Whoops! Tories drop West Thornton from election advert

VOTE 2014 logoWALTER CRONXITE, our man outside the Croydon Tories’ head office in Purley with a rolled up copy of the local paper and a iPhone 5S in his pocket, reports on another example that shows that politicians take the electorate for granted

The suggestion that the Conservatives who run Croydon Council ignore the north of the borough has been confirmed this week, when the Tories spent thousands of their own party’s cash on an advertisement in a local paper but managed to miss out an entire ward, West Thornton, and the 12,000 people who live there.

With most of the voting districts in the borough being either profoundly red or blue, it is a truth rarely acknowledged publicly by local politicians that, frankly, where they can’t win, they don’t bother trying to represent the views of their supporters in that ward. But neither of the two major parties have ever simply wiped an entire ward off the map in this manner before.

As Inside Croydon has highlighted regularly over the past couple of years, the simple task of even finding 70 reliable candidates to stand for election across the borough has been almost beyond the local parties’ organisations. With diminishing membership and some councillors de-selected, the Tories, stubbornly pretending that they are seriously seeking election in Labour-held wards, have this year been forced to include among its candidates a schoolboy and a councillor who had previously announced his retirement from local politics.

Our sources at Croydon Tory HQ have informed us that Fairfield councillor and cabinet member Vidhi Mohan had been promised selection as the Conservative candidate in Croydon North at next year’s General Election if he was seen to manage the local election campaign in the north of the borough successfully. An inability to proof-read pages before sending them to print will doubtless count against him.

Under a headline of “Our team: reflecting the diversity of the borough” in the local free rag, the Tories named their candidates, but only in 23 of Croydon’s 24 wards.

So much for “diversity”: there are no African-Caribbean heritage Conservative candidates chosen for any of the safe Tory wards in the south of the borough, while ignored in West Thornton is a woman, Florence Evans, a sometime barmaid in the local Conservative Club, and two men of Asian heritage, Patrick Ratnaraja and Samir Dwesar.

Something missing: Spot the deliberate mistake in the Croydon Tories' advertisement

Something missing: Spot the deliberate mistake in the Croydon Tories’ advertisement

After extensive searches, Inside Croydon managed to find an active Conservative party member in the north of Croydon. “It’s a terrible shame for Patrick and Samir, who have done what they can to campaign in the ward,” the local Tory said, asking for anonymity because they would not want anyone down their street to know how they voted.

“The reality is, because we aren’t important to Gavin Barwell’s campaign to be re-elected as Croydon Central MP, we don’t matter to the local party. The Tories have paid lip-service to Samir’s candidacy, flagging up his relative youth and his background, how his great uncle was Croydon’s first Asian councillor. But then for something as important as this paid-for advertisement, they can’t even get the detail right of mentioning his ward.

“It must be another massive frustration for Patrick, who actively campaigns in the interests of the BME community, but the party has always denied him the chance of being selected for a ward where he might have a real chance of being elected.

“It’s inevitable that people will ask now, if Mike Fisher and his campaign team can’t manage to put together a simple advert listing all their candidates, how can they be trusted to run a billion-pound-a-year council?”

West Thornton is in the Croydon North parliamentary constituency of Steve Reed OBE, and is a Labour stronghold. In 2010, it returned three Labour councillors with robust majorities of more than 2,000 votes. On May 22, among Labour’s three candidates standing for election in West Thornton is The Hon Emily Benn, the granddaughter of Tony Benn, seeking her first election to public office.

Inside Croydon’s recent coverage of the local elections:


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
This entry was posted in 2014 council elections, Bernadette Khan, Croydon Council, Croydon North, Emily Benn, Steve Reed MP, Stuart King, Vidhi Mohan, West Thornton and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Whoops! Tories drop West Thornton from election advert

  1. The Croydon Tories are making precisely the same mistake that the Republican Party made in the last US presidential election. They are addressing themselves entirely to the WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) element of the population, ignoring the 40+ per cent BME people who live mostly in the north of the borough.

    That policy may win them Croydon at the moment – the most marginal borough in Greater London – but there is a limit to how long that situation will continue.

    Tories have a huge job to do in winning the trust of the BME population, many of whom remember they were betrayed by Enoch Powell: in the early 1960s as Minister of Health he was actively encouraging Caribbean people to come and work in the NHS; five years later, in opposition and desperate for attention, he made the infamous Rivers of Blood speech predicting a race war.

    Tories would do well to remember that Bernard Weatherill held Croydon North East for seven consecutive General Elections as a Conservative Member of Parliament: the constituency is now part of Croydon North and is safely Labour.

  2. I accept that the Tories have a huge job to win the trust of the BME population though not many of the second generation remember the rivers of blood and things have moved on since then. There are some prominent Tory MPs from the BME community.

    There is also an issue with the BME community. Majority of those in the so called BME communities believe in Conservative values and also live a Conservative life. Yet the majority of voters in the BME community vote for Labour for a reason which I can not say for obvious reasons.

    It is time for the Conservatives specially in Croydon to engage with the BME communities than encouraging them to become council candidates in wards where they have no hope of winning or in certain cases in wards which don’t exist (Croydon only). It is not the dream of every one to become a councillor (although my dream is to become a councillor in Croydon one day inshah Allah). There are many things those in BME communities can do and would like to achieve.

    At the same time Labour take BME voters for granted and do absolutely nothing to understand or help the BME communities. As a Tamil in Croydon I can say this as the current Labour leadership completely ignored the application of a Tamil candidate being selected. A Tamil Doctor who recruited more than 60 Labour members was ignored though he is a member of the champagne socialist club (members who pay over £1000 to the party).

    I hope the Conservatives in Croydon and in CCHQ (Conservative campaign headquarters) would listen to me on this issue and use me to help them to engage with BME communities. This also reminds me of John Lennon.

  3. davidcallam says:

    Wow, that’s worrying! If Patrick is right, and I have no reason to doubt him, then both major parties are blithly ignoring 40+ per cent of the borough population. How stupid!

  4. It is interesting to note that no one from the BME community was selected as candidates in West Thornton. I am sure one would argue that Emily Benn and Mrs Khan have some BME connection.

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