What does it say about the borough’s MPs and other elected politicians when they fail to make it on to an annual political listical which does manage to include a policy adviser and a grime star? WALTER CRONXITE reports
Three figures from Croydon have been included in an annual lists of the country’s most influential political figures – and not one of them is an MP or elected councillor.
Iain Dale, the Conservative-supporting LBC broadcaster, has been compiling his “Top 100 Most Influential of the Left/Right” for a decade.
His lists have no official status or real importance, but they help get the conversations flowing among those on the lists – and especially those not on the lists – at the more awkward receptions held at the party conferences.
With Sarah Jones having been elected as the Labour MP for Croydon Central for the first time in June’s General Election, her chances of making it on to Dale’s Left list were probably on the thin side. But the failure to make the top 100 of the Right must come as a bit of an embarrassment for Croydon South Tory Chris Philp after all the media whoring he has done around the studios, as he has peddled his supposed business “expertise” to gullible interviewers.
And no mention for Steve Reed OBE, five years since he became an MP for Croydon North. This may reflect how the former Lambeth council leader’s political career has gone into reverse since his part in the attempt to unseat Jeremy Corbyn as his party leader.
According to Dale, even Croydon rapper Stormzy is more influential than Reed.
Top-ranked Croydon figure, though, is Gavin Barwell, who was dragged from political obscurity to a position for which he is entirely unqualified when the interim Prime Minister made him her Downing Street Chief of Staff, after he lost his seat at the General Election.
“The most difficult thing when deciding who to include and exclude, is to define what ‘influence’ actually means,” Dale writes.
“It’s quite clear that this has been another year of change and surprise. Who would have predicted that Gavin Barwell, having lost his seat and ministerial position, would climb 63 places to No7?”
Dale has slotted Barwell on his Right list above Brexit bad boys Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, and he gushes about the failed MP by writing: “By common consent one of the nicest people in politics, he bounced back from losing his Croydon seat to replace Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill as the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff. He’s made it his business to be approachable and considerate and it is said that Downing Street is a happy place to work under his leadership. He is also said to speak truth unto power. Let’s hope he’s listened to.”
If that happens, the country may well be doomed.
The homage to Barwell reads as if it was penned by the subject themself (perhaps Barwell is from the Clare Balding school of journalism). Dale’s profile of Barwell reads like the fawning of a journalist dependent on a reliable source, written by someone who is not very good at disguising it.
Top-ranked Croydon figure of the Left, according to Dale, is erstwhile Inside Croydon columnist Andrew Fisher, who Dale slots in at No10 (ahh, if only that were true), a move of one place down from 2016.
This downward move seems a little odd, since Fisher, Corbyn’s chief policy adviser, is widely credited with drafting the “For the Many, Not the Few” Labour manifesto which has proved so popular with the public in 2017.
Of Fisher, Dale writes, with his usual inaccuracy, “Fisher has a controversial past…”, which is untrue, unless your journalism depends on raiding the cuttings library from the Daily Torygraph or being briefed by bitter Blairites such as The Hon Emily Benn, “but is very adept at imposing himself and his views. One of Corbyn’s most trusted lieutenants, he wrote the party’s election manifesto which was widely praised by all and sundry. He now has time to put some flesh on the policy bones.”
For Steve Reed, any frustration about how he is perceived will be deepened by Dale’s inclusion at No20 on the Left list of the man who beat him to his preferred Streatham parliamentary seat, Chuka Umunna.
Umunna has risen eight places since 2016, and Dale notes, “A redoubtable Remainer, his main objective is now to fight Brexit from a position sometimes out of kilter with his party’s.”
But the third Croydon figure in Dale’s rankings, in at No100 on the Left list, is rapper Stormzy.
It’s the only chart all year where Stormzy’s not been No1, and his inclusion at all may be a reflection of Dale trying to appear “hip” and “trendy” (he probably uses those very words), while not knowing any other figures from the Left of politics who he might include.
Thing is, some social media memes and leaflets mentioning Stormzy were credited with Barwell’s downfall in Croydon Central at the General Election in June. So maybe the Downing Street Chief of Staff had a hand in drafting more than one profile on Dale’s list.
Of Stormzy, the Tory commentator says, “Corbs’ favourite Grime artist. His support for the Labour leader helps him get down wiv da kidz.”
See. We told you Dale really thinks like that.
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