Downfall of Truss leaves Tory Philp facing uncertain future

With the parliamentary Conservative Party in meltdown after a month of chaos under Liz Truss, ANDREW FISHER looks at what’s next for MP Chris Philp and his potentially ‘marginal’ seat of Croydon South

Architects of chaos: Croydon MP Chris Philp (left) didn’t spend long on the government front bench alongside Thick Lizzy Truss (second left) and the short-lived Chancellor, KamiKwasi Kwarteng (second right)

The Conservative Party is disintegrating before our eyes, with the Tory government increasingly resembling a group of toddlers playing musical chairs with the Benny Hill theme tune as the musical accompaniment.

As the Liz Truss economic experiment implodes after just 44 days of her in office as Prime Minister, it looks, too, as if 12 years of Conservative rule will soon be coming to an end.

This isn’t just hubris by a Labour member, but an analysis of the cold, hard data – with some polls putting Labour as much as 36 percentage points ahead of the shambolic Conservatives.

One eye-catching data release was an MRP poll by pollster Opinium that predicted the Conservatives would be reduced to just 137 MPs – losing 228 seats at the next General Election.

MRP stands for “multi-level regression and post-stratification”, and is a technique using large scale polling data to predict how different demographics of voters will behave in different seats across the country. It was by using this method that YouGov was one of the few companies to accurately predict the outcome of the 2017 election.

Opinium’s October 2022 MRP poll suggests one of those who would lose their seat on that projection would be Croydon South’s Chris Philp – seeing the 52per cent of the vote he polled in 2019 reduced to just 35per cent as Labour edge ahead on 38per cent while Tory voters defect to the LibDems, who rise to 14%.

How plausible this is by the time of the next election is, of course, a different matter. Polls are always just a snapshot of the current moment, not a prediction for months or years ahead.

Re-drawing the map: how the parliamentary seats might look according to one of this week’s opinion polls

As the Tories dispose of Truss and her far-from-merry band of incompetents, could a new Conservative leader improve their standing? Even in the mid-1990s, when Labour under John Smith and then Tony Blair posted 20-point or even 30-pointleads, by polling day in 1997, Labour won by a more narrow 12.5 percentage points.

What should worry the Conservatives, though, is that the Opinium poll, on which that MRP projection was based, only had Labour leading the Conservatives by 15 points nationally: 48per cent to 33per cent.

Other surveys in recent days, by companies SavantaComres, Redfield & Wilton, Deltapoll and People Polling, have all put Labour at more than 30 points ahead – while YouGov most recently had Labour leading by 28 points.

If these polls are right, Croydon South could be lost more heavily and an array of even more surprising Labour gains could be on the cards.

But in politics, there is no substitute for actual votes. On November 3, voters in Selsdon Vale and Forestdale will go to the polls in the council by-election caused by the death of Conservative councillor Badsha Quadir.

Both Labour and the Greens (who have recently picked up council seats from the Tories across the country) are all putting in a shift in a ward that was comfortably won by the Conservatives in the local elections in May.

Credit where it’s due: Tories briefed that the 45p rate tax cut was the Croydon MP’s idea

But much has changed since May.

Chris Philp was promoted to a top government job in the Treasury and then humiliatingly defenestrated as Chief Secretary, which will not have helped his standing locally or nationally. After the 45p tax cut for the richest 1per cent was reversed, it was briefed – by his own party colleagues – that Philp was the architect of that particular measure.

Nevertheless, Philp dutifully went out to do a media round and insist, “The rest [of the Mini-Budget] is all staying.” That lasted all of 10 days before his boss, Kwasi Kwarteng, was sacked and Jeremy Hunt took over as Chancellor, to reverse nearly all of Kwarteng and Philp’s Mini-Budget policies, and dispensing with Philp in his Treasury team, too.

One upside for Philp, though, is that the draft boundary changes – which should be in place if the General Election is held in 2024 – probably make Croydon South a slightly safer Conservative seat, by losing bits of  Waddon and all of the soon-to-be contested Selsdon Vale and Forestdale ward, while gaining all of the South Croydon ward. We will know what the Boundary Commission has finally decided on  November 8.

Philp won the internal selection to be Croydon South Conservative candidate in 2014, defeating future Cabinet ministers Robert Jenrick, the dodgy ex-Housing Secretary, and the recently departed, security-breaching Home Secretary Suella Braverman (née Fernandes), as well as Charlotte Vere (now Baroness Vere of Norbiton) and Lucy Frazer (now the MP for South East Cambridgeshire).

The question for Philp, and probably one facing many Conservative MPs today after the events of the last 48 hours, is whether he even wants to continue as an MP after his prominent role in the debacle of Liz Truss’s maladministration.

One person apparently not in the frame to replace Philp, should he decide to depart, is Coulsdon councillor and former Downing Street aide Mario Creatura who, it is understood, has moved to Reigate with the aim of securing the seat currently held by retiring MP Crispin Blunt.

Whether even Reigate can survive in Tory hands with the Conservative Party in meltdown is one matter.

Certainly Croydon South is worth keeping an eye on in the run-up to the next election. It could become a hotly contested marginal for the first time in its history…

Some of Andrew Fisher’s recent columns:

About insidecroydon

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
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13 Responses to Downfall of Truss leaves Tory Philp facing uncertain future

  1. Chris Borasinski says:

    Croydon South a “marginal seat”…? Are you sure…?

  2. David White says:

    Much as I’d like to see Mr Philp lose in Croydon South I don’t think it’s very likely. The Tories will probably choose Sunak as Leader. That will lead to some improvement in the Tories’ poll standing. In the absence of something totally unexpected the Tories will be able to choose the date of the General Election, which could be as much as two years away.

    I still think Labour are odds-on to win the next Election but it won’t be as much of a pushover as it might seem at present.

    Andrew Fisher makes some good points in this article but I’m not sure he’s right when he says the likely boundary changes will make Croydon South “safer” for the Tories. They will lose the halves of the Selsdon wards which are currently shared with Croydon Central (Selsdon Vale and Forestdale and Selsdon and Addington Village). The Tories have always been in the ascendant there.

    The little bit of South Croydon ward which the Croydon South Parliamentary seat will gain is only half a polling district and I believe the Labour/Tory split in that area is usually about even. The small part of Waddon which Croydon South is set to lose also won’t make much difference.

    • David, we don’t actually know whether Philp would actually seek re-election.

      His political ambition has disappeared up a brown-nosing cul de sac.

      Back to making millions using other people’s money with Pluto Finance?

  3. Martin Rosen says:

    I’m tempted to say to Andrew Fisher … WHO CARES?

    He presents a lot of psephological mumbo-jumbo to support his case, but unfortunately his grasp of statistics is clearly not a match for his political know-how :-)))

    I agree with IC’s last post – Chris Philp may well decide that his only reliable future lies in his supposed skills in making money. Good luck to him and his clients in that endeavour.

    • Well you clearly care enough, Martin, to go to the trouble of wasting some interweb bandwidth to inflict your thoughts on the world.

      The difference between Andrew Fisher, and indeed Barwell, on whom you’ve commented elsewhere, and Martin Rosen, is that they both know what they are talking about.

  4. Michael Lott says:

    I was very disappointed to see Chris Philp sullying his hands by joining team Truss, he certainly backed the wrong horse there, and then compounding matters by defending the clearly indefensible.

    However, as one of his constituents, I have had cause to seek his help on a variety of issues and each time have been impressed not only with his speed of response but also the care that he takes with detailed answers. He is definitely not one of the ‘mouth and bluster’ cohort, unlike the last but one, or next? prime minister.

    • Must say I found him somewhat helpful but rather too interested in obtaining publicity. In the end I just thought he was doing whatever he thought would get him ahead. Watching him recently I thought he just did whatever he could to get and keep his ministerial salary. Never felt like he was a man with principles.
      I shan’t be voting for him in 2024.

    • Chris ‘flag of convenience’ Philp changes his sailing colours more often than a Panamanian oil tanker.

      As a local MP, I agree he is a significant improvement on Gottaway. My friends on the BIDs quite rate him.

      However, in my (limited) dealings with him concerning the impact of the pandemic on small businesses, I found his answers platitudinous and/ or stock and he was no help whatsoever.

  5. derekthrower says:

    Interesting that Philp has jumped into the Sunak lifeboat rather than the Johnson rollercoaster. Clearly feels burnt by the financial markets, which have burned his career ambitions and worried by the uncertainty created by an erratic chancer like Bozo will cause on interest rates. First sign I’ve seen of him being worried about the future.

  6. Susan Williams says:

    Wasn’t Philp’s future always uncertain?

    Not the sharpest chisel on the rack……

  7. Dan Maertens says:

    Eleven days as Paymaster.
    Oh well, ‘Chrissy babes’ will have to find himself a seat at the back and wonder what he did wrong to fall from favour so swiftly after collecting all those job titles on his CV during his time with the cabal. Perhaps he can now concentrate on his constituents during the interregnum between Mr Sunak’s current tenure and the take over by ‘others’ to manage the slow decline of Brexitania, after which he’ll need to take the bus to the JobCentrePlus in Fisher’s Folly.

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