A complaint has been filed with Labour’s London region office over the selection of candidates to stand in New Addington ward at next May’s local council elections, Inside Croydon has learned.
But the complaint does not involve the somewhat premature and unauthorised distribution of a “Labour Action Team” leaflet, paid for from party funds, which favoured two of the short-listed candidates who, ultimately, were unable to command sufficient support from members in the ward.
Instead, the complaint is aimed at one of the successful candidates, Louisa Woodley, currently a borough councillor for Thornton Heath ward.
Uniquely, this puts Woodley under fire from both the left and the right, since the local Tories have already been distributing leaflets accusing the secondary school languages teacher of being “not from around here” – a favourite strategy of the non-local MP, Gavin Barwell, who while representing Croydon Central prefers to live in leafy Sanderstead.
Internal divisions among the Labour group at the Town Hall are unlikely to help in their quest to win control of Croydon Town Hall at the elections next May, and figures within the party were dismissive of the seriousness of the complaint against Woodley, who was not re-selected in Thornton Heath.
Although the complaint has been made by an officer from the Labour party in Fieldway, the ward neighbouring New Addington, it is understood to have the support of a Labour councillor.
“It’s all just sour grapes,” one senior Labour figure told Inside Croydon.
“We’re in a process, and we have to go through the process,” said another, suggesting the complaint had no grounds and less chance of success.
Alan Olive, Labour’s London region official, failed to respond to calls from Inside Croydon.
Some of the acrimony from the New Addington selection may have spilled over into Fairfield ward, where local Labour members will complete their candidate selection tomorrow night.
Patsy Cummings is standing against businesswoman Claudine Reid for the one remaining vacancy on Labour’s slate in the ward, with Reid having had to deny that she has ever been a member of the Conservative party.
Labour has already selected two candidates to stand in the strongly Conservative ward next May – David Wood, the son of a former Bishop of Croydon, and Clive Fraser.
But when the original selection meeting was staged in June, two women candidates who had been short-listed pulled out. Labour party rules require there to be at least one woman candidate on the ballot paper in every ward. The membership will now have the choice between Cummings and Reid.
Reid was among those who were not selected in New Addington. Some who attended that selection meeting last month, and since then members in Fairfield ward, have suggested to Inside Croydon that Reid considered seeking to stand for the Tories at the Croydon North parliamentary by-election last year.
“What? I had no idea,” Reid said when this was put to her. “I have never been a member of any other political party,” she said.
While the Conservatives usually insist on party membership before selecting their election candidates, as has been shown recently with Gavin Barwell’s letter to all women of voting age in Addiscombe, they can sometimes resort to desperate measures to find suitable volunteers. In this instance, though, it seems that rumours about Reid may have been circulated to undermine her chances of selection as a Labour council candidate.
The Conservatives in Croydon have not held any ward selections as yet: their florid-faced leader, Mike Fisher, is waiting until next month – less than six months before the council elections – so that any of his current councillors, if de-selected, cannot resign and force an embarrassing by-election.
The first, broader consequence of Labour’s selection process for the 2014 local elections came this week, with Paul Smith stepping down from his shadow front bench responsibilities. The councillor for West Thornton was not re-selected to stand next May, and he has therefore relinquished his job as Labour’s Town Hall spokesman on crime and public protection.
Mark Watson, who has previous front bench experience on some areas in this portfolio, especially the Family Justice Centre, takes over this brief, while Jane Avis, already Labour’s cabinet lead on adult social care, takes up Watson’s work on the Healthy Croydon Partnership.
Previous coverage of Croydon’s local elections and selections:
- Desperately devious: Barwell appeals to women of Addiscombe
- Tory leader Fisher is fearful of defections to UKIP
- Tony Benn’s grand-daughter selected for West Thornton ward
- Candidate accuses Tories of running dirty tricks campaign
- Gray day for “rising star”, as Smith loses selection battle
- Woodside Labour councillor Jewitt fails to win selection
Coming to Croydon
- Crystal Palace Concerts – “I have a dream”: Oct 17
- The Firebird, family concert: Oct 20
- Lakes Playground group’s fundraising Zumba-ween: Oct 26
- PJ’s enterprising look at Black History Month: Oct 29
- Secret Love at the Ashcroft Theatre: Nov 14
- Future Tech City: Nov 30
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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