It’s that time in the football season when “squad players” and those who the manager doesn’t rate and wants to put in the shop window in the hope of getting some transfer interest get a bit of a run-out in the FA Cup or in fixtures up against some lesser opposition.
And so, it seems, the same applies in the suburban debating circuit, where a couple of seemingly less-well-regarded local politicians have been given the shout off the substitutes’ bench for tonight’s Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society event.
Proposing the motion “The number of MPs should be halved” – an intriguing prospect in Croydon, which has three MPs; who might get the chop? – will be Ian Payne, a member of the debating society, a resident of Coulsdon and formerly a Labour councillor for Upper Norwood, while opposing it will be Andrew Pelling.
For Pelling, a Labour councillor from Waddon who was previously the leader of the Tory group on Croydon Council, a London Assembly Member and Croydon Central MP, the 30-minute run-out in this February debate will compare very favourably to his limited opportunities in the Town Hall chamber. So far, in his two years since being elected as a Labour representative, Pelling has been allowed to speak for a grand total of six minutes.
With both speakers being Labour, and Croydon’s Labour council doing its very best to antagonise Coulsdon residents through its unenlightened neglect of the area, it is likely that both will be listened to with a good deal of scepticism by the locals.
Recent examples of local social media comments on Labour leader Tony Newman’s council team include: “Moronic council” and “Top class clowncil”.
Labour came fourth in the local elections in Coulsdon East in 2014. This lack of a following may be one of the reasons why Newman feels so disinterested in Coulsdon.
Tonight’s debate starts at 8pm at the Old Coulsdon Centre for the Retired (though not necessarily “the retired politicians”), Grange Park, Coulsdon Road, Coulsdon CR5 1EH. There will be tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits at half-time. Members of the audience are encouraged to speak in the debate.
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