WALTER CRONXITE sorts through the assortment of candidates from the eco-friendly party who want to have a blazing row over Sutton’s incinerator
There will be no “progressive alliance” in Croydon at next month’s General Election, after the Green Party announced a full slate of candidates for the borough’s three seats, and for the two in neighbouring Sutton.
The “progressive alliance” – also known as Caroline Lucas’s sweetheart deal to hold on to the Greens’ lone seat in Parliament – is the concept by which political parties to the left of centre co-operate to avoid splitting the anti-Tory vote in a constituency.
It was used to some effect at the Richmond Park by-election last year, when the Green candidate stood aside and LibDem Sarah Olney gained the seat which had previously been held by Tory Zac Goldsmith. The quid pro quo is expected to be LibDem non-appearance in Lucas’s Brighton Pavilion seat.
But there have been recriminations across south-west London, not least in the Sutton and Croydon Green Party, which has been fighting against the FibDem-controlled council in Sutton for almost a decade over its Viridor incinerator.
The protests of Green-aligned independent councillor Nick Mattey saw him reproached by Lucas, probably because his complaints could have jeopardised the deal which will see the FibDems. Mattey has quit the Greens in disgust, but the Beddington North councillor is standing in the General Election in Carshalton and Wallington to oppose the sitting MP, LibDem Tom Brake, on his record over the incinerator.
The Greens have never won any elected office in local elections in Sutton or Croydon, though in 2015 their candidate in Croydon Central, Esther Sutton, polled 1,454 votes – which had they been added to Labour’s tally would have been more than enough to oust sitting Conservative MP, Gavin Barwell. As it was, Barwell held on to his seat by 165 votes from Labour’s Sarah Jones.
On June 8, with the polls still putting Labour well behind the Tories, Jones will need every vote she can muster if she is to unseat Barwell at the second attempt.
There had been no denial offered by senior Green Party members over the past fortnight when they were asked whether they would consider recycling (geddit?) their votes in an anti-Barwell election pact, but today, Inside Croydon was contacted by one Green member who suggested that, “There is still a slim chance of Greens standing aside in Croydon Central, but I fear this won’t be happening.”
Overnight, Tracey Hague was named as the party’s candidate in Croydon Central. Hague was the Green candidate in Croydon and Sutton for the London Assembly in 2016, and is thought to be one of the local party’s members who take a firm line against any notion of electoral pacts.
“People are crying out for a new kind of politics,” Hague said today, sounding as if she had borrowed a page from the Jeremy Corbyn notebook.
“Everyone is fed up of the country being run for the benefit of bankers, media moguls, and property developers. Only the Green Party is working for the benefit of everyone: tackling inequality, filthy air, a struggling transport network and a broken housing system.”
The Greens’ candidate selections in Sutton see Shasha Khan standing in Carshalton and Wallington.
Khan is the activist who led the Stop The Incinerator campaign and took the fight with Sutton Council all the way to the High Court, placing his family home on the line as a consequence. Khan will be taking on Tom Brake, who is defending a slender 1,500-vote majority against an onslaught from four anti-incinerator candidates.
“Carshalton and Wallington needs an MP who will stand up for you, especially when the chimneys start emitting lead, arsenic and harmful nanoparticles all over the constituency,” said Khan, whose performances in election hustings meetings alongside Brake may prove to be among the highlights of what is otherwise looking like a pretty dull, predictable campaign.
Khan is standing as a candidate in the local elections in Surrey, though his candidacy for the General Election may indicate that he is not too confident about his prospects at the ballot box today.
The Greens’ candidates in other constituencies are Peter Underwood in Croydon North, the seat held by the former Progress vice-chair, Steve Reed OBE.
Underwood is a former civil servant who used to write speeches for Labour’s Malcolm Wicks when the fondly remembered former MP for the constituency was a minister in the Department for Work and Pensions.
Underwood must be hoping that he will do better on June 8 than his colleague Khan managed when he stood at the 2015 General Election, finishing fourth behind Winston McKenzie and UKIP and losing his deposit.
In Croydon South, the uber-safe Tory seat held by Chris Philp, the Green candidate is Catherine Shelley, an ordained vicar and trained lawyer who was previously a Labour councillor in Brighton.
Shelley, who had to get dispensation from the Church of England to stand in the election, said, “Recent governments have not delivered a society that works for everyone; we need a fresh vision. I believe that vision, backed by serious policies, comes from the Green Party. I believe I can match vision with action.”
In Sutton and Cheam, the Green candidate is Claire Jackson-Prior, a resident in the constituency who is also a member of the Keep Our St Helier Hospital campaign. This is the first time she has been selected as an election candidate.
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