March 31 this year will be the 50th anniversary of the 1966 General Election, when Harold Wilson’s Labour enjoyed a landslide victory over the Conservatives.The BBC has been marking the occasion with a day-long transmission of their election night coverage from half a century ago, when among the key election issues were immigration, Labour’s management of the economy and Britain’s membership of Europe’s Common Market. Sound familiar?
Allowed to pass almost unremarked in the marathon broadcast was the Conservative win of the safe Tory seat of Bromley, where John Hunt enjoyed a near-10,000 vote majority over Labour’s Donald Speakman…
Yes, the very same Donald Speakman who has been a Tory councillor in Purley for the last 14 years.
According to the Croydon Conservatives’ website, “Donald has, for many years, been enthusiastically involved in the life and development of Purley.”
But they don’t mention that for many years before that “entusiasm” for Purley, Speakman had been a Labour Party parliamentary candidate and was also a long-standing Labour councillor alongside the likes of “Red” Ted Knight and Ken Livingstone on the radical Lambeth Council.Of course, Speakman is not alone among Croydon Tories in having a “colourful” political background: his Croham colleague, Maria Gatland, was once a gun-smuggling active member of the Provisional IRA.
Given Speakman’s socialist background in a Town Hall which was famous for fighting to preserve council jobs and residents’services, he may find it confusing to be watching, from the Tory benches, Croydon’s Labour administration axing jobs and services.
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