With the Express describing the decision as a ‘clusterfuck’, Sutton and Cheam MP’s thwarted bid to become Mayor of London is early casualty of the Tory party’s psychodrama over law-breaking, lying and philandering Boris Johnson, reports CARL SHILTON
Red faces all round for Croydon and Sutton’s blue politicians, after Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s choice to be his Minister for London was deemed to be not good enough to make the short-list for selection as the Conservative Party’s London mayoral election candidate.
Paul Scully, the MP for Sutton and Cheam since 2015, had been thought to be a shoo-in to be the Tory candidate against Labour’s Sadiq Khan in next May’s London elections.
But there was widespread shock and disbelief among councillors, MPs and party members when the Conservatives released their selection short-list at tea-time on Sunday, and Scully’s name was not on it.
The normally buttoned-up and staid Daily Express was so underwhelmed by it all that it described the “colossally stupid” decision to exclude Scully as a “clusterfuck” (albeit with buttoned-up and staid asterisks, which ain’t fooling nobody).
Scully’s omission, a supporter told the Faragist newspaper, “has handed London back to Sadiq Khan for another four years”.
“As the only MP on the longlist, many had assumed he would be hard to beat,” was the considered view of the BBC.
“British politics still in ‘You couldn’t make it up’ phase,” Tory peer Lord Barwell, the sometime MP for Croydon Central, tweeted his disbelief of the decision.
Barwell’s party officials had decided that Susan Hall (who she? Ed), Daniel Korski, a former No10 aide, and King’s Counsel Mozammel Hossain all have a better chance of losing by a smaller margin to Mayor Khan than Scully.
The shortlist was drawn up by the 17-member Tory regional board, following interviews by a selection panel at Conservative HQ.
The successful candidate is due to be announced on July 19, after a series of hustings and a ballot of party members.
Scully’s potential candidacy for the London mayoralty had attracted broad support from his party colleagues holding elected positions in parliament and on Sutton and Croydon councils.
“Team Scully” had included Elliot Colburn, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, Tom Drummond and Tim Crowley, present and previous leaders of the Tory opposition group on Sutton council, and Croydon councillors Dani Denton, Samir Dwesar, Gale Gander, Holly Ramsey, Nikhil Thampi and Fatima Zaman (whaddya mean, you’ve never heard of any of ’em??!).
Following yesterday’s announcement, Scully said: “I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude to Team Scully, the many volunteers, activists, councillors, [London Assembly Members] and MPs across London who supported my campaign.
“Your dedication and scale of support has been incredible.”
The surprise at Scully’s omission was quickly linked to the Sutton MP’s too-close-association with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as the Conservatives enter a period of bitter internal conflict and in-fighting between various pro- and anti-Brexit and pro- and anti-Boris factions.
“Scully,” a supporter said, “got shafted.”
They added, “We’re not 100per cent sure, but we suspect No10 was involved in the decision.
“This KC bloke…,” they said, meaning the little-known Hossain, “… has absolutely zero experience. Scully, whatever your personal view might be, has always been a very good campaigner.” In fact, Scully was a professional campaigner before being elected as an MP, running his Croydon-based Nudge Factory PR company.
Hossain has been described by the Court of Appeal as an advocate of “great eloquence”. Hossain came to Britain in 1995 and in 2019 he became the first Bangladeshi-born criminal barrister ever to be appointed Queen’s Counsel.
Reports suggest he was included on the shortlist at the insistence of the Prime Minister’s office.
Hall is said to have the support of the Boris Johnson death cult, while Korski has the backing of what the Express calls “the Machiavellian master of the dark arts Michael Gove”.
Pro-pollution Hall’s main claim for selection as the Tory candidate seems to be that she dislikes Sadiq Khan.
A former councillor in Harrow, Hall has been a member of the London Assembly since 2017, although never elected to represent a constituency, only sneaking in through the backdoor of the electoral list system.
She stood down as leader of the Conservative group on the Assembly last month in order to run for mayoral selection.
Scully did much the same, standing down as Minister for London, a position he has held under three Prime Ministers – although one of them was Liz Truss. It remains to be seen whether he is allowed to resume those duties now he is now longer conflicted over the mayoral selection.
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