Since Andrew Pelling returned to work, both local papers have printed a number of letters expressing sympathy and support for him. Even if their understanding of the events that led to the current situation wasn’t always entirely accurate, I could understood the sentiments they were expressing and so saw no need to respond. However I came back from holiday to find that in the last few weeks several letters from supporters of Andrew printed in The Croydon Guardian also included unpleasant and inaccurate personal attacks on me. Clearly I needed to set the record straight and I am grateful that The Guardian has today published the following reply from me:
In recent months, The Guardian has printed a number of letters expressing understandable sympathy for Andrew Pelling. In the last few weeks, however, several of these letters have also contained unjustified, inaccurate and downright bizarre attacks on me, which I need to respond to.
Donald Mayle (Letters, 18th March) accuses me of being heartless and says I should step down so that Andrew can take my place. I have repeatedly made it clear that, honoured though I am to have been selected as the Conservative candidate for Croydon Central, I wish the opportunity hadn’t arisen in these circumstances. I have supported Andrew ever since I got involved in local politics and only put my name forward once it was clear that he would not be standing again. Were I to take Mr Mayle’s advice, it would not in any case result in Andrew taking my place - because he has chosen not to re-take the Conservative Whip, he would not be eligible to apply for the vacancy.
VR Lincoln (Letters, 18th March) implies that my campaign is being funded by Michael Ashcroft and that, were I elected, my loyalty would be to him, not to Croydon. Both accusations are false. My campaign has not received a penny from Michael Ashcroft or any of his companies and if I do have the privilege of serving as the MP for Croydon Central, my first loyalty will always be to the town where my wife Karen and I have lived virtually our entire lives and chosen to bring up our children.
Peter Howard (Letters, 4th March) complains that I have friends in the upper echelons of the Conservative Party. Since I was the Party’s Chief Operating Officer for a number of years, this is indeed the case but I am mystified why Peter thinks it is a reason not to vote for me. Given that Croydon Central currently gets a raw deal from central government, an MP who has good connections with the people who are likely to be the key figures in the next Government is surely exactly what we need?
Finally, all of the above might like to reflect on whether Andrew would be better served by them highlighting his good work as an MP rather than making such unpleasant personal attacks.
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Croydon Central