Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, on the latest instance of jobs for the boys and girls
So this is how the Tories fix the unemployment figures: they hand out jobs for the boys (and girls) to their old mates.
Jason Cummings, the deputy leader of the Tory group at Croydon Town Hall, has taken a job with… the Conservative Party.
This afternoon, Cummings refused to deny to Inside Croydon that his new role would be at Conservative Central Office, where his old boss, Gavin Barwell, used to hold sway and still carries some influence.
Cummings’ appointment brings the total to four of leading Croydon figures who have found work in Downing Street or with the Conservative Party since Barwell lost his Croydon Central parliamentary seat at the General Election and was taken on as Theresa May’s Chief of Staff.
Three of those four appointees are – or were – Tory Croydon councillors.As one observer put it, “Clearly, the Tories are turning to Croydon because it has such outstandingly gifted local politicians to call upon. Or maybe it is just jobs for the boys and girls.”
Cummings was at pains to point out this afternoon that, despite speculation among his Conservative colleagues at the council over the Christmas period that he might have to resign his seat, his new role will not prevent him continuing as deputy leader of the Tory group or standing at the local elections in May.
Cummings’ declaration of interests on the council website has not been updated recently (through no fault of his – the council’s not very good at keeping its public records up to date). “For the record,” Cummings said, “my new declaration (when they put it up) simply states that I work for the Conservative Party, which I have in various roles for eight years.
“Still standing in elections and still deputy leader,” he noted.
Cummings’ previous experience, before he enjoyed the political patronage of a job in his MP’s office, was as a store manager in Woolworths. Presumably there are some transferable skills from being in charge of the Pick ‘n’ Mix that are much-needed in the Conservative Party.
It had taken Cummings and his group leader, Tim Pollard, nearly two weeks to respond to Inside Croydon’s enquiries about the new role.
Our questions were prompted by some real concerns aired among their colleagues within the Tory group on the council that Cummings may be unable to continue as a councillor.
Asked to clarify what his role might be, the councillor for Heathfield ward declined to answer, saying that it was “internal party stuff”.
“All my declarations are in order,” Cummings said.
There had been some suggestion that Cummings’ new job might see him have to stand down from the council.
Sara Bashford recently stood down as a Croydon councillor after she got a job in the Cabinet Office. She had been Barwell’s constituency office manager until she lost her job when he lost the election. Bashford, who was promoted beyond her abilities to be a deputy leader of the Tory group, had to give up her £20,000 per year council allowances because of the politically restricted nature of her new job.
Another No10 recruit from Croydon Council is Mario Creatura, who is also a former Barwell parliamentary staffer. As a SpAd, or Special Advisor, official guidance for Civil Servants suggests that Creatura may be very tightly constrained as a councillor on what matters he may debate or vote on in the council chamber.
Like Bashford, Cummings had been out of work since the summer as a consequence of his then boss, Barwell, losing his parliamentary seat.
And given that Woolworths are no longer in business in this country, it’s just as well someone put in a good word for Cummings with the Tory Party…
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