As exclusively revealed by Inside Croydon earlier this week, Kit Malthouse, one of Boris Johnson’s deputy mayors at City Hall, is on the long list for selection as the next Conservative party candidate for the Croydon South parliamentary seat.
The seat is being vacated before the next election by Tricky Dicky Ottaway and offers the Tory candidate a 15,000-vote majority job for life.
Malthouse’s candidancy was confirmed this morning by the well-briefed Conservative Home.
Only one “local” candidate has managed to survive to the final list: florid-faced Mike Fisher, the leader of Croydon Council has been included, possibly as a token gesture to the local Tory party, as other senior Town Hall figures have fallen by the wayside as clearly not good enough.
Fisher’s decision to put himself forward looks to be an ill-judged act of desperation to advance a failing political career. It certainly puts the Croydon South selection panel and members in a bit of a cleft stick.
Their selection takes place barely six months before the local council elections. Fisher has said that if selected, he would continue to lead the Tories through those local elections, even though he intends to move on to bigger, if not necessarily better, things at Westminster the following year. He almost seems to suggest that he would continue to collect his £53,223 allowances from Croydon Council as well as the £67,060 MP salary that is up for grabs from 2015.
The idea that Fisher is capable of holding down two jobs when some have serious questions about his ability to do one job properly is certain to come up as an issue on the doorsteps as the few remaining Tory activists canvass in the battleground wards of Waddon, New Addington and Addiscombe ahead of the 2014 local elections.
Worse for the members of Croydon South, and what makes Fisher virtually unselectable as a prospective parliamentary candidate, is the Doomsday Scenario: where is the Tories’ credibility come 2015 if they put to the public a parliamentary candidate who a year earlier had led their party to defeat in the Town Hall elections?
These are all considerations which suggest that Fisher’s inclusion on the long list is nothing more than tokenistic. It does not say much for the calibre of Conservative party members in Croydon. Certainly, Fisher’s own poor judgement in standing for selection at this time must count against him, local candidate or not. He is likely to be left red-faced.
Croydon South was for a long time spoken of as the seat where Boris Johnson would seek to resume his parliamentary career and, in all probability, begin his challenge for the leadership of the Conservative party. BoJo’s absence from the list of runners and riders leaves the field wide open for his mate Malthouse against a selection of thrusting young true blue SPADs, professional politicians who have gone from college to work as special advisers to other politicians. One-third of those on the list have worked closely with David Cameron and Gideon Osborne.
Thanks to the dlilgent digging of our mole at Croydon Conservative HQ in Purley, the list as published by Conservative Home today includes various candidates already flagged up by Inside Croydon.
What is interesting is that the Tories, who claim to be horrified at the concept of all-women shortlists (which Labour used to select their candidate for neighbouring Croydon Central), have managed to come up with a list that includes eight women. Conservative party HQ would always deny it, but what if they have leaned on the selection panel to work towards picking a woman to improve the gender balance in the Tories’ parliamentary party?
Here, with a special guide for Tony Pearson and Gavin Barwell, we run the rule over the candidates with our #areyoulocal score out of 10:
Shaun Bailey: A former adviser to the Prime Minister, Bailey was the losing Tory candidate in Hammersmith at the last general election. He made headlines earlier this year when he claimed he had been pushed out of his job at No10 by an Etonian clique. So he’s unlikely to get any support with a quiet word in his favour from Tory HQ. His fawning Wikipedia entry has all the hallmarks of being self-authored.
Oliver Dowden: One of the two deputy chiefs of staff to David Cameron. What better reward for loyalty and services rendered than a leg-up into one of the safest Tory seats in London? Conservative Home treads the party line when it describes SPAD No2 on the list as “widely recognised in Westminster as one of the government’s most capable advisers”.
Suella Fernandes: Another highlighted by Inside Croydon previously, as she has been conscientiously visiting various Tory functions in the constituency. Lawyer by profession, another who has failed to win in previous general elections, having stood in Leicester East in 2005.
Mike Fisher: The only good thing to be said about the man behind the £140 million Fisher’s Folly new council offices who, in his eight years in charge of the Town Hall has seen Croydon Council accumulate a £1 billion debt, is that he lives near Shirley.
Rachel Joyce: Another who, having lost as the Tory candidate at a previous election (Harrow West in 2010) is now eager to be chosen to stand in a winnable seat. Has been a doctor for more than 20 years. Much-liked for her interest in human rights around the world, but her tweeting has got her into trouble: comparing socialists to Nazis on the social network saw her promptly dumped as the deputy police and crime commissioner in Hertfordshire.
Kit Malthouse: Deputy Mayor at GLA, now for business. Previously, had responsibility for policing, including through the 2011 riots, and presided over the reduction in police on streets of Croydon in the past two years and the drafting of the plan to sell off all but one of the borough’s police stations. GLA member for west London and former deputy leader of Westminster Council, this is believed to be Malthouse’s first attempt to be selected for a parliamentary seat.
Chris Philp: Another who has tried to win election to Westminster in the past (Hampstead and Kilburn 2010) but failed. Big donor to the Tory party, and ran the No2AV campaign in London. His commitment to Croydon South is demonstrated by his inclusion in the final four in the Tories’ open primary being held to select their candidate in the equally safe seat of Tonbridge tomorrow.
Laura Trott: Another Cameron SPAD, advising on women, education and childcare. Councillor in Camden.
Charlotte Vere: A big cheese in girls’ private education, so should be popular in the Whitgift Foundation-dominated Croydon Tory Establishment. Lays claim to an historic first: the only Conservative parliamentary candidate ever to lose an election to the Greens (Brighton Pavilion 2010). Presumably Croydon South is a safer bet for her this time round.
Other candidates who we have not mentioned previously are:
Lucy Frazer: This could be awkward. According to Conservative Home, she is a former Cambridge student squeeze of… Gav “The Lad” Barwell. So clearly has serious short-comings in areas of taste and judgement. She now works in commercial law, and is active in Tory politics in Hampstead and Kilburn.
Nusrat Ghani: Has a similar professional profile to Sarah Jones, Labour’s PPC in Croydon Central, having worked for public bodies and charities in public affairs. Clearly strongly committed to the Conservative party and to Croydon: she joined the Tories in 2009 and lost in Birmingham Ladywood at the 2010 general election.
Melanie Hampton: Dragons’ Den has a lot to answer for. Everyone these days is an “entrepreneur”, Hampton happens to work in insurance. Lost in Mitcham and Morden in 2010. According to Conservative Home, she describes herself as “fun, feisty and formidable”, so probably best avoided at dinner parties in Coulsdon then.
Nigel Huddleston: Another loser, in the sense that he did not win at Luton South in 2010. Works at Google and campaigned to get Arnold Schwarzenegger elected as governor of California.
Ruth Porter: The last SPAD or policy wonk on the list, Porter is soon to join Policy Exchange as head of economics and social policy.
Coming to Croydon
- The Railway Children: Oct 30-Nov 2
- Behind the Candelabra: Nov 4
- Frankenstein’s Travelling Freakshow: Nov 5-8
- Poppy Cafe, Coulsdon, re-opening: Nov 9
- The Kings of Summer: Nov 11
- St Giles School open morning: Nov 13
- Secret Love at the Ashcroft Theatre: Nov 14
- Summer in February: Nov 18
- Much Ado About Nothing: Nov 25
- 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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