It’s hard not to be slightly sceptical, but if the revolution is coming it’s unlikely to be through force of numbers in Croydon.
The local Communists have named their candidates for May’s local council elections. With 24 wards and a possible 70 councillor slots to fill, the Communists have a grand total of three candidates across the borough. Yes: three.
In all seriousness, the press release received at Inside Croydon Towers pointed out that the Communist Party “is part of an international movement involving millions of people in more than 100 countries across the globe”. Millions. Just not very many of them in suburban south London.
“We prefer to focus our resources where we can make the most impact,” a source within the party told Inside Croydon, apparently assuming that an impact will be made at all.
Ben Stevenson, CP’s national secretary, will be standing in Bensham Manor, while in Broad Green ward the candidate is Dr Peter Latham, a former lecturer and the author of The State and Local Government: Towards a new basis for local democracy and the defeat of big business control. In Selhurst, the candidate will be John Eden, a carpenter and joiner who, like Latham, is a member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s executive committee.
The Communists fielded three candidates in the 2010 local elections, while Stevenson was the Communist candidate at the 2012 Croydon North by-election, when he polled 119 votes, nine more than the Monster Raving Loony candidate.
There is a serious issue about the lack of candidates, because it inevitably means that the Communists will struggle to get their arguments across amid the growing piles of election bumpf being shoved through our letter boxes by the political duopoly which controls Croydon Town Hall, or from eager UKIPers who fancy their chances on May 22 as the European elections are being staged on the same date.
And Stevenson does issues a decent soundbyte: “Croydon residents need a genuine alternative to the relentless austerity, public service cuts and total lack of accountability offered by the Tories.
“They also need more than the platitudes presented by Labour about more transparency in council meetings, more effective working with the voluntary sector and cleaner streets in Croydon. Frankly, the blather expressed recently by Tony Newman about these issues is a smokescreen. Labour in Croydon are offering the same cuts in services as the Tories, with a bit of window dressing to obscure their impact,” Stevenson said.
“For a start… they would fight for properly funded public services provided directly by the council. Labour’s talk of ‘difficult choices’, ‘priorities’ and providing public services ‘differently’ misses the point.
“The dangers of going down the ‘cooperative council’ route pursued by Lambeth and other councils are well-known. Residents are faced with an impossible choice. Either support the provision of vital local services such as children’s and youth facilities and libraries by volunteers, with all the impact that has on the quality of service delivery and the jobs of the staff themselves, or see them disappear.
“The ConDem Government has made a political decision to use a crisis of capitalism as cover for permanent austerity and a wide-range assault on the welfare state and all the social gains made since 1945,” Stevenson said.
“Local government as we know it is set to disappear as totally unnecessary funding cuts result in the termination of discretionary services and even statutory services face a ‘death of the thousand cuts’. Why not consider the positive role of a ‘needs budget’ to resist Tory austerity politics and simply say ‘no’ to the forced implementation of the cuts?”
Coming to Croydon
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Mar 15
- March of the Mods at Oval Tavern for Teenage Cancer Trust, Mar 16
- St Patrick’s Night celebration, Ruskin House, Mar 17
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood Cemetery, 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
- Norwood Society Talk: Crystal Palace, Apr 17
- David Lean Cinema: Inside Llewyn Davis, Apr 17
- Opening of Marlpit Lane bowling and putting greens, Apr 17
- Arts and Crafts Market, Exchange Square, Apr 19
- David Lean Cinema: Short Term, Apr 24
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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