The Conservatives have announced that they will be fielding a former senior police officer who headed the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation as a candidate in Thornton Heath ward at next month’s Town Hall elections.
Croydon’s Tories are so short on party members deemed suitable to stand as candidates in next month’s local elections that they have had to drag one ageing council warhorse out of retirement, and in one ward they are fielding a member of the bar staff from Brigstock Road Conservative Club.
It is the nomination in Thornton Heath of David Osland which ought to raise some questions about the local Conservatives’ attitudes towards the north of the borough. Osland is the former senior Met police officer who has been roundly criticised for the handling of the early stages of the murder inquiry into the brutal racist killing of Stephen Lawrence in south London in 1993.
With a large number of residents in Thornton Heath from African and Caribbean backgrounds, the selection of Osland might best be described as insensitive, at worst deliberately provocative.
Last month, a report into the police’s handling of the Lawrence murder found that senior Scotland Yard officers had ordered the victim’s family to be spied upon by undercover policemen, and that the police had deliberately shredded a “lorry load” of corruption files linked to the case.
“I was not aware of the alleged activities of the unit around the Lawrence family and I do not know the officer allegedly involved,” Osland told the local paper last month. “The unit was not in my line of command. I would not have requested or authorised such activity myself.”
The latest report’s findings, which followed investigations published last year by The Guardian and Channel 4, have prompted a judge-led public inquiry to be held into the police’s handling of the Lawrence murder case.
Osland retired from the police 20 years ago, having risen to the third highest rank in the Met. At the time of the Lawrence murder, Osland had overall responsibility for the investigation. Osland came in for special criticism by the Macpherson Report in 1999, in which the Metropolitan Police’s original murder investigation was condemned as inadequate and the force was described as being “institutionally racist”.
Since his retirement from the force, Osland has been a Conservative councillor for Coulsdon West at Croydon Town Hall. Osland had not sought re-selection for the ultra-safe Coulsdon ward, and it had been widely known at the Town Hall that he intended to retire.
The announcement of Osland now being “re-called” for what appears to be a lost cause, to stand as a candidate in Thornton Heath, a staunch Labour stronghold, strongly suggests that the campaign manager for the Tories in Croydon North, senior councillor Vidhi Mohan, was short on numbers to fill all the available candidate slots.
Another of those named, for Fieldway ward, is Jayne Laville, who drew attention to herself last year with a racist rant on social media when she condemned the current, Tory-led government and called for forced repatriation.
“We should be aloud [sic] to say ‘shut the doors to the country’ and send them home without being labelled as racist, we have poverty and high unemployment and charity should start at home , not for every other bugger who isnt [sic] British,” wrote the woman with a name that may have originated from France. Ah, the rich irony.
“What a fecked up country,” Laville also wrote in January last year. Laville stood for the Tories in Fieldway in 2010, coming third in the two-seat ward.
In Norbury, the Tories previously named a Sutton schoolboy who will only be able to vote himself once he celebrates his 18th birthday just before the May 22 polling day.
And in West Thornton, one of the three candidates is Florrie Evans, who is well-known to other local Tories from working behind the bar at the Conservative Club in Brigstock Road. Labour’s candidates in West Thornton include Emily Benn, the grand-daughter of Tony Benn, seeking to be elected to public office for the first time.
In all, the Tories last night announced 23 “paper candidates” – names to go on the ballot papers, but where there will be precious little serious campaigning – across eight Labour-held wards. It seems unlikely that there was any formal selection process involving the party membership in these wards to make the selections.
And while the Conservatives began their selection process for the local elections months after the other parties, they have at least nominated candidates for what appear to be unwinnable wards before Labour has managed to get round to naming its paper candidates in ultra-safe Tory wards south of Waddon and Croham.
The people being put forward for futile sacrifice by the Tories are…
- Upper Norwood: Matthew Flynn (whose Twitter account profile this morning offered this cheery message: “I have seen much to hate here, much to forgive. But in a world where England is finished and dead, I do not wish to live”), Audrey Terry and Katalin Jones.
- Broad Green: Andrew Stevensen, Sophie Khan (who had originally been lined up for the Tory-held ward of Waddon) and Fabion Emmanuel, a leading figure in the Tamil community.
- South Norwood: Rosina St James, a former chair of the British Youth Council, the former parliamentary aide and Young Conservatives official Jonny “Can’t” Cope, and Des Wright.
- Selhurst: Dominic Schofield, and Richard Brundle and Madeleine Brundle, a married couple who live in Sanderstead. Richard Brundle is a past chairman of Croydon South Conservatives.
- West Thornton: Samir Dwesar, Florrie Evans and Patrick Ratnaraja.
- Thornton Heath: Nick Bailey, Mervyn Wint and David Osland.
- Fieldway: Michael Castle (“a young person with views which are my own”, he claims) and Jayne Laville.
- Woodside: Amy Pollard, Mustafa Tary (who describes himself as “a Chelsea-supporting Tory”, which is sure to play well on the doorsteps of Woodside Palace fans) and Michael Sidwell.
The sounds of barrels being scraped can be heard right the way across the borough.
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Coming to Croydon
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Mitre Players, Apr 11-12
- Croydon Basslift, Arnhem Gallery, Apr 12
- Hauntology – the architecture of Croydon, Apr 5-May 2
- Norwood Society Talk: Crystal Palace, Apr 17
- David Lean Cinema: Inside Llewyn Davis, Apr 17
- Opening of Marlpit Lane bowling and putting greens, Apr 17
- Arts and Crafts Market, Exchange Square, Apr 19
- Private Peaceful, Charles Cryer Theatre, Apr 23-26
- David Lean Cinema: Short Term, Apr 24
- Stop The Incinerator Beer and Bingo fund-raiser, Apr 28
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 72,342 average monthly page views (Jan-Mar 2014)
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