WALTER 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.
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:
- Threat of UKIP forces Tories to press the panic button
- NEW ADDINGTON’s Royston Vasey “are you local” campaign
- CROHAM: Scouring campaign for something which might inspire
- These are the councillors who voted to build on a public park
- Questions mount over political influence at council
- What Barwell fails to tell you and the myths of Council Tax
- Council allowances and local politicians’ secret consensus
- The list of candidates for the May 22 local elections
Coming to Croydon
- Croydon Ecology Centre seeds and seedlings sale, May 11
- South Norwood local election hustings, May 12
- Thornton Heath local election hustings, May 14
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- David Lean Cinema: The Invisible Woman, May 15
- Broad Green local election hustings, May 15
- Coulsdon West local election hustings, May 16
- Mrs McMoon and Signor Baffo at Stanley Halls, May 17
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Coulsdon East local election hustings, May 19
- St Giles’ primary school open morning, May 21
- David Lean Cinema: The Rocket, May 22
- Greek Myths: stories and mask-making, May 27
- Howard Marks: Scholar, Smuggler, Prisoner, Scribe, May 29
- David Lean Cinema: Dallas Buyers Club, May 29
- Tales from Ancient Greece, Upper Norwood Library, May 29
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, May 31
- Stitch Pitch quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, June 2
- Croydon Tech City “summit”, June 6
- Lakes Playground Action Group fun day, June 14
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, June 15
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Classic Car Show at Purley Rotary Fields, June 22
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- South Norwood Allotments open day, June 28
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- 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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