Who might be the likely runners if Croydon were to reform the governance of the borough on its head and bring in a directly elected mayor? Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, considers some likely, and less-likely, candidates
This is, of course, far from an exhaustive list, and there’s much water to flow under the Flyover before the people of Croydon are given any real choice over who gets to lead the council as the borough’s directly elected mayor.
But this brief exercise may give you some idea of the sort of choices which may be put to the borough’s voters. Careful what you wish for…
GAVIN BARWELL (Con)
Soon to be redundant from his current £150,000 per year cushy job as chief of staff to Prime Minister Theresa Mayhem, and with enough of a damaged reputation within his own party to be unlikely to win selection for another parliamentary seat, the former MP for Croydon Central would be, it is fair to suggest, the nightmare candidate for Labour in Croydon.
The position of directly elected mayor for Croydon might then be the lifeline that political opportunist Barwell’s flagging career might need – which also explains why some of his closest friends, such as his gobby factotum, Mario Creatura, seem so keen on the idea.
But if Barwell is too toxic for the likes of the Beckenham Conservative Association, after his failures as a minister over the Grenfell fire disaster and for his Remain instincts in a post-Brexit Britain, might he be too toxic for his home borough, too?
Cronxite’s chances of success: 6/10
TONY NEWMAN (Lab)
Surely, Blairite Newman will only get to stand for the new top job if the local Labour Party is determined to lose the vote. It is Newman, almost single-handedly, who has created the disquiet and mounting distrust of the Labour-run council which has led to residents’ moves to bring in a directly elected mayor.
As council leader since 2014, his second spell in the role, Newman’s Mafiosi approach to local government, doling out allowances to his favourites in the Labour group at the Town Hall, and therefore shoring up his own position.
Aside from presiding over Council Tax increases and secretive wage rises for himself and other councillors, a succession of broken election promises and a lack of accountability has made Newman and his clique increasing unpopular – especially over planning issues, where Newman’s best friend Paul Scott has been given free rein.
Cronxite’s chances of success: 1/10
IAN WRIGHT (Independent)
Might the former Palace goal-scoring hero turned TV pundit be the kind of “Wright knight”, independent candidate which the residents’ associations backing the directly elected mayor move so earnestly crave, to escape the grip of the party political system.
Unlike his former England teammate, Sol Campbell, Wright has never expressed any ambition to move into politics, nor has he used social media to express his political views so blatantly as his BBC Match of the Day colleague, Gary Lineker.
But Wright has a home in the borough, is independently wealthy and so has less need of a “party machine” to support any bid, and has a massive store of goodwill from football fans (ok, maybe not Spurs supporters) and the public. Stranger things have happened…
Cronxite’s chances of success: 7/10
VAL SHAWCROSS (Labour)
Still regarded by many, from the Conservative Party as well as her Labour colleagues, as the best council leader Croydon has ever had, Shawcross is the kind of political figure whose reputation is relatively unsullied by the Rotten Boroughs-style conduct of her successors.
She was a councillor for New Addington from 1994 to 2000, when she stepped down after being elected to the first London Assembly, where she served until 2016. It was after that that she was appointed by Sadiq Khan as his deputy mayor for transport, a position she retired from last year.
Shawcross has taken a big step back from mainstream politics, and has not sought election to parliament since being cruelly denied selection by Labour for Croydon North in 2012. But still living in the north of the borough, might one last job, serving her fellow residents, be enough to lure her out of retirement?
Cronxite’s chances of success: 8/10
WINSTON McKENZIE (Who knows?)
He always stands.
He always loses.
After having stood for election for half a dozen different parties, and then setting up his own party, and being a serial loser of his election deposit, “Chump” has been a little quiet of late, especially since leaving UKIP.
He did once win an election when he was first to be voted off a rather lacklustre series of “Celebrity” Big Brother (the producers were so desperate for participants, even Z-lister McKenzie was on it, for goodness sake), when the British public saw through his bigoted views. At this stage, McKenzie is the candidate listed here most likely to run for the directly elected mayor of Croydon, and the most likely to lose.
Cronxite’s chances of success: 0/10
JOHN LOONY (Official Monster Raving Loony Party)
Croydon’s elections have lacked a certain pizazz since the former Trinity School pupil John Loony decided to go legit and sign-up as a fully paid-up member of the Gavin Barwell Fan Club as John Cartwright and defect to the Conservatives, for whom he has been a loyal leaflet-deliverer ever since.
As a Loony, Cartwright added colour and another box to put a cross in on the ballot paper, something which he’d no doubt be reluctant to do were his political hero, gaffe-prone Barwell, was among the runners. But if he were to get his somewhat smelly, moth-eaten scarlet coat out of storage for one last time, Loony’s campaign could put into context the political stance of some of his rivals.
Cronxite’s chances of success: 2/10
There may, of course, be others who will throw their hats in the ring.
Once they do so, Inside Croydon will be sure to let you know…
- Under The Flyover – The Inside Croydon Podcast: Episode 1, Mark Butcher on music, racism and Ashes cricket. Listen here
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