John Cartwright also publicly admitted that to “register a protest”, he voted for Sian Berry, the Green Party candidate, as his first preference for London Mayor.
Sadiq Khan, the Labour candidate, was the overwhelming winner of Thursday’s election for London Mayor, while Goldsmith’s campaign faded in the final days amid widespread acrimony over its divisive approach in trying to characterise his rival, a Muslim, as an “extremist”.
Cartwright is probably better known to Croydon voters as “John Loony”, who for many years was a regular deposit-loser when standing in all forms of elections for the Monster Raving Loony Party. And then he was warmly welcomed by the Conservatives.
During the London elections campaign, Steve O’Connell, the Tories’ candidate for the London Assembly in Croydon and Sutton, was challenged to distance himself from the unacceptable elements of the Goldsmith campaign. O’Connell maintained his silence throughout, and was duly elected.
With the notable exception of Sayeeda Warsi, the former Tory Party chair, most senior Conservatives condoned the unsavoury conduct by maintaining a stony silence about the nastier aspects of the Goldsmith campaign until polling day.
Local Conservative MP Gavin Barwell – who never intervened while the divisive campaign was trawling the depths of divisiveness – jumped on the hindsight bandwagon only yesterday to register belated reservations, stating that Goldsmith is “one of the least tribal politicians”, and admitting that “our campaign alienated some and we need to recognise that”. This from a man who won his last election by 165 votes and received campaign funding from local Tamil groups.
In a display of party discipline and loyalty to its leadership which ought be an example to other political groups, Cartwright, too, held back on expressing his thoughts until it was too late to be highlighted and potentially impact the vote.
But once the polls closed, Cartwright wrote on the Vote UK online politics forum: “Zac Goldsmith’s campaign was offensive, patronising, off-putting, negative and pathetic with its religious and racial profiling and insinuations about Sadiq Khan… If his campaign was so pathetic, I have concerns about his ability to administer and make executive decisions as Mayor of London.
“I have felt great reluctance and some resentment about the fact that I was ‘supposed to’ vote for Zac Goldsmith, just because I happen to be a member of the Conservative Party, and for weeks I have been struggling with my decision about how to vote.”
Throughout the weeks before the election, Cartwright’s Conservative colleagues were out canvassing, distributing election leaflets, effectively trying to persuade the people of Croydon to vote #BackZacAndCrack.
Cartwright’s homily continued: “On the one hand, I wanted to express my dissatisfaction with Zac’s campaign, but on the other hand I was not prepared to accept the premise of suggesting that Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan were equally bad. Saying ‘they’re both as bad as each other’, and abstaining or spoiling a ballot paper is a cop-out which for me is not a realistic option.”
Cartwright then signalled how his political party in Croydon is dominated by a single individual, his fellow Trinity School Old Boy, as he wrote with apparent fondness: “I have also become increasingly conscious of the fact that I am de facto a member of the Gavin Barwell Party, not the Zac Goldsmith Party.”
Cartwright laid out six options for how he might have voted, including: “(f) Vote for Zac Goldsmith, but write a message saying ‘This is a vote for Zac Goldsmith even though he is a pathetic nauseating twit’.”
Conservative Party member Cartwright disclosed that he voted for the Greens, with Goldsmith only as a second option. Green candidate for Mayor Sian Berry did speak out against Goldsmith’s divisive campaign well ahead of polling day.
Cartwright has broken Tory Party ranks in the past, most notably in Croydon Town Hall when he described Eddy Arram – a Conservative councillor and a Barwell constituency aide – as the borough’s worst ever mayor.
Over the weekend, Cartwright has supplemented his post-polls commentary by saying of the Goldsmith campaign, “If the campaign was so nasty, with the ridiculous racial stereotyping about Hindus, and the Islamophobic slurs against Sadiq Khan, then that implies that he wasn’t really in control of the campaign as he should have been, and was either too weak or too dim to put his foot down and stop the negative stuff. If he can’t do that, then perhaps he can’t administer things and manage people in the way that a Mayor should…
“By the end of the campaign I had already got to the stage where I was instinctively groaning whenever he appeared on TV.
“He may be a good MP and he may actually care about the Heathrow issue, but I don’t think he will ever be able to get away from the damage done to his reputation from the appalling campaign. To be honest I don’t care what he does next, as long as I don’t have to see him on the TV.”
* – This article has been updated to reflect more accurately John Cartwright’s position within the local Tory Party, and to amend its account of his non-activity in the Mayoral campaign.
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