A senior Conservative Party official in MP Gavin Barwell’s Croydon Central parliamentary constituency has given up his influential position, as a row over the Tories’ candidate selections for May’s local elections begins to grow.
Robert King stood as a Tory candidate in Addiscombe at the last Town Hall elections, in 2010, but he was not selected this time around. Standing for the Conservatives in Addiscombe will be Partha Chatterjee, David Harmes and Lisa Terry.
King was chairman of the Addiscombe ward branch of the local Conservative party until last month, when he chose not to continue in the key role. “I was a Conservative candidate in 2010, for Addiscombe,” King told Inside Croydon. “I won’t be in 2014, I no longer hold any office or position in the party.”
This is the latest piece of fall-out in the much-delayed Tory candidate selection process in key wards within Barwell’s marginal constituency. On Friday, Eddy Arram, a Croydon councillor for more than 30 years who also works as an office gofer in Barwell’s constituency office, was dumped as a candidate in Ashburton ward.
King’s Addiscombe ward is currently held by Labour, but it is clearly being targeted by Barwell and the Croydon Tories as they seek to retain control of the Town Hall. The party does appear to have problems, though, both in member recruitment and in attracting members who senior figures consider to be suitable as council candidates.
In November, Barwell sent out hundreds of letters to residents in the ward, including many to those who are not members of the Conservative party, inviting them to come forward as candidates in the local elections. This controversial ploy not only got the MP a slap on the wrists from a House of Commons official, but nor was it universally welcomed by established members of the local party, who saw it as a reflection on their own abilities. Or lack of them.
And Inside Croydon has learned that another member of Barwell’s publicly funded constituency staff has approached a leading community figure prominent with local youth groups and schools to ask them to stand as a candidate in a safe Tory ward in the borough, even though that person is not and has never been a member of the Conservative party.
Such opportunism does not play well with party activists such as King. “Nobody, not an MP, not the federation chairman or even the leader of the council can offer someone a place on a ticket,” he told Inside Croydon. “The selection of candidates is determined by a secret ballot of branch members and members of the federation executive committee and anybody who wants to put their name forward has to become a party member first.”
King’s non-selection as a candidate this year may also have something to do with his outspoken position in the interests of local residents, having described the Conservative-run council’s plans to build 10,000 new homes in the town centre as “frankly barmy”.
As an office-holder in one of the local residents’ associations, King’s opposition to the building schemes put him in direct conflict with senior Conservative councillors, who are keen to gerrymander in Croydon Central by building thousands of high-end, Yuppie flats, in the hope that they will attract more Tory voters to the area who will shore-up Barwell’s majority in his parliamentary seat.
King, who works as a postman in north London, remains a member of the Conservative party. Whether he will continue as an activist, though, out in all weathers, delivering leaflets in the ward for its 2014 candidates, or for Barwell come the 2015 General Election, remains to be seen.
Coming to Croydon
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Mar 3
- Patchwork and quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 3
- Fairtrade stall at Food Market, Haynes Lane, Mar 8
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Mar 15
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
- South Norwood Lakes Playground group workshop, Mar 25
- David Lean Cinema: Basically Johnny Moped, Mar 27-28
- Croydon Half-marathon, Mar 30
- David Lean Cinema: 12 Years a Slave, Apr 3
- David Lean Cinema: The Great Beauty, Apr 10
- David Lean Cinema: Inside Llewyn Davis, Apr 17
- David Lean Cinema: Short Term, Apr 24
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 516,649 page views (Jan-Dec 2013)
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