Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, on the latest wrong turns through Britain’s political swamp made by Croydon’s Tory MP
It seems that letting Chris Philp out in public, to spout from his own script, has caused the government problems again, with Croydon South’s Tory MP being contradicted by a senior government minister barely 48 hours after his latest TV appearance.
On Sunday, Philp, supposedly a rising star of the Conservative Party, was on the BBC television show, Sunday Politics. He used this platform as an opportunity to attack Heidi Alexander, the Mayor of London’s deputy for transport, saying her claim that the government is insisting upon an extension of the Congestion Charge zone “is completely and categorically untrue”.
This followed a meeting of Transport for London’s finance board on Friday, at which Alexander revealed that the government’s latest money-spinning scheme was to extend the C-Charge zone all the way to the North and South Circulars. Alexander said, “Neither the Mayor nor I can see how it would be right to charge people £15 to drive a mile from Wandsworth to Clapham, or from Catford to Lewisham from October of next year… that is in effect what the government has said they want.”
Clearly reading from his carefully prepared notes, in a breathily rushed effort to make his final point before the host shut him up, Philp added that, “It’s up to the Mayor of London to choose which options he wants to go for.”
What bungling Boris Johnson’s government inflicts on Manchester today, they have worse plans for London tomorrow, it seems. The “options” Philp was referring to being an ever-greater erosion of devolved Mayoral democracy by choosing from a number of poisoned chalices.
Philp dropped himself in it, along with Shaun Bailey, the best candidate the Tories could find to try to challenge Sadiq Khan at next year’s deferred London Mayoral election, by adding that both of them were opposed to the Congestion Charge being extended.
To record it for posterity, Philp put his utterings in a clip for a Tweet that has had around 57,000 views and been shared more than 500 times.
Bailey had already nailed his colours to the mast having declared, “Under no circumstance would I back an extension of the Congestion Charge zone, regardless of who proposes it”.
The trouble is that Transport Minister Grant Shapps doesn’t care what Philp and Bailey think and know – or the public for that matter.
As reported today by lefty rag, the Financial Times (shurly shome mishtake? Ed), last month Shapps wrote to Sadiq Khan with a list of demands, telling the Mayor to extend the Congestion Charge zone from central London to cover the same areas as the “Ultra Low Emission Zone” from October 2021. Extending the zone to the North and South Circulars roads would increase its size 18-fold.
The propaganda game being played here is to get Khan blamed for unpopular government decisions so that their stooge Bailey can replace him in a little more than six months’ time. A Bailey puppet mayoralty would be the next step of the Tories goal of dismantling the Mayor of London’s office and the London Assembly to stop both acting as a bulwark against a Tory dictatorship. Not true? The GLC was abolished in 1986 for being an inconvenient brake against Thatcherism.
It is possible that Philp being contradicted in public isn’t so much a blunder as evidence of him being two-faced. Philp is a vociferous supporter of Croydon having a Democratically Elected Mayor, yet he has no qualms supporting a government that overrules city mayors Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham at the drop of a hat, claiming poverty while doling out millions of tax-payers’ money to their friends in their vain attempts to provide a “world-beating” track and trace system that works, Personal Protective Equipment that can actually protect and ferry companies that er… have ships.
Equally, Philp attacks Croydon Council’s planning decisions that result in green spaces being built on while quietly supporting his government’s own planning “reforms”.
Tony Travers, the professor of local government at the London School of Economics, wrote in the Local Government Chronicle how the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP has, “declared war on nimbys and on the post-1947 planning system” with reforms that would see planning permission in areas – including London and the south-east – being granted to profit-hungry developers “as of right, rather than by a planning committee”.
Expect more duplicitous shenanigans before the shit show is over.
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