The Labour Party today selected the Hon Emily Sophia Wedgwood Benn to stand as their candidate in Croydon South at the May 2015 General Election. My friends in Ruskin House suggest that the vote in favour of Benn was so overwhelming that those backing the two other candidates, in total, would not number enough to constitute “a crowd”.
This selection tells us a lot about the party machines that run our country.
The first thing to note in this instance is that Labour don’t have a chance of winning in Croydon South.
Knowing this, they have a few options. They could select a good local candidate, a down-to-earth working class person who understands how hard life is. Maybe they don’t have any in the constituency?
They could select a true red working class candidate in order to offer some choice against the Thatcher-loving Chris Philp of the Tories. This seems counter-productive on the face of it but it’s a strategy often employed by our major TV stations: you don’t see the BBC putting Eastenders on against Coronation Street, for example.
Or they could do what they’ve done: select a “name” from a long-standing dynasty who shares with Philp strong business credentials.
Emily Benn works in The City with a multi-national bank and has little direct experience of what it’s like to live a life of scraping by, which is what an awful lot of people do in Croydon South. She is getting some experience on how to run election campaigns so that when the time is right, she will move to a safe seat and become the fifth generation of the Benn dynasty to enter Parliament. No doubt her father, the Viscount Stansgate, will be very proud. The hereditary principle lives on in British politics, and it’s as much a part of Labour as it is the Tories.
I wrote an open letter to Croydon Labour suggesting that they get behind my campaign. They ignored me. What I’m calling for in Croydon South is a proper debate about politics. Emily Benn will add little to this debate that Philp can’t already say himself. The narrow confines of debate means we’re always given a choice between a very neoliberal candidate from the Tories and a neoliberal candidate from Labour.
Neoliberalism is all about opening up markets to allow competition rather than helping people to get on with their lives. It works on the principle that the market will provide, yet the effect of the policies is a rise in poverty, the use of food banks and pay-day loan companies. Now there’s a market that really provides, at least for shareholders; you can almost see the wealth cascading upwards.
What we need in Croydon South, and everywhere else, is a different form of politics. We need to start to solve the social problems caused by Thatcherite policies. More Thatcherism just compounds the problems.
- How will Philp or Benn help people priced out of the housing market?
- How will Philp or Benn help people out of poverty?
- In a post-Ottaway era, will Croydon South have an engaged MP fighting the corner for constituents?
It’s hard to imagine positive answers to these questions.
Unless something radical happens, Philp will win the election next year and with it a job for life. Benn will go on to another constituency five years later and get a job for life.
They’re the winners. It looks as though the voters have already lost.
- Jon Bigger will be standing in the General Election in Croydon South as the Class War candidate
- Read some of Jon Bigger’s previous columns on Inside Croyddon by clicking here
Coming to Croydon
- South Norwood Arts Festival, July 5-20
- Summer butterfly walk, Farthing Down, July 20
- Picnic in Grangewood Park, July 20
- David Lean Cinema: Pantani: Accidental Death of a Cyclist, July 21
- David Lean Cinema: Tracks, July 24
- Lives Not Knives beer fund-raiser, July 24
- Fragile, Spread Eagle Theatre, July 24-26
- CODA’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at Wandle Park, Jul 30-Aug 2
- David Lean Cinema: Locke, July 31
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Aug 2
- Patchwork and quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, Aug 4
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 6
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 13
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Aug 16
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 20
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 27
- Upper Norwood Library well-being groups, Aug 30
- Warlingham rugby dinner with international Richard Hill, Sep 12
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Sep 20
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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