One of the women short-listed for selection as candidate in the Croydon Central parliamentary seat by the local Labour party has sought to distance herself from the trades union movement – despite having been a senior union member in the past.
Thornton Heath councillor Louisa Woodley was previously the president of the Croydon branch of the National Union Teachers. The NUT is one of several trades unions which are not affiliated to the Labour party in the manner of Unite, the union accused of trying to influence the candidate selection in Falkirk.
But on Croydon Radio this week, Woodley adopted the position of being the “not the Unite” candidate in the local Labour party’s selection process, ahead of the ballot of the 300 or so party members in Croydon Central on July 21.
Ahead of that vote, the candidates – who also include Alison Butler, Catriona Ogilvy and Sarah Jones – have been seeking the support of local union branches as well as Labour wards in Croydon. Woodley has not been backed by any union.
“I didn’t get a union nomination, but considering the current circumstances that’s not a bad thing,” Woodley said on the Croydon Matters internet radio programme.
Woodley is currently lagging well behind the front-runners in Inside Croydon’s own online poll, which is open to all this website’s readers, not only Labour party members.
“On the day it will be the ordinary members and not just unions etcetera in that room who will listen and decide which of the four of us will be best placed to beat the incumbent,” Woodley told Croydon Radio.
With the suspension of Labour’s selection process in Falkirk and the party leader Ed Miliband seeking to reduce the perceived influence of the trades unions on the political party which they had helped to form and have funded ever since, Woodley was adopting a position to distinguish herself from front-runner Butler, the deputy leader of the Labour group on Croydon Council, whose campaign website is clearly badged to show Unite’s support for her.
Butler is presenting herself as the candidate of working people. “My background is working class,” Butler said on Croydon Radio. “It is important to have candidates from that background.”
“I would like to be a strong voice for working class people. I am proud to be backed by both Unite and the GMB.
“Unite as a union is made up of 1.5 million people, they are working people, they are your and my neighbours, the people who do the hard jobs,” Butler said.
The complaints about Unite’s involvement and support for Labour candidates has been that the union has had the audacity to pay for training and campaigning of those it believes will better represent the interests of its members.
Butler defends Unite’s position. “We are a party of hard-working people who want to make a difference in our society. Therefore I am pleased to be backed by Unite.
“There are issues at the moment, there are controversies and those need to be sorted, whether it be a union or whether it be the Labour party and it could be factions of the Labour party, if they are not following the rules you need to sort that out but that certainly does not mean that Unite is our enemy that needs to be sorted out.”
- Follow the links below for Inside Croydon’s profiles of each of the short-listed candidates in Labour’s Croydon Central selection process:
- Butler and Jones emerge as front-runners in Central race
- Ten women declare for Labour’s Central shortlist
- Butler quick to declare candidacy for Labour nomination
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source that is actually based in the heart of the borough – averaging 44,000 page views per month, Jan-Jun 2013
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