Jane Avis, a senior councillor within Labour’s group at Croydon Town Hall, is the latest to put her name forward as a potential candidate to run for parliament in Croydon Central in 2015.
Avis and local activist Hamida Ali submitted their applications this week, joining councillors Alison Butler and Louisa Woodley, plus Catriona Ogilvy and Sarah Jones for what Labour – having chosen Steve Reed for the Croydon North safe seat last November – has decided should be an all-woman shortlist.
The former Conservative Central Office functionary, Gavin Barwell, is the current MP for Croydon Central, which was held by Labour’s Geraint Davies from 1997 until 2005. Davies lost at that year’s general election by just 75 votes. In May 2010, Barwell won with a majority of less than 3,000 votes, making Croydon Central one of Labour’s target seats at the next election.
In 2010, Avis had the unenviable task of standing for Labour in Croydon South, the ultra-safe Tory seat held by ultra-keen expenses claimer Richard Ottaway. Avis polled just 20 per cent of the vote in that election as Labour slipped from second to third in the constituency, finishing behind the LibDems.
Avis, 58, is a councillor for South Norwood, though she lives in Selsdon in the south of the borough. She is Labour’s shadow cabinet member on health and social care at the Town Hall.
Ali, 37, who works at the BBC, stood as a Labour candidate for the council in 2010 in Waddon ward, where she polled the fourth highest number of votes, failing to be elected.
Avis brings to three the number of Labour councillors looking to take on Barwell on the stump and at the ballot box.
Louisa Woodley, who in 2012 made big in-roads into the Conservative majority in Croydon and Sutton in the London Assembly elections, this week launched her campaign for selection by Labour by attacking Barwell as a career politician who has little fellow-feeling with residents affected by the recession and his government’s austerity agenda.
“Unlike the current Tory MP I have had a career and a life outside politics,” said 57-year-old Woodley, the Thornton Heath councillor who works as a modern languages teacher in a south London secondary school.
Woodley said, “My life story of a struggle over adversity and overcoming the financial challenge of putting myself through university allows me to relate to people fallen on hard times.”
She accuses Barwell of having “failed to deliver on promises to win government money and jobs for Croydon… I would be an effective lobbyist for Croydon rather than being a climber up the greasy political pole.”
Woodley did not reserve her disdain just for Barwell, though, as she took a sideswipe at some of her rivals for the Labour selection. “We need a candidate who goes beyond just setting up a website and a twitter account and engages frequently with residents face to face on the doorstep. I will carry over into the parliamentary contest the high pace of the GLA election campaign,” Woodley said.
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