pointed the finger elsewhere to lay the blame.  If Labour can provide a solution by building more houses, guaranteeing a job for young people, and providing the school places we need, we stand a chance of tackling UKIP.

And second, we need to tackle the issue of trust which is to my mind the bigger problem.  In my experience, trust comes from conversations, sharing-views, taking about kids and our neighbourhoods, and eye-balling one-other. Big promises don’t work.

Labour won where we worked hardest and reached out to people we hadn’t spoken to before.  We will win marginal seats like Croydon Central by going from door, to door, to door and talking to people. That’s the only way to do it. People like our policies, and they have no great love for David Cameron.  When there are a lot of people disaffected with politicians as a whole and it is very close, all you can do is take it one voter at a time and try and persuade them to choose you.

Four women literally wept on the doorstep with me in the last four weeks of the campaign because of their problems that have been exacerbated by a Conservative government.  Compassion is at the very core of who we are as a Party.  Living our Labour values and trying to help will take us a long way on the road to victory in 2015.

Last week the Conservatives were simply out worked and out thought during a campaign that ended with the first Labour-controlled council since 2006 in Croydon.  Here’s to doing that again in 2015.

Sarah Jones is Labour’s PPC for Croydon Central, one of 12 target marginal seats in London and no 46 on the list of seats Labour must win in 2015.

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6 Responses to “In Croydon, we beat the Tories AND Ukip. Here’s how”

  1. steve says:

    “Compassion is at the very core of who we are as a Party.”

    Go tell that to the mothers of those who have died as a result of Labour’s disastrous, unnecessary wars.

  2. Rallan says:

    Every single Labour government has left the economy in tatters and unemployment higher than when they took power, and it’s ordinary people who suffer every time.

    Does claiming that “compassion is at the very core of who we are” make that OK?

  3. Mike Stallard says:

    The EU is the source of most of the immigration which is piling more and more people into our country – in the South East mainly. I wonder if just not talking about the EU is the best way forward for the Labour party? Apparently at the Council of Ministers’ Dinner last night, the talk was all of “More Europe”. Europe is changing very fast into a united state. Do we really want that? It will certainly mean more and more people flooding into the South East round London.

  4. John reid says:

    Rallqn, OK labour should have cut quicker with the recent recession, the 74-79 Government, labour gave the a miners police and firemen, large pay rises on Getting in and the nurses at the End of the 79 gov’t but Ecenomically those years were going to be hard and the economy wasn’t that bad, in fact it was well on the mend by 1979′ same as 1970 when ecenomically inflation and unemployement were going down, after the was ,leaving power in 51′ there was always going to be ecenomic hard times,

    Regarding unemployment, the Tories always say every Labour bogvt increased unemployment, while forgetting that they increased it to nearly 4 million, without putting people on disability benefits to get it down during their 18 years ,most of which there were 3million unemployed, Also not necessarily Heath fault, but Ecenomically the country was in a State when the Tories left office in 74′ but it was their fault when they left office in ’64,

  5. uglyfatbloke says:

    Sarah, can you move to Scotland? We could do with better tactics! I got very pissed off at an activist telling electors that if they were n’t going to vote Labour they should vote UKIP to keep the gnats from winning an extra MEP. It’s not what you’d all a constructive approach.

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