Mario Creatura, the Croydon Conservative councillor who has been over-promoted from being a Tory MP’s bag-carrier to become the Prime Minister’s Twitterer-in-chief, was forced to delete a tweet from his own account yesterday after he made false accusations about the work of Croydon Central’s Labour MP Sarah Jones and her constituency staff.
It was another full-blast shot in his own foot from the error-prone Coulsdon Town councillor.
Creatura was taking pot-shots at other public servants’ work rates. Yet this petulant little outburst comes just days after it was announced that Creatura and his part-time council colleagues have abandoned holding regular monthly ward surgeries for the Coulsdon residents they are (well-)paid to serve.
In what is supposed to be his day job, Creatura receives a salary out of public funds of up to £70,000 a year to be Theresa May’s digital special adviser, a cushty position he was handed last November by his former boss, Gavin Barwell, now No10’s chief of staff (and isn’t he doing a fine job of that?!).
Yesterday, clearly with too much time on his hands, Creatura was indulging himself in his usual habit of petty political point-scoring.
Demonstrating a remarkable facility for being able to use a pocket calculator, Creatura highlighted the content of leaflets distributed by Jones’s office which reported figures for enquiries from residents.
In barely 280 characters, Creatura contrived to make a false assumption and got his facts wrong. Not bad for a highly paid official in the shambles that passes for the Tory Government.
Creatura’s tweet said: “In her latest leaflet @LabourSJ proudly boasts of having had 786 ‘overall’ enquiries in her first year. That’s just two per day. Only 261 were requests for help. Sarah has four members of staff. There are 76,980 electors in Croydon Central. Would you be boasting if you were her?”
Creatura’s first error was in assuming that these were constituency-wide numbers, when they were not. That mistake, at least, was because the leaflet was aimed at a particular ward, though this was not entirely clear in its drafting.
Creatura’s second mistake was simply laziness, for failing to check his facts.
In Jones’s first year-and-a-bit as MP for Croydon Central, the number of cases dealt with by her staff across the constituency has been 6,962.
The amount of correspondence sent or received in relation to those cases is more than 14,000.
Creatura may also wish to note that the constituency which used to pay his wages has an electorate of 86,000, or around 10,000 more than he claimed.
Puffed up with his own self-importance, after his first tweet, Creatura ploughed on, into more dangerous territory.
“Given Sarah refuses to help with immigration casework, you have to wonder what her and her four members of staff actually do for Croydon residents,” Creatura smarmed.
When Jones and others responded, angrily, to this tweet, saying that the allegation about immigration casework was a false smear, Barwell’s erstwhile gobby fac totem hastily deleted it.
“We have dealt with hundreds of immigration cases,” Jones responded, “not least Windrush constituents. I have staff with over 10 years’ experience, including a former immigration paralegal. Do not question my staff’s work ethic and dedication to the constituents of Croydon Central.”
Creatura, though, has failed to apologise.
Creatura has also left himself open to accusations of rank hypocrisy.
Only last week, a local residents’ association found itself obliged to issue a notice to explain how Creatura and his fellow Tory councillors, Luke Clancy and Ian Parker, “are no longer holding regular surgeries”.
The Coulsdon West Residents’ Association announced that the councillors will instead “meet by appointment and will visit residents homes or arranged location if need be”.
Margaret Bird and Steve Hollands, Creatura’s party colleagues in Coulsdon’s other ward, Old Coulsdon, meanwhile will continue with the more conventional mode of engaging with locals, by sitting in a Guide Hut for one Saturday morning most months to hear residents’ concerns. Indeed, it is what 67 of Croydon’s 70 councillors do, as they cope with what is reportedly an ever-rising load of casework.
Creatura tops up his state salary with a handy £18,344 in “special responsibility allowances” from Croydon Council for representing Coulsdon Town, a ward for which he can’t even be bothered to organise or attend a monthly surgery.
A Conservative Party source at the Town Hall confides, “Their excuse is that it was a complete waste of their time, with no one turning up.
“And if someone did turn up, it was usually only Peter Morgan…”.
Instead of ward surgeries, then, the Coulsdon Town councillors intend to stand around once a month at a street stall, as they did last Saturday. Which is probably less useful for residents with confidential issues over benefits, schools and health care which they’d like to discuss discreetly, while being far better to promote the cult of Creatura to unsuspecting shoppers on the high street.
It can only be mere coincidence that the Conservatives will soon be selecting their new candidate to stand in Croydon and Sutton at the next London Assembly elections.
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