Rumours of local Tory defections to UKIP – none of which have yet been substantiated – continue to be aired, after a week in which two more Conservative Croydon councillors were unceremoniously de-selected by their party.
Justin Cromie and Ian Parker will not be on the ballot sheet for the Conservatives in the Coulsdon wards at the Town Hall elections on May 22.
They follow the obnoxious Eddy Arram, dumped in Ashburton last week, and the pushy Clare Hilley, who decided last autumn not to face possible defeat in Waddon when she was refused permission to make a “chicken run”, and seek selection in a safer Conservative ward elsewhere in the borough.
The end of Parker’s career as a local councillor may be particularly significant, since it is seen by some as signal of how the Tories are giving precedence over the local election battle to the fight to keep the charisma-bypass that is Gavin Barwell in his Croydon Central parliamentary seat in 2015.
Our mole outside the Croydon Tories’ HQ suggests that Parker is sacrificing his £21,371 publicly funded “allowances” as a part-time councillor in order to spend more time in his role as party agent in Croydon Central and Croydon South, managing the General Election campaigns there.
It is not the first time that Parker has made a sacrifice on Barwell’s behalf. In 2010, the local party agent took the rap with an appearance before a High Court judge after Barwell and Croydon South’s Tricky Dicky Ottaway submitted inaccurate election expenses. Somehow, someone had under-declared the amount spent on the printing of election leaflets. Fortunately for Parker, the judge accepted that the mistakes were “inadvertant”. Oh yeah.
Just how much the Tories’ local election cause in Croydon Central is being subjugated to the interests of the MP was underlined when Barwell, with six other Tory MPs, spent yesterday morning posting party political leaflets in to letterboxes in Addiscombe (clearly, none of them have more important work to do on a weekday on behalf of their constituents in return for their £66,000-plus public salaries).
And while the Tories continue, in public at least, to pour scorn on the notion of positive discrimination and Labour’s all-wimmin short-lists, it is Barwell’s influence behind the scenes which has ensured that there should be at least one woman on the ballot for the Conservatives in every ward in his constituency – exactly the same as Labour policy. The Tories are not wholly “right-on” just yet though: the Conservatives have yet to pick a candidate of Afro-Caribbean heritage to stand in the Croydon local elections.
In Coulsdon West, standing down as a councillor is the controversial former senior Met Police officer, David Osland.
This means that Jeet Bains – another Tory councillor who has been no stranger to controversies of his own lately, having been forced to resign his positions with the sikh temple in Croydon – is the only one seeking re-election in that ward. Bains polled the fewest votes of the three Tories standing in the last local elections, though he still had a margin of 1,800 votes over his closest LibDem challenger.
Joining Bains on the Tory ticket in what is traditionally a true-blue ward is Luke Clancy, while as widely expected, self-professed bag-carrier Barwell’s bag-carrier, Mario Creatura, has been duly handed a safe route on to the council gravy train to top-up his state-funded salary as the MP’s assistant. Disingenuously, as ever, Barwell described Creatura’s selection for the same ward in which he was once a councillor as “coincidental”.
Career politician Creatura stood for election, unsuccessfully, in Selhurst ward in 2010. A resident of Woodside and later Fairfield, there is no public record of Creatura having a residential, or indeed any other strong link, with Coulsdon.
Cromie declared himself to be “gutted” after being dropped as a Tory candidate for Coulsdon East at the weekend.
Cromie’s claim to fame in the past four years was that, despite considerable pressure, he took a principled stand by voting with his conscience and against his own party’s proposals to cut funding to the borough’s voluntary groups (or at least those voluntary groups which are not the pet projects of Tory party donors).
On Saturday, in having him de-selected, the local Tory party made sure that Cromie paid the price.
With the Tories’ council chief whip Terry Lenton retiring at the election, joining Chris Wright as Conservative candidates in Coulsdon East will be Margaret Bird, who lives in Coulsdon Rise, a one-time parent governor at Coulsdon High, chair of governors at Applegarth Academy and who has been a Tory activist for years, plus James Thompson.
Thompson describes himself as “opinionated”, and may be somewhat lacking in life experience for many Coulsdon voters. He is being eased into an assumed job-for-life council ward courtesy of being the chairman of the local Conservative Future, the re-branded (but unreformed?) Young Conservatives.
Purley Tories went through the process of “selecting” their three candidates last night, and duly plumped for Badsha Quadir, the man who donated more than £12,000 to Croydon Conservatives in the four years before he was first selected to stand as a councillor in Purley, plus Donald Speakman. Replacing the retiring Graham Bass on the ticket will be Simon Brew, a retired IT consultant. The councillor allowances will top up the pension fund nicely.
And as we predicted, in New Addington Lara Fish gets the dubious pleasure of “standing with” Councillor Tony Pearson. It is astonishing how the Conservative members seem always to vote for the people who have recently been pictured as part of an “action team” on their party propaganda.
The Conservative selections continue throughout this week, with Shirley – the ward where the leader of the Conservatives, florid-faced Mike Fisher, is seeking re-nomination – tonight and battleground ward Waddon tomorrow.
- Fisher holds fire on Tory selections to force his budget through
- Selection rows see King abdicate from Addiscombe Tories
Coming to Croydon
- LNK Apprenticeship Week launch, Mar 7
- 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
- Opening of Marlpit Lane bowling and putting greens, Apr 17
- David Lean Cinema: Short Term, Apr 24
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
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