Croydon’s Green Party has selected the group’s co-leader, Tracey Hague, as their candidate for the council by-election in Selhurst ward.
At the weekend, the Liberal Democrats became the last of the major parties, and UKIP, to announce who would be representing them as a candidate in the by-election, when Geoff Morley was confirmed as standing for election on March 5.
The by-election has been called following the death in January of long-standing councillor, Gerry Ryan. Three local UKIP members courted controversy, and widespread condemnation, when they called for the by-election before the councillor’s funeral.
By being held separately – rather than waiting until May’s General Election – the by-election could end up costing Croydon Council Tax-payers up to £20,000 for what all parties privately admit is a political foregone conclusion.
The LibDems and Greens appear to be engaging in a two-bald-blokes-wig-style fight, as both included boasts about their latest membership figures in their respective press releases. The information only serves to illustrate the lack of engagement with the political clique.
With commendable openness and transparency about membership figures, compared to the Tories or Labour parties locally, the LibDems claim 450 “members and supporters” (our italics; we suspect the distinction is deliberate, and significant) in Croydon, while the Greens state that after a recent “surge”, they now have 236 members, up from 76 in just 12 months.
Hague and Morley seem likely to be contesting third place in the Selhurst by-election. Croydon Council has been a Tory-Labour duopoly since 2006, the last time that there was solitary LibDem councillor at the Town Hall.
“Croydon Council needs an alternative, desperately,” Hague said.
She expresses the widespread and gathering frustration with the Labour administration at the Town Hall: “We have watched with amazement how Labour councillors campaigned against an incinerator in opposition and now they are in power, they sanction it. They stated they had no intention of closing Purley swimming pool if elected in 2014, and now in power threaten to close it. And how they called for a moratorium on new developments in London Road in ward election hustings last year, and now in power they carry on developing.
“Voters must be wondering what the difference is between Labour and Conservative. We need some other colours in the Town Hall so residents are listened to,” Hague said, in a message that might, on examination, be worryingly similar to that put forward by UKIP.
Morley has lived in Croydon for 40 years, and we are told he has worked in publishing, volunteered with the Salvation Amy’s soup run, and is a qualified pilot as well as being an accomplished musician. The LibDems failed to state how either of these latter two, admirable, qualities are in any way relevant to the voters of Selhurst.
But Morley is agin houses being allowed to stand empty, and he is in favour of there being more jobs, saying “we need to encourage business to invest”. So nothing with which anyone could possibly take issue. Though it is hardly anything to distinguish what he has to offer over, say, the LibDems’ coalition partners, the Conservatives, for whom Tirena Gunter is the candidate in Selhurst.
Hague has previous council election experience, having most recently sought office at the 2014 Town Hall elections, when the Addiscombe mother of two stood in the Tory Croydon South ward of Croham, which appeared to be the focus of the Greens’ 2014 campaign in Croydon.
Hague was one of three candidates in that ward, alongside the local party’s other leadership figures, Shasha Khan and Gordon Ross. There, she did the best of the Greens, splitting the three LibDem candidates, but still only finishing ninth, behind the Tory and Labour candidates, one UKIP and the leading LibDem. She attracted the votes of 515.
Morley, who lives in South Norwood, stood for the LibDems in Thornton Heath last May, when he finished 13th, trailing two UKIP candidates. With 134 votes, he was not even the leading LibDem candidate in that ward election.
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