Spot the difference: Tories go for BNP vote in New Addington

Fly the flag: Conservative councillor Scott Roche gives the Tories’ game away

With one week to go until polling day in the borough’s five council by-elections, and Croydon Tories have played their joker.

Councillor Scott Roche was out on the streets of New Addington North, one of the wards where a council by-election is being held on May 6, and revealed the Tories’ not-so-secret weapon as they try to win the seat from Labour.

They are wrapping their candidate, Lara Fish, in the flag. Specifically, the flag of St George.

The leaflet that Roche showed off in his virtue-signalling campaign selfie is oddly different from the campaign leaflets which the councilor’s party has produced for the last week of campaigning in the other four wards with by-elections.

But then New Addington North is the only ward by-election which has a candidate from the British National Party (“local people first”, whatever that’s supposed to mean) on the ballot paper.

Loyal Tory campaigners out in Kenley this week. No sign of any flags on the leaflets they were thrusting into the letterboxes of disinterested residents

There’s no sign of the Cross of St George, or any other flags, on the Tory election literature which was being distributed to disinterested residents in true-blue Kenley this week, where the Conservative candidate is Ola Kolade.

The same can be said of the leaflets prominently displayed by Conservative councillors and candidates in other wards where by-elections are being held next Thursday: South Norwood, Woodside and Park Hill and Whitgift.

Spot the difference: with a candidate that the Tories don’t think can win in South Norwood, the leaflets lack flags

But none of those wards have overtly far-right racist parties putting up a candidate and potentially taking votes away from the Conservatives.

New Addington North, however, does.

The by-election in New Addington North has been called following the resignation from the council of Labour’s Simon Hall. Hall was the council’s cabinet member for finance for nearly seven years, presiding over the failed housing company, Brick by Brick and dodgy multi-million-pound council “investments” in retail parks and failing hotels, all leading to Croydon Council’s financial collapse last November.

Residents in New Addington are likely to be among the worst hit by the withdrawal of public services and support following the council’s financial crisis.

Crass mismanagement of large-scale infrastructure projects, such as the New Addington Leisure Centre and the abandonment of the long-established amateur boxing club – all presided over by another New Addington Labour councillor, the hapless Ollie “Butt Plug” Lewis – have also been a cause of simmering resentment in the area.

Spot the difference: no flags on display on Tory leaflets here, either

The imposition of ugly over-developments by Brick by Brick, seen as “the slumification of New Addington”, has done nothing to endear Labour to the people they are supposed to represent.

And of all the council wards being contested next week, New Addington North is the one seemingly most likely to change hands.

The Conservatives held a council seat in the neighbouring New Addington ward until 2014.

The Tories’ New Addington North candidate, Fish, a member of the local branch of the British Legion, undoubtedly regards herself as some kind of patriot. But is she any more patriotic than her colleague candidates in Park Hill? Or Kenley? Or Woodside or South Norwood?

Probably not. But in the fight for votes, the Tories, and Fish, are prepared to court the votes of anyone if they think it will get them over the line.

Patriotic: Lara Fish

Parties of the far-right have in the past polled very well in New Addington. As recently as 2014, in the same ward (but then called Fieldway), the BNP received 27.2 per cent of the vote, while UKIP got 7.4 per cent.

That was something of a high-water mark. There’s no UKIP candidates at all this time round, while in 2018, the far-right’s combined tally in the ward came to just 7.4 per cent.

Labour activists claim that, on the doorstep, the promises of votes for their candidate, Kola Agboola (whose own campaign literature make much of the fact that he is from New Addington, but little else) is holding up well.

Fish and the Conservatives would need a swing of more than 20 per cent to win the seat – the sort of result that, if played out across the whole borough in 2022’s  local elections, would see the Tories in control of the Town Hall with 48 councillors to Labour’s 22.

Spot the difference: a BNP protest in Croydon against immigration

Key to the outcome next Thursday could be turnout, with fewer than 1-in-3 voters expected to bother to cast their votes. A low turn-out might play into Conservative hands.

It was Samuel Johnson who penned the line that, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

In Croydon in 2021, pandering to the far right might just be the penultimate refuge of scoundrels.

For the full list of all candidates in each ward, click here.

Read more: ‘Cynical’ Tories face backlash over bogus links to food bank
Read more: ‘Most dangerous man in Britain’ to stand in council election
Read more: Candidates’ tough task to shake off Labour reputation
Read more: Tory needed Fraud Office permission to stand in election


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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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Fieldway, Kenley, New Addington, New Addington North, Park Hill and Whitgift, Scott Roche, Simon Hall, South Norwood, Woodside and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Spot the difference: Tories go for BNP vote in New Addington

  1. gcluer says:

    I love the way that the picture of the BNP waving Union Flags shows that none of them know which is the right way up to fly it.

  2. This made me laugh. Thanks

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