At the start of the campaign we spoke with Robert Poll, the Reform Party GLA candidate for the Croydon and Sutton constituency. Robert who is also the digital founder of the Save Our Statues campaign, sent us his leaflet for the campaign.
Robert Poll is the Reform Party (formally the Brexit Party) GLA candidate for the Croydon and Sutton constituency. Robert is also the digital founder of the Save Our Statues campaign. We speak to Robert about the campaign, local politics, and his campaign for the GLA.
Robert thank-you for your time.
Can you tell us a bit about your background in political campaigns, and what led to you being the Reform Party Candidate in Croydon and Sutton?
I’m no career politician – I think the best politicians come from a background in life, not a background in politics. I’ve always had strong political convictions, but, like many, it took a trigger moment to make me actually stand up and do something. For me, it was the attack on our heritage last summer. There were very few voices in politics speaking against it and I wanted to change that. Similarly, right now, there aren’t many voices speaking up for our liberties. We have two parties that both believe in big government and high taxes, with no alternative championing individual rights and a free economy. The Reform Party offers that alternative.
You were part of setting up the Save Our Statues campaign. How did you set up the campaign and how is it progressing?
I started the campaign in June last year after Colston’s statue was vandalised. It hit 10,000 followers in just 8 weeks and now there are 22,000. I think it struck a chord with the ordinary public who felt they weren’t being listened to or represented. The idea was to stand up for due process and to help rally the silent majority by publicising petitions, consultations and planning applications. And it’s made a difference. For example, after we raised 600 objections, the application to remove the statue of Thomas Guy at Guy’s Hospital was withdrawn. But there’s a lot more fighting to do – not only for statues still under threat, but in the wider battle for our identity and values.
We all understood what the Brexit Party stood for, but what’s the raison d’être of the Reform Party, and what do you hope to do in London?
I think Brexit made it clear that certain parts of our system are broken beyond the tweaking being offered by the two main parties, and actually need fundamental reform. These range from our public institutions that have lost our trust, to the political system itself. The British people deserve better – they deserve a real alternative. Economic reform is also vital, now more than ever, if we are to grow our way out of the pandemic. As our capital, London is the epicentre of these problems. It also has its own specific issues around transport and law and order, exacerbated by the current mayor, that need a fresh approach and renewed focus.
In Croydon we have an epidemic of knife crime, a dying town centre and a bankrupt council. What are your thoughts on the issues facing the borough?
The Mayor and Assembly should be doing much more to combat knife crime, starting with stop and search. This is where attention and money should be focussed, not on reviewing statues. Town centres like Croydon were already struggling before the pandemic, but are now facing extinction. They need urgent life support. Now that the vulnerable are vaccinated and Covid cases are falling, there’s no justification for ongoing draconian restrictions. Parking needs to be facilitated and small businesses given long term rate relief. As for the Council, this week we’ve seen the government send a taskforce into Liverpool to ensure key services continue, and perhaps Croydon needs similar drastic action. The long term answer is easier: don’t vote Labour.
The other half of the constituency Sutton, has a controversial incinerator and residents up in arms about parking and the amount of new builds. What would like to say to the people of Sutton?
It’s interesting that you put those first two issues together, the incinerator and parking. Why target and punish ordinary residents for needing to drive a car, while the incinerator down the road daily pumps out tonnes of carbon emissions? I want to see a more logical approach to the environment, with an end to the war on the motorist and a review into the appropriateness of the incinerator.
If elected how would you use your role in the Greater London Authority and what would you like to achieve?
The key role of the Assembly is to hold the Mayor to account and stop him acting as if London is his personal fiefdom. We need to move the focus away from cultivating the Mayor’s personal image, and back to the issues he and the Assembly are actually accountable for. Crime, housing, transport, and taking care of the unglamorous basics that make London a safe and enjoyable place to live and work in. I would also do everything I can to stop the mayor’s divisive statue review that is costing Londoners a million pounds!
On a wider note what are you priorities for change in London and Britain?
Ultimately, we need to redress the balance between the individual and the state. To establish the framework for a free and prosperous nation with a strong economy that will then be able to address other problems. It’s also crucial to change the way we feel about London and Britain. To stop looking backwards and being ashamed and to start looking forwards with confidence. To unite us, not divide us along identity politics as Labour is trying to do. If we can change that, then ultimately the rest will follow.
How do people find out more and get in contact or involved?
We are joined by Peter Sonnex from the Brexit Party as we discuss the latest COVID restrictions, the Internal Market Bill and whether it breaks “International Law” and the recent revelation of the wages of the BBC’s “stars”. We also consider the latest developments at Croydon Council and yet another leadership change for UKIP.
Finally, Peter talks to us about the Un-locked Group and how people can get involved.
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unlockeduk/
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMvZbjbyUsh9T505aiPpv9w
- Twitter: @Unlocked_UK_
- Website: https://www.brexit-watch.org/
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4p1GexAhZ7Ubo-PBw9Cd3Q
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrexitWatch5
- Brexit Watch: https://www.facebook.com/properwatch1
Don’t Divide Us:
We are joined by Peter Sonnex of the Brexit Party, Maureen Martin of the Christian Peoples Alliance and Hoong-Wai Cheah of UKIP to discuss Christianity & UK Politics. We ask them:
- Why Christianity is important to them?
- How they think religion and politics should mix?
- How Christianity should inform policy?
- Should we have an established church, and how they think the CofE is performing?
- What should we be doing about Christian persecution abroad?
- What are their predictions for the future of Christianity in the UK?
- Peter was the Brexit Party Parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central in the December 2019 General Election
- A career soldier, Peter turned his hand to bus driving before becoming a Parliamentary candidate.
- More recently he has been a volunteer during the Covid crisis.
- Peter has been a guest on the Podcast and written for our website.
- Also spoke at our ‘My Tuppenceworth’ in 2019 about Decency, Democracy, Freedom and Freedoms.
- Maureen was (until they were postponed) a Greater London Assembly candidate for the Christian People’s Alliance (CPA).
- Maureen has run for parliament in Lewisham East in every election since 2015, which has included a by-election.
- We have previously spoken with Maureen for our website about what led her to run for the CPA, her experiences running and their priorities for London.
- Maureen has also written for us and her piece Locked Down and Locked out! Can be found on our website.
Hoong Wai Cheah
- Hoong Wai is the Chairman of the Croydon Branch of UKIP.
- In 2017 he stood for UKIP in Lewisham West & Penge in the General Election.
- He stood for the Croydon Council ward of Old Coulsdon in 2018
- We have previously spoken with Hoong Wai for our website about how he became involved in politics and his thoughts on politics in Croydon
- He has also appeared twice as a guest on the podcast discussing Libertarianism and “The future of Freedom & Liberalism”
We are joined by Bill Etheridge, the former UKIP, Libertarian Party & Brexit Party MEP, as we discuss the Taxpayers Alliance’s City Hall Rich List, a potential new trade deal with japan and the Cancellation Culture attacking our historic statues and even beloved TV shows & films. We then chat with Bill about his time in politics, the demise of UKIP and the future of Classical Liberalism in this country.
Bill from the Podcast:
“over 10 years of supposedly Conservative government and I’m old enough to remember before they got in, they were going to sort all of this out and have bonfires of quangos… still more than a decade on these obscene salaries are being paid out”
“we’re still an enormous economy, we’re very important in terms of diplomatic links, we are a hugely important country and of course people want to do deals with us”
“all of these things they want to erase, so they can start a new narrative, start from year zero. This is a modern day version of a cultural revolution”
“there was a little game that the staff that worked with us as MEPs, used to sit down and do a bingo, and they would try and find the Thatcher or Reagan quotes that I slipped into my speeches”
“Nigel Farage is the most effective and inspiring politician for patriotic right of centre politics, that there has been for many years”
“partly I wanted to make a statement that Libertarianism is something people should look at. Because it’s not discussed, people don’t talk about Libertarianism”
“it’s a tough old game being in politics, especially when you’ve got a bit of a reputation behind you, you become a target for all sorts of things, and if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it for a party I actually believe in and it’s worth making the sacrifices”
“If you believe in something, don’t just sit in the pub with a couple of mates talking about it, don’t just type something on Twitter, or whatever. Actually actively pursue that interest and try to make a difference”
We are joined by Peter Sonnex from the Brexit Party as we discuss the ongoing COVID 19 Lockdown and the Labour Party leadership election results. We then chat with Peter about his experiences in the military and Whitehall along with the “Stockport Declaration” and future plans for the Brexit Party.
The Stockport Declaration can be found here: http://www.stockportdeclaration.uk/
If you want to read more from Peter you can read our interview with him, his My Tuppenceworth speech on Decency, Democracy, Freedom and Freedoms or his review the election and experience of standing, Is That It – Brexit Done?
With the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland all but certain to leave the various clutches of the EU and its institutions on the 31st of December 2020 (after some false starts), Peter Sonnex – Parliamentary Candidate for the Brexit Party in Croydon South, then Croydon Central – reflects on the Brexit Party, his role in the 2019 General Election and the future. Is that Brexit done, then?
As a veteran, definitely not a politician, I was involved in politics for the first time to achieve an effect: delivery on the result of the 2016 Referendum; the UK becoming, once again, a self-governing, independent coastal nation; and, setting the conditions for wider political reform. I am proud of what we achieved. I remain humbled by the selfless support of a team of volunteers, coming from all walks of life and political persuasions, who committed themselves in all weathers to the causes of upholding our democracy and restoring trust in our institutions. We got it done!
My wife, Lesley, was the greatest supporter. Without question she walked more miles, delivered more leaflets, stood on more street stalls and, as my election agent, went through the nomination process twice as I stood first in Croydon South, then Croydon Central. My debt of gratitude, as with my carbon footprint, is irredeemable.
My campaign manager, “Chris”, provided energy and challenge in equal measure. His experience, local knowledge and drive for justice as much as political reform were invaluable. It is a sad reflection of politics, with its unnecessarily toxic environment for those who choose to get involved, that “Chris” will be known only as “Chris”.
Some wailing about ‘splitting the vote’, the very odd expletive when canvassing and petty online trolling aside – I enjoyed the election experience; from being energised by political rallies, the overwhelmingly positive reception on the fabled “doorstep”, street stalls, hustings, leafleting, social media interactions to media opportunities – all mysteries hitherto. Even without the prospect of electoral success, save for any seismic national factor which didn’t materialise, I was compelled to take part. I felt it was important enough to provide a voice and a candidate on the burning issues of the day. More than I could have hoped for, I was marginalised (some may say, brilliantly) by the Conservative Party campaign as they necessarily and increasingly took up the rhetoric, focus, determination and manifesto (Contract) of the Brexit Party and Nigel Farage.
Listening to Croydon’s Chris Philp MP and Councillor Mario Creatura change their tune on the EU in the interests of capturing the electorate and for their party to exist at all, let alone remain in power, was as enlightening about politics as it was – a sad reflection on me – amusing. Sorry…
Strategically, I think there were four elements to the (even now barely a year old) Brexit Party achieving its effect:
- Winning the 23 May 2019 election to the EU Parliament, especially in the Labour Party heartlands of the North East and the North West (the so-called Red Wall). Labour had been found wanting among the five million Labour Party supporters who had voted to leave the EU. This became key in winning support for the Conservative Party who promised to “Get Brexit Done!”
- Failure, thank goodness, at getting Theresa May’s Chequers-launched withdrawal agreement through parliament, combined with the EU election result, led to a change of PM and a new cabinet;
- The Brexit Party standing up over 600 credible prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) on the 4th of November 2019 provided an existential threat to the Conservative Party. Even the Evening Standard was forced to headline that day with “Nigel Farage pushes Tory general election campaign off track” (as ministers plead [with] him to withdraw Brexit Party Candidates); and,
- The unilateral decision on the 11th of November, just a week later, to stand down 317 Brexit Party PPCs* so as not to risk either a hung parliament, a second EU referendum or a referendum on Scottish independence.
[*The strict rule of not standing in a seat with a Conservative hold or win in the 2017 General Election was not without criticism (understatement). It did not account for seats where ‘remainer’ Conservatives had joined other parties or where they had retired or otherwise stood down. A great deal of talent and political goodwill/horsepower was lost or disenfranchised as a result.]
That said, operationally on Brexit, there is still a long way to go… Much remains to be resolved. We should be most wary of the following during the transition period:
- Our contingent liability to the European Investment Bank (EIB). After joining the EU, the UK became a member of the EIB, with a 16% capital share. The UK has contributed over €3.5bn and has over €35.4bn of ‘callable capital’. ‘Callable capital’ is a contingent liability, i.e. money which the UK would be obliged to pay if the EIB suffered losses it was unable to cover using its accumulated reserves. As shareholders in the European Central Bank (ECB), our contingent liabilities could be as high as €200-400bn – who knows…;
- The wedge hammered into our Union (in relation to NI) by continued ‘dynamic alignment’;
- Existing commitment or further consideration (as required in the Political Declaration, given legal effect in the Withdrawal Agreement) of integration in military Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), similar to NATO, as part of the EU’s security and defence policy (CSDP) over normal bilateral cooperation as necessary in the national interest;
- Fragility of the Eurozone economies;
- Fragility of EU cohesion amid, among other things, high EU youth unemployment; and,
- Challenges on the Greece-Turkey border as we speak!
These topics, with the government’s approach to control of our territorial waters, are being monitored by legacy Brexit Party MEPs and supporters as part of a Brexit Barometer. We are not going away until Brexit is truly done.
I am no cheerleader for the Conservative Party, but…
Nationally, I think we can be heartened by the government’s opening approaches to Brexit negotiations. The sticking points at the end of the first week are those relating to our independence: withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights; the role of the European Court of Justice; the maintenance of a level playing field for UK and EU businesses; and, conditions on future access for EU fishing fleets to UK waters. The EU may just be realising any final deal has to respect that the UK shall be independent of its institutional orbit, laws and courts.
I think we can be encouraged by the government’s intention to honour manifesto pledges on immigration and infrastructure investment. It is good to see the spotlights falling on the House of Lords and the BBC. Our government and institutions must be held to account for what they promise, do and say in our name. Whatever they do, they cannot be institutionally dishonest, biased, unaccountable or wasteful.
I think we can be buoyed by the government’s handling of the recent flooding and the ongoing Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak. History will tell… Would a Labour Party in government have done any better?
The gulf between provision in the NHS and in social care remains to be addressed, and we are watching here, too. We are keen to see enduring cross-party approaches and consensus removing health and social care as perennial political footballs. No political party owns our NHS.
We are in a complete pickle over free speech as debate, even the truth, is shut down by either cancelling an opposing view or legislating against it. I see light in the topic of free speech being discussed more often and more openly. It requires as much education as it does leadership and example. But please, no more legislation to appease sensitivities…
As a teacher, leader and example, how good a PM is Boris Johnson? We don’t know yet. On the evidence, he remains ambiguous, past and present, on so many issues, including on those relating to the EU. He is utterly unambiguous though on power as it relates to his party being the party of government. The lesson learned in our democracy is to listen to the people. In particular he is and needs to keep listening to those who lent their votes in order to uphold our democracy and get Brexit done!
Locally, we have a failing Mayor of London hiding in plain sight. On knife crime and housing alone he can only be found wanting. And yet, on a typically low turnout he is most likely to be re-elected to deliver more of the same in the face of no credible opposition candidate. It hurts that earlier this year, the Brexit Party chose not to engage in the Mayoral, GLA and local elections. Voices for an electorate looking at slates of least-worst options have been denied. Democracy, eh?
Closer to home, we see the usual partisan Punch and Judy show that is the Croydon Borough Council. What a revelation it would be to see councillors united in their approach to knife crime, development, housing and reform solely in the Borough residents’ interest, and for the long term. For Croydon, I really do hope for a democratically elected mayor to be empowered to deliver for everyone and be held to account by the borough as a whole. DEMOC – now, let’s get that done!
You can read more from Peter in his interview with us from before the election – http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/interview-with-peter-sonnex-brexit-party-prospective-parliamentary-candidate-in-croydon-south/.
Peter also spoke at our ‘My Tuppenceworth’ in 2019 about Decency, Democracy, Freedom and Freedoms, with the speech at –http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/decency-democracy-freedom-and-freedoms-my-tuppenceworth-speech/
You can meet Peter at our Leavers of Croydon Drinks in New Addington on Saturday 21st March 2020 – http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/leavers-of-croydon-drinks-new-addington/
Finally Peter can be found on twitter at https://twitter.com/SonnexPeter
Drinks to celebrate our independence from the EU. Chance to meet:
- Neil Garratt Conservative – GLA Candidate.
- Peter Sonnex – Brexit Party PPC for Croydon Central.
- Mark Johnson – Chairman of Croydon Conservative Federation and Vote Leave organiser for the area.
Join us at the The Randall Tavern. Field Way, New Addington, Croydon CR0 9DX.
From 7:30pm, Saturday 21st March.
Our Free Speech event, My tuppenceworth, on Tuesday 19th November gave lots of people the opportunity to speak. One of those speeches came from Peter Sonnex, Brexit Party Candidate for Croydon Central, we have reproduced the text below.
Decency, Democracy, Freedom and Freedoms… These have been hard won, but so easily taken for granted. Easy come, easy go can quickly lead to freedoms being expressed with no thought – the playground stuff – for the consequences and the damage they may do to those very freedoms
The irony is not lost that we should be aware this evening of our location and that we are in the throes of another Brexit General Election… I shall, of course steer away from party politics in respect for our hosts. After all, I am not a politician!
The poster for this event shows Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, late of the Corps of Royal Engineers – my very own Corps. The appalling waste of blood and treasure aside – if that were ever possible, as we shall never forget – it was his rallying call that galvanised the country’s resolve
against tyranny in Europe – standing up for democracy then – as I am now.
[As a young officer, it was Kitchener who was sent to rescue another former Royal Engineer – General Gordon of Khartoum. His plan to build a railway from the Red Sea to Khartoum, thwarted by the hubris of Field Marshal Wolseley who insisted on going up the Nile by boat. I wonder if he
used free speech to let him know how he felt…]
Only in my dotage have I really been able to put my own, rather less glorious military career in perspective: In the Falkland Islands defending the democratic will of the Falkland Islanders who had voted overwhelmingly to remain as a United Kingdom Overseas Territory; during the Cold War in Germany, defending our democracy and freedoms against the very real threat of the Warsaw Pact – winning as the Berlin Wall came down – sparking a fire of democracy to burn all the way through Eastern Europe. Long, long tours of the Former Yugoslavia were spent establishing a safe and secure environment for their first democratic elections; my time in Iraq spent establishing a safe and secure environment for – you’ve guessed it – democratic elections. I remain traumatised by our failure as the Occupying Power to deliver on their mandate for democracy and freedom. They do not have what we, the UK as the Occupying Power, promised them – at all…
At home, I find our future lies in the hands of people for whom entitlement is a right not earned and every demand is pandered to no matter the cost for their so-called ‘freedoms’. People who never learned that no means no or that our democracy came and comes at a price: selflessness, fairness, empathy, compassion, compromise, tolerance and respect.
I feel betrayed in my own country as our freedoms are taken away by a wedge of political correctness, a lack of trust and truth in politics, and incompetent legislators. I feel compelled to stand up again for democracy in my own country as our vote – and it is all you and I have – is counted, disrespected and fails to be acted upon.
Who do I trust in all this?
Easy. You! YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU!
With budgets tight, and a constant demand for new and improved services, council spending is always under pressure.
Following successful events held with the TaxPayers’ Alliance we have written to the leaders with responsibility for Croydon of the Labour, Conservative, The Brexit, Polish Pride, Christian Alliance, Unity, Democrats and Veterans, Libertarian, Foundation, UKIP, and Liberal Democratic Parties. Asking them you to support our campaign to support local taxpayers, and keep control of executive pay at Croydon Council.
In our campaign supported by local residents we have asked that they agree to our proposal that in future no newly appointed council employee will earn more than the Prime Minister. Out letter to the parties is available here:
The responses in support of our proposal are below, for the others we await their responses and hope they choose to support the taxpayers of Croydon.
Thank-you all for your support for the hardworking families of Croydon.