Conservatives snub hustings as sham candidates exposed

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.

A lump of lard with a blue rosette: more use than a Tory candidate in the north of Croydon

A lump of lard with a blue rosette: more use than a Tory candidate in the north of Croydon

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”.

Mario Creatura: has publicly admitted the Tories don't care about wards in the north of Croydon

Mario Creatura: has publicly admitted the Tories don’t care about wards in the north of Croydon

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:

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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
This entry was posted in 2014 council elections, Coulsdon, Coulsdon West, Croydon Central, Croydon Council, Croydon North, David Osland, Gavin Barwell, Thornton Heath and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Conservatives snub hustings as sham candidates exposed

  1. davidcallam says:

    You cannot claim the popular support of the borough if your writ doesn’t run north of the town centre; or south of it.
    Not turning out a candidate is disgraceful, but the problem is one for both the Tories and Labour and an even bigger one for the rest of us.
    If each party governs in the interest of its own enclave we lose the advantages of being part of the most populous and one of the most diverse boroughs in Greater London.

  2. Agree with you David.

    It is time for both major parties in Croydon to engage with all communities in all parts of Croydon, rather than just thinking about winning elections and turning up on the doorsteps once every four years.

    Croydon is the most diverse borough in London and yet its decision-makers are mostly from one community, plus a few token candidates. This is a problem with both major parties. One party goes to the other extreme of having women-only candidate lists, when it suits.

    Attempts are made to select or block candidates depending on their loyalty to whoever makes decisions (the friends and family package).

    I have always said that there should be more BME representation in both parties. This does not mean that someone should be given a safe ward just because he or she is from the BME community. But nor should they be overlooked because they are not the majority.

    I understand that parties don’t have the resources to canvass in all wards and therefore they have no other choice than to canvass in their own patch.

    Each councillor is required to pay a percentage of their taxpayer-funded allowance for printing of election material. Even this is not enough.

  3. east1956 says:

    There’s an odd rumour that the Conservative Party trawled Addiscombe for over a year seeking to persuade activists in the community representative groups to stand as candidates with very little success. There was a letter put out about a year ago inviting people to come forward as possible candidates.

    While it is not a requirement that a candidate is an established member of a political party, it seems odd that candidates standing for a political party can have no prior association with the party, or seemingly have ever been involved in community politics.

    It is interesting that the Conservative Party seems to lack the membership to be able to field candidates. I assume that active membership in Croydon has fallen dramatically and that the remaining membership is too old to want to become candidates. If that is the case there is the possibility, that without new blood, the Conservative Party in Croydon may simply cease to exist in 5 ~ 10 years.

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