WALTER CRONXITE reports on the colourful political past of a Tory candidate for next year’s council elections
There must be local elections coming up, because some very peculiar wannabe councillors are beginning to crawl out of the woodwork ahead of the May 2018 Town Hall votes. In the case of one young Tory candidate, they are even demanding that the government uses anti-terror laws to stop the strikes on the railways.
Over in Sutton, where the Conservatives are the party of seemingly permanent opposition on the council, a recently created Twitter account has heralded the arrival of a candidate for the FibDem-held ward of Carshalton Central: Cameron David Alexander Penny.
Despite the obvious handicap in politics of those toxic first two names (in whatever order), Penny is obviously determined to raise his visibility within his newly found “home” borough. So he has quickly launched a campaign regarding a small patch of uneven tarmac on Westmead Road, located barely 10 metres inside the boundary of the ward he intends to contest next year.
Penny is typical Tory boy material: Oxford-educated, he has been working as a lobbyist for the finance industry with Hanover Communications, who describe him as providing “strategic communications counsel to government relations teams across the financial services sector”. His client list includes Goldman Sachs and Lloyds.
But in the usually staid and safe world of banking, Penny comes with some “radical” baggage, having written a string of articles in a personal capacity for the ConservativeHome website.
Recently, Penny has advocated that the Tory government should resolve the situation with the woeful service provided by Southern Rail in a manner reminiscent of 1930s Germany, using anti-terrorism legislation to ban the unions involved in the struggle for safe rail operations.
Penny said: “To deal with the crisis in our transport network, which now threatens to engulf the country, the government…. should state its intention to list ASLEF, the RMT and TSSA as proscribed organisations as per the terms of the Terrorism Act 2000.”
For such a youthful candidate, Cameron has a long history of association with controversial political issues. In his student days, he was supportive of the Oxford Union’s decision to give a platform to the anti-semitic holocaust denier David Irving (who is the subject of the current film Denial).
Penny also welcomed the invitation of the Union to the then BNP leader Nick Griffin and was even quoted in the Guardian: “Cameron Penny said it was quite appropriate to invite Griffin and Irving to speak. ‘We have got people all over the place and they are being blocked, harassed and jeered – it is quite incredible’.”
Judging by the online records of his student politics, Penny’s visible support of platforms for far-right extremists did him no favours when it came to elections for the Oxford Union. Standing as a candidate for the position of senior treasurer to the Union, records suggest that he failed to secure a single first preference vote, with the incumbent treasurer suggesting that in “….Cameron Penny we are essentially being offered an unreliable racist?”
Just as damning was the President of the Union’s summary: “The President accepts that Mr Penny may not be the best candidates” [sic].
Ten years on, and Penny continues to hold colourful views.
Last June, at the time of the EU Referendum, he took Remainarian insults to a new level saying: “At the top of the official and unofficial campaign groups what you are seeing is what happens when venomous people, united by a common constitutional fetishism, are thrust on to the public stage. It is a nasty, narrow and divided group…they [voters] will see the nastiness of those they are being asked to support, the narrowness of their interest and they will ponder whether such people, divided as they are, could ever be part of the future of this great country.”
Whatever your views about the merits of the direction in which the current Tory administration is taking the country, these are unusually strong words of condemnation for senior members of his own party.
And in a very thinly veiled side-swipe at the Sutton and Cheam Tory MP, Paul Scully, Penny made this sneery comment regarding post-Brexit immigration policy: “They bang on about the need to ‘control immigration’ whilst simultaneously claiming this is so they can open the door to thousands of vital workers such as curry house chefs.” Scully is chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on the curry catering industry and during the referendum campaign repeatedly argued that “Brexit” would return control of Britain’s borders and could allow more chefs from Asia to come to this country.
This must make for some awkward moments at those dreary Sutton Tory socials, especially if they happen to be held in the local curry house.
Still it’s early days in Penny’s political career in his recently adopted home borough, and he’s clearly determined to make an early start to his attack upon the Liberal Democrat citadel that is Carshalton Central.
His previous attempts at igniting a career in politics have met with little success. In 2008 he stood in the Oxford council ward of Jericho and Osney, coming third with 216 votes. In 2012 his attentions moved to Bow East where he was placed ninth.
Penny’s arrival in Sutton is likely to make the local political scene a little more colourful, though whether the residents of Carshalton Central will warm to his strident blusterings remains to be seen.
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