Croydon councillors’ attempts to stand for parliament have in most cases been rejected, as our Town Hall correspondent, KEN LEE, reports
If there was any lingering doubt that many of our council’s politicians are in it for themselves and anything they can get out of their Town Hall roles, then please take a moment to consider the case of Councillor Jeet Bains.
Bains, the Tory councillor for Addiscombe East ward, was this week named as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Luton North.
No sooner had Bains transformed his social media profile from @cllrjeetbains to @JeetBains4Luton, than he also managed to block the majority, if not all, of his followers in Croydon. Twerp.
Bains was not immediately available this morning for comment, presumably too busy campaigning to become an MP in Bedfordshire. But Inside Croydon has it on good authority that Bains has made no application to Croydon Council to stop payment of his near-£1,000 in monthly Town Hall allowances for the duration of the General Election campaign.
After being de-selected from his safe council ward in Coulsdon, Bains managed to win his Addiscombe East council seat in May 2018 from Labour, so perhaps the Tory burghers in Luton are hoping he can pull off the same stunt for them.
Luton North is a Labour stronghold, with a 14,000-vote majority in 2017.
That, though, was with Kelvin Hopkins as Labour’s candidate. Brexit-supporting Hopkins was suspended from the Labour Party in 2017 after allegations of sexual misconduct. He has not sought re-selection, and Labour’s candidate is NEC member and union official Sarah Owen.
Bains is not expected to win, but at least he made it on to a parliamentary ballot paper, which is more than can be said for a handful of his councillor colleagues.
Jamie Audsley, Callton Young, Andrew Pelling and Alisa Flemming, from the Labour side of the Town Hall chamber, did not even manage to make it to any constituency shortlists.
Tory deputy leader in Croydon, Jason Cummings, the former Woolworths pic ‘n’ mix manager who made it all the way to becoming a special adviser to Theresa Mayhem on policy, was noted to be sniffing around in Caterham and Tandridge, parts of the East Surrey constituency where Sam Gyimah had created a vacancy by party-hopping over Brexit to the LibDems. Cummings didn’t make the cut either.
But the most egregious example of personal political career expediency among Croydon’s third-rate councillors must surely go to Gareth “Blubber” Streeter.
For months, Tory councillor Streeter has been spending as much time in Devon as he possibly could, claiming he was on family holidays or other similarly lame excuses, while buttering up the locals in the hope of being nominated as the Tory candidate to succeed Peter Heaton-Jones in the Tory-LibDem marginal of North Devon. It is the constituency that became notorious as that represented by dog-shooting Jeremy Thorpe.
Streeter – who works in communications for the Oasis religious academy schools chain – has tried to become an MP before, and failed miserably. In the 2015 General Election, he stood as the Conservative candidate in Rother Valley in South Yorkshire, finishing a blub-tastic third behind the incumbent MP Kevin Barron and the UKIP candidate.
The residents in Shirley North who elected Blubber to Croydon Council in 2018 would have been entitled to ask quite what relevance articles written by their local councillor and published by Conservative Home loftily entitled, “An intelligent spending review could halt the Liberal Democrats in their tracks in the South West”, had to do with their Council Tax and getting their bins emptied on time.
Streeter’s social media timeline became thick with references to the south-west of England, rather than the south of Croydon.”With an intentional and articulated vision for the South West,” Blubber tweeted on September 12, “we Conservatives can see off the threat from the LibDem’s[sic].” The use of the grocer’s apostrophe, from someone working for an academy chain, may not have impressed the pedants of Barnstaple.
“We can beat the LibDems in Devon. Here’s my thoughts on how,” Blubber tweeted as recently as November 2. Notably, that was just before Devon’s Tories were due to shortlist for their constituency selection…
For months, the younger Streeter’s social media profile had exhibited the chameleon tendancies of a wannabe politician on the make, betraying that his only real goal is his own career advancement to Westminster. “Devon born, bred and raised,” was added to his Twitter profile. It was accompanied by a photograph of a piece of beautiful coastline, somewhere hundreds of miles from the mean streets of Shirley North.
Blubber’s father, “Sir” Gary Streeter, is the Tory MP for South West Devon, but even that family connection failed to win over enough support for young Gareth.
And after last weekend, Streeter’s Twitter profile erased all references to Devon.
Streeter had not even been shortlisted for selection as a candidate in North Devon.
Suddenly, conveniently, where the Tory councillor was born, bred and raised was no longer of any importance, and he erased all reference from his social media biog. He was now back to being a councillor for Shirley North.
Although the Devon seaside picture remains in place. For now, at least, and until the next time when Blubber’s seeking selection somewhere else.
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