Croydon’s Nero tendency: fiddling over the election figures

Electoral liability? Gavin Barwell, left, thinks that a 30% swing against the Conservatives in Croydon North is "good". By Nick Clegg's standards, perhaps...

Electoral liability? Gavin Barwell, left, thinks that a 30% fall in the Conservative vote in Croydon North is “good”. By Nick Clegg’s standards, perhaps…

The few visitors to the public gallery for this week’s council meeting at the Town Hall were treated to a couple of innovations.

With the assistance of council officials, Conservative councillor Lynne Hale was able to intersperse her speech with musical excerpts. X Factor it was not.

If anything, given the way that Croydon burned last year and our council’s inaction as far as providing real help to those worst affected by the arsonists and looters, this “performance” had more in common with that infamous fiddler, Emperor Nero.

It did at least ensure that the noise coming from the Town Hall’s council chamber was more harmonious than usual.

Another innovation was a guide available to members of the public about the conduct of the council meeting and how they should conduct themselves. It is so unlike Croydon Council to patronise the people that pay their wages…

The guide included the gem of a couple of sentences that told the public that they should know their place. “This is a ‘meeting in public’ not a public meeting. A public meeting is where the public are able to participate,” the guide stated. It just stopped short of using a version of a word with which Nero would have been familiar: “plebs”.

Members of the public are supposed to be entitled to ask questions in a 15-minute session during these non-public meetings, but this week Croydon’s Mayor Eddy Arram once again behaved in an oafish manner, constantly interrupting members of the public.

As we have noted before, Mayor Arram’s supposed impartiality as Mayor is undermined by his continuing status as a paid member of constituency staff for the Conservative MP Gavin Barwell. Barwell was the campaign manager for one of the candidates at the Croydon North by-election last week, yet Arram, as Mayor, still took on the role of the Returning Officer at the count.

On Monday, and as in previous council meetings, Arram kept losing his way with the agenda. Arram’s usual very poor sense of judgement was displayed once again, when from the neutral Mayoral chair he commented that the Conservatives had “slashed the majority”.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that Arram may be speaking for his boss, Barwell. The Croydon Central MP has this week boasted of just how good was the Conservative campaign in Croydon North that he had organised. Self-praise is rarely much of a recommendation: Labour polled nearly four times as many votes as Barwell’s candidate.

“I have spent much of the last few weeks helping to run the Conservative campaign in the Croydon North by-election,” career politician Barwell admits on his website this week, despite Croydon Central residents’ taxes being used to pay for his £60,000 salary as the MP in their constituency.

Barwell has also attacked Inside Croydon’s analysis of the devastating defeat suffered by his candidate’s campaign. The Conservative share of the vote in Croydon North was lower even than Inside Croydon had predicted. Sounding somewhat desperate, Barwell felt that losing 30 per cent of the Tory vote in Croydon North since 2010 was much better than the 37 per cent setback at the Corby by-election caused by the departure of Louise Mensch.

So that’s what your taxes went on then – keeping the Tory meltdown in Croydon North to “just” 30 per cent.

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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
This entry was posted in 2012 by-election, Andrew Stranack, Croydon Central, Croydon Council, Croydon North, Eddy Arram, Gavin Barwell, Lynne Hale, Sara Bashford, Steve Reed MP and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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