Croydon, twinned with Arnhem in the Netherlands, has strong attachments with the Parachute Regiment. This may explain why political candidates of all parties are so readily parachuted into the area so often.
But now the heir presumptive to the 14th baronetcy of Constable-Maxwell-Scott of Haggerston in Northumberland has come to the defence of a Labour party branch’s selection committee.
Nearby Carshalton and Wallington, a parliamentary constituency dominated by its LibDem MP Tom Brake, last week saw its local Labour party choose Siobhan Tate, an arts teacher from north London, as their candidate to contest the 2015 general election.
Standing for Labour in Carshalton is not an attractive proposition. Unlike the ultra safe Tory seat of Croydon South, which was inundated with more than 200 applicants before they picked parachutist Chris Philp last month, Labour members in Carshalton and Wallington were faced with a bit of a Hobson’s choice.
Realpolitik determined the low level of interest: Labour barely attracted 9 per cent of the vote to finish a well-beaten third in 2010, and so C&W appears to be an unwinnable seat for 2015.
Islington resident Tate’s selection has already attracted the Royston Vasey response – “Are you local?” – from Brake’s well-organised local LibDem machine, which is clearly concerned that the “Vote Tom, get the Tories” line from Labour could further undermine their prospects in 2015. The next general election will expose Brake’s part in the ConDem government – with the future of A&E and maternity wards at St Helier Hospital being a key local issue – which may reduce the deputy Leader of the House’s 5,000-vote majority.
And this is where the heir presumptive to the 14th baronetcy of Constable-Maxwell-Scott of Haggerston in Northumberland comes in.
As Inside Croydon reported in the summer, the Conservatives in Carshalton and Wallington also went outside the constituency, and the borough, when they selected their parliamentary candidate, choosing Wandsworth resident and councillor Matthew Constable-Maxwell-Scott (the heir presumptive to the 14th baronetcy … etcetera and so forth).
Maxwell Scott (his preferred, less blue-blooded style), possibly aware that Brake’s team will be considering election literature featuring maps showing Carshalton’s geographical position compared to Tooting (where the well-bred Conservative candidate lives) and Islington, has spoken out to defend Tate’s right to seek selection and stand. An unusual twist on his party leader’s claim that “we’re all in this together”.
What is sauce for the goose… Brake, after all, began his political career as a local councillor in Hackney. Will that get a mention on the highly principled LibDem leaflets?
Niki Rosenbaum, a Sutton Labour party official, has been forthright about criticisms of Tate’s lack of local connections. “It’s not where you sleep that matters, it’s what you stand for.”
Rosenbaum has also taken exception to coverage of the Labour candidate in the local freesheet, the Sutton Guardian, somewhat shrilly alleging sexism because Tate has been referred to as a mother of three children.
“Why refer to her as ‘mum of three’?” Rosenbaum questioned the paper. “Would you refer to Tom Brake as ‘dad of two’? I’ve never seen you do that with a male candidate.”
Rosenbaum probably needs to read more widely. Candidates, of all political hues, regularly trot out their family and business backgrounds as a means of allowing the electorate to identify with them as “real human beings”.
In Croydon Central, the MP for the Whitgift Foundation publicly names his three sons, and when the Labour party there ran its all-women’s shortlist, the maternal qualities of the candidates were also placed to the fore. Or four, as in “mum of four” Sarah Jones, who was selected. You can’t use the attribute to attract support, and then complain when those details get reported.
“Siobhan is a great prospect for winning back the support of the very large numbers of Labour voters who have previously been voting LibDem tactically to keep the Tories out,” one insider from the selection meeting told Inside Croydon. “Siobhan has the great merit for electors of being fresh to politics and she impressed members with her knowledge of education.”
Coming to Croydon
- Strange Air book talk, Upper Norwood Joint Library: Dec 14
- Surrey Street Christmas market, Dec 15 and 22
- Cinema Ruskin: Dec 21
- 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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