Even when senior Croydon Tories attempt to rework history, a riot is still a riot, says ANDREW PELLING
Councillor Graham Bass, Croydon’s Mayor, has seen some tough times for Croydon. He lived through the Blitz, rationing, the Battle of Britain and the V bombs in Coulsdon as a youngster.
He seems to be in denial about Croydon’s latest troubles, though. At a recent public meeting he rather took the audience by surprise by giving the kind of perspective you might expect from a Conservative Councillor from Purley about the 8/8 riots.
Of course, the Mayor is meant to be entirely politically neutral. But Bass has always taken a wry enjoyment in being deftly non-conformist in the Conservative group which now controls the council, even having the bare-faced cheek to ask whether their policies are really justified, something regarded as rather “bad form”, as the leader of the Conservative group is, of course, always right.
Perhaps Bass was in that sort of frame of mind when as part of his Mayoral duties, attending the Annual Meeting of the Bangladesh Welfare Association, he took those who had spoken of the riots to task, saying that there had been no riot, just criminality. It was just a one-off, never to be repeated, Bass said.
Such a view from their Mayor may not go down at all well with those on London Road who have lost their livelihoods, their possessions and their homes.
This, of course, is the same Councillor Bass who, wearing the full Mayoral golden rig, showed up at the bidding of the Sadvertiser in the week after 8/8 to pose for a publicity photograph on London Road, the wreckage in the background, all for the benefit of the newspaper’s riots special edition. Or maybe that never happened, either?
Bass’s latest stated view, though, is not that far out of line with the denial of reality that has come from Croydon Council, who now appear to prefer the words “civil unrest” to “riot”. See the latest edition of Your Croydon, the Council Tax-funded rag which delivers party political propaganda from the Council: the word “riot” only manages to escape the Croydon Council censor just once.
Anyway, there is often a need for a slightly eccentric and whimsical Mayor. Bass’s Bangladeshi hosts took his seemingly rude jibe in good sort when the Mayor stood up halfway through a badly delayed meeting and exclaimed, “You lot – just dreadful timekeepers”, and then proceeded to give a second speech, longer than his first, and then left for the Mayoral limousine.
Bangladeshis may be astute business people, but they gladly confessed after the meeting that their community meetings always run late, very late.
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