Croydon MP missed the riots but now calls for water cannon

Comedy special on BBC this morning, where the Sunday Politics – apparently a serious current affairs programme, even though presented by Andrew “Brillo Pad” Neil – featured an item on how unrepresentative Parliament is, on the housing crisis, and briefly on London Mayor Boris Johnson’s unapproved purchase of three water cannon for the Metropolitan Police.

You mean you expect me to represent your views? How ridiculous! "Sir" Richard Ottaway, the absentee MP for Croydon South

You mean you expect me to represent your views? How ridiculous! “Sir” Richard Ottaway, the absentee MP for Croydon South

Who did the BBC have on as an “expert” guest for its London regional segment? None other than “Sir” Tricky Dicky Ottaway, a Tory MP so detached from his constituents that he has never lived in Croydon South for the whole of the 20-year period he has supposedly been representing the area.

Apparently, there’s not much affordable housing in Tricky Dicky’s constituency, said the resident of a £1 million-plus country house in Bletchingley, Surrey.

Tricky Dicky (white, male and distinctly officer class) is the epitome of the unrepresentative Member of Parliament. Rather than meet his constituents, Ottaway prefers to call out the police, claiming he fears for his life when attending his regular constituency surgeries.

Thing is, after two decades on the Westminster gravy train, Ottaway remains better known for the strokes he pulled in claiming generous expenses than anything he has ever done for the people he is supposed to represent.

And on BBC1 this morning, Tricky Dicky demonstrated quite how out-of-touch he is with the people of Croydon when he backed the use of water cannon by saying, “In 2012, the riots we had in Croydon, I think those water cannons would have made one heck of a difference.”

The riots occurred in Croydon, including in some parts of Ottaway’s Croydon South constituency, on August 8, 2011.

But this may well have slipped Tricky Dicky’s memory, since rather than deal with the post-riots issues of businesses and residents in Croydon, he went off on a sailing holiday instead.

Ahoy there: Richard Ottaway sails away from Croydon's troubles in August 2011

Ahoy there: Richard Ottaway sails away from Croydon’s troubles in August 2011

It is not the first time Ottaway has signalled his detachment from reality – even in the week of the riots in 2011, he demonstrated that he did not even know what day of the week it was.

“Croydon may be a very different place today if we’d had them,” Tricky Dicky continued on water cannon, without specifying what he meant by this.

“The police have got to make the operational decisions about when to use them, but I think they can be effective in certain circumstances.”

Ottaway described the £200,000 of public money being spent on the three obsolete vehicles by the London Mayor as “a bargain” – this from a man who once paid £5,395 for a bed bought from Harrods, and expected the tax-payer to pick up half of the bill.

Ottaway dismissed the suggestion that Boris may yet be denied permission by the Home Office to use the water cannon in London. “I suspect he’s had a nudge and wink that there’s some guidance coming from the Home Secretary. That’s my judgement.”

His views on the use of water cannon, for someone so detached from the events, are intriguing, and seemingly founded on utter ignorance.

As anyone who had paid any attention to the events of 8/8 and the post-riots inquiries would know, the major problem faced by Croydon’s under-staffed and under-resourced police on the night was that, when they tried to call up help from Scotland Yard’s strategic command, the response was too little, too late. The same thing happened earlier this month when the local police found that it could not control the illegal rave at East Croydon.

A proper B'stard: signalling contempt for the people of Croydon

A proper B’stard: signalling contempt for the people of Croydon

If the Met can’t manage to deploy half a dozen van-loads of riot-trained police in a timely fashion to outer-London at four hours’ notice, how can they ever hope to get an operational water cannon to where it is “needed” to disperse a crowd?

Assuming, of course, that Home Secretary Theresa May – and a rival to Boris for the leadership of the Conservative Party – ever licenses the use of water cannon in mainland Britain.

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This entry was posted in 2015 General Election, 8/8: London Road stories, Crime, Croydon 8/8, Croydon South, Richard Ottaway MP and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Croydon MP missed the riots but now calls for water cannon

  1. davidcallam says:

    In the same programme segment, Sir Richard was asked to respond to a Shelter study which suggests that very few families on average incomes with an average deposit available could afford to buy a home anywhere in Greater London, including Croydon.
    Yachtsman Ottaway seemed all at sea, but eventually came up with a solution: such families should move north to the economic hub proposed by his Conservative colleague George Osborne to be centred on Manchester and Leeds.

  2. Excellent article on water cannons following a bizarre exchange on Sunday Politics !!! Ottaway is so detached from the goings on in Croydon – it staggers me how he commands such a large majority. I am hoping that the impressive Emily Benn, if confirmed, can bring perspective to Croydon South.

    • Labour has not even short-listed its candidates for Croydon South yet, so declaring the selection of Emily Benn is somewhat premature. To suggest that any Labour candidate has the slightest hope of reeling in the Tories’ 15,000 majority in Croydon South is almost as detached as Ottaway…

  3. mraemiller says:

    So what’s wrong with water cannon? It’s never actually killed anybody which is more than can be said for illegal raves. Interesting more people died in the rave than the 2011 riots which makes one wonder how justifiable the Police’s policy of not-getting-too-involved-cus-someone-might-get-hurt is. Policing by Consent is Policing by Cowardice or Not Policing at all bt Penny Pinching

    • Wrong on two counts – five people were killed in incidents related to the riots in 2011, including one in Croydon; and people have been killed by water cannon. In 2010 Dietrich Wagner (an innocent bystander) was blinded by water-cannon in Germany when his cheekbone was fractured and his eye was gouged out. I don’t want water-cannon ever to be used in the UK.

      • mraemiller says:

        “People have been killed by water cannon” Who? I am aware people have been injured but as far as I am aware this is not death. It is fact more people died in Croydon at the rave than died in Croydon during the riots. So if the police argument for containmemt is to prevent possible death and injury…. It’s a bit of a weak one

        • Wrong again.

          One of the five fatalities during the London riots was Trevor Ellis, who was shot in his car in Croydon on the night of 8/8.

          Of course, John Cartwright is not entirely accurate in his wish for there never to be water cannon used in the UK: they have been used in Northern Ireland.

          But it is a fact that no one has ever died laughing at any of Anthony Miller’s “comedy” shows.

          What a pair of comedians.

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