Johnson quits! (It’s Mark, chair of Croydon Tories, not Boris)

With local elections just 18 months away, the chairman of Croydon’s Conservatives has resigned, abruptly.

Wrong Johnson: Mark, now ex-chair of Croydon Tories, won’t be moving in here any time soon

Mark Johnson had been in the chair since early 2019 but submitted his resignation earlier this month with little explanation beyond saying, “I no longer feel as though I can do the best possible job to take the Federation forward”.

Johnson (whose online biography suggests he lives in Addington) was a council election candidate for the Tories in 2014, standing in Waddon ward where he finished only sixth.

Four years later, Johnson stood in New Addington South where he failed to muster even a thousand votes, placing fourth overall in the two-seat ward and second of the Tories’ two candidates.

More recently, he has associated himself closely with fringe far right-wing organisations, being a long-standing committee member of the Croydon Communities [sic] Consortium, which was at the centre of an Islamophobia row, and he also worked alongside UKIP as the area organiser for Vote Leave.

A librarian at a school in Chelsea, Johnson’s resignation comes less than two months after Croydon’s Tories elected Jason Perry as their new leader of the Town Hall opposition group. Inside Croydon’s mole at the Tories’ Purley bunker would not be drawn, but refused to deny that the two events are unconnected.

Another suggested that, “there had been a bit of a row”.

Croydon Tories’ enthusiatic support for a directly-elected mayor for the whole borough was also believed to be supported by Johnson, through his association with another fringe group, the Croydon Constitutionalists. The Conservatives under previous leader Tim Pollard are thought  to have contributed a considerable amount to the DEMOC campaign funds, yet many observers believe that Labour’s electoral superiority in the north of the borough means that no Tory mayoral candidate could win the vote.

Johnson has been temporarily replaced as Federation chair by Nik Stewert.

Johnson’s resignation statement said, “As many of you will know, I have been a loyal and hardworking Conservative Party activist for almost 20 years, 15 of those in Croydon.

“I have always acted in the best interests of our party. However, I no longer feel as though I can do the best possible job to take the Federation forward, I have decided to take the difficult decision to step down from my position as Chairman of the Croydon Conservative Federation.

“I feel much has been achieved during my time as Chairman and we are in a much better position than we were when I took over 18 months ago.”

Croydon Tories’ financial state, as they try to build a “war chest” ahead of the Town Hall elections in May 2022, have given some of their members cause for concern.

Rubbish candidates: Mario Creatura, here with Jason Perry in South Croydon, failed to win back Croydon Central

With just 29 councillors now contributing to the campaign pot from their council-funded allowances (more than £50,000 last year) and only one MP in the borough, their annual income is much reduced from what it was four of five years back.

The Croydon Conservative Federation’s annual accounts for the period to December 31 2019 shows that they spent £60,784 on the General Election campaign last December, and while they managed to return Chris Philp to Westminster from the true-blue Croydon South seat, their candidate Mario Creatura failed to win back marginal Croydon Central from Labour.

The previous year, 2018, they had spent £73,814 on their local election campaign in Croydon, and had wound up with fewer Tory councillors at the Town Hall.

Against this, Croydon Tories have steadily diminishing numbers of members, and therefore similarly diminishing income from subscriptions.

Back in 2011, Croydon Tories were collecting £38,028 in membership subs. In 2018, total member subs for Croydon Tories was down to £29,038. By last year, it was £24,564.

“That doesn’t only mean we have less money,” our mole said, “but we also have many fewer activitists prepared to deliver leaflets in normal times or hold fund-raising events during the year. That’s a big part of why Mario and the local party tried to get SPAC Nation involved in campaigning last year, but that all blew up in their face.”

The cult-like SPAC Nation is the evangelical church at the centre of police investigations over allegations of fraud and grooming. That scandal broke in the middle of the Fairfield ward by-election last November, when Creatura and Johnson had organised that a SPAC Nation pastor would stand as the Tory candidate. They lost.

“With the Labour-run council on its knees, we should really be organising behind a strong Federation chair and raising loads of cash towards the campaign fund for 2022 – but that’s not been happening so far.”

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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4 Responses to Johnson quits! (It’s Mark, chair of Croydon Tories, not Boris)

  1. Are you trying to say that Johnson doesn’t like Nando’s?

  2. The local councillor role attracts (i) people who don’t have control or influence in their day jobs (ii) people who don’t have day jobs and want the expenses cheque from the council (iii) people who are retired.

    Not a great bunch of groups if there’s work to be done.

    And as for people who chose to be active in local parties, given the above, goodness knows what motivates them.

    I’m still holding out for our new leader, though. Youth may save the day.

    • Hmm. Not entirely sure that is an accurate assessment, Sebastian.

      There are many who go into the role of local councillor with absolutely the best of intentions, and a real desire to give something back to their community.

      The trouble comes when a local authority – in part because of the first-past-the-post electoral system – has third-rate party politicians embedded in positions of power and control. The party interest subsumes all else, apart from the personal interest of the grafters that are included in their number.

  3. Lewis White says:

    I don’t share Sebastian’s experience and most of his conclusions, and must make, in the interest of fairness, a strong counter-argument…….

    I have met and been in contact with many councillors over the years in my employment as a low-medium level Local Government officer with three London Boroughs, and in private life as Chairman of a Surrey Residents Association, and , in retirement, as a Council Tax payer here in Croydon. I have met with local politicians in London, Surrey and Kent. Most are from the main parties.

    I have been impressed and am in admiration of many I have been privileged to meet. I have met several who have created far-reaching benefits for the communities they serve, in various areas of activity.

    In Croydon, I have had long and productive conversations about planning , parks, and environment with three cabinet members, and many other councillors, both Labour and Conservative. In Surrey, I had long term contact with Conservative councillors over planning and highways.

    We may not have agreed about everything, but I have found that most are open to sound argument.

    The calibre of councillors reflects wider life, but all I can say is that I have faith in our system of elected local councillors.

    This is not to say that all councillors are effective or hard working, but I think the majority are, and many of them, for decades of service.

    Perhaps Sebastian should stand for the council, and bring his skills to the service of the community.

    I agree with him on the new Leader, Cllr Hamida Ali. Not her youth but her openness and people-skills. I hope that she can build a really good team of Councillors and Senior Officers to work with her. If that includes some of the cabinet members and councillors I have met, that will be good too.

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