A candidate for next year’s local elections has accused the Conservatives who control Croydon Council of embarking on a dirty tricks campaign against him – just weeks since his selection and with polling day still 10 months away.
Andrew Pelling is a former senior Tory member on the council and was Conservative MP for Croydon Central from 2005, but stood for re-election at the 2010 General Election as an independent, unsuccessfully, and later joined the Labour party. Last month, he was selected by Labour members in Waddon as one of their three candidates for a ward which promises to be pivotal in determining the outcome of the 2014 Town Hall elections.
Pelling is a also regular contributor to Inside Croydon.
But since his selection, Pelling says, he has been subject to a “tirade of personal insults from a Conservative councillor on Twitter”, and last week he was even the subject of an official council question, which Pelling says represents an abuse of public resources for political point-scoring by the Tory councillor who put the question to his group leader, Mike Fisher.
“It was hardly the best use of time for a lazy council that’s not meeting again for another 121 days,” Pelling said.
Pelling has also discovered that a letter published in a local newspaper, claiming to be from a Labour supporter opposed to his selection, appears to be from a made-up name; the letter writer is not listed on the electoral roll, and the newspaper failed to check that the letter writer existed before publication.
“I am coming to the conclusion that some local Conservative party activists are not pleased that I am a prospective candidate in next year’s local council elections,” Pelling said. The leader of Pelling’s new group on Croydon Council, Tony Newman, has described the former MP’s selection as putting “the fear of God into Councillor Fisher’s administration”.
Pelling suggests he is quite happy for the additional publicity afforded to him by the local Tories. “They seem determined to do their utmost to draw attention to my candidacy,” he said.
But he says that the insults and bogus letter writers are symptomatic of a malaise within local politics in Croydon. “This is all typical of the immature bear pit of pointless back biting that Croydon local politics has become, and which turns off the voters,” Pelling said.
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