WALTER CRONXITE, political editor, on a Tory councillor who is putting his own ambitions ahead of the interests of the Coulsdon residents he is paid to serve
“Have the Tories given up on London?” the London evening newspaper that used to be known, with good cause, as the Evening Boris, asked on its front page yesterday.
It certainly looks as if Mario Creatura, the publicly funded gobby fac totem to Gavin Barwell when he was MP, has given up on Croydon, and on the residents in the Coulsdon ward he is supposed to represent.
Creatura, who is paid a total of almost £24,000 in council allowances each year, is the chief whip for the Conservative councillor group at the Town Hall.
As such, he is expected at least to turn up on the rare occasions when there is important council business to discuss, such as last night’s cabinet meeting, where the possible closure of five of the borough’s maintained nursery schools was discussed, and the dire consequences of interest rate increases for a bankrupt borough with borrowing of £1.6billion were also aired.
Cabinet meetings are where Jason Perry, Croydon’s piss-poor Mayor, tells his most senior council colleagues what they are supposed to do. There’s only another four such cabinet meetings scheduled for the whole of this year.
But last night, Creatura was AWOL – absent without leave – or “missing in action”. Nowhere to be seen.
One of his colleagues passed on his apologies on his behalf.
But a couple of hours later, Creatura gave the game away when he tweeted that he was off on the piss at a right-wing think tank’s summer party in Westminster, and brown-nosing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who was the guest of honour.
Not that the Conservatives have a reputation for putting their own partying ahead of the people. Oh no…
“Either he’s stupid, or he holds the people of Croydon in contempt, or he just doesn’t care,” an erstwhile Katharine Street colleague confided to Inside Croydon.
“Knowing Mario, most likely all three.”
Creatura was the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central at the 2019 General Election, where he pledged his ever-lasting affection for the place where he grew up.
Now, after having made a complete pig’s ear of his previous attempt to get into Parliament, Creatura is living in Surrey, where he is eagerly seeking selection as the Tory candidate for Reigate and Banstead seat that is being vacated by sitting MP Crispin Blunt.
For Creatura, the chance of even a minute in the presence of Sunak is much more important than a three-hour meeting attended on behalf of the residents of Coulsdon at Croydon Town Hall.
But then Creatura is not the only Tory to have given up on London, as the Lord Lebedev-owned Evening Standard highlighted last night.
With the withdrawal of Daniel Korski from the Conservative Mayoral candidate selection race, following allegations that he was a groper when working as a Downing Street adviser (Korski has denied the allegations), leaves London’s Tories in disarray.
“The latest sign of a party in apparently terminal decline in the capital,” according to political commentator Adam Bienkov this morning.
Describing the Tories as practising a form of “Londonphobic politics”, Beinkov noted, “The collapse of the Conservative party within the city is the clearest sign we have yet that this is a party and a Government on its way out.”
Korski was at a Tory selection hustings held in Croydon last week, although we are unable to report how well he was received by Mayor Perry and the borough’s other Conservatives, since it was a closed event, with no media invite arriving at Inside Croydon Towers.
It leaves just two candidates for Tory Party members to choose from when the balloting opens next week – Susan “the Daily Mail on steroids” Hall, a London Assembly member, and some other bloke no one’s heard of. This from the party that excluded its own Minister for London, Paul Scully, from its shortlist…
Labour is tipped to win the previously safe Conservative outer London seat of Uxbridge in next month’s by-election, which was called following Boris Johnson’s resignation as a MP.
Opinion polls suggest the Tories are as much as 40per cent behind in the capital overall, which means that Sadiq Khan should be a shoo-in for a record-breaking third term as London Mayor next May, and that Chris Philp’s safe Croydon South seat could even be lost at the General Election whenever it is held between now and December 2024.
Of course, any discussion of politics and election swings and voting intentions in this neck of the woods must also factor-in the bitter and continuing resentment felt by voters for Labour over the manner that they crashed the borough’s finances.
While that may act as a brake on Labour political aspirations in Croydon, it does not mean that the Conservatives are the default alternative any longer.
This April’s 15per cent Council Tax rise, in the midst of the worst cost-of-living crisis for generations, won’t easily be forgotten, either and is firmly associated with part-time Perry, who appears to be presiding over some part-time councillors, too.
As long as Conservative councillors, like Creatura, opt, to put their own political ambitions ahead of their work and duties at Croydon Town Hall, the electoral prospects of the likes of Philp and other Tory candidates can only suffer further damage at the hands of an ill-served electorate.
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