There is to be a council ward poll on November 3 – which will test voters’ devotion to Thick Lizzy and Croydon’s part-time Mayor Perry.
By our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE
Croydon, or at least a small bit of its leafy suburbs, will soon get its own chance to show what it thinks of Liz Truss’s disaster of a government, as well as providing a snapshot of opinion on part-time Jason Perry after nearly six months as the borough’s first elected Mayor.
Polls released yesterday showed Labour having a lead nationally of a stonking, barely believable 33per cent, one week on from Kamikaze Kwasi Kwarteng’s Mini-Budget that saw the bond markets in meltdown and the pound nose-dive to previously unseen depths.
And here in Croydon, a council by-election has been called for Thursday, November 3, for Selsdon Vale and Forestdale ward following the death of Conservative Councillor Badsha Quadir.
It should be a straightforward Tory win – maybe polling half the vote, as opposed to getting two-thirds as their candidates did in May – yet the economic turmoil nationally and Selsdon Vale and Forestdale’s unusual make-up as a cross-constituency ward might yet cause a ripple or two.
Quadir and Tory colleague Andy Stranack were elected in May with majorities of more than 1,000 votes over their Labour and Green challengers. On a better-than-most turnout of 40.9per cent, the Tories took 65.6per cent of the vote. Labour and Greens trailed, both close to 17per cent.
There were no LibDem candidates standing in this ward then.
The deadline for candidate nominations for the by-election is 4pm next Friday, October 7. The Conservatives will be interviewing their short-listed candidates next Wednesday evening.
There will surely be a Liberal Democrat candidate this time. Even TTIP might show their face again, if they can overcome their internal party squabbles and actually find a candidate properly qualified to stand for election. That should all serve to split the “anti-Tory” vote.
And there might even be a Labour candidate and some pretence of campaigning from them, too, which would be in contrast to their non-existent efforts in the past.
Labour has all but ignored most wards in the true-blue south of the borough, both when in power in the Town Hall and when it comes to using some of its election campaign budget. It was not so long ago that a supposedly “paper” candidate named for one of the seats around Addington Village was formally reprimanded by Labour’s “borough organiser” (they use the term very loosely) for having the temerity of going around the ward, knocking on doors, delivering leaflets and actually speaking to prospective voters…
Croydon Labour’s campaigning ahead of this May council elections was a shambles. Croydon delivered probably the worst election results for Labour in the whole of Labour-leaning London, largely because of the misjudgements and incompetence of those running the Local Campaign Forum. And the influence of Steve Reed OBE, the Progress MP for Croydon North.
In May, the Tories were only on 34per cent in the national polls – thanks to the scandals surrounding bungling Boris Johnson. But Croydon Labour had crashed the borough’s finances and was cutting public services to pay for their mistakes. That dynamic between national issues and local concerns concertina’d the Croydon vote. When Tory Perry won the first borough-wide Mayoral election, he did so by fewer than 600 votes.
Now, according to this week’s tallies, the Tories are polling at 21per cent to Labour’s 54per cent (up from 40per cent in May). Some analysts suggest that if a General Election were to be held and reproduced that kind of result, it would wipe out the parliamentary Conservative Party.
But then there’s reality…
Selsdon Vale and Forestdale this November might be viewed by the newer, more competent members of Croydon’s LCF – the likes of Andrew Fisher and Val Shawcross – as being worth having a tilt at.
They might consider that they have to: the Wates-built Forestdale estate, in contrast to the more affluent parts of the ward, has many Labour-leaning residents, and unlike Selsdon Vale, it is not in Tory Croydon South, but is part of Labour MP Sarah Jones’s Croydon Central constituency.
By-elections are not just about the result on the day, but about gathering intelligence for the next polling day, testing the waters, preparing for the next election. In this case, Selsdon Vale and Forestdale will be a very localised snapshot ahead of the General Election which is due to be held between now and 2024.
Not that Thick Lizzy and her far-right backers will be in a rush to seek a mandate for their bat-shit crazy policies any time soon.
The opinion polls last night show that while we all thought Johnson was bad, Truss is regarded as worse. Very much worse. And the polling had been conducted before Truss did her incoherent, ignominious tour of local radio stations on Thursday morning.
The poll conducted by YouGov showed that Labour now has the biggest lead over their political rivals enjoyed by any party for 30 years.
It doubles Labour’s 17per cent lead from a YouGov poll conducted earlier in the week, showing a very strong public response to the measures announced by Truss, Kwarteng and, yes, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Chris Philp, the Croydon South MP.
The poll was conducted for The Times, the right-wing, Murdoch-owned newspaper, and published just a couple of days before Truss and Kwarteng roll up to their party’s annual conference in Birmingham.
Right-wing political commentator “Sir” Simon Jenkins, a former Editor of The Times, has turned on Thick Lizzy very quickly. His opinions were clearly been influenced by the Bank of England having to splurge £65billion … billion … on Wednesday in a desperate attempt to steady the markets and rectify the damage caused by the recklessness of Truss, Kwarteng and Philp.
“Few could have imagined the scale of this disaster,” Jazza wrote yesterday.
“A cabinet drunk on the billions it had spent fighting covid thought it could spend the same again on a gratuitous political gesture of unfunded tax cuts.
“Governments across Europe have been squirming against a rising tide of inflation and soaring interest rates. For Britain to indulge in a renewed spending splurge was beyond belief. It spooked markets, wrecked pension and mortgage schemes and enraged party supporters.”
And Jenkins continued: “It is just conceivable that judicious financial management could hold inflation at about 10per cent, through cheaper energy, falling house prices and drastic curbs on public spending. What is not conceivable is that this will be assisted by tax cuts driving growth through ‘supply side’ reforms, whose impact on productivity has always been weak. For the present, no forecaster indicates that this is a plausible scenario. Trussonomics do not add up.
“As for Trussopolitics the future is even bleaker.
“A recent poll for The Economist was unequivocal. British people are sceptical of being told to make sacrifices for vague promises of future gain. The majority opted for more spending on health and welfare and less on ‘infrastructure and science’.”
And that was before the 33per cent lead in the polling figures.
Croydon’s Tories, meanwhile, are trying to remain calm ahead of the November 3 Selsdon Vale and Forestdale by-election. “The only poll that matters is on polling day,” was the straight bat offered by one Katharine Street source.
Read more: A bad week for Tory MP just got very much worse for Croydon
Read more: Croydon’s top Tory Barwell admits: I am politically homeless
Read more: ‘Rabbit hutch’ flats and the Chief Secretary: Philp’s conflicts
Read more: MP Philp: ‘Brown-nosing is first, second and third nature’
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