Labour makes its candidate selection for the Croydon Central parliamentary seat from a four-strong all-woman short-list tomorrow, with a leading figure in the party locally warning that they face “one of the toughest of political battles ever”.
According to Inside Croydon’s “open primary”, which has been running over the past month, the outcome is too close to call, with the two leading candidates, professional campaigner Sarah Jones and Alison Butler, the deputy leader of the Labour group on the council, both polling 44 per cent.
But a letter to the 300 or so members of Croydon Central’s constituency party – the people with the votes that matter at tomorrow’s meeting – could break that deadlock.
The missive landed on door mats around Croydon Central in the past 48 hours, and is a personal message from Tony Newman, the leader of the Labour group on Croydon Council, asking for members to vote for Alison Butler.
Sounding like he’s listened to one Marks and Sparks TV ad too many, Newman, who is hoping to take control of Croydon Council in local elections next year, says, “This is not just an election for an MP, and it is not just another campaign.
“No, this is an election to find the person who understands that getting elected in 2015 will involve leading one of the toughest of political battles ever,” Newman wrote, clearly with the incumbent Tory MP, Gavin Barwell, in mind.
“In my view Alison Butler has what is required… I have no hesitation in saying let’s trust Alison with our votes on 21st July and I know she will repay that trust by defeating the Tory candidate and ensuring Croydon Central plays its part in returning a Labour Government in 2015.”
Such support in the final days before the hustings may well prove decisive. Indeed, it could have been surprising if Newman had not backed his deputy at the council; Butler was also a long-time work colleague of his own partner in the parliamentary offices of Croydon North’s late MP, Malcolm Wicks.
But it also represents a risk in case, as Inside Croydon’s polling suggests, there is just a few votes in the outcome, and if the membership, as is its right, rejects the local leadership’s appeal.
The results of the Inside Croydon poll were:
Sarah Jones 44%
Alison Butler 44%
Catriona Ogilvy 7%
Louisa Woodley 5%
Jones and Butler dominated our polling from the start. The other candidates, Catriona Ogilvy and Louisa Woodley, failed to attract any significant support from the more than 650 readers – not necessarily Labour members or supporters – who took part.
Ogilvy, who has stronger links with Lambeth than in Croydon, where she has moved home only recently, had any campaign plans to introduce herself to the 300 or so members in Croydon Central constituency Labour party disrupted when she gave birth to a baby boy five weeks prematurely, with her son needing to be kept in hospital for a period.
After a slow start to her campaign, Woodley, a councillor in Thornton Heath, appeared increasingly preoccupied with her own re-selection by members in her ward as a candidate for next May’s local elections which, as Inside Croydon was first to report, proved unsuccessful.
Our profiles of the four short-listed candidates are here:
And for our archive of coverage of the selection process:
- Labour candidate makes virtue of lack of union support
- 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 – 267,670 page views Nov 2012-Apr 2013
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