There’s only one answer to that as far as the General Election candidates for the borough’s three constituencies are concerned. Two too safe seats, one marginal, and not a single colourful candidate among all of those declared.
Yesterday was the closing date for candidates to lodge their deposit and paperwork ahead of election day on May 7, and the official declaration documents can be seen here:
- Statement of Persons Nominated and Notice of Poll – Croydon South
- Statement of Persons Nominated and Notice of Poll – Croydon Central
- Statement of Persons Nominated and Notice of Poll – Croydon North
While neighbouring boroughs have Monster Raving Looneys, or candidates from the very worthy National Health Association, or the less serious Pirate Party, the Whig Party (yes!) and Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol Party, Croydon has… well, nothing much distracting at all.
Croydon’s General Election threatens to be very worthy, but very dull. Anyone who’s seen a Gavin Barwell TV interview will understand what we mean.
Because although 22 people have put themselves forward to be elected to a job which will pay three of them at least £64,000, plus generous exes, for a minimum term of five years, few among them could really be described as political star names, or deserve to be called eccentrics.
There will be a “Benn” on the ballot form in Croydon South, as we knew, though the Hon Emily Sophia Wedgwood Benn’s campaigning style is somewhat more subdued than her esteemed grandfather. Benn’s candidate forms were, unusually, backed up by no fewer than 30 nominators, including a large section of a single family.
Elsewhere, sure, the candidates include a trio of Greens, the Trades Union Coalitionists and Communists. All very worthy, but…
Croydon South’s Class War candidate – an oxymoronic anarchist entering the democratic fray – did just about manage to scrape together the 10 nominators from the constituency for his name to go forward. And of course, in Croydon North there’s Winston McKenzie, having survived attempts to de-select him, though many seem a little tired of his buffoonery schtick, not least his fellow Ukippers.
But beyond the usual Con-Lab ding-dong duopoly, there’s few distractions on offer.
It’s a couple of years now since perpetual Monster Loony John Cartwright bowed to the inevitable and heeded his calling to join the Conservative Party. Even our less-than-friendly local fascists of the National Front or BNP have opted not to waste their 500-quid deposits this time (this is not unique; it’s a repeat of a situation in 2005).
Maybe Croydon is becoming less tolerant of intolerance? Or perhaps the BNP’s happy to let UKIP bask in the far-right spotlight?
Rule changes mean that candidates no longer have to list their home address on the published declaration form, but enough still do to show that, come May 8, it is entirely possible that only one Croydon MP will actually be resident in their own constituency.
That will at least be a modest improvement on the situation in the 2010-2015 Parliament, when not one of the three – Steve Reed OBE, Gavin Barwell nor Sir Tricky Dicky Ottaway – bothered to find themselves a home alongside the people the were supposed to represent.
Barwell, the “Don’t Mention the Tories” candidate trying to defend the marginal Croydon Central seat, continues to live in his Sanderstead family home, which is in Croydon South. Which is something else which gaffe-prone Gav forgets to mention when seeking people’s votes.
Meanwhile Reed, the former Lambeth Council leader, has moved south into Croydon since his by-election victory in 2012. But not into his own constituency of Croydon North.
In January 2014, man-of-the-people Reed bought a very smart, four-bedroomed, three-reception roomed house on Shirley Church Road which had been on the market for £700,000.
The housing shortage which is fuelling the overheated London property market is not altogether a bad thing for some people: according to the Zoopla website, Reed’s house today could be worth £900,000.
Which leaves Ottaway’s successor, Chris Philp, the Tory candidate who has “inherited” a cosy, job-for-life 15,000 majority in Croydon South, as the only likely MP who will actually be living in his constituency. Philp must have bought a house in the constituency since being selected by a cabal of local Conservatives 18 months ago, but he has withheld his new address from the form, which merely advises “address in the Croydon South Constituency”.
Being a millionaire, at least Philp can afford it.
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