The top ten Croydon political Twitter bloopers of 2013

By - Tuesday 31st December, 2013

Croydon Twittersphere staple (and #Croydon #TechCity founder) Jonny Rose renders judgement unto 2013′s most epic fails

Photo by Brando Grasley
Used under Creative Commons license

Politics is complex, cerebral, emotive and nuanced.

So, naturally, it is best served by being openly discussed in 140 character bursts with a wider public that is bereft of self-restraint, graciousness and full use of their mental faculties.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Croydon, where a particularly active political climate has led to some of the most entertaining and cringe-inducing bloopers and missteps of the last year:

1. Foodbank-Gate

What’s a Conservative MP to do, eh, when your party is presiding over the largest increase in foodbanks over the past decade?

Of course, you do what you always do: go out into the community, press flesh and tell everyone how much you value their work.

Unfortunately, Gavin seemed to value the opening of a new foodbank in Croydon a little too much, with many taking issue with his use of the word “delighted”.

The tweet of a humanitarian proud of his community’s corporate response to a crisis or the work of a heartless misanthrope who delights in others’ misery?

You decide.

2. WANTED: An image consultant for #LabourDoorstep photos

Although actual policies remain scant, Croydon Labour continues to show an impressive dedication to tweeting photos of themselves to remind us of what they all look like.

Some of their finest displays of political portraiture this year include subjects with comedy props and candid scenes of unbridled mirth.

They’re even doing poorly-recorded Vines now. Wicked cool.

3. The mystery identity of @GavinBarwellMP

It’s no secret that, like the constituency he represents, MP Gary Barlow (née Gavin Barwell) suffers from an “identity crisis”.

This is particularly apparent online when it came to light earlier in the year that he doesn’t actually do all of his own tweeting – choosing instead to divest the backbreaking work of crafting a tweet to Mario Creatura, his faithful, doe-eyed receptionist.

Whilst this has provided acres of fun for knowing observants (and not a few deleted mistweets by Mario), it has made things difficult for constituents who think they dialoguing with a MP but are actually dialoguing with a PA.

4. Sadiq Khan ‘visits’ non-existent “Croydon Central” Station

No one actually expects Sadiq Khan to know anything about Croydon – why should he?

But if you’re going to come here for a contrived photo opportunity which creates absolutely no long-term value for the community, don’t also pretend to care about a station that has been closed since 1890.

Although the naked contempt for Croydon was obvious, local activists were too caught up in paroxysms of self-congratulation that they’d managed to even be a part of Central Office’s campaign trail to correct him. However, all credit to seasoned Croydon Labourite, David White, being the only one to tell Khan what we were all thinking.

5. A Long [charity] Walk To Freedom 

Accusations of improper conduct and misinformation were rife when Gavin Barwell was unable to finish a charity walk due to illness yet comment was allegedly given to the Croydon Guardian that he had.

That did not stop fleet-fingered assistant Mario Creatura from posting the [eventually redacted] Croydon Guardian article entitled “MP completes charity walk” before cries of foul-play from the Twitter community forced him to admit that although Gavin hadn’t completed the walk on the day, he had every intention to later that week.

6. Councillor ‘white washes’ concerns about party’s BME representation

Whilst it’s always nice when political organisations grasp vainly at the mantle of ‘progress’ by tackling systemic prejudices one often wonders how they choose which injustice to redress first.

This year, Croydon Labour decided to field all-women parliamentary candidates believing they have done enough to encourage and promote ethnic minorities within the group.

Following a tweet of Voice News article (“Is Labour Losing The Black Vote?”) featuring local media personality, Bieneosa Ebite, Upper Norwood firebrand Cllr. Pat Ryan proceeded to soundly lecture us on the BME status of the irish, deny the existence of ‘white privilege’ and describe concerns about Croydon Labour’s racial composition at executive level as “rot”.

Needless to say, lessons were learnt and I hope no racial minorities will ever be so ‘uppity‘ as to question the rationale of the Croydon Labour machine again.

7. Croydon Labour vs. Croydon Tech City

Unconvinced by the acres of evidence and testimonies that Croydon Tech City helps locals from every type of economic background, Labour councillor Timothy Godfrey sought to propagate articles online suggesting otherwise.

When called out on it by Croydon Tech City co-founder, Nigel Dias, Godfrey struck back with totally reasonable accusations of the community tech movement being Stalinist and stifling debate.

Following a corrective carpet-bombing from the community, Godfrey responded to Dias with overtures of peacemaking. However, Team Croydon Tech City remains largely bemused by it all from their gentrified towers in Matthews Yard where they continue to orchestrate pogroms in Thornton Heath.

8. Pimmsgate in Wandle Park

For a time in July, the innocuous opening of Wandle Park threatened to herald scenes akin to the Somme, when Inside Croydon espied Tory councillors freely enjoying taxpayer-funded largesse (read: a tent with some balloons).

What started as an artful piece of misdirection from accusations that Croydon Labour had hijacked the event to canvas, took a hilariously unexpected turn. Just when it seemed the Tories had their taxpayer-funded wine-filled backs against the taxpayer-funded marquee wall, Gavin Barwell’s eagle-eyed attendant Mario Creatura spotted Croydon Labour’s Stuart Collins consorting with the enemy in the same picture.

What had potential to be quite the fizz, turned out to be mostly flat.

9. Bieneosa fights back against Croydon Conservative “intimidation”

2013 has been a stellar year for local media personality, Bieneosa Ebite, whose show “In The Loop” has provided Croydon with some of the best comment and live discussion with our otherwise elusive political figures.

Naturally, her inquisitive style has made her a target to those who would prefer she didn’t ask the difficult questions about the Tory council’s ongoing reign of maladministration.

Weeks of unseemly remarks on Twitter from prominent Croydon Conservatives referring to her as a “poodle”, “biased” and threatening to put her on campaign literature, culminated with a powerful written response from the lady herself. Bravo.

10. “The Coalition Against Barwell” splits up 

Throughout 2012, radicalised book-lover Elizabeth Ash and spirited West Croydon community heroine Bushra Ahmed formed a fearsome Twitter partnership with the sole purpose of bringing down their nemesis Gavin Barwell.

Ever quick to assail the beleaguered MP, both women were a regular fixture on Croydoner’s Twitter feeds until – like every popular entertainment group – artistic differences arose (in this case over the definition of ‘library’) leading to both pursuing solo careers as Barwell antagonists.

Whilst both continue to spar intermittently about non-existent Croydon library lobbyists and the correct way to dissolve community groups – there is hope still: If Drake and Chris Brown can patch up their feud, you can do it too, ladies.

Have I missed anything out? What have been your favourite Croydon political brouhahas on Twitter? Let us know about your  favourite gaffes in the comments section below.

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He owns a lead generation company. He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training and a Linkedin lead generation service. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  • ArfurTowcrate

    Jonny, with number 9, you missed the totalitarian tripe (screenshot attached) from the man in charge of our education system, Michael Gove.

  • Anne Giles

    I was at Pimmsgate, actually, prior to that photograph being taken and it was not funded by the taxpayer at all. I did tweet that just after the event.