Ottaway shares his vision for a dis-United Kingdom

ANDREW PELLING was in Coulsdon earlier this week to scotch rumours that Tricky Dickie does not exist

For the high road? Richard Ottaway tries to find his way to a debate in Coulsdon

As Scottish Nationalists‘ leader Alex Salmond runs rings round the British government, Croydon South MP Richard Ottaway has let rip at the Scots this week, telling a well-attended public meeting in Old Coulsdon that he couldn’t care less about Scotland.

“Personally, I would not give a damn about Scotland,” said Ottaway, the chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The Bletchingley-based MP revealed what many on the Tory benches in the House of Commons must think privately. If Scotland was to gain independence, so Westminster’s Parliament would lose the 41 MPs regularly returned from stalwart Labour constituencies north of the border. The Conservatives, meanwhile, do not have enough MPs in Scotland to fill all the seats on a tandem. Thus, Scottish independence could introduce a prolonged period of Conservative rule over England and whatever might be left of the United Kingdom.

Ottaway made the error of being honest. He spoke the unspoken truth.

But Ottaway’s comments will not go down well with Croydon’s Scots, some of whom have been active members of Ottaway’s local Conservative Association.

Some Croydon South constituents may feel that their MP has the same “don’t give a damn” attitude to them as he has to the Scots. But Ottaway feels that a recent Sadvertiser story that he advised local parents to get their four-year-old daughter to cycle from Kenley to Old Coulsdson to get to school was wide of the mark. Ottaway claims that as the MP, he secured the child a school place near to her home within two days. Ottaway is going to the toothless Press Complaints Commission about the matter.

Sharing his views with Inside Croydon, Ottaway said that he agreed with the many people who told him that they thought the Sadvertiser is “crap” and a poor servant of Croydon’s interests. This will hardly encourage the paper’s hapless editor in the week when he has launched a “Croydon South” edition, prior to his staff being shunted out of central Croydon and moved to cost-saving offices in… Redhill.

This week’s meeting representing a rare sighting: the Croydon South MP actually in his constituency. The crowds were out as a result, doubling the turnout at the Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society for discussion of Britain’s relationship with Europe.

For all his attendant controversies over his claiming thousands of pounds in expenses for his gardening and his bed, and an undeclared visit with a weird neo-conservative group to the United States, and his decision to go sailing at Cowes in the week that Croydon burned, Ottaway got a very positive, even deferential, reception from his constituents.

Ottaway’s experience in Foreign Affairs meant that it was a walkover against his opposing speaker, an earnest young man from Bromley UKIP.

MPs rarely get the chance to talk about international issues in their constituencies and that there is an interest in such occasions was underlined by the crowded nature of the event. Perhaps other local groups should follow the good example of Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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