Then there were 14: Newark accepts Christie’s man’s bid

No sooner had the members of the local Conservative party started to get used to having 15 to choose between for their prospective parliamentary replacement for Tricky Dicky Ottaway in Croydon South than one of the candidates accepted a better offer.

Awkward: Chris Philp on the campaign trail in 2010. Among his rivals for Tory selection as a candidate in Croydon South is Kit Malthouse, the deputy mayor of London who has gone ahead and closed all the police stations in the constituency

This could be awkward: Chris Philp on the campaign trail in 2010. Among his rivals for Tory selection as a candidate in Croydon South is Kit Malthouse, the deputy mayor of London who has gone ahead and closed all the police stations in the constituency

Robert Jenrick, the bloke who manages international business at Christie’s auction house, was up for selection in Newark in Nottinghamshire on Friday night and got picked. Newark’s an even safer Tory seat than Croydon South, with a majority of more than 16,000 at the last election.

Jenrick will be replacing Patrick Mercer, who was forced to resign the Tory party whip at Westminster after he was caught by the BBC accepting loadsamoney to abuse his position as an MP to lobby on behalf of business interests in Fiji, and somehow forgot to declare this.

It has been suggested that so certain was Conservative HQ of Jenrick’s success in Newark that they were reluctant even to mention that he had made it on to the Croydon South long list.

Jenrick, who just hours earlier will have been preparing his speeches and answers for the Croydon South selection panel to declare his life-long devotion to and interest in south London, on Friday night told the local Nottingham newspaper, “I am honoured to be picked as the Conservative candidate for Newark. It is a historic constituency comprising of some of the most scenic and desirable places in Nottinghamshire.”

“Desirable places”? What a curious thing to say, although Jenrick will doubtless be seeking a “desirable property” somewhere in his soon-to-be constituency.

Of course, not all MPs live in their constituency. In Croydon, none of them do.

Indeed, it is so long since Ottaway was selected for Croydon South, there’s few left in the local Conservative party who can remember his solemn promise upon selection more than 20 years ago to buy a house in the constituency, something he never did – ending up with his massive country pile in Bletchingley and running a second home nearer to parliament, much of it funded by tax-payers.

And that’s sort of why Croydon South Conservatives are selecting a new candidate, because somewhat like Mercer, thanks to some investigative journalism, Ottaway got caught making some outrageous expenses claims. It’s no wonder some members of the local Conservatives don’t like their conduct in public office being investigated.

The local Tories’ candidate list was nearly down to just 13. The selection panel which is due to meet next weekend may have mixed emotions about Chris Philp’s near-miss yesterday in the open primary – allowing anyone from the constituency to attend and vote – in Tonbridge and Malling. It’s the second time Philp has lost a public ballot: in 2010, he stood for the Tories in Hampstead and Kilburn at the general election.

At a public meeting attended by more than 400 in Tonbridge yesterday, Philp, a notable Conservative party donor, finished second of four. The open primary plumped for Thomas Tugendhat, who served as a colonel in the British army in Afghanistan and Iraq. Which leaves Philp clear to pledge his undying devotion and commitment to Croydon South next week…


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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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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