Tony Newman, the Labour leader of Croydon Council, has made a decision and managed to get it spot on. But it may yet be some time before X Factor winner Ben Haenow gets to perform to packed audiences in his hometown of Croydon.
As petty politicians desperately threw themselves at social media last night to associate themselves with one trending hashtag or another, Newman embraced the X Factor love-in to announce on Twitter that Croydon Council will stage a civic reception for the (presumably now former) Shrublands Estate resident Haenow.
And while everyone got carried away with themselves, the usually sure-footed presenter Dermot O’Leary may have hit the apogee of triteness when he tried to paraphrase war poet Rupert Brooke to state, “A little bit of Wembley that will forever be Croydon.”
Given such florid invocations, it is unsurprising that local politicians craved a little of the reflected glory. It is the modern-day equivalent of kissing babies. Or calves.
It seems most unlikely that Labour leader Newman’s decision on offering the civic reception was made after full consultation with his fellow cabinet members in his “team”, nor debated in the spirit of openness and transparency at the council’s cabinet meetings or scrutiny sessions, and it was certainly never approved at a meeting of full council. But what does that matter, eh?
Newman must have had the approval of the entrepreneurial council CEO, Nathan Elvery, though, since there does not seem to be any council activity that goes forward without the say-so of the Town Hall’s David Brent lookalike.
Haenow’s victory in Simon Cowell’s karaoke-thon may propel the white van man from Shirley to a pop career on a par with JLS or Ollie Murs (though neither of those acts actually won their X Factor finals). He may even enjoy the Christmas No1 with the single, “Something I Need”, which was launched in his sing-off last night.
But Haenow will want to avoid the fate of other previous X Factor winners: Steve Brookstein, Matt Cardle, Shayne Ward, Leon Jackson and Joe McElderry. Who? Quite.
The early signs may not be good: this year’s X Factor final set a record low for the number of viewers – a “mere” 9 million on Sunday night, though that is still more than one-third of the national audience. The free YouTube video of Haenow’s new single had been viewed 165,000 times within 18 hours of its release.
Given the packed crowds in Croydon’s North End for his X Factor “homecoming” promotional performance a week ago, you might think that Haenow would make a perfect headline act for the “Ambition” arts festival planned by Croydon Council for next summer.
But the festival organisers’ ambition does not stretch quite that far.
The fleeting and transient fame of previous X Factor winners may deter the festival organisers. “The last time the Fairfield did an X Factor follow-up, they only sold 600 tickets,” one council insider said this morning. “You have to be wary of fast-fading one-minute wonders and make sure that they are actual stars,” said our council source, hammering the first nail into the coffin of Haenow’s fledgeling career almost before it begins.
The comments also suggest that not everyone at Croydon Council may agree with Councillor Newman’s spontaneous decision to award Haenow a civic reception (estmated cost to the Council Tax-payers: £1,000, plus various road closures all the way from West Wickham to the Town Hall).
- Declaration of interest: The Polish cleaning lady at Inside Croydon Towers cast at least 12 votes for Ben Haenow over the course of the weekend…
Coming to Croydon
- Croydon Philharmonic Christmas concert, St Matthew’s, Dec 16
- Spread Eagle’s Christmas Improv show, Dec 17
- David Lean Cinema, Northern Soul, Dec 18
- David Lean Cinema, Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief, Dec 29
- David Lean Cinema, The Beat Beneath My Feet, Dec 30
- David Lean Cinema, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Jan 3
- David Lean Cinema, Mr Turner, Jan 8
- David Lean Cinema, Leviathan, Jan 13
- Norwood Society talk: Penge, the making of a suburb, Jan 15
- David Lean Cinema, The 78 Project Movie, Jan 15
- David Lean Cinema, Hannah Arendt, Jan 20
- David Lean Cinema, The Imitation Game, Jan 22
- South Croydon business breakfast, Jan 24
- David Lean Cinema, Night Will Fall, Jan 27 (Holocaust Memorial Day)
- David Lean Cinema, Kon-Tiki, Jan 29
- Norwood Society talk: Crystal Palace and Dulwich, Feb 19
- Norwood Society talk: Charlies Dickens in Norwood, Mar 19
- Norwood Society: Balloons and airships at Crystal Palace, Apr 16
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