Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review of the Croydon North by election

Review of the Croydon North by election in the style of one-day cricket match report.
Shortly after the last the votes were counted, Lea Goddard, Head of elections and civic services, asked the candidates and agents to join him in Room 7 at Lanfranc school. It was here that he privately announced the results. My polling was called first 855, and then Marisha Ray’s 860. HOWL! Just six runs/votes short of a spectacular result. We are all proud that under great pressure from a high profile Respect candidate, our vote held up and actually increased by 1.5%


One of the more demoralising aspects of the election is the vast quantities of cash the established Westminster parties can draw upon to win the game. Leaflets were used to rotate the strike, but the cuts and pulls that reached the boundary were the mini outbound call centres deployed by the big two, Undoubtedly, in a winter election, telecanvassing is an effective form of campaigning.  I think UKIP’s Winston Mckenzie spent a lot cash too. He even opened a shop.

UKIP shop in South Norwood

Also, one must forget the big hitters involved in this election. Both ‘Don’t get in to frenzy vote Winston Mckenzie’ and ‘The real deal Lee Jasper” are larger than life characters, and in such circumstances it was right to play with Green Knight stroke. In an interview with Croydon TV I mentioned this.

Arguably, the most effective form of campaigning should be an independent assessment of the candidates in a hustings environment, and that came in the form of the Croydon Advertiser report on the Croydon North Decides debate.  

We decided to turn it into a leaflet. 

Final leaflet

When an independent observer identifies the Green Knight as the candidate that “impressed the most”, we must tell as many voters as possible!! I believe that our vote could have been squeezed had it not been for this leaflet. After reading the article, Caroline Allen [IslingtonGreen Party] asked what was the circulation of the paper in Croydon North. I replied not enough. Locals rely on the free paper for news. The Advertiser costs 65p.
Choice of two:

At the Praise House hustings, Steve Reed got into a muddle when he was probed outside the off stump about his decision to cut youth services in Lambeth. Earlier at Croydon North Decides he played forward defensive, pointing to a cut in the government grant to local authorities. However, at Praise House he denied cutting jobs in youth services. He was accused of lying both at the event and on social media afterwards.

At the Potters House debate, a rather unusual question was directed at the panel: Have you been involved in any financial irregularities? At least, that was the gist of the question. The panel consisted of [in this order] me, Jasper, Stranack, Reed and Ray. We all answered no. Then the questioner rephrased and redirected the question towards Jasper. Understanding the premise,  Lee then gave an emotional response explaining how certain newspapers had hounded him to the levels where he was under great personal strain over allegations of financial wrongdoings. Essentially, Jasper picked the googly and played it back to the bowler.

Choice of three:

When Steve Reed won the Labour selection, against the wishes of the majority of the councillors in the constituency, I wondered how traditional Labour voters from the Afro-Caribbean and Muslim communities would react if they knew he was gay. Of course, this should have no bearing or relevance, but it is well known that homosexuals suffer persecution, and in some cases prosecution, in some countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East.  

View from the panel @ The Potters House debate

At the PottersHouse debate Lee Jasper reminded the predominantly Afro-Caribeean  audience that he was a devout Christian, yet when the question of gay rights came up, Lee was asked to explain how equal rights could pad up alongside what the bible says. Jasper hit back with a typical passionate riposte, asserting that no form of discrimination should be tolerated, culminating in a call for the questioner to look at the panel before him, “Shasha is an Asian, I am black, Andy is disabled, Steve is gay and Marisha is a woman.” The moment he identified Steve as gay, the level of murmuring in the room was audible. I saw one woman ask the woman next to her, “Did he just say he was gay?”    
Running full pelt to the boundary to stop the ball going over the rope, Jasper fielded the ball and threw it back with such speed, he actually managed to run out Reed!
On the day of the election, many of us saw Respect posters on bus shelters, some very very near polling stations. If this didn’t constitute enough of a howler, what was worse was getting them removed. Apparently TFL had no real procedures in place to remove the posters speedily. Hence, some were up all day. 

Respect Poster on bus shelter

Brendan, our local party treasurer, pointed out during the campaign that what we needed was a bunch of out of work activists to knock on doors. We simply didn’t have that luxury. Nearly all of us in Team Green Knight were working. In short, I must thank everyone who put in the hours outside their working hours, at times in freezing conditions, especially Bernice Golberg, for being my agent for the umpteenth time, Liam Fretwell, Nick Barnett, Gordon Ross, Caroline Russell, Barry Buttigieg, Eillen Gale and of course Brendan Walsh.  
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Steven Downes said...

An interesting read, Sasha.

The last two images haven't loaded, though: be interested to see those law-busting posters. Respect certainly did not respect election laws on polling day.

You might be interested to note that Inside Croydon received favourable comments about your election questionnaire, too.

During November, we were doing between 2,000 and 3,000 unique views per day, a far better rate of readership than the Advertiser has sales, and many, many more than pale imitation websites that try to pretend they are not Conservative manage to attract...

Shasha Khan said...

Thanks Steven. Those are impressive unique views. Inside Croydon has certainly grown into popular source for news and views in Croydon.

I'll email images to you.

Standing up for what matters