Alison Butler, the deputy leader of the Labour group on Croydon Council, has given up her job at Westminster as she launches her campaign for selection as her party’s parliamentary election candidate to stand against Gavin Barwell in Croydon Central in 2015.
Labour opened its selection process on Friday by inviting applications, and Butler, a councillor for Bensham Manor was first out of the starting gate with an email to the party members in the constituency and launching a website, alisonbutler.org.
“I worked for Malcolm Wicks for over 20 years and with his incredibly sad death it was time to move on,” said Butler, who had been a parliamentary assistant to the Croydon North MP.
The new Labour MP for Croydon North, Steve Reed, has been busy recruiting staff since his election in November. The former leader of Lambeth Council has appointed another councillor from Brixton Town Hall, Matthew Bennett, as his head of office, and he has also hired a new case worker.
When asked for the new staffing details of the Croydon North MP’s office, Bennett declined.
Today, Butler told Inside Croydon: “Steve is now settled in his new post so at the end of my temporary contract it is a good time to move on and concentrate on other things.
“At the moment I have two major priorities, ensuring we have a Labour Council in 2014 – not for the sake of just having a Labour Council but knowing the difference this will make to people living in Croydon. Secondly, ensuring we win Croydon Central in 2015 and therefore have a Labour government, hopefully with me as the candidate.”
Labour has opted for an all-women shortlist for Croydon Central, thereby preventing two of the unsuccessful 2010 General Election candidates, Gerry Ryan and Andrew Pelling, the former Tory MP who stood as an independent, from seeking nomination to stand in 2015.
The other women to have declared that they will be competing with Butler for the votes of Labour members in Croydon Central include Louisa Woodley, a councillor in Thornton Heath who was Labour’s candidate for Croydon and Sutton in the Greater London Assembly elections last year.
Sarah Jones, a long-time Labour activist who lives in Shirley, has also put herself forward. She previously worked for MPs Mo Mowlem and Geraint Davies, and has extensive professional experience working in communications, for housing charity Shelter, the NHS Confederation and, most recently, in the government department handling the Olympic Games.
And “mum, activist, campaigner” Catriona Ogilvy also declared her hand over the weekend. The candidacy of Blairite Ogilvy may be signal of the growing “Lambeth-isation” of Croydon’s Labour party. Ogilvy is an occupational therapist working in the National Health, who was politically active until very recently in Lambeth, where her husband, Mike Smith, is a ward councillor.
Whoever is ultimately selected – with a decision to be announced in July – they look to have their work cut out to dislodge Barwell, with a ComRes poll yesterday giving Labour nationally only a 4 per cent advantage over the Tories, which would not be enough to win back the Croydon Central seat that Labour lost in 2005.
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- A 4-point Labour lead could mean another hung parliament (blogs.independent.co.uk)