Galloway and Barwell seize upon Reed’s one-vote victory

Steve Reed today offered “a new vision for Croydon” to win selection as the Labour party candidate for Croydon North.

Steve Reed celebrates at Praise House after the selection vote was announced

But the Lambeth Council leader’s selection, reportedly by a single vote from Valerie Shawcross after second preferences were included, represents something of a rebuff to Croydon’s Labour councillors, at least eight of whom backed Shawcross, while vitally some supporters of Croydon councillor, Louisa Woodley, did not exercise their second preference votes which might have been expected to go to a local candidate.

And the selection of a middle-aged, middle-class, openly gay white man to stand for Labour in the multi-racial, multi-faith and high unemployment area of Croydon North has already prompted goading from the fringes of politics, where George Galloway is lurking with his Respect candidate, Lee Jasper, still looking to find a location for their campaign headquarters.

Maggie Mansell, who chairs the Croydon North constituency Labour party, told Inside Croydon that Reed’s speech to the hustings was “inspirational”, appropriate words when the caucus was held at the evangelical Praise House on London Road.

With no candidate gaining 50 per cent on the first round of voting, LabourList reported that when the voting came down to second preferences, the final reckoning was 97-96 to Reed over Shawcross. As they emerged from the meeting room, some members said that they had awarded their votes on the basis of Reed’s impressive performance on the hustings.

Reed’s new broom approach seemed to have gone down well with the very large number of black and minority ethnic (BME) members. Their enthusiasm for their new candidate was palpable in the crowded large hall from which the press had been excluded. This strong support from a party that is representative of a constituency where some wards have majority BME populations ought to augur well for Reed.

“I am incredibly humbled that members have put their trust in me to stand up for this constituency. I will give it my absolute best,” Reed said.

“The task in hand now is to defend Malcolm’s legacy by getting the biggest possible majority for Labour in the coming by-election.”

Asked what Croydon has to learn from Lambeth, Reed underlined his fresh approach saying, “We can defend public services better with innovative approaches”, a reference to how services in Lambeth have gained some degree of protection from Conservative-led government cuts through the use of co-operative, community-based models.

Reed feels that he is better placed to advocate on behalf of residents, to “stand up” for Croydon North, and he said that he would seek out partners to work constructively on the issue of youth unemployment that he saw as a special problem in the area.

Reed’s campaign literature, handed out to party members at the meeting, emphasised the galvanising and positive effect that he intends to have upon the Croydon Labour party’s fortunes. In the attractive leaflet, Reed says that “I led Labour to a landslide victory against the odds in Lambeth” and that “I’ll bring that energy to win back Croydon Council for Labour in 2014”.

Forestdale resident Andy Stranack: not as “local” as he’d like Croydon North voters to think he is

Reed was happy to say that the by-election, expected to be held on November 29, will partly be a judgement on the borough’s Conservative-run council. Reed says that as he travels across the borough boundary from Lambeth, Croydon Council has allowed the streets to become “shabby”.

Reed said, “I have stood up to Mike Fisher in the past,” referring to clashes with his counterpart on Croydon Council, most recently over the fate of the Upper Norwood Joint Library.

Reed promises that he’ll keep Malcolm Wicks’ office in London Road open if elected as the new MP – he inherits a 16,000 majority. Reed expects the Conservatives to come second, courteously describing their Andrew Stranack as “a strong candidate”.

Stranack has not reciprocated the politeness, posting on his website an immediate condemnation of Reed as not being “local”. While Reed lives in Streatham Hill, Stranack lives in Forestdale: both are in the constituencies next door to Croydon North.

“Labour’s decision to select a Lambeth councillor – when they had plenty of good, local candidates to choose from – means that I am the only one of the main party candidates who is local,” said the man from Croydon Central, apparently without any sense of irony, or hypocrisy. Or much attention to fact.

Gavin Barwell, the Croydon Central MP who is taking some time off from his parliamentary duties and his bag-carrying responsibilities for Michael Gove in order to be Stranack’s “campaign manager” – or puppet master? – took to social media to promote his man claiming that “he has stronger local connections”. The Green party candidate, Shasha Khan, actually lives in Croydon North. So if proximity is the be-all and end-all as Barwell has told Stranack, then maybe the Conservatives should be endorsing the Green’s closer-to-home Thornton Heath resident.

George Galloway: no fan of New Labour

Respect’s George Galloway MP, no fan of New Labour who expelled him from the party, Tweeted: “Happy Birthday Lee Jasper! What a present the Blairites just gifted you! Steve Reed as an opponent!”

Despite facing three by-elections on November 15 and probably also fighting the Middlesbrough by-election caused by the death of Sir Stuart Bell MP, Labour now look likely to put significant resources into ensuring Reed’s campaign triumphs convincingly.

Low turnout is the danger for Labour if their supporters take the result for granted.

After other parties’ candidates have spent a fortnight canvassing, Reed’s campaign is off to a very quick start tomorrow morning on the A235 that will see the annual London Brighton veteran car run.

One Labour councillor told Inside Croydon at the hustings that he was relieved that come Sunday morning he would be promoting a candidate who would “not be complicated by a dual mandate” – a reference to Shawcross’s conflict with a London Assembly role that Labour would not allow her to relinquish immediately.

The 54-year-old Norwood resident, who has been a leader of Croydon Council as well as a successful Assembly Member, had spoken of how Croydon North represented her final chance to progress her political career to Westminster. She would be entitled to feel let down by her party over its intransigence over by-election expenditure, especially given the closeness of the final outcome.

Reed expects to be allowed by his Lambeth colleagues to stand down as their council leader as early as Monday evening and he has already told Inside Croydon that he will resign as a Lambeth councillor upon election to the House of Commons.

Click here for our archive of other articles on the candidates of all parties for the Croydon North by-election

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About insidecroydon

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
This entry was posted in 2012 by-election, Andrew Stranack, Croydon Council, Croydon North, Gavin Barwell, Lambeth Council, Lee Jasper, London Assembly, Malcolm Wicks MP, Mike Fisher, Steve Reed MP, Val Shawcross and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Galloway and Barwell seize upon Reed’s one-vote victory

  1. Labour’s decision to select Steve Reed to fight the Croydon North by-election is a strange own goal.
    Under Mr Reed’s ‘leadership’, Lambeth Council has developed a damaging reputation through the destruction of local jobs and services, all in the name of what he dubs a ‘co-operative council’. His pet project aims to keep the ghost of Tony Blair alive and well in the Labour Party by dressing up pro-big business and pro-austerity policies in the cloak of staff and user empowerment.

    His record in Lambeth speaks for itself, it’s one that any Tory council leader would be proud of – hundreds of council workers have been made redundant, children’s services have been outsourced and he’s proposed replacing professional council workers with volunteers.

    Reed’s thrusting, self-serving political ambition is highlighted by his willingness to promote a form of class-cleansing and support for vanity projects such as expensive new council offices next to the Town Hall at Brixton. This is the last thing the people of Croydon North needs. Local people want someone who’s prepared to fight back against this totally unnecessary austerity agenda, someone who will join with trade unions and other community organisation to support local jobs and services and hold this illegitimate coalition government to account.

    Once again the Labour Party has failed to elect a candidate who represents the interests and diversity of the people they purport to represent. It’s been left to the Communist Party to offer the only genuine working class voice in this election.

    Ben Stevenson, Communist Party

    • How was the Communist party’s candidate selected? And does he represent “the interests and diversity” of the people he wishes to represent?

      • crowboroughchris says:

        Ben was elected by local Croydon members in a democratic vote. The party has a broad, diverse membership and represents the interests of ordinary people struggling in the face of a sustained, ideologically motivated assault by the Goverment on public services, jobs and living standards. Frankly, the poor shouldn’t have to pay for a crisis triggered by the bankers and caused by deep-seated fault-lines within capitalism.

  2. mraemiller says:

    “We can defend public services better with innovative approaches”, a reference to how services in Lambeth have gained some degree of protection from Conservative-led government cuts through the use of co-operative, community-based models.”

    Indeed, and I look forward to one of Chris Carey’s bright red boxes materialising on every street corner without any public consultation like the Tardis but without a perception filter and dematerialising again as silently when the residents complain. Still, it’s all in a good cause Ms Carey re-flogging a load of “vintage” gear again down the market for a commercial profit. I presume this is what is meant by an “innovative solution”.

    Of course I wouldn’t mind Lambeth Council flogging off bits of the pavement if the financial return was manifested in a lack of potholes … but we mustn’t complain. It is after all a Labour Council and if it can save public services by literally privatising the streets that’s got to be a good idea. For that is the political code for “innovative solutions”. I really cannot believe that the leader of Lambeth Council has the nerve to call Croydon’s streets shabby. I’ve driven down dirt track in Barbados that have less pot holes than some parts of Lambeth.

    STV is a rubbish system. If you dont vote for one of the 2 most popular candidates as 1st or 2nd preference then your vote is wasted. It’s basically AV but without all the permutations making it a sort of fudge between AV and FPTP which is the worst of both worlds. Unless of course you are a Mayoral candidate from one of the two main parties in which case it has the advantage of disadvantaging the smaller parties.

    That said he did win the nomination in an OMOV election which is something they dont even pretend to have in the Conservative party …opting as they do for a literally exhaustive series of ballots at the end of which the “Officers of the Federation” make the decision on their own.
    It is just like Labourlist to find something to moan about… they should be re-named Pretending-to-be-Labour-List.

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