Political editor WALTER CRONXITE on the shortest of short lists for Croydon Conservative members to pick from for a parliamentary candidate
Gavin Barwell’s former staffers, thrusting, keen and eager Tory politicians, must be beginning to think that there is some form of curse dogging their stuttering careers.
First, the charmless Mario Creatura bungled his big chance at the 2019 General Election, moves his family home to Banstead in pursuit of a safer Tory seat, and doesn’t even make the shortlist in Reigate.
Now Jason Cummings, the brains behind witless Mayor Jason Perry, hears that Rishi Sunak’s wife has decided that there needs to be many more women among the Tories’ parliamentary candidates, just as he makes it on to a two-person shortlist for the new Croydon East seat, where his sole remaining rival is a woman half his age.
Michael Crick, the peerless veteran political correspondent, has reported this morning that Cummings and Samia Hersi are the survivors of last night’s interviews by the local party’s executive officials, chaired by New Addington councillor Lara Fish.
Cummings and Hersi now go before a selection meeting of members drawn from those living in the Croydon East constituency – comprising the current borough wards of both Addiscombes, New Addington North and South, both Selsdon wards, a bit of Woodside, and the two Shirley wards.
Cummings’ hopes of becoming an MP are, in large part, what has landed the borough with piss-poor Perry as Mayor.
This might prove to be an insurmountable obstacle to Cummings’ hopes of selection. But even if he does overcome that and gets his name on a General Election ballot paper sometime in the next 15 months, Cummings’ path to parliament is likely to be blocked by his part in imposing a 15% Council Tax hike on Croydon East voters.
Local Tories suggest that Cummings and Perry came to a Granita-like non-aggression pact, of the kind carved up between Blair and Brown 30 years ago, to avoid undermining one another’s selection prospects: Cummings would leave the way clear for Perry to be the Tories’ mayoral candidate if Perry agreed not to seek selection in the new parliamentary seat.
But with Cummings the council cabinet member for finance, he carries much of the responsibility for Croydon’s 15% Council Tax hike, which required special approval from Michael Gove to go three times over the legal limit for increases.
As such, “Mr 15%” Cummings has made himself a easy target for political rivals should he be picked to be the Tory candidate in Croydon East.
As a Croydon councillor for almost 15 years, with a strong network in his Shirley ward, former Woolworths manager Cummings will at least be well known to the people making the selection, who will remember him as Barwell’s head of office before following the MP to work in Downing Street for Theresa May. Which, again, may not always be regarded as a good thing by some of the increasingly rabid right-wingers and Brexiteers who comprise the modern Conservative Party.
Hersi, 27, has already had some Tory selection practice, having been shortlisted in Eltham and Chislehurst and in Dagenham and Rainham this year.
From Tower Hamlets, she is the daughter of Somali immigrants – a bus driver and a cleaner – and she currently works in public affairs at PR agency H/Advisors Cicero. But Hersi also had two years as a researcher at Westminster working for Gillian “Fucking good job” Keegan.
Her ace card could come in the edict that has come from Downing Street in the past few days. Crick (again) reported this week, “Rishi Sunak told a Women to Win drinks reception at the Conservative conference that getting more women selected as candidates was now a priority.”
Crick went on: “Sunak revealed that even his wife Akshata Murthy had been badgering him about doing something to improve the poor figures so far.”
So timing’s not looking too peachy for poor old Jase…
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