WALTER CRONXITE has staggered back from the Strangers’ Bar at Westminster, after he saw Croydon’s newest MP making his maiden speech
Chris Philp, elected last month as the new MP for Croydon South, finally got around to making his maiden speech in parliament yesterday. The delay wasn’t his fault. He’d hoped to have been called to get on his hind legs last week. It was just there were more important people with more important things to say that got in the way.You can read the Tory new boy’s speech in its entirety here.
Though unless you have issues in getting to sleep, allow us to save you five minutes of your life you’ll never get back by summarising the main points.
It was typical wannabe new boy stuff, straight from the Oxbridge debating society. A self-deprecatory, and unfunny, joke to open about the deputy speaker’s birthday, and age, was followed by the required fawning tribute to his self-serving and pretty useless predecessor as the constituency MP, including some nonsense about Tricky Dicky Ottaway’s dog. But not a mention of Ottaway’s disgracefully avaricious attitude towards claiming his MP’s expenses.
Fortunately for Philp the parachutist, someone had managed to teach him that Croydon South does actually comprise eight wards, and that it even extends beyond Purley and his new “neighbours” in Coulsdon – which is where, he seems keen to inform anyone who doesn’t ask, he has recently bought a house.
Philp has been active around Parliament in the past month, even before delivering his format-bound first speech, having lobbied rail minister Claire Perry to get a grip with Southern’s diabolical performance for Croydon commuters. This was something to which he referred in the speech. Time will tell whether Philp’s, and Perry’s, interventions with the privatised rail franchise-holders are effective, or just the usual lip-service.Maiden speeches are often used to display some deep affection or knowledge of the constituency into which MPs, such as Philp, have been parachuted. Philp had clearly had a researcher burning the midnight iPad to check through Wikipedia for the area’s history and Crystal Palace results from a quarter-century ago to provide the new MP with something to pass as bona fides. It was unconvincing, and lacked any real authenticity.
“I was brought up in the area,” Philp claimed, “and went to a local grammar school”, he continued, undermining his case, since the “local” grammar school he attended wasn’t even in the same borough and (if you are among the many who still refer to the pre-1965 boundaries by claiming an address of “Croydon, Surrey”), it wasn’t even in the same county, but in Kent.
A couple of local businesses got name-checked by Philp in the Commons – had Wing Yip or BSW Heating put up election posters in April or bunged a few quid into his election fund?
And then he trotted out his own rags-to-riches business story, with him cast as the straight-out-of-Oxbridge man-of-the-people delivery driver, though conveniently missing out all the messy bits about how these firms where he worked had left massive debts to creditors, matters with which Inside Croydon’s loyal reader will now be familiar. You can refresh your memory by clicking here.
On election day itself last month, Philp had spent some time to respond by email to some of the points raised in our article about his roles in those failed business ventures. Although he was invited to post his remarks as a comment to accompany our report, he has opted not to do so.
We’re happy to put his remarks into the public domain for him, with a few notes of our own [in square brackets].
- the Pluto business Montenegro (and also Serbia) simply develops property in those countries and nothing else, and hence is incorporated there. It has no financial/tax connection at all with the Pluto UK business and its existence therefore confers no tax advantage at all on the Pluto UK business [because the businesses are off-shored, it is very hard to be able to verify this independently]
- I co-founded Blueheath with Douglas Gurr in June 2000. We both served as directors (the only two executive directors) until July 2004 when it floated, and we were equal shareholders. I ran it day-to-day until Douglas joined full-time as CEO in June 2001. So [it] is categorically clear we set it up together. I was 24 at the time and he was about 40, hence he was the CEO from the point he joined full-time in June 2001. I left to do other new things just after the float and so stepped down as Director just before the float, as you saw from the listing doc [the document shows that Philp was not a director. He has not provided any documents from the period when he was, as he claims, a director]
- Blueheath was loss-making in the early years, like lots of fast-growing start ups were at the beginning (Google, Twitter etc). It was considered valuable enough to eventually to get bought by Booker the cash and carry group [The comparison with Google and Twitter is endearing, but also a little misleading. Blueheath was set-up to compete with Booker, and when the business failed, Booker stepped in and nabbed themselves a bargain]
- I ceased day-to-day involvement in Clearstone in November 2006. It was wound-up in June 2007. The staff and customers and business assets were taken on by a separate company that had I had nothing to do with whatsoever. Many of the liabilities recorded in the winding-up report (including crucially all money owed to customers) were taken on by the separate company. That went under nearly a year later, but by then all of the customers they inherited would have taken their courses [So Philp would have us understand that when he left Clearstone in November 2006, all was well with the firm, and that it only went to shit, and stiffed its clients and creditors, in the seven months after he left]
Yesterday, in the House of Commons, Chris Philp told Parliament: “People in Croydon South believe that hard work and enterprise are the best ways of combating poverty and promoting prosperity.”Philp mentioned that his grandfather had been a delivery driver in Peckham. He didn’t mention the name of the firm he drove for, which is maybe just as well, but you could hear the twang of tugging heart-strings in the chamber of the House of Commons as he continued to ply this line in old tosh.
Philp got his chance to make his maiden speech during a debate on housing. Unlike some Tory MPs with whom he now shares an office in Portcullis House (mention no names, eh, Gav?), the Croydon South new boy was quick to declare an interest – he has run a business, Pluto Finance, in which he pays himself a very generous salary for taking risks with other people’s money by investing in property. Or as the real Del Boy might have said, “Safe as ‘ouses, Rodnee!”
“Home ownership is a fundamentally good thing, which is why I fully support the extension of the right to buy,” Philp said. Which was just about the one substantive thing that Philp managed to contribute to the debate in his entire six-minute-long speech.
Philp’s speech was delivered without the slightest suggestion of Philp having any sense of guilt about flogging off Housing Association assets which the Tory Government doesn’t actually own, and which in Croydon alone could cost the public purse around £400 million. Cushty, as Del Boy used to say.
The spivocracy is alive and well and running the country.
- Taxing questions on business for Philp the parachutist
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