There’s no chance of the Green Party’s Croydon candidates running up any gas-guzzling air miles to get around their constituencies ahead of the General Election on December 12, as all three live and work in the areas they are seeking to represent.
But unlike elsewhere in London, where the Greens have joined a “Remain Alliance” to thwart Brexit-supporting candidates from winning in some marginal seats, the Greens have decided not to stand aside in Croydon Central. There, Labour Remainer Sarah Jones is being challenged by Brexit-backing Tory Mario Creatura.
In 2015, when the Tories won the seat by just 165 votes, the Greens polled 1,454 and their candidate then, as it will be next month, was Esther Sutton.
Sutton has raised two children in Croydon while running her own business. As the landlady of the Oval Tavern, the chair of Croydon Pubwatch and a director of Made In Croydon, Sutton has a well-deserved reputation for supporting local performers, local businesses and community events. She is a founder member of Croydon Pride and this year helped deliver both the Pride event and the Croydon Mela.
For all that local activism, and even with the two largest parties from the Croydon political duopoly both in a state of some disarray, when she was the Green candidate in the Fairfield council by-election earlier this month, Sutton polled little more than 200 votes, when 850 would have been enough to get elected.
In Croydon North, the Green candidate is charity worker Rachel Chance, who they describe as an active environmentalist who campaigns with Extinction Rebellion and volunteers for Crystal Palace Transition Town. Chance has much work to do if she is to become an MP for the area: in 2017, Labour’s Steve Reed retained the Croydon North seat with 74.2 per cent of the votes; the Green was fourth with fewer than 1,000 votes.
Croydon South’s Green candidate is Peter Underwood, probably their party’s highest-profile figure in Croydon, who stood as a candidate in Croydon at the 2017 and 2015 General Elections.
Familiar for his work for a charity supporting community groups to look after Croydon’s parks and woodlands, a former senior civil servant he has most recently been working with the Green group at the European Parliament. He is a long-standing member of his local residents’ association and chair of Croydon Friends of the Earth.
Underwood said, “I am working to put trust back into politics.
“Having worked with politicians from the other parties, I recognised that the Green Party are the ones putting forward a different kind of politics. I want to put more power back into people’s hands to create a truly democratic society that works for the good of all of us.
“We need to change our country for the better: whether it is restoring our public services; creating a benefit system fit for the modern world; introducing a fairer election system; protecting and defending our rights; or building a better future for ourselves and our children – the Green Party are on your side.”
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