Kit Malthouse, Boris Johnson’s Deputy Mayor at the Greater London Authority, is understood to be among the candidates the local Tory party is choosing from for the ultra-safe parliamentary seat of Croydon South, according to sources close to the Conservative party.
If confirmed, Malthouse’s candidacy may go a long way to explaining why Boris Johnson was linked to the seat so strongly and for such a lengthy period. With Croydon South having a 15,000-vote majority that effectively offers a Westminster job for life for whoever is selected to stand for the Tories, it also represents a significant political sacrifice by BoJo to stand aside for his mate, the generally underwhelming former accountant.
What is understood to be a 15-strong long list of candidates is expected to be whittled down to a shortlist of three this week. Other leading names in the frame include several former special advisors, or SPADS, to Prime Minister David Cameron, such as Shaun Bailey, Charlotte Vere and Laura Trott. The florid-faced Mike Fisher, the leader of Croydon Council, has also somehow managed to survive to this stage of the process.
Tricky Dicky Ottaway, now 68, has been the Tory MP for Croydon South since 1992, but he is being forced to stand down before the next election as a condition of his re-selection after he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar during the 2009 MPs’ expenses scandal.
Malthouse’s candidacy and that of several of the SPADs in Croydon South will present an uncomfortable reality for the local Tories, since none are “from round ‘ere”. Like something from the TV comedy The League of Gentlemen, “Are you local?” is the Croydon Conservatives’ frequent refrain regarding other parties’ candidate selections. Since both Ottaway and Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell have chosen to live outside the constituencies that they claim to represent, being utter hypocrites is clearly not too much of a problem for Croydon Tories.
Malthouse is a former councillor and deputy leader at Westminster City Council. He was elected to the Greater London Assembly for West Central in 2008 on the night that Boris Johnson was first elected Mayor. Johnson duly made the Assembly new boy his deputy, and put him in charge of policing in the capital.
On Malthouse’s watch, we have seen the controversial resignation of the then Met Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, and the London riots of August 2011 which affected Croydon so badly. Under Malthouse, police numbers in Croydon reduced after August 2011. It was also Malthouse who oversaw the drafting of the scheme to flog off the majority of the capital’s police stations, which has left just a single fully functioning police station in the whole of the borough.
After re-election in May last year, Malthouse was shunted from policing and given the business brief by Boris, which together with his Assembly Member allowances sees him receive £127,000 per year from public funds. This does not stop him from topping up his bank account by also being a director of a City hedge fund and writing the occasional column for Rupert Murdoch’s The Times newspaper. Of course, Malthouse was effectively in charge of the Met when it was investigating allegations of phone hacking against Murdoch’s Sun and News of the World newspapers.
Malthouse is clearly a busy man: he was in a meeting when called by Inside Croydon today and had not returned our call nor answered our email to clarify his candidacy.
Coming to Croydon
- The Railway Children: Oct 30-Nov 2
- Frankenstein’s Travelling Freakshow: Nov 5-8
- Poppy Cafe, Coulsdon, re-opening: Nov 9
- St Giles School open morning: Nov 13
- Secret Love at the Ashcroft Theatre: Nov 14
- Future Tech City: Nov 30
- Comedy in Music show: Dec 1
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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- Met Police figures show muggings in Croydon up by 12% (insidecroydon.com)
- Where should London’s cops live? (theguardian.com)