Tony Benn’s grand-daughter selected for West Thornton ward

Emily Benn, the grand-daughter of former Labour government cabinet minister Tony Benn, seems set to be a Croydon councillor next year.

Emily Benn out campaigning with her grandfather: will we see Tony Benn canvassing in West Thornton

Emily Benn out campaigning with her grandfather: will we see Tony Benn canvassing in West Thornton?

Norwood resident Emily Benn has been selected as a candidate to stand in the safe Labour ward of West Thornton, alongside sitting councillor Bernadette Khan and another new candidate for Croydon council, Stuart King, a former parliamentary candidate in Putney.

The three Labour candidates in West Thornton in 2010 each polled around 2,000 votes more than their nearest Tory challenger, so it would require an extraordinary swing to the Conservatives in that ward for Benn not to be elected to the Town Hall next May.

The trio was selected by local party members last week. Like King, Benn is also a former – or is that failed? – parliamentary candidate, having stood in the 2010 General Election in Worthing, when at 20 years old, making her the youngest Labour candidate at the election, having been selected in 2007, weeks before her 18th birthday.

But Benn’s selection does not indicate a shift to the left by the Labour party in Croydon. If anything, it is another indication of the “Lambeth-isation” of Croydon Labour, following the selection and election of Progress member Steve Reed OBE as Croydon North‘s MP last year.

Benn says that she is more like her uncle, Hilary Benn, the shadow local government spokesman, in being “a Benn, not a Benn-ite”.

Emily Benn claims to have been active in Labour politics since she was 14. Her mother, Nita Clarke, who received the OBE in last month’s Birthday Honours for “services to employee engagement and business”, is already a fixture in the Croydon Establishment, sitting on a governing body of the Whitgift Foundation.

Benn’s selection in West Thornton follows her applying to stand in a number of other wards, but withdrawing from the process, often after having been short-listed.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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9 Responses to Tony Benn’s grand-daughter selected for West Thornton ward

  1. davidcallam says:

    It cannot be counted a failure to stand as the Labour Party candidate in either of the Worthing constituencies and not be elected.

    This stretch of the Channel coast is as safe a Tory haven as Croydon South.

    I am reassured that Ms Benn is not a Benn-ite – her grandfather, now indulged as a national treasure, was once one of the most self-destructive forces in Labour politics.

    The party will need all the moderates it can muster if it is going to win power in the General Election of 2015. It will also need a strong leader.

    • mraemiller says:

      Well, Labour managed about a -5.2% swing nationally. Emily Benn managed a -8.8% swing.

      You’ve got to laugh at a candidate whose Wikipedia profile includes how many A* grades they got at GCSEs.

      Still someone’s got to stand for these no hope seats. hen again probably wasn’t the best choice of candidate by somebody.

  2. bobhewlett says:

    I have to disagree with David Callam. We need more, not less, candidates who hold centre-left values.

    The failure of the Blair and Brown premierships to reverse the destructive and divisive polices of the Thatcher and Major premierships has meant that the so-called centre ground of politics is still firmly entrenched on the right. A call for more moderates seems to signify a call to keep the status quo. I somehow doubt that a strong leader is needed for that.

    The Labour Party at local and national level needs to campaign on centre-left politics. Those politics means a commitment to council house building. The bringing back into national ownership the railways, buses, ports and airports. Free state education from nursery to university. A progressive and fair tax system. All this is achievable.

    If we as a society can afford to have millionaires, multi-millionaires and billionaires amongst us then we can have a fully funded welfare state. If all this means that the likes of Bob Diamond, Jim Davidson, Roman Abramovich, the Goldman Sachs partners will leave our shores, I for one would not lose a wink of sleep.

  3. Croydon needs really effective management skills – it doesn’t really matter what their politics are. Any in-coming administration is going to have to do some amazingly smart management in order to just survive and keep the show on the road.

    We need an effective Council which is a real check and balance on large corporations coming to Croydon; property development; and other significant stakeholders such as the Whitgift Foundation. We need a Croydon where it is not possible to get away with sloppy management of public or charitable resources, or for one key stakeholder or cluster of individuals to dominate all decision-making.

    I am just not convinced that I am seeing a new cadre of Councillors coming to the fore who have the skills required to objectively manage one of the biggest growth periods this town has ever seen.

  4. davidcallam says:

    Good heavens! Is Bob Hewlett serious? Or is he on a one-man suicide mission?

    If the Labour Party goes to the country in 2015 with a plan to re-nationalise all and sundry, it will frighten the life out of floating voters and hand David Cameron the easiest victory any Tory leader has enjoyed for decades. Imagine: all those isolationist Europhobes being able to bully their more moderate colleagues and Parliament being powerless to stop them.

    Has old Labour learnt nothing from its long years of political irrelevance, or does it prefer perpetual opposition to the difficulties of facing and dealing with the real world?

    Of course the Blair and Brown administrations made mistakes – allowing Gordon Brown to be chancellor was one of the biggest – but the alternative is not a lurch to the left.

    Come on Bob: cast aside your more militant tendencies in favour of a commitment to social democratic government.

    • mraemiller says:

      “If the Labour Party goes to the country in 2015 with a plan to re-nationalise all and sundry, it will frighten the life out of floating voters”

      Maybe we could meet half way and not part privatise everything into a P3 to defer the cost to future generations. Maybe we could even abolish BIDs – those strange Blair/Brown creatures that simultaneously nationalise and part privatise town centres. Already I see the Croydon BID is on the war path …banning A frames in anticipation of the brave new plan to pull down our shopping centre and build … another shopping centre.

  5. I wish my parents were famous. I would have got selected too. Perhaps Emily should have tried Croydon Central

  6. bobhewlett says:

    At the risk of boring people I shall respond to David. Before I do, I would like to thank all those who gave my response a wonderful thumbs up.

    David’s reply is interesting not for what he says but what he does not say.

    David admits New Labour made mistakes including Brown as Chancellor but does offer any criticism of the Thatcher and Major administrations.

    David feels that a policy of re-nationalisation will be a floating voter turn off but does not offer any insight of what the floating voter feels about the privatised industries.

    David says nothing in support of my proposal to campaign for a return to free state education from nursery to university.

    David says nothing in support of council house building, a progressive and fair tax system and a fully funded welfare state.

    To be fair to David I can understand his view about moderation, about not rocking the boat etc but that does mean accepting the status quo and all that entails. My fear is that if the Labour campaign is going to be run on a fait accompli campaign then we are never going to get voters out. Why should they, if their vote means nothing will change.

    It is not militant nor extreme to point out a political policy that is wrong. It is not militant nor extreme to promote a policy that will benefit the whole of society not just a small percentage of society such as re-nationalisation of say the national railway system.

    Labour has to campaign highlighting the failures of privatisation, benefits of free state funded education, council house building and the need to re-nationalise for the benefit of us all.

    Attlee is now viewed as a political progressive and he may well have been at that time however the fact is that he was a Christian social democrat.

  7. Pingback: Hugh Muir's diary: Whither the transparency agenda? If we told you, we'd have to kill you

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