Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, on a startling development over two ward by-elections on May 6
A lifelong political activist laughably described by the Daily Mail as “the most dangerous man in Britain” has become the first to declare that he is standing for election to Croydon Council in one of the five ward by-elections taking place on May 6.
The elections are being staged in Woodside, New Addington North, South Norwood, Kenley and the Park Hill and Whitgift ward following the resignations of their sitting councillors, including Tony Newman and Simon Hall, the discredited former council leader and cabinet member for finance who presided over the Labour-run council’s multi-million-pound financial collapse.
Ian Bone, one of the founders of the South Norwood Tourist Board, is standing in Newman’s old ward, Woodside, as “The Peoples Republic of South Norwood” candidate.
Local resident Bone’s choice to be a candidate in Woodside is, of itself, a deliberately provocative act of protest: the remaining sitting Labour councillors in the ward are Hamida Ali, the current leader of the council, and the widely unpopular Paul Scott, Newman’s mate and the borough’s sometime planning chief.
Bone is 73 and has Parkinson’s, so the Mail’s somewhat hysterical description of him might be regarded as a little out-dated.
The tag is believed to be derived from the early 1980s when Bone was involved in activism on behalf of striking miners and those affected by the Brixton riots, when Sunday tabloid The People dubbed him “the most evil man in Britain”, a description easily dispelled by watching Bone’s appearance on the Jonathan Ross TV chat show.
The Mail‘s cuttings-based obsession with “the most dangerous man in Britain” even saw them try to place Bone at the heart of last weekend’s civil disturbances, where they claimed that “professional anarchists” (itself an interesting contradiction in terms), including Bone, “stirred up the Bristol protests into the shameful night of violence”.
Old Age Pensioner Bone was, in fact, more than a hundred miles away, taking his meds and planning what he sees as possibly his final foray into mainstream politics, at the Woodside by-election.
Also on the “The Peoples Republic of South Norwood” ticket, standing in South Norwood ward, will be Jane Nicholl, Bone’s long-term partner and another committed community activist.
Nicholl says that she has been spurred into standing for the council by “a sense of pure outrage and disgust” over the appalling living conditions some of her neighbours in council flats in Regina Road have been having to endure for months on end.
Nicholl had been working to help some of the suffering residents of Regina Road long before the ITV News cameras arrived to film the conditions in their homes, or before some councillors turned up at the building this week.
Together with Bone, Nicholl’s local activism in recent years with SNTB has included setting up supporters’ groups for Croydon FC at Croydon Arena, renaming one of the lakes in South Norwood Country Park after Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, a former resident of the area, and establishing a memorial for Pickles, the little dog who saved the 1966 World Cup by recovering the stolen Jules Rimet Trophy.
Perhaps their greatest recent success came at the Royal Courts of Justice in 2018, when they risked losing their home as they fought to defend the right to protest against the scandal of 10 luxury flats at The Shard which their uber-rich Qatari owners had allowed to stay empty for a decade.
From the steps of the court, Bone and Nicholl claimed victory for the common man, freedom of speech and common sense after the legal case brought by the Qatari royal family collapsed.
The case prompted Suzanne Moore, in a column for The Grauniad, to proclaim that she “adores the man”.
“Bone is full of life and fun, someone who monsters the pieties of the left and simply refuses to play any game that involves subservience to the right.”
The Woodside and South Norwood council by-elections, therefore, following the years of misrule of Blairite Tony Newman and the national scandal of the neglect of the Regina Road council tenants, appears to be a perfect platform for the anarchic campaigning of Bone and Nicholl.
Announcing her candidature, Nicholl said, “It is a sense of pure outrage and disgust that has prompted me to stand as an independent candidate.
“I’ve witnessed the appalling disregard and contempt with which the people of Croydon have been treated. In South Norwood we’ve seen our library threatened with closure, the decay of our community, the false promises by our hypocritical councillors, and last but not least the malicious criminal cruel bullying and obscene way the residents of the Regina Road flats have been treated.
“South Norwood needs to become a People’s Republic, free of the many lies and cover-ups of the council.
“Ian Bone will be standing as an independent in Woodside ward and I’ll be joining him in South Norwood. We will democratise this area by any means necessary.
“Enough is enough!”
And Bone told Inside Croydon, “This is a major opportunity for South Norwood and Woodside to break away from Croydon and establish itself as an independent Republic. All Hail!”
Candidates need to submit their forms the council by April 9.
Read more: Newman and Hall resign as councillors claiming a ‘witchhunt’
Read more: ‘Why do you appear not to know the answer to anything?’
Read more: Council Tax-payers pay for politicians’ game of cat-and-mouse
Read more: 28% – Newman leaves his Council Tax legacy to Croydon
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