Monday, December 22, 2014

Letter to Croydon South MP

My Christmas message to my MP, Sir Richard Ottaway (Conservative, Croydon South) sent the old fashioned way, in the post last week.
Dear Sir Richard,

This year I really don’t feel like Christmas. I can’t bear the thought of being part if it. But I am socially obliged have grin and bear it, even to pretend I enjoy it, counting the minutes for this hypocritical feast to be over. The reason is that friends have emailed me two recent documents:
1) Feeding Britain: A strategy for zero hunger in England,
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The report of the All-Party. Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom
And:
2) An Evidence Review for the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom. Compiled and written by Andrew Forsey, Secretary to the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom.
Document 2) is a summary of the evidence from which the conclusions and recommendations of document 1) are drawn. The findings in these reports are horrifying. The UK is still one of the richest countries on Earth and yet thousands of people, through no fault of their own and a great many in work, have to undergo the regular humiliation of asking for emergency food in charitable food banks. The reports make absolutely clear that in general the cause is poverty and living conditions caused by poverty. On page 8 of “Feeding Britain” is the statement:
“Let us therefore begin by stating the blindingly obvious. An individual is in danger of going hungry when they do not have enough money to buy enough food as their body requires. There are people in this very position right now in this country.”
When people who are already poor are suddenly deprived of regular income, e.g. though unemployment or other reasons why they have to rely on the benefits system, they have no reserves and they immediately experience acute hardship. The rock-solid evidence collected for these reports shows that delays in benefits processing some by design, some though incompetence and inefficiency, compounded by a capricious and arbitrarily administered sanctions system, are a major contributor to the large scale increase of hunger in this country.
I know that I have been very lucky. Every day of my life (and I am now 65) I have known where my next meal is coming from. But I was not born in this country and reading some of the evidence collected for these reports, I am reminded of what my parents lived though in 1944 – 45 in the Nazi occupied Netherlands: families reduced to having nothing, without heat, light and food in their home; people scavenging through refuse to try to find some thing edible, and so on. About 4.5 million people were affected
But this is the UK in 2014, a rich country, and now literally the same things are now happening here to many people. A number of submissions to the reports outlined how people had become so hungry that they resort, though sheer desperation, to stealing essential goods or scavenging through bins and skips behind food outlets, including parents and children. Others stated that families cannot cook the food they collect from a food bank when they get home because they have no cash to put in the pay as you go utility meters. The number of officially recorded medical primary and secondary diagnoses of malnutrition in England has risen from 3,161 in 2008 -2009 to 5,499 last year.
On page 17 the Report’s summary of evidence states “ (The) data would indicate that the number of people in this country who are at risk of going hungry may be in the region of four million.” I.e. hunger is beginning to affect people here on a similar scale as the early stages of the 1944-45 Dutch famine. The difference is of course that here the hungry are a minority, dispersed amongst the well-fed majority.
How could this possibly have come about? This country has easily enough food and other resources to enable everybody to have an adequate minimum standard of nutrition and generally adequate living conditions. We know from the thousands of volunteers who donate their time to run food banks and the millions of people who make donations to them that the British people are generally caring and compassionate by nature and didn’t want this to happen.
I also know that you and your government have been in power for almost five years and decided to let this situation develop without doing anything about it and callously and irresponsibly refused to collect the data and to compile the statistic on hunger in this country, so that this had to be done through private initiatives. You have adopted policies, as the reports make abundantly clear, which made the situation worse, and for ideological reasons even refused European Union aid to help the hungry.
In the spring of 1945 my country was not so fussy when very low flying RAF bombers– who couldn’t be sure that they would not be shot at - dropped British emergency food aid and saved many thousands of lives. We were just grateful and still are to this day. When I was young I have seen perfectly normal, sane and balanced men and women break down and burst into tears when they had cause to relive memories of those events. This is one of the things hunger can do to people.
There is no objective reason why anybody should go hungry in this country. I really don’t get it. Why do you hate the poor, the vulnerable, those who are badly paid in insecure jobs, those exploited by landlords so that they don’t have enough to live on, those unreasonably persecuted by sanctions and inadequate and delayed benefit payments, the unemployed, those who genuinely cannot work, and all their children? What have they ever done to you? Please explain it to me. Why do you hate these people so much?

Yours sincerely,

Tom Voƻte




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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

A night out with the stars




A good while back a got a call from a Croydon Guardian reporter saying that I had been nominated for the Croydon Guardian Croydon Champions Community Champion award. The reporter told me that a friend had nominated me, primarily for my efforts in trying to stop the incinerator. The reporter basically asked me to sell myself, not something I find easy to do.

The sales pitch appeared in the Croydon Guardian a couple of weeks later. Then about a month ago, I was advised by email I was one of the three finalists for the Community Champion award. This came as a surprise because the stop the incinerator campaign can be quite political at times. However, I think my other bits of community campaigning added weight to my nomination. I was sent two tickets to the ceremony at the Hilton Hotel.

The awards are now in their 13th year which gives an indication of how they have become a major annual event. I went along with my dad. When I got there I recognised one or two faces including Robert Gibson from Save Upper Norwood Library. He was there as a nominee for Team Of The Year. Robbie and I had an opportunity to have a good catch up on our respective campaigns after the ceremony.

The winner of the Community Champion award was one of the first to be announced. The format was that the guest who opened the envelope,in our case Nick Hitchens, Assistant Editor of the Croydon Guardian, announced the Highly Commended award and then the winner. Nick announced Fred Wallis first as Highly Commended. Mr Wallis was influential in stopping Purley Swimming Pool from closure. Therefore, the winner was either Fatima Koroma or yours truly. When an audio was played of each of the nominees, I immediately felt that Fatima should win. She founded Croydon Foodbank and works there everyday.

Three finalists for Community Champion on screen (my dad in the foreground)

My heart started beating fast as the announcement was about to be made for the winner. To my relief Fatima won! Everyone on my table turned to offer me commiserations. It was all a bit surreal, it felt like being at the OSCARS!! I didn't feel unlucky at all. I was honoured and humbled to be on the shortlist. Fatima is a deserved winner and I genuinely would have felt embarrassed if I had won. We exchanged messages via twitter afterwards.

The night progressed with one amazing trio of unsung heroes after another vying for their respective award. A wheelchair bound man sitting on the same table as me won the Sporting Champion award. Ten years ago this bus driver was left paralysed after being brutally assaulted on his bus at West Croydon. He has rebuilt his life, and become national disabled champion and then world disabled champion at lawn bowls! He was in tears when he won. I felt my eyes start to fill with tears on his and other stories of bravery.

At the end of the night we were presented with a commemorative booklet with all the results. My dad spotted my face on the inside back cover among all the other Commended. 



To quote Nick Hitchens, who wrote an introduction on the inside cover of the booklet:

Greatness should not be measured in the number of boutique shops in the High Street or flashy skyscrapers punctuating the skyline, bus also by the character of the people who live here.

Well done Croydon Guardian! A full list of winners is here
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Monday, December 01, 2014

OFCOM reply re excluding Greens from TV Debates



A fairly considered response to my enquiry. In the letter the Complaints Analyst refers to the 'major parties', I've looked these up. Presently, in Great Britain the 'major parties' are defined as the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats. Evidently, regulation needs to catch up with public opinion,

I was pleased to see that the Green Party is not giving up on the TV debates, indicating a claim may be pursued. Interestingly, the Green Party solicitor is Leigh Day. I had approached Leigh Day a couple weeks back to act as my new solicitors for the incinerator judicial review. They advised me they just didn't have the capacity to take on my case, not surprising when the prospect of litigation regarding Green party exclusion from the TV Debates is looming.
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Meet the Croydon candidates On Saturday 29th November


Picture from the 2005 General Election stall in the town centre.

Just to let everyone now, all three prospective parliamentary candidates, Esther Sutton, Peter Underwood and yours truly, will be in Croydon on Saturday 29th November. Come and meet us.

Our Green Party stall will be located in approximately in the same position (outside the main whitgift entrance on North End from 10am onwards) as the picture above, although Levi's Store is now a mobile phone shop!

Look forward to seeing you there.

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Incinerator contract.



Quite a bit of discussion on twitter recently regarding the incinerator contract between the South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) and Viridor. Earlier this year I received this redacted version. Quoting the council officer who supplied it to me, " it is large" but hopefully interested observers can view it now.

DROPBOX Link is here

PDF-Archive link is here :
pdf document: Project Agreement front end reacted version.pdf
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Where's your moratorium now?

The current edition of Croydon Guardian has photo of mine in Viewfinder:


Viewfinder is on the letters page. On this page is a letter from Nia (The Lois Project). She writes about Broad Green being "choked with the amount of flats being built." This got me thinking again about the response I received at Public Question Time earlier this month:
From Mr Shasha Khan 
Councillor Alison Butler  
Cabinet Member for Homes and Regeneration  
Question No. 
PQ058-14 

At the Broad Green hustings, for the 2014 council elections, Labour panellist,
Councillor Stuart Collins, said that he had been calling for a moratorium on new development in the London Road/Broad Green area. Now that Labour control the council, is a moratorium on new development in place in this area? 
Reply 

The new administration is committed to the regeneration of the London Road/Broad Green area. As local planning authority the Council are required in law to consider any scheme on its individual merits in line with the London Plan and the Croydon Local Plan and any other material planning considerations.

Green Party candidate Pravina Ellis and Cllr Stuart Collins
Picture taken at the Broad Green hustings just days before the local elections which Labour won

I find a good way to let off steam about politicians seemingly saying one thing but doing another is to write a letter. I've just sent this to the Croydon Guardian:

22.10.14

Dear Editor

I completely agree with The Lois Project [Residents should be consulted over plans for more buildings], West Croydon, Broad Green in particular is being overdeveloped at an astonishing pace, with little thought for the quality of life for those living here.

Interestingly, Broad Green Labour councillor Stuart Collins is not oblivious to the situation. At the Broad Green hustings, just before the May local elections, he advised those present that he had been calling on the Conservative administration to impose a “moratorium” on all new development in Broad Green until an infrastructure review had been carried out. Everyone in the room supported him.

Now that Labour controls the council, surely we can look forward to a moratorium on Broad Green development? I am afraid not. At a recent Croydon Council Public Question Time I asked about the moratorium, and the response was “the new administration is committed to the regeneration of the Broad Green area.” For “regeneration” read overdevelopment.

Those attending that Broad Green hustings have a right to feel disappointed with Councillor Collins.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Green Party PPC for Croydon North

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Press release going out today - Parliamentary candidates announced.

Croydon Green Party Announces Prospective Parliamentary Candidates

22 October 2014

Today, Croydon Green Party declared that Shasha Khan, Esther Sutton, and Peter Underwood have been selected to stand as Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) in Croydon North, Croydon Central and Croydon South respectively.
The Green Party’s share in opinion polls has been rising steadily and is currently polling 8 per cent nationally (1), one per cent more than the Lib Dems. In what has been described as the #greensurge, membership is presently increasing by 1000 per week. In the local elections earlier this year Greens fielded a full slate of 70 candidates across the borough polling well over 20,000 votes.

Shasha Khan – Croydon North
Shasha has lived in the constituency since 1982, He is 42 and married with one daughter He has a Politics and Economics degree from University of Wolverhampton. Over the years he has worked as youth worker, Diverse London Ambassador and presently, he is a hotelier. He is the co-coordinator of the Croydon Green Party.
He has been involved in multiple local campaigns for many years. In particular the Stop The Incinerator campaign, Friends of Thornton Heath Recreation Ground (which he founded) and Croydon Save Our Schools.
Shasha Khan said, “The General Election in 2015 will be the fourth time I'll be standing in Croydon North (2). The track record I have of serving, protecting and improving the community I live in is a good indicator to what people can expect if they elect me as their MP.”

Esther Sutton – Croydon Central
Award winning (3) local businesswoman Esther Sutton, 41, has lived in Croydon nearly all her life. She lives in the constituency and coincidentally is a former classmate of Sarah Jones the Labour PPC (4). She is a single mother of two and both her children are at Croydon schools.
In 2013 Esther's ability to inspire and enrich the lives of others was recognised by a national newspaper.(5)
Through her involvement with Croydon Old Town Business Association, Croydon Portas Pilot project, Croydon Pubwatch and Croydon BID she is well known in the business community.
She was involved in the recent “Are You Safe?” anti-domestic abuse campaign in Croydon and is on the Local Alcohol Action Area steering group. In 2013
Esther Sutton said, “I believe The Green Party is the only real alternative, and the only party with robust policies on social justice and the environment. I am looking forward to spreading the word, attracting votes as I go, to win this marginal seat.”

Peter Underwood – Croydon South
Campaigner Peter Underwood ,43, has lived in the constituency for over 12 years. He currently works as the Warden of South Norwood Country Park, helping local primary schools and residents to appreciate the natural world on their doorstep.
Peter moved to London after university and he spent a number of years working in the civil service: initially in the Benefits Agency, then DWP policy and parliamentary teams before moving over to renewable energy policy in DECC.
He is the current chair Croydon Friends of the Earth and a committee member of both the Friends of Littleheath Woods and the Selsdon Residents Association.

Peter Underwood said, I am very pleased to be selected by local Green Party members as a candidate for the General Election. Voters in Croydon South are being ignored by the other parties - they assume that people will just vote the same way that they always have. I believe that people are looking for a change and the Green Party provides a positive and sensible set of polices for the future. I hope that the people of Croydon South will help make history by electing me as one of the new Green Party MPs at the upcoming election.”

Ends

Notes:

  1. 2005, 2010 and 2012 (By election)
  2. CAMRA awards and Best Bar None (2009)
  3. Old Palace School for Girls (http://www.oldpalace.croydon.sch.uk)



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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

TV DEBATES. Do you agree with Dave from Watford?



When I first saw on twitter that the Green Party had been excluded from the TV debates, I had to do a double take. I distinctly recall David Cameron favouring a 2-3-5 (2- Conservative/Labour, 3 -Conservative/Labour/LibDem and 5 - Conservative/Labour/LibDem/UKIP/Green) approach to the TV debates.

Spontaneously, petitions and suggestions of action were being circulated on social media. One of the first I read was to telephone OFCOM. I did this . I must have been one of the first because the agent didn't know about the proposal from BBC, ITV, SKYNews and Channel 4. He advised that he couldn't take the complaint for BBC but would send the complaint to the other three stations and the Contents and Standards Team will post on the OFCOM web site if there indeed is a breach of code.

There are possibly three reasons why the Greens are being excluded:

1) A combination of position in the polls, elected MPs and by-election results.
2) Conducting a debate with five candidates is not conducive to good TV or easily manageable*
3) "The powers that be do not want the Green Party message to be heard." Something that Dave from Watford thinks on the radio phone-in vid.

* Darren Johnson AM has suggested this format if he were in charge - which is fair:
Debate one - Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, UKIPDebate two - Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, Green.
Debate three - Conservative, Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru
Northern Ireland - given the choice of parties is entirely different here I'd also run an additional debate for Northern Ireland voters.


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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Truth serum definitely needs to go into the drinking water

Scanned from Croydon Citizen (Sept 2014 edition)

I have long felt that Croydon is being held back by the tribal nature of the political discourse in our borough. Through custom and habit, probably 3/4 of the electorate file outside their homes on election day to put an 'X' by their party for life. Policies are secondary. The adversarial style of our democracy cements the idea that you had better plump for the usual because the other lot could get in.

The only way to truly stop this from happening is to start afresh with a whole new set of political parties or to find a way to stop people voting in this tribal fashion. If the electorate somehow forgot who they had voted for in the past, maybe that would stop this tribalism. So, when I saw that Croydon Citizen were running a feature on how could Croydon be improved, I came up with the truth serum idea:

I would make Croydon better by...
I would make Croydon better by releasing a de-tribalising truth serum into the drinking water so that the Croydon electorate will forget who they continuously vote for, for no other reason than custom and habit. This will result in voters having to use websites like ‘Political Compass’ to guide them on who they should vote for. The outcome would be real change and real progress because the political parties and politicians elected would actually have a vision for a better Croydon, instead of business as usual.
By chance the following week my wife was sent a link to Vote for Policies via Facebook. A small number of web sites are offering what can loosely be described as tests to aid individuals on which party to vote for. Vote for Policies seems to be leading the way. Thankfully she didn't end up with UKIP.

I checked out the Vote for Policies web site today. Prominent Greens have been tweeting about the fact that 25 per cent of those completing the survey are advised they really support the Green Party. An additional feature gives you the results based on constituency. Naturally, I entered Croydon North:


From the Vote for Polices web site 

If selected for Croydon North, you can be sure I will be letting people know of this result wherever and whenever I can. Meanwhile, I am searching online pharmacies.
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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Rainy Bank Holiday Mondays



Monday 25th August was a washout but the hardy Greens involved in the stall at the Environmental Fair soldiered on in the rain, and actually raised quite a healthy sum of money for the cause. Tea/coffee and cake whatever the weather!

There were two stalls beside us that gave up halfway through the day: Labour Party and Socialist Party!

Memories from yesteryear of our stall can be found here.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Messing in Croydon

On 1st August, a steaming hot day during the heatwave, I received a knock on the front door. It was my neighbour.

"You're in the Green Party aren't you?"

After confirming my political colour of choice, she continued, "There's people dumping rubbish in the park."

I quickly didn't change into my Green Knight outfit and investigated.

I took a photo of the offending items in the park. I had a view to use the My Croydon smartphone App to report it.


I then walked up to a house which was seemingly emptying the contents of a garden into the park. The group of people before me consisted of:

Three men who were doing all the labouring.
At least two children between 8-10 years old.
A mother with a baby.

The three men looked like they were suffering from the hot conditions. They were using a hacksaw to cut branches into carryable pieces.

I explained to the group that they could contact the council to take this stuff. The main labourer asserted that the council had advised them to leave the vegetation and additional rubbish in the park, just by the entrance. I responded politely by questioning whether the council would do such a thing. I then offered to contact the council to collect it from outside the house and proceeded to look for the phone number on my smartphone. The main labourer responded by stating that I had made the children feel uncomfortable. A few poor excuses were being offered in my direction, and then one of the children started saying, "If I don't like someone I am going to say Boo!" She then repeatedly said Boo! The main labourer asked on more than one occasion if I was the owner of the park. Soon after the poor excuses turned into unpleasantries being fired in my direction.

Then in flash the mood completely turned when the main labourer threatened to cut me with his hacksaw if I didn't go away. Number 2 labourer chimed in with a volley of expletives. Number 3 labourer decided to play peacemaker and told me to walk away. Stunned by the mood change and unsure how to react, I pointed out that we all owned the park. 

Next, the main labourer rushed over to me with hacksaw in hand, which he was occasionally using even during our exchange, and grabbed my arm tightly and demanded to know where I lived.

"Show me which house is yours?" He prompted his question by waving the hacksaw in full view of my eyeballs.

His calculations proved correct because I was not in the mood to share my address with him, retreating was clearly now the sensible course of action. My heart was racing I was really unsure how this powderkeg of a man was going to turn next. His eyes were full of anger. 

He let go of my arm at which point number 3 labourer pulled me away. Before I turned around to walk home I shouted out, "You make me want to move away from this area." Main labourer responded in his broken accent in an unexpected way, "You should move to heaven" and pointed and looked up at the sky knowing my eyes were only fixed on him as he returned to using the hacksaw for its actual purpose.

Number 2 labourer then said in reference to me, "He's not even white."

When I arrived home, I was shaking, partly with anger and partly with fear. I felt that if the main labourer would behave in such an agressive manner then he must perceive to have very little at stake in society. 

I definitely was not going to call the police. Instead I decided to call Croydon North MP, Steve Reed's constituency office. I explained to Louise his assistant what had just happened. She sounded shocked and genuinely sympathetic. I asked her what I should do next. She understood that I didn't want to call the police. She then suggested I speak to Cllr Stuart Collins, Mr Clean Green cabinet member - the champion of the new council slogan against flytippers, 'Don't Mess With Croydon'. She said she was going to send him an email immediately. I had his number so I called him after putting the phone down. I got through to his voicemail. He called back straight away. Cllr Collins said that he wanted to call one of his enforcement officers. I emphatically replied, no. I did not want to risk continued intimidation.

The conversation concluded with the only thing left possible which was to get the offending vegetation and ancillaries to be collected on the morning of the next working day. Cllr Collins said he would see to it.

Yesterday (17th August). I took a photo of the flytipped vegetation. Some people who are not 'taking pride' are now dumping stuff on to it because it now looks like dumping point. 







Evidently, it is possible to mess with Croydon if you think you don't have anything to be proud about. 

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Friday, August 01, 2014

Letter on Emily Benn


From Croydon Guardian 30th July


Dear Editor,

A friend of mine who lives in East London has just text me, “24? What does a 24 year old know about anything?” He is referring to Emily Benn, granddaughter, to the late great Tony Benn. Ms Benn, aged 24, is to stand as Labour candidate in Croydon South at the May 2015 General Election. Tactically, it is good for Croydon Labour that she is standing because, on the surface, voters will assume her position on the political compass is similar to her grandfather. Scratch the surface and voters will find that she is a neoliberal investment banker, belonging to the fraternity that has caused this age of austerity.

However, Labour does need to somehow portray a progressive sheen to their persona because those who believe in social justice are deserting Labour and finding solace in the Greens. Croydon Labour from the outset has maintained it will continue the cuts programme started by the previous administration.

Labour in Croydon is now associated with a name that traditional Labour voters will warm to. This undoubtedly will help manage the obvious disappointment when the cuts programme takes effect.

Incidentally, I replied to my friend’s text with, “A 24yr old will be in tune with issues facing young people today, but having read her biog (grammar school followed by Oxford Uni & now graduate trainee at UBS) I could be wrong!”

Yours sincerely
Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party



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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

2014 election results: Time for naval gazing


                                      2004               2014
Barking and Dagenham 4.6 1.4
Barnet 7.4 8.3
Bexley 4.5 1.3
Brent 7.4 4.5
Bromley 5.9 5.3
Camden 14.8 15.7
Croydon 6.3 8.9
Ealing 8.6 3.8
Enfield 6.5 6.1
Greenwich 8.9 6.9
Hackney 16.7 20.5
Hammersmith and Fulham 10.3 2.5
Haringey 13.5 15.4
Harrow 5.8 1.2
Havering 4.8 1.7
Hillingdon 5.6 3.7
Hounslow 7.4 4.4
Islington 17.1 19.2
Kensington and Chelsea 8.8 1.4
Kingston upon Thames 7.5 6.9
Lambeth 13.9 15.5
Lewisham 12.8 16.3
Merton 8.7 1.8
Newham 5.8 0.6
Redbridge 6.0 2.0
Richmond upon Thames 10.2 6.0
Southwark 10.7 11.9
Sutton 5.2 3.0
Tower Hamlets 8.8 6.5
Waltham Forest 9.3 5.6
Wandsworth 10.7 6.1
Westminster 9.1 5.6

Table shows percentage vote share comparison

In 2004 I fought my first ever elections. I say elections because on the same day of the Mayor and London Assembly elections there was also a by-election in Bensham Manor ward. As constituency candidate for Croydon & Sutton, I polled just under 5 per cent.* It meant the deposit was not saved. I remember at the time my fellow candidate for Havering and Redbridge, Ashley Gunstock, who was later to run for leader, and I were the only candidates in London to lose our deposits. It was a big blow. Nothing can prepare for that feeling.

Fast forward to 2014, ten years later, take out the Green boroughs with a natural green demographic that have elected Green party councillors in the past and present: Lewisham, Hackney, Camden, Southwark and Lambeth and Islington; add in Haringey (which always comes close due to its demographic), and you are left with 24 boroughs. Incredibly, from languishing at the foot of the 'other boroughs', our percentage according to calculations on the London Green Party web site, puts us at the top of the remaining 24 boroughs. WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT!! In fact, under pure PR, the London Green Party article calculates we would have returned 6 councillors.

Picture taken during the 2004 GLA campaign
This change hasn't just happened organically. Croydon's overall demographic hasn't suddenly altered favourably. This has happened through hard work, and those of us that have put in the countless hours, should feel very proud. I am sure this direction of travelhas not gone unnoticed by Croydon Labour:

Exhibit One: Creating a new cabinet post called CLEAN GREEN Croydon!

*For convenience, the percentages are easier to copy and paste, I have taken the ASSEMBLY LIST results from 2004 instead of the constituency results when creating the table.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bensham Manor Community Association AGM



AGM outdoors

As trustee and secretary, I went along to the AGM for the Bensham Manor Community Association on Saturday. Whilst clouds had not busted we managed to run the AGM outdoors. The Queens Community Hall, our raison d'etre, is going really well. The empty shell was part of a section 106 agreement with the developer at the Queens Road estate. See its web site: http://queenscommunityhall.co.uk/

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thank you letter

Interesting choice of headline!

Dear Editor,
From Croydon Guardian 10.06.14
May I take this opportunity to thank all those who voted Green party on May 22nd.  Our 70 candidates polled 23,926 across the borough, resulting in an increase in our vote share.  Under a proportional representation electoral system this polling would have returned our first councillors, but under the aged first past the post system, Croydon remains a two party borough.
We should actually be grateful that we have at least two parties on the council.Residents in Barking &; Dagenham and Newham woke up on the 23rd May with no official opposition. Every councillor elected was Labour. This is terrible for democracy. For example, only opposition members can table a motion. This cannot be done now. Where will the scrutiny come from? Each side of the chamber backs the same party to win. I would even vote Conservative or Labour to avoid a similar outcome.
Similarly, Islington and Lewisham could have ended up a one-party council. Thankfully each elected one councillor other than Labour....a Green.
Yours sincerely
Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party Coordinator 


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Sunday, June 08, 2014

Open meeting on Citizen's Income

Money for everyone: Citizen’s Income
Open meeting organised by Croydon Green Party
Speaker: Malcolm Torry, Director of the Citizen’s Income Trust



Monday July 7th 2014
7.45pm for 8pm
Ruskin House, Mandela Room
Coombe Road, Croydon

Come and find out about Citizen’s Income:
·        WHY it’s a radical ‘Big Idea’ whose time has come
·        WHY we must replace the complexity and misery of means testing
·        WHY a CI is unconditional, for every citizen
·        HOW it enhances opportunities and reduces inequality
·        HOW it’s affordable
All welcome – time for questions – bar opens 7pm
From East Croydon, buses 119, 312, 466, 197 - 3 stops to Coombe Road


Open meeting organised by the Croydon Green Party

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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

2014 election stats in Croydon

Council elections 2014
Overall votes cast (and vote share)
Lab 36,303 (36.0%)
Con 33,640 (33.4%)
UKIP 15,477 (15.4%)
Green 8,052 (8.0%)
LibDem 5,503 (5.5%)
Others 1,773 (1.7%)
European elections in Croydon 2014
Overall votes cast (and vote share)
Lab 32,439 (32.9%)
Con 26,687 (27.1%)
UKIP 19,560 (19.8%)
Green 6,829 (6.9%)
LibDem 3,768 (3.8%)

Council results - electoral ward 2014 (2010)
Addiscombe 8.4 (5.1)
Norbury 7.5 (7.0)
Ashburton 5.4 (6.7)
Purley 9.3 (6.3)
Bensham Manor 9.1 (12.8)
Sanderstead 7.8 (6.4)
Broad Green 7.4 (5.7)
Selhurst 7.9 (8.3)
Coulsdon East 7.8 (3.8)
Coulsdon West 7.8 (4.8)
Shirley 8.6 (6.7)
Croham 10.5 (6.5)
South Norwood 10.3 (7.5)
Fairfield 9.6 (6.0)
Thornton Heath 8.5 (11.2)
Fieldway 4.9 (2.8)
Upper Norwood 10.5 (8.2)
Heathfield 7.0 (6.2)
Waddon 5.4 (7.4)
Kenley 7.1 (6.5)
West Thornton 6.3 (6.8)
New Addington 4.0 (6.0)
Woodside 11.3 (6.2)



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Monday, May 26, 2014

Reflections on the local election in the style of a chess game

When two tribes goto handshake
The resignation

At sometime between 7:30am and 8:30am on 23rd May, halfway along one side of one of the sports halls [near Heathfield counting station] in Trinity School, Tory leader, Councillor Mike Fisher, conceded defeat to Labour leader Tony Newman and knocked over his king. It happened all of a sudden and I just happened to be facing in the direction where the handshake took place with hardly anyone else watching. Addiscombe Green Party candidate, Esther Sutton, who was also facing the same direction, was a little taken aback by the civility and mutual appreciation that was quietly being displayed.

Publicly these Grandmasters in Croydon are always at each others throats in the council chamber. Privately, they know each is leader of their pawns and territory, and both know that control of the council comes in cycles. Speaking to Tories at the Count, the postal votes, opened before the election day, seemed to be pointing to the present incumbents hanging on for another term, but that didn't materialise.

Raj Mehta and I appear in view at the count in Croydon in this BBC video - from election night

Full results here on Croydon council web site.

Our 70 candidates polled a fantastic 23,926 votes in total. Based on popular votes (using average vote) in Croydon:
  • LABOUR                   37%
  • CONSERVATIVE     34.3%
  • UKIP                         19.5%
  • GREEN                       8.2% - up from 6.5%
  • LIB DEMS                 5.6%
  • OTHERS                    1.9%

Board position at the end of the game.

The board

Apart from the estates in New Addington and Fieldway, the battlegrounds are the squares (wards) at the centre of the board. Ashburton and  Waddon changed hands and the game was won. Labour also held onto Addiscombe.

Green party attempt to introduce a new colour on to the chessboard.

Once again we competed for all 70 seats in the 24 wards. Four years ago we targeted Bensham Manor ward in an attempt to make the breakthrough. This time around we had a look at Croham. On election night I was interviewed by Bieneosa for Croydon Radio.  We talked about 'the opening' that could have got us our first councillors. http://www.croydonradio.com/podcast/show.php?HistoryID=7f65c105-68cf-5e11-79dd-6303f1c9836a  - my piece is at 2mins 8 secs.

Other colours receive more playing time


Circulating on twitter at the moment is this mock revision of the BBC logo. It's in the colours of UKIP. UKIP received unprecedented coverage during this election, even on the BBC. On talk radio stations, such as LBC, the moment UKIP are mentioned, presenters such as Nick Abbot say, "Oh look the switchboard has lit up again". 

I am sure voters would have elected Greens up and down the country, and in Croham, if we had similar coverage to UKIP. A petition has started regarding the "media blackout of the Green Party on BBC" - our public service broadcaster.

We ran a doorstep survey in Croham in the summer of 2012, and the results indicated that 2/3 of voters in the polling district we assessed said they would consider voting Green. With similar coverage on TV, could we not have converted those 'considers'??

Television is such a powerful medium, the volume of media hits is bound to trigger a change. Cognitive dissonance theory can only go so far, especially if the voter feels powerless to be able to change what his happening around them. Many that voted UKIP have always been expressing bigoted views in the comfort of their living room. Prior to the onset of "political correctness" [an easy catch-all term], these views were acceptable in the workplace and well......everywhere. It is not surprising that the archetypal UKIP voter is an English 50+ male who may recall those apparent halcyon days when one could speak ones mind*. An Able-Bodied, White English, 50+ male sits at the top of the tree in terms of not being categorised as a minority by any social index. However, immigration and political correctness has eroded his status. UKIP has given him a voice again.

The other thing that Farage has apparently the ability to do, is speak his mind*. Cameron, Clegg and Miliband are skilled at not saying anything.

Green Party pieces that developed into big players

One of the UKIP personalities that was getting a lot of attention was my dear old adversary Winston McKenzie. His UKIP carnival in Croydon hit the headlines. 

Screen photo from BBC web site entitled, 'McKenzie finishes behind Green'
The BBC posted on their live updates that despite Winston's coverage in the media, he was beaten by two of our three Greens (Graham Jones and Andy Ellis) in South Norwood ward.

Unlike four years ago, this time Greens were continually being asked to attend hustings and radio programmes. This was a little unexpected, and I am so proud of all our candidates who represented Croydon Green Party. Many of them came to the Count. The photo below was taken at 7am. We all look surprisingly good, despite being up all night. Indeed, a little earlier when most of us were sitting in the canteen waiting for the results to be announced, Tom Black @ The Croydon Citizen tweeted:

"Ranking of how cool all the groups look sat at their tables: 1. Greens 2. Lib Dems 3. Labour 4. Tories (narrowly behind Lab) 5. UKIP 6. BNP"

"Cool Greens" at the Count

Here are some pictures taken at hustings - the Green is always identifiable because nearly always they are on the left (!) or with a Green rosette.

Les Kenny-Green at South Norwood hustings
Jay Ginn at Coulsdon East hustings

Pravina Ellis at Broad Green ward hustings
Tracey Hague at Croydon Decides (pic of Croydon Advertiser spread)
Raj Metha at Norbury ward hustings



Tracey performed excellently at Croydon Decides organised by the Croydon Advertiser as well as two hustings in Coulsdon, and I enjoyed myself at the NUT Hustings. In fact, all those that took part in hustings did our local party proud.

Additionally, Grace Onions, Tim Eveleigh and I took part in debates on Croydon Radio.

Martyn Post and Gordon Ross manoeuvred the pieces during the middle game with regards to the leafleting - and big thanks to all that helped. Once again I give kingsize thanks to Election Agent Bernice Golberg for ensuring the notation was all correct and that we didn't fall into time trouble or contravene the rules of play.

I must also thank Elaine Garrod, for her wonderful design work. Her 'cheque flyer artwork' ensured our idea had great impact. The content caused a real stir on twitter.

Along with others, local Tory activist Anne Giles at first attempted to defend the £348,000 remuneration for the three Croham councillors but then resorted to celebrate it!
At the Count, a senior Labour councillor advised me who the hard-working Tories on the council were: Dudley and Margaret Mead. According to him, Croham Councillor Jason Perry works/worked half a day week for his £43,000 a year. If we assume this is a Labour exaggeration, whatever the hours per week Councillor Perry spends on council business, HE IS VERY WELL REMUNERATED, especially when most voters presume councillors receive expenses only.

Finally, residents in Barking & Dagenham and Newham councils woke up on Friday morning with no official opposition. Every councillor elected was Labour. This is terrible for democracy. For example, only opposition members can table a motion. This can't be done now. Where will the scrutiny come from? Each side of the chamber backs the same colour to win. Those residents have elected totalitarian or walkover councils. I'd even vote Conservative or Labour if it meant that at least there were some opposition councillors on Croydon council.

Islington and Lewisham, similarly could have ended up totalitarian. Thankfully each elected one councillor other than Labour....a Green.


Standing up for what matters