Keith likes nothing better than sitting at the wheel of a top-end Porsche sports car.
Keith is a member of a Croydon Tories’ Whatsapp group.
Keith describes himself as “a bit of a cocky lump”.
Keith thinks Croydon is “full of scum”.
And his mate, Norman, another local Tory and a leading light in a large residents’ association, says that Croydon is “full of louts”.
It is nearly eight years since the Conservatives controlled Croydon Town Hall. They are clearly confident of winning back control of the bankrupt borough next May.
It is unlikely that any of their councillors or candidates would ever let slip in public such disdainful and contemptuous views of the people they are elected to serve (though, of course, it is not entirely impossible).
But scratch the surface of a Croydon Tory, and all too often their true feelings about Croydon and its diverse communities emerge.
The people posting these unpleasant attitudes should not be surprised to see them being reported here.
One member of the Whatsapp group, Ben Gadsby, who recently made Croydon Tories’ shortlist for candidates to run for the borough’s firsst elected mayor, showed mature and perspicacious judgement when he noted, in reply to fellow commenter Norman Young.
He wrote, “I rather fear screenshots of these conversations sent to Inside Croydon won’t be taken as a wind up. And there are 156 people in this group, I suspect Norman many won’t know you well enough to know this either.”
Another group member, William Perry – understood to be the son of Jason Perry, the leader of the Tory opposition group at the Town Hall – also offered a reasoned approach.
“Comments like these about our residents from our members make me ashamed to be a Croydon Conservative,” wrote Perry.
“I’m a proud Croydonian and won’t let anyone tell me otherwise.”
Which is fine, as far as it goes.
But Croydon Tories have a well-deserved reputation for receiving reports of bigoted and racist views, and doing nothing about it. It is almost as if they tolerate racists and bigots among their ranks.
Anne Piles, the Sage of Selsdon (as she’d like you to believe), thought there was nothing wrong with her posting her racist views on social media, including use of the “N” word about her house cleaner. A one-time committee member of the Croydon Conservative Federation, Giles remains a staunch Croydon Tories member today, unsanctioned, unexpelled.
Then there’s the proverbial bad penny Peter Morgan, with a wide range of unpleasant and racist views, almost one for every occasion, who has in his time been readmitted to the Conservative Party and has often attended Croydon South MP’s Chris Philp’s street stall in Purley. It appears Morgan is closer to having the endorsement of his MP than his condemnation.
The examples of Piles and Morgan are, we must hope, merely the extremes.
But their uncontrolled outpourings have offered an insight into the often unsavoury thoughts of rank and file Croydon Tories. As does the weekend’s Whatsapp exchange.
Responding to a thread about the (dilapidated) state of Croydon town centre, the Porsche-loving but barely literate Keith (we have his mobile number, but unfortunately not his surname), wrote, “My main reason to no go croydon [sic] is it’s [sic] crap parking, feels full of scum and it’s actually dangerous… So much attitude and confrontation.”
On a recent visit to a town centre pub to watch some televised sport, Keith says he felt afraid. “Walking through the night time economy felt well and I’m a bit of a cocky lump and up for an argument, not often I feel unsafe…
“Used to go “out” a lot in central croydon [sic] early 2000’s [sic] but it feels like a different place now.”
Inside Croydon has only been sent an incomplete thread (perhaps to help disguise the source). The next Keith comment appears to be in response to another member criticising his choice of language.
Having dug a hole, Keith keeps digging.
“Yeah perhaps the wrong choice of word but oddballs and people hanging about up to no good… I don’t know how to correctly address them!”
At this point Young, a prominent member of the HOME residents’ group in Addiscombe, pipes up: “The correct word now is Croydonian. Not sure what we are now that we don’t fall into that group of louts (that often).”
When Perry took issue with this, Young tried to brush off the remarks as a bit of Tory joshing.
“Do try to remember that sometimes we like to wind people up, making a bit of a joke, even though the underlying source may have some truth,” Young wrote.
“Don’t forget that there are still quite a few of us in this group who have been around a bit longer than you know what it used to be like here.
“Croydon could be the best place on Earth, and it could be if the increasing number of louts isn’t reduced and other bad things stop happening.”
Of course, not all Croydon Tories will hold such repugnant views of their neighbours and fellow Croydon residents. Indeed, the exchange demonstrates that some are prepared to challenge such opinions when they are aired publicly.
The question remains, though, whether the leadership of Croydon Tories is capable of taking appropriate action against such arrogant undercurrents.
Clearly some, such as the source of this material, believe that it needs to be shared publicly to force the hands of Croydon Tories’ leadership.
“Keep up the good work,” the source wrote to iC.
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