The subject of ridicule in the national press, criticised for handing over voter details to a cult-like church and now too scared to face questions from Inside Croydon’s virtual hustings: Mario Creatura’s dream of becoming a Conservative MP is turning into a nightmare. WALTER CRONXITE, political editor, reports
Mario Creatura, the some time “special adviser” to the Prime Minister in Downing Street, appears to share a growing number of unattractive traits with Bullshitter Boris Johnson, not least of which is their reluctance to subject themselves to public scrutiny.
Creatura, the Conservative Party’s candidate in Croydon Central in the General Election on December 12, failed to turn up today for the recording of Inside Croydon’s Under The Flyover Election Special virtual hustings.
All the major parties had representatives put up for interview, with questions submitted from this website’s vast readership. But Creatura was too frit to respond to our invitation.
With less than a fortnight to go until the General Election, things have been looking a bit grim for Creatura’s chances.
Given that this week he has been featured as “Dumb Creatura” in the pages of Private Eye magazine (audited circulation: nearly 500,000 per month), while also seeing YouGov pollsters predicting Croydon Central as a “hold” for Labour’s Sarah Jones, it is little wonder that the overly ambitious Creatura appeared a little crest-fallen at last night’s hustings staged in a chilly church hall in Woodside.
In truth, the event was difficult to gauge because the somewhat absurd set of rules laid down for the audience that banned any kind of reaction or response to the bland witterings of the politicians.
“It made Question Time seem like a 24-hour rave,” one disappointed audience member said. “No heckling, no booing, no shouting out, no hissing and no clapping… Otherwise, we’d be asked to leave.
“So the audience had to sit there being forced to listen to any old bollocks without reaction. The complete sanitisation of politics. It was terrible.”
Even without more obvious audience response, it seemed fairly clear that Creatura under-performed in front of the people he hopes might vote for him on Thursday week.
Creatura has run a campaign which, basically, says that because he’s from Croydon he should be its MP.
Classic Tory entitlement, but it doesn’t amount to much of an offer, really. In what was always expected to be a tight contest decided by a thousand votes or so either way, Creatura’s hopes suffered a significant blow when the candidates were announced and there on the ballot paper was Peter Sonnex from the Brexit Party.
And that came straight after Creatura’s battalion of SPAC Nation leaflet-deliverers suddenly vanished from the streets of Croydon, following this website’s report that the cult-like church was under investigation by the fraud squad, a major high street bank and the Charity Commission.
It now seems that Creatura’s part in sharing voter data with SPAC Nation could render him subject to investigation, too, while recriminations within the local Conservatives rumble on over his part, along with Croydon Tories’ leader Tim Pollard, in allowing their organisation to be subject to such blatant entryism.
The candidates’ performances last night were very mixed. The over-excitable Sonnex tried at every opportunity to mention that he fought in the Falklands, while Simon Sprague came over as a sentient human being – for a LibDem. Sarah Jones was grounded and sensible, her two years as the area’s MP having allowed her to build a solid reputation locally.
Peter Underwood is actually standing in Croydon South, but he turned up last night because Esther Sutton, the Greens’ candidate in Central, could not attend. Underwood came over brilliantly, as he usually does at these events – if only he was a member of a party that was electable, he’d probably make a very good Assembly Member or MP. He’d certainly improve the average calibre of most of our Town Hall councillors, who include the execrable Creatura. But then that’s what separates Underwood from most local politicians – principles.
After nine years of Tory austerity government causing misery for millions of people across the country, the best Creatura could do was spend the evening Labour-blaming.
In the audience was another Croydon politician who dislikes being held accountable and who has featured in the pages of Private Eye this week: council leader Tony Newman.
He turned up with one of his trusted councillors, Hamida Ali and spent all his time at the hustings head down, looking at his phone. After 45 minutes, Newman got up and left, Ali scuttling along behind. Perhaps he had to go off to cause another crisis for his under-performing council.
Creatura, who worked as a parliamentary aide for Gavin Barwell, Jones’s predecessor as Croydon Central MP, has spent enough time within the Westminster bubble to know when a campaign’s gone wrong. He witnessed Barwell – author of How To Lose A Marginal Seat – lose his grip in 2017. He must recognise some similar signs now.
Prime among them is polling from YouGov.
That basically means that, while the pollsters believe the Tories will be winning seats around the country, in Croydon they predict a hold for Sarah Jones with something over 40 per cent of the vote, with the Brexit Party taking away just enough Tory votes to make Creatura’s task much tougher – although Sprague’s LibDems will also deprive Jones of the votes of some Remainers.
YouGov calls it “the sophomore surge”, the benefit of a first-term incumbent’s novelty value with the electorate. In Jones’s case, just two years after the last General Election, many of those who voted for her in 2017 may feel that she deserves to have longer at Westminster to serve their needs and interests.
For Creatura, though, what is potentially most damaging to this thrustingly personally ambitious wannabe MP is the reputational damage he has suffered within his own party.
“Mario’s never really had a proper job, where he has worked with regular people,” one senior source within the Croydon Conservatives said this week. “He’s either worked in PR, as he does now, or he has been vastly overpaid and over-promoted by Barwell. Some in the local party have treated him like some sort of Messiah, when in fact he’s just a very naughty boy…
“When his bad decisions start getting much wider attention, and notoriety – like in the Sunday Times and Mail On Sunday, and now in Private Eye – it’s the people at Central Office who notice, and the black marks will go against his name in their little black books. That’s what will decide whether he ever gets selected for a winnable seat.
“And when they invite him along to answer a few questions about his conduct, he won’t dare not show up.”
- Our Under The Flyover virtual hustings podcasts, including questions to the major parties’ candidates from across the borough, will be available to Inside Croydon readers next week, including the questions for Mario Creatura that he was too afraid to face
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