Croydon’s Tories opt to set up ‘Mr 15%’ Cummings for a fall

Political editor WALTER CRONXITE looks at the election chances of Croydon East’s version of ‘Captain Oates’: noble but utterly futile

2% chance: Jason Cummings will be on the General Election ballot paper for the Tories

The party conference over for another year, one of the newest Constituency Labour Parties, Croydon East, will formally begin its candidate selection process next week.

Whoever is chosen to stand for Labour in the General Election, whenever it is called between now and December 2024, will know that they have been gifted a gilt-edged chance of becoming an MP, and thanks in large part to the local Tories.

Because last night, Croydon Conservatives opted to select Jason Cummings to be their candidate for Croydon East, guaranteeing that every election leaflet for the next year, from every opposition party, not just Labour, will almost certainly include a reminder of the Shirley councillor’s central part in imposing a 15% Council Tax hike on all Croydon voters.

Cummings was selected from the shortest of shortlists, with Croydon Tory members picking him ahead of former Westminster aide Samia Hersi. Hersi has been doing the rounds of Tory selection meetings over the past couple of months, and must be wondering what she has to do to get picked even for a seat which everyone knows the Tories won’t win.

Electoral Calculus, the political forecasting website, had the Conservatives’ chances of winning Croydon East to be 2%. That was before the latest Tory clusterfuck of a conference and Labour’s somewhat dull, but worthy, annual gathering of their own. Even at the end of September, Electoral Calculus was predicting a Labour majority at the next election of 186 seats, including Croydon East.

Once the number crunchers get wind that “Mr 15%” Cummings will be on the ballot paper in Croydon East for the Conservatives, it is possible that they will reduce their prediction of Tory chances of success even further.

Old mates: Cummings worked for Gavin Barwell for most of the last decade

“Conservatives are not realistic challengers in this constituency under current national opinion poll standings, regardless of the local Labour’s Party’s poisoned brand arising from the council bankruptcy and corrupted local governance,” Andrew Pelling, a former Conservative MP for part of the area covered by the new constituency and, until 2022, a Labour councillor in Waddon ward.

Croydon will get four MPs, instead of the current three, at the next General Election. Croydon South will probably remain Conservative, while Steve Reed has gravitated back towards Lambeth in the reconfigured Croydon North and Streatham seat, Sarah Jones is to stand in a new Croydon West seat, and then there’s Croydon East.

That comprises the Addiscombes wards, New Addington North and South, both Selsdon wards, a bit of Woodside, and the two Shirley wards.

Cummings is, at least, rated to be one of the more competent of ward councillors and council cabinet members to be inflicted on the long-suffering residents of Croydon in recent times. But as well as this year’s huge Council Tax hike, his ambition to run for parliament is also to blame for Croydon having pompous windbag Jason Perry as its piss-poor Mayor.

Cummings began working life managing the pick ‘n mix at Woolworths, before essentially becoming a full-time politician. He now describes himself as “Former political adviser to the Prime Minister”, which may not look as good on anyone’s CV as Cummings might think…

He has been a councillor in Shirley for 15 years, and when Gavin Barwell became MP for Croydon Central in 2010, Cummings got the job as his head of office. After Barwell lost the seat amid the wave of Corbynmania in 2017, Cummings followed him to Downing Street to work as an aide to Prime Minister Theresa May.

In the bag: how veteran political correspondent Michael Crick relayed the news last night

Since 2019, there are some gaps in Cummings’ employment history on LinkedIn, although he does take credit for organising the Conservative local election campaign up to May 2022, and is known to work pretty much full-time in his role as cabinet member for finance at the Town Hall.

And there’s the rub, as far as his (lack of) electoral appeal at the General Election might go.

Cummings and Perry came to an agreement that they would not oppose one another over Tory mayoral selection and parliamentary selection. That plan, as far as it goes, appears to have worked.

But Cummings now 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.

Cummings therefore comes with a giant-sized albatross around his neck.

Cummings might pass as a credible Conservative parliamentary candidate in any other constituency, so his choice of seeking election in his home seat is commendable, but also smacks of the political equivalent of Captain Oates popping outside the tent for a quick wee… Noble, but utterly futile.

Cummings will well know that Croydon East is a lowly 395th on the Tory Party’s own list of target seats. If he were to win here, it would be among the most remarkable political turnrounds of all time.

Thus, the importance of the political parties’ closed and usually secretive selection processes in such an apparently “safe” seat is greater than ever.

The next MP for Croydon East is most likely to be chosen from a poor-turn-out meeting of possibly fewer than 100 unaccountable Labour Party members, including a good number of mates and allies. When it comes to the names on the ballot paper, the electorate will just have to like it, or lump it…

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14 Responses to Croydon’s Tories opt to set up ‘Mr 15%’ Cummings for a fall

  1. Susan Peeley says:

    Two questions

    Question 1: Who is stupid enough to vote for an old lazy right-wing fucker who put their council tax up by 15%? This snivelling little shit asked permission from HMGov to give Croydon an increased council tax rise. He is an out-of-touch Tory fucker who does not deserve to represent anybody in this borough.

    Question 2: Does Gavin Barwell have a lower jaw?

    • You wait till you see the right-wing fucker Steve Reed wants to have picked by Labour

      • Greg Harding says:

        It’s only a matter of time before, on the other side, Starmer realises just how useless Reed is. Easier to disguise in a shadow role, but in a live cabinet, Reed’s limited abilities will shine out and he’ll be demoted.

  2. Paul Ainscough says:

    “every election leaflet for the next year, from every opposition party, not just Labour, will almost certainly include a reminder of the Shirley councillor’s central part in imposing a 15% Council Tax hike on all Croydon voters.” And reminding voters that Croydon Labour did not oppose the 15% Coucil Tax hike.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      Nope they got giant sized splinters in the nether regions instead by abstaining with a rationale that did not deter either of the minority parties.
      Perhaps not their best days work that?
      It will become slaggin match between them
      ”You raised the tax”
      ”You bankrupted the borough”

      Basically two farts in a trance and not much use to the people of Croydon East?

  3. Derek Nicholls says:

    So Cummings should point out that there was no choice but to raise Council Tax by 15% (in fact it needed to be higher) after Labour had wrecked Croydon’s finances and plunged the Council into severe debt. Failure to set the tax might have put councillors at risk of being surcharged.

    • There’s always a choice, Derek.
      The argument that there wasn’t is that deployed by failed, usually right-wing, politicians

      • Derek Nicholls says:

        Another option would be to borrow more money in order to reduce the size of the Council Tax increase but that would increase interest payments for future years. There comes a point in time when you have to admit that it is not feasible to borrow more money as that would be reckless behaviour. Labour and Lefties often fail to appreciate this fact and are happy to continue committing to spending money they haven’t got. An example of that is the unsuitable Brighton Road cycle lane!

        • Borrowing more, as the Tory government encouraged countless councils across the country to do, is not an option I’ve seen advocated by anyone. Certainly not by anyone on the left as far as Croydon, or Tory basket cases Thurrock and Woking are concerned.
          Perry was elected on a promise to “fix the finances”, something he has failed to do.
          The 15% Council Tax is a cruel and unnecessary punishment for hard-working residents of the borough that does nothing to address the fundamental issues facing the council’s finances.
          That can only be the write-off of a large part of the government loans, reducing the debt burden, something Perry (and Cummings) have both acknowledged but failed to deliver.
          More Tory lies.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      Labour knew a high tax was an option being considered and failed to plan for that effectively. It had little back up plans and in the end copped a plea on head office advice?

      What other options were discussed? Exactly how did that strategy protect the electorate?

      Do we want career politicians that have no moral compass, no ethic’s and are unable to stand up for democracy and peoples rights?
      Do you want a bunch that sets themselves and their own interests above taking the right stance?

      Some acts or omissions haunt those that fail to actually do the job they were elected for – I would suggest the abstaining may be one that does cause issues at the next local elections and also will haunt Mr Cummings.

  4. Carl Lucas says:

    Jason has got my vote, he’ll be the best candidate. He’s unlikely to win but the public will get to witness how poor Labour will be for 5 years, even worse than the Tories have been.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      Q, Who changed the regulations to force borrowing from central funds?
      A, Conservative and Unionist party. 2011Mr Pickles.
      Q. Who also relaxed oversight and allowed borrowing unchecked about ability to pay moving forward
      A. Conservative and Unionist party. 2011Mr Pickles.
      Q. Who reduced funding to local boroughs.
      A. Conservative and Unionist party. 2011Mr Pickles.
      So a hat trick to the Conservative and Unionist party.

      Q Who borrowed silly amounts and invested it at a loss
      A Mr Fisher ably assisted by Mr Perry, then Mr Newman ably assisted by Lacey and his NGO but not stopped by the administration set up to ensure Councillors do not overstep.- well lets wait for the investigations.
      Call that evens between all three?

      Who has done anything to change what went wrong?
      No one. but the Conservative and Unionist party have ignored democracy and rode roughshed over the people of Croydon in not allowing them the referendum – yes they may have lost and it would have cost a bit of cash around £1m. So to save a million after pissing out over £2,000,000,000 and lose public trust is a really good way to save dosh?

      You could liken the waste by Newman to a bad gambler who borrowed others money to fund his actions.
      But frankly Conservative and Unionist party. made doing so legal by default and has set precedents that will haunt it for decades.

      But you are right we are in for a very ”interesting” five years no matter who gets in as this rotton borough will keep going down until the funding issues are actually dealt with.

      It is clear that the Conservatives are feckless and intransigent.

      It is not so clear what Mr Starmer is. Maybe he will fund councils better – maybe not.
      There is money there to do so, but other areas have to then take the hit –
      Good luck voting for lame ducks that can affect nothing.

      • Carl Lucas says:

        Nice little Q&A session you’re having with yourself, Ian! You seem more obsessed with Mr Pickles than that man is with a buffet!! I notice all those policies were actioned with the help of the Lib Dems in coalition government. One way or another all the parties are tainted. Not all councils have gone bankrupt, far from it, I’ll put the bankruptcies squarely at the feet of bad actors within the Croydon Labour Party, but you do you. Not sure where you get the idea that there is money there, only if you take it away from other vital services or add to the trillions of National Debt. I guess you’re not voting then because they are all probably lame ducks who will affect nothing.

        • Ian Kierans says:

          I would not castigate Mr Pickles (or his appetite) he delivered what he was straightjacketed to do in light of the Conservative priorities as they were then and after the Bank crash that was global. It was wrong then and ignored previous lessons when similar was done and the same outcomes occurred. (So much for learning lessons)
          Cameron and Clegg were in power but Clegg got stuffed on the Uni U turn.
          However it was still a mainly Conservative bugger up, and from Cameron to Sunak via May (ok) Johnson (dishonest) Truss (enomic’s god save math) Sunak (needs armour plate for his arse to be prevent shafting by his own party).

          None have rectified the problem which is their job.

          Most Councils? see and register as a guest they are the news for Local govenments – you will find data there that most councils are in difficulty and many are at the S114 door. No one has escaped that deficit – they are administrations run by all parties.

          There are four evidenced culprits to the loss of money leading to the S114 notices
          1. The Council itself.
          2. Central Government and its funding and allowance of unchecked borrowing for speculative purposes
          3. Mr Fisher and the white elephant leaving us £1bn in debt
          4. Nr Newman and Negoni ably assisted by Lacy and BXB.
          There is also unique issues Croydon faces along with Dover.
          The gentleman agreement for all councils to contribute tous and Dover has not worked and few have ever paid into that. We have a lot higher costs due to that and the Countries obligations are being met by us and Dover alone at present. (Based on last information)
          However thanks to Mr Pelling and the Trustee’s of the Pension funds of the Council that has not been a major cost as it has in some areas.

          I have always stated who I believed to be at fault and not changed that belief as yet. The data and facts currently bear this out. If more information comes into the public arena that markedly changes those facts – great. But until then I choose not to be delusional or an apologist for any party.

          I like facts and evidence and usually try the best I can to follow that without political blinkers on.

          The phrase ”There is money there to do so, but other areas have to then take the hit ” means exactly what you surmise. I do not favour adding to debt however do favour just re-adjuting some spends that prioritise developing our potential, increasing our performance and protecting those most vulnerable along with real honest Government.

          I will vote – and for the person(s) that in my belief (with evidence as best I can find at that time), that can deliver that.

          One can disagree with opinions and that is always healthy to challange to ensure they have merit.
          One should also challange and check facts to ensure they are true which I do regularly. but hey nobodies perfect and I am certain I have made errors along the way and am easily able to accept those I have made and then try to do better

          But those facts have been aired and as yet no eividence has come out that they are wrong.

          I would be happy if they were wrong and we were not broke and have terrible services and a shoddy administration with a Lame Duck Mayor. Mr Perry may be a nice person and until evidence to the contrary I believe he is. But the fact is he has not helped and is also become part of the issues.

          Thank you for your reply I did like the quip at the start. For that I gave you a like.

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