Labour’s campaign for the Croydon North by-election got off to a strange start yesterday when Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan visited the constituency and told The Croydon Advertiser, “I don't think it will matter to people where the candidate comes from, even if they aren't from Croydon.”
That’s certainly not the feedback that we’ve been getting on the doorsteps in Croydon North. One of the reasons people rated Malcolm Wicks so highly was that he lived in Croydon and was part of the community.
Nor is it my own experience. The fact that I have lived in Croydon all my life is a big advantage when it comes to doing the job. Of course it’s not essential for a Parliamentary candidate to be local - they can move in to the area and get to know it over time - but surely it’s desirable that they have a strong local connection?
Our candidate Andy Stranack certainly has that. He was born in Mayday Hospital, is a member of the West Croydon Community Forum that is trying to regenerate the area after last year’s riots and wrote the Lottery bid that secured millions of pounds to help rebuild Thornton Heath Leisure Centre.
If senior Labour figures think that they can parachute in an outside candidate, that suggests that they are taking the people of Croydon North for granted.