VOTE 2014: Not content with forgetting about an entire ward in the north of the borough in their own advertisement last week, this week Croydon’s Tories deliberately snubbed the voters of Thornton Heath when not a single one of their three “candidates” supposedly standing in the ward in next Thursday’s Town Hall elections could be bothered to turn out for a hustings debate.
The Conservatives were the only party to go unrepresented at the Thornton Heath hustings, staged on Wednesday evening, organised by resident Peter Morgan.
“I really think it is very poor that the Conservatives couldn’t find anyone to attend the Thornton Heath hustings,” Morgan told Inside Croydon.
“Apart from none of their three candidates making themselves available, I offered the option of any of their three in each of the five wards adjacent, but still no one could make it.”
The Tories’ negligent attitude towards the north of the borough has long been criticised. That has been more so since the 2011 riots, after which little of the £23 million of supposedly “riot recovery funds” has been spent by Croydon’s Tory-controlled council in the areas worst-affected by that infamous night of arson and looting. Meanwhile, public money has been lavished elsewhere, coincidentally on Conservative-voting wards in the Croydon Central parliamentary constituency.
The Conservatives have no prospect of election success in Thornton Heath next Thursday. Four years ago, at the last council elections, their candidates were all beaten by the LibDem candidate as well as the three elected Labour councillors.
But having gone through the pretence of registering three candidates, shouldn’t the Tories at least show some respect for the people of Thornton Heath and have someone attend the hustings? That was just one question which even Tory supporters from the north of the borough have been asking.
“What does this say about the Conservatives’ attitude to their own voters in the north of Croydon?” one Tory member who attended the hustings this week said to Inside Croydon (but asked us not to name him in case others in the bar at the local Conservative Club accuse him of speaking the truth).
“Last week they described the omission of their candidates in West Thornton ward from an expensive advertisement in a newspaper as an error. But this week, they have managed to snub the whole of the electorate of Thornton Heath, including their own supporters, by failing to find someone to debate the issues, put forward our policies or defend our record. It’s disgraceful.”
It was also suggested that in “empty-chairing” the absent Conservative candidates, the hustings organisers might have placed on the table a tub of lard, as was done when Labour grandee Roy Hattersley infamously failed to show up for an episode of Have I Got News For You.
In recent months, senior members of the Conservatives in Croydon North and Croydon Central constituencies have left the party, angry at the way the local election campaign is being overseen by Gavin Barwell, the MP for the marginal Croydon Central constituency. “It is all about getting Gavin re-elected in 2015, and nothing else matters,” said one disgruntled former activist.
They point to the comments made by Barwell’s “gobby fac totum“, Mario Creatura, the MP’s publicly funded parliamentary aide who has been parachuted in to a safe Tory ward in Coulsdon to become a councillor next week.
“A few thousand votes here or there in Central will matter,” Creatura said. “A few thousand in North or South won’t change a thing.”
Challenged on this, Creatura became defensive and accused his questioner of “shit-stirring”.
For the Conservatives, according to Creatura, wards in the north of Croydon are “unwinnable and at present a waste of effort”.
Glad we got that cleared up, then.
The Tories’s candidate selection in Thornton Heath was already controversial, after they named the former senior Met Police officer David Osland alongside Nicholas Bailey and Luke Springthorpe as one of their candidates in the ethnically diverse ward. Osland was a senior officer overseeing the bungled investigated of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. Osland’s selection was described this week as “insensitive” by another candidate – and some suggest that that is putting it mildly.
Osland’s name being on the ballot paper is also seen by many as a sign of how the Conservatives are struggling for members capable of coming forward as candidates – the former copper has only just stood down after 20 years as a councillor in Coulsdon West (stepping aside effectively to make way for Barwell’s bag-carrier Creatura), but has now allowed for his name to be used to give the impression that the Tories are fielding a full slate in the local elections.
Which has now been shown for what it really is, a complete and utter sham.
Inside Croydon’s recent coverage of the local elections:
- Policy analysis 1: The incinerator
- Policy analysis 2: Hammersfield
- Threat of UKIP forces Tories to press the panic button
- WEST THORNTON: Tories forget to include entire ward in election ad
- 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
- Mrs McMoon and Signor Baffo at Stanley Halls, May 17
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Warehouse International Palywriting Festival, May 17-18
- Riverside Animal Centre Open Day, May 18
- Coulsdon East local election hustings, May 19
- St Giles’ primary school open morning, May 21
- David Lean Cinema: The Rocket, May 22
- Songs From The Ledge, Spread Eagle Theatre, May 23
- 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
- An Improvised Murder, Spread Eagle Theatre, June 7
- 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
- Warnings to the Curious, Spread Eagle Theatre, June 27
- South Norwood Allotments open day, June 28
- Fragile, Spread Eagle Theatre, July 24-26
- 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
Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 72,342 average monthly page views (Jan-Mar 2014)
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