Our Political Editor, WALTER CRONXITE, on the names in the frame to become new Tory councillors next May
Jason Perry, the leader of the Conservative opposition at Croydon Council, has handed the local politics equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket to nine local party activists, selected to stand as Tory candidates in safe wards in the south of the borough at next May’s local elections.
Another six, including at least a couple with connections to dodgy far-right organisations, could also come up winners in the game of Town Hall Tombola if they manage to snatch control of three target wards from the labouring Labour administration that has controlled the council since 2014.
Croydon Conservatives’ 70 candidates for the May 2022 local elections were all gathered together at the end of last week for an awkward-looking “team photo”, the rictus smiles of some perhaps a giveaway to how they rate the real prospects of being elected to public office.
The candidates, together with Croydon South MP Chris Philp, surrounded themselves with what appears to be decided as the Tories’ major campaign issues over the next eight months, such as “Cut the grass!”.
It’s a wonder that they didn’t include “Down With This Sort Of Thing!” and “Careful Now!”
The selections have been made by Conservative members at ward level, with party branch meetings held on almost every evening through September to get the full roster done and the candidates installed – a stark contrast with Croydon’s bitterly divided Labour Party, where they are still sifting through which of their own councillors to blacklist.
There are a couple of eyebrow-raising “free transfers” among the Conservative councillors’ wards, with Badsha Quadir jumping from Purley and Woodcote to Selsdon Vale and Forestdale (so that he can be closer to the Indian restaurant business that he owns?), while Helen Redfern skips from Purley Oaks and Riddlesdown to Sanderstead.
In their desperation to win back a foothold in New Addington, the Tories appear to have kissed and made up with “Toxic” Tony Pearson, who just three years ago quit the party complaining that he’d been kicked off one of their social media platforms as a consequence of some of the right-wing tosh he has a habit of spouting.
“With its current leadership, they cannot represent me nor I be part of them,” was the ham-fisted manner in which Pearson expressed himself about Croydon Conservatives in 2018.
After quitting the Tories (or failing to pay his subs, depending on whose version of events you believe), Pearson had a dalliance with the Diarrhoea and Vomiting Party, also known as the Democrats and Veterans Party, a far-right, Trump-esque splinter group with an unapologetic anti-Muslim stance. “We will fight to preserve our Judeo-Christian heritage,” the DVP said on its website.
Pearson, a Tory councillor from 2010 to 2014, has what is euphemistically described as a “colourful” track record. In 2011, when he was working as a steward at Crystal Palace football club, Pearson was accused of using abusive language and rough treatment on season ticket-holders in the Holmesdale End. He was also accused of snatching a fan’s mobile phone to prevent the incident being video’d.
Palace fans lodged a formal complaint to the Football Supporters’ Federation about Pearson’s conduct. It was not long after this that Pearson’s stewarding career came to a quiet end, though the two things may not be connected.
The Tories have also signed up another wannabe New Addington politico in Michael Castle. Castle has been a serial election candidate, usually as an independent and always in New Addington or its parliamentary constituency, Croydon Central.
As recently as May this year, Castle stood in the New Addington North council by-election as an independent, attracting a seemingly paltry 109 votes. The Tories probably consider that that was 109 votes in the former Fieldway ward that they didn’t get, and must hope that with Castle on a joint ticket with local residents’ association activist Lara Fish, they might run the sitting Labour councillors closer.
Another welcomed back into the fold, and handed one of those Willie Wonka Golden Tickets as a candidate in a safe Tory ward is Mark Johnson, who quit as the local Conservative federation chairman last year in a spat over campaign funding.
Johnson, a walking charisma-bypass, has twice tried, and failed, to get on to the council before, but this time he has been slotted in at Shirley North, which should be safe enough that even he can’t fuck it up.
In a joint statement issued by Perry and Lynne Hale, the current chairman of the Croydon Conservative Federation, they said, “We are proud to reveal our Conservative candidates ahead of the 2022 Council elections. Each of them has the energy and the commitment to turn our town around after years of dither and decay caused by Croydon’s failing Labour council.”
The local elections will take place on Thursday May 5.
Croydon Conservatives’ 2022 local election candidates
Winnable Tory target wards
Wards currently partly or wholly held by Labour and which are vulnerable to the Tories. If the Conservatives are successful here in May 2022, they will gain six council seats, taking the Town Hall to a 35-35 split
Cllr Jeet Bains
New Addington South
More of a stretch
Wards held by Labour which would need a swing of at least 12 per cent to turn blue. If the Conservatives win any of these in addition to all the ward seats above, then they will hold an outright majority at the Town Hall for the first time since 2014
New Addington North
Might as well forget about these
Croydon’s supposedly Labour stronghold wards, where Conservative candidates are rarely sighted and barely bother to even pretend they are serious candidates. But the names on the ballot papers help the local Tories bump up their representation figures for minority groups
Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood
Don Charles Lambert
Norbury and Pollards Hill
Safe Tory seats
These are the true-blue areas to the south of the borough where anyone selected as a candidate is guaranteed four years of at least £11,000 pa in council allowances. Unusually, nine new candidates have been handed the Town Hall equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket
Cllr Mario Creatura
Cllr Ian Parker
Cllr Ola Kolade
Cllr Margaret Bird
Park Hill and Whitgift
Cllr Jade Appleton
Purley Oaks and Riddlesdown
Purley and Woodcote
Cllr Simon Brew
Cllr Lynne Hale
Cllr Yvette Hopley
Cllr Helen Redfern
Selsdon Vale and Forestdale
Cllr Andy Stranack
Cllr Badsha Quadir
Selsdon and Addington Village
Cllr Robert Ward
Cllr Sue Bennett
Cllr Richard Chatterjee
Cllr Jason Cummings
Cllr Scott Roche
Cllr Maria Gatland
Cllr Michael Neal
Cllr Jason Perry
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