The Public Gallery: Cheerio, but not goodbye


By - Thursday 17th July, 2014

After ten months of breaking stories, making predictions and analysing Croydon’s political sphere, Tom Black is taking a well-earned summer break


I started this column on my birthday last year. As I turned 23, I was living in a Conservative-run borough with an uncertain election ahead of it, and a still-more uncertain UKIP presence. I was living in a parliamentary seat with no candidates selected for the next general election.

As I write this edition of TPG, I am nearly 24, live in a Labour-run borough that saw a decisive election result two months ago and experienced a hilarious meltdown by UKIP that led to a total failure to get candidates elected to the council. My home constituency of Croydon South now has young blood on the ballot, with Chris Philp likely to hold the seat for the Conservatives and Labour all-but-certain to select Emily Benn as their candidate on Saturday.

I’ve seen many more changes than that, and it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to write this column week by week. I haven’t always been right, and I certainly haven’t always been gripping. But I hope that by and large, those of you who logged on every week were interested in the tidbits, theories and ideas found on this page. I’m proud of the stories that were broken in TPG, and particularly proud of the wider political coverage it has enabled. That’s why I have no intention of stopping forever.

For now, though, my other life is calling me. I’m off to the Edinburgh Fringe festival in two weeks, to appear in DugOut Theatre’s Inheritance Blues. Between now and then, I shall be rehearsing and, as such, will have no time to keep an eye on what our politicos are up to (though I’ll doubtless still get into lots of unnecessary arguments on Twitter). If I’m being honest, it’ll be good to get away from it all for a while.

Be part of the change

As ever, the Citizen is built on the principle of publishing the words and thoughts of those who submit to it. Thanks to Croydon Labour delivering on some of its promises for a transparent council already, we can watch council meetings online and ask more questions in person. The time is right for more small-c citizen participation in our media and political spheres.

Going to miss TPG? Think that the Citizen should have more articles on a particular topic? Our inbox is waiting for you. Email with your article ideas and the editorial team can help you get it online, and perhaps into print.

It’s easy to criticise. It’s harder to propose an alternative, or put your thoughts into an article. The Citizen exists to help people do that. If you’ve got an actionable idea to make Croydon better, submit it to our ‘I would make Croydon better by…’ campaign.

I hope you all have a fantastic summer. TPG will return in September.

Tom Black

Tom Black

Tom is the Citizen's General Manager, and spent his whole life in Croydon until moving to Balham in 2017. He also writes plays that are occasionally performed and books that are occasionally enjoyed. He's been a Labour Party member since 2007, and in his spare time runs an online publishing house for alternate history books, Sea Lion Press. He is fluent in Danish, but speaks no useful languages. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

More Posts - Twitter





  • David White

    TPG has been excellent over the past 10 months. Well written, informative, challenging, controversial, but never dogmatic. Well done Tom.