Politics correspondent KEN LEE has been searching for signs of an election campaign in Croydon South, and has been disappointed
Have you seen the woman in the photograph above?
Based in Gipsy Hill in Lambeth, she is believed to have been sighted in parts of the South Croydon parliamentary constituency in recent weeks.
Just not very often, and not for very long.
If you happen to see her, please contact the Croydon South Labour Party urgently, and remind them that there’s an election on June 8…
Here at Inside Croydon Towers, we do dull things such as collect political campaign literature, from across the borough. So far, we’ve seen a large leaflet from Chris Philp, the Tory candidate in Croydon South, which is full of his views about local issues and some bold claims, some a little exaggerated with a hefty dose of immodest hyperbole, telling potential voters what he has done for Croydon since parachuting in two years ago to become Conservative MP.
It’s probably fair to say that Philp’s done more in two years for Croydon South than his predecessor, Tricky Dicky Ottaway, managed in 22. Though we’re still waiting for Philp to follow-through on his demand for Southern Railways effectively to be re-nationalised and handed over to TfL. Can’t imagine why he’s gone so quiet on that of late…
Philp’s Twitter feed and emails to residents tend to show busy campaigning mainly in the leafy Tory heartlands around Coulsdon and Purley, though there have been sightings elsewhere, too, as he has gone to some pains not to take the voters for granted, even though he enjoyed a 17,140-vote majority in 2015.
Philp’s out knocking on doors and listening to residents on the high streets. Philp’s leaflet informs residents about Mayday and Purley hospitals, Southern Rail, the Purley Tower, Purley Pool, Lion Green Road car park, free one-hour parking in Coulsdon and Croydon’s economy.
So what of the main party of opposition, Labour, in Croydon South? Two years ago, Labour increased its vote in Croydon South when the candidate was The Hon Emily Benn, the daughter of a hereditary earl, whose mother sits, all be-titled and the epitome of entitlement and privilege, on the board of the owners of three large private schools, the Whitgift Foundation.
So presumably, Labour will be all fired-up and ready to chip away at Philp’s majority, backed up with the fervour of a successful manifesto launch this week.
Yet so far, we’ve received nothing.
The views of the candidate, who was chosen by Labour’s NEC, remain a mystery. What would she do about the rail service for the commuters of Coulsdon? Does she support the local baptist church’s desire to build a community centre and flats on a blighted brownfield site in Purley?
One month into the General Election campaign, and no one knows.
We understand that the candidate’s name may be Jennifer Brathwaite. She is a councillor in Lambeth for Gipsy Hill ward.
The candidate’s Twitter feed suggests that she has visited Croydon South at least twice. In two weeks.
Her virtue-signalling social media pictures only show Brathwaite out canvassing in Waddon, nowhere else in the constituency which stretches all the way towards the southern limits of Greater London.
So far this month, as “election fever” has gripped the nation, Brathwaite has found nothing to say via social media about Croydon. She has, though, had plenty to say on Twitter about Lambeth: road safety on Kings Avenue in Clapham, Lambeth skills training, a new post at Lambeth HealthWatch, the Greens allegedly not attending a Lambeth council meeting about air quality, the Blooming Lambeth Awards and the Lambeth Equality Commission.
But nothing on Croydon. She’s not even managed to update her Twitter profile to announce the fact that she is a Labour Party General Election candidate. It’s almost as if she’s ashamed, or reluctant.
There are still three weeks for Brathwaite to show that she has some kind of interest in the seat she has put herself forward to represent in Parliament. She will be expected to venture as far south as Purley on June 1, when Christ Church is staging a Croydon South election hustings with the other candidates.
But if she shows as much disinterest in Croydon South in the next 21 days as she has demonstrated in the past fortnight, then it might be fair to assume that many of the 14,308 electors who voted Labour in Croydon South in 2015 may adopt a similar degree of disinterest and not even bother to go to the polling stations on June 8.
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