Inside Croydon has discovered another politician on the fiddle.
The Hon Emily Benn, Labour’s candidate in Croydon South, is playing her violin in a “campaign concert” this Sunday, April 26, presumably hoping to make sweet music for potential voters as she bids not to finish third in next month’s General Election, behind the LibDems and the Tory shoo-in for the parliamentary seat, Chris Philp.
Benn’s campaign hit a bum note even before it had begun – and not the fault of the councillor for West Thornton when her Labour colleagues on the council announced that they wanted to close Purley Pool, in the Croydon South constituency.
It has continued along its low-key path ever since, including a campaign launch which better resembled a family reunion, with Uncle Hilary making a speech and all.
And for all that Benn is very much part of the national and local establishment – her father is now, of course, the hereditary peer Lord Stansgate, while her mother, Nita Clarke, has a seat on the board of the Whitgift Foundation – this Labour candidate was a conspicuous absentee from a more mainstream election event last Sunday, when her party leader, Ed Miliband, visited Croydon.
Or was Benn’s absence just the latest sign that for Croydon Labour, the borough ends at the Swan & Sugarloaf, and nothing south of there really matters to Tony Newman and Steve Reed OBE?
It is fair to say that, as a Labour candidate in an unwinnable seat (for a second time), Benn is finding the going tough.
Benn continues to hold down her job in The City as an investment banker (radical, huh?) while trying to do some canvassing and hustings events, get in the occasional run and even practise her instrument.Then there’s the various manifesto launches which she has been working on: yesterday it was the disability manifesto and today the LGBT.
Her colleagues in the Croydon South constituency Labour Party are focusing much of their efforts in Waddon, the one South ward to turn red at last May’s council elections, with a view of building on that support-base.
A keen musician, following her election as a councillor last May, Benn’s own integration into Croydon’s Establishment will continue shortly when she is expected to be appointed to the board of the London Mozart Players, the classical ensemble which sometimes plays at the Fairfield Halls.
It might be best not to expect a performance to quite that standard at the free concert at Coulsdon Methodist Church this Sunday (doors open 6.30pm for 7pm start), when Benn will be joined on stage by members from two local orchestras.
“There’ll be music and a little bit of politics. Please feel free to bring neighbours, friends and family,” goes the blurb.
And apparently there’s no truth in the rumour that Benn’s political adversary, Chris Philp, will be making a special guest appearance, playing the buffoon.
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