Careful what you wish for: Town Hall deadlock would be chaos

CROYDON COMMENTARY: With four months until the local elections and first-ever Mayoral election in Croydon, here local Conservative Party member BEN GADSBY says that the voting outcome is not a foregone conclusion

Campaign slogans: May’s local elections could be slipping out of the reach of Croydon’s Conservatives

In 16 weeks, Croydon will have its first-ever directly elected Mayor.

People have stopped celebrating the referendum result (was there a party? If so, I wasn’t invited. No idea why), and started thinking about what it will all mean in practice.

Some people aren’t just imagining chaos, they seem to be hoping for it – or at least, Geoff James from Kenley seems to be. His article this week says that, “An elected Mayor who is not aligned to the majority party could be the best result for Croydon.”

The “could” in that sentence is doing a lot of heavy lifting.

Imagine. Croydon enjoys the best possible result as Conservative Mayor Perry, elected on a promise to stop overdevelopment in the south of the borough, is repeatedly stuck with whatever the Labour majority planning committee approves.

Or maybe Croydon rejoices as Labour Mayor Shawcross grapples with the finances, comes up with a painful but pragmatic proposal to tackle the challenges, and then has to deal with Conservative councillors deciding they don’t like some of those cuts, actually, thank you very much.

Split vote: could Val Shawcross as a Labour Mayor manage a Tory majority of councillors?

I’ve seen this in action in Tower Hamlets, where they had an independent Mayor and a Labour majority council from 2010 to 2014, and I can assure you, London’s most chaotic (and corrupt) council is not one we want to copy.

If you want both parties to work together cross-party more (I certainly do), a 35-35 tie where there are opportunities every week for the purest political manoeuvring is probably the worst possible outcome. Although, yeah, I guess it “could” still be the best result for Croydon…

Fortunately, all this talk of a split decision is probably moot as we seem to be on course for a clear result. I know the Inside Croydon editorial line is that Labour’s mismanagement means they are screwed in May, but generally national politics plays a much bigger part than local issues in the outcome, and I think many people are underestimating the odds that Labour actually goes forwards in this election. National opinion polls in the last couple of days have had Labour 10 or 11 percentage points ahead of the Conservatives.

It’s never sensible to assume that January opinion polling will reflect the outcome in May, especially as this must surely be the nadir of the Johnson government (though I said that on Monday… and several times before Christmas…).

But as a straw in the wind, Electoral Calculus thinks that based on recent polling Labour would take Chris Philp’s Croydon South parliamentary seat handsomely and be about 20 votes behind in a Purley Oaks and Riddlesdownward vote. You’d have to imagine this represents a near-impossible ceiling for Labour, but with the Conservatives defending a wafer-thin eight-vote majority for the seat they hold in the split Addiscombe East ward, Labour gains are more than possible.

Geoff also said “something has to change”.

And here was me thinking the whole point of the DEMOC vote was that things had changed, Hallelujah?

Inside Croydon’s hashtag #ABitLessShit might be optimistic.

Sixteen weeks to go!

  • Ben Gadsby lives in Thornton Heath. He has previously been employed as a political advisor to Conservative councillors on Thurrock and Tower Hamlets councils and was an unsuccessful applicant to be the Tories’ candidate for elected Mayor

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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 2021 Mayor Referendum, 2022 council elections, Croydon Council, Jason Perry, Val Shawcross. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Careful what you wish for: Town Hall deadlock would be chaos

  1. Peter Underwood says:

    Another person pushing the lie that there are only two political parties in Croydon. I’m meeting a lot of people who are fed up with both Labour and the Conservatives and are looking for something better. I don’t think Croydon is on the verge of a political earthquake (yet) but I suspect, and hope, there will be some changes for the better in May and we still have a long way to go before then.

    • There are two political parties in Croydon.

      • Two parties vying for power, both of which leave a lot to be desired.

        Under Newman, Croydon Labour descended into a being a cult and a circus, where incompetence was no barrier to high office, more of a requirement. Now Weed and his stooge Bodger are waging war on two decent councillors simply because they’re intelligent and can think for themselves. They want to keep the party in the strong leader model that gave us Brick by Brick. Nationally, Starmer is as inspiring as a limp lettuce; Labour’s current leads in the opinion polls is more to do with his rival’s failings than anything he’s said or done.

        Under Johnson, the Conservatives are a corrupt fascist cult, committing and covering up crimes with impunity, handing out our money to their friends and donors, intent on taking away our civil liberties. Locally, Croydon Tories lurch from one dullard to another to try and lead them back to power. What Perry lacks in ideas, he makes up for in brass neck, like joining a march against knife crime; it’s the Tories that have cut police budgets, reduced police staffing, closed police stations and have allowed violent crime to soar.

        One of the few MPs to impress is Caroline Lucas, while in City Hall, it’s the Greens that stand out from the dross.

        If you want more of the same old crap, vote Labour or Conservative come May – you’ll get it in spades.

  2. National Politics do play a part in local politics but if Tony Newman was a pond full of cow shit and you used Steve Reed MP OBE as a dip stick to gauge the depth, his head would not touch the bottom.

    That’s what local Croydon Labour have to overcome.

    And don’t forget, Clive Fraser and Sean Fitzstupid are still swimming around in the pond. And Leader Ali is up to her neck in it as far as I can see.

  3. Jamie Watson says:

    I had it as the LD’s taking Chris Philip’s seat. Neither labour or Tory deserve to win Croydon, based on their local and national actions. Where are the local resident groups candidates as a new way to govern?

  4. Bob Bayliss says:

    The key to the outcome in May will be turnout.

    If it is relatively healthy – say 65% – then the demographic changes to the borough coupled with the Conservatives’ national unpopularity will probably mean a clean sweep for Labour in Croydon. But – as evidenced by the mayoral referendum – if the widespread disillusionment with Croydon council’s track record translates into a low turnout – say below 45% – that will be good news for the Conservatives: a far higher proportion of their voters will be determined to vote.

    If turnout is somewhere in between those two positions – as I suspect it may be – that will be interesting. At the moment, I would lean towards predicting Val Shawcross winning the mayoralty on the basis of both her experience and ability to distance herself from the rabble who have been presided over the litany of chaos and confusion in Croydon, but the Conservatives squeaking over the line in the council elections.

    There are still four months to go, and I don’t doubt that the national picture historically influences local elections. But Croydon is, by any reasonable assessment, a very special case.

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