One thing which the past week confirmed: all three of Croydon’s MPs are gaffe-prone.
Following in Gavin Barwell’s footsteps, the borough’s two newest MPs managed to put their Size 9s in it big time, one undermining an important speech in the Commons, while the other was taken down several pegs live on television news.
Steve Reed OBE is the Progress MP who has never lived in his own constituency, preferring to move to a near-£1million house in the Shirley Hills. Last week, he demonstrated that his grasp of local geography a little further afield is also shaky when he “moved” Tunbridge Wells to Surrey during his speech on local authority funding.
Not to be outdone, Croydon South’s new Tory MP Chris Philp got a harsh lesson in what makes “car crash TV” when he went on Channel 4 News on Friday night.
Philp had agreed, perhaps unwisely, to do the interview remotely, “down the line”, from his constituency, while Will Self, the author and radical thinker – as well as a one-time contributor to Inside Croydon – was in the ITN studio with presenter Matt Frei, outlining why handing over publicly owned open spaces to speculators and developers is a bad idea.
Philp, being a developer himself, appears to think that allowing private interests to acquire public property is a good thing. But for some reason, Philp forgot to mention his own private business interests that might, just might, colour his position in all this.
And Self pounced.
The resulting demolition ought to be used as an object lesson for those elected politicians who try to disguise their own interests.
Watch and learn, Chris Philp:
As the Daily Mirror described it: “The toe-curling exchange saw Mr Self take Croydon South MP Chris Philp to task on a debate on privately owned public spaces.
“When asked by the presenter of the show about privately owned public spaces, Mr Philp said he had no problem with big businesses buying up parks and open spaces in London. As he spoke, Mr Self cut in and challenged the politician – saying to him: ‘You would say that – isn’t this how you made your wad?'”
From elsewhere in the studio, co-presenter Cathy Newman tweeted that Self “monstered” Philp.
As the item continued, Self accused Philp of being a “totaliser”.
“What does that mean?” the MP asked, sounding a little hurt.
Self said: “That’s what you do: you alienate space, that’s your job. Of course you approve of it.”
And to think that they never even mentioned the Public Space Protection Order – PSPO – which a Labour-run Croydon Council is proposing to impose on a vast swathe of the town centre, which will have the effect of “privatising” the public space around what is now the Whitgift Centre by allowing private security guards to enforce special by-laws and restrictions.
This, apparently, is all for the benefit of Westfield and Hammerson, the multi-billion-pound developers who have promised to build a nice new shopping centre. If they ever get round to starting it, that is.
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