CROYDON COMMENTARY: You’re a Tory party parliamentary candidate about to inherit a 15,000 majority. But what do you do for the nine months until next year’s election? Twiddle your thumbs? Not if you’re Croydon South’s PPC Chris Philp, who JON BIGGER thinks he has caught “inventing” problems that simply do not exist
Chris Philp is his own biggest fan. His website reveals a level of narcissism rarely endured without need of a sick bucket.
Each page oozes with a love of himself and is full of quotes from people singing his praises. There’s even this gem regarding his entrepreneurial prowess: “In 2005 I was listed as one of the UK’s top 50 entrepreneurs by startups.co.uk. I was placed at No 8 – one place below Richard Branson!”
The Philp website includes details of his political beliefs and his charity work, which consist of promoting harmful neoliberal economics and himself as much as possible. It provides an insight into what motivates him and explains to some extent his attitude to campaigning.
Last week, with the General Election a full nine months away, it became clear that Philp is already electioneering in Croydon South. Working with Tory activist Mario Creatura, Philp responded via Twitter to a consultation on train services calling at Coulsdon South by reassuring residents that he has requested a meeting with the CEO of GoVia, the operators of the Thameslink rail franchise.
Richard Ottaway is still, last time we checked, the MP for Croydon South, so this really ought to be his job. But Philp is getting stuck in.
Philp’s sense of entitlement is breathtaking. As far as he’s concerned, he’s the MP already, able to cut deals with major firms and influence policy outcomes. Unfortunately, his involvement is fundamentally undemocratic, particularly considering that he is unelected.
He knows he doesn’t have the authority of the people behind him. He hasn’t earned a mandate to speak on behalf of residents in Croydon South and yet he behaves as if he considers he has such a mandate. We have the right to ask who he is speaking for and on what authority.
In this instance, Philp’s campaigning is on an imaginary issue.
The number of trains is actually set in the service agreements with the franchise holder. I’m not the CEO of a multi-million pound firm but I decided to contact GoVia to establish some facts. Here’s the prompt reply I received:
“GoVia has no plans to reduce the number of services calling at Coulsdon South. Whilst there will be significant timetable changes in December 2015, our peak services, including the Victoria trains, will not change. And during the off-peak period there will still be four trains an hour to central London stations, as at present.
“Two of these off-peak services will run to London Bridge. The other two will run from Gatwick to Bedford, bringing passengers new links to Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon and St Pancras (for Eurostar).
“We will be undertaking a public consultation during this Autumn on our detailed plans for the December 2015 timetable change.
“Once the Thameslink Programme is complete in 2018, passengers from Coulsdon South will have far better connections to the rest of London. The Bedford trains will link with Crossrail at Farringdon, bringing rapid connections to Canary Wharf, the West End and Heathrow without having to change onto the Tube.”
This response makes clear that things are likely to change, but not in the alarming way which the local Tories are suggesting. They’ve been stoking things up talking about reductions without providing any context for the changes.
The reference to trains heading to Victoria is interesting because Philp has also been on Twitter regarding a reduction in these trains. The GoVia response makes clear that there won’t be a reduction at peak times.
I want to be clear that I’m not in favour of reductions in services and people should use the consultation to argue for the services they want. Actually, I’m in favour of free public transport for all, paid for by the rich, in which communities get the services they need. Perhaps Philp will back that as a policy, but as it would mean the very rich paying more in tax I suspect not.
So if it’s not an issue and there’s a public consultation coming up, why is Philp getting stuck in?
It looks as if he and Councillor Creatura are playing games with constituents. Philp clearly wants to be seen as the action hero, swinging into meetings with high-profile people and solving the issues affecting residents in Croydon South.
It’s all about votes. Creatura admitted as much in a tweet to me on when he wrote, “I expect all [candidates] to work for the constituency to earn their votes”.
Later, when I suggested this was electioneering, he changed his view somewhat, declaring that Philp’s actions were “volunteering” to help the community. No doubt Philp will be getting someone to update the page of his website detailing his charity work.
By Friday, Creatura and Philp must have realised that this issue just wasn’t going to fly. The local Tories released a statement repeating the GoVia line. Regardless of their failure to pull the wool over people’s eyes, we shouldn’t be forgiving of their intentions.
Philp and Creatura were trying to take advantage of the fears of residents in order to make it appear that they are solving problems. We know that their input was never likely to change the situation drastically. And Philp has no mandate to be acting in this way. They need to stop immediately; the people of Croydon South deserve to be treated with respect.
Philp can surely wait nine months and Ottaway can surely work a little until his final days as an MP? This whole episode shows how Philp will operate with more power. He assumes it already, so just imagine what he’ll be like with the letters MP after his name.
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Coming to Croydon
- Stop the Incinerator Quiz Night, Sep 8
- Tell Me About Your Ex, Spread Eagle Theatre, Sep 9-13
- David Lean Cinema: Camille Claudel, Sep 11
- Warlingham rugby dinner with international Richard Hill, Sep 12
- Soul Symphony Community Choir sessions, Sep 16-Dec 23
- Police question time, LNK at Centrale, Sep 17
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- David Lean Cinema: Chef, Sep 18
- The Complete History of the BBC – Abridged, Spread Eagle, Sep 19-20
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Sep 20
- South Croydon business breakfast, Sep 20
- Open House London weekend, Sep 20-21
- David Lean Cinema: A Night At The Cinema in 1914, Sep 22
- Activity to Work back-to-work workshops, Sep 23
- David Lean Cinema: Jimmy’s Hall, Sep 25
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Fancy dress family funday, Sep 28
- Tree Sides, Spread Eagle Theatre, Oct 2-4
- The Goon Show, Spread Eagle Theatre, Oct 8-11
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- South Croydon business breakfast, Oct 18
- This Was The World and I Was King, Spread Eagle, Oct 23-25
- Albert Einstein – Relativity Speaking, Spread Eagle, Nov 12-15
- South Croydon business breakfast, Nov 15
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
- Choose Your Own Documentary, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 21-22
- The Last Sense of Sudden, Spread Eagle Theatre, Nov 27-29
- Ghost Stories for Christmas, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 3
- Fog Horn Funnies, Spread Eagle Theatre, Dec 6
- South Croydon business breakfast, Dec 13
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
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