It’s a question which many Town Hall observers ask, but few manage to answer satisfactorily: just what does “Silent” Steve O’Connell do for the near-£80,000 a year he pockets from being a local councillor and London Assembly Member?
Well yesterday provided a possible explanation for one of the great mysteries of our time.
Because O’Connell, the former mortgage salesman-turned-Tory politician, instead of concentrating on his job of representing the residents of Kenley or overseeing the performance of the Metropolitan Police, decided to spend his valuable time providing an article about Crystal Palace Football Club for a Guildford-based small circulation newspaper.
It’s not the first time that O’Connell, despite his many public responsibilities, has offered up his football opinions in the Sadvertiser (and done so somewhat like a cat with a hair ball).
Now it’s no secret that Palace have been having their problems on the pitch lately, and manager Roy Hodgson would probably take any reasonable advice to get at least a point against London rivals West Ham this afternoon.
But is O’Connell really the best-placed person to offer it?
True, O’Connell should know the game inside-out, since he has seen a great amount of football in his time. Often, it’s at someone else’s expense, as he is a regular accepter of freebie tickets to Selhurst Park. Indeed, O’Connell’s even been known to accept ticket gifts from dodgy local businessmen who end up going to jail for fixing sports events.
And despite the generous wedge that O’Connell receives from City Hall and Croydon Town Hall, the Tory politician is never too proud to refuse hand-outs from charity – at least he has done by accepting a couple of tailor-made suits provided to him by the Crystal Palace For Life Foundation, where he is a trustee.
But O’Connell’s nickname of “Silent” Steve is well-deserved, because he rarely seems to say or do much on the matters for which he is handsomely paid.
As London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton, O’Connell has 500,000 people to represent. What do you mean, you didn’t know that Croydon even had a London Assembly Member?
As part of that task, O’Connell has to hold the Met to account at City Hall through the police committee on which he is supposed to be busy. In Croydon he is supposed to be shadowing Labour’s cabinet member Hamida Ali, and as a ward councillor he has Kenley residents to represent.
Has anyone actually noticed O’Connell fulfilling any of these responsibilities?
But he has got time to be a football pundit. Though judging by his brief column in the Sadvertiser this week, it’s fair to say he’s no Henry Winter.
According to O’Connell, his beloved Eagles are on a “rollercoaster”.
O’Connell’s punditry extends to observing that Julian Speroni, a fans’ favourite, is a bit on the short side for a Premier League goalkeeper. O’Connell recommends to Hodgson that he should pick Wayne Hennessy for today’s game.
Given what most Palace supporters have observed about the Wales international this season, it seems that “Silent” Steve’s football judgment is just as off-key with public opinion as his political stance.
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